Litti is believed to have originated centuries back during the Magadha empire. The dish quickly spread across Bihar and its surrounding regions. It was said to have been the preferred food of the rebels during the Mutiny of 1857 because it could be cooked without requiring special utensils, could be stored easily for a couple of days, and needed very simple ingredients. Even the Rani of Jhansi is said to have carried Litti during her travels.
Littis are essentially baked balls of wheat flour with a stuffing of spiced Sattu (flour made from groud pulses and cereals). Traditionally, they were baked in Upla (dried cow dung), but most places now use a tandoor. To be honest, I quite like the flvour of the coal fired ovens due to the smokiness they add to the Litti.
For a long time, Littis were Bihar’s secret. However, this humble dishes is now going places. Earlier this year, it traveled to Litti at World Street Food Congress to woo the visitors to the World Street Food Congress. And now, it’s also available in Hyderabad. A small food joint called Desi Masala has popped up in front of Heritage Fresh in Anjaiah Nagar (opposite of the Botanical Garden), which serves Litti.
Desi Masala is not the first place to serve Litti in Hyderabad. There used to be a tiny outlet called Litti’s in Madhapur. However, it failed to excite my taste buds. I visited Desi Masala with muted expectation, but their Littis are actually pretty decent. They were baked in a coal fired oven, and topped with generous amounts of ghee. The stuffing (Pitthi) was flavoured with jeera and ajwain. The baingan ka chokha had just the right texture. In spite of the dollops of ghee, Litti is a pretty dry dish. The chokha should be able to compensate for the dryness of the litti by being slightly watery. A bit of chopped green chillies to would have helped the chokha by adding a bit more heat, but this was the first decent Litti I had in Hyderabad.
Is this delicacy from Bihar available anywhere else in Hyderabad? Let me know in the comments section.