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Recipes | Three Indian rustic recipes with Panchkuta – Simple flavors can work wonders

7 January 2015 4 Comments

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

What keeps me motivated is not the food itself but all the bonds and memories the food represents” ~ M Chiarello.

I had a chance to check into my favorite shop during my recent visit to udaipur. The shop holds a good collection of some exclusive and rare rustic foods from Rajasthan. I got surprised when the amount I had to pay for a handful of dried wild berries and beans came upto 4-digits.

Madam, gone are the days when Ker-Sangri was poor man’s food. These are in vogue now and are much sought-after ingredients by many hi-end restaurants across the world. And we are the largest exporter for the same” He replied matter-of- factly while swiping my credit card.

Hmm…..in vogue or not…but one thing is sure that these humble ingredients of the quintessential Marwari (in Rajasthan) dish called  Panchkuta  has come a long way.” I murmured to myself, paid the bill and hurried back to home.

Back then, I had a kind of love and hate relationship with these rustic and local recipes which I grew up eating.

There was also a time when Ker sangari, methi dana, papad ki subji, daal-Dhokli were considered ‘unfashionable’. Well, I am talking about my childhood days when all those children who brought such foods to school were referred to as ‘Ghatti’ or villagers in local lingo.

Ker sangari, Makki ki roti, methidana subji and Daal dhokli were some of the frequently cooked foods at my home. But I could never muster the courage to pack these dishes in my lunch-box or to talk about the same with my friends lest I will be out-caste from the more stylish and modern paneer and kulcha eating gang 🙂

But over a period of time I started to like these recipes, these are the foods that keep us connected to our childhood and roots.

There are certain rustic recipes which are local to a region and community, recipes which are not common in other parts of country.

Panchkuta or a quick Indian stir-fry of dried beans and wild berries is one such recipe which completely validates the cooking mantra of ‘Simple flavors can work wonders’!

These wild berries, beans and fruits used to make Pachkuta are exclusive to desert regions of Rajasthan in India.

The arid & hot climatic regions of Rajasthan, scarcity of water and lack of fresh vegetables made Panchkuta as one of the most popular dishes in many parts of Rajasthan. Hmm…probably more out of necessity than choice, I suppose.

My frequent trips to Udaipur replenish my yearly supply of Panchkuta ingredients, but I believe these products are now readily available on many online stores.

Believing the saying that “a person’s tastes come from the food they were fed growing up” I hardly thrust any new food which my family is not comfortable with. But it feels good to see my hubby and son relish these local delicacies.

Panchkuta has a very peculiar earthy taste to it which makes you connect with the desert soil with every bite.

The dried berries and beans swell upto three times when soaked in water. I normally make the recipe in large batches and refrigerate. Cooking Panchkuta recipe is a breeze, the only laborious and time consuming work is prepping (cleaning) the ingredients.

And yes, Panchkuta is an acquired taste. If you like rustic Indian food, you sure are going to fall in love with these wild berries and beans.

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

Panchkuta which literally means five ingredients, is made with Ker, sangari, kumat, gunda and mathania mirch, These ingredients are largely found in the Thar desert of Rajasthan and the recipe made has a very long shelf life.

The dried red Mathania chilly which grows only in Jodhpur region of Rajasthan gives a lovely colour and pungent taste to the recipe. Fresh red chillies are soaked in mustard oil to make a delicious pickle.

I could not get these chilies and added the normal red chilly to my recipe.

Read more about these berries and dried beans at this beautiful blog – The Earth of India.

You can try out these Indian sites for online purchase of these berries and beans;

India Mart

Marwari Foods

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

The wild berries or Ker (Capparis deciduas) which are the most expensive of all gives a wonderful flavor and tanginess to the recipe. To me these wild berries resemble ‘capers’. These tart berries are generally soaked in salt water and dried in shade to preserve.

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

Sangari (Prosopis cineraria) is a kind of bean of Khejari tree, these are plucked and boiled before drying and preserving.

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

Kumat (acacia Senegal) are seeds from the pods of acacia fruits.

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

Gunda or gum-berries (chorda myxa) are sticky fruits which are generally used to make pickle in Rajasthan.

1. Dried wild berries and bean stir-fry or Panchkuta ki subji

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

Ingredients;

(serve 5-6)

  • 1 cup Sangri (dried beans)
  • 1/4 cup Ker (dried berries)
  • 1/4 cup Kumat (dried seeds)
  • 1/4 cup dried Gunda or  gum berry
  • 2-3 small dried mango pieces
  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as required

Spices;

  • 3-4 dried red chilly
  • 2 tsp. Coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. Red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. Turmeric powder
  • Pinch of asafetida powder

Method; Soak Ker, Sangari, Kumat, Gunda in plain water for an hour.

Rub all the ingredients soaked in water gently using your fingers and drain the water. Repeat this action for atleast 6-7 times to remove the dirt.

Soaking and cleaning makes it easy to clean the berries and beans. Soaking lets the dried fold in the beans open and makes it easy to clean.

Let the ingredients soak overnight.

Wash it again and boil the first five ingredients with 1 cup of water and a little turmeric for 10 minutes or pressure cook it for 2 whistles.

Finely chop the mango pieces and dried red chilly.

Heat oil in a kadai or wok and crackle cumin and fennel seeds in it.

Reduce the heat and add finely chopped dried red chilly, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilly powder and asafetida powder in it.

Add boiled ingredients, salt and 2-3 teaspoons of wtare in the wok and cook for a few minutes till water dries.

Serve it hot with millet flat bread or any Indian flat bread.

2. Ker-Sangri in yogurt

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

Ingredients;

(serve 5-6)

  • 1 cup Sangri (dried beans)
  • 1/4 cup Ker (dried berries)
  • 1/4 cup Kumat (dried seeds)
  • 1/4 cup dried Gunda or gum berry
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Water

Spices;

  • 3-4 dried red chilly
  • 2 tsp. Coriander powder
  • 1 tsp. dried mango powder
  • 1 tsp. Red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. Turmeric powder
  • Pinch of asafetida powder

Method; Soak Ker, Sangari, Kumat, Gunda in plain water for an hour.

Rub all the ingredients soaked in water gently using your fingers and drain the water. Repeat this action for atleast 6-7 times to remove the dirt.

Soaking and cleaning makes it easy to clean the berries and beans. Soaking lets the dried fold in the beans open and makes it easy to clean.

Let the ingredients soak overnight.

Wash it again and boil the first five ingredients with 1 cup of water and a little turmeric for 10 minutes or pressure cook it for 2 whistles.

Finely chop the mango pieces and dried red chilly.

Add coriander, turmeric, red chilly powder and salt in the yogurt and whisk well.

Heat oil in a kadai or wok and crackle cumin and fennel seeds in it.

Reduce the heat and add finely chopped dried red chilly, asafetida powder and the yogurt-spice mix in it.

Add boiled ingredients, salt and 2-3 teaspoons of wtare in the wok and cook for a few minutes till the moisture dries.

Serve it hot with millet flat bread or any Indian flat-bread.

3. Rustic Indian flat-breads or Panchkuta Rotis

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

The concept of adding Panchkuta to make rotis  clicked during a food blogger meet IFBM in Bangalore when a chef demonstrated the same in an event.

Ingredients;

(makes 8-10 small rotis)

  • 1 cups cooked panchkuta
  • 1 cup millet or wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp yogurt or curd
  • Oil to shallow fry
  • Water as required

Method; Coarsely grind cooked Pachkuta. I did not do this as I like the texture of seeds, beans and berries in the rotis.

Take a large bowl,  add flour, coarsely ground Pachkuta and yogurt in it.

Knead all the ingreidnts to make a soft dough. Use water if needed.

Pinch a small ball of dough, dust it with dry flour and roll into round circle.

Heat a griddle and place the Pachkuta roti on it, drizzle a little oil around it and let it cook for 1-2 minutes.

Flip to other side and repeat the process. You can also roast the rotis without oil.

Prepare all the Pachkuta rotis and serve with raita, plain yogurt or chutney.

healthy vegetarian recipes, ker sangri

The rotis tasted good but I would prefer my Panchkuta subji over rotis anytime.
These recipes are mainly prepared by the Jain community in Rajasthan who are vegetarian and avoid adding onion, garlic and garam masala to their recipes. You can add a pinch of garam masala and ginger-garlic paste to give that extra zing to your Panchkuta.

Check glossary to search for the English & Hindi names of various foods and ingredients used in cooking.

Notes;

  1. Replace dried mango pieces with dried mango powder (amchoor).
  2. Use slightly sour yogurt to make the second recipe.
  3. Add a pinch of sugar to all the recipe to balance the tartness in it.
  4. Traditionally this recipe is cooked in Mustard oil which gives a wonderful aroma to the recipe.
  5. The Panchkuta stir-fry recipe has a long shelf life if cooked in pickle form. It stays good for several months.

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