Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Hurda got the place on Pune’s restaurant menus


PUNE: Hurda is roasted grains eaten with a chutney - sesame, groundnut, coconut or garlic; served on the side with jaggery. The grains in Maharashtra are jowar (sorghum). Now, in winter, the residents of Pune are also snacking on Hurda. In fact, such is the urban demand for the rural bite that restaurants across the city have it on the menu.

Hotels like Shreyas on Apte road and Naivedyam at Mitra Mandal chowk now not only have a Hurda station in the kitchen, they are even holding ‘Hurda parties’, because of the demand. According to Tanaji Shelke, a farmer from Latur, this simple dish will be found in every farmer’s home. It is very traditional and creates warmth during the coldest months on the farm.

“These tender jowar ears (the best ones are the Gulbhendi and a new type of Surti) are available only for three months of the year and we often eat these roasted over coal or a wood fire, sometimes with just salt and a wedge of lemon for the zest. Of course, then there is the chutney, which is spicy. So we eat jaggery to cut down the spiciness. All of these ingredients are in a farmer’s house, so it’s easy to create.”

Shelke dates the infiltration of Hurda onto the urban palette to six years ago, when he was approached by the Empress Garden authorities to set up a stall inside the garden. Ever since, slowly but surely, demand has been growing. Gaurav Saxena, an IT professional living in Fatimanagar says, “I wanted my family to enjoy the village feel and so we came to Empress Garden for the Hurda.” Similarly, Sunanda Vakil from Kothrud travelled across the city to Empress Garden simply because her friends told her to try out the Hurda there. And she did. And she loved it.

Gauri Padhaye flies home to Canada in a day but not before she relives the taste of her childhood - eating Hurda. “I have eaten it when I was a child and wanted to try it again coincidently I was here this season,” said Gauri.

Hotel Shreyas began its Hurda parties last year. “We were approached by many food lovers who showed an interest in trying this snack. We thought, why not give them a taste of the farm right here in Pune, hence, we set up an entire village complete with shed, sugarcane juice vendor and served roasted Hurda over the bonfire, on the terrace of the hotel,” says owner Radhika Chitale Ingalhalikar.

This year too, they are doing the village-Hurda fest at two different locations because of the overwhelming response. An evening spent here costs 380, plus taxes per head.

Naivedyam Hotel in the city too serves the same snack for Rs100. Rajesh Ramanna Shetty, owner of the hotel, has several farmer friends and so he started serving the dish. Hurda is now also being sold, raw, in stores. Jowari Hurda can be bought at Empress Garden, Desai Bandhu Ambewale, P V Vaidya on FC road and at Mandai.

Retail cost of Hurda ranges from Rs. 80 to Rs 100 for 200 grammes, depending upon the quality of the product. Ironically, this is not the first time “rural food” has made it to the urban eat-out scene. A few years ago, several top restaurants and at least one starred hotel, re-packaged the humble vada-pav (potato pattice in a bun) as the “Indian burger” and had it on their menus.

Anjali Jaiswal, a dietitian, says tender sorghum (jowar), from which Hurda is made, is enjoyed in winter, because it is high in starch and fibre. “Hurda is also a good source of phosphorus and thiamine, rich in antioxidants and is also a source of iron,” Jaiswal adds.

“As it contain starch, it takes longer to digest and produces heat in the body which helps keep the body warm,” says Jaiswal, adding, “In one serving of 30 grammes, which is what would fill a small bowl or katori, you get carbs, iron and many antioxidants.”


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