The power of native cuisine cannot be underestimated! It forms the pinnacle of good health practices which is slowly becoming apparent. Whether it was a varan bath , a khichda or any one of the innumerable lentil based dishes that exist in the Indian culinary repertoire, Indian cuisine has not truly been explored for its health benefits.
There’s no one writing about the antioxidant benefits in a katachi amti , for example, so naturally a lentil salad with quinoa and tofu is thought to be the better vegetarian option in nutrition.
We need to change this mindset and it is never too late to do so. With far too many people having to take Vitamin B injections and the like, it is obvious that there is an alarming reduction in protein intake the right way. The frightening world of protein shakes with fancy flavours is looked at as the only way to build muscle and strengthen the organs while the staggering variety of dals ,available in India, stand aside like mute spectators.
We have dals which are meant to be eaten for special occasions, according to the seasons and in combination with other native ingredients in a specific ratio. That is the best and only way to imbibe the right quantity of nutrients in a manner which is easily digestible.
Harbhara Chana Dal
Chana dal is one of the more popular lentils aside from Tuvar. But even that has been hit by hybridisation and chemical farming practices. The desi variety of chana dal is the harbhara dal which is smaller and extremely nutritious. This is an heirloom variety which is native to Maharashtra and is a key ingredient in traditional Marathi sweets and dal based dishes.
The famous puranpoli , made with heirloom wheat, jaggery and harbhara dal is enjoyed during special occasions. On the Two Brothers Organic Farms Instagram page there is a video of Durga Tai along with a family member ,preparing puran poli for Akshay Tritya celebrations.
The khapli atta is kneaded and rolled out on a thin muslin cloth to prevent sticking . The stuffing is a mix of desi harbhara chana dal and jaggery. The dal is roasted to break down the protein fibres and then pounded to make the stuffing along with the natural cane jaggery. The puranpoli is cooked on the tava with desi ghee which further helps in the absorption of the harbhara dal.
What may seem like a simple everyday Indian kitchen scene is actually one that is a treasure trove of food education. The native variety of Dal when cooked in this manner does not create trouble in the gastric tract. The ingredient has been treated in a manner in which the body gets the benefits of nutrition without the slightest bit of stomach discomfort. It is so different from eating a chila made with commercial besan or a vadai made with hybrid chana dal.
Our desi cow ghee and cold pressed oils are a necessary fat medium to help in the absorption of native lentils. Harbhara chana dal cannot exist in isolation and add nutritive benefits without the other supporting ingredients which assist in building a strong immune system.
The harbhara dal is delicious when made into a flour. It can be roasted and added to seasonal native foods to make delicious bhajiyas like the ajwain leaf pakora. There is a real connection which we feel towards eating according to the seasons. It is in our cell memory which is why we crave for fried foods in the rainy season.
A referral to Rujuta Diwekar must be made here because she has changed stubborn mindsets with her pragmatic approach to enjoying Indian foods the way our ancestors did. It is to be eaten according to the seasonal growth pattern and without having to pay attention to Western food experts pushing their misguided opinions about Indian food ,down our throats !
Commercial hybrid chana dal vs harbhara dal
The belief that we are unable to digest Dals because we may be intolerant to certain foods is a notion that is widely perpetuated because no one is pointing us in the right direction to avail accurate information.
The human body is a complex and highly intelligent mechanism which will react unfavourably to a modified ingredient versus a heirloom food.
That is exactly the case today.
It is a fallacy that we may be allergic to lentils. Vegetarians are commonly misguided and asked to have protein supplements instead. The answer lies in choosing the native ingredient over the hybrid. A hybrid food is one that has been altered to suit the convenience of the farmers who have not understood the repercussions of such agricultural practices. To make a food resilient to certain pest attacks or to have it grow faster or to a shorter height are the ways in which we tamper with nature. This has a direct bearing on health.
Heirloom foods on the other hand have existed for a few hundred years and survive changes in climate and can withstand pests to a larger extent. The output will be less in comparison to commercial crops because neither is the plant or soil being plundered when producing food.
When we fail to teach ourselves the importance of native foods, the farmers which are conscientious keepers of the environment will dwindle down to a small number. Ingredients like the harbhara dal will not only fade from the memory of our elders but we won’t be able to source it for future generations.
Glossy packets of commercial chana dal and besan are whisked off the shelf into waiting supermarket trolleys with little information about the choices which exist.
Let’s start with the harbhara dal and make our way into the incredible world of native lentils, pulses and legumes which are the soldiers to our heirloom rice and wheat chieftains. It’s time to make the switch.
This festive season, we went all out to honour this protein rich desi staple that has forever been in our farmer kitchens. We used this Desi Chana atta to make a variety of sweet savoury snacks - Pudina Green Chilly Sev, Masala Namkeen Sev, Tomato Red Chilly Sev, Damtyache Laaddoo, Masala Boondi and so on!
Do not think twice before giving these snacks a try! They are made using Desi Chana Atta made inhouse! These are not protein formulas in a bottle, but food tradition and generations of food wisdom treated with respect.
RECIPE -CHANA DAL, PANEER AND PUMPKIN CURRY - A DELICIOUS FAMILY RECIPE
Shop the Two Brothers Handcrafted Harbhara Chana range - Tomato Chilly Sev, Pudina Sev, Masala sev, and Masala Boondi - Shop Now
Get our first recipe book, SWAAD - For family heirloom recipes using Harbhara Chana - Buy Now