Diwali Special: Feast from the past
From indulgent dishes drawn from Lucknow, the seat of Awadhi gastronomy, to age-old recipes from Kayasth kitchens, these historical recipes retain the essence of traditional Diwali favourites featuring dried fruits, sweets and deep-fried savoury snacks
From Dastarkhwan-e-Awadh by Sangeeta Bhatnagar and R.K. Saxena; HarperCollins India
Awadh was as much a seat of gastronomy as it was of high culture. The country’s best khansamas and bawarchis gathered in Lucknow and honed their skills in the kitchens of nawabs and zamindars. Although many Awadhi recipes have vanished over time, those that remain have formed part of the rich culinary heritage of Lucknow and Uttar Pradesh. Sheer kadhi is a balai (thick cream) preparation unique to this region. “Nawab Agha, of Sheeshmahal, besides being a great swimmer, is a connoisseur of fine arts and cuisine. He led us into the secrets of the haute cuisine of Lucknow, and this dish is his contribution. It bears resemblance to kadhi, which is a popular savoury yoghurt-based dish in north India, hence the name.”
1 litre milk
1 tsp kewra water
2–3 drops sweet ittar
1 tsp saffron
10 green cardamoms
■In a muslin cloth tied at the ends, hang 750g of balai for 4-6 hours so that all the liquid drains off and a cohesive mass remains in the cloth. Place a bowl below to collect the liquid that may be added later to the sweetened milk.
■ Meanwhile, bring the milk to boil in a saucepan and add sugar. Stir and cook on a low flame for 10 minutes.
■ Remove from fire and cool. Then sieve the remaining 250g of balai into the cold milk, add the saffron dissolved in warm milk, saffron colour, kewra jal and sweet ittar. Stir gently to blend all the ingredients, turn it out into a shallow serving dish and keep in a cool place.
■ Then blanch and peel the almonds and pistachios and cut into fine slivers. Pound the cardamom seeds to a fine powder. Mix with chopped nuts and keep.
■ Now untie the cloth and remove the ingredients in a plate and rub lightly. Make balls the size of olives, and stuff with a pinch of the nut mixture. Cover with silver leaf and float in the sweetened milk prepared earlier.
This is a very appealing sweet dish, served in bowls after a meal.
From Dining With The Maharajas: A Thousand Years Of Culinary Tradition by Neha Prasada, photographs by Ashima Narain; Roli Books
This book is all about royal repasts with heirloom recipes drawn from the royal families of Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, Jodhpur, Mahmudabad, Mysore, Patiala, Rampur, Sailana, Tripura and Udaipur, among others.
6 lotus stems (kamal kakri), washed, dried and sliced
1 cup refined flour (maida)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp shah jeera
Refined oil for deep-frying
■ Mix all the ingredients except the lotus stems and oil for frying. Keep aside.
■ Heat the oil in a wok (kadhai); coat the lotus-stem chips in the above mixture and deep-fry till golden brown.
■ Remove and drain the excess oil on absorbent kitchen towels. Serve hot.
From Hindu Soul Recipes by Pushpesh Pant; Lustre/Roli Books
The book provides a window to dietary habits and traditions distilled from the Upanishads, Ayurveda and ancient Sanskrit texts to create nourishment for the mind and soul. “This marvellous confection is a nutritious sweet dating back to the Vedic period claiming a most ancient lineage. It has evolved across millennia and is encountered in many forms ranging from an unadorned dumpling to a dazzling pancake.”
1 cup yogurt (unsweetened)
2 tbsp refined flour (maida)
1 tsp aniseed (saunf) seeds
For the syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
■ Blend the yogurt and the flour in a bowl. Add aniseed and mix well. Heat the ghee in a pan; add 1 tbsp of the yogurt mixture at a time and fry until brown and crisp at the edges. Remove and drain the excess oil.
■ For the syrup, mix the sugar in cold water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cook the sugar mixture on medium heat and boil until the syrup is thick. Remove and keep aside to cool. Place the pancakes in the syrup, one at a time, as they are fried.
From Mrs LC’s Table: Stories About Kayasth Food And Culture by Anoothi Vishal; Hachette India
The book explores the culinary past of the Kayasth community and their roles as able officials and scribes of the Mughals and the British administration alike. Their food combined local traditions and influences from the royal kitchens and, later, Western tastes, depending on which part of the country they lived in. The snack was described as: “a regional special from Bundelkhand and Gwalior, mangore are fritters flavoured with roughly pounded coriander seeds. The mangore has a rougher, uneven shape than the round pakoris. Ideally served with Scotch!”
1kg moong dhuli, soaked and coarsely ground
3 large onions, chopped
4 large potatoes, boiled and roughly chopped
4 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp green coriander leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp whole coriander seeds, roughly pounded
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
■ Make a batter with the dal and other ingredients.
■ Heat oil in a wok. When it is smoking hot, scoop little dollops of the batter with your hand, and drop one by one into the oil. Deep fry till golden brown.
■ Serve hot with a green coriander chutney.
Compiled by Diya Kohli
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