It all started with my college batchmate and friend Pallavi Waikar asking me if I knew how to make dhirde (pronounced धिरडे). Now Pallavi is a Maharashtrian and is married to a Bihari. And we often exchange notes on how to make Bihari recipes. And then she too shares her Maharashtrian delicacies with me. I wondered why after 35 years of staying in Vidarbha I hadn’t heard of dhirde. It certainly wasn’t part of any hotel menu that I had seen. Or maybe I wasn’t visiting the right restaurants yet. And so I began trying to find out more about dhirde.
Dhirde are crepes popularly made in the Khandesh and Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. These are usually savoury, and are popularly made on the day after Sankranti. However I did find some sweet versions of dhirde too like gavhache dhirde where jaggery is used. These are usually made in the month of Ashadh. There are a number of cereals which can be used to make dhirde. The popular ones are jowar (sorghum), gahu (wheat), bajri (pearl millet), besan (gram flour), and moong (green gram).
The traditional rustic method of making jwariche dhirde (jowar dhirde) takes almost 72 hours. It starts with washing and soaking the jowar grain overnight. Then the grain is dried in the sun, and ground in two parts: one fine and the other coarse. These are sieved separately to remove the husk, which is discarded. The smoother grain is again sieved through a finer sieve to retrieve the ‘rava’ from it. These flours are kneaded well and left to ferment overnight in the form of dough balls. On day three, the rava is cooked in hot water and added to the dough balls. For flavouring, a paste of cooked and softened methi seeds (fenugreek seeds) and cumin is added with basic spices like salt, turmeric and chilly powder. Water is added and the entire dough is made into a thin batter. This batter is left to ferment overnight like a dosa batter. And then the crepes are poured out on a hot tawa. Since it is a long procedure, no one uses less than 1-1.5 kilos of jowar. Family and friends are invited over to enjoy the dhirde or the batter is shared among them. Here is a video where you can watch the entire process:
Here is another version where the dehusking process is done differently by pounding the grain. Both jaggery and fenugreek are used in this recipe:
Obviously to the busy present generation, such a long process will sound tedious, and everyone seems to have evolved their own versions of the dhirde. As I began exploring the recipes, I found more than fifteen variations, with no two looking alike. If one lady advised it to be thick, another recommended it to be thin. There were some who added vegetables to it, while others steered clear of onion and garlic as they claimed it was served as ‘naivedyam’. The techniques of pouring the batter were completely dissimilar. The only thing which everyone agreed upon was that a dhirda needed to show holes and the beautiful lacy ‘jaal’ pattern was essential for a good dhirda.
This is one version of multigrain dhirde which I rustled up in my kitchen. You could experiment with many more. Traditionally, it is served with aamras (mango pulp).
Ingredients (Makes 6 dhirde)
Jowar (sorghum) flour – 1 cup Wheat flour- 1 cup Besan (gram flour)- 1/3 cup Rice flour- 1 tbsp Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp Red chilly powder- 1/2 tsp Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp Hing/ Asafoetida- 1 large pinch Green chillies- 2 Salt to taste Oil- 4 tsp
Take a large bowl. Add the jowar flour, wheat flour, besan and rice flour.
Add chopped green chillies, turmeric powder, red chilly powder, cumin powder, asafoetida and salt.
Add water in small quantities whisking constantly so that no lumps remain. Add enough water to make a batter of thin pouring consistency like that of a rava dosa. Cover and leave the batter aside for 15 minutes.
Heat an iron tawa. Smear it with oil. Pour a katori full of batter in concentric circles starting from the centre.
Cover the tawa with a lid and let it cook till it is golden brown on one side.
Flip it to the other side and let it cook.
Serve hot with aamras or any chutney of your choice.
Enjoy this nutritious breakfast recipe. Actually, you can make it for any meal of the day. And there is no dearth of variations that you can do with this basic recipe.