Well, I forgot completely about this one occasion on which Kashmiris do use flour!! It is one day in a year so I can be forgiven my oversight.
Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayak Chaturthi, as Kashmiris know it, is the day when some Kashmiri families perform a small puja which includes a katha (story) on the lines of the Satyanarayan katha. There is the standard do-this-ritual-or-else-face-the-consequence line of reasoning in the story. If you do the puja in good faith then you look forward to prosperity…naturally. Otherwise, the gallows you shall face.
Interestingly, there is no idol that is worshipped, at least not in my family. There is druva, a type of grass, akshata (rice), and flowers offered in return for the blessings wished.
The naveed (neivaidyam) is of the roth (ro– as in ‘road’, and –th as in the second letter of the tavarg of the Hindi varnamala, the Hindi alphabet). Hey, it’s important to get the pronunciation of the topic of the post right! And this sound is missing from the English language!
So you may make as much or as little roth as you decide and most of it is then distributed among friends and family. The mimimum predetermined amount could be sava seer, for example. But it is usually cooked in greater quantities so that there is plenty to share and enjoy. The performing of the puja (the story-telling and all) and the sharing of the Roth is called Pun dyun (translated- ‘giving of Pun’ alluding perhaps, to the sharing of it).
The roth is in essence a cooked dough of whole wheat flour, sugar, and ghee. Similar to the Maharashtrian shankar para dough but not the same. There are different methods to the cooking which make the roth different in texture and taste. For the Pun, the dough is usually rolled like a thick poori, pricked or patterned with implements (we used to use metal lids with sharp edges to make intersecting circle patterns) and deep fried. My mother would always use metal lids, the kinds with sharp edges, to make impressions. When I and my sisters were little girls she would let us help with this part and we would get fancy with the intersecting circle patterns. This time I helped with the frying, big girl that I am.
Since you are not supposed to eat till the puja is over, we always sit for a breakfast of these to be washed down with Kahva, the fragrant spicey Kashmiri tea. These make a filling and wholesome breakfast. Yea, they are deep fried, but once a year, c’mon? Also, I think because they are not leavened, they don’t soak up much oil/ghee while frying. And if you make them like my mom’s, you cannot have more than one for breakfast.
Roth is also made for weddings, but that kind is usually baked in an oven. My sister and my mom worked on a recipe for that in her CT kitchen. Another time…
Whole wheat flour
1 C sugar
1/2 C ghee
1 C milk or water
moti elaichi (black cardamom), seeds only, crushed
khus khus (poppy seeds) for sprinkling over
Mix together the ghee, milk/water and sugar till the sugar is almost dissolved. Add whole wheat flour (as needed) and the crushed cardamoms and knead to a stiff dough. Divide dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Press down the balls and roll to 1/4th inch thick. If you want to roll thinner pooris, pinch off smaller balls. Thinner roth is crispier. But I like to bite into my mom’s thick dense, wholesome roths. Prick well with a knife or fork, so that the roth does not puff up while frying. Sprinkle generously with khus khus and press them down. Some of the poppy seeds will be lost in frying, but don’t sweat. Deep fry the roth on medium-high heat till browned.
The wholesome flavour of whole wheat is enhanced by the nutty taste of fried poppy seeds. It is a healthy and filling snack for kids in place of maida thingies and chips. Serve with tea, coffee, or milk.
Roth keeps for up to a week without refrigeration, provided you made generous quantities 🙂 . And I am thinking kids may enjoy even more if you let them have fun with cookie cutters and fry up some interesting shapes.