The city of Pune has established an identity for itself that is multi-faceted and dynamic as the youth of the city. Since decades it has been referred as Oxford of East and over the years it has done progressively better to retain its title. It houses nine deemed universities and more than 400 colleges in the city and students from all over the world come to city in pursuit of quality education. Pune has also been identified as a cultural center of Maharashtra which explains why major events like cultural festivals, film festivals, and literary events are arranged in the city.
As the year 2015 began its last leg of race with the arrival of December, days start getting shorter and city slips into holiday mood. During this time, newspapers had announced one of the major trade and food festivals of Pune, “BhimThadi Jatra” was to be held during 24th– 27th December 2015. The Jatra aims to empower rural women socially and financially, by enabling numerous self-help groups of women put up a stall and sell their products to a large section of clientele that this Jatra attracts. The days leading into the tenth edition of Jatra were filled with thrill and excitement for us.
The Jatra attracts us primarily for food. If you would want to experience the rich taste of food culture of Maharashtra, then this fair should be on your “must visit” list. It houses hundreds of food stalls neatly lined up on the vast expanse of Agricultural college ground. I would be writing about the Jatra in a separate post but in today’s post I want to talk about a dish, a dish that had me mesmerized, and its recipe I got from an owner of a stall who was stirring up the magical Kheer in a large earthen pot kept on a conventional rural cooking furnace fueled by wood.
We strolled past the gate separating the two vast expanses, one that hosted several stalls selling goods made by self-help groups and another that had hundreds of food stalls. As we entered into food arena, I felt a surge of excitement gushing through me. I felt like Alice when she would have stepped into the wonderland, unable to contain her excitement, thrilled beyond limits.
The first food stall that charmed us by the sweet aroma of Jaggery emanating from a large earthen ware was of some folks from Khandesh region of Maharashtra, as it was visible from the banner put in front of their stall. A large earthen pot rested on an equally large cooking furnace, three quarters full with a brown colored semi-liquid dish that sizzled and presented a great treat for the eyes. It was stirred in by a large iron ladle with a pair of deft hands and watchful eyes as he kept calling out for patrons, insisting them to try out “Khapli Gavachi Kheer”- Emmer Wheat Porridge.
We decided to try out the dish and he was quick enough to serve us a bowlful of steaming hot kheer but I was careful with the piping hot dish that was served to us straight out of stove. As I slurped over spoonful of it, my mouth blowing air intermittently, I discovered that I would love this dish by the time I would finish it. The kheer was a perfect synergy created out of basic ingredients that resulted into a spectacular dessert. Perfectly cooked grains of long wheat, sweetness of Jaggery (I must admit my bias towards desserts based of Jaggery than sugar), just enough punch of dry ginger and small surprises in form of some chopped coconut and finally flavored with a spoonful of melted clarified butter (ghee). I felt satiated and craved at the same time. It is a valid argument that a sweet like this must be had as a dessert, but the pleasing aroma had me enchanted and I felt compelled to begin with it, and by the time I had finished it I knew I would have to help myself with few more servings before I felt completely satiated. I did had three more staggered servings, trying out some other delicacies in between.
On the last day of Jatra, when we visited the place again, I had it one more time and also bought two of the important ingredients that would be required for its making, Emmer Wheat and Organic Jaggery. Missus did also coax the person standing near stove to share his secret recipe and surprisingly he did not need much convincing. He was more than pleased to share his recipe verbally, while he was handing out the bowl of kheer to his patrons.
This is a perfect recipe to be prepared in winter with goodness of wheat and warmth of Jaggery that helps in generating heat in our body and keeps us warm when consumed in raw or added to any dessert recipe. We have prepared this dish twice ever since we came back from Jatra and it turned out absolutely delicious. You can follow this recipe prepare this in your kitchen and enjoy a rural Maharashtrian dessert at your home. Share your feedback in the comment section below.
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- 1 cup cracked emmer wheat. Soak it in water for 45 minutes.
- 2 tbsp rice. Soak it in water for 45 minutes and then pound it into coarse grain.
- ½ cup grated fresh coconut.
- 300 gram organic jaggery
- 8-10 cashew nuts chopped into pieces
- 10-12 raisins
- 1 and ½ tsp dry ginger powder
- 8-10 almonds slices for garnishing
- ½ tsp salt
- 4 tbsp clarified butter
- ½ liter milk
- We will pressure cook wheat and rice in a pressure cooker.
- Add water till it reaches the level of wheat and rice.Add salt.Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles on medium flame.
- We have pressure cooked for 4 whistles.
- In a pan, heat 4 tbsp clarified butter and fry cashew nuts until they turn brown in color.
- Now fry raisins until they puff in size.
- In the same pan, add jaggery and let it melt completely.
- Jaggery melts completely in 2 minutes.Now add fresh coconut and dry ginger powder and mix them together.
- Add fried cashew nuts and raisins.Add boiled wheat and rice and mix them all together.
- Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.Now add milk.Be careful with the temperature of milk. It should be lukewarm and not too hot.If hot milk is added, it may curdle.
- Now mix all ingredients together.
- Let the Kheer simmer for 2 minutes and then turn off the flame.
- Consistency of Kheer should be thick.
- Garnish the Kheer with chunks of fresh coconut and slices of almonds.Pour some melted clarified butter on top.
Click here to watch recipe video