Bhagar/Variche Tandul or Sama ke Chawal in Hindi or Barnyard millet in English is typically used during religious fasts in Maharashtra. Preparation is similar to making Upma but using ingredients that are ‘allowed’ for fasts.
I do not observe religious fasts but I love the feast that accompanies them. This spicy dish is a great gluten free meal option even on non-fasting days. Using Ghee for tempering adds a rich,earthy flavor to the Bhagar. The addition of potatoes makes it a filling meal which helps to sustain hunger for longer duration during fasting days.You can also add chopped cucumber instead; add them towards the end of cooking.
Amsul (dried Kokum skin) not only adds a tang to this khichdi/upma but helps counter the acidity that might sometimes be caused by fasting. Bhagar is usually served with Groundnut Amti (Danyachi Amti). You can also serve it with plain curd/yogurt or some raita.A red-pumpkin raita goes very well with this meal.
- Dry roast the bhagar in a heavy bottom wok,on low heat, till you get a nice aroma. Remove on a plate and keep aside.
- Heat ghee in the same wok.
- Add the cumin seeds. Once they sizzle, add the green chillies and sauté for a few seconds.
- Add the potatoes. Mix well.
- Add the peanut powder and amsul.
- Add the water,salt ,sugar and bring it to a boil.
- Once the water boils add the bhagar, stirring continuously.
- Cook covered till it is well cooked.
- Garnish with coriander leaves(if using) or coconut and serve immediately.
Danyachi Amti (Groundnut Amti ) – this simple curry usually accompanies Bhagar. Groundnut paste is tempered with ghee and a couple of spices to make this simple curry. Buttermilk or Amsul is used as a souring agent and it also aids digestion.
Consume this protein rich amti in small proportion, since it can be hard to digest.
- Grind the groundnuts to a fine paste in a blender. Use water as required for blending.
- In a saucepan, heat the peanut paste along with water,salt, Amsul (if using) and sugar.
- Boil for 5-6 minutes.
- If using buttermilk, add it once the amti has boiled.
- Take it off the heat.
- In a small pan heat the ghee.
- Add the cumin seeds and once they sizzle add the green chillies.
- Saute for a few seconds and add this tempering to the Amti.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot or cold.