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GUR KA PARANTHA / गुड़ का परांठा (Jaggery Flatbread)

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HAPPY MAKAR SANKRANTI EVERYONE

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“Let food be your medicine” is an excellent piece of advice, one that we all should abide by. Winters truly are the times for indulgence and when one is able to indulge in foods that not just please your taste buds but also do you good by protecting you against cold, cough and flu, you know you are in a win win situation. Gur ka parantha is one of those dishes. I was introduced to gur ka parantha by my late Nani (maternal grandmother). As kids we used to religiously visit her during every summer vacation but as we grew older, the pressures of high school and college ensured that we spent lesser and lesser time with her. So once during my college winter break I decided to visit her for a short time. She always had this thing in her mind whenever any of her grand kids visited her, that they should not fall sick or injure themselves while on their holiday with her. She would always feel that we kids should go back to our homes safe and sound, just as we had arrived. And it so happened that I managed to catch a nasty cold on that visit to her. She was all worked up and instead of taking me to the doctor, made gur ka parantha for me. She fed me with the parantha twice that day. The gur was so helpful in arresting the cold that the next day I had no runny or stuffy nose. I was amazed at the healing quality of gur. She had simply used the grated jaggery for using as a filling for the flatbread. I have tried to amp the health value and enhance the taste of her recipe by adding spices and nuts to it. You can swap nuts with sesame seeds if you are allergic to nuts.

Gur is made and used extensively across north India during winter season. Swap it with sugar in your Kheer or Cake or Chutney. I developed taste of jaggery pretty late in life but once I did, there has been no looking back.

For Dough

1½ C Aata (Whole Meal/ Wheat Flour) plus extra for rolling

1 tsp Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Ghee or Oil

½ C plus a few tbsp Water

For Filling

½ C grated Gur (Jaggery)

½ C Shredded Dry Coconut (Khopa)

1/3 C slivered Almonds (or you can crush the almonds and use them)

1 tsp Cardamom Powder

2 tsp Fennel Seeds

2 tbsp Chhuhara / Dried Dates (optional) finely chopped

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In a plate or thali, mix turmeric with flour. Add the oil and mix with hands. Now using water, a little at a time, make medium soft dough. Keep it aside for 20 minutes.

Gently mix together the grated jaggery, almonds, cardamom powder, fennel seeds and chhuhara using a fork or spoon. (do not use hands to mix as the warmth of hands will melt jaggery and the mixture will be turn lumpy)

Make six equal sized balls of the dough and keep aside. Place the tawa or griddle on heat.

Using a rolling pin and flour, roll one ball to four inch size disc. Scoop in the filling and bring the edges together. Seal the edges and flatten it over the dough. Dust it in flour and roll it again, using a little flour to prevent it from sticking. Roll to six inch size disc/ parantha.

Transfer the parantha to the tawa and cook on medium heat. Flip the parantha once the top begins to change colour. Flip again when you see the parantha rising at places or when the bottom begins to turn light brown in colour. Apply oil and flip to fry it. Keep rotating the parantha to prevent it from burning. Remove from heat and apply ghee. Serve hot.

Roll and cook the rest of the balls in the similar fashion and serve hot.

Note: Once you are handling the parantha on heat, be very careful as the melting hot jaggery is capable of giving a nasty burn.

Note: Feel free to alter the amount of ingredients to suit your taste.

Yield: 6 Parathas

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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GUR KE MEETHE CHAWAL / गुड़ के मीठे चावल (JAGGERY RICE)

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There is no love lost between me and the winter season. With frostnipped hands and feet, through out the peak season, who would like it anyway? (Btw, I used to apply kerosene oil on the affected area and it was really helpful for the itching and bringing the swelling down; a nuskha told by an old granny. Try it. It works.) But I used to love winters for its produce and its food. The hot piping Gobhi Parathas with dollops of home churned Cultured Butter & Winter Mixed Veg Pickle, Makki ki Roti and Sarson ka Saag, the sweet endings to meals with Gajar ka Halwa, or the syrupy hot Gulab Jamuns or Besan Ladoo (which never lasted long), Gachak (Peanut Brittle) or Gajar ka Murabba to munch on, a hot bowl of Lup’pi or Kahwa (Saffron Spiced Tea) to sip on and wind up the day with. And how can I forget the hot Samosas right out of the wok or the crispy tangy spicy Palak Patta Chat (Spinach Leaf Fritters) on the weekends. These yummy foods ensured that I always stayed focused on the silver lining to the dark grey cloud called winters.

The villages around my home town produce a good harvest of sugar canes which they sell to the sugar factory in the town. Some villagers used to make fresh jaggery or gur (गुड़) using the cane juice and sell it at local markets. Gur was therefore always made to order by my mother. She would carry spices such as ginger powder, crushed cardamoms, fennel seeds and roasted peanuts, sultana currant (मुनक्का), dried dates (छुहारा), dried & chopped coconut (khopra – खोप्रा) in a certain amount to the gur maker. He would add these spices and nuts while making our batch of the customised gur. This way, the gur not just tasted better but these spices and nuts took its health value a few notches up. This gur was served to us as a digestive after meals.

She would also buy a batch of regular gur from them but from their last year’s produce (The older the gur, the better it is considered to be.) She would use this to make stuff like pickles, gachak, Murunde, sweeten a pudding or make this chawal. With days and weeks passing by, the gur would mature and attain an even deeper tone and a richer taste. Try to get your hands on organic gur.

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250 gm Basmati Rice

500 ml Water

250 gm Jaggery (Gur)

3 tbsp melted, Ghee (do not compromise on this quantity) – Vegans can add coconut oil although I have never tried it

½ tsp Cumin Seeds (Jeera)

½ tsp Black Pepper Corns (as per taste)

2 Black Cardamoms (Moti Elaichi)

1 tsp Cardamom Powder (Hari Elaichi)

3 tbsp sliced, Dry Whole Coconut / Khopra (in half an inch length)

½ cup roughly chopped, Walnuts

2 tbsp roughly chopped Cranberries or whole Raisins

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Scrap the jaggery and mix it in 250 ml of water in a pot. Put the pot on heat and keep stirring while the gur just melts. (Ensure that the mixture does not come to a boil whlile you are heating it) Remove from heat. Sieve it to remove impurities, if any. (I sieved it through a sieve lined with muslin cloth) Set aside.

Pick, wash (till the water runs almost clear) and soak rice for half an hour. After half an hour drain the rice and discard the water.

On medium heat, melt ghee in a broad heavy bottom pan. Add the cumin, black pepper corns and black cardamom. Fry for a few seconds and add the drained rice. Stir the contents very gently with a spatula so as not to break the rice. Add 250 ml water and bring it to a boil.

Once the water begins to boil, reduce the heat and cover the pan. Cook for approximately 5 minutes. Uncover the rice and add half of the jaggery water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Uncover the rice again and add the rest of the jaggery water along with the sliced coconut, walnuts and cardamom powder (& raisins if using). Stir very gently with a fork or back of a spoon. Cover and cook again for 20 to 25 minutes or till the water is completely absorbed.

Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for a few minutes before you open the lid. Gently fluff the rice and serve hot.

P.S. – Don’t worry if the rice turns some what crisp and brown or slightly burnt at the bottom while cooking. We used to allow the rice to burn slightly & just like the tahdig, it was a delicacy served to the guest. Everyone used to hanker for it coz it tastes beautifully caramelly. Try it if you may.

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Note: The cooking time and the amount of water required to cook the rice may vary slightly depending on the quality and variety of rice being used. Add more water if required.

Note: The colour of the jaggery rice will depend on the colour of the jaggery. Mine was deep and dark brown in colour.

Note: The amount of walnuts, raisins and coconut is a matter of personal taste, so feel free to vary their amount. You can omit or add what ever dry fruits you wish to.

Serves 6 – 8

Other winter desserts you might want to check out:

Gulab Jamun

Gachak / Chikki – Peanut Brittle (Gluten free)

Badam Besan Laddu – Almonds & Chick pea Flour Confection (Gluten Free)

Suji Halwa – Decadent Semolina Pudding

Petha Halwa – Pumpkin Halva (Gluten free)

Aate ka Halwa / Kadah Parshad – Wholemeal Pudding

Thanks for visiting and see you soon again

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