Breakfast/Brunch/ Pakistani Food Recipes/ vegetarian

Breakfast – Aalu, Chana, and Poori/Bhatura

So I don’t know about you guys, but we have seen a whole lot of rain in these parts. It has been either overcast or pouring for the better part of the last few days which is enough to make me wonder why on earth I was looking forward to spring! Anyway, on a day like today I thought a nice traditional breakfast is in order.

Halwa poori is the quintessential Pakistani breakfast, the kind that no one makes at home, but will pick up from the nearest ‘restaurant’ if you can call it that. Although it is called halwa poori it breaks down something like this. You get one large serving of aalu chana (potatoes and chickpea curry), several pooris (soft, thin fried bread), and a smaller portion of halwa (essentially dessert). Halwa shmalwa I say, it is all about the pooris and the aalu chana.

My friends and I were talking about it just the other day and I thought I would give it a shot at home. Brace yourself – this has been a three recipes kinda morning. For two of them I give credit to my friend Vaish whose blog you can find  here. She calls it chana bhatura. I used regular chickpeas instead of the black kind because that is all I had and am not entirely sure what amchur powder is so I skipped that. Below is my (slightly) modified recipe, for the concise version please check out her blog, I have included a little more detail in mine for those who, like me, are a little bit more challenged in the kitchen. Also traditionally Pakistani pooris do not have yogurt, but Vaish’ bhatura did and I wanted to try it as written. I am so glad I did because as a result the pooris stayed soft even when they cooled down a little.

What I loved about this breakfast was that although the flavors of the dishes were different they went so well together. The back of the mouth heat of the chanas along with the tangy sour flavor of the potatoes was so delicious. And the bhaturas? Those slightly crispy, but soft and fried, but not greasy things? Sigh. Love.

On a practical note this breakfast easily serves 4.

Channa/ Chholay/ Chickpea Curry

1 can chickpeas (drained)
1/2 small onion chopped
3 medium tomatoes pureed or diced
2 tsp ginger garlic paste (I used 1 tsp ginger paste and 2 minced garlic cloves)
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 green chilis chopped
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp salt or to taste
2 tbsp oil
A pinch of baking soda
Juice of ½ a lemon
¼ cup chopped cilantro

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Put a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, dice up your onion, add the oil to the pan along with your cumin seeds, watch it sizzle for 20 seconds and then add the onion, salt, ginger and garlic, and turmeric powder. When the onions turns a golden brown then add the tomatoes, green chilies and the remaining spices. After a while it will become one cohesive paste; this should take about ten minutes during which you should stir it frequently to avoid it sticking to the bottom of your pan. Now add your chickpeas and a pinch of baking soda. The baking soda helps make the chickpeas tender and allows them to absorb more flavor  Cover the chickpeas with water, bring it to a simmer, and cover the lid and cook for 15-20 minutes till you achieve desired consistency. Check for seasoning and then add lemon juice and cilantro. Mix and serve.

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Aalu Bhaji / Potatoes

¼ cup oil
¼ tsp ajwain or carom seeds
5-6 medium potatoes
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tbsp achar or achar masala of choice
Cilantro for garnish

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I found this recipe in one of my mother’s cookbooks and thought I would it. Today I decided to par boil my potatoes since I had extra tough potatoes – you know the kind where you basically throw your entire body weight behind your knife to slice them.

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Heat your oil in a medium sized pan and then add the carom/ajwain and let it sizzle for 20-30 seconds, this stuff is delicate and burns easily. Then add in diced potatoes, red chili powder, salt, turmeric, and tomato paste. If you do not have tomato paste then half a finely diced tomato is fine. Cover with water and cook on a simmer till potatoes are tender, this should take about 20-25 minutes. Add a good dollop of your achar or achar seasoning of choice and either add water or reduce heat to evaporate the water to desired consistency. Garnish with cilantro and green chilies if desired.

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Oh and as a shout out to my friend Aalya who has been berating my all morning, you can easily make this exact recipe with just chickpeas/chanas, and skip the potatoes in their entirety. Folks, can you believe there is someone who doesn’t like potatoes? I know. So weird. It’s okay though – she has lots of other redemptive qualities.

Bhatura 

2¼ cup all purpose flour 
5 tbsp plain yogurt
5 tsp oil
1 tsp salt

Sieve flour and rub in the oil. Add salt, yogurt and water and knead well to make soft dough. This took me about 15 minutes of pretty aggressive kneading and I did have to add another spoon of yoghurt. Form a ball, cover it with a wet cloth and let it rest for about an hour. The dough should feel softer now.

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Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and form little balls or patties with your hands, cover them with a wet cloth and let them rest for another 45 minutes.

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When you are ready to eat then heat about 1 ½ to 2 inches of oil in a skillet with high sides and then get to work on rolling out the dough.

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This took some trial and error for me. I can’t really remember the last time I would have made any kind of traditional bread. However I did develop a system that more of less works.

First I formed the dough into a disc shape with my hands, then brushed the dough discs with oil and rolled it out thin with my rolling pin. I did several of these and then covered them with a wet cloth as I wanted to fry them rapidly and eat them soon after.

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Drop a teeny amount of dough into the oil, if it rises to the top immediately then you are in business. Gently slide a poori into the oil, it took me about 30 seconds to get them golden and puffed on each side. Drain on paper towels as you continue to fry others.

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Oh and a quick shout out to my husband who obliged me by taking out the food and snapping some pics of the end result while I fried the bhaturas/pooris. I am not sure that that counts as cooking (he insists it does), but it definitely counts as helping 🙂

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