I posted a short video on my Instagram profile a few days ago which was taken really well and I received a few comments about what I was making and how.
So here it is. The most famous snack or breakfast item from Eastern U.P. and Bihar!
Peetha, Gujha, gooja, Fara or Gointha as some would like to call it. The name varies depending on the region and the local language spoken in that region. In the areas of Banaras, it is usually called as Peetha. And in most of the Bihar, its known by the name Faraa.
Pitha is basically a rice or whole-wheat flour pocket stuffed with ground lentils and some traditional spices. With absolutely no oil! Yes, its simply boiled like Pasta or steamed like Idli till its done. I personally like the boiled version since its more “melting in mouth” if you know what I mean. : D
This dish is a great mix of right carbs, fibre and proteins. And if you eat it along with any chutneys or curry as its traditionally eaten in some areas of Bihar, it becomes a complete package adding minerals and vitamins in your diet. All that, with no oil whatsoever! Amazing, isn’t it?
Obviously you can smear some ghee on top or shallow fry (pan fry) in little oil to make these faraa bits crispy and that takes this dish to whole new dimension altogether. In this post today, I have discussed both the methods and different variations that you can make these Peethas in.
The one with urad dal is kept a bit simpler and only spices like black pepper and asafoetida are added to enhance the taste and digestibility of the same. Garlic is usually skipped in this version but thats more of a family/individual’s trend and preference. You can check more no onion garlic recipes here.
I love the Peetha with chana dal more because of the flavour from the dal. Ginger and garlic add another flavour to the stuffing which I fully enjoy. By the way, Chana dal is my favourite dal and I prepare it in a lot of different ways, check out all other of my Chana dal recipes here.
Back to our Faraas; which lentil variety to use?
What my SIL usually does is that she combines the two lentils together. This is kind of her Mum’s specialty recipe and since I have learnt it from herself, I have kept it the same. So I have combined both chana dal and urad dal in a ratio of 3:1 which really brings in the best of both when it comes to taste and texture.
If you are making this Bihar ka Faraa for the first time, it might not matter to you and you would enjoy it nevertheless. It is that awesome! But to keep it authentic, you could skip urad dal completely and simply proceed with chana dal only.
Which flour to be used:- Again, it really depends on what region’s recipe you want to prepare. So in some areas and households, rice flour (chawal ka atta) is used solely for these Goojhas. Which is what you should also do if you are looking to make these Faraas gluten free.
Whereas in some households, just the wholewheat flour is used and no rice flour. This is also the easiest way of making Pithas since atta is generally easier to handle than rice flour.
Also, in some places, they combine rice flour and whole wheat flour (atta) half and half to knead the dough. Which is what I have done here. This combination of rice flour and whole wheat flour works the best for me and my taste buds. Its easier to handle, amazing in taste, and the texture is just right. I have also added semolina (sooji/rava) into this which is my SIL’s tip to make these Peetha bites crispier when pan fried later. You could omit it if you want.
The shape: You could mould Peethas into any shape which is easy for you to handle and doesnt make a mess while steaming/boiling. Like into a cylinder shape (like muthiya) or moon shape (like a karanji or gujhiya) or simple like a ball or potli. Whatever suits you.
Remember-> You dont have to stuff and roll like a paratha and moreover, what matters here is the taste and not the shape.
Boiling or steaming? Thats really a personal preference. You can steam it like idli in a steamer for about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the Pitha.
OR you could boil it like Pasta or dhokli in water. I like it this way and galloping on the freshly fished out Faras from the hot pot is my favourite way to start a weekend brunch.
You could also experiment and bake these Goojhas in oven. I had tried that too, and the result was not so great since the whole essence of this wonderful snack is to have it when its slightly lumpy and not crunchy like bread. But try that if you are interested in something new. It will be a new and healthy snack nevertheless
OK, so I think I have covered all important points related to the basics of this famous food from Banaras. Lets move towards the recipe now. I hope you like it and would love to hear from you.
Yields 8-10 medium sized Peethas
No oil Dumplings from the state of Bihar and U.P. - Wholewheat flour and rice flour pockets stuffed with spiced up ground lentils, boiled or steamed till done. They make the best Low calorie and high protein snack ever!
25 minPrep Time
15 minCook Time
40 minTotal Time
- 1 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
- ½ cup rice flour (chawal ka atta)
- 2 tbsp fine semolina (sooji/rava)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp cumin powder (jeera powder)
- Warm water for kneading- about 1 cup
- ¾ cup chana dal
- ¼ cup urad dal
- (Both lentils soaked separately for 3-4 hours at least)
- An inch long ginger piece
- A pinch of asafoetida (heeng)
- 2-3 green chilies (mirch)
- 3-4 garlic pods (lehsun)
- ½ tsp black pepper powder (kali mirch)
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp red chili powder
- Salt to taste, about 1 tsp
- Soak both the lentils separately for 3-4 hours. Drain the water and grind the lentils together with the spices and ginger garlic. Add water spoon by spoon making sure not to overdo it. You would not need more than 1-2 tbsp of water.
- Remember-> the consistency of this paste should be thick and not like dosa batter.
- Mix the rice flour, whole wheat flour and semolina in a mixing bowl and mix well. Then add warm water and gradually knead into a medium stiff dough like for paratha. Keep aside for about half an hour.
- Pinch a small ball of dough, roll it into a small and thin circle, like the size of a puri or luchi.
- Spoon one tbsp. of lentil filling at the center of the circle. Then spread just a few drops of water (1-2 drops really) at the corner to make them wet. This will help sealing the fold.
- Fold one end on top of another (just like we do when making a Calzone, Gujhiya or Karanji) pressing the concave (curved) side slightly to seal the pocket. Leave the two corner sides slightly open which helps in cooking the mix inside.
- Keep it aside and prepare all of them in the same way.
- Fill a large pot with ¾ of water. Add 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of oil and bring it to boil. Once the water starts rolling, turn the flame to medium and slip the Peetha dumplings into it. Let these fara pockets boil uncovered for the next 10-12 minutes on medium flame.
- All the dumplings will be submerged in water at once, but they will start coming up as soon as they start cooking. Let it cook for another 3-7 minutes after they float on the surface, takes about 3-4 minutes for the smaller ones and 7-8 minutes for the bigger pockets.
- To check whether they are cooked properly, take one out and insert a knife into it. If it comes out clean, means the peetha is done.
- Use a slotted spoon to fish them all out, you may need to boil them in two batches depending on how many you have prepared and how big your pot is.
- Serve immediately while they are still hot, they taste the best at this time. Keep the leftovers for frying later.
- Line the Peetha dumplings on the plates of the steamer. You may apply a tsp of oil on each plate to avoid sticking them. My steamer is pretty good and I did not need that. Take care not to overcrowd the plates or the peethas wont be cooked properly.
- Cook them for about 12-15 minutes in a normal Idli/dhokla maker and 9-10 minutes in a Steamer. The gas should be at medium.
- Again, check if they are done using the knife and cook for a further 2-4 minutes if still undercooked.
- Slip them out on a plate, cut into pieces and serve hot and fresh
- You can fry the smaller ones whole and the bigger ones can be sliced and fried to make tasty and healthy tea time snacks.
- Cut the peetha pockets into similar sized bits. Heat 2-3 tbsp of oil in a pan and shallow fry these bits for a few minutes till they are crispy and slightly brown at places. Take out on a kitchen towel or tissue paper to drain off excess oil and serve with chutneys and chai.
- They don't absorb much oil and as you drain them on tissue paper any oil clinging to the surface is also absorbed by the tissue.
- You may also use a tempering base for shallow frying-> heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, dried red chilies and curry leaves and let them splutter. Add the fara pieces into it and shallow fry.
Peetha keeps very well in the fridge so you can store them for upto a week in an airtight container so they soak in much moisture.
The outer shell of the freshly boiled or steamed fara dumplings is thin, slightly translucent and a bit melty. It feels like momos or Gyoza, but thicker.
Other dishes from Bihar and UP:-