Festive Specials

luchi, anyone?

durga pujo is almost here, soon it’ll be dussehra and diwali, thought i’d share a recipe for these eat joyously times.

luchis are lovely things. they traumatise all resolve to not even look at fried stuff, lose weight, eat sensibly and other such notions.

luchi is a bengali creation (i am almost sure), a beautiful take on the poori, which is made of atta or whole wheat mainly. here it’s all maida or refined flour.

the taste is delicate, the mouth feel, soft and fluffy. there’s a crispness to the thin topside. when the luchi is hot, poke the crust and hot steam comes out, singeing your finger, the fresh aroma making you hungry. why does it remind me of lace, light and wafting, ethereal.

you can eat luchi with anything… chholar dal (bengal gram dal), begun bhaja (fried brinjal), aloo bhaja (fried potato), kosha mangsho (mutton fry), aloor chhenchki (a light potato curry), aloor dom (potato slow roasted), aam rosh (mango pulp), tomato chutney, and jhola gur (new jaggery syrup) are some of the favourites to have your luchi with. i love luchi with plain sugar too. or, even just by itself.

and while hot, fluffed up luchis are delightful, bashi luchi or luchi about a day old, gone oily and denser in taste, is not too bad either. do keep antacids handy though.

luchi is pronounced: loo-chee.

phulko means puffed up, fluffy.

one can have luchi for breakfast, shokaler jolkhabar, with something light like aloor chhecchki or aloor chhoka (potato tempered with pepper).

or at teatime, jolkhabar, with a potato curry, perhaps a bhaja or fry, and a chutney; even kosha mangsho, if it’s a heavy jolkhabar you’re wanting.

for lunch or dinner, luchi with kosha mangsho is wonderful. even starting the meal with luchi and aloor chhenchki, rather nice.

of course, for dessert, luchi dunked in jhola gur or aam rosh.

 

ingredients

3 cups maida (all purpose flour)
2 and a half to 3 tbsp moyan of white oil (we use sunflower usually) or ghee
1/2 tsp salt

oil for deep frying
water to knead the dough (some people use slightly warm water)

sift the flour with salt in a mixing platter/bowl. add the moyan and mix it well with the flour. make a well in the middle and add half a cup of water. mix the water and flour together. the mixture will cling to your fingers. now add water a little by little, till the clingy feel goes and the dough comes off your fingers easily.

be careful about the amount of water. luchi dough must not be too wet. if it feels wet, add a little plain flour and incorporate it into the dough. knead for a few minutes, you’re looking for a firm dough with a springy pliable quality. not too soft. when you break a piece, the dough should not stretch out to much, it should break quite easily.

cover with a damp cloth and leave the dough for a bit, twenty minutes or so.

break off a portion of the dough and roll it between your hands into a cylindrical piece. divide into same sized little balls. these are called lechi if i remember right.

a luchi can be as big or small as you like. i like the not too large, about 2 and a half to 3 inches in diameter ones.

lightly oil the surface on which you’ll roll the luchi. put a little oil on the rolling pin too. roll the lechi to a perfect sphere, flatten it slightly between your palms, place on the surface, press gently with three fingers flattening it further, put a little oil on the lechi and roll out the luchi. be gentle, be kind, this is delicate flour in a mood to fluff up. do not wreck its mood.

even if all the luchis don’t fluff up, it’s okay, they still taste good.

the luchi should be not too thin, about one sixth of an inch or a couple of millimetres thick, not thin like the phulka dough. also, go easier over the centre as you roll, allowing the edges to get just a little bit thinner.

this is all about feel and at one point you get it just right. so if there are casualties, not to worry. if the luchi is not a perfect circle, never mind, no circle is perfect. and if you make them often enough, at some point the knack for rounder luchis will come along.

as you roll them out, heat the oil in a kadai/wok. the oil should be hot and yet not too hot when you slide a luchi in to fry. if it’s taking too long to fry, let the oil get hotter before you try again.

remember not to drop the luchi into the oil. from the side, slide it in and let it sink into the oil. as you fry the luchis, you’ll have to adjust the heat. when luchis brown too quickly, lower the flame. wait. then fry again.

to fry: slide the luchi into the oil. as it rises to the surface, pour the hot oil onto it, till it fluffs up, turn and let it cook for a few seconds. take it out. do not let the luchi go too brown. the colour should be pale white to slightly brown.

another way to make the luchi fluff up is to hold it down in the oil with the back of the slotted spoon you’re using to fry. the dough sort of puffs up as you press down, an indomitable streak in it.

take out from the oil, gently shake it against the side of the kadai to let the oil go, leave on tissue paper for a bit.

serve hot.

 

 

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