When you have run out of vegetables, make jhunka.
This piece of wisdom that I received from my Punekar friend was worth its weight in gold during the pandemic lockdown. With just besan and my backlog of onions, the barebones jhunka recipe gave me several filling, comforting meals.
So, what exactly is jhunka? Wikipedia defines it as:
…a vegetarian traditional Indian dish prepared in Maharashtra, Goa and North Karnataka. It is essentially a chickpea flour porridge.
Hmmm. Calling it a “porridge” is rather a stretch! Do they mean pithle? I’ll let the matter rest with a Shakespearean reference and point you to the blog becauseanyonecancook, which describes pithle and jhunka with more nuance.
Now that the lockdown is behind us, I can add bells and whistles to the basic jhunka template: a generous sprinkling of ginger, and Spring onions as key ingredient.
[For 2-3 servings]
- Besan (gram flour) – 2 heaped tablespoons
- Salt – to taste
- Red chili powder – 1/4 teaspoon [buy here]
- Coriander powder – 1/4 teaspoon [buy here]
- Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon [buy here]
- Spring onions – 100 grams (~10 stalks)
- Ginger – 1/2 inch stick
- Green chilies – 2
- Mustard seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
- Asafoetida powder – a pinch
- Vegetable or peanut oil – 1 tablespoon
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How To Make Spring Onion Jhunka:
Wash the spring onion to remove any dirt clogs. Snip away the hard ends, peel away dried skin. Separate the white bulb from the long green leafy part.
Chop the white bulb into fine disks, and the green leafy part into 1/2 inch pieces. (Tip: You might find it easier to use scissors for chopping the greens instead of a knife.)
Finely chop or grate/crush the ginger. Dice the green chilies.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan.
Set the heat to medium and add some mustard seeds to the pan. When the mustard seeds have crackled, add a dash of asafoetida powder. Follow with chopped ginger, green chilies and spring onion whites.
Sauté for a minute, stirring regularly.
Stir around, then add the dry spices: coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder. Mix well to coat the spring onion whites with the spices.
Add to the pan chopped spring onion greens.
Give the greens a stir. Cover the pan for two minutes, then uncover and mix in salt to taste.
Tip in the besan.
Stir around with a spoon continuously to let the besan soak in the oil and spices, without any clumping.
Cook covered for another 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle a few drop of water if the besan starts to stick to the botton of the pan. Switch off the heat.
Let the pan rest as-is for at least five minutes. Doing so helps the jhunka build moisture, which in turn helps to dislodge any sticky bits clinging stubbornly to the pan.
Spring onion jhunka is ready.
This dish is traditionally eaten with bhakri, but there’s nothing stopping you from venturing towards other combos too. Here’s one below: chapatis, kachumber salad, toor dal tadka with spinach, spring onion jhunka.
Check out more vegetarian sides that play on the goodness of besan…
- sarson methi kadhi: mustard fenugreek masala kadhi
- bhindi bhujiya besanwali
…and a couple of other recipes to try with spring onions:
- vegetable pancakes with soy dipping sauce
- mushroom spring onion curry
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