Rewa, a former princely state is famous for its contribution in the 1857 First War of Independence that saw many nationalists lose their life, diverse agricultural produce and natural resources and Bagheli cuisine that derives its name from the Baghelkhand region of which Rewa is a part.
Their most iconic dish that is also prepared in Uttar Pradesh as the Baghelkhand region extends up to Prayagraj is Indrahar that literally translates to offering or dish made to Lord Indra. According to the locals, this part of Central India used to be prone to severe drought. The villagers and royal families decided to honour Lord Indra with this dish prepared from locally available ingredients and pray for rain.
Even today, this dish is offered as prasad when there is inadequate rain in this harsh landscape. Indrahar can be served as it is or with its special sabji or kadhi.
Various types of dal like moong dal, arhar dal (pigeon pea or tur dal), chana dal (split chickpeas or Bengal gram), masoor dal, urad dal and others are soaked for at least 3 hours. They are cleaned thoroughly and ground along with ginger and green chillies and a little water till it comes a smooth paste.
Spices like turmeric powder, cumin seeds, red chilli powder, coriander powder, a pinch of hing and salt is added to this batter. The batter is lightly beaten up with a ladle till it becomes nice and fluffy. It is allowed to rest for a few minutes.
A large stainless steel plate is greased with a little oil. The thick batter is poured evenly and steamed for a few minutes till it is cooked inside. The Indrahar is allowed to cool and then cut into pieces.
A little oil is heated in a large kadai to which these pieces are either shallow fried or pan fried till they are crispy and turn golden brown in colour. This can be served hot with spicy coriander chutney.
The sabzi (sabji) is prepared by blending tomatoes, green chillies and ginger to a fine paste. Oil is heated in a pan to which cumin seeds are added. Spices like tejpata, cinnamon piece, black pepper, cloves, black cardamom and kasuri methi are roasted for a few minutes. The tomato paste is added to this and stirred continuously. Red chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder are added to the bubbling tomato masala.
The Indrahar is added to this gravy, mixed well and cooked for a few minutes till the masala blends in. It is served hot with a sprinkling of fresh coriander leaves. Some people add a cup of curd to the tomato gravy and boil it for a few minutes along with garam masala.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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