Recipe – Himachali Chana Madra


A few friends have been asking me for the recipes of the dishes I had been cooking during the lockdown. I am wondering if a separate food blog is needed to catalog all the recipes but till I decided that I will use this space to share them. Excuse me for the photos. I hadn’t thought of blog post while clicking. Will add more later. 

I have been thinking of the hills and our road trips, my trekking years and the local food eaten in homes or local eateries of Himachal and Uttarakhand.

Light and aromatic yogurt based gravies are summer’s soul food. Desi khana or traditional meal made with locally sourced ingredients is something I root for even though I love to explore other cuisines. Summer is also season for nostalgic eating.

I first had madra at the home of a local in kangra during a road trip. A family from the village had a small tea stall and provided meals if possible. Though not as part of the menu. It all depended on what’s available and we were lucky to get madra, kale chane ka khatta and rice.

The slow cooked scrumptious Chana Madra is not just quintessential part of authentic Himachali Dham but also of the wedding menu. The whole and ground spices, creamy tangy curd and the buttery chickpeas fill the dish with melange of flavours. Madra is made with Rajma too. The Chamba rajmah tastes delicious in madra but I love the Kangra version with chickpeas.

Today’s thali had one dish each from a few parts of india to which I belong in some way. Aamras from Maharashtra (Mother’s side), old vintage nimbu pickle from Uttarpradesh ( father’s side), madra from Himachal ( In-law’s side) and kelya upkari from Konkan ( nani’s maternal side). Comfort and love in every bite. I’m thinking of making a few more dishes that are close to my heart in the coming days.

Ingredients :

Kabuli Chana / Chickpeas ( Soaked overnight and boiled) – 2 Cup ( can use canned chickpeas too)

Asafoetida – 2 pinch

Cloves – 3-4

Cinnamon – 1/2 inch stick

Black Cardamom – 2-3

Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Sugar – 1/4 tsp

Black Peppercorn – 3-4

Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp

Coriander Powder – 2 tsp

Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp

Salt – as required

Raisins – 3 tsp ( soaked and drained)

Thick whipped curd – 2 cups

Ghee/ clarified butter or Mustard Oil – 2 tbs

For the Rice Paste –

¼ cup raw white rice

1 cup water

1-2 pods of green cardamom

Soak  ¼ cup rice in 1 cup of water and cardamom. Grind this mixture and set aside.

Method –

In a heavy bottom pan heat mustard oil to the smoking point and then reduce the heat. ( For ghee you just need to warm it)

Add asafoetida, black cardamom, cloves and cinnamon stick

Stir and add cumin seeds. When they crackle add coriander and turmeric powder and stir. Make sure the masala doesn’t burn.

Add boiled chickpeas and stir properly.

Add the whisked yogurt and keep stirring continuously. Keep the lame low or the yogurt will curdle. Add salt and green cardamom powder.

Cook on medium heat for 10-15 minute. Stir occasionally.

Once the mixture comes to a boil add he rice paste water and mix well.

Continue to stir and cook for another 20-25 minutes.

I usually add a tablespoon or two of hot homemade ghee on top, stir and let it simmer for another ten minutes thicken the gravy.

Turn off the heat, add chopped fresh coriander greens and mix.

Serve with plain boiled / steamed rice or roti.

Recipe – Mahni – A Tangy Himachali Dish Made From Raw Mangoes


I discovered the authentic mouth-watering dishes from the north-western areas of Himachal Pradesh ( Bilaspur, Una, Hamirpur, Kangra and Chamba districts) during my visit to the ancestral village of my in-laws.  The food, mainly vegetarian, is prepared keeping in mind the geographical and climatic conditions. Simple and nutritious, the food includes dishes made from locally available pulses, cereals, tubers, vegetables and fruits. Milk is also used in the form of curds and buttermilk in many of the dishes.

Some of the indigenous dishes include, babroo, bhaturu, lasaure ki sabzi, ratalu ki sabzi,  sarson ka saag and other leafy greens of the season, kadhi, mah ki daal, khatta, mahni, kehru or rehru, pahari madra, rotis made from maize or wheat flour, rice, chick peas, black gram, red kidney beans (Rajmah), rot ( a sweet deep fried wheat bread), gulgule, bated (steamed or fried pedrode) to name a few. I will post the recipes as and when I make them.

Mahni is a delightful semi liquid dish made from raw or half-ripe green mangoes and is usually eaten with plain boiled rice as a side dish.

To make Mahni you will need :

Raw or half-ripe mangoes – 2 large

Onion – One large

Roasted Cumin seed Powder – 1 Teaspoon

Salt – To taste

Sugar – If required (depends on how sweet or sour you like the dish)

Red chili Powder – 1/2 Teaspoon

Fresh Crushed Mint Leaves –  1 tbsp

Fresh chopped coriander leaves –  1 tbsp

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To prepare :

Wash and boil the raw mangoes.  ( you can steam them too)

Let them cool a little and take out the pulp in a bowl.

Mash the pulp to make it smooth.

Finely chop the onions.

Wash the fresh mint leaves and crush them a little. Save a few for garnish.

Add cold water to the pulp stirring it gently till it makes a nice semi liquid preparation.

Add the chopped onions and spices.

Add a little jaggery or sugar if the preparation is too sour. I like it tangy sweet.

Taste to adjust the amount of sweetness or spices.

Garnish with mint leaves and keep it in the fridge.

Serve cool.

Tip – you can add a few  Moong pakodi, boondi or handful  of boiled black gram to it. I like it just simple. Never use metal to stir, serve or store sour preparations.

The first version is with slightly ripened ambi (those which start turning light yellow) with sugar.

This is with absolutely raw ambi and organic jaggery. Don’t go by color. The gud is dark but I’ve used very little in it. The taste is perfect spicy sour n sweet in that order. The one in small bowl us without jaggery. No meetha for mom coz of slightly high blood sugar.
I prefer this version to the sugar one. We add boiled kala chana too to Manhi. Tastes divine.

I first had Manhi at Mandi bus station. There was a waterfall after the bridge and a small dhaba opposite it. They served Mahni with boiled bengal gram or kala chana, simple Kali daal and rice. Tea was made in one corner. Mostly the driver’s stopped there. One of the best meals I ever had. I was thirteen at that time.

To make with boiled Bengal gram or kala chana – Soak bengal gram or kala chana overnight in water. Throw the water in the morning and wash the chana. Pressure cook or boil in minimal water and then let it boil so all the water gets absorbed and dried up. Cool the chana is a bowl and once it is at room temperature add it to the basic manhi recipe.

 

Enjoy this tangy sweet dish with hot steamed rice or hot fresh phulka.