Mango Shrikhand – A cool and creamy mango flavored dessert made with lush creamy yogurt and sweet mangoes, garnished with aromatic saffron strands!
Today we celebrate holi, the festival of color; the celebration of victory of good over evil.
Holi, is a popular Hindu festival celebrated over 2-5 days in India. On the evening of the first day, public bonfires are made, called Holika Dahan. On the next day (or 5th day in some states) people play with colors. My memories of Holi are of the bonfires and all of my loved ones gathering around them to pray. The fifth day is the most colorful day where we shower our friends, family and even those we don’t know with vibrant color both powder and liquid. Even after the holiday passes the streets of India look like a Monet covered in a sea of color.
Today we are celebrating with traditional Maharastrian food – Puran Poli /sweet lentil stuffed flatbread. Puran Poli is delicacy made by stuffing soft whole wheat dough with cooked yellow lentils, jaggery/brown sugar, cardamom, nutmeg and saffron. It is then rolled thin and cooked on a griddle with lots of ghee to make it into a golden brown, flavorful and aromatic flat bread. When torn apart it is ooey-gooey perfection.
Growing up, I did not enjoy this dish as much; which was a bit odd as the rest of my family devoured this dish for a couple of days. I would beg my Mom to make me a plain bread without the sweet stuffing, but she never entertained my request. I would have to eat at least one before I would get to enjoy the rest of the delicacies that she would have prepared.
Years later, after I moved to the US, with my mom visiting me and me visiting home; I started liking this dish so much that I had to learn how to cook it. With my mom’s precise instructions, I then made it several times, each time to the perfection that I would have expected from my Mom. Thankfully, both my children and my husband LOVE it and so it makes all the effort worthwhile. I make it a point to make Puran poli at least twice a year, once for Diwali – festival of lights and then for Holi – the festival of colors.
Even though the process sounds a bit long and tedious, it is a no fail recipe for me.I make the stuffing a day ahead and let it cool in the fridge overnight. Usually I use a pressure cooker for cooking lentils but for this dish I let the lentils cook slowly in a big pot on the stove top.
This recipe requires split bengal gram/chana daal and jaggery, which is raw brown sugar. It also uses spices like cardamom, nutmeg, dry ginger and saffron.
Step by step recipe:
Parathas in my family can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s everyone’s favorite dish that brings smiles, memories and a fun conversation that always leads to what stuffing we love in our parathas. This is my first paratha blog post and I promise many more with some unique combinations that we love.
While in India, my husband used to travel extensively for work. His most vivid memories while traveling in north India, that he tells us about, are of eating piping hot parathas on cold winter mornings. He loves dipping them with pickles and yogurt. My older son eats them without any condiments, while my younger son loves them with ketchup. For me, Parathas bring memories of my mom making them and the aroma of fenugreek leaves and ghee all over the kitchen as mom served them hot off the pan, ‘garam garam’ as she calls them.
There are lots of recipes for parathas including a variation of fillings that they can be made with. I do not have a favorite yet, as I feel like I am still discovering more. Today’s recipe uses fresh fenugreek/methi and sweet potatoes added directly to the wheat flour, along with some spices to make the dough. Sweet potatoes give these parathas very soft yet crispy texture!
I love ghee! Ghee is a staple in traditional Indian cooking and Ayurveda. It enriches the food with its nuttier flavor and rich golden color. I use it in curries, daals, parathas, baking, frying and Indian desserts!
Ghee is essentially clarified butter that is cooked a bit longer until the clarified butter is golden and the milk solids at the bottom are light golden brown. It has a very high smoke point making it an excellent replacement for refined Oils.
When made from high quality butter, it is a great source of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin K and is great for teeth, hair, skin and nails.
Ghee is made from butter but since the milk solids and impurities have been removed, most people who are lactose or casein intolerant have no issue with ghee.
All you need to make ghee is good quality unsalted butter. I like to use grass fed kerrygold unsalted butter. I always make a big batch that usually goes for 4-6 weeks!