Festivals are always about food, especially in India, but festivals are also all about family and nostalgia. So, when we mix the two together, we get time honoured family traditions served to you on a platter. My family, just like any other, was always about tasty treats and delights whenever a festival approached us! The food being prepared had a story, and that story was passed down generation after generation. So, every ceremony, every occasion, every festival had me reaching out to this culinary legacy. Whether it came out in how I cooked, with the special twists I had seen mother employing, or it was about making food for my children just how the elders in my family made it for me.
Ahead of Diwali, there are a few dishes I will prepare that are timeless and easy to cook, but have so much variety in taste and texture, it is quite amazing! On the menu in the article are, Chana Bhatura and Meethe Chawal. The surprise element in my chana-bhatura is the fact that it’s a very healthy take on the popular dish, without compromising with the taste. I have seen my mother’s sister, my masi make it for us like this since I could eat, and now I incorporate the same cooking method when my children ask for this dish! The healthy quotient in the dish comes from the fact that we use neither oil nor ghee to prepare the chana, as it solely relies on water – as for the bhaturas, for the exact taste we get them from frying it in mustard oil and keeping it light. From my masi, to my home, to now in my married home – this dish makes every festival platter complete with its familiar taste and considering the lightness and nourishment, you can risk having a little extra too!
Here is the recipe:
Dhaniya powder -4tsp
Roasted jeera powder -1tsp
Kali mirch powder -1/2 tsp
Chana masala -1tsp
Kitchen king powder -1tsp
Chaat masala -1tsp
Garam masala -1/2tsp
Amchoor masala -1/2tsp
Salt to taste
Soak chana overnight and then boil them by adding salt. When they are cooked, add 2-3 tea bags in them and keep them aside. You will see a change in colour. Now take the chana and divide them in two parts. Keep the chana water aside for later. Take one portion of chana and mash it well.
Now take a pan and put the chana water in it, put all the dry masalas in it cook it on a slow flame for 2-3 minutes. Now put chana in it and cook for a while. Garnish it with fresh coriander and chopped onions.
After a decadent savoury meal, comes the dessert. Recently every place we go to, or every restaurant we frequent – fusion mithais are glamorously endorsed. However, I believe that nothing is as satisfying as something which is prepared at home. Meethe Chawal is something without which nothing auspicious in my family is complete. No Puja, no festival, no ceremony, no celebration can go without this delicious home-cooked meal which my mother has perfected over the years. Even today, me, my cousins, our children, other members of the family are constantly demanding this sweet dish whenever there is a meal planned! This staple is the only dessert we get excited about, come the festival season!
Here is the recipe:
Rice -1 cup
Ghee– 2 tbsp
Almonds -7-8 pieces
Cinnamon- 2 pieces
Wash the rice and soak it for 15-20 minutes before cooking
Take a pan, add some ghee, put dalchini (cinnamon), choti elaichi, laung (clove). Add rice to it and after a minute, add 2 cups of water in it. Let it cook with intermittent checking. Once there is little water left and rice is almost done, add sugar from top then add saffron and 2-3 drops of yellow colour to the rice. Now close it tight and cook in slow flame for half an hour. Before serving, add almonds (soaked overnight) with elachi powder and some dalchini powder.
Now that you can cook these family recipes of mine, let me tell you some health benefits of some of my favourite ingredients!
Mustard Oil: This oil promotes blood circulation, and increases your immunity levels!
Cinnamon: This ingredient, commonly known as dalchini, is loaded with anti-oxidants and cuts the risk of heart disease!
This is the first article, out of three, in the Indian Festive Thali series by the author expert.