Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recipe: Food made from Prashad of Gaay-Bachde ki Puja

The day before Dhanteras (i.e. 3 days before Diwali) is celebrated as Gaay-Bachde ki Puja - veneration of cows and calves by some families in UP. My husbands Naani (maternal grandmother) and Maami (mothers brother's wife) observe this, while his mother doesn't. (From what I have come to understand, married women here, observe the rites and rituals followed by the matriarchs of their husbands family and add on any rites and rituals from their own families if they feel very strongly about them - There are so many festivals and rituals in the UPite Hindu Calendar that there is ample choice to pick and choose.)

On this day, the women offer various kinds of grams/dhals/lentils to a cow and her calf and for the whole day, they only eat foods made from grams/dhals/lentils or their flours (primarily besan). While lentil soup/dhal seems the most straight forward option, it feels weird to eat just that without rice or rotis. So pakodas (deep fried balls) are what tends to be made of these dhals.

We reached after the puja was over, so I unfortunately don't have any pictures of that, but I do have plenty of pictures of the food.

Any kind of dhal needs to be soaked before it can be ground for pakodas. Urad dhal needs the longest time 6-8 hours. Channa dhal needs 4-6 hours and moong dhal can be soaked for an hour or so.

To make the pakodas, the soaked dhal is ground to a paste with enough water. You can then add flavourings like onions, green chilli, coriander leaves, ginger. But technically you only mix enough for them to be flavourings, but not so much that they turn into onion pakodas.

Urad dhal pakodas aren't very tasty on their own or even with cuttings, so these get turned into dahi vadas. Just grind soaked urad dhal, you can add a little ginger and green chilli if you like. Personally I also like to split a few raisins in half and add it to the batter. Drop little balls of batter into hot oil and deep fry.

As soon as you take them out of the pan, they are dropped into a bowl of water. If you want to cool them first, then they need to be soaked in hot water later. Soak for about 5-10 minutes (depending on size of your pakodas/vadas). Then squeeze out all the liquid from the soaked vadas.

Layer them in a deep bowl. Pour lightly whipped curd/yoghurt over these vadas.

Sprinkle with chilli and jeera powder.

Serve topped with sweet and sour chutneys.

Mamiji made some pakodas with channa dhal and some with moong dhal, some with onions and some without.

While most of us kept merrily popping these golden balls of deep fried goodness into our mouths, those who wanted a slightly more substantial snack, smashed them between slices of bread for a more filling option.

Guest Chef - Mrs Anju Mishra

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