“Food is a gift and should be treated reverentially – romanced and ritualized and seasoned with memory” ~ Chris Bohialian
Just as the Italians have their Pizzas , the Mexicans have their chillies, an Indian meal is incomplete without flat breads or a ladle of plain rice.
The ceremony of making flat breads or Chapattis is a ritual I follow whole year long, knead, roll, roast, eat, repeat…and I am happy girl. I don’t think I can ever trade my fluffy chapatti or the steaming bowl of rice with anything else.
But innovations I do in my kitchen to add spicy tadka and a little fun quotient to the traditional recipes .
For some time now I was thinking about the spicy Chole (chickpeas) with fluffy deep-fried Bhature (flat breads), mom used to make during weekends in Udaipur .
Making me and my brother sit at one place to eat was a herculean task for mom. She would often roll chapattis with veggies stuffed inside and pack in our lunch boxes, which saved our time and her hassles big-time.
To serve the Chole and Bhature, she would slit open the Bhature to make a pocket and fill the Chole inside and serve it along with a few cucumber slices & onion rings.
I wanted to relive the same memories of eating and share the joy with my children through the food I cook .
But I did not want to make deep fried Bhature either. This is when I thought of baking Pita bread and stuffing it with creamy Mushroom curry….sort of Middle Eastern and Asian combo meal.
“Mushrooms never tasted this good mom and these pocketwali Chapattis are simply amazing” said my son.
Need I say more?
The star ingredient of the recipe is Charmagaz. Charmagaz is an assortment of four different seeds of Cucurbitaceous plants. Musk melon, water melon, pumpkin and cucumber seeds together are called Charmagaz. Char is a Hindi word fo four and Magaz means intelligence.
Apart from making a healthy, filling and delicious snack, Charmagaz is extensively used in Rajasthani cuisine. If Rajput families use a paste of these seeds for their exotic non-veg cuisine then the Marwaris make scrumptious using the same.
I often use the seeds in moderation to make and gravies for most of my curries. These seeds make an excellent economical substitute to the much expensive nuts.
1. Charmagaz Mushroom Curry
The recipe is a vegetarian take on a very popular and exotic royal dish called safed maas made in the Rajput community from Rajasthan . A Rajput friend of mine shared the ingredients for the gravy to be used to make the same sometime back.
The original recipe uses tons of fat loaded ingredients, cashew nuts, mawa (condenced milk), cream to name a few. I reduced the amount of seeds and nuts and completely omitted cream, mawa and a few more ingredients in the list to make it a light and healthy version.
Tomato is avoided in this gravy as the colour of gravy remains white when served. The light orangish colour in my recipe is due to the red chilly in the recipe. My children disliked the white coloured gravy I made at the first time. You can omit red chillies and add green chillies to get a white gravy for this recipe.
You can add any vegetable use cottage cheese and Tofu in the same gravy to make a Charmagaz curry of your choice.
20-25 button mushrooms
1/2 cup yogurt/curd
1 large onion
1 tbs. ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp. Oil
Salt as per taste
2 tbsp. Chaarmagaz
1 tbsp. Poppy seeds
5-6 Cashew nuts
4 dry red chillies
1 small cinnamon stick
1 small bay leaf
3-4 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
Method; Peel and grate the onion with a fine grater.
Take a bowl and pour warm water in it. Add all the seeds or Chaarmagaz (explained above), cashew nuts, poppy seeds, dry red chillies in warm water and let it soak for 30 minutes.
Grind all the soaked ingredients into fine paste and take it out in a bowl. Pour yogurt in it and mix well.
Heat Oil in a wok or pan and add bay leaf, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, coves and sauté for a second.
Add grated onion, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder and cook for 4-5 minutes on slow heat.
Pour the yogurt with ground paste in the wok and cook it for 2-3 minutes. Add salt, sugar (optional) and take it off the flame.
Garnish the Charmagaz Mushroom curry recipe with chopped coriander leaves.
2. Pita Breads
I was able to bake 3 small Pita breads at one time in my conventional oven. As the waiting time was too long, I cooked the rest of my Pita breads directly on Tawa or griddle.
Oven baked Pita breads comes out fluffier and have beautiful brown marks on it while griddle roasted ones get charred at times.
(make 8-10 Pita breads)
3 cups whole wheat flour
11/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp. oil
2 tsp. dry yeast
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
Method; Take a large bowl and add flour, yeast and salt in it, mix well.
Make a small well in the centre and add yeast, honey, oil, warm water and combine to make a soft dough.
Place the dough on a well floured surface and knead gently for 4-5 minutes.
Place the dough in another bowl which is lightly greased with oil, cover it with a damp cloth and leave it in a warm place for an hour to let it rise.
Take out the dough and knead again for a few minutes.
Pinch small portions from the dough and roll them into balls.
Place the ball on a floured board and flatten it to make a thin circle or chapatti.
I didn’t have much time in hand to wait for a second rise and cooked my Pita breads on griddle instead.
Heat a griddle and place the rolled out ball or chapatti on it and cook it on both sides till light brown circles appear.
You can bake these Pita breads in an oven also. Place the flattened circles directly on the greased baking tray and let them rise while you pre heat the oven at 230°C.
Check this recipe for Pita bread baked in an oven.
Place the baking tray inside oven and bake the Pita bread for 5-8 minutes till they puff up and get brown in colour.
Let the Pita breads cool slightly, smear a little butter of ghee on each Pita bread if you wish.
Slit open each bread to make a pocket. Fill the pockets with the creamy mushroom curry, spread it with a spoon. Close the Pita bread and serve immediately.
You can serve the Charmagaz curry with plain bread or plan rice also.
Crushed dry fenugreek leaves or Kasuri Methi gives a wonderful aroma to the recipe.
Garnish the recipe with thick cream to make it an exotic dish.
Do not cook the recipe for longer time after adding the ground paste of seeds and cashew nuts. This might make the recipe taste slightly bitter.
The same gravy can be used to make variations of vegetarian curries by adding vegetables or Cottage cheese in it.
As I used the gravy to stuff the Pita breads I made it slightly thicker, you can increase water to make it more liquid if you wish.
You can also serve the Mushroom curry with plain flat breads ( chapattis ) or plain rice.
Add any other vegetables or cottage cheese in the above gravy to make a variations.
The gravy can be refrigerated for 2-3 days and is a perfect party dish which can be made ahead of time.