Authentic Jain Cuisine – Gatta Pulav

18 Mar

Now that’s what I’m talking about!

Following the Jain diet has been my favorite thus far.  The restrictions don’t seem so bad compared to what I was denied earlier this year.  Replacing alliums (such as onions, garlic, etc.) in a delicious vegan recipe with an obscure spice?  No problems there!

I recently ordered a book entitled “Jain Food: Compassionate and Healthy Eating”.  Within its pages, there are great descriptions for how to follow a Jain diet in modern times as well as a number of traditional Jain recipes.  I hardly EVER purchase books as I can generally find whatever I need through the library.  Forget the stereotypes of libraries past.  Visit your local library and see all of the awesome FREE services/events now offered!  P.S. You might find DVDs, databases, and E-books if your library is as cool as the Minnesota one I work for.  There’s my library plug for the day.  That’s right…I’m proud to be a librarian!  It’s nice to work for an institution you believe in.  Anyway…

I’m glad I bought this book, because I will probably try every recipe in it at least once.  If you are an Indian food freak like I am, consider adding this gem to your cookbook collection.  I tried a fried rice/chickpea dumpling dish a few nights ago (Gatta Pulav).  It’s a two-part recipe with various spices, but don’t let the length of the ingredients list intimidate you!  It was crazy delicious and actually pretty simple to throw together.

Gatta Pulav (Makes 4 Jain servings – or 2 American servings – Derek and I ate all of it :))

*Note: This recipe calls for 2 cups of cooked rice.  The book suggests white, but I used brown basmati rice.  If you are using brown, it’s best to start the rice before anything else as it often takes ~30-40 minutes to cook through.  White rice usually only takes about 10-20 minutes.  To shorten cooking time, soak your rice up to 24 hours in advance, just like you would a pot of beans.*

To make the “Gatta”/Chickpea Flour Balls (Makes 1 1/2 cups)


1 cup chickpea flour (also called gram/besan flour)

1/8 tsp chili powder (or according to taste)

1 Tbsp + 1.5 tsp oil (I used ~  1 Tbsp coconut oil & 1.5 tsp olive oil)

A pinch of asafetida*

~1/4 cup of water to make the dough

3 cups of water

1 tsp salt (or to taste)

*Asafetida is also known as “hing”/”devil’s dung”, :-/ but don’t be fooled!  It tastes good!  This spice is used to impart a strong onion/garlic-like flavor and is found in many traditional Jain recipes.  It doubles as a digestive aid.  Onions & garlic can’t do that!  However, make sure that you keep this spice sealed in a container and isolated from other food items as much as possible.  The odor permeates like crazy!

Method: In a bowl, mix the chickpea flour and all other ingredients, except water.  Add a little water (of the 1/4 cup) at a time & knead into a stiff dough.  (Don’t get too excited like I did.  I had to summon Derek’s help to pour extra flour into the bowl when I ended up with a formidable mountain of goo on my fingers.  Why can’t I ever just follow instructions when I make new recipes?!)  Make 3 balls out of the dough, and roll them into 6″ long cylinders.  If it sticks, add 1-2 tsp of oil (this definitely helps!)  Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Place the rolled dough into the water and boil for about 15 minutes.  Stir gently to prevent them from sticking to one another.  Remove from water and let them cool.  (OR be overly impatient like I am and burn your fingers…your choice ;-))  Cut each cylinder into small pieces of approximately 1/4″.

**Tip: You can save the boiled water to use during the stir-frying step.  This allows you to use less oil if you want to reduce the fat/calorie content a bit.

To make the “Pulav”/Vegetable Rice


Chickpea flour balls from above (Should have made ~1 1/2 cups)

2 cups cooked rice

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/8 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp salt (or according to taste)

For seasoning:

3 Tbsp oil (I used coconut – feel free to use less and utilize that boiled water from earlier!)

1/2 tsp cumin seeds (I used ground cumin instead)

2 bay leaves

2 Tbsp chopped green chilies (optional; not optional in this household – we like spice! :))

A pinch of asafetida

-I added some chopped spinach, because I can’t resist the urge to sneak those green veggies in whenever I can! I also added ~1/2 – 3/4 tsp of ground coriander.  Feel free to add these or any other veggies/Indian spices you enjoy.

For garnish:

3 Tbsp chopped coriander leaves (I omitted these)

Method: Mix rice & the remaining ingredients in a bowl.  In a heavy frying pan, heat oil/water.  Add cumin, bay leaves & green chiles.  Fry for a few seconds.  Add the rice, and fry for a few minutes until everything is completely mixed together.  Garnish with coriander leaves if desired and serve warm.  There you have it: a compassionate, nummy meal!

**Tip: cooking in cast iron, particularly when using acidic ingredients such as chiles, can be a great way for vegans (or anyone) to boost iron intake.


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