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Hail Hurda!

I have heard so many lovely stories about hurda parties. My aunt tells me that family and friends used to gather in the farms, roast the hurda on cow dung fire and eat it hot with a variety of garlic and peanut chutneys, and creamy dahi. Fresh sugarcane juice or buttermilk and homemade peanut chikki were also served. Storytelling and singing went on through the evening while relishing the delicious hurda.

Roasting the hurda Hurda is a tender jowar (known as sorghum in English) grain available right before the winter harvest. After plucking the jowar grains, they are roasted on dried cow dung. These cow dung cakes are an excellent roasting medium — slow and long lasting, and a taste that cannot be matched with regular gas fires. Bunches of hurda along with stems are placed in the hot pit. It only takes about five minutes for the tender grains to get nicely roasted. Those adept at this process have mastered the art of roasting the hurda, as well rubbing the hot hurda using their bare palms. This vigorous rubbing separates the roasted hurda from the outer kernel.

Low on carbs Don’t worry about carbs when eating hurda/jowar — it is one of the healthiest grains you can eat, and in fact, I always recommend eating a jowar bhakri instead of chapati for those trying to lose or maintain their weight. Jowar is commonly eaten with its exterior, which helps it retain the majority of the nutrients and fibre. The plant is very high in iron, has a fairly good protein level and is a good source of phosphorus and thiamine.

It’s hurda time! This is the season for hurda and there are plenty of local farms where you can go to have a hurda party. But don’t fret if you cannot make it to a farm — you can buy hurda from your local vegetable vendor and make a few of these favourites at home:

  1. Roasted Hurda – Simply roast on a low flame for about 5-7 minutes. You can add ghee, salt, lemon or any flavouring of your choice. This is a great snack.

  2. Hurda Chaat — Add onion, tomatoes, chaat masala, dhania powder, jeera powder, red chilli powder, salt and coriander leaves to the roasted hurda and sprinkle with some lemon.

  3. Hurda Usal (Subzi) – Add whichever tadka you like to the pan with a bit of oil (I like green chillies, garlic and jeera), fry some onion, tomatoes and add the roasted hurda. Add some goda masala, salt and a touch of jaggery.

  4. Hurda Raita – A hurda raita is a treat. Make a tadka of jeera, green chilli, and grated ginger, adding hurda and roast. Add dahi to the cooled hurda, add salt and sugar to taste. Garnish with red chilli powder and coriander leaves. You can also add plain roasted hurda to any salad or koshimbir.

  5. Hurda Bhajji (Pakoras) – Take any onion bhajji recipe and replace the onion with hurda. For one cup besan atta, use one cup hurda. You do not need to roast the hurda, they will cook in the hot oil. Serve with spicy garlic chutney.

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