If you go to Pune, and are looking for a place where you could get authentic Maharashtrian breakfast/tiffin items or snacks, make sure you go to 'Janaseva Dugdha Mandir' on Laxmi Road. As the name suggests, they do sell dairy products in a corner of the eatery, which serves as the shop. However, where you want to go is the modest little restaurant (if that is what I want to call it) inside. It is one of those places, where time has stood still. You could be in the year 2006, but that place still has the atmosphere of the seventies. Wooden benches (nope, no chairs) with white turned yellowish laminate covering, an old clock on the wall sharing the space with a blackboard on which the regular items available are written with white paint. (No menu cards here!) The prices are written with white chalk. Well, they can't be painted, because they can change! By the way, the prices too are as down-to-earth as it gets, the most 'expensive' dish costing Rs. 15. :)
There are a few more signs of it being a pucca old-world, 'Puneri' joint. Like the waitors do not hesitate to tell you, if a dish is over. And they don't feel guilty about it; they keep a perfectly straight face. But then hey, they don't accept any tip either. Moreover, there is no tea or coffee available. If you are thirsty, you can order 'Masala Milk' or 'Kokum Sherbet'.
And to satiate the hunger, there are those mouth-watering traditional Maharashtrian breakfast/tiffin dishes like Batata Wada, Sabudana Khichadi or Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja. The last dish in the list is what I made for breakfast today.
Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja is the Maharashtrian version of Upma. Sanja, the word on its own, means a sweet preparation made with Rava/semolina/cream of wheat and jaggery. However, when paired with the words Tikhat (meaning hot/with chillis) and Meeth (meaning salt), it means the savoury version. Now, is this version of Upma radically different from the other ones in this category? Well, here's the recipe for it. You could find it out yourselves. :)
Recipe for Tikhat-Mithaacha Sanja
1 ¼ cups coarse semolina (known as Sanja/Kesari Rava in Maharashtra)
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 small green chillis, vertically cut into two each
2 ½ cups water
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ cup buttermilk (or yogurt & water mixed to make ¼ cup)
1 tbsp Moong dal, washed (optional)
2-3 tbsp grated coconut (fresh/frozen)
¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped
7-8 curry leaves
1 - 1 ½ tsp sugar
1 - 1 ½ tsp lime juice
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp ghee (optional)
Sev for garnishing
Before you start:
Roast the semolina without ghee/oil until deep yellow in colour. Spread the roasted semolina on a large plate/tray and let it cool. If roasted and stored like this, semolina stays well for months together. Especially in a hot & humid climate like that of India, roasting stops the semolina from catching worms. Also, when roasted semolina is used, lumps do not form in the Upma/ Sanja.
1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and let splutter. Then add chopped onion and green chilli halves. Cover and cook.
2. Once the onion is soft and translucent, add water, turmeric, buttermilk and Moong dal. Add salt, grated coconut, chopped coriander and curry leaves too.
3. Once the water comes to a boil, add the roasted semolina and sugar. Stir well, cover and cook. In case you see the semolina sticking to the bottom of the pan, leave some water onto the internal sides of the pan.
4. T-M cha Sanja is cooked when all the water is absorbed, and the semolina grains look slightly swollen. Turn the heat off; add the lime juice and ghee, if using. Stir the Sanja well.
Serve it steaming hot, garnished with Sev.
In the meanwhile, I will send this post to Nandita as my entry for her Weekend Breakfast Blogging.