Behdwaans: A delicacy from Mandi

By: SAROJ THAKUR

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Whenever I go back to my Ma’s home, along with the excitement of visiting them all, there is a longing for the Daal stuffed, deep fried Bhaturoos that are called Behdwaan in the local dialect. I just love them and, without having any qualms about the calories that I take, gobble them up. Making these special Bhatoorus is a tricky job. It is something that one has to plan a day before. It needs so many ingredients and the most important of all is the love and the care that go into the making of Behdwaans!

For the preparation of the dough, yeast mixed in lukewarm water, would be mixed in the floor along with some milk and a little of ghee and ajwain. You have to see to believe how the dough is kneaded as my Ma believes that more you knead the dough, softer would be the Behdwaans! Many a times she has scolded me to be very soft in applying force to the dough! Once kneaded, it would be covered with a warm blanket and left to rise. This preparation over, my Ma would take another in hand that is preparing the stuffing.

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My Ma soaks the Maah Chhilka Daal overnight so that it becomes soft the next morning. So many times I have asked her to use Dhule Maah but she says, “This makes the Behdwaans hard and they just won’t melt into the mouth!” Some logic indeed.

This soaked Daal would be rubbed with the palms so that the husk separates from the Daal and then the water would be drained. Along with the water the lighter weighed husk will be collected in a separate bowl. What would ultimately be left would be clear split seeds of the Daal, slippery and soft.

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Next would be the grinding job. Talk of using an electric kitchen machine and my Ma would give it a disdainful look as according to her it is the ever faithful grinding stone that brings out the best out of the Daal! She ginds the Daal very laboriously and try hard I may be, the grains of Daal just slip away from the hold of the grinding stone when I try my hands at it. It sure requires some skill in handling it. Once the Daal is grounded, she grinds pepper, green chillies, asafoetida, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds on the grinding stone. The aroma of the freshly grounded paste fills the entire home and I feel like taking it in my hands and taking a bit of it. My Ma would scold me as she would, on no account, make us eat any ingredient of Behdwaans till she has fed it to Gods!

Now she would test the dough and if she finds it soft and well risen, she starts rolling the Behdwaans. It seems an easy job, but it is not as it requires a special skill otherwise the stuffing coves out of the rolled helping in your palms. The Behdwaans are to be made by hand and not to be rolled with the rolling pin. These are put on a Changer that is a flat bamboo made basket, specially used to spread these Behdwaans. Once again they are covered with a cloth and left to rise.

Now a deep frying pan would be put on fire and slowly the Behdwaans would be put in the steaming oil and they would puff up.

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Deep fried till they turn golden and the stuffing inside is cooked properly; these Behdwaans are put, ready to be savoured. I enjoy eating them freshly made, hot and steaming and sometimes would eat them dipping in home made ghee. Now don’t ask me that it is fattening. It is a delicacy for which I would sacrifice everything.

I always keep on watching for the stuffing material to be left unused as my Ma fries it deep and it turns into sumptuous Bhallas that are immersed in creamy curd sprinkled and garnished with coriander leaves and other ingredients to suit individual taste.

Try your hand at making Behdwaans this Diwali but don’t blame me if you are unsuccessful as I have given you enough warnings for the tricky procedure that it entails.

Ingredients: For Dough
Wheat Floor: 1 kg
Baking powder: 1/2 tsp
Yeast: 2 tsp
Milk: 100 gms
Ghee: 100 gms

Mix all these, knead the dough and leave it to rise till well risen and soft.

For Stuffing:
Maah Daal: 500 gms
Coriander: 1 tsp
Jeera: 1 tsp
Asfoetida: a pinch
Chillies red/green: to taste
Salt: to taste
Green coriander to garnish

Mix the grounded Daal with the ingredients and fill in the dough rolls. Deep fry till golden brown and serve hot with ghee.

For Frying:
Refined oil for frying: 500 gms

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