Indore will be coloured in all shades of yellow tomorrow for the occasion of Basant Panchami . Right from traditional costumes and floral decorations to the food offerings, the sunny hue will dominate every street and corner. In anticipation of these festivities, we have drawn up a list of yellow delicacies that the city of chatoras can feast on tomorrow. Think meethe chawal, rajbhog, bhutte ka kees and makke ki roti! We take a walk through the basant-tinged markets of the city, that are already preparing for the arrival of spring with a host of special festive savouries...
Meethe chawal, Rajbhog and Nukti rule the day
Meethe chawal remains on top of the Basant Panchami food list for everyone. “There are two categories, one is saffron rice and the other one, which is more common across households, is yellow rice with a sweet flavour. Either way, it is served as a dessert and topped off with generous portions of nuts, silver wark, saffron strands, rose petals and (for those who like it) tutti-fruity chunks,” says Chef Ravinder Singh, who is working on curating a special Basant Panchami menu at a city hotel. For homemakers too, it's a must-have on the occasion.
“It is a tummy-filling dish, where the sweetness can be moderated according to one's palate. And every year, my day begins by making this dessert as an offering for Saraswati puja, which is then devoured by my family,” says Tuli Roychowdhury, a homemaker.
Taking up the second spot on this list is the Bengali sweet rajbhog and the Indori nukti-sev. Almost all the shops see a higher demand for rajbhog on the eve of Basant Panchami. “It is not just the Bengali community, but everyone asks for the dessert to celebrate the occasion. For those two days, our sales of this sweet dish goes up by 50 per cent,” says Vivek Sharma, owner of a sweetmeat shop in the Chappan Dukaan lane.
The malwi counterpart of the day is Nukti – which is nothing but loose boondi, which the locals like to have along with their beloved sev. Hence, the term Nukti-Sev. “It is the most affordable of all the dishes and is equally loved by everyone across the city,” adds Sharma.
Kesari sheera, shrikhand and malpua form rest of the binge story
Besides the rice and rajbhog, Indoreans also indulge in other local dishes that form an essential part of the Basant Panchami offerings. Kesari sheera, also known as kesari bhat, is popular across communities here for its versatility. “It is the easiest to whip up! And almost all the restaurants in town are offering it on their specials menu on that day. This dish can be enjoyed after any meal, because it does not feel heavy and has a nice saffron aftertaste,” says food blogger Riti Chouhan.
Shrikhand, which is available all year round anyway, picks up pace during the spring festival. The deep fried dessert malpua, which is anyway synonymous with Malwi culture, is in the spotlight on the day as well. “Wherever you go in Indore, you will find malpua coming out of fresh woks and being soaked in the decadent chashni. It's served with rabdi, depending on one's preference. On Basant Panchami, many people throng the shops to buy these in dozens,” shares a Madan Bhaiya a vendor from Sarafa. Another Indori delicacy that gets special attention on this occasion is chakki – a dish prepared with roasted gramflour. “Loaded with ghee , it is a Marwari barfi that is made especially during spring festivals like Basant Panchami, Holi, etc. It is considered rich and nutritious,” explains Riti.
For those who like it savoury
Leading the brigade of savoury dishes on this festival is apna Indori Bhutte ka kees, a dish made out of shredded corn. It gives the perfect excuse to people wanting to mark the occasion by eating yellow coloured food without opting for sweet dishes. “It is the best alternative for those who don’t like sweets. The topping of chatpata jeerawan adds the xtra punch to it” says Abhishek Joshi, a management student. And for a full meal, others prefer making a meal out of the Punjabi dish Makke ki Roti and sarson ka saag. “Makke ki roti is preferred by us that day as it is yellow in colour and is a wholesome meal. It is not necessary to have it with sarson ka saag, one can also enjoy it with achaar and chutney” he adds.
Pics: Arpit Joshi