Dissecting the miracle ingredients of Litti that makes it taste special

Littis are savoury dough balls of wheat flour stuffed with heavily-spiced and seasoned gram-flour, served with handsome portions of clarified butter, mashed potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants with seasonings, raw onions and whole chillies. Littis are conventionally roasted on cow-dung cake fire and in spite of the sharply rising popularity of fried counterparts, the demand and prevalence of the former have hardly waned. A staple food of the state of Bihar, and a popular delicacy in the adjoining areas of Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Madhesh region of Nepal, Litti has been savoured by everyone from Bill Clinton to Amir Khan. Litti is high on nutrition: High-fibre, Low-carbohydrate, and perhaps the exclusive source of protein for vegetarian Biharis in a traditionally protein-deficient cuisine. The diversity of its fillings and complementary sides make it a holistic meal, spanning most of one’s dietary requirements, making it a balanced diet.

The primary essential components of Litti are as follows:

1)     Sattu

According to the traditional Indian gastro-medical concept of taaseer (essence), dry spice-infused gram flour has a warming effect on the body, making the dish a popular winter delicacy, also because it is traditionally cooked on an open fire.

2)     Pickle

The Sattu is infused with pickle oil. The spicy preserve is decanted and the supernatant, or at times the pickle itself is mashed in with the filling. Pickle oil provides an amazing savoury taste boost while also adding to the nutritious value in many ways, providing vital trace and micronutrients.

3)     Garlic

Garlic is proven to be an effective remedy in treating the common cold and hence alleviates symptoms of winter-borne ailments. It also moderates blood pressure and has anti-oxidants, whose regular consumption impedes the onset of ageing and senile disorders. Garlic adds a kick to the filling and upon sinking one’s teeth beneath the crust, bombards the taste buds with a pungent tang. It also reduces fatigue and hence is ideal for peasants and farm-labour who take an enduring physical toll. Its sulphur compounds have several benefits. Moreover, in light of rising water contamination, garlic consumption is conducive in ameliorating toxic heavy metal presence in the body.

4)     Ajwain (Carom Seeds)

Ajwain is an indispensable condiment for anyone willing to make a faithful rendition of the orthodox litti recipe. It is known for its extremely keen and pronounced acerbic, tingling taste. Its sensational astringence appropriates employment of carefully measured quantities in food items. Its distinctive and indelibly memorable strong scent earned it its Sanskrit name Ugragandha or aggressive-odour. Toasting or roasting it in ghee enhances and refines its aroma as well as flavour. It facilitates digestion and alleviates acidity, complementing the lime juice that is often added to the dish.

5)     Ginger

This rhizomatous condiment adds its distinctive flavour supplementing garlic. Its zestful bitterness adds a mature tone to the preparation and provides a much-needed zing in the backdrop of the rather bland flour. With the maiden bite itself, it stokes up appetite, interest and proclivity towards the food and keeps it reinvigorated with each subsequent morsel. Its health benefits include assuaging body pain and inflammation, aiding digestion and facilitating cardiovascular health.

6)     Lemon Juice

The tangy zest of lemon completes the varied set of flavours of the dish. It makes the rather dry dish more palatable, conditions its taste and texture, and facilitates chew-ability. It can be substituted by amchoor or dried tender (raw) mango powder. Lemon rind zest can also be used for a drier preparation, following individual preference.

7)     Crust

The shell is made using the fastidiously-kneaded dough. Sometimes it is rendered tendered and flavourful by kneading it with milk or yoghurt. The crust tastes earthy, smells rustic and has an exquisite texture to it: refinement and finesse in coarseness.

Pic credits- Alpesh Gaurav

 

-Written By Pitamber Kaushik

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