Ramadan Nombu Kanji

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In this sacred month of Ramzan for our Muslim friends, I wanted to try out something from their rich cuisine and the many delicacies that are prepared for Iftar. In South-India, especially Tamil nadu, Nombu Kanji is quite famous. Nombu means fasting and Kanji means gruel. After an entire day of not eating anything, this Nombu Kanji is served in mosques after their evening prayers to break the fast. Traditionally, this recipe is made in huge quantities and is watery in consistency. This Nombu kanji is basically made out of rice, moong dal, vegetables, and minced meat cooked in a lot of spices. I don’t know the background of this recipe but my assumption is that, after an entire day’s fast – someone needs quick energy. Rice and Moong Dal serve as the carbohydrates and with the goodness of meat and vegetables, it’s quite tasty. As it’s made in Kanji/Gruel form, it’s easier to drink and digest – giving out instant energy.

The first time I tasted this dish was a couple of years back from our neighbors in Chennai who were kind enough to send us Nombu Kanji in a large pot. Initially I was skeptical as I have never tasted it before but after some coaxing from MIL and S, I had a spoonful and loved it instantly for the burst of flavours. Last year, I replicated the recipe based on my tasting skills in my kitchen and continuing the tradition, made it this year too. Though it’s watering in consistency traditionally speaking, I made it a bit thicker as we were having it for dinner. I only used vegetables and skipped minced meat.

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To make Ramadan Nombu Kanji

Serves – 2

Time to prepare – 20mins

What I used –

  • Raw Rice, ¾ cup
  • Moong Dal, ¼ cup
  • Onion, 1 large
  • Tomato, 1 medium
  • Carrot, 1 medium
  • Ginger Garlic Paste, 1.5 tsp
  • Mint Leaves, 1/3 cup (tightly packed)
  • Coriander Leaves, 1/3 cup (tightly packed)
  • Red Chilli Powder, 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala Powder, 1 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder, ½ tsp
  • Cloves, 2
  • Cinnamon, 1” piece
  • Dried Bay Leaf, 1
  • Green Cardamom, 1
  • Green Chilli, 1
  • Water, 4 cups
  • Thick Coconut Milk, ½ cup
  • Oil, 1 tsp
  • Salt, as req

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How I made –

  1. Combine raw rice and moong dal together. Blend them into a coarse powder in a mixer jar.
  2. In a pressure cooker heat oil. Add cloves, cardamom, bay leaf and cinnamon. Once they are fried, add slit green chilli and finely chopped onions.
  3. When the onions are translucent, add ginger garlic paste. Fry for a minute. Add finely chopped tomato pieces.
  4. As the tomatoes go mushy, add finely chopped carrot pieces. Add red chilli powder, garam masala powder and turmeric powder. Mix well and cook for a minute.
  5. Add finely chopped mint and coriander leaves. Reserve some coriander leaves for garnishing.
  6. When the leaves have wilted, add water and required salt. Let the water boil.
  7. Add the rice/moong dal coarsely ground mixture. Stir well. Cover the lid of the pressure cooker and leave it for atleast three whistles. Let the pressure drop and then remove the lid of the pressure cooker.
  8. Place the cooker back on stove on low flame and add thick coconut milk. Stir well. Leave it for a minute and remove it from the stove.
  9. Serve hot after garnishing with coriander leaves.

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Note: I only added carrots, but one can add any vegetable of their choice. Minced meat can be added as well. To extract coconut milk, grind a cup of coconut with a cup of water and strain it to get the first milk, which is usually thick. Subsequently, churn the coconut again to obtain the second and third milk too. Only the first milk is thicker though and is used in this recipe. After cooking the kanji, if it’s too thick, additional water or coconut milk can be added. I like the consistency of this kanji to be a bit thicker and hence did not add additional water.

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