Chaitra Navratri is a popular Hindu festival. Lord Rama’s birthday falls usually on the ninth day during this sacred festival. So, it is also called- Rama Navratri. ‘Kanjak’ is a tradition to pay gratitude to Goddess Durga, and the puja is performed either on Ashtami or Navami. On this day, households lose themselves in the sweet aroma of hot suji ka halwa, fluffy hot pooris and masala wale kale chane. The combination of these three dishes makes  the holy Kanjak prasad.

According to the tradition, nine young girls who have not yet hit puberty are welcomed into the house and are offered the Kanjak prasad consisting of halwa, chane and pooris. They are seated in the house with all respect and devotion. Their feet are washed by the lady of the house and then they are tied moli, a red sacred thread, on the wrist. Kumkum and rice are put on their forehead as tilak and then they are fed with the Kanjak prasad. They are sent back to their homes with some gift and cash after completion of all the rituals. The amount is more of a token. In return, these little girls bless the people who invite them.

This ‘Kanya Pujan’ symbolises the feminine power vested in the girl child. These nine girls are seen as the embodiment of Goddess Durga because Navratri festival is dedicated to the nine incarnations of Durga – Shailaputri, Brahmacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kaalratri, Mahagauri and Sidhidhatri.

This year Durga Ashtami is falling on Saturday, 13th April. Many people who fast for all seven or eight days, break their fast on Ashtami or Navami after performing these Kanjak rituals.

The trio of poori, halwa and sookhe kale chane is mandatory to be served as Kanjak prasad as per the Hindu tradition. Suji ka halwa is a special kind of dessert, which is made with ghee, suji, sugar and water. Kale chane is a delicious, low-fat and high-protein preparation, while pooris are deep-fried wheat breads without which Kanjak prasad is considered incomplete. Let us take a look on how to prepare these delicious dishes for this auspicious day.

Serves: 10

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Suji ka Halwa recipe

Ingredients:

Suji: 2 cups

Sugar: 1 ½ cups

Pure ghee: 1 ½ cups

Water: 8 cups

Cardamom powder: ¼ tsp

Saffron strands:  4-5

Raisins:  1/3 cup

Cashews: 1/3 cup

Method:

Heat a thick-bottom non-stick pan.

Put suji in it and saute it on low flame for 15 to 20 minutes stirring, occasionally.

Add pure ghee and mix it well. Keep stirring occasionally on low flame for another 25 to 30 minutes.

In the meanwhile, heat water in a pan adding sugar into it. Stir it to mix the sugar well while on the flame. Remove from fire after the sugar gets dissolved in water. Add saffron and cardamom powder and keep aside.

Pour this sugar water solution in suji mixture. Keep the flame low and stir continuously to avoid the lumps. Keep stirring until the halwa gets thickened. Turn off flame.

Chop cashews coarsely.

Add coarsely chopped cashews and raisins and give a good stir to mix them evenly.

Halwa is ready to serve.

Kale chane recipe

Ingredients:

Kale chane: 3 cups

Water: 8 cups

Salt: 3 tsp

Red chilli powder: 2 tsp

Coriander powder: 3 tsp

Garam masala: 1 tsp

Amchoor powder: 2 tsp

Chat masala: 2 tsp

Kasoori methi: 2 tsp

Cumin seeds: 2 tsp

Hing powder a pinch

Pure ghee: 2 tbsp

Method:

Wash kale chane thoroughly.

Soak them overnight or for six hours in plenty of water.

Drain the water.

Put soaked chanas in pressure cooker and add seven to eight cups of water.

Add salt and give a whistle on high flame. Then simmer on low flame for an hour.

Turn off the flame and keep it aside to allow the pressure to release on its own.

When the pressure comes out, take a pan and heat ghee in it.

Put cumin seeds and hing powder.

After the cumin seeds crackle, add kasoori methi and kala chanas without chana water. Keep the chana water aside, do not throw it.

Add all other spices and mix well stirring occasionally for 10 to 15 minutes on low flame.

Add one to two cups of chana water and let it simmer on low flame until this water dries away.

Turn off the flame.

You can garnish them with fresh coriander leaves.

Poori recipe

Ingredients:

Wheat flour: 4 cups

Salt: 5 tsp

Oil: 2 tbsp

Oil to deep fry

Water as required

Method:

Take wheat flour in a big mixing bowl.

Add salt and mix well.

Add water gradually, mix and knead to make a smooth and stiff dough.

Grease it with two tablespoons of oil and keep aside in a closed container for an hour.

After an hour, make small balls out of this dough to make pooris.

Flatten each ball and grease them with oil.

Roll them with a rolling pin on a rolling board in circular shape having a diameter of 3.5 inches. Pooris should neither be too thin, nor too thick.

Heat oil in a pan for frying.

When the temperature becomes appropriate for frying, deep fry pooris until golden brown flipping on both sides one by one.

Take them out on a kitchen towel to soak excess oil.

Serve hot with halwa and masala chana.

Happy Durga Ashtami And Ram Navami To All!