Recipe | Healthy Cornmeal Squares aka Raab ki Chakki – Appreciating small things in life
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” ~ Frederick Keonig
Sitting around the bonfire, sipping creamy and delicious Makki ki Raab in small sakora or earthenware pot, is one of the sweetest memories from my occasional winter visits to our family home in Bhilwara, Rajasthan.
Granny would light the ‘chulha’ or hearth made from a mixture of cow dung and clay as early as 4 am in the morning. The indigenous chulha provided much needed warmth during the chilly winter days.
She would then add fresh buttermilk and corn grits into her large earthen pot (matka), and place it on the chulha before starting the other activities of the day.
The slow cooked ‘Makki ki Raab’ a savory cornmeal porridge was our staple breakfast to ward off the cold, almost every other day.
The earthen pot would simmer for hours on slow fire giving a wonderful smoky flavor to the cornmeal porridge. Dadi sa (as we called her in our local language) would always add an extra dollop of fresh homemade white butter in my sakora (earthen pot) and serve it with a wink.
The leftover Raab or porridge was cooked again in the same earthen pot with a few add-on for a few minutes and poured onto greased plate to set.
She would then slice the firmly set squares in the evening and serve what she called as ‘Khatti Raab ki Chakki’ with fresh homemade butter from our cows at home.
Reminiscing such good old days, appreciating small things in life and connecting with beautiful people that surround me, keep me happy…always.
I was remembering granny and my childhood days spent with cousins the other day, while preparing this traditional breakfast recipe at home. I haven’t seen or eaten these cornmeal squares at any place other than at my granny’s home, that I remember. But I came across a distant cousin of these squares on the net, which goes by the name Polenta fries here.
I was apprehensive about my children about liking this simple traditional food. Pan frying some of the cornmeal squares and adding vegetables and cheese to some other added a fun factor to the recipe.
These squares are crisp on the outside with a soft center. The spongy cornmeal squares quickly absorbs the flavors of any spices or sauce added to it. These make a wonderful appetizers and tea-time snack recipe.
I use a very fine variety of corn grits which cooks pretty fast and sets quickly.
Healthy Cornmeal Squares aka Raab ki Chakki
- 1 cup fine corn grits
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tbsp Olive oil or ghee
- 1 tsp crushed black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. roasted cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
Method; Bring water to boil in a large pan and add fine corn grits in it.
Add salt, crushed pepper, cumin powder, Olive oil or ghee and keep stirring the corn grits on medium heat.
Pour buttermilk in the pan, cover the pan and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes until the corn grits soak all the liquid and starts pulling away from side of pan.
Pour the cooked cornmeal onto a greased baking tray and spread it evenly using a ladle or knife. Let it cool completely for about an hour before slicing it.
Slice the cooked cornmeal lengthwise in thin stripes or into circles using a cookie cutter.
Heat about a teaspoon or two of oil in a large skillet or pan and add the cornmeal squares and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side till they turn golden brown in colour.
Serve with your favorite dip, chutney or sauce.
One another fun way to serve these cornmeal square is to cut them into roundels and top it with finely chopped vegetables, herbs and lots of cheese. I call them as Mini Cornmeal Pizza.
Add finely chopped bell peppers or capsicum, onion, dash of herbs and top the roundels with grated cheese. Bake these squares for 6-7 minutes at 180°C and serve.
Serve these cornmeal squares with Marinara sauce or any other dip of your choice.
Check Glossary for English & Hindi names of various foods and ingredients used here.
- Quantity of water and buttermilk will vary according to the size of the corn grits. If may require more liquid if you are using a medium to large variety of corn grits.
- Finely copped onion, garlic and herbs can add texture and flavor the the squares.
- These squares can be pan-fried, baked or deep fried until golden brown and serve.
- The cornmeal can be cooked ahead and refrigerated overnight.
- Replace ghee or Olive oil with butter if you like more rich and creamy tasting squares.