Feast like a Sindhi with Anita Raheja

The ‘made for each other’ food

According to me, the most salient feature of Sindhi food is that a lot of emphasis is given on the combination of dishes. For instance, Sai Bhaji is ideally eaten with khichdi (rice made with halved green moong dal, the khichdi has to have the consistency of regular rice and not be gooey). Sai Bhaji also complements Bhooga Chawar (rice made with golden fried onions) or Bhurji Chawar (rice made in combination with chana dal).

Methi Aloo, Singhi Aloo, Bhindi Basar and Gobi Basar (Basar means onions) are other dishes that taste delicious with khichdi made from halved green moong dal.

The Dharan Ji Kari (a Sindhi variation of the popular Rajasthani Gatta Curry) taste delicious with hot phulkas (not rice) and onion kachumbar on the side. Chana Dal Pattice is best served with Chhole (not Ragda). Wadi Aloo tastes sumptuous with Haldiwara Chawar (turmeric rice). The Makhni Dal (not the be confused with the Punjabi Makhani Dal) made with golden brown fried onions pairs well with Bhooga Chawar (rice made with fried onions).

Food for special occasions

In the morning, on a special Sunday, Sindhi breakfast would be the savoury Seyal Bread (made with bread, tomatoes, potatoes, green chillies and a fair sprinkling of coriander leaves for garnishing) or Dal Pakwan. For those who are not calories counters, the doused in sugar syrup Mithi Dabroti is heavenly.

For a Sunday lunch, vegetarian Sindhis relish Sindhi Curry (made either with pure tomatoes or tomatoes, tur dal, gram flour, lady fingers and cluster beans), rice, Aloo Tuk (golden fried potatoes) and Mithi Boondi (small balls of sweetened boondi). For non vegetarians, Teewarn (mutton gravy) with white rice and onion kachumbar is bliss. Both these meals induce a good

Sunday snooze.

Mawa Samosas, Toshas and Gheeyar (a giant jalebi) are Holi specialities. Sindhis make Chandan (Sandalwood) and Mogra Sherbats (coolers) during summer.

Khoya, a rich desert comprising dried dates, milk and poppy seeds is savoured in winters, while Kutti (made with wheat flour and sugar) is a must for Satyanaryan Puja. Atta Halwa tastes best in Gurdwaras though we make it at home too.

Mitha Lolas, a sweetened thick sugar roti is made on Thadri, an auspicious day to pray to Shitala Devi. On this day, Sindhis consume only cold food as one is not supposed to light the gas.

The Lolas are made one night before. For those who prefer salty lolas to sweet ones, opt for Yellow Moong Dal Phulkas with Boondi Raita and Dahi Wadas made the night preceding Thadri.

Sindhi Curry

Ingredients

l 8 red and firm tomatoes (cut into quarters)

l 1 small bowl of tur dal 

l 7 tablespoons oil

l 1 ½ teaspoons cummin seeds

l 1 tsp fenugreek seeds

l  ½ teaspoon asafoetida powder

l 7 tablespoons gram flour

l 1½“ ginger (crushed)

l 2 green chillies

l 2 teaspoons red chilli powder

l ½ teaspoon turmeric powder

l 200 gms ladyfingers 

l 100 gms cluster beans (gavar )

l Few fresh curry leaves

l 7 to 8 glasses water

l 4 to 5 kokam pieces

l Salt to taste

Method:

Wash the dal and soak for 20 minutes. Cut the tomatoes into quarters. Pressure cook the tomatoes along with the dal, green chillies, ginger and one and half glasses of water for 10 -12 minutes (around 3-4 whistles) on a medium flame. Cool completely and hand blend the tomato and dal mixture and strain.

Squeeze out this puree with your hands. Add the remaining water and keep aside. Chop ends of  the ladyfingers and make a slit in the centre. Chop ends of the cluster beans as well and keep it whole. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed big vessel.

Add cummin and fenugreek seeds. When they splutter add asafoetida powder and sauté for few seconds. Add gram flour and sauté continuously on a low flame till light brown.

Add red chilli and turmeric powder and continue to sauté on a low flame till golden. Remove from flame. Add the kept aside washed ladyfingers and cluster beans and mix .

Add the kept aside tomato-dal puree and stir continuously to ensure no lumps are formed. Add salt and curry leaves.  Mix well. Give it a boil, lower the flame and let it simmer for an hour and a half stirring at regular intervals. Switch off the gas. Add the kokam pieces and cover with a lid for some time. Serve hot with steamed Basmati rice and Aloo Tuk or French Fries.

KOKI (Spiced unleavened bread)

Serves: 5 (A Koki each)

Cooking time: 7-8 minutes for one Koki

INGREDIENTS

l 3 cups wheat flour

l 2 medium-sized onions (finely chopped)

l 6 green chillies or as per taste (finely chopped)

l Handful of coriander leaves (finely chopped)

l 2 ½ tbsp ghee to be added to the flour

l 2 tsp ghee (for roasting each koki)

l Salt to taste

l Sufficient water to make the dough

METHOD

Add finely chopped onions, green chillies and coriander leaves to the wheat flour. Add ghee and salt to the flour. Add just sufficient water to make a semi soft dough.

Make equal portions. Roll out each portion like a thick round chappati. With a knife make a design of diagonal lines – crisscrossing each other from one end of the chappati to the other.

This is to ensure that the Koki gets cooked well. Rub the tava with a dab of ghee and cook the Koki on a low flame (adding ghee when flipping to the other side) till golden. Serve hot, with dahi and papad.