Paatvadyachi bhaji (chickpea flour dumplings in curry sauce)

You know I have a theory. You might become the most famous or the most creative chef out there, but I bet you will still crave your Mom's food (or Dad's - essentially the food you grew up with) every now and then! There is something magical about the foods you grow up with, isn't it.. their flavors stay fresh with us long after we have last eaten them and their aromas draft us towards those golden care-free times of our childhood so effortlessly. Somehow the foods we grew up with get so intertwined with our childhood memories that no matter how great a cook you are, you are always going to crave your Mom's food as long you as live!

Needless to say my Mom is a great cook! I wish I had learnt a lot more about cooking from her than I did. In my defense though I grew up as this preppy girl who would refuse to step foot in the kitchen unless it involved munching. I used to always think that somehow studying Mathematic (which was by-far my favorite subject!) was way more "important" than cooking or anything for that matter.. but now as a grown-up I have realized that there is nothing more humbling and satisfying than cooking a healthy and wholesome meal for your friends and family; perhaps second only to seeing the satiated feelings and smiles on their faces :)

Okay, I better get to the point now. So one day I woke up having these huge cravings for my Aai's paatvadyachi bhaji. Paatvadyachi bhaji is a common Maharashtrian delicacy. Its a curry made out of simmering paatvadya (which are chickpea flour dumplings) in a mildly spiced curry base. I think of it as the native Marathi answer to the ubiquitous pasta. I had never made this dish at home and the last I had eaten it was some 6+ years back! 

It was a Friday so I shoot a quick email to Aai asking if she can tell me her recipe. I was hoping that the next time I would call her, I would get her to recite the recipe to me over the phone. So imagine my surprise when the next day I wake up to see an email from Aai with a hand-written recipe attachment! Turns out she wrote her recipe, then she had taken a picture of her recipe and sent the jpeg to me so I could make the dish I was cravings on that very weekend! Isn't it really lucky to have such an awesome Mom who would write, take picture and upload the recipe the very same day just so her daughter can satisfy the cravings.. I think so :) 

Happy Mother's day to all you awesome Mom's and Mom's-to-be out there! Honestly, what would we all do without you :) 

I am sending this post to Panchpakwan's Mother's day event.

Source: Mom's recipe.  (I have attached my Mom's original hand-written recipe at the end of this post, so those of you who can read and understand Marathi are free to follow the original instructions directly)
For the dumplings (paatvadya):
1C chickpea flour (besan)
To taste:
chili powder
turmeric powder
carom seeds
warm water

For the curry:
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
3C water
lots of lime juice (to taste)

Spice powder:
1Tbsp dried coconut
1Tbsp sesame seeds
1tsp cumin powder
1tsp coriander seeds
1/4tsp whole black peppercorns
1 stick of cinnamon
couple of cloves
2 dried red chilis (per taste)

Prepare the dough:
Mix all the dumpling ingredients together. Add as little water as possible. Using oiled hands make a tight dough. Cover and keep aside.

Prepare the dry spice powder:
Dry roast all the spice powder ingredients. Using a spice grinder grind them to a fine powder.

Roast chopped onions and whole garlic cloves with a little oil. When they start to brown, turn the heat off. Let cool a bit and then make an onion-garlic paste using a little water.

Prepare the curry:
Heat oil in a large pot. Add the onions-garlic paste and cook for 5-10minutes. Add the spice powder and cook a couple more minutes. Add 1C water and mix well. Let cook for a few more minutes. Then add rest of the 2C water and let the curry sauce simmer on low-medium heat.

Prepare the paatvadya:
Dust a wooden board with some chickpea flour. Dust the dough a bit with chickpea flour as well and using a rolling pin roll the dough into a somewhat thick disk (thicker than regular chapatis). Using a knife cut the disk into medium size pieces like so:

Add the pieces to the boiling curry sauce (dust off any extra flour) and cook (uncovered) for 10-15mins or until the chickpea flour wadis are cooked through (take a bite to taste if they are done; if not cook some more).

Serve hot with rice or chapatis and lot of fresh lime juice!