Jun 25, 2007

A taste of my homeland

A famous Marathi song goes on these lines, “Arre sansar sansar, jasa tava chulyavara, aadhi hatala chatake, tevha milate bhakar”. Loosely translated this means, “Oh, the burdens of supporting a family are like a pan on a hot stove, you won’t get bread unless you burn your hands”. Marathi friends please ignore this futile attempt at a translation:)

Maharashtra: the land that produces rice, sugarcane, cotton, jowar, bajra, wheat, maize, and several other crops. And who produces these crops? None other than the farmers, toiling hard under the sun’s rays to provide us grains and food. They live a simple life and often find it difficult to eat and provide everyday meals to their families. Their day to day worries include rains, drought, and farm fires. Sadly, the farmers are in focus these days owing to their high suicide rates.

As a tribute to all the farmers and to celebrate RCI: Maharashtra, I made zunka-bhakar. Zunka is a spicy, dry gravy made using besan, whereas bhakar is an Indian flat bread. Bhakri can be made using jowar, bajra, or rice flour or a combination of these. Zunka Bhakar is a farmer’s meal. You must have seen numerous Marathi movies in which the farmer’s wife visits her husband on the field. She carries with her a staple meal of zunka, bhakri, mirchicha thecha (crushed green chillies), and kanda (onion). To the farmer, this meal would taste much better than any of the meals offered by 5-star restaurants. He will feel content, happy, and energetic on eating this meal. To add to it, bhakris are very healthy and filling.

I have a distinct memory of eating zunka-bhakar. When I was a kid, we had visited Pratapgad. The fort climbing and the cool weather made us terribly hungry. On the fort top, there was a family who were selling zunka-bhakar. They were making fresh hot bhakris in front of us and we would ask for more after the first one got over. Now, bhakris are really very filling and that lady was making the biggest bhakris ever. But they tasted so good with the zunka that we kept on eating more. She served chilled buttermilk to end a perfect meal. That was one helluva satisfying meal that I would never forget in my entire life.

This was the first time I made zunka and bhakri. I followed the recipe for zunka from here, just took less ingredients to serve 2.

Zunka

1.Heat a pan and dry roast the besan for 8 minutes on low flame. The besan will turn light pink and send out a beautiful aroma. Turn off the heat.
2.Chop one small onion and one small tomato. Also chop 2 green chillies and 2 garlic flakes.
3.Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Add ½ tsp mustard seeds and ¼ tsp cumin seeds. Wait till they splutter and then add green chillies, curry leaves, and chopped garlic. Once the garlic changes color (to light brown), add the chopped onions. Fry till the onions turn golden brown.
4.Add tomato and cook till it turns soft. Now, add besan, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ¼ tsp red chilli powder, salt, and ½ cup water. Stir and check that no lumps are formed.
5.Cook for 5 minutes and serve hot.

The zunka turned out fabulous. However, I faced loads of trouble while making the bhakris. They kept cracking at edges. Still, it was my first attempt and I am hoping to improve. I just could not make large bhakris. So, I and P had to settle for mini-bhakris.
Bhakris

1.Take 2 cups jowar (makes around 6 mini bhakris), add ¼ tsp salt, 1 tsp oil to it. Add water and make dough just the way you make for chapattis.

2.Heat a pan.

3.Take a big ball of dough and roll out the dough just the way you do while making chapattis. Sprinkle jowar flour to ease the rolling process.

4.Put the bhakri on the pan. Take some water and gently spread it on the bhakri. Cook for 2 minutes.

5.Flip on the other side and cook for 2 more minutes. Turn over again till there are brown spots on both sides.

6.Serve hot with zunka, onions, green chillies, and buttermilk. Bhakris can be alternately served with Pithala.

The next time you eat your meal, thank the farmer who supplied it. Jay Maharashtra!

30 comments:

Suganya said...

Great entries Swapna!

gg said...

This is a really good recipe. They had this as prasad in our local Sai Baba temple in India.

I'm looking for whole grain, millet, high fiber breads and bhakar definitely fits the bill. Do we get jowar easily in Indian stores or do you buy it in supermarkets?
gg

TheCooker said...

Such a wonderful post!
The bhakri is perfectly browned; khamanga.

Roopa said...

swapna the bhakri with zunka has excellent combo. Even farmers in north karnataka eat this for lunch while working in the fields. Truely said thank the farmers!

Srivalli said...

swad..the dishes look so traditional...great entry...

Soniya said...

Thanks for your recipe Swapna! I have never tried making bhaakri here in the US, and I do miss the ones my mom made. I must try out your recipe pretty soon. The song "Are sansar sansar" is so apt hre, I can almost hear it playing in my head now! The film song is actually an "ovi" by Bahinabai, one of the famous woman saints of Maharashtra's great tradition of saints.

Sandeepa said...

Thats a lovely recipe. When i was in B'bay I had seen these Zunka Bhakar Kendras but never ventured to try any. If not the Bhakri, shall try the Zunka

Nupur said...

Very nice post, Swapna! I have never attempted to make bhakris but your very first try looks fabulous!
That couplet from Bahinabai is a lot of wisdom captured in some very simple words.

bee said...

swapna, in bombay if you go to the ST bus depot at bombay central, there's a zunka bhakar stall in there (run by a gujju, actually). i used to go there just to eat this.

Richa said...

kaay gana' shodhla ahes ga :) bhakari kartana chatke jarur basle astil :)
what a classic combo, loved it!

Manasi said...

Sansarat padlyavar he sagla kaltach!!! Nice entry!!!

Swapna said...

Suganya: Glad you liked the zunka-bhakri.
gg: You can easily get bhakri flour in Indian stores. Just check the manufacturing date and try to buy fresh flour.
TC: That's the only thing I got right:)
Roopa, Srivalli: Thanks for the comments,girls
Soniya: No one can beat the home-made bhakris made by mom. Do try and let me know how they turned out.I love that song.
Sandeepa: That's the spirit girl. Do try the zunka. I am sure you'll love it.
Nupur:Thanks for the comment. I am hoping that by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th try my bhakri making skills wud improve:)
Bee: Somehow I have never eaten zunka bhakar from the kendra. Will try when I go to India.
Richa: Kay sangu tula kiti chatke basle te.
Manasi: Khara aahe..sansarat padlyavar barach kahi kalta ani yeta

Jyothsna said...

Great entry! I've never tried zunka bhakhar, should try sometime!

DEEPA said...

Nice one ...Too good ..Excellent entry ..Thks for sharing

Asha said...

YUM!!! I make this sometimes and love it.Thanks girl!:))

Sharmi said...

sounds very authentic and traditional. want to try out bhakris sometime but really scared how it will come out as a first timer.

priar's, said...

Hi swapna,
first time in ur blog...
Hmmmmm... got a variety of recipes.This zunka sounds new to me and want to try soon.Thanks for sharing.

http://priars.blogspot.com

Poonam said...

Thats great....reminds me of the days when we used to go all the way upto Sinhagad (near Pune) just so that we could get the real Zunka Bhakar....

Tee said...

Great write up, Swapna! Nothing says Maharashtra than 'Zunka Bhakar'...looks delicious! I never knew that bhakri could be rolled out just like chapatis. Great work!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

What a wonderful story for such a wonderful dish!

Welcome to the Foodie Blogroll!

Prema Sundar said...

This recipe is new to me and sounds interesting . thanks for sharing Swapna.

Kajal said...

Very nice post.......i always love village recipe......this jowar bhakri is very famous in our gujarati dish......but I never try this......Thanks for remember me......I will try it.:)

Priyanka said...

Hey the first few lines of the song are what my aai used to sing to us, when we were learning how to make polis and bhakris.

Atul said...

Swapana,
You have made my memories fresh of shingad where i have also eaten the zunka bhakri(Its not pratapgad!!!).It was really a good one ..best one..One i also eat at sidhtek ganpati was also good.Thanks for the recepi i am trying today at home.

Swapna said...

Thanks everyone for the lovely comments!

sri said...

A real nice dish to cook, one question how much besan should we take.

Swapna said...

Sri,
I took 2 cups besan for the zunka.

Kaunteya said...

Very nice post! I stumbled on this via google.
Please find my 2 cents worth on this too
http://honestlynagpur.blogspot.com/2008/06/zhunka-bhakar.html

Amma said...

yummy...going to make it today...thanks....

Amma said...

i made it.and it was yummy.thanks.