In both Gujarati and Maharashtrian rural cultures, green jowar grains known as Ponkh or Hurda are a seasonal, hyperlocal ingredient that are well-loved. Ponkh Ki Chaat is the most popular, street-side version of the dish found in both states during peak winters. Read on to know more about this ingredient.
A curious sight meets your eyes when you visit the city of Surat in Gujarat during the period between December and February. The city, which is known for its incredibly delicious street foods like Locho, Sev Khamani and more, becomes home to a variety of chaat that features tender green jowar or sorghum grains that are crunchy, juicy and slightly smoky. Known as Ponk, Paunk or Ponkh, this green grain is an incredible way of including seasonal millets in your diet, right? Yes, it is, but Surat or South Gujarat isn’t the only place where this grain is popular.
Also Read: Ponk: A Dry Millet Enjoyed During Winters
Visit Maharashtrian cities like Pune around the same time, and you are likely to find the same (or similar kind of) dish being sold on every street corner. Only this time, Ponkh becomes more popularly known as Hurda. So, in both Gujarati and Maharashtrian rural cultures, green jowar grains are a seasonal, hyperlocal ingredient that are well-loved—though perhaps not as popular as they should be. At a time when the world has its eyes peeled and attention keen on millets of all shapes, sizes and sorts, Ponkh has the right to be noticed, and perhaps even cooked up.
Interested in knowing more about this incredible millet and its most popular version, Ponkh Ki Chaat? Read on and find out more.
Video Credit: YouTube/Kitchen Queens Maryzkitchen
Processing Ponkh: How The Green Grains Are Gathered
In both Gujarat and Maharashtra, the process of extracting tender green Ponkh grains from jowar or sorghum harvests is quite similar. The entire bunches of the harvested plant are either grilled in hot sand or roasted on a tawa or kadhai. In some places in rural areas, the jowar bunches are simply placed near charcoal or other biogas stoves and chulhas so that they can absorb the heat and smoke slowly over a long period of time and cook effortlessly. Meanwhile, other dishes are prepared on the hot chulha that may or may not be served with the Ponkh.
After this, the jowar bunches are placed in large bags and whipped, literally, to separate the grains from the greens. Once separated, and mind you, the husks of the grains are still on, these grains are once again placed in a large kadhai and smoked to separate the husks from the tender green grains nestled inside. Finally, the Ponkh is passed through a sieve to separate the husk from the green tender grains completely, leaving you with just the juicy, green and crunchy element you need to transform your winter chaat into a rare delicacy.
Making Of Ponkh Ki Chaat
Whether you are in Maharashtra or Gujarat, Ponkh Ki Chaat or Hurda Bhel has a few similar elements across the regions. Sev, made with deep-fried besan or gram flour, is a must and adds a layer of crunch on top. Onions are optional, but most people tend to add garlic that has been minced for an added flavour. Peanuts, poppy seeds and sesame seeds are usually added in Maharashtra for added crunchiness, but in Gujarat, spicy chutneys made with garlic and coriander are must-haves in this chaat. In both regions, jaggery is often added in the chaat or on the side as another winter special to enjoy.
If you have access to Ponkh this winter, Ponkh Ki Chaat is the dish that you need to try out without fail. Here is the recipe for you.
2 cups Ponkh
½ tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomatoes, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp tamarind-jaggery chutney
1 tbsp green chutney
1 green chilli, finely chopped
½ tsp chaat masala
½ tsp lemon juice
½ cup sev