Chaitra Navratri 2024: 7 Delicacies To Make For Kanjak Puja
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Chaitra Navratri is an important nine-day Hindu festival celebrated in reverence of the divine feminine. The festival is dedicated to the nine manifestations of Goddess Durga. An important ritual associated with Chaitra Navratri is ‘Kanya Bhoj’. On the ninth day of Navratri, devotees invite young girls to their homes, give them gifts and feed them a ceremonial meal. 

The Kanjak meal is a vegetarian feast usually consisting of puri, halwa, kheer and other sweets. This important ritual is based on the belief that appeasing the divine feminine in the form of little girls pleases the goddess and brings her blessings. By nurturing little girls with love and care, devotees express their devotion to the Goddess, who is the source of life, nourishment and prosperity. The ceremony promotes the upliftment and wellbeing of daughters, which pleases the Divine Mother and brings auspiciousness into our homes and lives.  

Here are 7 prasad recipes that are prepared for Kanjak puja and served with hot puris for Kanya bhoj.

Kala Chana Masala 

To make kala chana masala, first soak dried black chickpeas overnight. Then boil them in a pressure cooker until soft. For the masala, blend ginger, green chilies, cumin, and coriander to make a paste. Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds until cumin crackles. Add ginger-chilli paste and cook, then add chickpeas and stock. Cook on low heat, adding more stock as it absorbs. Season with salt, tamarind or lime, and chopped cilantro. 

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Aloo Tamatar Ki Sabji 

To make this sabji, first heat oil in a large pan over low heat. Add the bay leaves and cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a minute. Stir in the spices and salt. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until soft, and then add mashed potatoes. Mix everything together well, pour in 1-2 cups of water and let simmer for 10 minutes. Finish with some chopped cilantro. 

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Kaddu Ki Sabji 

To make kaddu ki sabji, first heat oil in a large pan and add bay leaves and mustard seeds. Next, add chopped pumpkin and sauté until softened. Add spices along with salt. Pour in some water and simmer the pumpkin until very tender. Once cooked through, mix in jaggery and amchoor powder. Finally, sprinkle fresh coriander on top to finish. 

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Suji Halwa 

Suji halwa is a delightful dessert made from semolina flour that is dry roasted in ghee with sugar syrup and milk. Garnished with crunchy, chopped nuts like almonds, pistachios or cashews. 

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Rice Kheer 

It starts with a base of rice and milk that are simmered together in a deep pan over low heat. As the rice softens and absorbs the creamy milk, the mixture thickens into a rich, soothing pudding. Add sugar, cardamom and saffron. Topped with chopped nuts like pistachios or almonds, this traditional creamy rice pudding is a cherished recipe for kanjak puja. 

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Makhana Kheer 

It is made with fox nuts, also known as makhana. The makhanas are simmered in milk with spices like cardamom and saffron.  

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As the milk thickens, it transforms into a creamy kheer. Garnish it with chopped cashews, almonds, and pistachios, and serve to kanyas. 

Til Chikki 

Til chikki is a classic sweet snack made from just two main ingredients: til (sesame) seeds and jaggery. To make chikki, the sesame seeds are first roasted until they become crunchy. The jaggery is melted down into a syrup. Then the roasted til seeds are mixed into the jaggery syrup and spread out onto a flat surface to cool and harden.

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As it cools, the chikki sets into a brittle, which is crunchy and sweet and can be broken into bite-sized pieces.