Savory Deep-Fried Street-Side Breads
Known as kachoris, these are like small filled luchis, filled with an enticing cooked dal mixture. It seems as if there's a kachori maker every hundred yards or so on the main bazaar streets in Rajasthani cities. It's fascinating to watch them deep-fry. I love to split a hot kachori in half just after it's cooked and breathe in the aroma of the mint and the mustard seed and fennel spicing of the dal filling: essence of northern India.
1 cup urad dal
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
about 1/4 cups minced mint leaves (optional)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil, plus extra for shaping
about 3/4 cups lukewarm water
peanut oil for deep-frying
Wash the dal thoroughly in several rinses of warm water. Place in a saucepan with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Cook at medium boil, partially covered, for 1 hour. The dal will be very soft, but not completely cooked. Transfer the dal to a food processor and process to a smooth puree. Set aside in a bowl.*
Heat oil in a wok or karhai or in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop in hot oil, then toss in cumin seeds and cook for 10 seconds. Add puréed dal and stir, then stir turmeric, cayenne, and salt. Cook, using wooden spoon or wide metal spatula to smear dal against surface of pan to expose it to heat, then to lift if off to prevent sticking, about 5 minutes. Lower heat and cook for another minute or two, until dal has firmed to smooth paste. Turn out of pan into a bowl and set aside to cool to room temperature.(If you will not be using the dal within an hour, refrigerate, tightly covered.)
To make dough, place the flour and salt in the food processor. With machine running, add the ghee or oil through the feed tube, then add water until a ball of dough forms. Process for another 15 seconds or so, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until very smooth, about 4 minutes. Set aside, well covered with plastic, for at least 30 minutes, or as long as 3 hours, whatever is most convenient.(The dough can be refrigerated for up to a day.
(Bring to room temperature before using)
Place the bowl of filling by your work surface together with a large plate and a small bowl of ghee or vegetable oil. Add the mint, if using. Lighty oil the palms of your hands. Scoop up a scant 1 tablespoon filling, roll it between your oiled palms into a ball, and place it on the plate. Repeat with the remaining filling, to make sixteen balls. Set aside.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into sixteen equal pieces by cutting in half and then half again, and so on. Flatten each piece into a 3-inch disk and set aside.
Place a disk on one palm and make a dent in the center with your thumbs. Place a ball of filling in the dent, then pull up the dough to cover the filling, pinching to seal it closed. Lightly flour both your palms and flatten the dough between your palms to a disk about 4 inches across. Set aside on a lightly floured surface. Repeat with the remaining breads, and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
*The dal can be prepared up to 3 days ahead. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.