Whenever I eat Momos, I remember a particular dish that was prepared in my native place in Uttar Pradesh whenever we visited. Called Fara (or Phara) in UP, this guilt-free dish is a traditional form of Momo or Steamed Dumplings. A doughy crust filled with a richly flavored Daal stuffing and steamed to perfection, Fara is a great, 100 per cent oil free snack. It can also be eaten as a brunch, since it is quite wholesome. The Momo lover that I have always been, I never took a very keen interest in preparing Fara till one day Hubby demanded he wanted to eat “those daal filled dumplings” that are prepared in UP. I knew what he meant when he said that, but I didn’t know what all went into preparing Fara. So this time, it took me a phone call to my Naani and 15 minutes of detailed discussion to get this dish right. Fara is prepared in various ways across UP, but I am sharing how it is prepared in my native place and in my sasuraal. Here’s the recipe:
FOR THE CRUST
1 bowl rice flour
1/2 bowl wholewheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
150 ml warm water
FOR THE STUFFING
1/2 cup chana daal
1/2 cup dhuli urad daal
1 inch ginger
1 green chilly
1 black cardamom
5-6 black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri laal mirch powder
Salt (to taste)
Mix rice flour, wholewheat flour and salt. Add warm water and knead into a soft dough. Cover with a damp cloth and keep aside.
Soak both the daals in sufficient water for 2 hours. Strain and add to a blender. Add ginger, green chilly, asafoetida, black cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, cumin seeds, garam masala powder, Kashmiri laal mirch powder and salt. Grind coarsely without adding water into a dry paste. Keep aside.
Make small balls of the dough and roll them out into small pooris. Place a spoonful of the daal mixture on the circles and fold them into halves. Press to seal the edges.
Heat water in a large pan and add a tablespoon of oil to it. Slowly add these dumplings into the water. The dumplings will settle at the bottom of the pan initially but will start floating up once they are cooked. It takes about 7-8 minutes to steam the Faras. Once they have floated up on the water, take out one Fara and insert a toothpick in the middle. If it comes out clean, the Fara is cooked. Drain with a slotted spoon and place on a cloth napkin. Serve hot with a chutney of your choice.
Faras can be refrigerated for a few days, so if you have leftovers, you can heat them in a microwave after sprinkling some water and enjoy them whenever you want. A great variation is to cut the leftover Fara into pieces and deep fry them in hot oil till crisp and golden. If you want a healthier alternative, cut the Faras into pieces and sprinkle a teaspoon of olive oil on them. Then line on a greased tray and bake in a pre-heated microwave till crisp. Eat with hot and spicy Dhaniye-Pudeene ki Chutney or a Vegetable dish. It’s a great tea-time snack.
Also, if you want to make the Faras, gluten free, exclude the wheat flour from the ingredients and use just rice flour.
Eat, drink and be merry! 🙂