Recipes | Two Authentic Healthy Treats from Rajasthan – Time to Slow Down and Enjoy Life
There are a few moments in life when you are truly & completely happy. My yearly visit to hometown in Udaipur, Rajasthan is one such occasion when I wish I could stop the time and live in those moments forever. Though many old familiar houses have given way to high rise apartments now and there are very few familiar faces to greet, but every visit is worth preserving the childhood experiences and keeping them afresh.
The old house I stayed, parks I played in and the streets I walked with friends, each one makes me feel so large and important. How true is the saying that ‘The mind looks for something new but the heart longs for the old.’ And the older I grow the more I feel that the few joys of childhood are the best that life has to give.
I never miss my early morning walks in Udaipur, its enchanting and refreshing to walk alongside the lake before sunrise with just a few walkers and some noisy birds occasionally breaking the silence and serenity of the place.
This beautiful Lake Fateh sagar is behind my house in Udaipur where I go for early morning walks at 5.30 Am with my camera to accompany me. How difficult it is now to even imagine climbing the temple ‘Neemach Mata‘ on that mountain top behind the lake, which we used to run and climb in just twenty minutes, once upon a time.
The joy of walking on a bright morning, smelling & breathing the fresh air…nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees…that concrete bench is my favorite spot to sit before sun rises and watch the world go by.
One of the most favorite activities of the day is to stroll along serenely on the pavement forgetting everything…
Plucking fresh gum berries or Gunda on the way from morning walk to make yummy Gunda or Gumberry pickle.
Favorite pastime for children is to pick fleshy wild kikar fruits during morning walks near the lake…Kikar trees are commonly found in the desserts of Rajasthan, the fruits are sweet and slightly pink in colour when ripe.
Children are exploring & loving the good old simple ways of playing outdoor. They are happily avoiding their internet games for plucking Tamarind pods, Kikar fruits outside our house, running behind goats, chasing birds and butterflies….
1. Savory Black Chickpea Snack or Chan Zor Garam
The moment I land in my home both mom and my brother’s wife take turns to spoil me completely with their hospitality. I am not allowed to be in the kitchen for long unless I wish to take pictures of the food they cook. Each day starts with planning for the foods I miss after marriage, from authentic Daal Baatis to exotic Gatte ki subji filled with nuts and dried fruits…they leave no stone unturned to pamper me with their love and let me indulge in my favorite food.
Here are two such recipes they cooked for me during this visit.
Chana zor garam is a street food which is normally made with packed ready-to-mix black chickpeas which are flattened and deep fried in oil. But this version which my brother’s wife made is healthy and has all homemade ingredients in it.
- 1 cup black chickpeas
- 1 cup water
- 1 small onion
- 1 tomato
- 1 tbsp. oil
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp. red chilly powder
- 1/2 tsp. chaat masala
- 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- Sprigs of mint leaves
- Salt as desired
Method; Wash and soak black chickpeas or kala chana overnight. Boil the soaked chickpeas in a pressure cooker for one whistle or in a vessel for 10-15 minutes.
Peel and chop onion, cut tomatoes finely.
Drain the black chickpeas. Take a few black chickpeas and flatten slightly with a rolling pin, repeat the same with all the chickpeas.
Heat oil in a vessel, add cumin seeds and flattened chickpeas. Saute for a minute and put off the flame.
Transfer the black chickpeas in a large vessel and add all the ingredients in it, mix well.
Serve the spicy Chana Zor garam in a paper cone or in small bowls as a healthy & filling tea time snack.
2. Baked Spicy Cornmeal Buns or Paanya in Gumberry leaves
Mom makes these crumbly, spicy Baatis or Buns everytime I am in Udaipur. These are filling baked buns which are eaten normally during winter days. A very special ingredient called ‘Papad Khar‘ is used to bake these bun which is a kind of alkaline salt and gives the extra crispness to the dish. I don’t get this ingredient at my home in Chennai and I substitute the same with baking soda.
(make 4 )
- 1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
- 2 tbsp. semolina
- 2 tbsp. chickpea flour
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp. Ajwan
- 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp. red chilly powder
- A pinch of Papad Khar or baking powder
- Salt as desired (1 tsp.)
- Water to knead hard dough
- Gum-berry leaves
Method; Take coarsely ground cornmeal flour, chickpea flour and semolina in a large bowl and rest of the ingredients except water and gum berry leaves. Pour a few teaspoons of water and knead into hard dough.
These whole flour buns are traditionally baked or cooked in earthen stoves called Chulha in Hindi which is lit with charcoal fire. You can use the conventional oven to bake the same. Preheat the oven to 230°C.
Make small balls from the dough and fold each bun in Gum berry leaves if you are using it as shown in here. If you don’t get leaves, place all the buns in a greased baking tray and bake for about 30 minutes till the buns turn golden brown in colour.
Take out the baked buns, smear butter or ghee and serve hot with mixed lentils, roasted Brinjal and potato Chokha or fresh tomato chutney. I don’t need any accompaniments with these baked buns or Paanyas, these are a delicacy and a complete dish in itself.
- You can bake these buns using wholewheat flour also.
- The recipe of Paanya has Papad khar in it, which makes it crumbly and soft. But I use baking powder in my home where I don’t get the indigenous Papad khar.
Vacations are rejuvenating, it is that time of the year when one can slow down the pace of life, live, breathe, retrospect and simply be! And I feel blessed to experience the same year after year at mom’s home in Udaipur.