Churma Laddoo – pakvan for Shravan Monday

Shravan Mondays are those rare days when the Pathare Prabhu clan fasts through the day and the fast is broken at dusk with a ceremonial meal.

One of the key components (among others) of the PP shravan Monday menu is 1 sweet pakvan, i.e. – a dish cooked in ghee (savoury pakvans may be made in oil).

Many PP homes make it a point to make these laddoos on at least of the 4-5 Monday meals every Shravan.

Churma is very popular in Rajasthan. This one is probably one a recipe, my Parbhu ancestors picked up when they migrated from Rajasthan and North Gujarat to Mumbai.

The recipe involves a fairly simple technique, but is slightly time consuming. And these are totally fail proof unlike the ordinary rawa laddoo.

Knead 3 cups of rawa, with a generous pinch of saffron in a few tbsp of warm milk (the objective of the milk is merely to bind the semolina together). Knead this to a stiff dough.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and deep fry these in hot ghee to a golden brown colour.

While the fried dough is still hot, break this into bits ans when cooled slightly, blend to a coarse powder in a mixie. Strain the crumbs through a sieve and measure the residual crumb.

To this, add powdered cardamom and nutmeg, fried raisins and chopped toasted nuts (almonds, pistachio and cashew)

Measure out powdered sugar, equalling 3/4th of the crumb volume (3 cups of sugar to 4 cups of crumb. I’ve used ‘bhura shakkar’ which is an amorphous castor sugar like Indian variant, available at most grocers. This sugar yields very good results in making laddoos.

Mix the crumbs and sugar while still a little warm and add a little ghee to bind the crumb.

Mould this into laddoos and if the mix is too dry, add a few drops of milk to bind together (not too much as it compromises the shelf life of the laddoo). Rest the laddoos for one hour or so and serve.

These are so irresistible, you’ll find yourself unable to stop with having just one! 😜

Ingredient list

3 cups fine semolina

4 tbsp milk (for dough) and few drops to bind

Saffron – ½ tsp

Raisins – 20 gms

Assorted nuts – 20 gms

Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp

Nutmeg – a generous pinch

Ghee – 200 gms (deep frying as well as 4-5 tbsp for binding)

Field Beans Curry – Vaala che Bhujane

Hyacinth Beans or vaal are very popular in Western and Southern states of India. Commonly called ‘Avarekaalu’ in Kannada and Vaal in Marathi and Gujarati, these beans have a unique, pleasantly bitter taste. There are numerous popular recipes using this bean, found across the region.

The beans need to be soaked, sprouted and peeled. But I usually take the shortcut and but ready sprouted and peeled vaal.

These are very popular in Pathare Prabhu homes for our customary ‘vegetarian Monday’. The rich meaty taste more than makes up for the absence of meat or fish.

These are cooked in gravy form exactly like fish bhujane and taste fantastic with steaming white rice.

In a flat thick bottomed vessel, crush together a finely chopped onion, 1 tbsp chopped coriander, a tsp of crushed garlic, 1 tsp red chilli powder, ½ tsp turmeric powder and a chopped chilli, salt to taste and approximately 1 tbsp oil.

Crush these by hand till the ingredients mix and come together really well. This needs to be done with a lot of patience and takes a good 6-7 minutes.

The vessel I’m using is an heirloom brass ‘Langdi’ which needs to be tinned (Kalhai) every now and then. But the maintenance requirements are more than made up for by the uniform even cooking when one uses these.

Now tip in soaked and sprouted vaal beans and coat well in masala. Add around ½ cup water, enough to submerge the vaal along with the crushed masala.

Once you’ve mixed the vaal with the masala, these should not be stirred with a spoon till they’re completely cooked. The vessel can be tipped from side to side to achieve any mixing if required. Bring the mix to a rolling boil.

Cover with a lid and pie some water over the lid. Simmer over a medium – low heat till the beans are completely cooked. Ideally, the bean should hold shape with the sprout still clinging to the bean after cooking. If these get overcooked, they taste mushy and honestly not very pleasant.

This is a quick fix with the whole dish taking no more than 20 minutes to make from scratch (provided you have access to peeled vaal sprouts).

Serve with steaming white rice or chapatis. Perfect for a rainy day.

Panchamruti Vaangi – Sweet n Sour Eggplant Curry

Panchamrut is a Chutney like preparation served as a side in Pathare Prabhu wedding feasts.

The smoky masala is very versatile and can be used to flavour an assortment of vegetables and even pairs well with pork! (Purists may shudder at the mere thought… but don’t beat it till you try it).

The panchamrut masala comprises of a host of ingredients including, Coriander Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Bay leaves, Cinnamon, Nag kesar , Star Anise, Stone Lichen (dagadful), Dessiccated Dry Coconut. All of these are roasted separately and ground to a masala powder.

The recipe I’m posting today is my own take on this classic. I’ve made a few tweaks to suit my taste. The original dish is made without any onion and coriander leaves. Mine is closer to a standard Marathi style Bharla Vanga.

Heat oil, splutter a few mustard seeds and hing, add a few curry leaves and a chopped onion. Sauté the onion till brown.

Next, slit the eggplants vertically till the stalks, leaving them attached. Stuff these with a tsp of panchamrut powder, turmeric and red chilli powder to taste, season with salt and little sugar and add to the browned onions.

Let the eggplants cook in their own steam till almost done. Add 2 tbsp of tamarind pulp and 2 tbsp of jaggery. Mix well and cook further for 4-5 minutes.

By now the sauce is syrupy and coats the eggplants completely. Dish out and garnish with some chopped coriander leaves.

Serve with chapati / bhaakri.

Ingredient list

4-5 Eggplant (small)

2 tbsp Onion (chopped)

1 tbsp Oil

4-5 Curry leaves

Panchamrut Powder – 3 tbsp

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Turmeric powder – ½ tsp

Mustard seeds – ½ tsp

Tamarind Pulp – 2 tbsp

Jaggery – 2 tbsp

Salt to taste

Vat Pournime Chi Panchbheli Bhaaji – mixed sprout subzi

Jyeshtha Pournima (the full moon day of the Hindu month of Jyeshth) is celebrated across Maharashtra as वट पौर्णिमा. The ritual worship of banyan trees and wives fasting for the long lives of their husbands.

The day long fast associated with the ritual (something like a Maharashtrian karwa chauth) was given up in my family a long time ago. Since mom was a working professional, Aaji decreed that she couldn’t possibly be expected to fast.

She continued cooking this ceremonial meal (typically made for breaking the fast) though. The menu for the day every year at our home comprises this पंचभेळी subzi – 5 sprouted pulses along with Aam-Ras and puris.

The traditional menu (sprouts and aam Ras puri) is still cooked in most Pathare Prabhu homes to mark this day.

Here’s the recipe for this simple yet delicious vegetarian dish

Mixed Sprouts (moong, chawli (lobia or black eyed beans) vaal (bitter field beans), chana (red gram) and kala vatana (black peas)- or any 5 of your choice)… traditionally, every pulse (including the moong) are peeled. Without delving into the nutritional virtues of cooking the sprouts with the peels on, I assure you that the deskinned ones taste delicious. I was too lazy to peel them off this year.

Heat oil, add a pinch of hing and jeera- splutter and add a chopped onion. Aaji wouldn’t make it with onions initially – but later, when mom and she gave up fasting, she started adding them. I guess for upvaas, one doesn’t use onions.

Once the onion is translucent, throw in the sprouts and steam cook till all are done.

You may want to pressure cook the vatana and chana first and cook vaal, moong and chavli separately – as they all cook at different points and if you try cooking these all together, it becomes a mash. Add water as required.

Add turmeric, red chilli powder and PP Sambhar as per taste.

Once cooked completely, add salt and sugar and loads of fresh grated coconut. Give it a good mix and serve with aam Ras and puris.

Ingredient measures

1 tbsp oil

Pinch of Hing

½ tsp Jeera

1 medium sized onion – finely chopped

2 cups – Mixed sprouts (moong, vaal, chana, chavli, black peas)

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp Pathare Prabhu Sambhar

Salt and Sugar to taste

Kaatyache Bhujane… Pathare Prabhu Style seafood stew…

Most people of my generation (I was born in the late 70s) buy seafood butchered in a pretty standard fashion, with the fish being sliced into steaks with a central bone surrounded with marbled flesh.

The Mumbaikar Kolis though, have a unique style of cutting large fish (this cut is typically reserved for fish like Ghol, Tuna and Rawas, which grow to a significant size), where boneless fillets (the choicest parts) are extracted from the fish. These get sold at a premium and the residual head, spine and tail (बघड, काटा and पिसारा respectively in Parbhi Marathi) are sold separately. All of these parts are bony and gelatinous. Any recipe that involves cooking these, yields a dish with a distinct smell, typical to fish, and a unique jelly like texture (somewhat close to a paya soup). These ingredients are most definitely an acquired taste.

The part I’ve used in this recipe is an all time PP favourite, ‘kaata’. Notice how the spine is butchered into pieces with due care to ensure that the joint between each spine is left intact (attached to each other with cartilage and holding delicately flavoured and delicious fluid).

Apply some turmeric and salt to each piece and set aside till you go about the rest of the prep. I’ve used 6 chunks of kaata and the recipe which follows is in proportion for this quantity.

In a flat vessel, crush together (by hand) a large sized finely chopped onion, Salt to taste, 1 heaped tablespoon of ginger garlic paste, ½ tsp turmeric powder, a finely chopped spicy chilli, 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves, 3 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder and a generous 4 tbsp oil. Keep crushing this with your fingers till the mix turns into an almost smooth, paste like consistency.

This step takes at least 8–10 minutes and needs to be executed very patiently, till the mixture comes together to a smooth paste.

Here’s a slightly closer pic for a better look at the versatile bhujana masala.

Once the masala has reached this stage, coat the previously marinated kaata and add ½ a cup of water.

Now put the vessel on a stove top and bring to a gentle boil. Once it’s started to boil, cover and leave on a medium flame for around 5-6 minutes.

Switch off the stove and cool for a couple of minutes. Serve this over steamed white rice.

This quick fix recipe serves approximately 3-4 people and makes for a truly satisfying and delicious meal!

Drumsticks aka Moringa – PP style

While common perception is that Parbhus are primarily a carnivorous lot (which isn’t too far from being true), what a lot of people who may be familiar with our community, tend to miss is the vast repertoire of vegetables and vegetarian dishes we cook up which are as delicious as our non vegetarian fare.

While this veggie is used in various dishes across India, the #pathareprabhu way is slightly unique in the sense that this tastes really sweet for a vegetable side.

This is the one prep that my wife despises (and I hate these in pithla or aamti which she likes), so we don’t end up making this too often.

Cut each drumstick in 2 inch lengths and remove the tough outer peel. Make a single slit to allow the masala to penetrate the sheng.

Heat a tsp of oil, splutter a pinch of jeera, add a pinch of hing and add a couple of tbsp chopped onions. Cook these till translucent and add ½ a cup if water, along with chilli powder, Pathare Prabhu sambhar, haldi as per your taste.

Add the prepared ‘shektachya’ shenga (which is the parbhi name for these). Cover and steam till cooked.

Add salt to taste and a good amount of sugar. Let the sugar melt and make sure yto leave some syrupy liquid. This is not meant to be a completely dry dish.

Add grated coconut and finely chopped coriander to garnish.

This subzi tastes awesome with hot chapatis pr dal-rice.

For this recipe, here’s the quantities I used

2 drumsticks

2 tsp oil

½ tsp haldi

1 tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp Pathare Prabhu sambhar masala

Salt to taste

3 tsp sugar

Coriander leaves and grated coconut to garnish.

Padwal fritters – Pathare Prabhu style Fried Snake Gourd Snack


I love my seafood and non vegetarian food. Yet, there are those few days, when Pathare Prabhu households turn vegetarian. Every Monday, each Chaturthi of the Hindu month, Navratri, Ganpati and a few days of Shravan are such occasions when even the most hardcore carnivores in our clan go cold turkey with non vegetarian food, albeit temporarily!

It’s funny how these mandatory vegetarian meals are prepared with elaborate attempts to make them resemble non vegetarian ingredients. For instance, typically on Ganesh Chaturthi, Parbhu households will cook ‘suran’ aka yam in a curry and try to make it as close to mutton godé as possible.

This recipe I’m sharing is usually reserved for a vegetarian Monday and is supposed to be a clever alternative to fried ‘karandi’ (small prawns)

Ingredients 

Padwal (Snake Gourd) – peel the exterior and slit in two halves lengthwise – discard all the inner fibrous bits and chop into ½ cm pieces.


Salt to taste

Haldi, Red chilli powder, Prabhu Sambhar (or any garam masala) to suit your appetite for heat.

Rice flour for dusting

Oil to deep fry

Method

Heat oil in a kadai over a medium flame – if your oil reaches smoking point, the gourd will burn and turn bitter. If it isn’t hot enough, this will absorb a lot of oil and again ruin the dish. The perfect ambient temperature is key!

Add salt to the slit padwal and let it rest a minute. Drain off any excess water that seeps out. However, do this step only last minute – if you leave the salt on for too long, the gourd will lose a lot of moisture and again, the texture’s ruined.

Add the powdered masalas and mix well till all the gourd bits are coated. Next, quickly dredge these in a plate of dry rice flour.


This is what the ready to fry gourds will look like.

Next, dunk these into hot oil and deep fry for around 4-5 minutes over a medium flame.


Once done, drain off any excess oil over tissues.

Serve immediately with a hot mound of ambemohar rice, plain yellow varan and a generous dollop of homemade lonkadhi tuup! 

Also makes an interesting vegetarian snack for a party. Goes really well with a drink.

Sanjurya – Pathare Prabhu style semolina stuffed sweet flatbread


Our community is extremely fascinated by puranpoli like flatbreads with assorted stuffing. Starting with the badaam / kaju polis on shravani somvaar to these sheera stuffed everyday variants.

I never really cared much for these as a kid, since they were always cooked on a ‘vaatichi chuul’ – i.e. A kerosene fuelled stove with a wick. I hated the fumes that filled our old kitchen when my mother and grandmother stood over it for hours when these were made. 

Although my mom tells me that the chul helped keep the temperature of the griddle constant and the sanjurya never charred and hence was her favourite.
As usual, keeping in line with our quirky eating traditions, these are never served as dessert or snack, but typically paired with a spicy mutton curry for a Sunday lunch when we have some guests over.

Here’s the traditional recipe right out of my 80 year old copy of Gruhini Mitra.


The recipe I’ve used today was shared by my dear friend Ashwini Kothare and is her MIL’s. I must say it worked really well. 

Ingredients (yields 14 sanjuris)

For the filling

Rawa (sooji/semolina) – 2 measures

Sugar – 2 and ½ measures 

Water – 4 measures 

Nutmeg and Cardamom powder – ½ tsp 

Saffron – a few strands

For the dough 

Refined flour (maida) – 2 measures

Wholewheat flour (aata) – ½ measure

Salt – a pinch 

Oil – 2 tbsp

Method 

For the dough 


Knead the dough ingredients except oil with water to a soft pliable dough. Add the oil and let it rest for at least 1-2 hours.




For the filling

Heat water and add the spices (nutmeg, cardamom and saffron). Add sugar and bring to a boil.


Once the syrup is boiling, add the semolina a little at a time and keep stirring continuously ensuring that no lumps are formed.


Once all the semolina is mixed into the syrup, keep cooking it slowly on a low flame till the syrup is completely absorbed by the semolina. This needs to be done over a medium to low flame so that the rawa is completely cooked and at the same time, doesn’t stick to the bottom.


Continue cooking till the mixture comes together and forms a ball. The right consistency to switch off the flame is when the spoon you’re using to stir the mix stands in the mixture without falling over.


At this point, take the mixture (saanja) off the flame and cool completely in a greased thali.

Divide both the dough and the filling into equal ball-like portions.


The filling needs to be stuffed into the dough carefully and sealed so that it doesn’t break open while rolling out the sanjuri.




Now flatten this gently and roll out into thin even 8″ discs.



Roast these on a hot griddle over a low flame.


Unlike puranpolis, these are not allowed to brown. They’re roasted slowly, maintaining the white colour of the maida.

Spread some melted ghee over these once roasted and fold in half.


Serve the sanjuris with a spicy mutton curry or usal. These keep well without refrigeration for 3-4 days.

Keshri Bhaat – the ubiquitous Parbhi sweet for auspicious occasions.

Gudi Padwa, Akshay Trutiya, Vijaya Dashami and Kartik Pratipada are revered as auspicious days in Hindu belief and celebrated as साडे तीन मुहूर्त in Marathi tradition.

On each of these days Parbhi households, go against traditional Marathi convention (as usual) cook mutton for lunch!

Curiously, the spicy meat and potato stew is accompanied by a sweet rice pulao called Keshri Bhaat. This recipe is more strikingly similar to a Muslim style Zarda Pulao than its Maharashtrian cousin ‘Naarali Bhaat’.


Ingredients 

1 cup fragrant long grained rice (basmati)

2 and ½ cups full fat milk

1 cup grain sugar

1 tbsp desi ghee

2 Cloves, a stick of Cinnamon and 2 Cardamoms

A generous pinch of saffron 

½ tsp of cardamom and nutmeg powders

Raisins and Chopped Nuts to garnish

Method 

Heat ghee in a nonstick pan and add the whole spices. Splutter for a minute.


Add washed and drained basmati and tip into the ghee. Sauté on a slow flame for 3-4 minutes.


Simultaneously, add saffron to the milk and bring it to a boil


Add the boiling milk to the rice, cover and cook on a low flame till the rice is done. You may want to give it an occasional stir to ensure it’s not sticking to the bottom.


Once the rice is cooked and is soft and fluffy, add the sugar and let it melt on a low flame. Cover and cook till all the moisture is completely absorbed in the rice.


Add the nutmeg and cardamom along with chopped nuts / raisins as desired.


Cook further till the cooked rice looks nice and glossy! 

Serve with a spicy mutton curry – or if you think that’s too radical, have it as dessert. You may want to make this more of a calorie bomb by crushing a couple of malai pedas over the rice while it’s still hot and watch them melt into little fatty puddles of goodness into the sticky rice!

Dudhi Halwa Shingdya

 Dudhi halwyachya shingdya are a unique Diwali treat. 

Bottle gourd halwa stuffed into a laminated pastry casing (like flaky / puff pastry) and baked to crisp golden perfection.

Don’t let the baked exterior deceive you. These calorie bombs are made of refined flour with loads of ghee and sugar.

They’re definitely worth the trouble as an annual indulgence though!


For Dudhi Halwa

Dudhi – ½ kg (grated)

Milk – ½ cup

Khoya – 150 gms 

Sugar – 150 gms 

Ghee – 1 tbsp

Nutmeg, cardamom (a pinch each)

In a nonstick pan, add grated dudhi, milk and cook covered till soft. 

Dry off all residual liquid and add sugar

Dry completely and add a tbsp of ghee

Once cooled, add khoya, cardamom and nutmeg powders. Add chopped nuts of your choice (optional)


For the saatha

Cream the ghee till light and fluffy and keep adding cornstarch a little at a time till it becomes a bit stiff.

For the dough

Maida – 3 waati 

Barik Rawa – 6 tbsp

Ghee (melted) – 4 tbsp

Salt – 1 pinch

Baking Powder – ½ tsp

Milk – as required for kneading 

Knead well to a stiff dough using milk. Make sure you add a little at a time to achieve a puri like dough – make sure the dough is really stiff. Leave this overnight and make your shingdya the next morning.

Make even sized dough balls (the size you would for a large paratha) in multiples of 3 (3 waatis of maida should yield 6 dough balls)

Roll out each dough ball to a thickish chapati.

Apply a thin layer of the saatha on top of each roti ( like you would apply chutney on a sandwich) and stick the 3 chapatis together.

Now pat these together to remove any air bubbles and fold them into a tight roll (like a Kathi roll).
Stretch this slightly and refrigerate for ½ hour.
Cut the roll into small pieces like pinwheels and refrigerate again for 10 minutes 
Roll these out using a little maida (not too thin as the pastry may tear)
Put in a tsp of filling (Parbhi shingdya traditionally have dudhi halwa as filling – but standard coconut filling also works).
Shape into karanjis and pinch-fold to seal (what you would refer to as murad and we parbhus call birwan).

Brush a little milk on top and bake at 200/220 ℃ for around 20 mins.

The recipe is not very simple and needs a lot of patience.
But trust me the end result is totally worth the effort and much more!