Though it is a common dish in most Odia households, today's ghanta tarkari is special. This one day of the year...everybody looks forward to ghanta tarkari...not just the one cooked in their house but those cooked by their neighbors.
As a child I remember my grandma and mom preparing for this special dish at least a couple of days ahead of this day. They would soak whole moong and chana overnight and drain them the next morning, carefully leaving it in a vegetable strainer with a lid on so that the warmth would germinate the seeds.
And then the day before they are supposed to cook a huge dekchi full of ghanta tarkari, they would shop for all kinds of vegetables...almost all kinds of vegetables go into this single dish.
Loads and loads of vegetables are cut in the morning. Coconut is scraped or cut into tiny bits.
Women of the house gather to discuss how Renu apa's ghanta tarkari was awesome last year or how Meena apa's ghanta tarkari could have been better. Grandma would analyze what made our ghanta tarkari the second best in the neighborhood and suggest ways how mom could balance the amount of different vegetables, how adding some more pumpkin this year would make this year's ghanta score 10/10 for our family. A silent ghanta tarkari competition of sorts.
As children, how we loved running around distributing hot ghanta tarkari to all our neighbors. And sampling all the ghanta tarkaris from our neighbors' kitchens.
In north India, people exchange sweets on Diwali. In Odisha, today is the day when people exchange ghanta tarkari with friends and relatives. And if you are wondering what labor goes into it, here's the simple recipe of how I cooked my ghanta tarkari this morning.
- Pointed gourd/ parwal (potala) - 6 pieces
- Indian beans (simba) - 6-7 pieces
- French beans (bean) - 200g
- Cow beans/black eyed beans/lobia (jhudunga) - 250g
- Brinjal (baigana) - 200g
- Ash gourd (paani kakharu) - 250g
- Cucumber (budha kakudi) - 1 big one
- Carrot - 1
- Radish -1
- Colocasia roots/arbi (saru) - 4 pieces
- Pumpkin (kakharu) - 750 g
- Elephant apple (oau) -1/4 ( use one that's not ripe and not too young...young ones taste bitter; The fruit has many layers of flesh and it is hard on the outside. First cut this fruit into half. Remove the inner portion. Separate the layers and cut then into thin long pieces. Always better to remove the skin of the outer layer. The inner portions are slimy, carefully cut it. For this recipe, I prefer to coarsely crush the pieces.)
- Spouts of moong and chana - 1 1/2 cup (I love sprouts)
- Turmeric powder (haladi gunda) - 2 tsp
- Ginger (ada) - 1 inch cut into small pieces and crushed
- Bay leaves (teja patra) - 2
- Cumin seeds (jeera) - 4 tsp
- Red chillies (sukhila lanka) - 6
- Coconut – cut into small pieces (kata nadia) - 1/4cup
- Coconut - scraped (kora nadia) - 1/2 cup
- Refined vegetable oil (tela) - 2 tablespoons
- Salt to taste
Roast half the cumin seeds and red chilies in a pan and then make rough powder of the same. Keep it aside.
Cut the vegetables after thoroughly washing them. Boil all the cut vegetables (except the elephant apple). Add salt, turmeric powder, ginger, bay leaves. When the vegetable are almost cooked, add the sprouts and the coarsely crushed pieces of elephant apple. The elephant apple adds a tangy taste to the tarkari. Adding it earlier may mean you will need more cooking time for the other vegetables. After adding the sprouts and elephant apple, cook for 2 minutes.
Heat oil in another pan. Add the cumin seeds and 3 red chillies to it. After they crackle, add the boiled mixture of vegetables etc. and stir continuously. Add the coconut pieces. Put the pan on low flame for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the scraped coconut. Add the cumin seeds and red chilli powder to the pan and stir well. Now your Ghanta is ready to be served.