Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Gharge -- A sweet begininning (Pumpkin based sweet puri)

The New Year is here! I cannot believe that 2007 is already over...seems like yesterday when I published my first recipe on my blog! Last year was a real turning point for me and I am excited to see what lies ahead in this year for me. I would like to wish all my friends and their families a very happy & prosperous 2008 and I hope that all your dreams come true this year!
As this is my first post for 2008, I thought of starting the year with something sweet. With all the channels bombarding us with diet & gym ads, I decided to rebel. Besides this recipe is one that is mildly sweet and does have a fruit in it. I had actually made this during fall when pumpkins were in abundance, but somehow I just did not manage to post it then. Although it may be difficult to find pumpkins in the store now, you can use any pumpkin/squash that is slightly sweeter in taste and it will work just perfectly.
'Gharge' is a very traditional Maharashtrian sweet that slowly is getting lost in time. I love this sweet for two reasons:
First, its just so yummy --- its not too sweet and even people with a limited sweet tooth will enjoy this, and the second reason is that this was something my maternal grandma made a lot for us and has a lot of memories attached to it.
Gharge is basically a sweet puri that has pumpkin as one if its major ingredient. My grandma generally made this on the eve of 'Hartalika puja'. 'Hartalika' is a Maharashtrian tradition where young girls observe a fast and do a puja to obtain an 'ideal groom'. This falls just before Ganesh Chaturthi. The eve of Hartalika is called 'aawarna', which is a time for all the ladies of the house to get together and have a small feast before their upaas (fast) the next day. After all, we do sacrifice good food for a day ! ;) We always followed this tradition and all my cousins and aunts used to come together and celebrate. And for this occasion my grandma always made these delicious Gharge. So lets get straight to the recipe...

Ingredients: (makes 12 gharge)
2 cups pumpkin peeled and grated (I used the mini pumpkins)
1 cup jaggery (gul)
1/2 cup wheat flour (atta/kanik)
1/2 cup fine rawa/sooji
1/2 tsp tup (ghee)
Vegetable oil to fry

Peel and then grate the pumpkin. Traditionally we use the regular pumpkin known as 'laal bhopla' in Marathi, but you can replace these with any variety of pumpkin/squash that is slightly sweeter in taste. Now in a kadhai/pan combine the grated pumpkin and jaggery and cook together. Once the the mixture comes together and the pumpkin is cooked add the ghee to it. Remove from the heat and then mix in the wheat flour and rawa to the pumpkin mixture till everything comes together like a dough. The dough should not be too tight nor too elastic. Note that the wheat flour and rawa have to be in 50:50 ratio. Let the dough cool. Once cooled take a small ball of dough on a plastic sheet and pat it into a small puri with your hand. Heat the oil and then fry the puri until golden brown. Drain the these on a tissue paper and enjoy ! Gharge can be consumed immediately or can easily be stored for 10-15 days at room temperature.