Himachali cuisine(Indian) is a very simple one! Each region in Himachal Pradesh has a distinct form of cooking, with its signature dishes. The cooking method is not very complicated, it does not use too many spices and mostly we guys here up in the mountains pour generous amount of ghee into our dishes.
Mahani is a classic dish that belongs to the Kangra region of Himachal Pradesh. Its a tangy curry with a gram flour base, with sweet and sour notes to it!
I have loved it since childhood, I remember we used to get all excited when this dish was in the menu for dinner. My mum used to patiently roast the besan( gram flour) for minutes on low heat to get that perfect rich brown colour. But even though we used to absolutely love the mahani cooked by my mom, it somehow never used to taste the same as the one that my friends from kangra at school used to get. Theirs used to be a lil different.
It was years later, that one of my friends Sara taught me how to make it the traditional way, and yes it had that distinctive flavour. Ever since my mum’s old way of cooking mahani has been discarded and the one Sara taught me has become our new way of cooking mahani.
Follow the steps carefully, and yes DO NOT FREAK OUT when you look at the amount of oil this recipe calls for! If you have it just once a fortnight or a month it really does not make that much of a difference. The taste definitely makes up for it! Have with hot steamed rice and enjoy the different flavours that this dish offers!
This is the first dish in line of the various Himachali dishes that I will be sharing in the coming weeks.
- 1 cup Bengal Gram( Kale chane)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 cups water
- 5 tbsp mustard oil
- 1/3 tsp asafoetida
- 1/3 tsp methi dana
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 inch ginger julienned
- 2 green chillies sliced lengthwise
For the mahani mix
- 1/2 cup dry mango powder
- 1/2 cup jaggery
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/3 tsp garam masala
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 cup gram flour ( besan)
For the Pakoda/ fritters
- 1 medium onion sliced
- 3 tbsp gram flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
How to make it
1. Wash and soak the gram in hot water for 2 hours( overnight will do).
2. Transfer the gram into a pressure cooker with the water it was soaked in, add the salt and let it cook till the chana are well cooked yet a little firm.
2. Strain and keep the, aside.
3. Add 2 tbsp of water to the asafoetida and keep aside.
4. Mix all the ingredients & add a little water so that you get a tight mix and it holds in your spoon.
5. Heat the mustard oil in a kadahai ( preferably an Iron one), and let it cook till it begins to smoke a little. Allow it to cool for a minute.
6. Now reheat the oil and drop in small (about a tsp) portions of the pakoda mix into the batter. Fry till rich golden brown in colour. Take out and allow excess oil to drain on kitchen paper.
7. To the oil now add the cumin and the methi dana. The cumin will rise to the top while the methi sinks to the bottom. Fry for about 10-20 seconds till the methi dana turns dark brown in colour.
8. Now quickly drop in the mahani mix and stir well. Do not panic, the mixture will bubble and this is absolutely normal.
9. Continue to stir fry till the mix turns a rich golden brown in colour.
10. Add the boiled chana to the mix and stir for a minute. Add in the ginger and stir for a few seconds.
12. Now add in 2 1/2 cups of water and stir continuously till it comes to a boil.
13. Add in the green chillies. This is what the consistency should be, if its if its too thick add in more water.
14. Simmer and add the pakodas to the curry. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
15. Garnish with some corrieander, julienned ginger and green chillies. Serve hot with steamed rice.