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Recipes | Easy Pan-Fried Semolina and Cornmeal Flatbread or Harsha – Celebrating Life Together

22 January 2014 9 Comments

cornmeal and semolina harisha

After spending close to 20 plus years in my kitchen, I am still unable to find the answer to my question, ‘what goes wrong whenever I try to cook the recipes of my mother.’

I use the exact ingredients, follow her instructions precisely, but my recipes never turn out to be as good as hers. No, not even the simplest ‘Dahi wale Aloo’, tastes the same.

I dislike short-cuts in cooking. Ready-to-use spices in sachets or snapping those large plastic bags of flour are a big no-no in my kitchen.”. replied mom over phone, when I put forward my query to her.

Well, you have loads of time to your discretion to make your own spices and grind flour, mom. I have to make-do with these short-cuts, until I get relieved from my family commitments.”. I replied and pacified my ego.

But to tell the truth, I am still looking out for that ‘one last tip’ to make my food taste like hers.

Some of the secrets of her are fresh organic vegetables from her kitchen garden, hand pound spices, and homemade flour & pulses she uses in her kitchen throughout the year. She is well past her seventies and still uses her 40 year old heavy stone pestle and mortar to grind her masalas daily, very unlike me, who cannot imagine cooking her meals without her electric gadgets.

I have a penchant for corn…..corn-on-cob, Makki ki roti or creamy cornmeal porridge makes me go weak at the knees. I sometimes wonder how anyone can get averse to eating corn.

I miss all the cornmeal delicacies mom used to cook during winter days. The home pound coarse cornmeal gives such a wonderful texture and bite to the flat breads and porridge she cooks.

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

Corn grits

She keeps both white and yellow varieties of cornmeal in her pantry and says that these cannot be substituted to make the specific dishes from the same.

It took me many attempts to make my rice-eating family switch to eating dishes made with cornmeal. And in my attempt to pull my family to the corn camp I keep trying all sorts of gimmicks, disguising cornmeal, giving fancy names and succeeded many times.

Harsha

I was watching a cooking show by the name ‘Food Safari – Morocco’ on Fox traveler the other day in which the hostess Maeve O’Meara was biting into some small fluffy Semolina and cornmeal delicacies smeared with fruit preserve from a street food vendor.

I learned that these small pancake like dishes are called Harsha which is a favorite breakfast treat on the streets of Morocco.These bread or pancake called Harsha instantly reminded me of  ‘Makki ki rotis’ or cornmeal Indian flat breads mom makes at her home in Udaipur.

During winter months when the temperature dips to 4 degrees in Udaipur, she serves a bowl of creamy hot cornmeal porridge or Raab to us. The slow simmered fine cornmeal grits in sour buttermilk, seasoned with a pinch of salt and roasted cumin powder could never match any fancy breakfast recipes.

The leftover cornmeal porridge gets a makeover the next day which is transformed into thick savory pancakes and served with spoonful of fresh ghee and garlic and red chilly chutney, similar to Moroccan Harsha with a savory touch.

Harsha is Moroccan pan-fried bread made with semolina flour. These breads are slightly sweet and is normally severed as a breakfast food. I wanted to try a savory (gluten free) and a sweet (semolina) Harsha recipe.

Harsha is traditionally pan-fried and are eaten hot with honey or jam.

There are a few subtle differences between Moraccan Harsha and Indian cornmeal bread or Makki ki roti. Harsha recipe uses baking powder, milk, sugar and a few more ingredients while the later is made with just water, salt and cornmeal flour. Harsha are smaller in size and are slightly fluffier than the Indian cornmeal flat breads.

In my quest to create dishes that meld Rajasthani and Moroccan cuisine I added Za’atar, a mix of dried herbs with a strong flavor of Middle Eastern countries and avoided sugar in my Harsha recipe. I paired these flavored flat breads with a quick kidney bean recipe.

1. Semolina Harsha with Jaggery

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

I also made pan traditional fried Semolina Harsha and sweetened it with organic jaggery to give it an Indian touch. Though Harsha is a traditional breakfast treat, I topped it with fruit puree and served it as a dessert. I smeared a dash of melted butter to caramelize the Harsha and give a lovely brown colour.

These Semolina Harsha are faintly sweet with a hint of jaggery and make a filling and satisfying way to start the day.

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

Cornmeal and semolina dough for Harsha

Ingredients;

(adapted from here, makes about 7-8 small Harsha)

  • 2 cups Semolina
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp. melted butter or oil
  • 2 tbsp. grated jaggery
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • A pinch of salt

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

Method;  Combine semolina (rawa or suji), baking powder, grated jaggery and salt in a large bowl.

Add oil or melted butter and crumble with finger to incorporate it.

Add warm milk slowly in the bowl and make a semi solid dough.

You can add extra milk or water if you feel that the dough is not coming together.

Pinch dough of tennis ball size and make a round. Flatten it in between hands or two plastic sheets to form a thin patty.

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

I used this organic jaggery powder (raw sugar) to make Semolina Harsha which gave a lovely caramelized taste to the recipe. I served the crispy Harsha with Apricot jam and a sprinkle of jaggery powder over it.

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

I was able to cook 3 Harsha at one go with just a few drops of fats in my large non-stick Nirlep pan.

Heat a non-sticking pan and place two or three the semolina patties in it.

Smear a little butter if you wish on both the sides and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes on each side.

Serve the Semolina Harsha with jam, butter, honey or any fruit preserve as a filling breakfast treat.

2. Cornmeal Harsha with Za’atar

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

In my quest to create dishes that meld Rajasthani and Moroccan cuisine I added Za’atar, a mix of dried herbs with a strong flavor of Middle Eastern countries and avoided sugar in my Harsha recipe. I paired these flavored flat breads with a quick kidney bean recipe.

I did not use rolling pin to roll the dough for Harsha, instead I patted the dough lightly with palm and shaped it into thick circles on a greased plastic sheet.

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

Ingredients;

(make 3 large Harsha)

  • 2 cups Cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk or water
  • 4 tbsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. Za’atar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

Method; In a large mixing bowl combine cornmeal, salt and baking powder.

Add oil and blend well using a fork or your fingers. I like to use my hands to mix dough, it helps me keep a check on the consistency and suppleness of the dough I require for the recipe.

Add buttermilk slowly to make a semi solid dough. Use warm water of buttermilk at room temperature to get moist dough.

Add extra liquid to achieve the correct consistency of dough.

Divide the dough into two large balls and shape them into large circles using two plastic sheets as shown in the picture.

Heat a non-stick pan and cook both sides of Harsha for about 10 minutes on low heat.

Serve warm Harsha with any curry or chutney of your choice.

Harsha is traditionally served with jam, butter or honey as a breakfast treat. But I like to pair it with spicy dip or with my Indian curry.

3. Quick Kidney beans and whole black gram or Kali Daal and Rajma

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

Kaali Dall and Rajma

Ingredients;

  • 1/2 cup Kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup black gram
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 4 cups of Water
  • Salt to taste

Spices;

  • 1 tsp. red chilly powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 cloves

Method; Use small variety of dark colour Kidney beans (Rajma). Wash and soak whole black gram (kali urad daal) and Kidney beans for an hour.

Peel and roughly chop onion.

Add soaked gram, kidney beans, onion, turmeric powder in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of plain water.

Pressure cook for the ingredients for 9-10 whistles or cook on reduced flame for 30 minutes.

Let the cooker cool, open and check if the beans are soft and cooked. Place the cooker again on heat if you feel the beans are not cooked properly.

Open the pressure cooker and slightly mash all the ingredients.

In a small bowl mix yogurt, red chilly, turmeric and cumin powder to make a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a pan and add cloves, ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 2 minutes on low flame. Add yogurt paste, salt and cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Pour the mashed bean and gram in the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Take off the flame and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

If you are pre soaking the beans and gram overnight, you can pressure cook for just 4-5 whistles.

You can try these recipes of Kidney beans for a different taste;

Rajma curry 

Kidney beans in tomato gravy

Recipes | Easy Pan-Fried Semolina and Cornmeal Flatbread or Harsha

Adapting such simple and easy recipes from International cuisine can does wonders to our meal plan. These Semolina and cornmeal Harsha did the same to my breakfast table. Options are many, we just need to adapt such recipes from around the world and give our twist to make it suit our Indian palate.

Adding grated vegetables in savory Harsha would be a great idea to make a healthy breakfast treat. My children loved the sweet semolina Harsha I prepared for our weekend breakfast.

Notes;

  1. Don’t make thick Harsha, it will not cook evenly from inside.
  2. Quantity of liquid in the recipe depends upon the texture and coarseness of the cornmeal and semolina used.
  3. Replace normal oil with Olive oil to make cornmeal Harsha, it gives rustic flavor to the recipe.
  4. If you are making large sized Harsha, take care that it does not break when you flip it to the other side, as cornmeal is gluten free which makes the bread very brittle.
  5. Cut the larger Harsha into wedges and serve hot.
  6. Add dried fenugreek leaves or kasuri methi to add flavor to the kidney bean curry.

cornmeal and semolina harsha flat breads and a kidney bean curry

 22nd January…Celebrating 19 years of life together…..helping each other realize our dreams, cherishing good memories of yesterday and giving wings to the hopes of tomorrow.

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9 Comments »

  • Nirlep India said:

    Dear Sanjeeta,

    You have painted the picture perfectly while mentioing exact preferences by most mothers! Probably that’s why its difficult to catch the same flavours and needs quite some patience!

    Great to see such a beautiful use of the Nirlep Pan!

  • Dipti Joshi said:

    Happy Anniversary and may your marriage be blessed with love,joy and companionship for all the years of your lives!

    Simple and easy recipe with cornmeal. I have some leftover cornmeal, will try this recipe on weekend. :)
    Dipti Joshi recently posted..Mushroom Fried RiceMy Profile

  • Nirlep Selec+ FryPan & Easy Pan-Fried Semolina/Cornmeal treat _ recipe by blogger Sanjeeta « Nirlep said:

    […] She beautifully posts about her conversations with her mother followed by an informative, detailed and visually enriching recipe Recipes | Easy Pan-Fried Semolina and Cornmeal Flatbread or Harsha – Celebrating Life Together […]

  • Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com said:

    My recipes never come out like my mom’s either!
    Love how versatile that cornmeal porridge is and love the sweet and savory harsha versions! Photos are so pretty
    Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com recently posted..Thinking Out Loud Link-Up #4My Profile

  • Sra said:

    Happy anniversary and here’s wishing you many many more to come!
    Sra recently posted..Meandering through Monda Market, SecunderabadMy Profile

  • easyfoodsmith said:

    Hello Sanjeeta! First of all, thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your kind words behind and in the process giving me the opportunity to meet you! Really appreciate.
    The harsha reminds me so much of the makki ki roti but with a little twist to it. I am so intrigued as to how it would taste with the rajma or the kidney beans curry. Will try it soon since I have all the ingredients at home.

  • Spice said:

    Happy Anniversary Dear.
    Harsha reminds me also, of makki ki roti & not only reminds but making me hungry in the middle of night….I can almost taste it but in my case not with rajma but with kali dal/mah ki dal…that’s how so many a times we use to eat it(if not with saag) haven’t made that combo in long time now it should be done in the near future & no matter how gud it will come will never be able to match the magic of mom’s hand. I love your recipe for corn upma never heard of it but will try that sometime.

  • Lakshmi Raju said:

    The way you started by telling your recipes won’t be similar to the way your mom did is exactly true. Its really tough to cook like a mom!!
    And I really liked your blog, it has every single detail typed out without fail. I want to try this recipe. I have ordered all the ingredients needed from qusec.in but I just did not get Za’atar, I even checked out in big basket. I just want to know if it has any other name or if it has any substitute in the recipe. As soon as I get your valuable suggestion, I want to try this recipe.
    Thanks for the recipe, all the best to get the mom cooked taste and a very happy anniversary!!!

  • sanjeeta kk (author) said:

    @Lakshmi, Thanks for your wishes! Za’atar is used to flavor the recipe, you can completly omit the same if you can’t find it. Alternatively try adding Kasuri methi (dried Fenugreek leaves) or any other flavorful dried herb if you have.

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