Living in a neighbouring town of Delhi, I never really had any exposure to Gujarati food. Except a little later around late 1990s, the market seemed to be flooded with namkeens and snacks by the Gujaratis. One would wonder, maybe sitting in the United States of America, how can an Indian not have experienced the Gujaratis or their food, their culture or even their mannerisms.
But it is true that I really did not have any contact with the western state; no relatives, neighbours or friends who would go to Gujarat or Bombay in the summer vacations and get back those snacks for me (until much later). The television was full of ‘K serials’ and they were all eating khakras, theplas and ragda pattice (I still laugh at the name!) but I had very little exposure to this food.
Until I went to Jamia for my masters and started carpooling with a Gujarati friend. She loved to cook. Every morning, I would drive to her house and wait for her as she would probably still be packing her lunch and making us both late.
The idea of missing the first lecture would make me mad but as soon as she came towards the car with a small plate or an extra methi thepla for me, I would forget it all.
The theplas would be warm, fresh, soft and done just right!
Ofcourse, theplas and khakhras were all over the market but the homemade ones that she brought were far special!
Reading this you would imagine that soon she shared her recipe and I started making them. No, film school rarely gave us any free time for such exploits.
I would still be buying them and it was not until recently that I finally learnt to make them when I didn’t get them at the nearby supermarket and would have to go to the big Indian supermarket far away to get them in Dubai. They are great for stocking for the summer where one doesn’t feel like standing in the kitchen for long. Just make a big batch and you’re good to go for a week!
So here it is. The recipe to theplas with fenugreek leaves or Methi Theplas. I used dried methi leaves which are not as great as the fresh ones (highly recommended!). In case you haven’t yet had them, they are like any Indian flat bread, just thinner and the ingredients vary a bit. They are made of whole wheat but chickpea flour/besan is often added and the dough is kneaded using yogurt and some oil. Some people also add other grain flours but I was just starting out and kept it simple.
Here’s how you make easy soft Theplas at home
1 cup Whole wheat flour
1 tbsp Besan (chickpea flour) , optional
salt to taste
1/2 cup dried fenugreek leaves (Fresh ones would be ideal, chopped)
1/2 cup coriander leaves (washed, chopped)
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 green chilli finely chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp yogurt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1-2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp carom seeds, optional
Oil for cooking
Water for kneading the dough
Appliances and utensils
A dough maker or the biggest bowl you can find
A tawa/flat pan
A rolling pin
Knead a dough using all the ingredients listed above and let it rest half an hour. Make sure the dough is soft. How soft is soft? You shouldn’t have to make too much of an effort to pull apart a rough ball of dough.
Make small balls out of the dough and start rolling them into really thin preferably in a round shape. You can use some oil or dry flour to help it spread and not stick on the counter or the chakla base.
On a hot tawa on medium high heat, cook the theplas one by one, carefully cooking each side with a bit of oil till little brown spots appear.
Cook the entire batch and store in an air tight container once they cool down. They can stay good for a while (typically days) are the good snack for tea time or a light breakfast. The oil helps the theplas to stay good for longer.
Serve warm theplas with some green chilli pickle or some Gujarati Choondo (sweet mango pickle).
Craving more flat breads? Check out these posts by Kitchenpostcards