THEPLA. The lesser known but a far more flavorful and healthier cousin from Gujarat of India’s better known flashy flatbread: Naan. Thepla is a thinner whole wheat silky smooth melt in your mouth (yes, it seems impossible, but it does!!) roti. The best part is that it is packed with so many flavors and green goodness that it needs no fancy or elaborate accompaniments. Just a dollop of yogurt and some spicy pickle (of course, when can I ever eat anything without pickle??!!!:-)) and I promise satiety for a long while.
- 2 bunches Fresh Fenugreek (Methi) Leaves
- 1 8oz cup Whole Wheat flour
- 1 tbsp Split-chickpea flour (Besan)
- 2 Green chilies
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp Asafoetida powder (Hing)
- 1/2 cup of whisked plain Yogurt
- Salt to taste
- Olive oil for cooking
Pick out the leaves of the 2 fresh methi bunches and place them in a colander.*** Wash the leaves thoroughly, squeeze out all the water and chop into fine pieces.
Wash and peel a 3" piece of ginger and cut it into small pieces. Grind it to a fine paste with 2 green chilies. Keep aside.
To a large bowl add:
1 cup of whole wheat flour + 1 tbsp of besan + the ginger-chili paste + 1 tsp of turmeric powder + 1 tsp of red chili powder + 1 tsp of hing + salt to taste. Mix well.
Add the chopped methi to the bowl. Mix well.
Add 1/2 cup of whisked plain yogurt.
Using your clean hands, mix in the yogurt into the flour and spices and methi.
Add very small amounts of water in installments to the mixture to make the dough. Keep kneading gently. It may seem sticky at first, but slowly it will begin to come together to yield a soft, pliable dough.****
Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and bring it all together into a dough ball. Cover and allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes.
Grease your palms lightly with oil, uncover the dough and divide it into 20 equal portions and make round balls from each of them without cracks.
Dust your board with whole wheat flour and place one dough ball at the center. With light, swift motions, start rolling out the Theplas from the center out. Do it slowly so that the Thepla is of uniform thickness and spreads into a nice circle about 3.5" in diameter (this can vary, of course based on the size of the dough ball and the thickness that you prefer).
Roast on a hot griddle by pressing each Thepla down with a flat spatula/cloth ball rolled tightly till brown spots appear on each side. Apply olive oil or ghee on both surfaces.
Serve piping hot with cold plain/Greek yogurt and a dollop of any spicy pickle of your choice!
* This includes the time to pick out the methi leaves and clean them. If you have done this earlier, the prep time is only 25 minutes.
** So, I made small, super thin Theplas. But yours maybe bigger and also thicker. In which case, you may end up with smaller numbers of Theplas. Like everything else, this takes a bit of practice.
*** This is a slightly time consuming process so you may want to plan ahead and complete this chore during TV watching or delegate it! Store the methi wrapped in paper in the fridge till you are ready to wash and chop and use it to make Theplas. You can use the dried but very flavorful Kasuri Methi, but the fresh leaves impart a flavor that is quite unmatched.
**** It is critical to not add too much water at the beginning! Just add water, slowly and in small quantities to make the dough. If you add too much water, the dough will get too sticky and rolling out the Theplas will be a huge challenge. If this happens, don't panic! Just add a little more whole wheat flour to eliminate the stickiness. The more flour you add, the more Theplas you will need to roll out! That's all!