Bhakri (Pan Fried Rice Flatbread)

Sometimes the most delectable dishes are incomplete without a suitable accompaniment. Most Indian curries are often accompanied by a particular type of bread and taste best only when eaten as a combo. Sanna and Sorpotel would be one such Mangalorean combo that is so finger lickin' good. Although many Mangalorean Catholics prefer to eat Pork Bafat with Sanna, traditionally it used to be eaten with the Bhakri - a typical rice flatbread made thick or thin depending on what you wish to eat it with.

Flatbreads are simple breads made with flour, salt and water and usually don't make use of leavening (yeast or any dough rising agent) - there are a few exceptions like pita bread that is made with yeast. In India flatbreads are made with a variety of flours such as wheat, rice, bajra etc and are very healthy. Read more

My mum used to make Bhakris when I was a child and I remember them being a little thicker than what I ended up making. What gives the Bhakri its unique signature flavour is the smoky fragrance and flavour imparted by the banana leaves in which they are pan fried. Chappe (bland) Bhakri were usually eaten with savoury dishes and a mildly sweetened one (with the addition of jaggery and grated coconut) for tea. I have written at length about the various traditional tea time snacks that we used to have as kids and I often think that I missed out on many traditional ones as my mum stopped making them as the years rolled by. I am not sure how many people from my generation have eaten the sweet rice Bhakri for tea - this was way before the commercially sold bakery goodies made their way on our tea tables. 

Anyway, my blog would be so incomplete without this simple recipe - Bhakri that I made my way purely out of recollection - so traditional cooking experts and aunties who think it should be made differently please pardon me! :D On my next trip to Mangalore I shall catch hold of a senior & seasoned cook from my family (mom, MIL & grandma) and watch them make it for me. I promise!

Whoever has never made but only eaten Bhakri - I urge you to try it at home - it is dead simple and a nice accompaniment to Pork or any veg or non-veg dish. But the only catch is that you need to eat them fresh and hot. Unlike Panpole/Neer Dosa or Sanna they aren't party friendly (you cannot make them hours in advance as they turn chewy)

Soaking time: 3-4 hours | Preparation time: 5-10mins | Cooking time: 3-4 mins per Bhakri | Yields 10-12 Bhakris

You Need:
You will also need:
1. Wash & soak rice for 3-4 hours. Drain & grind to a fine paste using water sparingly to achieve a thick dry batter.
2. Wash & wipe the banana leaves to remove any traces of moisture. Cut each leaf into half. Remove the spine of the leaf so what you have are equal sized square pieces which don't fold while you are at work.
3. Place about 2-3 tbsp of batter in the centre of a square. Place another leaf over it (or fold in the centre if you haven't removed the spine of the leaf). Using a rolling pin roll out the batter thinly * see note#2

3. Fry the Bhakri on a hot cast iron (or non stick) skillet/tawa without edges on a medium high until the leaf is browned (almost burnt) on both sides. You may carefully remove the leaf to check if the pancake has cooked. Each side takes about 2 mins * see note#2. Remove the leaf and fry on the tawa till both sides are lightly browned.

5. Serve hot with Pork Bafat (Dukra Maas).

1. Commercially sold banana leaves are already halved for ease of transportation. You will need 5 such pieces which you will need to cut again into four equal pieces
2. The traditional Bakri is much thicker than what I prepared. Thick Bakris are a result of very thick & dry batter which is ground in a traditional gatno (stone mortar & pestle) and is then patted down on the banana leaf by wetting one's fingers. Sometimes the mixer grinder is not thick-batter-friendly as you will need to add some water during the grinding process - this makes it difficult to pat the batter and spread it on the leaf using one's fingers. Hence the rolling pin method is applied to result in thinner Dosa like Bakri.
3. Do not roll out very thin Bhakri as they will turn hard and chewy as they cool.
4. If the batter is thick enough you can pat a thick bhakri of about 1/2 inch thickness and 5-6 inches in diametre . There is no need for a rolling pin in this case.