After sharing some lovely pictures of Mauritius with my friends on Facebook, I was inspired to make a quick lunch with things that I had to hand. One friend asked for the recipe, and since then more: here is what I did. When I was young and loved to hang around kitchens, cooking was instinctive, you used what was available, with no recipes for every day food written down.
I cooked the lentil dish instinctively and it is perhaps a never to be repeated dish, but it easy to make this version just yours.
I have put a link to my 'standard' Mauritian rougaille, which is easy again to make into batches to freeze ready to bring out in the depths of winter, when sun warmed tomatoes or your glut just a memory. Tinned tomatoes too are fine. This however was an improvised dish.
I had referred yet again to Bread from Ciabatta to Rye by Linda Collister earlier in the day to make some Poppy Seed Challah. I've had this book for twenty years now and it is a go to book with many varied recipes.
Just sprinkling poppy seeds direct from one of my garden grown poppy seed heads felt so satisfying.
I glanced through the South Asian section and rather liked the thought of Pooris. The problem with Pooris is that they are deep fried, you need oil, I have no oil not enough to use for deep fat frying, and with waistline to work on, I adapted the recipe but dry fried them, a little like one would cook roti. Of course there are lots of YouTube and recipes on line, but I didn't want to turn on the computer then.
This is how I made mine, and do feel free to vary amounts. I just happened to have some Shipton Mill Chapati flour in the cupboard, but I read that fine wholemeal pastry flour with the bran sieved out will do. Just use any flour this is a true 'Cucina Povera' but strong flour will make them harder to roll out etc.
200g Atta/chapati flour
1 tsp salt
two teaspoons of the roasted and ground seed mixture see below
1 tablespoon melted ghee or butter, I used melted goat's butter
2 tablespoons yogurt, I used my sheep's yogurt
About 100ml cold water
Measure out equal amounts of cumin seed, coriander seed and black pepper corns, and pan roast in a shallow pan, I use my omelette pan. I used about a desert spoonful of each. When you can smell a lovely warm aroma of spices, that is the time to quickly remove them before they scorch. I tossed them into the bowl I am going to mix the dough in, or they will continue cooking in the pan. When cool, I used my coffee mill to grind them. I tried using my pestle and mortar, but needed more muscle that I could muster, I added the remainder to a small pot and will use the balance of the blend for other dishes.
Using the same small pan I melted the butter.
Back in that bowl which is now empty, measure out the flour and salt. Add the melted butter which you then rub in until evenly mixed.
Measure two tablespoons of yogurt into the cold but slightly buttery pan pan, than add about 90ml cold water, stir and add this to the flour, and mix with your hands till it feels smooth and pliable. Add the remaining water and a little more only if required. You can work this all in the bowl until you have a big smooth ball, and since it is going into the fridge for a rest, use a bowl on the smaller side, which will fit, or else put it in a smaller lidded box.
Put the bowl with a plate over it in the fridge, or the sealed box, for at least half an hour, mine was there for a couple of hours, that is fine. ( You can tell I was intending doing the washing up, so was minimising the dishes used, and I try not to use cling film if something else will do), I was giving my little kitchen helper some time off!
This takes a little time, so start this stage about half an hour before you want to eat, You are going to divide it all into balls, which will then be rolled out thinly. The size depends on how you want to serve them. Partly roll each piece, then roll again thinly before adding to the pan, this wait in between helps the dough relax, and easier to roll out flat. This amount gives five good sized ones, but perhaps next time I would have six. We only ate four, and kept one to use for a pre dinner canapes, or gadjacks. I think this is another Mauritian term, and they have so many varied types to serve with drinks at the Very Large gatherings.
Flatten each ball with your fingers and hands, which you can dust with a little flour, and then you can roll them thin on the worksurface ready to cook.
The first couple I tried with a little butter, but quite honestly the rest which were dry fried were much better. You need the little scorching, and flip every few minutes, until you think they are cooked. A higher heat is better, and I flatten the breads from time to time as well as they cook, with the spatula . They puff up in places like pittas. I put them on a plate in the oven, to keep warm until the batch was completed.
What to have this time as a topping? Rougailles and curry are a staple way of making something tasty. Cooking black lentils and keeping small batches frozen ready to pull out and use, rather than using sloppy cooked tinned pulses with the additives, is my way. I usually pull out a small pot every two or three days to defrost slowly in fridge, and they are ready to use in anything from a salad to adding to to a chilli. I also had some small roasted yellow tomatoes with garlic in a pot in the fridge which I used.