There can be no other adjective to describe this one. In my opinion if the Jhunka is not hot (spicy), then it is not the real thing. Pair it up with Jwarichi Bhaakri (Jollad Rotti), place some Lassun (Garlic) chutney and sliced raw onion and you have a delicious rustic meal ready for you.
But there was a time that I searched for excuses to avoid eating this one. My all time favourite and successful excuse was that it gives me stomachache since it has so much of Besan (chickpea flour) in it. Others included that the Jhunka was too dry or too hot and so on. Funnily enough these are the very reasons, I like Jhunka so much now!
Mom made this on days that we would run out of fresh vegetables or simply as a change from the routine Chapati Bhaji meal. I didn't have the nerve to ask her for the recipe when I was making it, because I knew that I would be definitely taunted about it.....What? You want the recipe for Jhunka? What's wrong with you? Wasn't that supposed to be bad for your stomach? and so on. So I made it as per my recollection of seeing her make it and some guess work on my part. It turned out to be good, exactly the way I like it.
The other version is the Pithla which is gravy like and goes well with rice. In fact Pithla-Bhaat comes a close second as the ultimate comfort food after Varan-Bhaat for many of us.
Although the basic ingredient, Besan, remains the same there are mainly two ways to prepare each one of these. The major difference being the use of either red chilli powder or green chillies. Just altering this one item brings a lot of change to the way Jhunka tastes and looks.
- 1 cup Besan (Chickpea flour)
- 1 tblsp oil
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- 4-6 curry leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 medium sized onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Haldi (Turmeric powder)
- 2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust according to taste & the type of chilli powder, the one I have used is fairly hot)
- salt to taste
Heat oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds. Add the curry leaves and garlic and fry them.
Add the chopped onion and saute until they turn translucent. Add the Haldi and mix. Cook for a minute.
Add the salt and the red chilli powder and mix well. Let this roast for half a minute.
Add 2-3 tblsp of water and bring to a boil. Now add the besan, spoon by spoon while stirring vigorously. Keep mashing with the back of the spoon so that there are no lumps remaining.
Cook the Jhunka on medium-low heat till the besan is properly cooked (it will let out a nice aroma) and keep stirring in between.
As mentioned earlier this is best served with Jwarichi Bhaakri (Sorghum flatbread). But I didn't have the flour on hand to make them, so we made do with Phulkas instead. As mentioned earlier, a lot of guesswork went into this, so I had this Batata Ras Bhaji as a backup, but as it turned out, it wasn't really necessary!
And don't skip the raw onions even if you are averse to them. Apart from enhancing the taste, they also serve the purpose of adding that much needed 'juice' with this 'dry' preparation. And there's always the mint or if you are like me and not too fond of mint, have some saunf (fennel seeds) later on :)
Some variations to the above recipe
- If you want to make the green chilli version, add 2-3 chopped green chillies before adding the chopped onion to the tempering. Adjust the quantity of green chilies according to the spice level & your taste. Proceed as usual and skip the red chilli powder in the next step.
- To make Pithla (Gravy like) increase the amount of water to 1 cup and cook on low flame, stirring in between. When its finally done, it should have a paste like consistency. Pithla is generally made with green chillies but you can always try the red chilli powder version as well.
- Adding chopped fresh coriander leaves takes the Jhunka/Pithla to an altogether different level.
PS: I am of course going to tell Mom that I made this & it turned out well & we finished. or rather scraped it out of the bowl and that I will be making this very frequently, even when the refrigerator is full of vegetables!