Mohanthal tart, Foxnut Panjiri, Beetroot Kalakand: Reinvent your traditional Janmashtami mithai

The festival of Janmashtami is around the corner and most Gujaratis are busy making a list of festive delicacies they’d prepare on the special occasion. With no public gatherings, Janmashtami celebrations might not be the same this year. However, the pandemic can’t stop us from relishing rich, festive food with our loved ones. This year, bring innovation and creativity to your traditional Janmashtami treats by giving them a healthy, contemporary twist

Traditional vs modern
The festival of Janmashtami marks the birth of Lord Krishna, lovingly called Makhan Chor. “It is said that Lord Krishna loves doodh (milk), dahi (curd) and loads of makhan (butter). Hence, a lot of Janmashtami treats include these three items as core ingredients. Also, Chappan Bhog is offered to Lord Krishna which includes 56 food preparations. Kheer is one of the items which is always a part of the Chappan Bhog,” says Chef and Culinary Expert Reetu Uday Kugaji. Kheer containing rice, milk, sugar, dry fruits, cardamom powder is the most basic, common version and prepared in various parts of India especially in Mathura which is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. However, you can give this traditional kheer a twist with seasonal fruits and natural flavours. “I have tried kheer using ingredients like sabudana (sago), carrots, sitaphal (custard apple), shakarkandi (sweet potato), coconut milk, lychee, orange, thandai and more. There is a lot you can do with a dish, depending on how creative you are,” adds Kugaji.

Go local, seasonal and healthy
India boasts of several regional as well as traditional Janmashtami specialities like malpua, mathri, jalebi, makhan mishri, rabri, panjeeri, kalakand, peda etc and each of these items can be given a twist using local, seasonal, easily-available ingredients. “I’ve always believed that our age-old food practices have been based on seasonality and our festival foods are a wonderful example. Janmashtami typically falls during the monsoon in our country, a season when immunity is most at risk. If you see the typical Chhappan Bhog list, the dishes mostly include some light and other well-cooked and/or fried foods, both in the savoury and sweet categories. Simple, easily digestible foods like gopal kala, panjiri, makhana paag, all provide the body with nutrients while being easy on the stomach. One can experiment with these age-old recipes, without compromising on their freshness and seasonality,” says Chef Ranveer Brar. For example, Bengali malpuas can be made with whole wheat flour and buckwheat flour. They can be dunked in fresh orange juice syrup rather than regular granulated sugar syrup for a fruity twist. At the same time, most millenials wish to enjoy these festive sweets minus high calories. Hence, a lot of these Janmashtami sweets are now prepared using natural sweeteners. “For eliminating or reducing the amount of sugar in a mithai, consider using a healthy sugar substitute like stevia or honey where sugar syrup is needed. Another quick cheat is using yogurt instead of cream,” adds Brar.

Courtesy: Times of India

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