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Kwati- A dish of significance and celebration

Guni Punhi. Janai Purnima. Raksha Bandhan. Different names are prevalent in different regions for variants of a similar celebration. Guni Punhi or Kwati Purnima is celebrated throughout the Newar community in Nepal coinciding with the Janai Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festival on the day of Purnima (full moon day) during the Shravan month. During Guni Punhi, many Newari Farmers worship the frogs as the propeller of rain and even for unintentionally causing them harm while farming. Frogs are offered Kwati, rice,roti (flatbread) or other delicacies on a leaf and are prayed for better rain.  The Newari people also have a tradition to undertake a pilgrimage (tirtha yatra) to the Gosaikunda, considered the holiest lake in Nepal. 

Besides Newari, other ethinic groups observe Janai Purnima; for example Brahmins men change to a new sacred thread (Janai) or wear a yellow thread (Doro). While mainly communities on the Terai plains of Nepal celebrate Raksha Bandhan as an occasion to celebrate the bond between siblings. 

The Kwati dish associated with the Newari festival is truly the highlight which renders the celebrations complete. Kwati or, “kwati khane din”, is a soup prepared with the combination of nine different kinds of sprouted beans, such as black gram, chickpea, green gram, soybean, field bean, garden pea, field pea, cowpea, and rice bean. Kwati means ‘kwa’, that is, hot and ‘ti’ meaning soup, as it had a primary function of providing the farmers’ with warmth after their long days of farming in mud water due to paddy plantation, implying the strong bond between festivals, delicacies, and agriculture.

Kwati is not only culturally significant, it is an extremely nutritious dish too. Each kind of bean holds a special value of its own in the dish. The beans lower cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health and memory power, control diabetes; as the beans are loaded with protein, it helps in indigestion. 

So, the next time you want to celebrate the festivities or try out delicacies from other cultures, try this recipe for Kwati. (servings- 4)

  • Soak 2 cups of mixed beans overnight in a large bowl. Drain the water and keep it aside for 2-3 days until they sprout. 
  • When you decide to cook, heat the oil first, and add cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, fennel seeds; then add the ginger-onion-garlic paste and fry for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add sprouted beans, salt, cumin powder, chili, turmeric, coriander powder, and cook until the spices are mixed well with the beans.
  • Next, add chopped tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes and then add 5 cups of water and cook for 20-25 minutes. 
  • Check the beans until they are tender; most of the water will have dried up. Now, add 2 cups of warm water and boil for 2 minutes to get the consistency right.
  • Garnish with coriander, green onions, whatever suits you, and enjoy!

 

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