Banarasi cuisine is supposed to be very famous. Unfortunately, I am not very familiar with this cuisine since I have visited Banaras only once. Even on that trip, my food was very restricted since I was on a pilgrimage and did not have any opportunity to savour the local cuisine.
Where I stay (Delhi/NCR), the food tends to be Punjabi rather than from Uttar Pradesh, of which Banaras is a part.
However, having heard so much about Banarasi food, I was keen to try it out. Hence this dish which my masterchef, Hari, prepared with great expertise. I am not a great fan of sponge gourd, but must admit that this dish was really outstanding!
1 cup black chickpeas, soaked overnight
500 gms sponge gourd, sliced
200 gms onions, sliced
4 green chilis, chopped (adjust according to taste)
2 tsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
Rinse and transfer the black chickpeas to a pressure cooker
Add sufficient water (to cover the chickpeas and a little more), salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Cook for 10 whistles or 10-12 minutes
Let the steam release naturally and open the lid
Heat a wok and add the cumin seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the green chilis
Sauté for a minute
Add onions and salt
Continue to sauté till the onions turn translucent
Add the remaining turmeric powder and mix well
Add the sponge gourd and mix well
Cover and cook till the sponge gourd is tender
Use a low flame as slow cooking makes it taste even better
Add the boiled black chickpeas as soon as the sponge gourd begins to release its juices
Mix well and remove from flame
Serve hot with steamed red/brown rice or Indian flat breads
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The cuisine of Uttar Pradesh is just as diverse as its geography. It consists of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Majority of the Uttar Pradesh cuisine comprise of simple and sober vegetarian meals. Dal, roti, subzi and rice constitute the essentials of daily food habits of the locals. Pooris and kachoris are relished on special occasions. Some of the popular preparations of Uttar Pradesh are Dum Biryani, Kebabs, Kulcha-Nihari, Pasanda Kebab, Mutton Kofta, Allahabad ki Tehri etc. ‘Banarasi Paan’ is famous all over the India for its taste and ingredients. It is taken after having the food as peppermint to digest them.
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