Making holige (aka obattu) correctly for the first time is equivalent to an Indian movie being nominated for an Oscar. My motivation to take up this seemingly daunting task was that I wanted to try making something that husband likes for his birthday.
So, there are three pressure points in this dish. Firstly, the dough (called kanaka in Kannada) must be kneaded softer than chapati dough and it needs to soak in oil for a good six hours or overnight. Secondly, for the filling inside (called urna in Kannada), toor dal (yellow lentils) must be cooked separately in water first. Then jaggery and coconut needs to be added to the mix and it should be cooked down till it becomes mushy. Care needs to be taken to not make the mix watery. That is why, the dal must be never pressure cooked. Thirdly, the actual making of obattu – the filling must be covered with the dough completely and tapped with fingers to make a chapatti sort of thing. (Similar to the making of a pranatha)
I made the dough with flour (maida), water, a pinch of salt, and a bit of turmeric powder. Then I poured a lot of oil over it and let it sit in the fridge. I had everything planned for the next day – cornflakes in the morning, holige in the afternoon, and holige saaru (a type of curry made with the water left from the cooking of the toor dal) in the night. I measured the toor dal because I remembered that jaggery and toor dal must be in equal quantities. I put the dal in water and let it cook. Everything was going so well that at one point I thought I will have nothing to write about in my blog.
When the dal was eighty percent cooked, I put in the jaggery, coconut, and cardamom. After the jaggery melted down and the dal was cooked completely, I let it cool down for some time. Now it was time to grind the dal mix to make the filling. Just when I thought, I had become a decent cook and nothing can go wrong from here, I realized I had to grate the coconut and not put big chunks of it. While the dal became very mushy, the coconut scraps remained the same no matter what I did. Things like increasing and decreasing the speed of the mixer, cursing my stupidity, and tasting the filling every now and then.
After a while, I had to separate the coconut bits and let go of a bit of filling. Now, came the part I was scared about – the coming together of filling, dough, oil, and a bit of skill. After a few technical and emotional difficulties, I somehow managed to make it round and put it on a hot pan. Then, after a few turns, and a spoon or two of oil there it was – my first holige.
“Please take a photo before eating.”
“I need it for my blog.”
“Ah, so you won’t ask me as to how it is?”
“No, the photo is enough. People get attracted to the photos.”
You made holige to write this post or for holige saaru? Oh, wait. It was for the husband.
Different densities, different grinding capabilities – basic physics or is it chemistry? It’s just common sense.
Why does something or the other go wrong? Because you let it to.
God, I will never learn how to cook correctly.
PS: You need a lot of oil to make hoilge. If you plan to make it for the first time, I would suggest making it under an expert’s guidance.