This hard-core Bong has learnt a lot from her neighbours and friends from the Northern part of the Country. I cherish my stay there and interaction with people. I have witnessed many rituals and programmes there and learned typical North Indian Cooking from some amazing home cooks. They were kind enough to share their secrets of cooking with me. Be it the preparation of Sheera to reduce the effect of cough and cold or proper process of making Sarson ka Saag or a perfect No Onion No Garlic Sookha Kala Chana along with Poori: a must have during the Navratri especially on Navami. This platter of Sookha Kala Chana with Poori is incomplete without homemade Sooji Halwa.
I personally found two Northern celebrations superb: Kanjak ceremony or Kanjaki Poojan and Lohri. Both these programmes have strong relation with a girl child as girls are worshiped on both. Another similarity I found between these two is making of Special Food! Kanjak ceremony is incomplete without Sookha Kala Chana with Poori and Lohri is incomplete without having Sarson ka Saag te Makki ki Roti. I have already wrote about the later so this time it is turn of Sookha Kala Chana with Poori which is a Navratri Special food. Sookha Kala Chana is similar to Chole (prepared with Kabuli Chana) or Bengali Ghughni (prepared with Peas) where Black chickpeas or Chola (in Bengali) is used and no onion and garlic is used while cooking since it is prepared as part of Prasad. Poori requires no further introduction; Poori is a famous Indian fried flatbread prepared with Whole Wheat Flour and basic difference between Poori and its bong brother Luchi is, we Bongs prepares Luchi with All Purpose Flour or Maida.
Comoing to the Kanjak Ceremony, I learned about the details of this ritual from Samita Auntie who was my landlady in Gurgaon. Kanjak Pooja means Kanya Pooja or worshiping girls considering them Avtar or Devi Durga. As per the custom 9 girls along with a boy worshiped on the 9th day of Navratri and they are feed with Shooka Kala Chana , Poori and Halwa. I am celebrating this festival since last three years and I have modified it a bit. Every year I prepare Sookha Kala Chana with Poori and Halwa for around 25 children including my little one and this list includes at least 10 underprivileged children from the neighbourhood. It gives me immense pleasure to feed them in my place.
Coming to the cooking part, every year I soak Kala Chana or Black Chickpeas overnight and start cooking early in the morning to finish entire cooking before 11 a.m. I don’t use onion and garlic in cooking for this particular day and follow traditional ingredients while cooking. I prefer to use Whole Wheat Flour for making Poori and Homemade Ghee to temper Sookha Kala Chana. I am sharing the recipe for 10 people here for the ease of the viewers.