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Thursday, 27 April 2017

Akshaya Tritiya Naivedhyam Thali - Maharashtrian Cuisine


  Akshaya Tritiya is one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar. It is observed on shukla pakshya tritiya , the third day during the bright half of Vaishakha lunar month of the Hindu Calendar.The word Akshaya means never diminishing. Hence the benefits of doing Japa (chanting) ,Yajna , dan punya (charity works), Pitra Tarpan and puja on this day never diminish and remain with the person forever. 

Akshay Tritiya has great vedic significance because on this day Satya Yuga ended and Treta Yuga began , sage Ved Vyasa and Lord Ganesha began writing the epic - Mahabharata , Lord Parshurama the sixth incarnation of lord Vishnu was born on this day , The Ganga descended from heaven ,  Lord Krishna presented the Akshaya Patra ( bowl which supplied unlimited food) to Pandavas , on this day Kubera received his position as custodian of wealth and and riches along with Goddess Lakshmi.


  The day of Akshay Tritiya is also given special significance in vedic astrology. It is believed that this day does not need any special Muhurat to start any auspicious work. This day is believed to bring good luck and prosperity hence people worship Goddesses Lakshmi and Lord Kubera , buy Gold and Silver coins and ornaments, invest money in real estates and shares.

In my family pooja is performed at home in which goddesses Lakshmi is worshiped and pitra tarpan is done to seek the blessings of ancestors. A special meal is prepared which is offered to God (bhog / Naivedhyam) and to Agni ( fire) , a portion is been kept for Gomata ( cow) after which whole family has lunch together. 


My  Akshay Tritiya Naivedhyam Thali is a typical Maharashtrian platter which has by default Puran Poli (A flat bread with sweet lentil stuffing) , Aamras ( A ripe mango puree flavoured with saffron and cardamom), Katachi Amti  ( A thin spicy and tangy tempered Bengal gram stock ), Bhaat  ( Steamed rice ), Bhaji ( fritter - here i have made Gilkyachi Bhaji -sponge gourd fritters), Nachanicha papad ( deep fried Ragi Papadum) and Kurdai ( Papadum made from wheat cream) and lemon wedge. As this thali is offered as naivedhyam , it is onion garlic free / Satvic bhojan. 

Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time : 1 hour
Serves : 2 thalis

Puran Poli is a popular Maharashtrian flat bread with a sweet lentil stuffing. It is prepared during special occasions and on festivals like Holi , Diwali , Ganesh Chaturthi , Akshay Tritiya ) .In Marathi , Puran is the sweet stuffing and poli means flat bread , hence the name. The filling is made with split yellow gram ( chana dal ) and jaggery or sugar is used as a sweetener. 


Ingredients for Puran: ( measuring cup used 1 cup = 200 ml)
  • 1 cup Chana Dal/ skinned split Bengal Gram
  • 1 cup crushed Jaggery / Gur
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 2 tsp Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Cardamom and Nutmeg powder
Ingredients for the dough : (outer covering of Poli)
  • 1 1/2 cup Maida
  • Pinch of Turmeric powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2-3 tbsp of Oil
Other Ingredients: 
  • Generous amount of Ghee to brush on the Puran Poli while serving

Method:
  1. Wash the Chana dal and soak for 30 minutes. Soaking step is optional but it certainly reduces the cooking time. In a pressure cooker add the soaked dal and 3 cup of water. Add pinch of turmeric and 2 tsp of oil to it. Put on the flame. Once the water start boiling on a medium flame, lower the flame and put the lid of the pressure cooker.( this step ensures the dal water will not come out through the whistle while cooking and thus reduces the mess created while cooking the dal) Now increase the flame to medium and allow the dal to cook for 3-4 whistles or until the dal is cooked very well. ( if you are not soaking the dal then the dal may take 6-7 whistles for cooking )
  2. While the dal is getting cooked , we will prepare the dough. If the weather is cold, the dough can be prepared and kept 2 hours ahead of time. In hot weather, make the dough just 20 minutes prior of making the puran poli. In a mixing bowl take the refined flour , add a pinch of turmeric powder , pinch of salt and 2-3 tbsp oil to it.(adding pinch of Turmeric powder to the flour, gives nice yellow color tinge to the Puran Poli). Mix well and by using little water at time , knead the flour into a semi tight dough.
  3.  Now add 1-2 tsp of oil and knead the dough for 1 -2 minutes. Again add 1-2 tsp of water and knead the dough, like this work 2-3 times on the dough using water and oil. This will ensure the dough becomes elastic, and the stuffing will not come out while rolling the puran poli. Once the dough is ready cover it with a muslin cloth until our puran is done.
  4. After cooking the dal for 3-4 whistles, allow the cooker to cool down. Open the lid once all the pressure has been released. Now strain the dal . Reserve the water(stock) , as it will be used to make another Maharashtrian delicacy (Katachi Amti- a thin tempered dal). Even if you do not want to make katachi amti , you can use the water in soups or gravies. The dal has to be strained very well.
  5.  In a nonstick pan or a heavy bottom pan take the cooked strained dal and the crushed jaggery. Heat the pan , and keep cooking the mixture on low to medium flame. Keep stirring continuously to make sure the mixture does not stick to the bottom and sides of the pan.
  6. The jaggery melts completely and the mixture cooks further to become thick. To check for the doneness of puran , there is a tip , i learnt from my mother. The Puran is said to be done when a ladle stands straight into it without falling. Put off the flame , once this stage is achieved.
  7.  Pass this puran through a soup strainer while it is still hot. (Ideally it is passed through a special strainer meant for it, called Puran Yantra , i use this soup strainer, as i did not have Puran Yantra.) Keep pressing the puran with a ladle against the strainer. The fine puran collected below is what we will be using to stuff the poli. Add the Cardamom and Nutmeg powder to the puran. Mix well and keep aside.
  8. Divide the dough and the puran into equal portions. Take a small lemon size ball of dough, roll it little , take a big ball size puran portion ( double the size of dough) and keep it over the rolled puri. Collect the edges of the dough and seal them ensuring the puran is stuffed well within it.
  9. Dust the rolling board with some flour and roll out the stuffed dough into a thin puran poli, using a rolling pin. Take care the edges do not tear off and the Puran does not ooze out. Actually if the dough is very well worked on and the puran is cooked well , the puran never come out and we can roll out the puran poli to a very thin chapati. Though this requires a little patience and off course some practice.
  10.  Carefully lift the puran poli and put on a heated skillet , preferably a non stick one. Roast the puran poli on low to medium flame until nice light brown spots appear on both sides. While flipping the puran poli , be careful and use a flat spatula to do so.
  11. Ghee can be applied while roasting the puran poli on the skillet itself, but i follow my mom's recipe and brush the puran poli with ghee after it is been removed off the skillet. 
  12. Follow the same technique for rest of the dough and puran. The above quantity yield 6-7 medium size Puran Poli's. Stack all the puran poli in a caserol or a kitchen napkin.
Click this highlighted word Puran Poli for the link to the recipe with step wise clicks.

Aamras is a delicious sweet mango treat , popular in the Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Basically it is a pulp or puree of a ripe mango which is usually flavoured with Saffron and Cardamom. Aamras is usually consumed with hot Pooris or chapati. In many parts of Maharashtra, Puran Poli and Aamras are served together during summers as a part of festive meals . 


Ingredients:
  • 2-3 large or 4 small mangoes of your choice approx 500 grams ( I have used Alphonso )
  • 1-2  tbsp warm milk
  • Few strands of Saffron
  • 1 tsp Cardamom powder
  • Sugar as per taste 

Method:
  1. Select ripe mangoes for this recipe. Rinse the mangoes and pat dry. Peel and roughly chop the mangoes and discard the stone. Add Saffron strands to 2 tbsp warm milk and keep aside for 10 minutes.
  2.  Transfer the mango pieces into the grinder jar along with sugar if added, and blend to a smooth puree. Strain the mango puree to ensure there are no lumps of pulp.
  3.   Add the saffron milk and Cardamom powder to the strained mango puree. Give a quick stir .
  4.  Delicious and Flavorful Aamras is ready !! Refrigerate until serving time. Add Ghee to the aamras to make it more flavorful. 

Katachi Aamti is a traditional delicacy from the Maharashtrian cuisine. In Marathi , kat refers to the strained stock of cooked dal and amti means a tempered preparation so basically katachi amti is a thin spicy , tangy , slightly sweet tempered chana dal / Bengal gram stock. To make Puranpoli ( a sweet stuffed flat bread) , chana dal is cooked for the stuffing and the left over strained stock of it is used in making katchi Amti.



Ingredients:
  • 2 cup strained stock obtained by cooking 1 cup chana dal / Bengal gram 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut and spice mix*
  • 1 tablespoon powdered / crushed Jaggery
  • Goosebeery size tamarind
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  • small bunch of fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek  seeds / methi dana
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Pinch of asafoetida / hing
  • 1 teaspoon red chilly powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoon oil
* For the coconut spice mix
  • 2-3 tablespoon grated dry or fresh coconut
  • 1 tablespoon dry coriander seeds 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 black pepper corn


Method:
  1. Rinse 1 cup bengal gram / chala dal and soak in 1 cup water for at least 15 minutes. Soaking step is optional but it saves cooking time and ensures the dal cooks well. Drain and transfer the soaked dal in 3 cups water , pinch of turmeric powder and few drops of oil in a pressure cooker. Cook the dal for 2-3 whistles and then simmer for 5 minutes. We are looking for a well cooked dal but it should not be mushy and should be able to retain its shape. 
  2. While our dal is getting cooked , soak the tamarind in warm water for 5 minutes and extract its pulp. Keep aside.
  3.  We will also prepared the spice mix while the stock is getting ready. For that dry roast all the ingredients listed under the coconut spice mix in a pan until fragrant. Ground them to a powder using grinder jar. Keep aside. We will be using 1 tablespoon of this powder in this amti. Keep the remaining spice mix in air tight container and use in making sambar, rasam or any curry.
  4.   Once the pressure is released on its own, open the cooker and strain the dal using a colander or strainer. Use the cooked dal for making stuffing for puranpoli. Reserve the strained stock (Kat).
  5. Add strained tamarind pulp to the stock. Also add the jaggery powder and stir well.
  6.  In a sauce pan heat oil over medium flame. Add fenugreek seeds followed by asafoetida and curry leaves. Now add 1 tablespoon of coconut spice powder and stir fry for about a minute.
  7.  Lower the flame and add turmeric powder , red chilly powder and garam masala and stir fry for few seconds. 
  8.  Add the reserved chana dal stock and stir well. Add 1/2 cup or more water to adjust the desired consistency. Add salt and allow this tempered dal to boil on medium heat. 
  9. Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander leaves . Now simmer the dal for another 4-5 minutes before putting off the flame.
  10. The oil will float above the amti on simmering. This is the characteristic feature of a typical katchi amti.
  11.  Serve katachi amti with puranpoli or steamed rice and enjoy with your loved ones.

Gilkyachi Bhaji is a sponge gourd fritter. Sponge gourd roundels are seasoned with spices and dipped in a thick chick flour batter and deep fried to get delicious snacks which can be easily made in less time.


  Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chick pea flour / besan
  • 1 large or 2 small sponge gourd
  • 1 tablespoon semolina / suji
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilly powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon carom seeds / ajwain
  • Small bunch of fresh coriandar leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying
Method :
  1. Wash the sponge gourd and wipe them dry with a kitchen towel. Discard both the ends and slice the sponge gourd into thin roundels and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl take chickpea flour. Add  semolina , carom seeds , salt and red chilly powder. Using 3/4 cup water make a medium thick batter. 
  3. Add  chopped coriander and whisk well for few times. The batter for fritters is ready.
  4. Heat oil in a deep wok at medium flame. Dip the sponge gourd roundels in the batter to coat them well. Now slide a few of them along the side in the wok and deep fry until golden brown from both the sides. Do not over crowd and fry the sponge gourd roundels in small batches.
  5. Remove the fritters with a slotted ladle and allow to drain on an absorbent sheet. Serve hot.

Kurdai is a delicious snacks which belongs to papadum category and is prepared from wheat cream. It is usually prepared in the summer season and Sun dried and stored to use throughout the year. Always served in deep fried form in the meal. 

Nachanicha papad is one more variety of papadum popular in Maharashtra. This papad is made from Ragi / finger millet and is very nutritious. ragi papadum can be roasted or deep fried and served in a meal.


 Wishing all my readers a blessed and joyous Akshaya Tritiya. May this day bring you everlasting good luck and success !



6 comments :

  1. Wish you prosperity abundant. Amazing thali, wonderful collection of recipes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank You Seema for your kind words :)

      Delete
  2. Nice poonam ..... flavourfull thali

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Harsha
      Thank you for stopping by my site. I am glad you liked it :)

      Delete
  3. That looks really tasty, need to try this one out. Thank you for sharing the ingredients and complete recipe, will be asking my wife to cook it for us

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to know you liked it. Would love to get a feed back on this :)

      Delete

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