Thursday, March 30, 2006

Celebrating Gudhi Padwa with Shreekhand

It is the Hindu New Year today - Gudhi Padwa for Maharashtrians. It is one of the three and a half big ‘Muhurta’s meaning very auspicious days. I know, 3 ½ is rather odd, but then that’s how it is. We choose these auspicious days for new beginnings, for closing important deals, for making big buys e.g. a house or a car. About ten days preceding this auspicious day and on that day itself, the local newspapers are choc-a-bloc with advertisements for housing loans, cars & easy-pay options for them, bikes (which are a necessity in India unlike in the western countries, where it’s more of a hobby), household appliances and clothes (read Saris, Saris and more Saris).

On the day of Gudhi Padwa, Gudhis are hoisted outside the house or in a window visible from outside. A Gudhi is made up of a stick with a decorative piece of cloth (preferably silk or cotton) fastened to it, a garland each made up of Neem leaves and sugar candy is hung on it and then topped with a Tambya (see here in the 6th row from top) parked head-over-heels. The Gudhi then looks like this.
In addition to this, a delicious meal with about 100 dishes (ok, I’m kidding…just take the last zero out) is cooked. In Pune, where I come from, it is also somewhat of a tradition to buy sweets or the raw material for it from Mitahi shops, a very big favourite being Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale. Enthusiastic people literally stand in queues for hours together so that they can buy the yummylicious dessert which is to later become a part of the meal.

One such thing, which people love to buy there is Malai Chakka, which is the main ingredient to make Shreekhand. Of course, there are many households (like my parents’), which take pride in saying that they make it at home and never buy it outside. Both types of Chakka give good results although with slight difference in thickness and texture. Since I am away from home as well as Chitale’s, I decided to make Shreekhand with a German soft cheese called Quark. It is made similarly as Malai Chakka, but has a different texture. Read more about it here. I guess it should be available in the US in larger stores. I know for sure, that Tesco Extra outlets in the UK store Quark. If not available in your area, then hanging thick yoghurt like this (see the second from bottom row of pictures) till all whey drips out, should work too. Quark, too, needs draining sometimes, if too runny.

Recipe for Shreekhand

Serves 2 (happy, Shammi?)


# 500 grams Quark (If using yoghurt, perhaps about 750 grams?)
# ½ heaped cup sugar
# 5 green cardamoms (about ½ tsp if using readymade cardamom powder)
# a pinch nutmeg powder (optional)
# a few saffron strands (the more, the better)


1. Heat a tbsp of milk (maybe in the microwave) and add a few saffron strands to it. Let them rest in the milk as they give out their colour gradually.
2. Peel the cardamoms and powder the seeds in a mixer with a tbsp of sugar. (Instead of throwing away the peels, you could use them to flavour your tea/chai.)
3. If using whole nutmeg, grate it.
4. Place the Quark in a bowl. (If using yoghurt, drain it and then place it in a bowl. Whisk it with a ladle to break lumps, if any.)
5. Add sugar, cardamom and nutmeg, if using.
6. Whisk the mixture with a ladle. Using the immersion blender here is not a great idea.
7. Add the milk with the saffron now. Mix them gently with the rest, making sure that the delicate strands do not break.
8. When serving, garnish it with some more saffron or some slivered unsalted pistachios or any nuts.

Voilà! Your Shreekhand is ready.

Now do you want to eat it with a spoon or like my father with the ‘Phawda paddhat’, which means using your fingers like a shovel and then gobbling dollops of Shreekhand as if there were no tomorrow? :)

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006


For my first post, I have chosen a very Maharashtrian preparation, Metkoot. It is a 'Podi'-like powder and quite a few ingredients go into it. However, I don't know the etymology of this word. Could someone enlighten, please?

Nowadays, it has become fairly unusual to make Metkoot at home. Readymade Metkoot is easily available all over Maharashtra. However, after having made it once at home about a year back, none of the readymade versions satisfy me any more. I think, you get the best aroma and texture when you make it from scratch at home. Moreover, it keeps fresh and aromatic for up to six months. So, spending a little time on it twice a year is well worth the effort.

Ingredients for Metkoot: (clockwise from top left) spelt, Urad dal, Chana dal, asafoetida, chilli powder, turmeric, nutmeg, dry ginger powder, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, green cardamom, coriander seeds, cloves, rice

Now, what do you use it with? Almost everything. As a very good taste enhancer. Traditionally, it is served with hot steaming rice, some salt, a wedge of lemon and a dollop of ghee. It can also be served with Waran-Bhaat, which Nupur has already blogged about. It can be had with any meal, mixed with ghee, oil or yoghurt. One could also sprinkle it on Maharashtrian dishes like 'Kande Pohe' or 'Phodnicha Bhaat'. Have these dishes been blogged about so far? I know, Nupur hasn't, and a search on Blogger didn't yield anything either. I can blog about them, in case nobody has done yet.

Recipe for Metkoot


1 heaped cup Chana Dal
1/2 heaped cup rice
1/4 heaped cup wheat grains (I didn't find them here in Germany, so I used spelt)
1/4 heaped cup Urad Dal
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 heaped tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida
3 cloves
5 green cardamoms
1/2 nutmeg
1 tsp dry ginger powder (soonth)


1. Dry roast both Dals and rice till light brown and aromatic.
2. Once cooled down, mix them with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor/coffee mill attachment of a mixer.
3. Grind till fine.

Store in an airtight container. Storing it in the fridge is neither necessary nor recommended.

Serve with hot rice.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Frequently Asked Questions

Nobody has asked me these questions before - apart from myself. But I think it makes an impressive title.

What is this blog?

I would call it the Bhappi Lahiri of food blogs. It may not always have something new. However, it may have many ideas lifted from other blogs, which I would like to call ‘inspiration’.

Then why am I blogging?

Because I am just too inspired by some fellow bloggers like Nupur, Shammi, Indira, SaffronHut to not have a blog of my own.

Who am I?

I am a Maharashtrian (born Deshpande – Now how much more Maharashtrian can you get?) married to a Konkani. My cooking is influenced greatly by my mother and my mother-in-law (and theirs by their mothers and MILs and so on…). Which means that this blog will mainly feature Maharashtrian and Konkani dishes. I like to try my hand at international cuisine as well, but my repertoire of that is rather limited, which is also because I am a vegetarian.

More about me

I have a 16-month old daughter, who tries to speak Marathi, Konkani, German and English all at the same time and ends up bringing out noises which cannot be said to be belonging to any particular language. However, she is perhaps the only honest person around me, because she refuses to eat practically everything cooked by me.

Why the name ‘Happy Burp’?

In India, I think, burping is not about feeling guilty. On the contrary, it is about being content with the food that you have eaten and about giving the hosts a compliment. For example, you will always see a smile on the faces of the women in my family, when somebody gives out (intentionally or unintentionally) a nice, hearty, loud burp after a meal.
When used figuratively in Marathi, a burp again signifies contentment (Trupti chi/cha dhekar). This blog is supposed to bring contentment to me and to my dear readers, (using plural already, huh? High hopes!) hence the name. Don't you think it rocks?