As a child, I was predominantly a rice eater and would try my best to avoid chapati/ roti bread made of wheat. My usual rant used to be- “see, how easily one can take a morsel of rice and gulp it down. Whereas with chapati, you have to break it, take some sabzi in it, then chew it a lot before you eat it… So much work”. 🙂 However, this argument would be forgotten whenever I was offered flatbreads or pancakes made from flours other than wheat, such as rice, sorghum, or millet. Ironically, these are much harder than the soft wheat flour and require more chewing. But I just have liked those flavors much more than that of wheat.
That’s why, making a successful bhakari, a form of unleavened flatbread that is specialty of Western regions of India (from where I come) was one of the major culinary ambitions of mine. At first, when I tried it, the result was ok but not too great. Since sorghum does not have gluten like wheat, it is difficult to knead its dough into a pliable ball like that of wheat flour. More often than not, these breads are rolled not by the bread roller but by hands. That’s why some people mix wheat flour along with sorghum. But I was rather keen on mastering sorghum bhakari as it should be- gluten-free. So the second time I made it, I tweaked my recipe a bit and added some sesame oil. The resulting dough was much easier to handle and to make into bhakaris. Here is how I make it now.
JWARICHI BHAKARI / SORGHUM FLATBREAD
Gluten-free & Unleavened
Makes 4 flatbreads
2 cups Sorghum flour, plus some more for shaping the flatbread
1 cup water, plus some more for shaping the flatbread
2 tbspoon oil (I used sesame, though olive/ sunflower/ groundnut oil can also be used. Avoid oils with strong aroma such as mustard)
Salt to taste
2-3 tbspoons of dried fenugreek leaves (Optional; you can use any herb of your choice)
- Heat a cup of water, roughly to the temperature of tea. Boiling hot water would make it too difficult to work with the dough.
- Mix the flour, fenugreek leaves, and salt in a large bowl. Add oil to it.
- Add the warm water bit by bit to the flour and knead to form a soft but pliable dough ball.
- Make four portions of the dough.
- Make each portion into a ball. Sprinkle with some more flour over it and on the counter.
- Now, dip your fingers in water, and with those wet fingers, flatten the dough ball into a round disk.
- You would see that, unlike the regular wheat dough, the sorghum dough would crack at the edges as you go on flattening it. With some waters, try to seal those as much as possible as you go on. Though, it would never be as smooth as the wheat flatbreads. That is a characteristic of sorghum flatbreads, so do not worry too much about it.
- Once the disk is about 1/8 inches of thickness, transfer it onto the hot pan.
- Coat the upper side of flatbread with water, using a basting brush.
- Once the water evaporates, turn the flatbread to bake it from the other side.
- Transfer onto the cooling rack once it is properly baked from both the sides.
I really like the flavor of sorghum bhakari flatbreads. It goes well with anything. Vegetable or meat stews, stir-fries sides, or chutneys. This time, we had it with Black peas gravy and a side of garlicky kale, the recipes of which I would post some time soon.