Kanya Pooja Meal

Navratri Thali

Today is an auspicious day for Hindus. Navami, the ninth day and last day of Navratri. Navratri is this nine day long celebration of all the various forms of Maa Durga and today it comes to its climax. It is believed that Lord Rama, the most virtuous hero in the Hindu mythology, needed all the power he can to defeat Ravana, the abductor of Rama’s wife, Sita. He wanted to please Maa Durga, the goddess who bears all the strength, patience and power. Everything Rama needed to kill Ravana and bring his wife back. So he worshipped Durga and all her nine forms, for nine days and at the end of the ninth day he was given the Shakti (power) he needed and went all kill Ravana on the day of Vijayadashami or Dusshera.

The last two days of these nine day celebration, Ashtami (eighth day) and Navami (ninth day) are considered very special in Hindu religion for these are also the two days when we do “Kanya Pooja”. I wrote a little post about Kanya Pooja a while back that might give you a little background. But basically to celebrate this auspicious day we prepare a grand meal (with no onion, garlic, meat or table salt) and serve it to the “Kanyas” the little forms of Durga. It is said that one who has the privilege of worshipping these little girls in their home, prosperity comes to their home.

And since I am one of the blessed ones with two precious little devi’s in my home I try to host a Kanya Pooja at my home every year. I did it this year too. Several little girls (and boys, can’t leave them behind!) came over. We washed their feet, did a few small rituals and then served them a special meal. Most hindu families do not cook with onion, garlic, meat or table salt during Navratri and the food that is served to the kids should not have any of those. I followed those rules and prepared this meal.

Kanya Pooja Meal

So these are the dishes that made it to the plate: Sookhe Kaale Chane (dry bengal gram), Chole, Tamatar Aloo, Boondi Raita, Kheer & a simple salad. So let’s start from the start, shall we?

Recipe for Sookhe Kaale Chane: Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dry bengal gram (washed and soaked for 6 hrs)

1 1/2 teaspoon  canola oil

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon coriander powder

2 tablespoon ginger paste

Salt (Sendha Namak or Rock Salt for pooja)

1 1/2 teaspoon Amchoor (drt mango powder)

1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust as per taste)

Method:

Pressure cook chana (or cook it in a pot) with a little salt until they are cooked through. Inspect by pressing between the thumb and index finger. Should be able to smash. Strain excess water. Set aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds. As they sputter add coriander powder and salt (keep in mind there was some salt in the chana too so add accordingly!). Quick stir. Add ginger paste. Turn the heat to low and cook ginger paste for about 20-25 seconds. Then add the strained chana. Give it a nice stir coating chana with masala. Cover and simmer for 8-10 on medium heat, stir occasionally just to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.

Stir in amchur and red chili powder. Cook off any extra water content. In teh end the dish should be dry. Turn off the heat.

Recipe for Vrat ke Chole: Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

2 cups chickpeas (washed, soaked overnight and cooked with salt OR you can use canned too)

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon peppercorn

1 inch cinnamon stick

2 green cardamom pods

1 tablespoon coriander powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

1 thai green chili (chopped)

3/4 cup tomato (chopped)

Salt (Sendha Namak or Rock Salt for pooja)

2 tablespoon cilantro (chopped)

Method:

Bring all the dry masala in a spice grinder or mortar pestle and coarsely grind it.

Heat oil in a pan. Add ground masala followed by turmeric, both types of chilis, coriander and salt. Give it a quick stir. As they sizzle and perfume, add tomato.

Cook tomato over medium heat until it melts into a loose paste, 8-10 minutes. Crush bigger pieces with the back of the spoon. Once the oil separates, add cooked chickpeas. Stir well. Add 1 cup water. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover with a lid and let it simmer for 5-8 minutes.

Turn the heat off. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot.

Tamatar Aloo: Serves 3-4

2-3 medium sized boiled potatoes (mashed into big chunks)

1 cup tomato (chopped)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 cup steamed peas (optional)

1 pinch asafetida

1-2 thai green chili (minced)

1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon oil

Salt (Sendha Namak or Rock Salt for pooja)

1/4 cup cilantro (chopped)

Heat oil in a pan. Add asafetida. As it sizzles, add mustard and cumin seeds. As they sputter add turmeric, chili and salt. Give it a quick stir. Add tomato. Turn the heat to medium low and cook the tomatoes until they melt to form a loose paste, 8-10 minutes.

Stir in potatoes and peas (if using them). Mix it well to the loose tomato paste. Add approx. 1 1/2 cups of water. Stir well. Bring it to a nice rolling boil for 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat off. Cover and let it rest for 5-10 before garnishing with cilantro and serving with the meal.

Recipe for Boondi Raita: Serves 3-4

1 cup plain dry boondi (I used store bought. You can use this)

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 teaspoon rock salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon red chili powder

1/2-1 cup water (based on your preference)

Cilantro and (minced) thai green chili (for garnish, optional)

Bring yogurt, salt, sugar, cumin powder and red chili together in a bowl. Stir everything together. Add water to thin it out. (Keep in mind boondi will be soaking up water here add water accordingly. Although you can always go back and add more water if you think boondi soaked too much water for your liking)

Add boondi. Mix it well and let it sit for 5 minutes for the boondi to soften. Garnish with cilantro and green chili OR you can omit the garnish if you like.

For the Kheer I used this recipe here

AND for Poori I used this recipe here

Hope this post helps you along your way through cooking up a delicious Kanya Pooja meal and we wish you a Very Happy and Prosperous Dussehra!

The Pooja photos (ones without food) were taken by my talented friend Kankana of Playful Cooking. Check out her portfolio. She’s uber talented!

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