Kanjak Pooja is celebrated on the eighth day of Navratri. Kanjaks, or girls eight years old and younger, are said to be divine manifestations of the feminine power (or Devi). On this day in many parts of India, little girls are invited to households and their feet are washed, and worshippers seek their blessings before feeding them plates of poori, chana, and halwa. Afterwards, they are gifted with treats, toys, and money, and then everyone else is allowed to enjoy prashad (or holy food) of poori, chana, and halwa. Little girls look forward to Kanjak Pooja as much as children in the West look forward to Halloween. (After all, who doesn’t love treats and presents?) Nowadays, with the grueling demands of modern life, it is difficult to uphold this tradition, particularly outside of India. Therefore, many just offer prashad to a shrine at the local Hindu temple. Hubby dear and I have been eating pretty clean and healthy the past couple of months, and we were eagerly awaiting this day to finally indulge in some ghee and fried food 🙂 I guess a lot of people were eagerly awaiting this day; a quick search of #kanjak on Instagram yielded some pretty cute pictures of little kanjaks dressed in adorable outfits, and plates and plates of ghee-laden halwa, crispy pooris, and yummy chana! The poori/halwa/chana recipes that I made for Kanjak Pooja this year, are from Veg Recipes of India, and I have included the links and some helpful hints below. The recipes from this site are always spot to make simple, delicious vegetarian dishes.
*Great, easy recipe to make fluffy pooris. A few years ago, I had picked up a chapati press at a local Indian store. Well, it never quite worked to flatten out rotis to the right consistency and shape, but worked like a charm to flatten pooris. I wrapped the top and the bottom halves with plastic wrap, for easy removal of the pooris and easy clean up. Making pooris is now easier than ever and I faithfully use this device once-a-year 🙂
Curried Kala (or black) Chana:
Recipe: Dry Kala Chana
*This was my maiden effort in making kala chana and not only was it super tasty, but easy to make as well. I plan to make this dish more often as it has a lot of protein and is filling. It goes well with rotis, bread, or rice. You can also put it on top of a bed of lettuce for a tasty salad. The only adjustment I made to this recipe was pressure cooking the beans first, then draining the water into a bowl, and then I incorporated the oil/salt/masala step. (Because this version was for pooja (or holy food), I did not add onion. The only masala I used was garam masala, turmeric, a bit of red chili powder, amchur (or dried mango powder), and rock black salt, all to taste. I also incorporated the ginger strips and the chopped green chills.) I pressure cooked this mixture with a half cup of water, for one whistle, to incorporate the masala with the beans and to cook the strips of ginger, thoroughly. The water is absorbed by the beans and the result is a wonderful tangy masala creation. After the chana had cooled down, I garnished it with chopped cilantro.
Recipe: Saffron Sooji Halwa
*I made this recipe exactly as written and the results were outstanding. Soft, fluffy, and mildly sweet halwa. I pressed the cooled halwa on a pie plate and decorated the top with slivered almonds.