An authentic preparation of Bihar called litti chokha made its appearance in eastern Uttar Pradesh and specifically Varanasi a few decades ago. This scrumptious dish took on a new avatar in the holy city and was coined baati chokha.
Baati chokha is essentially a harmonious combination of baati (wheat balls stuffed with sattu roasted over charcoal) and chokha (curry of roasted brinjal, mashed potato and tomato) served with a generous helping of desi ghee. What makes this dish simply irresistible is the underlying smoky flavour in the baati and the spicy smokiness from the brinjal in the chokha.
Locals swear that Pappu Kumar and Guddu Kumar (originally from Bihar) who run the Popular Baati Chokha shop in Chandrika Nagar colony in downtown Sigra serve the best baati chokha in the city. Their baati chokha has a unique taste that is largely attributed to the freshly prepared sattu and smoky brinjals.
The sattu is prepared by dry roasting bengal gram in a large iron vessel with sand. The sand is sieved away and roasted bengal gram is powdered using traditional equipment. Ajwain, nigella seeds (kalonji), salt, lemon juice and other spices are mixed into the fine powder.
Medium-sized balls of soft wheat dough are filled with sattu and placed over charcoal to roast evenly. Locals use cow dung as the fuel for cooking the baati as it really enhances its flavour. The potato, brinjal and tomato used to make the chokha are also roasted in the same fire after which they are mashed and the required spices are mixed in.
The baati is slightly broken and dipped in desi ghee and served with hot chokha, a dash of green chutney, a couple of onion slices and a masala green chilli. This wholesome dish is healthy, delicious and prepared in the natural way.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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