Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Celebrating Shravan

Friday marked the first day of the Hindu calendar month Shravan. Shravan brings with it heavy monsoons after torturous summer heat, and the dry, deprived earth gets blanketed in lush greenery. As oceans swell and become dangerous with the onslaught of monsoon, fishing activity slows down. Everyone practices vegetarianism and gets ready to celebrate the changes in the surroundings that monsoon brings with it. Shravan is considered a holy month and probably has the most number of Hindu festivals. Many fast on Mondays to please Lord Shiva; newly married women in Maharashtra worship the Shivalinga on Tuesdays for their husband's well-being.

Shravan was my favorite time of the year for the number of school holidays we had. The days we did go to school were spent attending prayers, celebrations, and waiting for lunch breaks to attack each other’s tiffin boxes stuffed with goodies our moms prepared all through the month. We were distracted by the colorful clothes and jewelry on 'civil dress days'. Not that we didn’t dress civilly otherwise, but my school excused us from wearing school uniform every Monday and Friday of the month.  

At home, we were treated to a number of sweets and other special preparations in Shravan. My aaji (grandma) observed every fast religiously which she broke around sunset with some satvik food and sweets. Mom and the two of us sisters never fasted, but we relished the food nonetheless. Mom made fragrant ghee out of freshly churned butter to make the sweets decadent or simply poured it over warm sabudana khichadi. Among the many delicacies, Sanjyachi Poli stands out as one of my favorites. Sanja - sooji or semolina sweetened with jaggery - is stuffed inside whole wheat dough to make flaky, buttery, melt-in-the-mouth rotis, or poli as we call it. We Marathi people love our sweet rotis, like Puran poli, Gulachi poli or Khavyachi poli. Sanja poli is simpler to make compared to the others as the stuffing is not difficult to work with. It's not overwhelmingly sweet either. Some people make the stuffing with sugar, but I swear by jaggery. And as weird as this may sound, Sanjyachi poli tastes amazing with some spicy Maharashtrian style mango pickle! If you don't want to try that combination, enjoy it with some ghee or warm milk. 

**Note: The recipe below makes about 10-12 rotis depending on how big you make them. 

I'm submitting this recipe to the Celebrate Event by Jagruti, hosted by Sangeetha this month to celebrate the month of Shravan. 

Sanjyachi Poli/ Sooji Roti

1/2 Cup Rava/Semolina
2 Tablespoons ghee/clarified butter
3/4 Cup grated jaggery
3/4 Cup water + more if needed
5-6 Cardamom pods - powdered
Couple of pinches saffron
Pinch of salt

Poli dough:
~ 1 3/4 Cups whole wheat flour
Water to knead the dough
1 Teaspoon oil
Pinch of salt
  • First, knead the dough with just enough water so you have a soft dough ball. It should be slightly softer than the usual roti dough so you can roll it with light pressure. This will ensure the stuffing doesn't get pressed out. Cover dough and keep aside. 
To make sanja
  • Add ghee to a kadhai and roast semolina on low-medium heat till it gets a reddish hue. It'll be very fragrant when roasted well. Make sure you don't over-roast it. Keep aside. 
  • Cook jaggery with water to help it melt, then add the roasted semolina, cardamom powder, saffron and a pinch of salt and cook down until the semolina is soft. Add a little warm water and cook down if the sanja is not cooked through. The stuffing should not be watery or else you'll have a hard time rolling rotis. 
  • Take a golf ball size dough and stuff sanja the size of a lime. The more stuffing you have the better. Roll the rotis gently making the sides thinner than the center. Apply a little ghee to each side while roasting. 

1 comment:

Shama Nagarajan said...

thats a good one..super delicious


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