India Special 2: Litti- The traditional village dish of Bihar/India with Sabitha

Dear friends..here is another homecooking recipe from India. I am still in Bihar, one of the poorest states in India. For most backpackers this is the most challenging part of the country. Especially for  the travellers that are new to India, Bihar  can be a place which can make you feel exhausted quiet quickly. The roads are packed with people, cars, motorbikes, cows, goats and it gets boiling hot in the summer.
But in all this chaos there is something about Bihar that makes this place so loveable.  The people of the rural areas and village are incredibly friendly and they make you feel like a family member within a few seconds. Its amazing! I think we can learn a lot about their hospitality. These people live in shelters made of mud that are mostly covered with a grassroof only.Despite their enormous poverty they are ready to give you their last bowl of rice.
Sabitha is one of these kind human beings. She and her family live in a rural village not far from the city of Bodhgaya, the place where the historical Buddha once found enlightment.
My good friend Murari got me in touch with Sabitha and her family. I was looking for a typical and authentic Bihari recipe. Something that you wouldn’t find in the street restaurants, where they turn it into something fancy. I wanted to learn the proper food of the Biharis, these people who struggle hard but at the end of the day sit together with their beloved ones to enjoy the highlight of the day: Eating!
I told sabitha that i would love to learn the food that she cooks for her family in the village. She smiled at me and the first thing that came out of her mouth was : „Litti“!
Litti is a filled bread ball, which gets grilled on charcole. It is cheap, easy, and delicious!
I was convinced and super happy!! The next day i bought all the ingredients that were necessary to make „Litti“ and i met Sabitha at her house, where her and her family was already waiting in front of a soiloven. I was amazed and really excited for the cooking. We had a wonderful day together and i learned a lot from Sabitha. She didn’t use any tools for making this dish, only her own hands. Even for the Eggplant and Tomato Chutney she squeezed the grilled veg with her hands. I loved it!! Enough talking guys!!Here is the recipe from that day, straight from a village in Bihar near Gaya.

Ingredients:

For the Ata balls (wholegrain bread ball) you will simply need wholegrainflower and water. Shape bread balls as you can see on the photos and then press them flat with your fingers and form space for the Litti stuffing. Make sure that you have some Ata on your hands when you form it.

For the Litti stuffing you will need

1 Cup of Satthu ( a flour made from powdered lentils)
1 hand of chopped garlic
Half hand of hopped green chilli
Juice of 1 fresh lime
Salt
Fresh coriander
1 Teaspoon of Mangrella or Onion seeds

Take a bowl and mix all ingredients together with your hands. When this is done have a taste. The Satthu is delicious on its own. If you need for seasoning just add more salt, limejuice or if you like it spicy add more chilli. Then place the stuffing in the center of the Ata dough and carefully close the Litti. Originally the Litti Ball will be placed directly on hot charcole where it gets a nice roasting flavor. But alternatively you can use an oven to finish your Littis.

For the Eggplant Chutney you will need:

1 Eggplant
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
Juie of half fresh lime
salt
1 green chilli chopped
1 tablespoon of oil

Sabitha placed the Eggplant directly onto the charcole and covered it with grass and cow-dung ( the burning material of rural villages in India.
I am sure that most of you won’t use cow dung so you can just grill the eggplant on a barbecue until soft and roasted. Let it cool down and then squeeze the eggplant by hand. Then mix the other ingredients in to create a delicious chutney that you will later eat with your Littis.

For the tomato chutney you need:

4-5 Tomatos
2-3 garlic cloves
salt
fresh coriander
juice of half a lime
1 tablespoon of oil

Same process for the Tomato Chutney. Just grill the tomatos and then mix all ingredients in, squeezing the mixture with your hands. Believe me, it tastes awesome! When the Littis are grilled and both chutneys are done it is time for plating.
Heat some Ghee (indian clarified butter) and drizzle it on the Littis!
This village dish will make you smile.

Here is Sabitha and her Littis!!

2

Here Sabitha is shaping the Ata Ball to prepare it for the Satthu stuffing. The stuffing will still be a powder when you bite into the Litti later. It is supposed to be like that, but you can add a bit water to the stuffing so it won’t be too dry. But the chutney provides that juicy component.

8

Cow-Dung as burning material. This is the way the food gets cooked in the soiloven.

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