Every three years the Hindu calendar makes up the shortfall of days by adding an extra month to the calendar. This 13th month which is also called the Extra Month or the month of Purshottam . Some people believe that this month which was carved out by the other months giving up a third of their quota of days is an unlucky month and doesn’t bode too well so to ward off any evil they keep a fast – which means either giving up one meal in the day or eating specific foods that are considered as “non food” for the entire month.The end of the fast is marked by giving 30 + 3 anarse to 30+3 married women or to your new son-in-law. This custom is particularly followed by the orthodox members of my community and the first I heard of this custom was when Mrs. Phadke who at that time was selling Postal Insurance schemes, called to ask if I was home as she needed to give me 30+3 anarse. With our shrinking community moving out into the suburbs, it was getting increasingly hard for her to find someone whom she knew would fit in the profile so even though we were her clients, she wanted to gift me the sweets and the customary gifts given to a married woman so that she could continue to enjoy the bliss of being a married woman.
Like most customs, this too has fallen by the way side and it was only my interest in our dying traditions that got me thinking about things.
During my research into my cook book “The Fragrance of Mango Blossom” I had to make anarse. The recipe is simple enough – make a stiff dough of rice flour with as much grated jaggery it can hold. Keep covered for around 15 days and flatten into patties, dip one side in poppy seeds and deep fry in pure ghee till they become a rich golden brown. This doughnut like sweet is unique and appeals only to a discerning palate. Its poppy seed topped spongy texture gives it an intriguing look and its ever so subtle sweet taste differentiates it from the cloying, diabetes inducing sweets that we Indians are accustomed to eating. But like most things in life, the recipe is harder than it looks and in actual fact, you HAVE to make a 1000 anarse before making the perfect one. The trick of course, is to ensure that the rice is ground really fine – which means that the flour has to be sifted and ground at least three times!
I did attempt making them at home right from soaking the rice to grinding it to kneading it and to frying the anarse but the numbers fell short so I took the easy way out and bought the rest from Godbole’s Stores, Shop No 1 & 2, Samruddhi Heights, Sena Bhavan, Opp Cosmos Bank, D L Vaidya Road, Dadar West, Mumbai – 400028 | View Map ( in one of the by-lanes of Dadar/Shivaji Park – one of the last neighbourhoods where you will find people from my community)
where I was pleasantly surprised to find a table of neatly packed anarse– all 30+3 of them with a book about the festival and a small copper lamp to go.
It seems Godbole’s is completely wired and can deliver typical Maharashtrian food on line as well! Check out their website on http://godbolestores.com/ and call for those goodies your mother used to make.