Gayna/ Naksha Bori (sundried Lentil paste Designs)

12:54 AM



There is a lot of concern about eating healthy, organic and fresh and the blogosphere is no exception. Concerns and awareness are translating into thoughtful posts and attentive comments. And in the middle of all these discussions I as a new mom living in a developing country, am forced to rethink my decisions.  This is not in continuation of any of the discussions so far but entirely a comparison made by a person sitting in a developing country.

First of all I believe the situation differs a lot in developed and developing countries. But before setting a bigger canvas and comparing between these two lets discuss the situation within itself. one important attribute of a developing nation is its inequality of income. In India itself 36% of its population resides below poverty line (1993-94 planning commission report) and still there is a luxury brand boom here. The poor for whom two round meals a day is like a distant dream they no way think of the luxury of organic food. In economics the definition of demand is Demand is the want or desire to possess a good or service with the necessary goods, services, or financial instruments necessary to make a legal transaction for those goods or services.’ They in no way are in a position to DEMAND food to sustain them, leave alone the possibility of choosing what to eat. So that excludes majority of population who could consume organic food. That follows another conclusion that if economies of scale could not be achieved for organic farming the prices will never come down…therefore the organic food articles remains expensive and out of reach of most living in developing countries. Even if we give subsidies still the question remains that, is going all organic possible here? How could you sustain such a big population with organic foods, which said to yield less produce at a high cost? Even us falling in the upper middle-income group would think twice before putting that organic food packet in our grocery basket.

I belong to the old school of thoughts where its said that you are what you eat. So I as a sensible consumer believe to get the most out of my hard earned money So though I know going organic is very good for health but still I would like to stick to my old traditional choice of buying fresh and seasonal and washing my veggies thoroughly before preparing my food.   Am lucky in some ways that I have access to fresh supply in terms of vegetables, fish and meat. I have seen that most of us in India buy fresh fish and meat not those packaged ones from the super markets. Yes of course in this era of high pollution and global warming you need to wash your veggies thoroughly under running water and cook them properly before serving. You don’t need to spend mullah on over hyped organic items to be healthy. Cooking fresh, eating sensibly and doing some moderate exercise would be the best choice.
So today also going seasonal I prepared Gayna Bori which are sun dried lentil chunks but in the shapes and designs of jewelries. These are also called Naksha bori or designed Lentil chunks. These are some royal things not cooked and served everyday but are reserved for some special occasions and for some important persons. Preparing bori is a seasonal affair and that season is Winter. Boris are very fragile and need a lot of pampering. You cannot prepare them in summer, as the scorching summer sun will rupture them. To dry these boris you need mild sun light and dry weather. So boris are prepared in winter in huge quantities and stored for the whole year. Earlier as kids I have seen all the women of a family or sometimes all women of a neighborhood coming together for preparing boris. Those were the days when Mixer-grinder was not a household item and lentils were ground by hand in traditional mortar n pestle. They would make varieties of boris with different types of lentils and spice mixtures. The work would start early morning, grinding the lentils, vigorous beating of the paste and then making small portions of lentil pastes on greased plates…all these works were done over some mishti pan (betel leaf), hot tea and most importantly a lot of gossip. The last day was reserved for this designed boris which is not everyone’s cup of tea as with some quick motions you are required to make designs with some flowy lentil paste. My Maa and Masimoni used to make them and all other including me would have sat around and watch them with admiration. These days boris are readily available in market but I don’t like these readymade things and chose to prepare these myself in leisure.


I believe very few know about these boris. These are a speciality of Bangladesh and Midnapore district of Bengal. but they have become very rare and even in Bengal you would not get them easily.In Midnapore district some self help groups are trying to revive this dying form and they also sell these through co operatives.
Gayna/ Naksha Bori

Ingredients:
Black gram Lentil (skinned)/ White Urad Dal: 1 cup
Salt: ½ tsp
Poppy seeds: 1/3 cup
Oil: to grease the plates

Method: Generally Gayna Boris are made with black gram with skin on, which is soaked overnight then rubbed on jute or any rough surface to peel them. I used skinned white urad.
Wash and soak the lentils overnight or at least 6 hours.

In morning again wash the lentils and place them on a strainer to drain all water.

Blend in a mixie without any water. (To do this pulse for a minute and then scrape the sides and mix everything in the jar. The point here is if the batter contains much water it will fall flat on the plates and sun will make them too dry and heavy.) Make a very very fine paste.

Now comes the difficult part. Take this paste in a big bowl. Mix in the salt and start beating as vigorously as possible. It should become very fluffy and when a spoonful placed on water it should float.

Now to make designs pour the mixture in a piping bag or simply make cones with polythene. My Maa place these in a thick piece of cotton fabric with a nozzle set in the middle.

I don’t have much knowledge of the nozzle sizes. The paste coming out from the nozzle should be moderately thick, say as thick as some antiseptic cream coming out of a tube (eg. Borolene or Rashfree ;-)} I made a cone just like mehendi cones and cut the tip as much required. The designs should not be very thin as the sun will make them thinner and brittle. (look at the fried boris at the right, made by Hubby these are very very thin).

Grease 2-3 steel plates and sprinkle poppyseeds to cover the surface completely. I wasn’t having enough poppyseeds so I mixed it with white toasted sesame seeds.

Now comes the fun part, play with your imagination by pressing the cone or piping bag. Use toothpick to stop the batter coming out from the cone.

Once done dry them in sun for 3-4 hours and let them sit on the plates overnight. Next day if still moist again dry for 1-2 hours.

Keep them stored in airtight container.
Fried Crispy Bori

To fry them just heat some oil and shallow fry them till lightly browned on each side. Enjoy your fruits of labor with rice and see them pulling appreciations your way when served to guests.
Some tips for the designs:
While doing this always keep a toothpick, a bowl of water and some scrap clothes handy.

Always make designs where all the parts are joined and make them moderately thick or you wont be able to take them out easily when dry. you should not make designs as shown at left.
To secure the designs always make 2 adjoining lines, this way the design will be prominent and strong.

Making designs with some flowing paste needs practice, so start with small simple designs and gradually switch to bigger ones.

Don’t make designs that are very big as that’s difficult to be peeled when dry. 


These beauties make their way to My Legume Love Affair; 19 to EC of Simple Indian Food. This very popular event is a brainchild of Susan of The well-seasoned Cook.


Tags:
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