While growing up I remember Amma getting various Parathas made during winters. Our favorites were mooli, qeema and chane ki Dal bhare parathe which I remembered as belani parathe.
On Bhai dooj Aparna Swarup posted a picture of what she called Dal bhari parathe as being a special for the day.
I asked my friend Nuzhat Rahman for the recipe and she immediately asked you mean
The word birah and birhaen being so closely linked led me to explore the connection.
Kajri a form of singing where women sang kajris or songs of longing and love for their beloved who were working elsewhere immediately came to mind.
Kajri songs are a genre of songs from Eastern UP where women express the longing for their lovers as the black monsoon cloud come hanging in the summer skies. It’s sung during monsoons
It made me think of all those young girls married off as soon as they reached puberty longing for their homes as expressed in the song which never fails to make me cry:
B ke bars bhej Bhaiyya ko babul
Ke saawan aayo re
It reminded me of all those kajris which I love and I set about finding the connection.
Sure enough Awadh culture specialist Mehmood Abidi said yes that connection was correct.
He gave further details:
Birahi draws its name from word Birha ( seperation) which was a common place during monsoons in the olden days as people got stuck in travel.
These parathas were dedicated by females to the longing of thier stuck lovers ( males). Birahi making used to be an event for the ladies whose husband were away from them during the monsoons. Aurten is tarah dil behlati thee.
The stuffed Chaney ka bhurta parathas are eaten with chaney ka bhurta only. Sliced/ small onions dipped in vinegar is added to make up for the dryness of the meal and has digestive properties as well.
Birahiyan are a must preparation during monsoons in Awadh. It’s a tradition in awadh households
Birahiyan ( Birahi parathey) essentially being a rural delicacy of interiar Awadh initially had a coarse composition.
The oil used for making it was karwa tel( mustard oil). But as it travelled to urban kitchens of Lucknow genteel, ghee and now refined oils are used for glacing it.
I remember “buas”( maids) when prepared it in their style they used karwa tel which was patted on roti on tawa with a “puchata”- bunch of thick thread tied to a small stick like a pom pom. Alternatively, soft muslin cloth is also used for glacing.
Dipped in oil this “puchara” is patted on upper side of the stuffed roti.
Birahi has close resemblance with Maharashtrian “pooran poli” ( roti stuffed with chane ki dal ka bhurta mixed with jaggery powder).
Shagufta Sidhi said: “They stay longer, travel well and were packed with the travelling daughters or Damaad’s lunch packs. I have definitely read about these in some Urdu novel.”
So obviously the keeping quality of chana ke Dal obviously a key ingredient in the Parathas.
Ali Nadeem Rezavi says it was eaten in monsoons in his house with stew and mangoes.
Amitabh Kumar Das said: In Bihar , during ” adra ” rains ” dalpooris ” are made . ” Dalpooris ” are eaten with kheer, aloo – parwal and ripe mangoes !
Zeba Ibrahim said: Birahee roti chane ki daal bhar ke was made on ulta tawa ( gumzidar tawa) just like roomali roti in our house and served with karonde ka qeema during monsoon season . People make it like parathas now .
Kanak Rekha Chauhan said:
We combine bidhain with Lapsi and chusia mangoes.
Lapsi is like atta halva cooked with desi ghee. And chusia mangoes are the small sized jucy mangoes.
Traditionally this meal is cooked on Ashadhi Poornima, mid July more or less.
A few like Rafiq Kidwai and Saba Bashir said they ate it in winters like I did.
Zehra Raza said: Hamarey ghar this was made specially on 9 rabil awwal, prophet SAW birthday and On Imam’s birthdays…
Yasir Zaidi says: Ammi always makes them on eid e zahra every year, says “ye shagun ki cheez hai, aaj k din zrur bnni chahiye” 😁
India Hussain says: My mom makes these with an amazing khatti meethi imli ke arq ki chutni with sliced onions soaked in it. There is nothing like it!!🤩
Bobby Naqvi says: It goes well with mutton stew and small desi mangoes
Nisa Abbas ( Sitto) said: it was had with “And meethi aam ki Navratan chatni”
Sadaf Jafar says: Loved it with Kate masale ka qeema shami kababs
Here’s the recipe:
Recipe courtesy Nuzhat Rahman
you pressure cook soaked chana dal in a little water adding salt sabut Lal mirch or Hari mirch,adrak.Dont put too much water.Soaked dal will cook with little water.Grind the dal or mash it well with a wooden masher.Add hara dhania and zeera powder.
Mix well. Make small balls and put in the centre of the ata ka peda.Close from all sides.Flatten and roll and make parathas.
Serve with various chutneys like Jara dhania, lahsan, kabab or mutton stew
Enjoy and remember those little girls of yore married at a young age longing for their homes and the
then for their husbands.