Sunday, March 03, 2013

Kache Popaya Chi Chana Dal Ghalun Bhaaji

Raw papaya (Koli: Popaya) and chana dal in green coconut masala.

Traditionally this gets made in two ways, one with chana dal and the other with sode (peeled and dried prawns) but in our home its the veg version ofcourse. It would sound scandalous now if I say it, since I am a  vegetarian for the last 25yrs but this tastes the best with sode. This a very much Koli Style bhaaji, what we call esavana chi bhaaji which means bhaaji with essence of non veg, mostly dried fish.

Yesterday, I visited Thal to see my youngest Mama/ Maternal Uncle who suffered a paralytic stroke. I realized one thing that we are becoming people who show apathy to even the most grim circumstances that affect our life. In the village if a person falls ill, he is immediately considered useless and left to die. It is a lot to do with not having money and no humanity! Fortunately Shankar Mama has people who love him around him and I am praying he recovers well.

In Thal popaya is considered "bhutacha khana". To ward off evil many a times the popaya is waved around the body of a person and then discarded on the seashore faraway from the residents and their commonly used areas. See even the ghosts are fed in our culture!

I was touched by my cousin sisters in Thal. I saw a terracotta handi filled with water lying out in the backyard. I told them I wanted another one like it. Nirmal Tai immediately wanted to give the same handi to me but then explained that it was kept for the birds and animals. In my city home for decades we have stopped doing this. Why?

Few things I can think of is nesting problems, messy window sill. Are these problems so big that we must let our birds and animals die? 

Join me in celebrating World sparrow day on March 20th and add a feeder to your window sill to keep celebrating everyday. 
Here is what Mohammed Dilawar is doing for the sparrows.

Last weekend when I stayed over at my friend Gauri's home she shared with me this bouquet of dried paddy she had brought back from Kolkata. It is a symbol of fertility and prosperity in Bengali homes and is hung in the doorway. Yes the doorway was open to birds and animals in the villages but in our modern vertical growth concrete jungle the doorway is mostly a maze thru which humans, themselves hate to make passage. So I chose to hang that bouquet of paddy in my window.

I had taken the day off on Friday, I spent the entire morning watching the sparrows feed on the paddy. It was such a calming experience for my nerves that had been wrecked by some unnecessary burden I had invited. Yeah I am like that some times, 'Kunachya khandya var kunache oze' must have been written for me ;P.

Oh lets get back to the recipe.


1 kg raw papaya/ kacha popaya
1/2 cup chana dal
1 tablespoon oil 
salt to taste

For the masala

1/8 piece of a fresh coconut 
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 green chilies
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Koli masala or garam masala

First grind the masala. Keep aside.

Peel the raw papaya and chop into bits. Wash the chana dal and keep aside Heat oil in a wok. Add the raw papaya and the washed chana dal to it. Top up with water about a litre and cook till chana dal starts crumbling just a bit. Salt it to taste.

Add the ground coconut masala. Add more water to get a nice gravy but not too thin.

Note: If you are using peeled and dried prawns, you need to soak them in water for 30 mins to plump them up. Use them instead of the chana dal.

Enjoy the Kache popaya chi bhaaji with chapati or Chavlachi roti.

 I'll leave you to listen to this beautiful Abhang by Tukaram and sung by Lata Mangeshkar which is what this post is about.


  1. Sundar post lihili ahe ga. Khup chan vatle. Love the bird feeder too.

    1. Thanks Preeti, am planning to buy a feeder from the org mentioned in the post.

  2. Anjali,
    bai tumhi ekdum barobar bolalat. Khup, Khup aavadla tumcha blog.
    I am touched Anjali. I can relate to what you are going through. But you know something? You pain is somewhat less than people like us who have left our shores to far off land in pursuit of god knows what? You are in the same state but in a city instead of that lovely village you described. You are lucky u can speak and be surrounded by familiar sounds, languages, food, serials programmes, I cannot.
    Please don't misunderstand me. Just my point of view. I am with you. people like us are caught between modern city life and the bygone era and familiar terrain our parents told us about.
    I am hoping and praying your mama gets better. I am glad he has people around him and yes, people like Nirmal Tai make our lives a lot more pleasant. I wish I could see a picture of this lady.
    take care.

    1. Ranga Kaka :)Thank you!
      I can understand what you are trying to convey.

      Actually I am born and brought up in Mumbai but have spent quite a lot of time in Thal as a child during most of my vacations hence the love. Yes and I have come back a full circle back to my roots.

      Here is Nirmal Tai in the red saree, cutting fish.

      Thanks for your prayers for my Mama. He needs them from all nooks and corners of the world.

      Take care.

  3. Lovely written post. I also keep a water bowl in my small garden space for the birds and squirrels during the summer moths. It takes little to show love and care for the world. We get many earthworms in our soil and when it rains they are all on the ground in the parking spot. MY elder son takes upon him to put them back into the soil. Loved the way you plated the food.
    Love Ash.

    1. Ash kitti chan ga! Give a pat on the back of your son when he does that.

  4. its a nice recipe. and the pics are too good. For beverages check

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  6. I have to go to Oriental store to get raw papaya. This sounds very interesting.

    1. It would be worth the visit to get your hands on some. :)

  7. oh wow..I know how calming it is to see birds feeding like this. Lovely.
    And this papaya recipe I am definitely trying. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Use some dried shrimp instead of dal you will love it even more.


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