Tonight is Dhanteras, and Divali is officially on! We have our Divali lights out and the first candle has been lit. This is all the Maharashtrian side of me. I guess I can lay claim to it after sharing with TH of 17 years. I cannot believe it myself. Not the sharing for 17 years, but that if we have shared for so long does it mean we are as old as it must mean.
Our Divalis are completely Maharashtrian. Kashmiri Pandits, unique for Hindus I would think, don’t have a Divali tradition and never celebrated it until their recent expulsion from the homeland. But, let’s talk of pleasant things…
Sharing in the family tradition for me means doing it the way my MIL did, as much as I can. Since she hasn’t been gone all that long, every thing has been reminding us of her this week. First, we did the Satyanarayan pooja this week (nothing to do with Divali). And thought of her as we did the elaborate preparations for it.
It is now just two days to Divali and all that I had prepared were the shankarparey. I had watched my MIL make them a couple of times but never with the intention of remembering…and so, with a little bit of trial and error (very little of this), I made reasonable, very edible, shankarparey early this week.
There’s a few things I have always made even when my MIL was away visiting the BIL in the US. If you are a Maharashtrian then it’s not Divali till there is chakli. So, I always make that. Even if it means soaking rice and a bunch of lentils, letting them dry for a bit, slow roasting each ingredient separately, begging the local flour mill owner to ‘please grind it for me’, then preparing the dough, pressing it out of the chakli-press, frying it carefully on medium heat till beautifully crispy-brown. Every family’s recipe varies just a little to make our’s the best kind we have ever had!! And, of all the Divali treats, it’s my son’s favourite.
When I was away in the US I was very lucky to find packaged chaklis at an Indian store on the outskirts of Denver which tasted exactly like my MIL’s! I would bite into one, savouring every bit, and think of home.
I also manage to make sev, and on the Laxmi pujan day, the karanji, a sweet similar to the North Indian gunjiya, but made with fresh grated coconut instead of dessicated copra.
But all these still remain to be made this time, between tomorrow and tomorrow.
Today, I made paparia, another family tradition. I didn’t want another trial on my hands and called TH’s aunt in Poona. The paparia turned out as good as my MIL’s! But of course, I was using the family recipe.
1 C milk (min. 3% milk-fat)
1 C sugar
1/2 C ghee (or unsalted melted butter)
3-4 C flour (sift together 2 C each of maida/all purpose flour and atta /whole wheat flour)
1/2 t freshly ground cardamom seeds
ghee for frying
Heat together the sugar, milk, and ghee till the sugar dissolves. Add the cardamom powder. Incorporate as much of the flour mix as needed to make a medium stiff dough. Knead for 5 minutes and let rest for 15-20 min. Pinch of dough balls and roll to 2-3 mm thickness. Cut into small diamond shapes using a pastry cutter. Fry in ghee on medium heat till brown and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container.
I tried to bake a small batch of the same dough. It tasted okay but the colour was very light. You will need to flip the shankarparey mid-way betweeen the cooking process. I baked for about 15 min. The next time around for baking I would increase the amount of ghee (double it to 1C) and that should help with the colour and make the texture less dry as well.
2 C besan (chickpea flour)
1 C maida/all purpose flour
1 t kalonji (nigella seeds)
1 t turmeric
2 t red chilli/cayenne pepper powder
salt (about 1 1/2 t)
1/2 C hot oil + oil for frying
Sift the besan and maida. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, salt and kalonji. Pour the 1/2 cup of really hot oil. Knead to a medium soft dough using water. Let the dough rest for 10 min. Roll the dough and cut with a knife into small pieces and roll into small flat balls (makes 45 balls). Roll very thin dusting with maida as needed. Spread on paper and roll out the entire batch. The rolling is easier if use use the small ridged rolling pins popular in Maharashtra and Gujarat for making papads.
Heat oil in a karahi and start frying, starting with the paparias that have been drying out the longest. Flip a couple of times while frying and use tongs to drip and remove from oil when they turn pink. The paparias will cook a little as they cool. Store in air tight containers.
Paparias are great munchies on the go, with tea or coffee, as party finger food (just make them smaller and serve with or without dips), and even with dinner. Yummy, yummy, yummy.