The filling is made of chunks of soft paneer (fresh cheese) marinated overnight in a delicate blend of spices in yogurt, paired with a zesty onion-tomato base, and finally topped off with some versatile, healthful, green kale (or spinach) leaves. Instead of the traditional all-purpose flour (maida) outer cover, I made golden brown, whole wheat parathas, drizzled with yummy ghee (clarified butter).
I was born and brought up in Bombay for the first 20 something years of my life. And one of the many things I miss about this awesome city of my childhood and teenage years is the scrumptious, mouth-watering, and totally innovative street food. I used to literally have a bucket list of things to eat (at specific places, mind you :)) each time I visited Bombay after moving to the US, and no trip seemed really complete without these mandatory gastronomic treats (err “upheavals” sometimes). Post motherhood and Ayurveda, I am making a conscious effort (not always successfully though) to re-create these delicacies at home more and more instead. Even without that certain oomph contributed by the sweat of the roadside bhaiyaji (server) 😉 or with the (more than) few healthful detours that I make from my interpretation of the recipe, the end result of the home-made version is delicious, wholesome, and most importantly guilt-free! These rolls are a very loose adaptation of the famous Mumbai roadside frankie rolls a.k.a. Tibbs frankie.
Ingredients (makes 7-8 frankies):
- 2 cups of whole wheat flour (there are many brands available – I like the Aashirwaad brand after trying out the others in the market)
- Water (1 cup approximately – may vary depending on the flour used)
- Oil (1 tsp)
- Paneer (home-made or store-bought) (2 cups)
- Onion (finely chopped) (1/2 cup)
- Tomato (finely chopped) (1/2 cup)
- Ginger-garlic-green chilly paste (1 tbsp) (optional)
- Kale/Spinach (finely chopped) (2.5 cups)
- Turmeric (haldi) (1/2 tsp)
- Red chilly powder (1/2 tsp or per taste)
- Cumin (jeera) powder (1/2 tsp)
- Coriander (dhaniya powder (1/2 tsp)
- Dry mango powder (amchur) (1/2 tsp)
- Garam masala (optional) (1/2 tsp)
- Dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) (1 tsp)
- Bengal gram flour (besan) (2 tsp)
- Yogurt (1 cup)
- Cumin (jeera) seeds (1/2 tsp)
- Cinnamon (dalchini) stick (1-2 small pieces)
- Bay leaf (1-2)
- Dried red chilly (1/2)
- Ghee (1 tbsp)
- Salt (to taste)
- Chaat masala/Frankie masala/Sandwich masala (to sprinkle on each frankie’s filling)
- Cut paneer into cubes (whatever size works for you) and marinate in yogurt that has been spiced with all the dry powders mentioned in the ingredients. You can use half the quantity of spice powders now and save some for later. Depending on the consistency of your yogurt, you can add some water to make the marinade a little less thick. It shouldn’t be runny, but not too thick either. The picture below should help. Marinate for 3-4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. You can completely skip this step and just soak the paneer in warm, salted water for as much time as you can (ideally 1 hour at least) and just saute in some ghee until golden brown.
- In a little ghee, on medium heat, saute the marinated (or plain, soaked) paneer.
- Keep stirring and switch off flame when the excess liquid evaporates and the paneer gets slightly browned. Keep the paneer aside.
- In a little ghee, using the same pan, fry some cumin seeds, dry red chilly, cinnamon, bay leaves, dry fenugreek leaves on medium heat.
- Add onion and ginger-garlic-green chilly paste. Saute until the raw smell of garlic goes away and the onions are slightly translucent.
- Add chopped tomatoes, remaining dry spice powders, salt and any spiced yogurt that may be remaining.
- When the excess liquid evaporates, add the paneer and chopped kale leaves. Cook for a couple more minutes until the kale is cooked.
- Make parathas using whole wheat flour according to this recipe.
- Place some filling on a paratha.
- Optionally, you may place some carrot, cucumber sticks and optionally some raw onion (I don’t like to put too much and completely skip onion for the kids) on top of the filling.
- Sprinkle some sandwich masala, chaat masala or frankie masala on top of the filling.
- Roll up the frankie. You may also cover it with aluminium foil to secure it further. Another one for the kids’ lunch box. Here, I’ve paired the paneer kale frankie rolls with some raw vegetable sticks and juicy purple grapes.
Sweet (wheat, paneer), sour (amchur, yogurt, tomatoes), salty (salt), bitter (kale, fenugreek), pungent (chillies, cumin), astringent (turmeric).
Not related to doshas as such, but calcium hinders iron absorption. So replacing paneer with tofu or replacing kale with some other vegetable like bell peppers would also work. I worked with what I had at hand on that day.
Wheat is nourishing and nutritive, but is kapha provoking due to its sticky, heavy qualities, and vata provoking since it is difficult to digest. Paneer (organic) is a high quality protein and calcium rich food, which is very grounding, nutritious and filling. Again, it is kapha provoking in excess. This recipe has a great mix of digestive, warming spices like ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, bay leaf, fenugreek, turmeric etc. to balance the heavy, cooling qualities of kapha. Using excess garlic, ginger, chillies or very sour yogurt or excess salt will make this recipe pitta provoking. The trick is to use spices to make the dish flavorful, but yet mild and not overly spicy. Ghee is tridoshic and digestive. Overall, this dish can be made in a tridoshic manner, if attention is paid to these factors.
Wheat, onions increases tamas. Garlic, chillies increase rajas. Cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, ginger and other such digestive, mild spices increase sattva. Sattvic spices are those that help increase digestibility, are mild and not overly stimulating in taste and flavor. On eating sattvic foods, one finds that the mind is calm, centered and nourished by the food, not over-stimulated or slowed down. This recipe can be made in a largely sattvic manner if fresh ingredients, home-made paneer and yogurt, and an optimal amount of spices are used to prepare the filling.