aarwen food

Have you ever had dal baati?

dal baati recipe

Blame it on Sooraj Barjatya. Those loud hyper happy families with beautiful decked grand halls, curving stairways, women with stone jewellery, intricate ornate lehengas and all that food! I was a Bihari (or half since my mother is a Bengali), but I longed to be a Marwari.

The food was a big part of this yearning. In the movies, the heroine or mother would make gajar ka halwa (carrot dessert). But, there are so many more food options. My Marwari neighbours would call a maharaj during holiday season... This cook would make food without onions or garlic. Impossible, my grandmother would say, but it would turn out delicious… samosas, dhokla, suhali and kanji wada. If I arrived at the right time of the evening, I would get to taste.

Then, there was a Marwari school friend. Her family owned a chain of sweet stores. Her birthday parties were the food highlights of the year for me. The aaloo ki sabji (potato curry) with home made naan (bread baked in a clay oven).. ohhh I need to go eat something. Will be back…


I always assumed being in a Marwari family would give me this food. So, picture my enthusiasm, after marriage, standing in a kitchen where gatte ki sabji, kadi pakodi, papad ki sabji and all sorts of wondrous dishes were a reality.

You are not wrong if you are thinking these names are all of Rajasthani dishes. Marwar was a kingdom in Rajasthan. Since most of the land is a barren desert, a lot of the emphasis is on dried food that can be stored and last through months without rain.

All these differences from other states and I ended up loving something very similar to a Bihari favourite. Dal Baati. The baati being a synonym to litti. Only, in Bihar it’s served with chokha (mashed potato). In Rajasthan, it’s accompanied by dal (lentils).

Bati, or litti, in Rajashthan is made entirely of aata (wheat flour). I prefer the modified version of stuffing it with sattu (Bengal gram flour).

It is quick. Takes less than an hour and needs no prior preparation or fresh vegetables. So, if there is nothing else at home, I find sattu and make this favourite dish.

Knead 2 cups of aata into a soft dough with a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon refined oil and water as needed. Make small balls out of the dough. Put oil on your palms, or use a spoon to dab the dough. That way it doesn’t dry up (a neat trick from my grandmother-in-law!)

For the filling, mix 1 cup sattu, a teaspoon of salt, jeera (cumin) powder, chilli powder and ajwain (Google tells me the English name is carom). Saunf (crushed fennel) can also be added. Some people in my family like saunf, some don’t. So, I skip it to be safe. The secret ingredient is mango pickle oil. It adds in a layered tangy aftertaste.

Spread the ball to fit into your palm. The tricky part is getting the dough thickness right. If the dough coating is too thick, it’s hard to cook through. If it’s too thin, it might burst. So, keep the sides thinner than the center. Stuff the sattu and pinch the sides together. Flatten until the balls are snug.

Now, my grandmother-in-law likes to boil these before frying them because it is lighter on the stomach. My mother-in-law fries them directly. Your choice. Might crack a bit, but if you stuffed it right, the oil doesn’t seep into the stuffing. To drain oil, place on a tissue.

Otherwise, you can skip frying altogether. Place them on an aluminium foil and bake for an hour at 350 degrees. Drizzle some ghee or butter so they don’t turn hard stone-like (still tasty, but risky to the teeth). Keep turning sides so it cooks evenly. Bake or fry till golden brown. In winter, place it on a warm crackling fire.

There! All done… Have it with your version of chokha or dal.  Some tips for the dal – cook well, keep it thick, for the tadka use ghee, jeera and chilli powder.  For the chokha, mustard oil and some burnt red chilli can never go wrong. Mango pickle works wonders on the side.

With the years, I have changed. I have grown to hate big parties, chaos and people. So, Sooraj Barjatya movies are great only on the movie screen. But, one thing that doesn’t change is my love for Marwari food.


For the Baati –

2 cups Flour

1 tablespoon Oil

Salt to taste


For the Stuffing –

1 cup Sattu (Bengal gram flour)

2 teaspoon Jeera Powder

1/2 teaspoon Chilli Powder

1/2 teaspoon Ajwain

1/2 teaspoon crushed Saunf (optional)

Salt to taste

1/2 tablespoon Mango Pickle Oil




Pic credit pixterrazo

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  • Reply
    Lalita Arya
    August 15, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    Wow…what’s happening these days with the lovely dishes articles? First indi with her kheer komli and now rhea with dal baati…mmm, delicious just reading about them, making my mouth water. I am surprised that you refer to the bengal gram dal as sattu. actually in bhojpuri sattu means ‘of seven grains’. In Guyana where I was born the older folks made this to take as food on journeys. When I was married to my Punjabi husband I used to have this made for him for his travels as well. Then after moving to Dehradun, I found a bengali family who made it for me – I don’t know what the seven grains are, but channa dal or bengal gram is one of the ingredients. thanks for the delicious recipes.

    • Reply
      indrani robbins
      August 15, 2016 at 10:52 pm

      lalita, glad you’re enjoying the food pieces. that’s interesting, never knew sattu was a mix of seven grains. in bengali, we pronounce it chhatu, so i guess all connotations of seven disappear. i used to love the taste, just mixed with water, a little mustard oil, chillies, i think that’s all.

      • Reply
        rhea sinha
        August 17, 2016 at 10:35 am

        Oh now Sattu makes sense and would explain why sometimes a packet of bengal gram flour doesn’t taste as good as sattu. Yes, take it on journeys because it doesn’t spoil easily. Same in my family. Glad you enjoyed Lalita. Thank you.

        Interested in doing another guest piece on your special food preparation? We would love to read.

  • Reply
    indrani robbins
    August 15, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    okay, this shall be tried promptly. and i must have been a bihari or marwari in some birth for i kept thinking daal bati is litti. i haven’t tried either :). i love home made marwari food too, you are so right about that aloo sabzi. as for delicious food minus onion garlic, my father’s family, practicing vaishnavs, use neither. food tastes great. loved the tips, pity no mango pickle at home, but we shall not be deterred. thanks for this fab one. oh, and i never ever ever watch barjatya films. all that gaiety and family love and heavy sarees has me in raving asr mood.

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      August 17, 2016 at 10:40 am

      haha hi fellow bihari or marwari from previous life. Another food item without garlic and onion I love is kala channa prepation for nav kanya puja. Its absolutely yummy.

      Eagerly waiting for an update on your dal baati success.

      By the way, thank you for suggesting the idea to write about food. I had lots of fun. Maybe we can do it again after some months?

      • Reply
        indrani robbins
        August 17, 2016 at 5:32 pm

        yes, let’s. it was fun. kala chana recipe…. do pass.

  • Reply
    lalita arya
    August 19, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    I would love to do some writing on Indo-Guyanese recipes (some are mixed with Afro-Guyanese ingredients). I am from a vegetarian family background, so can only promise vegetarian dishes. But just for a short note what quickly comes to mind is a popular snack made at home both in Guyana & Trinidad and also a roadside snack is “phulaurie”. This is made from yellow split peas flour mixed with a little white flour and some spices like cumin (jeera), chili, salt etc for taste, and deep fried. Served with chatnee (chutney). I think the word “phulaurie” comes from the Bengla “fuluri”, but I am not sure. This has been such a popular snack that there is a song to go with it – Phulaurie banaa chatnee, kaisay lagee. …” usually sung at pre-wedding celebrations.

  • Reply
    August 24, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    I recently had my first tasting of the dal baati, the UP version of it. And it was yummy 🙂

    • Reply
      rhea sinha
      August 26, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Glad you liked it Kish. For some people it can be an acquired taste. But, am laughing at the mention on UP version. Everything in India has so many version. Remember in Queen Kangana confuses the person talking about golgappa, puchka, gupchup??

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