Litti Chokha is a dish that not many Dilliwalas know about, to simplify it, I was told that it is like Baati (Dal-Baati-Churma fame) but from Eastern side of India, Bihar to be more specific. But now I know that comparing it with Baati is simplifying it too much. They both are round balls of flour – I guess the similarity ends there.
|Litti soaked in Ghee with Chokha of Aloo and Baigan.
I am not an culinary expert and to keep things simple I would describe Litti as a round ball of flour stuffed with some Sattu and then cooked over a grill fired with coal. Or alteast that is what I have eaten mostly, specially in Sector 58 of Noida which is a strong hold of Litti Chhokha sellers. Chokha that we get there is a mix of potato and aubergine as base. However I have been told that it can be be made of Chhole/Chana, Chicken, Mutton etc amongst other things.
Talking about the ones that we usually get on streets of Noida, they are simple balls of flour which are stuffed with Sattu, which is a powder of grounded pulses, chane ki dal in this case I would assume. Sattu in turn is dry roasted/toasted with garlic, onions, green chilli, coriander, ajwain, jeera and mangrella (Kalongi or Onion seeds) which add lot of flavor to it. Litti is then baked / roasted on a coal fired grill, which makes it quite crispy and crunchy. It can be served dry or dipped in Desi Ghee; which is my favorite way of eating it. When the Desi ghee reaches the core of it then the magic happens for me. The aroma, the flavors are divine enough to captivate all your senses.
|Getting roasted on coal fired grill.|
|A closer look|
|The Young lad making and serving us. Loved his hospitality and attitude.|
Coming to chokha, usually its the Aloo-Baigan ka mix that these guys serves, however what makes it interesting is the use of 3 chutneys or sauces to spice it up. One is made of mustard seed paste in mustard oil base, the other is red chilli, and the third one is green one with ginger, garlic, coriander and green chillies in it. Usually they mix it as per their standard recipe, however its fun to get it customised by asking him to add more mustard or chilli depending on what your taste is like. Chokha has a very smoky flavor as they roast the aloo and baigan rather than boiling them, plus the after taste of garlic is simply wow. Raw onions and fried green chillies served with it work brilliantly to get your palette ready for the next bite.
|Three Chutneys that go in Chokha, they are not served with the dish as a condiment this is for illustrative purpose only.|
|Toasted Sattu that was stuffed in the Litti|
I have been eating them for last couple of years in Sector 58 of Noida and have always got varied tastes and quality, however yesterday I encountered a better one from the lot and thought would share the love with fellow foodies. These are small stalls without any names and very little differentiating one from another in identification, however to keep things simple – Go to sector 58 in Noida, look for water tank, when near it ask for gas agency and right outside it would be a guy selling his wares. Remember that the gas agency is on the opposite side of water tank, 50-100 meters ahead of it. To confirm ask who gives Piliye ki dawai (Jaundice Medicine) and that is your guy. Below is the map, with a marker on the Water Tank I am talking about.
I think traditionally its a working man’s snack and hence it costs pittance, Rs.20 for 2 desi ghee soaked Litti with Chokha and you get 3 of those Littis for same amount if you prefer the drier version. And as far as I know they make a very healthy snacking option, much healthier than fried OR maida stuff that we usually get on our streets. Right from the brown flour to sattu to chokha, I do not see anything wrong with any of those things.
Usually they operate from 9 am to 9 pm, however since these are not permanent establishments, the timings may vary. Like yesterday they had to wind up by 7 pm due to pressure by cops.
All in all, its one of my favorite things to eat, simply because of the flavors. It is a MUST try dish if you like your flavors strong, and for a vegetarian it would be a much welcome addition to the variety of things one can eat and which are on tastier as well as healthier side. If you have to make a trek to eat it, I would say do it. Its worth it.
Thanks to Anuradha Gupta, though I have written this post, however a major contribution comes from her too.
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