Along with the sweet dal, this was the first thing I learnt make in the kitchen. A fairly exotic starting point, considering that this shak (meaning a veggie preparation in this case) comprises dry fruits in the main. This shak is often made during the week of paryushan, a week in September when Jain kitchens do not cook any greens and veggies. I wouldnt quite call this a time of austerity since the veggie absence is made up with an overload of dryfruit and besan preparations like the one mentioned below.
I wouldnt imagine people making this very often in their kitchens, but its a good combo to have up your sleeve. Its ingredients need to be procured and pressure cooked, after which it is a breeze to put together. The spices and resultant gravy is also fairly typical, in that there are sweet and sour and spicy notes in every mouthful – the dates make it beautifully sweet and the dried mango beautifully sour.
I’m sending this in to ‘grindless gravies‘ since this is a gravy that, well, doesnt need grinding!
For 5-6 persons, you will start with
Dried dates/ chhuara/ kharek – 20 pieces
Raw groundnut – 1 cup
Cashew – 100 grams (split in half)
Raisins – 100 grams
Dried raw mango – 6 pieces (if salted, wash it with water before putting it in pressure cooker for removing extra salt; and if you live outside Gujarat, I have no clue where you can find it!)
Soak the dates dates, raisins and groundnut separately in clean water for 1-2 hours
Pressure cook the dates, groundnut, raw mango pieces in separate containers till four whistles blow*.
Take a biggish pan/ wok/ kadhai and add 3 tspn oil, ¼ tspn hing, 2 glasses of water, 1 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp haldi/ turmeric powder, 1 1/2 tsp cumin powder and a table-tennis sized ball of jaggery. Let the whole thing boil.
Add the cashew and raisins, let it cook for 2 minutes and add the other ingredients. Let it simmer for 15 min. Add more water if you feel the need for more gravy. And if the gravy feels too thin, add 1 tbsp of besan.
Adjust the chilli, jaggery, salt according to your tastes, and have it hot with chappatis.
NOTE 1: If you shudder at the thought of such quantities of nuts, replace the groundnut, cashew and raisins with peas. Add a handful of cashew for fun and adjust cooking times accordingly. I think the final shak will still be great, it just wont be suitable for paryushan any more!
NOTE 2: As required by grindless gravy rules, this dish uses the following utensils: A pressure cooker, at least 4 cooker containers, and a wok/ pan. That’s not too bad I should think!
* The reason why the ingredients are cooked separately is to ensure that their colours do not leak into one another.