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Sunday, 5 July 2020

Rajgira Sheera


Rajgira Sheera is a healthy and delectable dessert made using Amaranth flour. Also known as Rajgira Halwa, this sweet pudding is gluten free and makes a wonderful fasting food (vrat ka khana) and is typically made on festivals like Navratri, Ekadashi and Sravan Somvar. Rajgira Sheera has a gooey and melt-in-mouth texture. I have sweetened the pudding with jaggery instead of refined sugar and mildly flavored it with cardamom powder. Rajgira sheera tastes best when served warm. Make it as an offering to the deity (Naivedhyam) or as a dessert whether fasting or not. It also serves as a nutritious baby food.


What is Rajgira or Amaranth?

Amaranth is called Rajgira in Hindi and Maratha language. Raj means royal and gira is grain. So basically, rajgira is an ancient royal grain. It is also known as ramdana meaning God's own grain. It is a pseudo grain that is gluten-free and rich in antioxidants. Rajgira is a healthy grain and its use should not be confined only as a fasting food. It should be included in one's daily diet. Amaranth flour is obtained from the seeds of the amaranth plant. The seeds can also be popped and used in many sweet and savory dishes like this Rajgira Ladoo. You may also want to try out this Farali dosa from Kalyani's blog that uses rajgira flour along with tapioca and water chestnut flour.

Healthy Benefits Amaranth:
Amaranth is an ancient grain that is gluten-free and a rich source of fiber and protein. It is powerhouse of antioxidants and nutrients. Let's have a look at the health benefits of including rajgira in our daily diet.
  • Amaranth has abundance of nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. It is the only grain to have vitamin C.
  • Amaranth is high in protein and fiber both of which may reduce appetite and aid in weight loss.
  • It has lysine, an amino acid that helps to absorb calcium. Since it contain 2 times more calcium than milk, it can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Amaranth is high in several antioxidants that may protect against disease. Being high in iron, it is helpful to anemic patients.
  • Amaranth is a good source of zinc that helps to boost immune system.

What is a fasting food/ Vrat ka khana?

A typical vrat involves a fast or upvas for a perticular period of time, usually a full day, whether either no food is eaten or only one meal is eaten in the entire day or only a single type of food like milk or fruit is consumed during the period of vrat. Hindus observe vrat or fast on many important occasions and festivals like, Ekadashi, Navratri, Pradosh, Shivratri, Janmastami, Sravan Somvar, Chaturthi etc. While the vrat of Ekadashi, Janmashtami, and vat savitri Pournima are observed for 1 1/2 days (the vrat is kept for 1 entire day and night and opened the next day at afternoon), vrats like Sravan somvar (that is observed on every Monday of the Sravaan maas), Chaturthi and Karvachauth are opened at night. The vrat of Navratri (which means nine nights) as the name suggests is kept for 9 days. Certain types of food is permitted to be eaten while fasting and it varies upon family customs and belief and one's own choice. Actually speaking the intention of any fast or vrat is all about observing a satvik lifestyle which includes abstinence from anything that is tamsik in nature, be it food, beverage or behavior. Vrat is a time for detoxification of the body and soul and for its rejuvenation. Devotees observe certain rituals like visiting temple, or charity or chanting , reading spiritual books and offering prayers to the deity while fasting.
                                              
This is how my Monday fasting platter looks like
This is how my Monday fasting platter looks like today

When it comes to food, as per ones own belief and family customs, certain food items are allowed to be eaten while one fasts while some others are restricted. In most of the vrats observed in Maharashtra and North India, grains, (tamsik food like onion, garlic etc) are totally restricted while observing fast. Food like tapioca/ sago (sabudana), water chest nut (singhada), buck wheat(kuttu), Amaranth (Rajgira) barnyard millet( sama chaval/ bhagar), fresh and dried fruits, milk, peanuts, dairy products like milk, curd and ghee etc are allowed to be eaten during fasting.  I personally take only milk and fruits (that are offered to the deity) during the day time when observing any fast and avoid eating fried food and food with salt. The fast is opened with a home cooked satvik meal that is first offered as Naivedhyam to the deity and then eaten as prasadam. Kiran and I have been observing fasts on every Monday from last 10 years. apart from that i keep fast on Chaturthi of every month, Janmashtami, Devshayani and Devuthani Ekadashi, Vat Savitri Pournima, Hartalika vrat and whole nine days during Navratri festival. 


What goes into my Rajgira Sheera?

Rajgira sheera is a delicious dessert that is made with handful of ingredients and makes a wonderful gluten-free food while fasting or not. 
  • Amarnth flour / Rajgira ata is the key ingredient of this dessert. Amaranth is gluten-free and packed with healthy benefits. The amaranth seeds are first puffed and then ground to make the flour. The amaranth flour is easily available in Indian grocery shops. I have used organic flour that i purchased online.
  • Ghee: the amaranth flour is roasted in ghee which gives a delectable taste and aroma and richness to the rajgira sheera. If looking for the authentic taste, i would recommend not cutting on the amount of ghee used in the recipe.
  • Jaggery: usually this sheera is made using refined sugar. Here, i have replaced sugar with jaggery powder to make the sheera healthy. You may use grated jaggery if powdered form not available.
  • Nuts:  I have used almonds, cashews and pistachio. You may use any dry fruit or nut of your choice or completely avoid adding any. If intending to feed the halwa to a toddler, it is better to avoid adding chopped fruits to rule out the choking hazards. You may dry roast the nuts and use the powdered nuts in the halwa instead. 
  • Cardamom powder: Green cardamom powder is used to flavor the sheera which compliments very well with the jaggery in this dessert. 
  • Milk: I have used cow milk in this recipe. The milk has to be boiled and really hot while it is been added to the ghee roasted amaranth flour to get a lump free, melt-in mouth halwa.
The recipe is very easy and simple to follow. The amranth flour is ghee roasted until aromatic. Hot milk is added to the roasted flour and cooked while stirring until the mixture leaves the pan. Jaggerry is added and the mixture is cooked until the jaggery melts completely and blends very well with the halwa. Finally, the halwa is seasoned with cardamom powder. 

For a vegan version you may dry roast the flour and add hot water to it or use any non-dairy milk instead. The taste may not be the same though. 

                          

Farali Famaish@ Foodie Monday BlogHop

Foodie Monday Bloghop is a gourmet food group on Facebook, where a bunch of talented food bloggers from around the globe share their delicious food recipes every Monday depending upon any one of the chosen themes. All the bloggers take turns to suggest 2 themes each week and the theme that wins maximum votes is finalized. it is our 254th week on this group and it was Kalyani's turn to suggest themes. The theme that won was Farali Farmaish. "Farali" means the food that is eaten during fast or vrat and Farmaish is the Hindi word meaning demands. Many delicious and lip smacking food dishes can be prepared and looking at the varieties available today, fasting food is no longer considered tasteless and boring. I have many fasting dishes on my blog and this delectable Rajgira sheera was a long to-do post. I made this sheera on devshayani ekadashi which was celebrated last week and managed to click pics early morning for this post. My 12 year old son observed Ekadashi fast for the first time and this rajgira sheera is his favourite fasting food.  Meanwhile, do check out Kalyani's Sago carrot pudding also which is yet another delectable dessert that can be enjoyed while you fast. Kalyani's blog is a home to many healthy dishes mostly vegan from around the globe.
                                            

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients: Measurements used 1 cup = 240 ml
  • 1/2 cup amaranth flour / rajgira ata 
  • 2-3 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup jaggery powder
  • 2 tablespoon chopped nuts (i have used almonds and cashews)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pistachio for garnish (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
Method:
  1. Heat ghee in a non-stick wok or a saucepan with heavy bottom. Add almonds and cashews to it and fry until golden. Lower the flame and add amaranth flour to it.  

2. Saute the flour in ghee for 5-7 minutes on low flame. Meanwhile boil milk in another pan.


3. Once you get a lovely aroma and the flour turns light pink, add the hot milk to it while continuously stirring to avoid lump formation. Be carefully as hot milk will splutter when added to roasted flour.


4. Keep stirring and cooking until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. It may take another 3-4 minutes. At this stage, add the jaggery powder and stir well.



5. Keep cooking the mixture until jaggery melts and the halwa leaves the sides of the pan. Put off the flame and add cardamom powder and give a good mix.


6. Serve the delicious rajgira halwa in individual bowls and garnish it with chopped pistachio. 


Recipe Notes:
  • You may reduce the amount of ghee used here, but if looking for an authentic taste , do not compromise on ghee.
  • Always add hot milk to the roasted flour while making halwa, to avoid lump formation.
  • You can store leftover if any in refrigerator for a day but make sure you heat it in a microwave before serving as this halwa tastes best when served hot. 
  • Skip adding nuts to the halwa if serving to toddlers to rule out chocking hazards. You may powder the roasted nuts and add them to the halwa instead.
  • You may use grated jaggery if powdered one not available. The quantity of sweetener added can be adjusted as per taste. The above mentioned quantity yields a moderately sweet halwa.
  • For a vegan version you may dry roast the flour and add hot water to it or use any non-dairy milk instead. The taste may not be the same though. 

I hope a few of you would love to try out this recipe. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the comment section below this post. All your suggestions are also more than welcome. If you like my work and feel it is worth following, do hit the follow button at the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. For more recipes and new updates follow us on social media.

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