Thursday, January 03, 2008


Celebrating the season of plenty!

Winter is the season of plenty all over the world and I thought I'd share kick start the refurbished version of my blog with a celebration of the great produce we have available to us in Mumbai these days.
Many parts of rural India are a celebration at this time with fields of ripening produce stretching endlessly into the horizon. Abundance is in the air as nature unleashes her bounty; of the freshest, most tender, sweetest produce. Oversized cauliflowers bloom off vegetable carts, jostling with a host of verdant leafy vegetables; spinach, fenugreek, coriander… flirting with your eyes, tempting you to pick up bunches worth and take them home – no matter that you have no idea what to do with them!
And almost in anticipation of the hectic harvest period to come, rural India enjoys relaxed, lazy winter days with an essential activity… that of sunning oneself in the fleeting hours of winter sunlight. Snacking on something at these occasions is de rigueur be it a nugget of fresh jaggery, sesame chikkis, or Paunk.
Paunk is a winter speciality of the Surat region in Gujarat. The tender version of Jowar (Sorghum millet) Paunk is harvested before it matures into fully grown grains. These tender jade colored kernels are husked and eaten raw and fresh, steamed or roasted under smouldering ashes. Come the winter and, Undhiyu and Paunk parties become Haute in Mumbai. I was hosted at one last year. (Thanks Asit uncle and Swati aunty for being so kind) and here are some pictures.

Tiny jade colored lentil-like grains of Paunk burst between the teeth with a subtly sweet flavour when eaten on their own.

But they are usually accompanied by spicy pepper or garlic sev (crunchy chickpea flour vermicelli like savouries ), chutney, and sugar balls. Their cool color belies it but Paunk is considered very warming to the body and is usually consumed with numerous glasses of thin chaas (buttermilk) to counteract the effect.


Paunk na Bhajiya or Paunk fritters are one of the ways in which Paunk is savoured.

Serves 6 Time 20 mins
2 c mung dal soaked
1 c Paunk, crushed slightly
2-3 green chillies chopped fine
1 inch piece ginger chopped fine
½ cup coriander chopped fine
salt to taste
¼ cup besan for binding

In a blender place ginger, coriander and chillies and whiz once.
Add soaked mung dal and process to coarse texture. Remove to a large bowl.
Add paunk, besan and salt and mix well.
Heat oil and fry in batches.
Serve with spicy green chutney

Buying guide – The current market rate for fresh Paunk is Rs 200 -250 fresh, and you will find it in the Bhuleshwar market of Mumbai. When buying ensure that Paunk kernels when squeezed exude a milky juice. Eat as soon as possible it has a very short shelf life.
Where to get it in Mumbai????
And for those of us who prefer things ready made, one of my favourite restaurants in Mumbai, Soam, kicks off it's winter festival today (10th of January). Besides Paunk their winter menu also offers tempting traditional treats like Undhiyu, including an oil free version (quite a feat that since the traditioanl recipe calls for oodles of oil) Dashmi and Vaal (Rice flour rotis with tender green field beans cooked in a green masala, Khajur Puran Polis and a host of strawberry desserts.

Ground Floor,Sadguru Sadan,Girgaon Chowpatty,Opposite Babulnath Mandir, Girgaon Chowpatty, Mumbai, 400007, India
+91 22 23698080
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