Durga Ashtami : All about kale chane and halwa poori prasad


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Durga Ashtami prasad is one of my favorite meals. We never celebrated sharad navratri festival at home so I was basically unaware of the rituals till we shifted to Delhi in 1972.  As a little girl the festival brought cheer and good food. I would wait for the navratra to end so I could gorge on the  lip smacking halwa and chana ghugni with hot crisp puffed up poories and collect my kanjak gifts too. It seemed like an achievement to visit a good number of houses and come loaded with money, gifts and food in that order.

The food would be deposited on the dinning table. I would stash away the money and open the gifts. In between I would take spoonfuls of chana or halwa and wonder how the same chana ghughni which is staple of our daily food suddenly tasted unbelievably different and delicious. Perhaps it was the joy and fervor with which it was prepared and consumed that made the difference.

I felt all important after the kanya pujan etc though with time my thoughts about kanjak or kanya pujan ( worshiping the little girls) changed. We also discussed who made the best halwa poori in the neighborhood and who gave the best gift or was generous with money. It was heartbreaking to grow up as it meant no more kanjak invites to me.

It was only after my marriage that I learned to make the actual prasad the way devotees make it as a bhog  to Goddess Durga, It was made with utmost piety and devotion. No one would eat before the kanjak was fed. One would enter the kitchen only after taking a bath and changing into new clothes. Especial care was taken about hygiene, puja thali was prepared before beginning to make the bhog, etc etc. The boys felt left out and declined to help call the girls (kanjaks). I wonder if they hated that more, or being famished or delivering prasads to immediate neighbors’ whose daughters couldn’t come. The aroma from the kitchen didn’t help much.

It was tough to catch hold of the little ones as they fluttered from one place to another while we waited to hog the food. My MIL grumbled at our lack of ‘sanskars’ but eventually we managed to gather eight girls ( all below nine years of age) and one little boy considered to be Hanumanji’s avtar. MIL had a name for the boy which I can’t recall.

I remembered my granny telling how putting good thoughts in food while cooking makes it good for our bodies and mind. Maybe this is what she meant and did on a daily basis. The art of cooking and eating with mindfulness and gratitude.

Let’s get back to Kala chana ghugni which is made without onion and garlic for the prasad but on other days it has a few variants. I used to make it for lunchboxes, travel meals, afternoon snacks and as a main dish for breakfast and lunch too.

These days this ritual of making Ashtami prasad is a part of nostalgia. I have used ghee to make the sookhe chane or chana ghugni.

You can find the Suji Halwa recipe here.

 

Recipe for chana ghugni or kanjakwale sookhe chane 

Ingredients : 

Black Chickpea | Kala Chana – 250 gm

Green chili – 3-4

Cumin seeds – 1 tsp

Fresh grated ginger – 1 inch piece

Ghee | Clarified butter – 2 tbsp

Coriander Powder – 3 tbsp

Ajwain – 1/4 tsp

Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp

Chana masala or amchur – 1/2 tsp

Fresh coriander leaves, chopped – 2 tsp ( optional)

Steps : 

Wash and soak kala chana overnight in a container.

In the morning drain the water and wash the chana again. Pressure cook it with ajwain, salt and two cups of water till the chana becomes soft but doesn’t get mashed up.

Strain the chana water in a bowl for later use.

In a cast iron pan heat ghee and add cumin seeds. When they crackle add green chili and boiled chana minus the water.  Slightly mash some of them.

Add the spice powders and stir on medium flame. Slowly add the chana water and turn the flame on high so that the water gets absorbed in the chana and the spices get coated properly. Turn off the gas and cover the pan till you are ready to serve.

While the chana water is getting evaporated prepare a tight dough for the poori / puri and keep a kadhayi to heat the oil for frying.

 

Poori Ingredients : 

Wholewheat flour | Atta – 2 Cup

Oil – 2 tbsp

Salt – 1 tsp

Water – as needed to knead the dough

Oil for deep frying – about 2-3 Cups

Method:

Mix atta, oil and salt in a large bowl then slowly add water to knead a firm, smooth dough. It should not be too soft or sticky. Cover it with a damp cloth.

Make small balls and roll them out to make the poories. Use a little oil instead of dry flour if needed.

Heat the oil for frying in a large kadhai. Drop a small pinch of dough to test if the oil is hot enough for frying.  The little ball should fry and rise quickly. Discard it.

Put in the poories one by one. Turn the poori within a few seconds of sliding it in oil and press it lightly with a slotted spoon. It will start puffing up uniformly.  Keep adjusting the flame so the oil doesn’t get too cold or too hot.

Turn the poori again and cook till light reddish brown in color. I prefer them this way.

Drain the oil by holding it in the slotted spoon against the inner side of kadhayi. Remove and put on a paper towel. or clean white sheet of paper. Make all the remaining puris similarly.

Serve the hot poories with suji halwa and delicious chana ghugni. You can serve home cultured curd or raita with it. If not making for prasad or bhog you can serve a pickle on the side too.

 

May you discover the Dugra that lies within you. You are She and She is You.

Happy Ashtami and festive season to all.

 

 

 

Banarasi Ras Wale Aaloo Aur Poori


A simple yet flavorful potato curry recipe from Banaras. This is traditionally eaten with Bedmi kachori or poori. It also brings fond memories of the station ke aaloo poori which I still relish during my train travels. Travelling by train meant preparing poories and aaloo subzi either dry or raswali. Everything was neatly packed with pickle and some other snacks and sweets. Later, when I discovered the joy of station wali aaloo poori and everything changed. We gorged on the hot spicy curry with pooris and never once bothered about the dripping oil. The taste was unique at each station.

In Haridwar I discovered dubki wale aaloo which were served with poori or kachori or bedmi poori. Another variation that is lip smacking.

This particular raswale aaloo is made at our home very often. A simple soul food with the flavor of spices that tickle your tongue as you eat. It balances the oily poori in the meal.

In Banaras even the average food stalls have delectable kachori and raswale aaloo. There are some other sabzis also that go with kachori like alloo and kaddu ki sabzi. 

Ingredients :

  • Boiled Potatoes – 4 Medium size
  • Grated Ginger – 1 tablespoon
  • Red chili powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Black Pepper Powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Amchoor Powder (Dry Mango Powder) – 1 teaspoon
  • Asafoetida – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Fennel Seeds ( Moti Saunf) roasted – 1/2 Teaspoon
  • Banarasi Rai ( Small Mustard seeds) – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Roasted Cumin Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chopped Fresh Coriander Greens – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt – to taste
  • Mustard Oil – 2 tablespoon
  • Water – 2-3 Cups

Step :

  1. Wash and boil the potatoes in pressure cooker. Once they are done, take them out, peel the skin and roughly break them with hand. Keep aside.
  2. In a bowl, mix all the powdered spices except salt. Add grated ginger to it and 2-3 tablespoons of water. Mix properly to make a paste.
  3. Heat a pan and add mustard oil to it. Bring it to smoke and reduce the heat.
  4. Add mustard seeds and asafoetida and just as the seeds crackle add the fennel seeds and the spice paste.
  5. Stir it and let it cook till the oil separates.
  6. Now add the broken potatoes and stir to coat them uniformly.
  7. Add 2-3 cups of water and salt. Mash the potatoes with the back of the ladle.
  8. Let it curry boil for five to ten minutes or till the desired consistency is achieved.
  9. Check for the spice and salt levels and add more if needed.
  10. Once done, turn of the gas and ladle the spicy Banarasi raswale aaloo in a serving dish.
  11. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander leaves.
  12. Traditionally the vegetable has a thin gravy. The kachori or poori is dunked in the spicy vegetable curry and eaten.
  13. Serve with hot poori/ kachori and curd/raita.

A Perfect Sunday Lunch: Recipe – Makhana (Lotus Seed) Kheer


Makhanas are the seeds of  plant from lily family. Many people call them Lotus seeds or fox seeds . These are used in many dishes including curries, soups, puddings, snacks etc. Makhanas are rich source of carbohydrates, protein, and calcium.

Indian cuisine has a rich history and tradition specific to every region.  In Bihar, Rajasthan ,Uttarpradesh, Makhana Kheer or Lotus Seed Pudding is a popular dessert  during festivals. It is rich creamy in texture and full of dry fruits. In many homes like ours, we combine it with spicy black  chic peas dry dish called Chana Ghughri  and fried Indian Bread called Poori. A perfect blend of spice and sweet. One can always condiment like raita (beaten Yogurt with cucumber or other fruits / veggies ) along with it.

Here are my recipes for a perfect healthy lunch of Makhane ki Kheer, Black Chana Ghughri and Poori.

Makhane ki Kheer :

Ingredients :

Phool Makhana (Puffed Lotus Seeds) – 1 bowl (Pick. only light and nicely puffed ones)

Milk (Full Cream) – One litre

Sugar – ½ cup (according to taste)

Dry Fruits – pistachio, almonds, raisins etc)

Green cardamom – 2 powered

Saffron – few thread

 

Method :

 

Pound and roast Makhana in one tablespoon of pure ghee till slightly golden.

Soak raisins, blanch almonds, peel and shred them. Shred Pistachio.

Keep both things aside.

Slightly heat saffron thread in a spoon and put them in two tablespoon of hot milk. Let them soak.

In a heavy bottom pan, boil milk and add Makhana seeds.

Let it simmer on low flame till the milk thickens a bit.

Remove from heat and let Makhanas absorb and swell up more.

I add sugar at later stage. Adding sugar first doesn’t allow makhanas to swell.

Leave it for 15-20 minutes.

Put it back on low flame and let it simmer again for some time.

Add sugar and cardamom powder.

Stir well.

Once the milk has reached a nice flowing yet thick consistency, remove from heat and let it cool at room temperature.

Add, saffron milk, stir.

Pour the kheer in a serving dish , add dry fruits and decorate with few more strands of saffron and dry fruits.

Serve hot or cold.

 

Black Chana or Black chickpeas  are very nutritious and have lot of heath benefits. It is full of Protein, Iron, Vitamin A and C, dietary fibers etc.  Boiled black chana soup is considered very healthy. It also has a low glycemic index.

Dry Black chana ghughri is part of most of the festival spreads across India. Carom seeds add a distinct flavor to it and make it easy to digest too.

 

 

For  Black Chana Ghughri (dry) (without onion) Pressure cook  black chic peas with salt and pinch of carom seeds (Ajwain) after it is soaked overnight till they became soft.

In a heavy bottom pan put two table-spoon of ghee and put it on high flame.

Once the ghee (clarified butter) is hot, reduce the flame and add cumin seeds, and asafoetida and few fresh curry leaves.

Add the boiled chana and stir along coriander seed power, red chilli powder and dry mango powder.

All ingredients are according to taste.

Slowly add the water content of boiled chana and cook till it dry.

Remove from flame and take it out in serving dish.

Add chopped fresh coriander leaves and lime before serving.

 

For puri (deep-fried Indian bread)

Take wheat flour and sieve a little salt in it. Add a pinch of carom seeds and make tight dough.

Cover it with moist muslin cloth.

Make small balls and roll them in round shape with a rolling-pin. Keep them covered with moist cloth.

Take a heavy bottom woke and heat cooking oil in it. Keep it on full flame then reduce the heat. To test if the oil is ready for frying, drop a small bit of dough in it. It should spring up to the top.

Add one or two puri in it and deep fry them from both sides till golden brown.

Take them out on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

Serve the hot puris with kheer and chana ghughri* for a perfect lunch.

Once all the dishes are ready it is time for presentation. Serve small quantity of each dish , place some sliced onions and lemon quarters in a plate and serve.

 

 

Bon Appetit