Govardhan pooja is an extremely important festival in the Hindu religion. It is celebrated on the first day of Shukla paksha in the month of Kartik. The festival is a dedication to nature and Lord Krishna as it commemorates the victory of the Lord over Indra (the lord of rain).

This year, Govardhan pooja is being celebrated on Monday, 28th of October. On this day, an effigy of Govardhanji is made from cow dung on the ground and is bedecked with flowers. Water, fruits, milk, sweets, incense sticks, kumkum and rice are also offered to the Govardhan effigy. According to Hindu scriptures, on this day, Lord Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan on his little finger to save the people of Vrindavan from the wrath of Lord Indra. Since then, people of Vrindavan and rest of the country consider Govardhan Mountain, the real God as it provided shelter in severe conditions and also provided the way to live life.

The day is also known as ‘Annakut pooja’. Annakut means a mixture of various cereals which is used as an offering for Lord Krishna. It is an integral part of this festival. Therefore on this auspicious day, devotees prepare 56 or 108 varied food items to offer as bhog to the deity. This Annakut Prasad is then distributed amongst the devotees. Various dishes such as Kadhi, boiled rice, mix vegetable, poori, halwa etc. are prepared with full devotion. Annakut is generally organised on large scale in temples. This religious ceremony is called ‘Bhandara’, a feast for all. Not only in temples, but Annakut is also prepared in almost every house of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

Here are the recipes of the five most important dishes that form a vital part of Annakut Prasad:

Serves: 4-6

Preparation time: 60 minutes

Cooking time: 60-90 minutes

Kadhi

Take 1 litre of sour curd. Add 2 litres of water and 6 tablespoons of besan (chickpea flour) in it. Beat all these ingredients together with a hand mixer until smooth. Transfer this mixture in a thick-bottomed big kadai. Give a boil on high flame adding two teaspoons of turmeric powder and salt according to your taste, stirring occasionally. Simmer on low flame for 60 minutes stirring occasionally. In the meantime, prepare pakodas for kadhi. Make a thick batter mixing a three-fourth cup of besan with adequate water. Beat well until fluffy. Add a little salt, a pinch of hing powder and one-third teaspoon of baking soda (to make pakodas very soft). Mix well. Heat pure ghee in a frying pan for deep frying the pakodas. Using your fingers pour small portions of batter in hot oil to make lemon size round pakodas. Fry them until golden brown. Take them out on a tissue paper. Add these pakodas in simmering kadhi after kadhi is almost cooked. After adding pakodas in the kadhi, simmer it for 10 more minutes on low flame. Turn the flame off. Now prepare the tadka. Heat two tablespoon of pure ghee in a pan. Add a pinch of hing powder, a pinch of fenugreek seeds, one teaspoon of mustard seeds, one teaspoon of kasuri methi and one and a half teaspoon of red chilli powder. Put this tempering in prepared kadhi and mix gently. Kadhi is ready.

Boiled rice

Wash two cups of basmati rice thoroughly. Soak them in water for an hour. Boil two litres of water in a big pan. When a boil comes on high flame, turn the flame low and add soaked and drained the rice. Add one teaspoon of salt and one tablespoon of pure ghee. Mix gently and let the rice boil on medium-low flame until cooked. When the rice becomes soft, turn off the flame and strain the remaining water with the help of a big strainer. Discard the water and transfer the boiled rice in the strainer to a serving dish.

Mix vegetable

Take one medium size brinjal, one potato, three tomatoes, one carrot, one small cabbage, one small cauliflower, one small radish and three inches long piece of bottle gourd. Peel carrot, potato, radish and bottle gourd. Wash all the vegetables thoroughly. Chop them in small pieces. Take half a cup of peas. Heat a pressure cooker and add one tablespoon of pure ghee in it. Add one teaspoon of cumin seeds and a pinch of hing powder. When cumin seeds start to crackle, add chopped tomatoes. Cook until a little tender. Add one teaspoon of turmeric powder. Stir and add rest of the chopped vegetables and peas. Give a stir. Add one teaspoon of red chilli powder, two teaspoons of coriander powder and salt according to your taste. Add one-fourth cup of water. Give a good stir. Close the lid. Give one whistle on high flame. Then simmer on low flame for 20 minutes. Turn off the flame. When the pressure releases, open the lid. Add fresh coriander leaves and mix well. If some water remains in the bottom of the cooker, simmer the vegetable open on medium-low fame stirring occasionally until the water dries away. Serve this vegetable with kadhi and boiled rice.

Poori

Take two cups of wheat flour. Add a little salt. Make a stiff dough adding enough water. Keep it to rest for an hour in a closed container. After an hour, add one tablespoon of melted pure ghee and knead the dough again until soft and smooth. Make small balls of lemon size out of the dough. Roll the balls in a circular shape like poories. Heat pure ghee for deep frying the poories. Fry them one by one until golden brown on both sides. Poories are ready for bhog.

Halwa

Take two cups of suji (semolina). Heat a thick bottomed kadai and add suji in it. Add one and a half cup of pure ghee and cook suji stirring occasionally on low flame until it becomes light brown in colour. In the meantime, make sugar syrup, boiling eight cups of water with one and a half cup of sugar. Turn off the flame after a boil comes. When the suji is cooked, add this sugar syrup in it keeping the flame low and stirring continuously to avoid lumps. When the syrup is completely absorbed by the suji, turn off the flame. Serve this halwa with rest of the Annakut Prasad.

Govardhan pooja is celebrated with great vigour in major parts of India generally a day after Diwali. Offer this homemade ‘Annakut’ to Lord Krishna and seek his blessings on this pious occasion.

Shubh Govardhan Pooja!