Gujarati Methi Thepla (Spiced Indian Flat Bread with Fenugreek Leaves)
Gujarati Methi Thepla’s is one of the many comfort foods to Gujarati’s. If you are on a long distance train or even on a trekking trip and you spot a Gujarati, you will definitely find them with Theplas. Just as said, it’s a great travel food, like a baguette is to the French. You can eat it just about anywhere without any accompaniment and it gives you the satisfaction that you have actually had something substantial to eat. You could serve it for breakfast, in a lunch box with vegetables or to children rolled up as a snack.
Over the years of experimenting I make versions of Thepla’s that truly amazes my mother in law herself and makes her feel proud. Thepla’s are essentially thin flat bread that has turmeric, asafoetida, cumin, chilli powder and a wide range of leaves or grated vegetable additions. These breads are cooked on a high heat with a little oil. The high heat helps the thinly rolled out bread to cook faster and remain soft. The recipe below is Thepla’s made from freshly chopped fenugreek leaves called Methi Na Thepla, which is the classic Gujarati Thepla. Towards the end of the recipe, you will find the various additions you can add to make Thepla.
Instead of methi leaves we can add any one of the following to the dough.
1. One cup grated bottle gourd and 3 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander leaves – It has to be added raw to the dough mixture, since bottle gourd gives out a lot of water when raw, you might want to add a little more flour if required to compensate for the excess water.
2. One cup of grated white radish and 3 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander leaves – I like to sauté the radish in 1 teaspoon of oil and ½ teaspoon of turmeric until tender. Once cooled add the sautéed radish and the chopped coriander leaves to the dough mixture and knead well.
3. One cup of finely chopped fresh spinach – follow the same instruction as with fenugreek leaves in the recipe
4. One cup freshly grated carrots and 3 tablespoons freshly chopped coriander leaves, following the same instruction as above recipe.
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, pounded coarsely
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chilli powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
1/2 cup finely chopped fenugreek leaves
2 tablespoons oil + oil for cooking the thepla
salt to taste
Directions for Gujarati Methi Thepla Recipe
To begin making the Gujarati Methi Thepla Recipe, in a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients, including the fenugreek leaves. Add the yogurt to the flour mixture and knead into a firm smooth dough adding little water only if required. Finally add the two tablespoons of oil to coat the dough and knead until it is firm and smooth. Cover and allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes. Preheat the iron skillet on medium heat. Divide the dough into 15 portions.
Roll the portions into balls; flatten them with the palm of your hand. Toss them on flour and roll them out into thin circles to approximately 6 inches in diameter. As you roll them out, you can keep tossing the dough in dry flour to prevent sticking when rolling them out. Continue the same process of rolling the dough out with the remaining balls. It is ideal when you can roll out the all portions of dough before you can start cooking them.
*Method of Cooking the Thepla
With skillet on high heat, place the rolled out dough on the skillet. After a few seconds you will notice small air pockets popping out. At this point flip the thepla and smear about 1/2 a teaspoon of oil and using a flat spatula and do a light pressing and turning motion to cook to the thepla.
Flip to the other side and press and turn in a similar way. You will notice brown spots around the cooked thepla. Remove from heat and place on a flat plate.
Continue the similar process with the remaining rolled out portions and stack the cooked thepla’s one above the other. Stacking them maintains softness and prevents the thepla’s from drying out, preserving moisture, keeping their texture super soft.
Note that the theplas are cooked on high heat and hence cook very fast; if you find the high heat inconvenient reduce heat to medium. Make sure you have your exhaust on or windows open, as cooking on high heat on an iron skillet causes a little smoke.
Serve the delicious Gujarati Methi Thepla's along with Batata Nu Shaak | Aloo Ki Sabzi or just rolled up with pickle.
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