Ponk or hurda, a winter delicacy
Tender green jowar is a winter speciality in parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Called ‘ponk‘ in Gujarati and ‘hurda‘ in Marathi, the jewel-like immature grains of pearl millet are full of health benefits. The best way to eat them is raw or lightly sauteed, drizzled with some salt, lemon juice and sev – and they do taste absolutely fabulous when fresh and tender. That’s the mainstay of the ‘ponk parties’ that are often held in the fields of Gujarat and Maharashtra, this time of the year.
Ponk Bhel and Ponk Vada are a couple of things the grains commonly find their way into in Gujarati households. I have had the pleasure of indulging in these delicacies on visits to Ahmedabad and whenever friends or family members managed to lug back parcels of ponk to Bangalore for me. Recently, though, I was thrilled to see it available at Native’s Basket, a store in HSR Layout, Bangalore, and had to go ahead and order some. This time around, I experimented with making some Ponk Khichdi, which turned out just awesome. The tender jowar was a treat to the tastebuds, and it took the simple khichdi to a whole new level.
Let me share with you all the way I prepared this delicious and nutritious Ponk Khichdi.
How to make Ponk Khichdi
Here is how I went about it.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1. 1/2 cup rice
2. 3/4 cup toor dal
3. 1-1/2 cup ponk
4. 1 medium-sized onion
5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
6. 1 large tomato
7. 3/4 tablespoon oil
8. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
9. 2 pinches of asafoetida
10. Salt to taste
11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
12. Red chilli powder to taste
13. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala or as per taste
14. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder
15. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
16. 2 tablespoons ghee
1. Wash the rice thoroughly. Drain out all the water. Transfer the washed and drained rice to a wide vessel and add in 1-1/2 cup of fresh water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally. Keep the cooked rice aside.
2. Wash the toor dal well, and drain out all the water. Transfer the washed and drained toor dal to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the toor dal completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 6-7 whistles or till the dal is well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally. Mash the cooked toor dal well and keep aside.
3. Wash the ponk well, and drain out all the water from it. Transfer the washed and drained ponk to a wide vessel. Add in about 2 tablespoons of water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally. Keep the cooked ponk aside. Do not drain out the water it was cooked in.
4. Peel the ginger and onion and chop finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Chop the tomato finely. Keep ready.
5. Now, we will start preparing the Ponk Khichdi. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida, and let them stay in for a few seconds.
6. Add in the finely chopped onion and ginger. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till the onion is cooked and starts browning.
7. Add in the tomato now, along with a little salt and water. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till the tomato turns mushy.
8. At this stage, add in the cooked ponk and the water it was cooked in. Also add in the cooked and mashed toor dal. Continue to keep the flame at medium.
9. Add in salt to taste. Mix well.
10. Add red chilli powder to taste and turmeric powder.
11. Add in the garam masala and jaggery powder.
12. Add in the cooked rice and about 3/4 cup of water to adjust the consistency of the mixture. Mix well.
13. Let everything cook together on medium flame for 4-5 minutes. By this time, the mixture will start thickening. Switch off gas when the mixture has thickened but is still on the runnier side – it will thicken up further upon cooling.
14. Mix in the finely chopped coriander and ghee. Your Ponk Khichdi is ready. Serve hot with raita, curd or pickle.
Tips & Tricks
1. Make sure the toor dal is well cooked before adding it to the pan.
2. You can also stir-fry the ponk instead of pressure-cooking it. I prefer the latter.
3. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the khichdi you require.
4. You may even add some vegetables to the khichdi – carrots, beans, green peas and the like. I decided to keep it simple, so did not add any.
5. Adjust the quantity of garam masala as per personal taste preferences. I have used home-made garam masala here.
6. Remember to stop cooking the khichdi when it is still runny. It thickens up further upon cooling.
7. You may make this khichdi without the rice. Personally, though, I think the rice gives some body and texture to the khichdi.
8. This is a completely vegetarian recipe, but not vegan (plant-based) because of the use of ghee. If you want to make this dish vegan, skip the ghee.
9. If you plan to make a gluten-free version of the khichdi, skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, and are therefore best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely use it.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!