I categorize my recipes as baby, toddler, or kid-friendly recipes. But this one I’ll say is a “cook-friendly” recipe. It requires only onion, garlic, and besan, and with minimal effort you get the famous Maharashtrian zunka. If you have never heard of Zunka, you can think of it as besan sabzi. Usually it is very difficult to get my husband and my mother to like the same dish. But this one they both loved and actually praised, which let me tell you is a rare, once-in-a-blue-moon event. This zunka recipe has become one of my favorite besan recipes by virtue of being easy-to-cook and popular-at-home.
Zunka bhakar is unarguably the most famous dish in Maharashtrian cuisine. As I mentioned earlier, zunka is made using chickpea flour and is a drier version of pithla. Because it is dry it is popular as easy-to-carry tiffin or street food. It is served in small restaurants in rural Maharashtra, which are similar to the fast-food eating joints found in cities. I still remember the absolutely delicious zunka bhakar I had at Sinhagad, Pune, eons ago. More recently, I have had it a couple of times at the Karnala Bird Sanctuary canteen.
Usually we find it difficult to replicate the taste of street food at home. But this dish you can make it just as yummy at home too if you use plenty of oil and red chili powder. I try to go easy on the oil and use less chili powder as our man, Devansh, is not a fan of spicy food. So my zunka usually is the kid-friendly version. This time though it was more husband-friendly as I added a spicy green chili, which I normally don’t prefer to add in zunka. If I want to make zunka spicy, I prefer using more red chili powder but Kalpesh wanted green chili. Luckily he liked the zunka; husband eating well is a bigger achievement for me than kiddo eating well. Kiddo is not a fussy eater, touch wood.
Do try this quick and simple marathi recipe of zunka and serve it with jowar or rice bhakari, and some curd. My verdict is, “It is YUM!!” Let me know what you think of this zunka recipe.
Maharashtrian Zunka Recipe
- 1 and half cup besan chickpea flour / gram flour
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 10-12 cloves of garlic chopped
- 1/2 tsp rai mustard seeds
- 3 dry chillies
- 1/5th tsp hing asafoetida
- 1/5th tsp haldi turmeric powder
- 2-3 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 green chilli optional
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander
- 3-4 tbsp oil
- salt to taste
- Take besan in a large bowl, add one cup of water, and then whisk till no lumps remain in the mixture.
- Add red chili powder to the mixture and again whisk it well. (You can use less chili powder if you want to make zunka for kids.)
- Add one more cup of water to the mixture and whisk again to blend well.
- Heat a kadai (pan), add 2 tbsp oil, and then add mustard seeds when the oil heats up. (I use a non-stick pan only when necessary. I prefer using an iron pan for making zunka. You can use less oil if you are using non-stick pan.)
- After mustard seeds start to splutter, add hing, chopped garlic, and red chilis. (If you are using large cloves of garlic use fewer cloves. You need around
- 2 tbsp of chopped garlic.)
- Sauté for a minute or so till garlic becomes light golden and then add chopped onion.
- Sauté till the onion becomes almost translucent, then add turmeric powder.
- Sauté for another minute or so and then pour the besan mixture in the pan.
- Add chopped green chili and salt, keep stirring to ensure no lumps form.
- After 5-6 minutes when the mixture begins to thicken up, add 1 tbsp oil, and continue to stir.
- If you are using a non-stick pan, you can cook zunka till the besan is properly cooked. (Non-stick pan will prevent besan mixture from sticking to the pan. So you can skip the next 5 steps.)
- After another couple of minutes turn off heat, spread the mixture thin across the pan so that most of the mixture is touching the surface of the pan, and then cover the pan with a lid.
- Allow the mixture to cook on trapped steam and hot iron pan for 4-5 minutes, and then turn on heat again. (You need to alternate between cooking on flame and off flame as the besan batter starts to stick to the iron pan.)
- Add one more tbsp of oil and continue to stir the mixture in the pan for a couple of minutes.
- Turn off heat, spread the mixture thin across the pan, cover the pan with the lid, and keep it in the pan for another 4-5 minutes.
- Take off the lid and check if besan is properly cooked and that zunka is dry enough.
- Garnish with chopped coriander, and serve with jowar or rice bhakri.