Two Traditional Dishes from China and India that are So Similar
Bhatura is a traditional Northern Indian food. To most non-Indians, it can be best described as deep fried puffed flat bread. However, first time I tasted it, it reminds me of a traditional Chinese street food, 油饼 (pronounced as You Bing) , which is literally Fried Flat Bread. The taste and texture of these two flat breads is very similar, except that in my hometown, people like the fried flat bread a little sweeter. Once I learned how to make Bhatura and the Chinese You Bing, I was amazed that recipes for making both are nearly identical. Thus this is one of our family’s favorite food, as it represents two types of street food coming from our hometowns.
Chole Bhatura, a Complete and Delicious Vegetarian Meal
Bhatura is most often enjoyed with chickpea curry dish, and together the meal is called Chole Bhatura, with chole referring to cooked chickpea. This is a delicious and nutritious vegetarian meal. Similarly, in Northern China, people eat You Bing with some savory dishes or soup. In East China where my hometown is, You Bing is usually sweet and we eat it alone as snacks or with sweet soy milk.
In a mixing bowl, mix together all ingredients using a spatula. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Using hand to knead the dough using hand for 5 minutes. The initially sticky and rough dough will become smooth and will not stick to hand or bowl.
Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until the dough double in size.
Transfer the dough onto the pastry board. Punch down and press the dough to remove excess air. Roll the dough into a ball and divide into 8 equal sections. Roll each section into a ball and cover. Let is sit for 5 min.
Heat 2 inch deep of cooking oil in the sauce pan on medium-high flame. Drop a pea-size dough into the oil to test the temperature. If the dough starts bubbling and floats to top, the oil is ready.
Gently roll out one ball into a flat piece, ~ 4 inch in diameter and 0.2 inch thick.
Drop the flat bread into oil. The dough will float to top. Gently press down using a spatula. The flat bread will puff up into a balloon. Flip carefully to fry the other side, until both sides are golden color. It takes about 2 minutes to fry one Bhatura. Transfer the Bhatura to a plate lined with paper towel.
Enjoy it alone or with chickpea masala.
Adapted from Ying Ying’s recipe http://www.echoskitchen.com/2008/11/batura.html.
If making Chinese You Bing, an egg can be added in place of 1/4 cup of water. I like to add additional 2 tablespoons of sugar for a touch of sweetness.