Gram Flour pasta in a Indian spiced tomato and vegetable base
A few weeks before I fell pregnant with my baby boy, we did a tour around India. I wasn’t overly enthusiastic at the prospect of being guided around historical monuments I’d already seen a couple of times, that too in the sweltering orange and dusty heat. My husband had never done it though and he was really keen. So, I looked up some contacts and I cooked with chefs throughout our journey; aloo wadiya and kulcha in Amritsar, kofta in Udaipur, mughlai dishes in Delhi, juicy paneer in Agra, chaat in Mumbai…It was so much fun. The passion and skill in the chefs was moving. The chefs and I nattered for hours, perched on the edge of our comfy chairs, about their ancestry, their feelings about food, how their family regard their chosen path. It was so exhilarating to be around people who love what they do. We’d slump back in our chairs in smiling consideration.
To close our bustling and rousing trip we headed over to Gujarat to see family and get it touch with our religious roots.
So we arrived at one of Porabander’s best hotels really late into the night. The bed had blue neon lights around it. I don’t think I need to say any more. As l stood there whispering WTF, familiar fishy smells of this seemingly standstill coastal town overwhelmed me. It didn’t feel any different to how it did 20 years ago. Now I’m the sort of person that enjoys foods from around the world, it thrills me. The experience of new senses in my mouth makes me giddily happy. I love Italian, Indian, Lebanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Moroccan, Thai, Spanish…but. After all of that, the cuisine that cajoles me into my natural rhythm is Gujarati food. After being separated from my native food for over two weeks, I was restless with hankerings. I was looking forward to Dhokla, Thepla, okra curry, gram flour straws in spicy tomato.
So I asked my husband to ring reception to see what sort of Gujarati food we could get so late and how we could get a thali the next day. You know what they told us? No Gujarati food in the hotel. That’s right. Noodles or a sandwich were offered to me. I was aghast.
My recipe today is inspired by Gujarati Dhokli, which is effectively gram flour pasta. Traditionally it is simmered in dhal, but my recipe is quicker and just different, as it is in a spicy tomato and vegetable base. It’s a filling and comforting dish that is pretty simple to make. You’ll sleep we’ll on this one.
Gram flour pasta in a spicy tomato and vegetable base
Tomato and veg base
200g green beans trimmed and cut into bit size 2cm chunks
150g baby corn, trimmed and cut into 2cm bites
2 medium new potatoes cut into small cubes
4 shallots, finely chopped
3 gloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 green chilies chopped
1400ml warm water
1 ½ tin of tomatoes
The spices; 1 tsp. cumin seeds, 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds, ½ tsp. mustard seeds, 6-7 curry leaves, salt to taste, 3 cloves, a pinch of asafoetida, ½ tsp. black pepper, ½ tsp. garam masala
The Gram Flour Pasta
¾ cup gram flour
1 cup finely milled whole wheat flour
1.5 tbsp Vegetable oil
The spices; 3/4 tsp. ajwain, 1 tsp. red chilli powder, ½ tsp. turmeric powder and salt to taste
150ml warm water
- Start by making the pasta dough by mix all of the dry ingredients and spices. Make a well in the middle and pour into the middle. With your fingers massage the oil into the flour, creating a lightly crumbly texture and then with your fingers mix together the water, little by little, together with the flour and spices to form a ball. Coat the ball with vegetable oil and wrap in Clingfilm and rest it whilst you continue to prepare vegetables.
- Roll out the dough to one centimeter thickness and cut into rectangles of between 4cm by 3cm. Once they are all rolled and cut out place them onto a dish and dust the pieces lightly. If your kitchen is very warm, put the pasta in the fridge, so that the pieces do not stick together
- To make the tomato and veg base, heat 2 tbsp. oil and add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, turmeric powder, mustard seeds, chilies and cloves before allowing the seeds to pop.
- Stir in the onions and salt, then sauté for a couple of minutes before stirring in the garlic. Soften both before adding in the potatoes, green beans and the baby corn and mixing through thoroughly. Add the black pepper
- Stir in the tomatoes, water and bring to a simmer before cooking for 4-5 minutes
- Drop in the pasta simmer for 10-12 minutes before sprinkling in the garam masala and serving lashings of it.