Gopalkala, a delightful savory treat, is prepared on Janmashtami, the auspicious occasion of Lord Krishna’s birth anniversary. It is cherished as the beloved snack of the Lord and his companions. Therefore, people throughout India commemorate Janmashtami by making Gopalkala to honor his birthday.
What is Gopalkala
Gopal means the “one who herds cattles”(Lord Krishna was also known as Gopal as his family profession was herding cattles) and kala means “mixture.” It is believed that during his childhood days in Gokul, Krishna and his companions frequently enjoyed this humble dish. They would prepare Gopalkala using the readily available ingredients, resulting in a wide variety of versions of this dish.
What is the significance of Gopalkala
The elements of this dish are intentionally diverse, symbolizing the significance of equality and unity.
In the traditional way of making Gopalkala, it’s like a big potluck party. People from the neighborhood or community each bring one or two ingredients for the dish, and all these ingredients are mixed together at the end. This is done because in a community, there are families with different financial situations. By using common ingredients like spices and flattened rice, it brings everyone together, no matter how much money they have. People can bring whatever food they have at home, and they all get to celebrate together with their community.
Lord Krishna is known for being a very humble God in our stories. He spent his childhood with cowherds, milkmaids, and farmers, which taught him about the importance of community, fairness, and standing together.
So, Gopalkala isn’t just a dish for a festival or a special offering. It’s a way for people to remember and practice the values that Lord Krishna believed in.
The cornerstone of Gopalkala is the use of flattened rice, commonly known as Poha or Pohe. Flattened rice comes in two varieties: thick (jaad) and thin (paatal). While either variety can be used, I’ve personally found that thick Poha yields better results, so that’s what I’ll be using in this recipe.
Additionally, it’s essential to soak the Poha for a brief minute before commencing the preparation of this dish. This quick soak ensures the Poha becomes soft and helps melding of flavors in the final dish.
Puffed Jowar and Puffed Rice:
These are also important ingredients of this dish. They form the base of the dish along with flattened rice. Before adding it to the dish, it is recommended to lightly toast them. This will avoid the chewy texture and make them more airy and palatable.
Soaked Chana Daal(split chick peas):
These play a pivotal role in imparting a delightful nutty essence to this dish. To prepare them, simply soak the split chickpeas in water for approximately 4-5 hours or in hot water for a shorter duration of 2-3 hours.
While various types of pickles can be used to enhance the flavor of Gopalkala, lemon pickle stands out as the most commonly utilized option. This preference is well-founded, given that it introduces a delightful, zesty citrus flavor to the dish, which harmoniously melds with the other ingredients. The tangy notes of lemon pickle complement the overall taste profile perfectly.
However, if lemon pickle is not available, you can substitute it with any other pickle that suits your taste preferences. The key is to choose a pickle that aligns with your flavor preferences and creates a balanced and enjoyable culinary experience when combined with the other components of Gopalkala.
Lord Krishna is renowned for his fondness for curd(yoghurt) and various dairy products, which is why they hold a prominent place in Gopalkala. Its presence not only contributes a delightful tangy flavor but also plays a crucial role in harmonizing and uniting all the diverse flavors within the Gopalkala.
Personally, I prefer my Gopalkala to have a slightly drier texture, but if you prefer a more moist consistency, you are welcome to increase the quantity of yogurt to achieve the desired level of moisture. Adjusting the yogurt content allows you to customize the dish to your personal taste preferences, ensuring a satisfying culinary experience.
Apple or pomegranate seeds:
I find that the most captivating characteristic of Gopalkala is the wide range of ingredients it incorporates. Typically, pomegranate seeds or diced guava are utilized to infuse the dish with both sweetness and tartness, creating a harmonious balance. However, due to our current location in the US, finding pomegranates and guavas in the market can pose a challenge. As a result, I had to replace these traditional ingredients with chopped apples, allowing me to maintain a similar balance of flavors and textures in this delightful dish.
If you appreciate a touch of spiciness in your Gopalkala, this particular ingredient can be a wonderful enhancement. However, I personally find Thai chilies to be excessively fiery for my palate. As a result, I’ve chosen to substitute them with de-seeded jalapenos, which impart the rich chili flavor without the intense heat.
Cucumber and Coriander leaves(cilantro):
The onus of infusing a refreshing quality into this dish lies with two key ingredients: cucumber and cilantro leaves. These elements serve a dual purpose as they not only contribute an enticing flavor but also elevate the overall nutritional profile of the dish.
The cucumber’s crisp and hydrating qualities provide a delightful contrast to the other ingredients. Its mild, earthy taste complements the dish by imparting a cool, refreshing sensation that balances out any bold or spicy flavors. Moreover, cucumbers are a fantastic source of hydration and contain vitamins and minerals, adding a healthy dimension to the Gopalkala.
Cilantro leaves, on the other hand, bring a burst of fresh, herbaceous notes to the dish. Their vibrant, citrus-like flavor enhances the overall taste experience while also contributing to the dish’s visual appeal. Beyond their culinary benefits, cilantro leaves are packed with antioxidants and vitamins, thereby enriching the nutritional content of the Gopalkala.
How to make
Begin by preparing the Poha. Place the Poha in a bowl, add water, and gently wash them for about a minute. Then, drain the water and set the Poha aside.
In another bowl, combine yogurt and sugar, mixing them thoroughly. Set this yogurt-sugar mixture aside as well.
Now, take a larger mixing bowl and add the following ingredients: the soaked Poha (flattened rice), laahi (puffed jowar), murmure (puffed rice), soaked Chana Daal, cucumber, the yogurt-sugar mixture, lemon pickle, chopped apple, desiccated coconut, cilantro leaves, chopped jalapenos, and salt.
Carefully blend all these ingredients together, ensuring they are well incorporated. While it’s recommended to use your hands for mixing to achieve the best results, you can also use a spoon if preferred.
Your delicious Gopalkala is now ready to be served and enjoyed.
Soaking the poha:
When soaking Poha, use only enough water to ensure that all the Poha is moistened. Avoid over-soaking for more than 1-2 mins, as it will make the Gopalkala overly soft and soggy.
Quality of ingredients:
Choose fresh and high-quality ingredients for the best flavor. Fresh fruits, crisp cucumbers, and quality yogurt will make a difference.
Adjust the heat:
If you prefer a spicier Gopalkala, you can increase the amount of chopped jalapenos or choose a hotter chili variety. Conversely, reduce the spice level for a milder taste.
Adjust the moisture:
Adjust the quantity of yogurt based on your preference for dry or moist Gopalkala. If you like it moister, increase the amount of yogurt.
Gopalkala is best enjoyed fresh. Try to consume it shortly after preparing to retain its vibrant flavors and textures.
Other Recipes to Try
If you found this recipe to your liking, I invite you to delve into a wide array of mouthwatering Indian recipes that I have on my website.
Gopalkala or Dahi Poha
- 1 cup thick poha flattened rice
- 1/4 cup dahi plain yoghurt
- 1/2 cup laahi puffed jowar
- 1/2 cup murmure puffed rice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp chopped cucumber
- 1 tbsp soaked chana daal
- 1 tbsp dessicated coconut
- 1 tbsp chopped jalapeno green chili
- 1 tsp lemon pickle
- 2 tbsp chopped apple you can used pomegranated seeds if available
- 1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves cilantro
- To start, prepare the Poha by placing it in a bowl, adding water, and giving it a gentle wash for about a minute. Afterwards, drain the water and set the Poha aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix together yogurt and sugar, and set aside.
- Next, take a larger mixing bowl and combine the soaked Poha (flattened rice), laahi (puffed jowar), murmure (puffed rice), soaked Chana Daal, cucumber, the yogurt-sugar mixture, lemon pickle, chopped apple, desiccated coconut, cilantro leaves, chopped jalapenos, and salt.
- Carefully mix all these ingredients together, ensuring they are thoroughly mixed.
- Your delectable Gopalkala is now ready to be served and savored.