Hurda, Green Jowar, Ponk or call them Tender Sorghum Grains, they have different names but it all means that a new crop season has arrived!
Hurda parties are a great rave in Pune, Nashik, Nagpur – primarily, the northern region of Maharashtra. The popularity of hurda parties has commercialized the event and made it a big part of the agro-tourism concept. If you google, you will find a long list of organizers who can arrange a get-together for you on their farms. It’s a great night-out plan with friends, in winters; a stay in midst of crop fields and get a glimpse of rural life. You get to watch the process of Sorghum inflorescence being coal roasted and also to consume the outcome of it…the warm delicious fresh green grains with various chutneys to go with it. Lately, some have added other farm activities too to make the evenings more enjoyable.
The green jowar millets are a big deal in Surat, Gujarat, too and they are called ponk there. You will find heaps of green jowar at various stalls for sale and you will also get yummy delicacies like fritters, patties, chivda made of green jowar. The ponk season itself is a festival here and also important part of traditional festivals like the kite day on Makar Sankaranti, the other highlight being the famous undhiyu. You can keep it simple by consuming the tender grains garnished with colourful sev that you get at these stalls. Remember but, these easy-to-eat green ponk are heavy to digest. Some recommend not drinking water for at least half an hour after you had them.
It was a great sight to see a lady vendor sitting at the west gate of the Virar railway station with green jowar and green wheat in her basket. Green wheat was a new sight for me too. I bought them and made fritters plus jowar bhel – ekdum Surati style. If you find the green jowar, you too can have a small party with friends at home with these simple recipes in this post. One additional tip – don’t buy them in excessive quantity; it’s difficult to preserve these moist jowar kernels for more than one day.
Ponk Vada Recipe
200 grams green jowar (paste, keep handful of whole Millets aside)
50 grams green wheat (optional)
2 table spoon besan
2 table spoon Makka Atta/Riceflour
7-8 spoon oil for deep frying
2 green chillies
1 small onion
1 tea spoon ginger-garlic paste
1/2 tea spoon turmeric powder
1/2 tea spoon red chilli powder
1 tea spoon Cumin-Corriander powder
1 pinch Asafoetida
salt to taste
Make a fine thick paste of green jowar, green wheat and green chillies by adding appropriate water in a grinder. Take out the paste in a bowl.
Add a handful whole green jowar, besan, Makkai Atta to it. The consistency of the paste should be like any pakoda mixture.
Add chopped onion, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cumin-corriander powder, Asafoetida and salt.
Mix them well. You can add a little fruit salt if you wish. I did not.
Heat the oil, make small portions of the paste and deep fry the fritters.
Add sev and chopped onion to green jowar millets and you are done! Enjoy the recipes with cuppa chai to go with.
Many greens and vegetables have vanished today from the market because they lack either distinguishing taste, or easy availability. I have heard from mother, how Taro, Drumsticks, Radish and many other lesser known greens that grew aplenty without plantation cost provided nutritional supplement the middle class and poor households in those days could not have afforded otherwise. Some vegetables like Kantavli (Spine gourd) are suddenly being acknowledged and awaited for their medicinal value and delectable taste resulting in their heavy valuation while others are living a forsaken and ignored existence, but still fighting to survive in the market.
I had noticed these purple reddish colored, thick stems many a times, very passively. I remember doing some general inquiry on them when I first noticed, and then somehow my brain categorized them as a lesser priority. Last week, I suddenly became curious on its ever availability and thought that there must be good amount of consumer for it that they are so much visible in the market. Virar’s locals, mostly honoring the nostalgic value, have not abandoned many simple veggies in this new modern times and this red stems, probably overgrown Lal Math (let me know if they have a different name) are testimony to it.
This time I decided to buy this veggie, and cook it. My mother called this one as dethachi bhaji and cooked them with vaal (field beans). They somewhat smelled like taro leaves while cooking, were like drumsticks/sugarcane in texture, and tasted like a cooked starchy, soft tuber. You have to be careful about the skin while eating, if it’s a thick overgrown stem, even a small shred is pointed and sharp, and can hurt throat if you by mistake gulp it. We did not use the leaves, they didn’t seem to be tender. The Aamti tasted delicious.
Vaal-Deth Aamti, Mother’s Recipe
1 big stem of lal math, 1 cup field beans, Asafoetida, methi crushed seeds- half tea spoon, green chillies -2, jeera 1 t.spoon, curry leaves, red chilli powder- 1 tea spoon turmeric powder 1 tea spoon Goda-kala Masala -1 tb. spoon, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, besan 1 tb spoon, tamarind, 1 medium potato. Salt and jaggery to taste.
Cut the stem in pieces, peel the hard skin off. Boil Field beans and the stem pieces together. Heat oil, add jeera, Asafoetida, methi seeds, green chilies, curry leaves and let them splutter. Add peeled & sliced potato and let it cook. Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, tamarind water(according to amount of sourness you prefer)and the boiled field beans-stem pieces. Make a smooth paste of 1 tb spoon besan and 2 tb. spoon water and add to the curry, boil 4-5 minutes then add goda-kaala masala, coconut, salt and a little jaggery to taste. Turn off the stove and serve it with steamed rice.
This year I have had no luck with Suran flower so far. The disappointment after several trips to sabji market is stronger because the season is going. Once, it was so close, I watched a lady leaving with the only two Suran flowers the local vendor had brought. Rubbing salt on the wound, the sabjiwali is good at giving me a pang every time she tells me how I should have made a trip the day before when she handed the Suran flower to the other lucky customer that showed up.
So while hunting Suran flower at other vendors, I found this green and asked what it was. The sabjiwali told me it was called Koral,(pronounced with hard L) a wild green found only in this period of the year.
By now I have learned how awesome can a little known, locally traditional veggie, taste. You have to be a little cautious too because last time I ended up purchasing an extremely bitter green that could possibly not be edible one. Luckily this time, an elderly gentleman standing nearby, who was a regular purchaser of this green, vouched for it. He narrated the recipe so ardently that I ended up buying four Vaata’s (minimum quantity made for selling in portions) instead of one. I get greedy with terms like, once- in -a-year-produce.
This one is not an itchy or bitter green. However, if there is any medicinal value to this one, I have no idea.
The recipe is similar to the local custom green veggie recipe.
Koral- 4 portions,
Field beans 100 gms,
Oil – 1-2 table spoon
Cumin seeds 2 teaspoons
Asafoetida 2 pinch
grated coconut- 2-3 tablespoons
Turmeric powder- 1/2 teaspoon
Heat oil, add asafoetida and jeera and let it splutter. Add onion and green chillies. Let the onion turn a little pink. Add turmeric powder and saute. Add field beans and 1/4th cup water. Cook it for 5 minutes with lid on it. Add grated coconut and Koral and cook till beans are soft and the green changes its color to light green.
The vintage temple of Harbadevi is situated in East of Virar. The goddess known to the local Marathi community as Harbadevi, is also more famously known as Shitaladevi by the Gujarati people. This temple customarily is maintained by several generations of Bairagi family, the ancestor of whom was appointed to look after the temple chores by the then British government.
The foundation of Harbadevi Temple, dates back to the year 1860. According to the folklore, during the rule of British government, the idol was found while excavation work for Virar railway station. After umpteen failed attempts to lift the idol, a crane was used. It too failed to lift the heavy idol. The ancestor of Bairagi family, Mr.Hanumantadas- a Mahant(Chief Priest), could successfully shift and place it.
Goddess Harbadevi is family deity for some clans while the village deity of Virar. According to the faith of many, she was born to demolish demons and is worshipped across by varied castes and communities.
The shrine is located in the east of Virar near the lake, ‘Totale’. It is in very close proximity of Virar Railway station. The Harbadevi temple is believed to be a votive shrine. Believers promise offerings to the deity if their wishes come true. Every year, Navratri is celebrated here with great zeal. The usual Naivedya (food offering) to Goddess Harbadevi is Dal, Rice and Methi (Fenugreek) sabzi.
*The above writeup is an excerpt translated from the Marathi article published in newspaper and showcased in the temple