All festivals revolve around fasting — and feasting. The latter part is a special attraction, especially with children! We bring you some mouthwatering recipes that are part of the Navaratri and Durga Puja celebrations.
Interestingly, chana, or chickpea – also called Bengal gram and Garbanzo – is part of festival food across India. It is the key ingredient in the Bengali Chholar Dal, the Tamil Chundal and the Maharashtrian Pooran Poli.
Chana has been around for thousands of years. It has been found in archaeological excavations as early as 2500 BC (4,500 years ago) in Kalibangan, during the time of the Harappa civilisation. Buddhist writings of 400 BC (2,400 years ago) make a mention of it, as do much older Sanskrit texts like the ‘Vishnu Purana’.
The dishes, for which recipes are given below, are made on each day of the Navaratris. While women fast, the children and men in the family tuck in with relish. Do try them out, and if there are some festival favourites you would like to share with us, just write in.
Chholar Dal – a Bengali favourite that is served with ‘Luchi'(the north Indian puri or fried pancake) made of refined flour or maida.
– 250 gms chholar dal or chana dal
– 3-4 tablespoons oil
– 1 tablespoon jeera
– 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger
– 4-5 tejpata leaves
– chopped green chillies
– 1/2 cup grated coconut
– 1/2 tablespoon turmeric
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– hing or asafoeteda
– boil 250 gms of chholar dal in 2 cups of water.
– heat oil in pan
– add hing, jeere, tejpata, grated ginger, chopped chilles, grated coconut, salt, sugar, turmeric, and fry for some time.
– pour the boiled dal into the pan.
– cook till well blended. Serve hot with luchi.
– 500 gms flour/maida
– 2 tablespoon refined oil
– salt according to taste
– warm water to knead the flour
– oil to fry
– Knead 500 gms flour with 4 tablespoons oil, salt to taste, and warm water.
– make small round balls.
– roll out the round balls into round chappatis with a rolling pin.
– deep fry them. Serve them with Chholar dal.
Narkel Naru – a Bengali dessert to serve with the main meal.
– 1 fresh coconut
– 1 kg milk
– 6 tablespoons cream/malai or for a low-calorie alternative, use water
– 250 gms sugar
– a pinch of elaichi/cardamom powder
– Grate the coconut and boil it in 1 kg milk until the milk dries up.
– Remove it from heat.
– Heat 6tbl spoon cream (malai)/water in a bowl.
-Add 250gms of sugar and stir to make a syrup.
– Add the coconut and keep stirring until dry.
– Remove it from heat.
– Add the elaichi and make small balls.
– Cool and serve.
Chundal/Sundal – a Navaratri specialty from the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
-Chana or chickpeas 1 cup
-Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
-Urad dal 1/2 tsp
-Dried small red chili peppers 2-3
-Hing or asafoetida
-Oil 2 tablespoons
-Grated coconut 2 teaspoons
-Water 1/2 to 1 cup
-Salt to taste
-Soak the dried garbanzo beans overnight.
-The next day, rinse them and cook with water, in a pressure cooker, or a covered pan until soft to touch. Drain the water and keep the beans aside.
-Take a pan and add oil. Drop the mustard seeds onto the hot oil. (Warning: beware of the mustard seeds popping. The oil can splash and cause burns.)
-Add the urad dal, the chilli peppers, and the asafetida powder. Stir for a few seconds until brown. Add the cooked garbanzo beans and salt to taste. Stir well. Cool. Sprinkle coconut flakes on them. Serve.
Pooranpoli – a must-eat from the western state of Maharashtra, it is basically a stuffed puri or a stuffed fried pancake. Served on all nine days of the Navaratri and children love it.
-1 cup chana dal
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 nutmeg/jaiphal (grated)
-1 cup flour/maida
-1/4 cup refined oil
-Pinch of salt
-Boil the chana dal in a pressure cooker or covered utensil till soft to touch. Drain. Grind in a blender.
-In a ‘kadhai’ or wok, cook the ground dal and sugar. Stir continuously till the sugar melts and the mixture becomes very firm. Add grated nutmeg. Cool it.
-Knead the flour, adding oil, pinch of salt and water. Make a very soft dough. Leave it covered for one hour. The dough will now be springy.
-Make small rounds of the dough. Place the round of dough in one hand and flatten out.
-Now place some chana dal filling in the middle. The proportion is, for one part of dough, put four times the filling.
-Now start spreading the dough around the filling, till an unbroken very fine covering of dough covers the entire filling. Dust with dry flour.
-Carefully roll out, making sure the dough covering doesn’t break. Cook on a hot tava like a roti, or in ghee like a parantha. Serve hot.