Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dinda for NagPanchami

The fifth month in the Hindu calendar is 'Shravan'. It usually starts in late July or in the first half of August. The star 'Shravan' rules the sky during Poornima (full moon) night. 'Shravan' month is considered the holiest month of the year as it comes with innumerable religious festivals and ceremonies. Almost every day of the month is considered auspicious. But the first major festival we celebrate is the 'NagPanchami'.

'NagPanchami' is a Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of snakes and serpent deities. It is observed across India on the fifth day of the moonlit fortnight in the month of 'Shravan'.
Plausible reason behind this festival: It is the monsoon season in India. This is the time when serpents invariably come out of their holes that get filled with rain-water, to seek shelter in gardens and more often before, than now, into houses. As they pose a danger to man, people must have started worshiping snakes on this day.
The most popular legend around this festival: 'NagPanchami' celebrates the victory of Lord Krishna over the mythical Kaliya; a monstrous black python that was killed by Krishna in the Yamuna river.

At our home, we try to celebrate all Hindu festivals like we did in India even if we do not fully understand the reasoning behind it. We hope our family and future generations can also enjoy these festivals like we did when we were little. Getting up to some customs and delicacies which were followed and prepared only on these particular days just make these festivals very special.
In most families, no sharp objects are to be used on NagPanchami. No knives in the kitchen. This keeps the food simple. There isn't any need to understand customs that make our lives simple now is there?
Also a delicacy called 'Dinda' is made on this day. These are steamed wheat flour parcels filled with cardamom perfumed chickpea and jaggery mixture. Served hot with a dollop of homemade ghee gets you right in your ajji's lap.

Here is how we make it...

Level: Easy
Serves: 10 medium parcels
Source: Vijaya Pradhan & Nita Pradhan (Grand MIL & MIL)

For the filling:
1 cup chana dal,
2.5 cups water
1.25 cup jaggery, grated
3/4 tsp cardamom powder
2 Pinches nutmeg (optional)
Pinch of salt

For the cover:
1 cup wheat flour (atta)
3 tblsp oil
1/8 tsp salt
Water for kneading

Step 1 - Let us get out filling ready first. Wash the chana dal well. Add 2.5 cups water. Keep aside for 5 - 6 hours.

Step 2 - Pour the chana dal along with its water in a pressure pan and pressure cook it for 4 - 5 whistles or till the chana dal is done.
If you do not have time to soak the chana dal, add 1/4 cup additional water to your pressure pan and pressure cook it for a good 8 - 10 whistles for it to be done. 
The final product by any method should be overcooked soft daal.

Step 3 - Drain out excess water (if any) carefully without wasting the daal and mash the daal till pasty with a vegetable masher. You can also do this with a hand blender or in your food processor.

Step 4 - Transfer the mashed daal in a pot and add the grated jaggery and a pinch of salt. Start heating the pot and keep stirring the mixture well on medium heat. Initially, the mixture will liquify and then start bubbling up and thickening. Once the mixture starts thickening turn off the heat. After 2 mins, add the cardamon powder and nutmeg and stir well. Consistency of the puran does not matter too much in this recipe as we are not going to roll out parcels once filled. This is your puran. Keep aside to cool.

Step 5 - Now let us work on the cover of these parcels. Couldn't be simpler. Place the wheat flour in a bowl. Heat oil till it smokes. Pour the hot oil in your flour. It should sizzle. Mix well with your hand. Knead into a smooth dough with water. The dough should be tougher than your regular chapati dough. More like a dough you would knead for puris. Cover the dough and let it rest for 15 mins.

Step 6 - Assembly. Roll out a small dough ball into a disc. Usually these are 2.5 inch in diameter but you can roll them in the size you prefer. Place a tblsp of puran on the center of your disc. Try to shape it into a rectangle so your parcels get a proper shape. Fold all four sides into a parcel. Take care to cover all of the puran well.

Step 7 - Oil the vessel you plan to place your parcels in, to ensure that they do not stick. Place the vessel in your steamer and steam for 20 - 25 mins till the parcels are glossy and the cover does not look raw.

Serve these hot with a small or a big dollop of ghee.

When you cook your puran, make sure you do not thicken it too much. On cooling, the mixture thickens even more. We do not want it too hard.
This is how my MIL taught me to test puran - Once the chana dal - jaggery mixture starts getting a little thick, place a teaspoon - wide side down in the center of the mixture. If it falls quickly, you have to continue cooking. If it falls really slowly, your puran is ready. That being said, you really need not over analyse the consistency for this recipe as it just gets steamed.

Dinda hardens a little over time. So make a small batch to avoid leftovers. But if you do have leftovers, do not heat them in a microwave. Steam the dinda for 5 - 6 mins in your steamer.

I use 1.25 cups of jaggery to 1 cup of chana dal, as the jaggery that I buy in the US, is not too sweet. Originally, 1 cup of jaggery to 1 cup of chana dal is used.

I have not elaborately explained the dough kneading process. That is for another post. So if you are new to that, do browse the net for puri recipes to understand the dough consistency.

Make sure you roll out the dough into thin discs as a thick piece of steamed dough is not too pleasant.
For people who do not like these parcels steamed, you can always fry the parcels
in oil.

Resources on NagPanchami: Here and here!


  1. this is an awesome dish.. Best had when it absolutely fresh from the steamer :-)

  2. This is an awesome dish best had when fresh out of the steamer

  3. Awesome recipe but there is different version of the story that Lord Krishna did not kill Kaliya in fact told him to leave the Yamuna river by making him realize about his false pride.