Maharashtra….as it is rightly called (Maha – huge, Rashtra – land or country) is a huge state and hence has a wide variety within its cuisine. The food in the coastal belt primarily Mumbai and Konkan (Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg etc) has mild spicy sweet and sour flavours with extensive use of fresh coconut. Whereas when you move away from the coast into the state, its more of spice, red chilli and an extensive use of peanuts and dry coconut! Its interesting to see how a Baingan ka Bharta (wangyache bharit) or Bharli Wangi can be made in two different ways using different combination of ingredients and spices in two different regions of the same state.
Khandesh is one such region in North Maharashtra..rich in earthy flavours and spices. Be it Bharith Bhakari, Bharali wangi, Mutton rassa or the Khaprachi Pooran Poli (its not the regular pooranpoli.. its almost made like a roomali roti without using a rolling pin and roasted on a huge inverted kadhai called khapar…you have to see the women folk making it.you just miss a beat when the stuffed poli leaps in the air and lands on the pan) The spice content in the food is so high that it will make an unaccustomed person run for ice!! But it is Jalgaon from this region that gave us the ultimate Shev Bhaji!! A spicy delight, relished with rice or Jowar Bhakri’s that absorbs some of the spice and makes it enjoyable!! And its quick with limited ingredients and simple!!
A classic recipe thought to me by my Mom in Law!!
1 Cup Shev (its like our spicy red thick sev, only its little hard and not khasta like the ones you get in the farsan shop, you have to ask for the subjiwala sev from the market)
1 medium Onion (chopped)
8 to 10 cloves of Garlic
1/2 Cup Grated roasted Dry Coconut (khopra)
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin (jeera)
1 1/2 tsp Red chilli powder
1/2 tsp Turmeric (haldi)
1 tbsp Kala masala
3/4 tsp Namak Shamak (salt)
Chopped Coriander leaves for garnish.
a pinch of hing
Roast the garlic and the dry coconut in a little oil till fragrant.
Pound together the roasted garlic cloves and the dry coconut to a paste without adding any water in a mortar and pestle. You can also use a grinder
Heat oil in a kadhai and add mustard and cumin seeds. Once they splitter add hing.
Add the chopped onions and saute till they are translucent. Add the garlic and khopra paste and saute on a low flame for a min.
Add turmeric followed by red chilli powderand finally the kala masala and mix well. Add a tbsp of water to prevent the masala from burning. Saute till the oil seperates and floats on top.
Now add 1 1/2 cup water and mix well. Bring it to a boil you can add hot water to save time) Add the shev to the boiling gravy and let it simmer for 2 mins. The gravy might turn a little frothy due to the shev absorbing the gravy.
Tip: You can saute the masala in advance and keep. At the time of cooking simply add water to the masala and boil..add shev and serve hot. Since the sev has a tendency to absorb water, it is advisable to make this bhaji just before serving the meal.
Shev bhaji tastes best with rice bhakris and raw onions.