This is the famous Surati paunk, which is fresh jowar (sorgum) seeds. Since fresh is out of the question for us, I jumped for joy when I found a packet of dried paunk tucked away in one of the shelves of my Indian store. All I had to do was soak it in boiling water for 15 minutes to hydrate it and it was almost as good as the plump paunk that wends it way from Gujarat to Bombay every winter.
Fresh paunk can be served as is but the more popular way is to mix it up like chaat. So I sprinkled some red chilli powder and some salt, added a dash of lemon juice, garnished it with some spicy sev and cilantro. Medha said it tasted just like all the other 'Indian junk food' I make and approved heartily. Tomorrow, I will make a spicy paunk bhel.
Millet is a group of closely related crops with small seeds grown in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. In India, the two popular types of millet are bajra and jowar. Bhakri, a roti that is typically flattened out by hand and is considered part of a farmer's staple diet, is usually made from jowar or bajra flour or a mixture of both. Millet is considered to have 'warming' properties and is therefore recommended for consumption during winter.
That makes paunk just perfect for the kind of weather we're having currently. A hot cup of tea and a spicy paunk mixture! Ah! The snow, the wind and the freezing temperatures outside don't seem so bad anymore!
And yes, Anjali, jowar is indeed called jwar or jwari in Marathi. But this post was an ode to my husband's roots in Surat. So what if he had never heard of paunk before!
Paunk, young green jowar kernels, are called hurda in Marathi. Jyotsna Shahane of The Cook's Cottage has more information. Hat tip to my multi-lingual friend, Richa of As Dear As Salt, who is also a fount of knowledge.