Thursday, 8 March 2012


“A householder must give as much food as he is able to spare to those who do not cook for themselves, and to all beings one must distribute food without detriment to one’s own interest.” - Guru Nanak Dev
Today is Hola Mahalla (also Hola Mohalla or simply Hola), which is a Sikh festival beginning on the first day of the lunar month of Chet in the Nanakshahi calendar. It most often falls in March, and sometimes coincides with the Sikh New Year. The event lasts for a week, and consists of camping out and enjoying various displays of fighting prowess and bravery, followed by kirtan (chanting of eulogies), music, and poetry. The event concludes with a long, military-style procession near Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs.

Special meals are an integral part of the Sikh institution (Gurdwara), and visitors sit together in pangats (rows) and eat vegetarian food of the Langars. A Langar is a common kitchen/canteen where food is served in a Gurdwara to all the visitors (without distinction of background) for free. At the Langar, only vegetarian food is served, to ensure that all people, regardless of their dietary restrictions, can eat as equals. Langar is open to Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike.

The institution of the Sikh Langar was started by the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak. It was designed to uphold the principle of equality between all people regardless of religion, caste, colour, creed, age, gender or social status, a revolutionary concept in the caste-ordered society of 16th-century India where Sikhism began. In addition to the ideals of equality, the tradition of langar expresses the ethics of sharing, community, inclusiveness and oneness of all humankind. “...the Light of God is in all hearts.”

Langar Recipe
Chole is a thick spicy curry made from chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Chole is often served with poori a crispy deep fried Indian style flatbread. Chole can also be served with roti or rice. Chole is popular for special occasions such as weddings or birthdays, Rain Sabaee (all night), or Asa di Var (early morning) kirtan, and communal gatherings such as Thanksgiving. Here is the recipe to make 4 litres of chole:

2 cups dried chickpeas
1/2 - 1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp cumin seed
4 medium, diced onions
2 tbsp diced ginger root
4 diced green jalapeno chilies
4 medium diced or whole tomatoes (fresh or canned)
2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp chana masala
2 tbsp salt (divided)

  • Soak the chickpeas in four litres of water overnight.
  • Drain rinse and cook soaked chickpeas in approximately 4 litres of water and 1 - 2 tbsp of salt. The chickpeas should be boiled about two hours in a stainless steel saucepan until they are soft.
  • Chop or dice four medium onions with a sharp knife or food processor.
  • Dice the fresh peeled ginger root to make up 2 tbsp.
  • Dice four Jalapeno chillies for a mildly spicy flavour.
  • Wash four fresh tomatoes. Dice or leave tomatoes whole to stew in skins. Canned tomatoes may be substituted.
  • Prepare the “tarka”, or seasoning, for the chole. Cumin seed is roasted in a dry pan until it darkens and begins to pop. Alternately, heat oil and add cumin seed and roast until releases its aroma and seeds begin to darken and pop.
  • Add the diced onions and ginger root to fry in the cumin flavoured oil. When onions are clear, add green chillies and sauté until onions and green chillies are slightly browned.
  • When onions have browned, mash the stewed tomatoes and add, heating until they thoroughly cooked.
  • Add remaining seasonings to the tarka after onions have browned and tomatoes have stewed. Chana Masala is a traditional seasoning used for flavouring chole. Turmeric and Chana Masala are essential for making chole and are used together for this recipe. Add about one tablespoon of salt to the tarka seasonings. Add the seasoned tarka to cooked chickpeas and simmer to blend flavours.
  • Serve chole with crispy poori (deep fried Indian flatbread).

No comments:

Post a comment