Sustainability is increasingly being perceived as the need of the hour. The onus of sustainability does not lie on the shoulders of corporate India alone. It is we, the consumers, who can effect the change at the grassroots level. After all, changing customer preferences are shaping the very way businesses are being run today. So make sustainable living high on your list today for a better tomorrow. The kheer, to me, is symbolic of a sustainable lifestyle that is key to our economic self-sufficiency and development.
A new beginning
Gudi Padva or Ugadi marks the beginning of the New Year for the Hindus, especially in the regions of western and southern India. Along with worshipping of the Gudi in Maharashtra, the festival also heralds the arrival of spring, when warm sunshine ripens the fruit and crops for harvesting.
In Karnataka, Ugadi is celebrated with a purifying bath, in which neem leaves are added to the bath water.
Also prominent is the ritual of Bevu-bella (a mixture of jaggery and neem flowers), which is eaten to purify or detoxify the system. It is symbolic of the bitter and sweet experiences that life hands us, which we should accept with equal aplomb and a positive mindset.
As with every festival in India, on the occasion of Gudi Padva, sweets such as puran poli, shrikhand, sheera and savouries are offered to God during the pooja. While elaborate preparations marked the celebration of this festival ealier, things have changed over the years and recipes that are easy to prepare, yet have all the goodness and feel of festivity, have surfaced, providing a wide array of sweet delicacies to choose from.
Lessons in sustainablility
Before I get to the recipe, I wish to relive some of the sustainable traditions and practices that I grew up watching in my grandparent’s village, Tigadi. A small village in North Karnataka, the highlight of the week was the weekly farmer’s market day, wherein the shopping for the week was done. Right from farm fresh vegetables, fruits to grains, pulses, condiment, nuts and dry fruits, earthen cookware, knick-knacks – everything was sold to the people in the community.
No cash in hand? No worries – barter exchange came to the rescue. Such was the empathy within the community.
Back in the day, they did not have refrigerators and the vegetables lasted them for about three days. After that, they relied predominantly on germinated legumes and pulses. They were generous in sharing the farm produced vegetables with their neighbours. They even planned their crops in such a way that each one could pick and choose a variety of vegetables from each other’s fields for their consumption. This was an understanding they shared.
Looking at our modern lifestyle, we could take a whole lot of life lessons on how sustainably, efficiently and harmoniously they lived in their small, self-sufficient ecosystem.
If we talk of global warming, reducing carbon footprint and being a part of an eco-friendly environment, then we need to also think on the lines of sustainable living by being the ones effecting these changes in a small way.
Think global and go local
Let us make fresh beginnings today by making small changes that could impact the ecology and economy in a big way in the long run. Let us consume food that is locally grown in our region, buy from the neighbourhood supermarket or mom-and-pop store, buy from the local farmer’s market, choose organic produce, buy and eat fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits, besides eating foods that are a staple in your region.
In addition, avoiding to a greater extent, the consumption of GMO produce, processed foods, foods that are remotely produced and travel a great distance with additional energy expenditure due to refrigeration, will considerably benefit the environment and economy.
This not only helps us in moving from being carbon positive towards achieving carbon neutrality, but could also pave the way for carbon negativity in the long term.
While this may not be practical at all times, one could begin by thinking on these lines and bring about a small shift in our day-to-day choices.
With these thoughts etched on my mind, I bring to you a delicious pumpkin and split chickpea kheer that is an integral part of the North Karnataka festive cuisine. The ingredients can be sourced fresh, locally. You can cook it in no time, with minimal effort. To top it all, the ingredients are high in nutrition and will provide you with ample health benefits.
|Pumpkin||Carbohydrates, fat, Vitamins A, B2, C and E, potassium, copper, manganese, iron and trace amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and other B vitamins||High in Beta-carotene, which is beneficial for eye health, anti-oxidants that are beneficial in chronic diseases such as heart ailments and cancer; boosts immunity; being nutrient-dense and rich in fibre, it promotes weight loss; it is naturally sweet and does not require excess sugar or jaggery for sweetening the dish|
|Split chickpea||Carbohydrates, protein, fibre, folate, iron, phosphorus, manganese, copper||Packed with nutrients, they make you feel satiated, helps in weight loss, bone health and muscle strength, lowers blood sugar levels, soluble fibre is excellent for gut health, helps in prevention of heart disease, cancer and diabetes|
|Jaggery||Mostly sucrose, also contains Vitamin B, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese and trace amounts of phosphorus, calcium, zinc, copper||Improves digestion, immune function, prevents anaemia and detoxifies liver|
|Cashew nuts, almonds, raisins||Omega- fatty acids, fibre,||Help in digestion, boost immunity and enhance bone health|
|Coconut milk||Protein, fat, carbohydrates, potassium, calcium, magnesium and trace amounts of iron, Vitamin C||Lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, builds muscle and breaks down fat, improves digestion, aids in weight loss|
|Poppy seeds||Protein, carbohydrates, fibre, fat, phosphorus, manganese, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, poly phenolic antioxidants||Important elements for bone health and blood clotting, improves overall health, decreases risk of heart disease, (Note: Should not be consumed regularly and in large quantities, as it is pro-inflammatory)|
|Green cardamom||Carbohydrates, fats, protein, dietary fibre, Vitamins A and C, Antioxidants, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese||Therapeutic essential oils, which are antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, anti-depressive, controls heart rate and blood pressure|
The kheer is made using the deep yellow pumpkin or squash, which are naturally sweet, just like carrots. Always select pumpkins that have a deep yellow pulp as these are extra sweet. The tender pumpkins that are light coloured do not have a desirable flavour, and so would not be suitable for this dish.
|Split chickpea||1 cup|
|Jaggery||½ cup or as per taste|
|Chopped cashew nuts, almonds, raisins||2 tbsp|
|Coconut milk||½ cup|
|Poppy seeds||2 tsp|
|Green cardamom||6-7 pods|
Method of preparation
- Wash the split chickpea and place it in a pressure cooker with 3 cups of water.
- Wash and peel off the pumpkin, cut it into 1-inch cubes and add to the chickpeas. Pressure cook until the chick peas turn soft and mushy.
- Open the pressure cooker, when it cools and carefully mash the chick peas and pumpkin. Do not make a smooth paste of it. Soft chunks of pumpkin and chickpea add a good texture to the kheer.
- Add the chopped nuts and raisins, jaggery and a pinch of salt.
- Roast the poppy seeds lightly on low heat until they turn pinkish. Add these to the pumpkin mixture.
- Cook on low flame until the jaggery melts and the kheer comes to a boil.
- Preferably, prepare coconut milk by blending coconut pieces with warm water and straining it. Alternatively, you can use tinned or packaged coconut milk. Stir in coconut milk and allow to simmer on low flame for a minute. Switch off the gas and stir in crushed cardamom.
- Serve warm in a bowl topped with dollops of ghee.
Enjoy the rich blending of flavours and unmatched taste of this kheer with family and friends. Leave a comment if you like it and share the recipe with your friends.
On this sweet note, I wish you the very best in your endeavour to be the change you want to see! A lot of us are already initiating sustainability in our own small way. I have taken this opportunity to spread the word so that we can collectively make this a possibility.
Until my next, happy cooking!