zunka or jhunka is a rustic, Maharashtrian delicacy made of bengal gram flour or besan. My sister-in-law made this once, and I got hooked to it forever. It has a sunny yellow colour, a delicate aroma that entices your senses even before you have taken your first bite. Try it – I bet you won’t regret.
If you visit Thane you must havt this at Tambe’s on Station Road, Thane (W). They makes it spicy and soft. I was introduced to Tambe’s zunka by Neela, a close friend of mine, who is prefers to order food from the canteen rather than bring home cooked lunch. She often buys this dish. Another friend, Asha makes a ‘mau’ (soft) version, and she adds roasted and powdered peanuts to the recipe – it works wonders but I don’t add it myself.
I love the plain unadorned rustic version.
Recipe: Jhunka or Zunka
Besan / Bengal gram flour – 2 cups
(Besan can be made at home by oven roasting bengal gram till it releases aroma, cooling and then grinding to a powder – not too fine)
Onions (Thickly sliced or chopped roughly – which ever suits you!) – 2 medium sized
Ajwain / Aniseeds – 1tsp.
Jeera / Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp.
Parsley / Oregano – 1/4 tsp. (Optional – I noticed that oregano goes rather well with besan so I always add oregano in my besan dishes)
Coriander leaves – 2 to 3 sprigs.
Salt – To taste
Oil – 2 to 3 tbsp.
Turmeric – 1/2tsp.
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp.
Method I followed:
Chop the onions roughly.
Roast the besan till aroma is released and set aside.
Heat oil in a deep wok / kadhai. Add ajwain and jeera (To ensure that it doesn’t become gassy – we wouldn’t like that!!). Add onions. Add a little salt, turmeric and chilli powder.
Mix. Cover till the onion turn soft.
Add besan, parsley/oregano and sprinkle water all over roughly. Mix. Again sprinkle water about 1/4 cup all over. Mix till the besan gathers into soft crumbs.
Adjust salt. Mix again. It will be a little sticky. Cook stirring, cutting and mixing with a wooden spatula all the while. The mixture will become soft, lumpy and will crumble upon touch.
Top with chopped coriander leaves and green chillies and serve it with flatbreads of any kind – bhakri (Made with rice or bhajni), or roti.
1. My friend Asha, crushes roasted peanuts and adds it in the beginning after the onions.
3. Tambe’s grind green chillies and garlic and add the mixture before the onions. They also crackle mustard seeds instead of ajwain or jeera.
4. I use oregano, parsley or kasuri methi as they agree with besan.
All the versions taste good irrespective of the additions or deletions.