H A P P Y H O L I
What could be the perfect recipe for Holi, the season of color announcing the onset of spring in a most vibrant way. Someone would just say “why? take some color, add water and apply to your near and dear ones. Simple.” So true, is nit. Just like this rosh bora recipe, lentil fritters soaked in sugar syrup. Simple and uncomplicated. This is not a great recipe, nor it requires any special skill to make this, no secret ingredients and no two-way of making this sweet. Rules are simple, very forgiving when it comes to shapes and sizes and it taste so good that you just can not stop at one. To some it may sound totally unexciting, but in the midst of fun and frolic when you will pop this drunken lentil fritters in your mouth, the sugary juices will slowly filled your mouth with its sweetness, you will appreciate the simplicity of this sweet and will thank the person whoever might have invented this sweet balls. That is the true essence of this recipe, just like when you need water, you need water only and not any substitutes.
Though Bengali sweets are particularly known for milk based desserts, sweets like rosh bora hardly makes any statement in the huge array of more complicated and evolved chhena mishti. In my home rosh bora makes its annual appearance mostly during Holi and through the years it has gained a permanence among the wide display of sweet and savory platter.
While making this sweet the one ingredient that I have come to appreciate is the versatility of lentils. Lentils are one of the earliest food, dating back to paleolithic ages that helps to survive the human race and it is one of the food with which we have invented a vast range of dishes. Think beyond soup pot and you will know what I am talking about. The beauty of lentils lies in its wonderful power of absorbing the flavours, sweet or savory, it remains impartial. And may be this is the reason why dish like this, so simplistic in nature, so agrarian in origin, it’s undiluted innocence and rustic purity appeals to us most than any fancy desserts.
- Urad dal (split) / Black husked lentils : 1 cup
- Fennel seeds : ½ tsp
- Cardamom pods (green) : 4-5
- Salt : a pinch
- Sugar / date palm / jaggery : 1 cup
- Water : 1½ cup
- Oil for deep frying
- Wash and soak the urad dal overnight or atleast 5-6 hours. If the water is fermneted enough (you will see lots of foam collects on its surface) it will make super spongy fritters.
- Grind the dal to a fine paste by adding little (approx 1 tsp water) or no water.
- Roast the fennel seeds and grind them coarsely. Add it to the dal paste.
- You can add pinch of cardamom powder also.
- Add just a pinch of salt to the paste and give it a nice swirl.
- Take a saucepan, add sugar or jaggery and water. Bring it to a gentle boil and reduce the flame. Keep stirring ocassionally till the syrup thickens slightly.
- Syrup should be on watery side and not thicken enough to coat the back of the spoon.
- Keep the syrup warm.
- In a deep frying pan, heat enough oil to fry the lentil fritters.
- Once the oil is heated enough, lower the heat and try to maintain a constant temperature.
- Scoop a tablespoon of batter and put it in hot oil. Do not overcrowd the pan.
- Fry the fritter on lower heat and fry till it turn golden brown from all sides.
- Drain the oil from fritters on a tissue paper and dunk them immediately in warm syrup.
- Repeat the steps till the batter last.
- Once the fritters soaked enough syrup, place them in a separate bowl. If the fritters drink too much syrup. it will become soggy and will break.
- Add extra syrup only if it requires at all.
Rosh meaning syrup and bora meaning fritters in Bengali and their cosmic union makes a wonderful simple homely dessert sweet. Dessert is more flowery word and this dish is not. The split urad dal (black husked lentils) when soaked overnight, slightly fermented produces this rich creaminess which goes onto make super spongy fritters, primed enough to be dunked in sugary syrup. Try date syrup for a change or our very own nolen gur but I will give saffron a deliberate miss here, as it will add a shahi flavor to the dish and it might lost its pure and rustic innocence.