The fasting observed during Navratri is actually one such period of cleansing as prescribed by Ayurveda. Apart from eliminating toxins from the system, it helps to activate ‘Agni’ or the digestive fire which needs to be maintained at its peak during the cold months. It allows the body to prepare for the onslaught of energy-rich foods that are normally consumed during winter. Panjiri is one high-energy food that is normally consumed in the Northern parts of India and Pakistan. Made with whole wheat flour roasted in copious amounts of ‘desi’ ghee and sweetened with ‘bura’ or natural cane sugar, it is delicious and quite filling too. While a few dry fruits are a mandatory addition to any Panjiri recipe, a friend’s mother-in-law makes one that consists almost entirely of dry fruits and especially ‘phool makhana’.
Apart from the various dry fruits, one can also add spices like saffron(for a lovely aroma), ajwain (for digestion), soonth (for heat) and even fennel/cardamom. Desiccated coconut and edible gum (or ‘Gond’ ) is usually put into this recipe.
A few spoonfuls with warm milk is enough to keep one going through the winters. But since there is quite a bit of roasted wheat flour in this recipe, it transforms magically into an ‘Atta ka halwa’ with some hot water. Do read its recipe and make it soon:
- Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
- Ghee or clarified butter - ½ cup
- Bura or unrefined sugar powder - ½ cup
- Soonth powder (dry ginger powder) - 1 tsp
- Saffron strands - 10-12
- To be roasted and coarsely powdered
- Phool Makhana or puffed fox nuts - 1 cup
- Almonds - 12
- Cashews - 12
- Pitachios (optional) - 12
- Poppy seeds - 2 tbsp
- Magaz ( melon seeds) - 2 tbsp
- Raisins - 2 tbsp
- Dry dates - 7-8 ( Chopped )
- Edible gum - 3 tbsp
- Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan.
- One by one, add all the ingredients mentioned under 'to be roasted and coarsely powdered'.
- Each one needs to be roasted separately as the required time varies.
- The phool makhana should be roasted to a light brown.
- The edible gum should be puffed up adequately.
- Once each ingredient is roasted, separate the dates.
- Transfer the rest to a mixer jar and grind into a coarse powder.
- Chop up the dates into small pieces and add to the powdered dry fruits mixture while discarding the seeds.
- Add the whole wheat flour to the same pan and roast it till it turns darker by a few shades.
- The smell will also change by this time.
- Finally add the 'bura', soonth powder and saffron strands to the roasted flour.
- Roast for another minute or two before adding the powdered dry fruits and chopped dates.
- Remove from the flame.
- Let it cool down completely before storing in an airtight jar.
This recipe is a part of #WADiwali contest in association with Maharaja Whiteline.