“Don’t let the fear of judgment limit your millet journey.” I often say this during my millet workshops. For the women reading my column today, I would like to share something valuable with you ahead of Women’s Day. This is not just about a recipe, but also how you feel when you talk about your food choices and preferences.
I belong to a Sindhi family, and I am married to a Himachali. I have seen diverse cultures. I have met all kinds of people: the worst and the best. As a woman, what kept me going was the freedom I was raised with. I owe a lot to my parents, especially my father. On Women’s Day, I would love to talk about him, because he made me who I am today. While he did not teach me a thing about millets, what he taught me about cooking and other life skills made me the person I am — ‘millet coach’ for all my students and ‘millet queen’ for those who love to call me by this name. From him, I have learnt how beautiful it is to cook, when we cook with our heart. How freely we can bring millets in our everyday food.
With every new batch of six-week millet journey, when I meet my students for one-on-one sessions, I see fear on their face. Fear of sharing their health issues, their eating patterns, their weight, family’s restrictions, and such. Sometimes, they open up when they see other women pouring their hearts out. My question is: why do you fear judgment? People judge only when you allow them. The worst thing is when you become a victim of your own judgment. Don’t be hard on your choices and preferences.
Today’s recipe is street-style Sindhi sanna pakodas. I know there are times when you crave for chaats. Homemade ones — even though fried — are better than processed and packaged. And they are gluten-free.
Read more for the step-by-step recipe. It is without millets, but you can always make them with your favourite millet flour. Try with sorghum flour; you can air-fry them instead of double-frying. I decided to stick to the authentic recipe because once a while, a healthy cheat meal can be indulged.
SINDHI SANNA PAKORA
· 250 gms gram flour (Besan)
· 1 cup finely chopped onions
· ½ cup finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
· 10-15 fresh mint leaves
· 1 finely chopped Green chili
· Rock salt to taste
· Cold-pressed groundnut oil for frying
· For pakora spice, I used the ready-mix one. But you can always mix red chili powder, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida, garam masala and a bit of baking soda.
1. In 250 g gram flour (besan), add finely-chopped onions, fresh coriander/mint leaves, green chilies.
2. Add pakoda masala and mix it. Add optimum water and mix it to form a thick batter. No need to add soda if it is already in the pre-mixed masala. Check for salt. Add only if required.
3. Heat oil in a deep wok. Start dropping small ball sized pakora dough in hot oil. Do not over-crowd the kadai. Fry in small batches. Drain them out once fried.
4. Before second-frying, allow them to cool a bit. Break open the first fried pakoras in two pieces and fry them again in the same wok. You can air-fry, too, and skip second-frying. Fry (or air-fry) till you get crispy golden brown pakoras.
5. Serve hot with green chutney or Sindhi-style tamarind onion chutney.
(Shalini Rajani is the founder of Crazy Kadchi and holds innovative Millets Cooking Workshops for all age groups)