The monthly theme based challenge of the Shhhh Cooking Secretly group has helped me to explore the cuisines of every part of India. Trying to decide on a dish which fits into the theme, and which includes the 2 secret ingredients the partner for the month stipulates, can be a tough exercise. Take for example, this Ker Sangri that I prepared for the Rajasthani cuisine for July 2019. I wanted to make something uniquely Rajasthani and yet a little different and special.
My partner for the month, Sharanya (more about her, later) had suggested Amchur powder (Mango Powder) and Ajwain (Fennel Seeds) as the 2 ingredients I needed to use in the recipe. This was not a problem as these two spices are used widely in Rajasthan’s cuisine and there were a number of suitable recipes. But to find something a little uncommon or unusual (at least to those of us who are not from the area and are more familiar with dal baati churma or kadhi or gatte ki sabzi – yes, that was the actual challenge.
About Ker Sangri from Rajasthan’s Thar Desert Area
Idly searching my cookbook collection and recipes for Rajasthani cuisine online, I came across this little gem. Ker sangri. Both ker and sangri are from the Thar desert area where you don’t find much of green vegetation. The ker and khejri trees however, are able to survive and flourish in this difficult environment, thrusting their roots deep into the earth for precious water. Ker berries are from the ker tree, and sangri are the pods or ‘beans’ from the khejri tree. The berries and pods grow only for a short period during the year, and hence they are plucked and dried for use during those times when no vegetables are available to add to the cooking pot. Here is an account I found interesting and informative, a traveler’s tale on the kair sangri curry and you may like it too!
Ker Sangri is popularly made into a pickle (which sounds delicious from what Ive read, but I haven’t tasted this so far). Once I started browsing recipes, I found there were different ways of making ker sangri. I have broadly adapted a recipe from this little book I discovered, called Marwari Kitchen. The recipe however did not require the cooked ker and sangri to be sauteed, but to be added to the tempering, and I deviated from this process. The recipe in the Marwari Kitchen also had Lotus root/ stem (I never know what to call it) or kamal kakdi, and this sounded interesting.
One popular way of using ker and sangri is in the 5 ingredient Panchkuta Sabji, that is made from dried ker, sangri, gunda (gum berry/ chorda myxa), kumat (seeds of the acacia fruit) and dry mango slices. I wanted to make this, but I was able to locate only ker and sangri online for purchase. When I do get hold of the other ingredients, I will make this Panchkuta sabji which sounds very tasty too.
I have a sneaky feeling that the recipe in the book referred to, intended to use Gunda as the ingredients listed ‘Lotus stem/ gunda’, and perhaps mistook this to be the Hindi/ Rajasthani name for kamal kakdi. All my reading up has suggested, as I have explained above, that gunda actually refers to seeds of the acacia fruit, found in the desert region. The lotus root did taste very good when included in the sabzi, and added to the texture too, so I decided to go with this version, though I am not sure that a traditional recipe for ker sangri would include Lotus Root. I would love to get this clarified by my Rajasthani readers!
Keeping in mind that this dish is prepared at times when there are no fresh vegetables available in the desert regions, I have not put in green chilies, coriander leaves etc. Only dried vegetables, dry spices and spice powders are used, along with a little curd.
As I had said earlier, I had made this dish for Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge FB Group. My partner for the month, Sharanya, blogs at Sara’s Tasty Buds. If you visit her blog you will find a variety of recipes from this versatile Food Blogger. I specially liked and would like to try out her Kongu Recipes, from Tamil Nadu’s Kongunadu region, as my family are from the same region too!
When I discussed the theme to give her the names of 2 ingredients, she explained that sourcing non-local ingredients is difficult for her as the online deliveries are not reliable. I therefore suggested channa dal (Bengal gram) and Ghee which are usually available in any Indian kitchen. You can see how she has made good use of these ingredients and had prepared a traditional Dal Baati Churma. This is one of my favourite meals when I visit Rajasthan. Dal Batti with ghee and with a large glass of chaas!
This Post is sent to the Event Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, for the theme Rajasthani Cuisine. A little about this group: This was started by Priya of Priya’s Versatile Recipes and is now administered by Mayuri Shah of Mayuri’s Jikoni. Each month the member food bloggers are paired up and give each other the names of 2 secret ingredients to cook with, according to the theme for the month. If you’re interested in joining this exciting group then please leave a message in the comments!
Other Indian Recipes You May Like on this Blog
Bharwa Karela: Bitter Gourd Stuffed with Raw Mango and Onion
Ker Sangri with Lotus Root / Tradtional Rajasthani Subzi
- Pressure Cooker
- Frying pan
For Soaking Overnight
- 3 cups Dry Sangri Beans – 100 grams
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 1 teaspoon Sunflower oil – or other vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2.5 tablespoons Dry Ker / Kari/ Kair Berries – 25 grams
- Water (for soaking, rinsing)
For Pressure Cooking
- 1 Lotus root/ stem
- Soaked, rinsed, drained Sangri – (as above)
- Soaked, rinsed, drained Ker – (as above)
For Making Ker Sangri Sabzi
- 3 tablespoons Sunflower Oil – or other vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon Rai /Mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon Jeera / Cumin Seeds
- 1 teaspoon Saunf / Fennel Seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon Ajwain / Carom Seeds
- 3 -4 Dry Red Chilies
- 1/4 teaspoon Hing / Asafoetida Powder
- 3 tablespoons Dry Raw Mango strips – Sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon Haldi Turmeric Powder
- 1.5 teaspoons Kashmiri Red Chili Powder / Degchi Mirch
- 2 teaspoons Dhania / Coriander Powder
- 1 teaspoon Amchur / Dry Mango Powder
- 1 teaspoon Mustard Powder – optional
- 2 tablespoon Curd / Plain yogurt – Beaten curd
- 2 teaspoons Raisins
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt – or to taste
To Soak Ingredients Overnight
- Rinse Sangri, drain it and add water about 1" above the surface of the sangri. Add turmeric powder, oil and salt as listed in ingredients above, and stir. Soak overnight or for about 8 hours
- Rinse the Ker 3-4. You will find a sooty grey dust-like material coming from the Ker. Drain, and soak overnight (or for about 8 hours) with water about 1/2" above the surface of the Ker berries.
To Pressure Cook Ker Sangri and Lotus Root
- Take one long Lotus root/ stem. Peel it and slice into rounds. Keep the peeled root soaked in water till you slice it as it easily discolours. As you slice, Immediately place the slices in a bowl of water.
- Drain the soaked ker berries and sangri beans and rinse again. Drain and place in a pressure cooker. Add drained lotus root slices.Add sufficient water to cover the surface of the ker, sangri. Pressure cook for 2 whistles. Let the cooker cool on its own.
- Once the pressure cooker has let off steam, open and drain the vegetables. Rinse and drain once more. Set aside till required.Slice the mango strips into small thin pieces Measure and keep all ingredients ready for making the ker sangri sabzi
To Make Ker Sangri with Lotus Root Sabzi
- Heat oil in a pan. Keeping the heat on low, add mustard seeds and once they crackle, add cumin/ jeera seeds.Add Fennel/ saunf seeds and Carrom/ ajwain seeds.Remove the stalks from the red chilies and saute for a few seconds, turning the chilies in the pan so that both sides are fried.Add Asafoetida/ hing powder. Add the raw mango slices.Saute for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the pressure cooked and drained ker, sangri, lotus root. Stir
- Keeping the heat on low, add turmeric powder, kashmiri red chili powder / degchi mirch, coriander powder, mango powder / amchur, mustard powder (if using) and stir well. Saute for 1 minute
- Beat the curd with a whisk or fork and add. Stir it into the sauteed masala.Add Raisins and salt. StirSaute and let the sabzi cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently as the masala powders tend to stick to the bottom of the pan and char. Scrape any masala you find sticking to the pan.No water is added while cooking the ker sangri.Remove from the heat, transferring the sabzi to a serving vessel.Serve with rice and dal and roti. It tastes amazing with poori too.