Maha Ashtami, the eighth day of the Durga Pujo festival, is the most auspicious – the day that celebrates the triumph of Good over Evil. This day is not meant for sleeping in on your holidays. We always woke early and got ourselves ready to reach the prayer halls in time. Bathed and dressed in new clothes there would be a mass of devotees flocking to the many prayer halls to offer their worship to the Goddess. Repeating Sanskrit verses after the purohit (priest) was not an easy task. I was often unsure of how a word would be pronounced, but at the end I would finally get my chance to ask the Goddess for my wish. When I was younger it was inevitably praying for passing my exams (I am sure every child is taught by their parents to ask so). As I grew up I just asked Durga to keep everyone happy and healthy which kind of took care of everything – conveniently an all in one wish.
Morning prayers to the Goddess are meant to be done on an empty stomach. So as soon as the prayers were over I would feel my stomach rumble, in anticipation of the breakfast almost ubiquitous in every household: luchi and torkari (vegetable curry). Any amount of fasting was well worth waiting for this light and puffy, crispy and soft bread. Luchi is a deep fried flat bread. A dough made of flour, water and oil, rolled into small discs and then deep fried in white oil. When fried they puff up to resemble little balloons, as light as little white clouds. Since Ashthami is a prayer day, it is a day of strict vegetarian observance. However, with luchi dipped in an array of delicious vegetarian curries, meat is little missed by adults or toddlers alike.
LUCHI (pronounced Loo-chi)
- Flour: 2 cups
- Water: 1/4 cup or more to adjust
- Ghee/Butter: 3 tbsp
- Salt: 1 pinch
- Vegetable oil: For deep frying
- Mix flour and salt. Add cold ghee/butter and rub flour till the ghee/butter is incorporated and mixture resembles like breadcrumbs.
- Mix water gradually to this mixture and knead for about 8 mins to a smooth consistency. The dough should not be sticky.
- Let it rest for 30 mins.
- Knead for another few mins.
- Divide dough into uniform small balls.
- Use a drop or two of oil on your rolling surface to prevent dough from sticking.Roll out into flat round discs.
- You can use a round cutter if you are fussy about shapes.
- Heat oil in a deep pan. The temperature of the oil should be hot but not scorching. Add a small piece of dough to test. It should immediately rise up.
- Drop one disc at a time with caution.
- Once the luchi is in oil use a flat slotted spoon or spatula to hold the luchi down emerged in hot oil, the luchi will puff up. As soon as it puffs up gently flip and ooh for another 5-8 secs before taking out of hot oil.
- Repeat with the rest.
- Serve immediately with a side of any curry.
NOTE: Luchi takes time to master, in rolling perfect rounds to getting all of them to puff up like balloons. When trying jus keep in mind to get the dough right and the oil temperature hot but not scalding or else they won’t give you the result you want.