Daal and Baati, also known as Litti Chokha, with its many variants has been the reason of eternal delight for those who hail from Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Madhesh in Nepal. Across faiths, across religions and across boastfulness of Rajputs in the arid lands of Rajasthan, Baati smeared in ghee and dip in daal is enormously customary.
What is Baati ?
An indigenous Indian bread, Baati has a hard surface and a soft core. Traditionally, the dough of Baati is made by kneading wheat powder (Atta) with a pinch of salt, a dash of dahi (yogurt) and some water. Later, Tennis ball-sized wads of this dough are put in a pre-heated traditional oven, made up of cow-dung cakes. When the “baati” turns golden brown, it is smeared with ghee (Clarified Butter) and is ready to serve.
Origin & History:
A gaze into history provides us with the evidence that the Daal and Baati originated in the erstwhile Mewar dynasty of Rajasthan during the reign of Bappa Rawal. It was a war time meal for the soldiers of this dynasty. Wads of wheat were buried into a thin sheet of sand and were baked under the sun to be consumed after each day of the battle. The accounts of the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta also exhibit the use of similar method of baking chunks of wheat under the sun in Magadha(present day Bihar). This establishes the origination of litti in Central India.
Versions of Baati, just Like iphone 6 and 6s:
A more accepted version of “Baati” is the “Namkeen Baati” or the “Masala Baati” (Known as “Baafla” in Madhya Pradesh). Stuffed with potatoes and a variety of spices, it is then fried in vegetable oil.
Litti is another variant of “Baati”. Like Baati, Litti is also prepared using wheat flour and then baked. What makes it different is the use of the flour made out of gram and lentils(Known as Sattu) along with wheat flour. Spices like ajwain, mangrail, garlic, red pepper, mustard oil, salt, and ginger are also used to flavour litti while Pickles are used to add spicy flavor to it. All this makes litti a unique dish in itself. Litti is further dipped in ghee and is served with a variety of curries such as murgh korma (a creamy chicken curry) and chokha, a vegetable preparation of roasted and mashed eggplant, tomato, and potato. Litti is a staple for people living in Bihar and Madhes.
Sides Served with Baati :
The scorching land of Rajasthan has always been home for the nomads. These nomads own herds of cattle making the state dairy rich. Thus the baati along with other breads has always been served with ample amount of ghee, yoghurt, and buttermilk since its origination
‘Daal’ is prepared using Tuvaar daal, Chana daal, Mung daal, Moth daal and Urad daal. According to the historical texts and accounts, Baati was not served with daal initially as the incognizant nomads were clueless about the pulses and spices used to prepare it. It was the traders who came and settled in Mewar and brought pulses and spices along with them and gave birth to Daal.
Dessert Oh Yeah!
A discussion about food is incomplete without mentioning the sweet dish. Therefore, after Daal and Baati comes the “Churma”. Churma is a rich blend of atta, semolina, milk, cardamom, cashew nuts, almonds and powdered Sugar. Like all other Rajasthani dishes, ghee is added to churma in abundance. More the Ghee, softer the churma turns out to be. Churma, according to the Mewari testimony was an accidental invention when a cook accidentally poured liquified gur into the Baati. Another testimony states that the housewives used to dip the Baati into sugar syrup to keep these Baatis pristine for longer duration so that their husbands could consume these Batis fresh.
Baati, Convention and Culture:
For the state of Rajasthan, “Daal, Baati and Churma” has always been an integral part of it’s convention and Culture. It is the supreme ceremonial dish for the Rajasthanis as the state has deep affinity towards its historical pride and vanity. The Heritage of this land cannot be experienced without experiencing the taste of this dish. Such is the synthesis of taste and heritage of the land of Kingdoms that is Rajasthan. It is the affection of the folklore for the dish as well as the ease of preparing it that most of the local restaurants of Rajasthan serve this dish. Besides, dhabas exclusively serving daal and baati to their customers on the highways, most Heritage hotels and resorts of the state have this dish on their menus. Not only the people of Rajasthan but also the People of Bihar and madhesh too are affectionate towards “Litti Chokha”. Such is the craze for the dish that the immigrant population of Biharis in Delhi has popularized it in the national capital. One, while strolling on the roads of delhi, can easily find roadside food carts (A Thela) serving Litti Chokha. This dish, since time immemorial, with the rich blend of their taste, culture and acclimation, manifest the culture and history of a different time.