There was a time when Thepla, Dhokla, Khakhra were a bunch of strange-sounding foods that belonged to a distant cuisine. Of course there were times when we were drawn close to them, thanks to the friendly Patel’s store in the suburbs where we lived, back in Chicago. There would be a plateful of spongy, turmeric-yellow Dhoklas topped with a most inviting seasoning of mustard, asafetida and slit green chilies, by the billing counter, screaming to be had. A dozen home-made Methi Theplas slid into a ziploc and arranged in a leaning tower right by the Dhoklas, would be bought impulsively on many an occasion, and eaten hurriedly with bowls of too-thick yogurt and a liberal sprinkling of sugar. And the lesser said of the Khakhras, the better – considering how our eyebrows would break into a happy dance upon sighting a new flavor on the shelves. And how, once procured, they’d be used as a base for virtually everything, ranging from masala corn chaat to super nachos!
Thus and so, once we had had a taste of these delicacies, we realized just how high their deliciousness quotient was, not to mention nutrition and shelf-life quotients. We made them our own, trying out various permutations and combinations of ingredients, given how well the recipes lent themselves to versatility. Our Tiranga Dhokla has stood the test of time, needless to say. Our Black-eyed Peas Salad has long been doing the rounds on broken crisps of Khakhras, too. And now we present a fortified version of Tadka-style Theplas. This recipe is a keeper, and the sooner you try it the better!
- 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
- 1.5 cups whole wheat flour / atta
- 1/4 cup curd
- 2 spring onion greens
- 1/4 cup coriander leaves
- 1/4 cup mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 green chilli, de-seeded and minced
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (or more if you like your theplas yellow)
- 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- About 1/4 cup oil for shallow frying
- Put all the ingredients except the oil in the bowl of a food processor*. Run the machine for about a minute, or until the sprouts break down and are ground up into the flour.
- Add water by the tablespoon and process until the dough comes together and forms in a ball. Let the machine knead the dough for a few seconds.
- Remove the dough from the processor and roll it into a ball. Keep it in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Set aside to rest for 15-20 minutes. This step can be done ahead of time and the dough can be refrigerated, after the resting period, for a few hours.
- When you are ready to make the theplas, divide the dough into 8 parts. Shape each part into a ball and keep covered.
- Meanwhile preheat an iron tava or griddle.
- Take one piece of dough and roll it out thinly to about 6″ diameter, using a little dry flour as needed to keep it from sticking. Place the thepla on the tava.
- Cook the thepla on medium heat, turning to cook both sides. Once it starts getting browned, smear a little oil on each side.
- Remove the cooked thepla to a paper towel kept on a thick kitchen towel. Cover and keep warm. Make the other theplas the same way.
- Serve hot, warm or at room temperature, with curd, pickle or chutney and a bowl of salad.
*To make the dough without a food processor, first grind up the sprouts finely in a grinder. Then put all the ingredients in a large bowl or plate and knead, adding enough water, as needed to make a dough.
You can use any bean sprouts for making these theplas. Here we’ve used heirloom black horsegram, but moong dal sprouts work equally well.