Thepla for the Soul

Oooh! Did you make those again? Is that what we're having for dinner?

Sorry, kiddo! I am just digging into my archives. [pout]Another day, maybe? When I get fresh methi or I remember to grow my own, like Shyam does?

You promise? But of course!

She went away rather morose, knowing that she would get a third instalment of rotisserie chicken makeovers for dinner. I thought of making dal with unripe mangoes just for her but slaving over a warm stove, no matter how inviting, was not something I wanted to do with an achy back. I helped pack-up the Book Fair at her school yesterday and I knew I should not have helped lift those heavy boxes or move chairs but what is done is done.

Thepla is a spiced unleavened flatbread from my husband's home state of Gujarat. Although I'll have you know that I knew how to make this much before we knew each other. There are as many variations to methi na thepla as there are to batata vadas, all of them without onions and peas. I know not where my version hails from but I learned it by watching a Maharaj at work.

Methi na Thepla

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup besan
  • 1 bunch methi
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch asafetida
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
  • 3-4 Thai chillies (more, if you want to up the heat), sliced thin
  • 4-5 kadipatta leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 cup yogurt, whisked (approx)
  • Salt to taste
  1. Wash methi and use only the leaves, discarding the stems. Pat dry and then chop fine.
  2. Wash the cilantro and chop fine.
  3. Mix the two flours and salt in a bowl.
  4. Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add asafetida, followed by green chillies and then kadipatta. Keep a splatter guard handy to keep the mess at a minimum.
  5. Make a 'well' or a depression in the flours and put the chopped methi leaves and chopped cilantro leaves into it.
  6. Add grated ginger, turmeric powder, and red chilli powder.
  7. Pour the hot oil over the leaves. You will hear them sizzle!
  8. When the oil cools enough to handle, pick out the kadipatta leaves and if you wish, the green chillies, too. Gently rub the leaves and seasoned oil into the flour.
  9. Knead a firm dough using only as much yogurt as required to bind the dough. You do not want the dough to be too soft or sticky.
  10. Let the dough rest for at least 15-20 minutes. Cover with a damp paper towel or kitchen towel.
  11. Heat a tava in the meanwhile.
  12. Divide the dough into small balls, about 12-13 and roll them out till they are at least 6 inches in diameter.

  13. They must be translucent.
  14. Put the rolled out thepla onto the hot griddle. When its color has changed slightly or it developed little brown spots, flip it over.
  15. Drizzle a little oil over the surface and spread it. Let the thepla cook some more and then flip it over again and drizzle some oil onto this side and spread it.
  16. If you have the paratha-pressing contraption, press down on the thepla and rotate the thepla. Do this until both sides have cooked and have some pretty golden spots.
  17. Serve hot or at room temperature with chundo or with yogurt mixed with jiralu.

  • I use a little more besan than what is specified in most recipes. We like the taste of besan and I remember seeing the Maharaj add a fairly large amount of besan in proportion to the whole wheat flour.
  • Most thepla recipes do not use seasoned oil and I have found that this ups the taste-level significantly.
  • Theplas need to be rolled out thin. If they are not transclucent, then you are making methi parathas, not theplas.
  • Theplas need a large amount of oil and must be cooked using oil or ghee. They are usually stored at room temperature and are perfect finger food in lunch boxes as well as for picnics. You could use less oil but then you might end up with chewy or extra crisp theplas depending on how long you cook them.
  • They are said to last at least 4-5 days in an air-tight container. Ours never last more than the next day.
Theplas spell a special type of comfort food for us. It really is food for the soul because when I make theplas there is no chatter, just the silent sound of eating. Sometimes those eating cannot even bear to pull the bottle of chundo out of the pantry and settle for ketchup.

Thepla recipes abound on the net:
Smita Serves You Right
Madhuram's Eggless Cooking
Monsoon Spice


Priya said...

I love thepla :( roomie's grandmom once packed up about 80 or more of them when she was coming back from a visit. We would have them with tea everyday, coming back to the apt in the evening just so we could eat them before the others do :)) Will try your recipe, the one's I tried before tasted nothing like them.

Priya said...

and whats chundo ?

Indian Food Rocks said...

Priya, chundo or chunda is a sweet and spicy pickle made from shredded mangoes and cooked in the sun. I don't get the right kind of unripe mangoes to make chundo which I really regret because I have the glorious sun all summer long! So I buy mine. I have linked to an online site that sells chundo but you should be able to find it easily at your Indian grocery store.

Kitt said...

Ooooh. I'd like a whole stack, please!

Anita said...

Yes! - thepla recipe at last! A recipe, at last! :D
This I am surely absolutely making - as soon as I spot that first bunch of methi in the market.
Forgot to make chunda this year again... Will have it with something on the lines of the mixed pickle they sell with packs of this in Gujarat.

delhibelle said...

the addition of tempered oil must be such a flavour enhancer. Many thanks to you and the maharaj

Nirmala said...

The way u've described is driving me to the kitchen and experiment it immediately. Will grab a bunch of methi leaves and go home tonight !!

jayasree said...

Tempting stack of theplas. Looks perfect and mouth-watering.

sunita said...

I have never made theplas before,and this seems like a very nice recipe. Thanks, will dedfinitely give it a try.Btw, is it crisper than rotis?

Sia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sia said...

they should be translucent? i didn't know that. thanks manisha :)

TNL said...

Theplas, Yogurt with Jeeralu and brought back a flood of memories! This is a favorite! Your theplas look perfect.

Have a wonderful weekend.

cheers, trupti
The Spice Who Loved Me

Bhawana said...

wow thepla is too good :). I have bookmarked it. will make it.

Pooja said...

Methi na thepla,and chhundo - soul food for any gujarati :) . There are so many childhood memories related to this dish for me ... Thanks for bringing it back to me by this post , I just feel like grabbing one from the screen now :D - as we used to do when mom makes it.

Sheetal Kiran said...

The theplas sound divine Manisha! Thanks for this lovely recipe as always.

Had never seen one of those paratha pressing contraptions before ... very interesting.

Purnima said...

A RECIPE at IFR!! (faint) I shall now follow this one, as mine was not the right one! Manisha, do u hv a photographic memory too like Kaavya? Hw do u link 3yrs old post, that too frm others? U just never cease to amaze me, n photos r lovely! :D Belated HD!
Humbly- LE.

Unknown said...

I love the first pic.It just tempts me to make these theplas for tonights dinner..

Alka said...

My hubby loves them,he can eat it day in and day out...and i generally serve it with dahi boondi raita...the only prob i face while making is tht the dough gets too sticky to handle and that the end result is not the softer version of theplas but bit stiff...any suggestions??I grind methi leaves and coriander leaves along with ginger,garlic and chillies,instead of that a culprit to spoil the show?

musical said...

Yup, these are the best. And i don't need chundo or for that matter anything else, just hot theplas fresh off the griddle :). And they are so good for the khauchi pishvi.

Pelicano said...

Oh! I ought... a shredded, sweet-hot mango pickle? Well, I'll come up with something. Ketchup?

Indian Food Rocks said...

Kitt, I'll make extra the next time I make some and send some your way!

Anita, I knew you'd be delighted. Feel free to use less besan. I gave in and bought chundo - I prefer to call it chhunda but it confuses Medha. You should hear her say chundo. Just yogurt sprinkled with one of your fab chaat masalas shoudl also work!

Delhibelle, I think it does! Good to have you here on IFR!

Nirmala, you are so lucky! I am going to have to grow my own or use frozen methi.

Jayasree, thanks!

Sunita, when they are hot off the tava, they are slightly crisper than rotis. But given how much oil is used - both in the dough and while cooking them - they become soft and pliable once they cool.

Sia, they should be as thin as possible. Theplas are not thick. Dhebras on the other hand, are.

Trupti, yes! I knew you would like these! I need to get fresh jiralu soon! Dahi sprinkled with jiralu is so refreshing!

Bhawana thanks! You will love it!

Pooja, go make some now!

Sheetal, mine is really old and I think I bought it at either Apna Bazar or Sahakari Bhandar in Bombay. It's a fun tool. According to this site, it is used to remove air bubbles from dough and press dough into rotis. I've only ever used it while cooking parathas and theplas on the tava. I make lukh-lukhith phulkis :-D and they don't need any such pampering!

Purnima, you had to go join the ranks of those types, didn't you?! But I'll have you know that every time I do post a recipe, I lose readers. Yup, the number of subscribers to my feeds actually drops. So maybe I shouldn't post them at all!

And, have you heard of this wonderful thing called Google?

Divya, they are yum!

Alka, sounds like you have a lot of water in your dough. What do you bind the dough with? Use yogurt if you have been using water. And you do need a fair amount of oil in the dough, too. See how oily my dough looks? When you blend the leaves, do you add water? Try using yogurt instead and when you make your dough, add more yogurt only as needed. The dough should not be sticky nor too firm. It should be pliable.

musical, you are so right! They are great for traveling or on camping trips.

Pel, as you can see ketchup was her answer, too!

Purnima said...

Hmm, the same Google which made me look like a 'Microbiologist'? I thought it rendered services -uniquely- to me! tch tch :D
U know the first time in blogworld, I came to IFR, was reading ur beautiful mango pickle! Thats hw I got hooked to it, but I agree that you r beyond recipes, more into imparting such wide range of info! Thanks to you! Recipe or not, I m a regular..Proud to b so, as well!

Rajesh &Shankari said...

The only theplas I have had are the one's our bai used to make in Bby. I have had it with chunda and the last one with yogurt.

I cant make rotis for nuts..forget theplas:) Truly I just have to not the standard comment, I mean it!

Unknown said...

wow!!mouth watering!!

bee said...

i made these last weekend. i added some yogurt to knead it. j smeared pickle and took them with him to japan, so i didn't get to taste them.

bee said...

ummmm. i saw you use yogurt as well.

Rachna said...

i love this too, i just call it methi missi roti....

Bharti said...

I just made this for lunch today Manisha. I've had my eye on it ever since you posted it. It reminded me of my gujju friends during recess in school and my mouth was just watering.Thanks for posting this, I loved it.

Anita said...

Many thanks my friend - enjoyed these soulfuls many time this week! Methi season is here again finally! Best part was having the maid roll them and cook them - I just measured out the ingredients - perks of a third-world economy! Yummmmm - today i served it with authentic Gujju lasun chutney.

A_and_N said...

I just made these and posted them :) Din't come out as thin as yours, but well!

- N

zendegy said...

oh, wow!!! i have been making methi theplas since i found a recipe online, but yours is sooooo the very best!! your description and pictures are perfection. i didn't know they had to be translucent. i guess i have been making methi parathas all this time!!! haha
thanks for your guidance!

Anonymous said...

Have you tried making theplas with different grains? I like to use millet, barley, wheat, gram and rice flour. I actually have a hand powered mill which I can use to grind flour from wholegrains, and this makes the bread taste even more wonderful. I have some photos of my grinding wheat to make chapatis on my blog:

Indian Food Rocks said...

Jenni, when other flours are used, the recipe changes slightly and those versions are called dhebra. The version I like has a pickle called gor keri added to it!

Yat said...

I am Gujarati .. and I have to admit, I love thepla with chundo! It is such an easy healthy lunch or snack.

I always find it interesting to see recipes for Indian food, because my mom is an excellent cook & knows how to make both regular everyday Indian meals (shak-bat-rotli) and fancier things (loving latika & khandvi, for instance) just from what she learned when growing up. I'm so jealous because I would totally be dependent on recipes, at least for now!

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

made this today and it came out awesome. thanks for the recipe Manisha.

Indian Food Rocks said...

foodie, I love theplas too!

Sayantani, you are most welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed them!

vini said...

Hi Manisha,
Thanks for a keeper was soooo tasty..