Panjeeri (also known as Panjiri) is a Pakistani / Indian superfood made with a mix of nuts, seeds, dry fruits and semolina that are fried in ghee (clarified butter) and then ground into a crunchy snack. Think of it as the Desi or South Asian version of granola.
It's known for it's strengthening, healing and recovery properties and is also a delicious snack for people of all ages, particularly for women recovering from childbirth or who are breastfeeding.
Panjeeri is traditionally made in the winters or for women who have just delivered a baby. In fact, the first time I made panjeeri was after a friend requested it after she had delivered her daughter. I called up my mother for her recipe, and have been making it ever since tweaking the recipe to suit the ingredients available abroad.
The ingredients used to make panjeeri provide nourishment and energy to recover from childbirth and aid in postpartum recovery. They also ease back pain, joint aches and facilitate lactation for breastfeeding mothers. If you have a friend or family member who has just delivered a baby, a jar of panjeeri is the best gift for them!
However, panjeeri is not just for postpartum recovery. Eating this traditional Pakistani / Indian superfood helps with joint pain and muscle ache, and is also good for your bones, hair and skin.
Read on ahead for my mother’s traditional family recipe for making panjeeri, along with substitutions and expert tips. This particular recipe is made with semolina (suji / sooji) and does not have any whole wheat flour (atta) in it.
This traditional superfood from the Indian sub-continent has multiple health benefits for people of all ages.
- It is high in healthy fats and can be used as a supplement to aid in healing and recovering strength from an illness, or surgery.
- Eating panjeeri helps with problems related to bone health such as arthritis, joint pain and muscle ache.
- The warming properties in this dish are helpful in regulating body temperature in the winter season, and the nuts and seeds used help with muscle pain and aches that are usually aggravated during the cold season.
- Panjeeri provides nourishment and energy to recover from childbirth and aids in postpartum recovery. It also eases back pain, joint aches and facilitates lactation for breastfeeding mothers.
- It’s high in the healthy kind of fat making it a delicious snack for children – natural and healthier compared to processed food available from the supermarket.
The ingredients for panjeeri vary depending from region to region, personal preference, and also what is available. Certain items are essential, however, feel free to adjust based on what is available, and what you enjoy eating.
If you are making it as a gift for someone else, it’s best to ask them beforehand what they would prefer to have added in the recipe. I have added the Hindi / Urdu word for the ingredients to make them easier to find in the Indian and Pakistani grocery stores.
- Semolina (Sooji) – Semolina is an essential ingredient in this recipe as it adds balance to the nuts and other ingredients. Quite a lot of panjeeri recipes use wholewheat flour (atta) as the base but my mother’s recipe uses semolina. Coarse semolina or fine semolina both can be used, though fine semolina is better because of its lighter texture.
- Fox Nuts (phool makhana) –also known as lotus seeds, these are the seeds of the lotus flower. They are called makhana or phool makhana in Hindi / Urdu and are easily available at South Asian grocery stores. The raw fox nuts / lotus seeds taste quite dry, however, once they are fried in ghee, they turn crispy and delicious. Fox nuts are high in calcium, making them good for bones. Make sure to fry these in the end as they tend to absorb a lot of oil.
- Nuts – I have used almonds and pistachios in this recipe, however, feel free to substitute with other nuts such as walnuts or cashews. You can also adjust the quantity of nuts based on personal preference, for instance, increasing the ratio of almonds to pistachios.
- Edible Gum / Edible Gum Crystals (Goond) – this is known as gond, gondh or gond katira in Hindi / Urdu and is easily available at South Asian grocery stores. It is derived from a tree sap, and it is highly nutritious which is why it’s added to panjeeri. The edible gum looks like small crystals in its raw form. Once it’s fried it puffs up to about double its size.
- Coconut – desiccated coconut, shredded coconut or coconut flakes can be used in this recipe. It’s best to use unsweetened coconut so you can balance out the sugar in the end. Be careful when dry-roasting coconut as it tends to burn quite quickly.
- Ghee – Ghee or clarified butter is necessary to fry off the nuts and other ingredients. Be reasonably generous with the ghee otherwise the nuts and seeds won’t fry properly, and the panjeeri will taste dry and powdery. For a vegan version, substitute with coconut oil. Vegetable oil can be used if ghee isn’t available, however, it won’t have the nutrition benefits as ghee, and it also won’t taste as good.
- Raisins (called kishmish in Hindi / Urdu)– both dry raisins or dry sultanas can be used in panjeeri.
- Dates – I use medjool dates. Make sure to remove the seeds before adding to the food processor. Traditionally, dry dates or chuwaray are used in panjeeri. However, I find them too difficult to process even in my heavy-duty food processor. Both dates and raisins add sweetness to the dish, so keep in mind when adding sugar.
- Sugar – the raisins and dates add quite a bit of sweetness to the recipe so it’s best to add sugar to taste. I only add ½ - ¾ cup to the whole batch. Use finely granulated sugar or pulse regular sugar in a coffee grinder for a few seconds till fine and powdered. You can also use jaggery which is the traditional sweetener used in panjeeri. Do not use powdered sugar / icing sugar.
- Poppy seeds (Khash Khash) – these are easily available at Pakistani / Indian grocery stores. Can be skipped if not available.
- Melon Seeds (Char Maghaz) – the seeds that are added in panjeeri are known as char magaz (or four brains) and they are a combination of pumpkin, cucumber, watermelon and cantaloupe (rockmelon) seeds. They are called char magaz because it’s a combination of four seeds, all of which are known to increase memory and brain function. These can be found in South Asian grocery stores, otherwise substitute with whatever variety of melon seeds are available, or sunflower seeds, or pepitas.
Other ingredients you can use include wholewheat flour (atta), kamarkas (flame of the forest), pumpkin seeds, cardamom powder, ginger powder, and fennel seeds (saunf).
Check out my guide on how to stock a Pakistani Kitchen + Pakistani Pantry List (with English translation and descriptions).
Here's a step by step guide with pictures on how to make panjeeri / panjiri.
- Step 1 - Dry roasting: The first step is to dry roast the semolina, coconut, and poppy seeds. It’s best to dry roast every ingredient separately as they have different cooking times. The semolina takes the longest (about 10 – 12 minutes) – you can tell it’s done when the semolina changes colour to a light golden brown, and there is a nutty aroma released. Be careful when toasting the coconut as it tends to burn quite quickly. Mix all the dry roasted ingredients and set aside.
- Step 2 - Frying the nuts and seeds: Add ghee (clarified butter) to a shallow frying pan or karahi, and fry off the nuts and seeds one by one. Fry one ingredient at a time, adding more ghee as needed.
- Frying the edible gum / gond: The edible gum / goond tends to puff up and swell in size as it gets fried. This is completely normal. Be sure to use a spoon to stir, as otherwise it can clump into one big piece.
- Frying the dates and raisins: The dates and raisins are not dry like the other ingredients, so they don’t need as much ghee. Just add a teaspoon and fry for a few minutes so that their flavour is enhanced.
- Frying the makhana / foxnuts / lotus seeds: The fox nuts or makhana should be fried off in the end as they absorb the most ghee.
- Step 3 - Processing: Once all the ingredients are fried off, they need to be ground using a food processor. They can be ground on the coarser side, or they can be ground finer depending on personal preference. Start with processing the smaller ingredients first such as the nuts, and melon seeds, and then the bigger items such as the fox nuts and the dates. It’s best to process the ingredients individually or in small batches of similar ingredients otherwise it can clog up the machine, and result in chunks of nuts that are left unground. Smaller ingredients such as nuts and melon seeds can be ground together.
- Step 4 - Mixing: Once all the fried nuts, seeds and dates are processed add them to the dry roasted ingredients. Mix well, and then add sugar to taste. Panjeeri is ready.
No, not at all. Panjeeri is a very nutritious and healthy snack and can be consumed by people of all ages, including children. It has healing and strengthening properties so if you are feeling weak or fatigued, this is one of the best things to munch on. My mother would usually make a batch in the winters and we would consume it over the next few months. The benefit of eating it during the winters is that it’s considered a ‘hot’ or warming food, and is helpful with regulating body temperature and also help with the joint pain and muscle pain that can be aggravated during the cold weather. It is also a great snack for children as it gives them nourishment and energy, and it is also good for elderly who might be suffering from joint pain.
Note: If you are suffering from heart disease, have high blood pressure, or are pregnant consult with your doctor before consuming panjeeri regularly.
In case the panjeeri has a sticky consistency, it means the nuts and seeds have been processed too much and turned into butter. To fix, dry roast and add more semolina to bring it to the right powdery consistency.
It’s not necessary to have all the ingredients stated in the recipe. Panjeeri is very versatile, and you can adjust ingredients based on availability and preference. Certain ingredients are essential such as the semolina for the base, nuts and foxnuts for texture and crunch and dates for sweetness. However, the rest can be skipped or substituted with what is available to you. For instance, skip the pistachios and just add almonds. Skip the raisins, and add more dates instead. If you can’t find the melon seeds, and poppy seeds – just skip them. Or substitute them with pepitas and/or sunflower seeds.
If you live abroad, the ingredients such as edible gum (goond), fox nuts (phool makahanay), and melon seeds (chaar magaz) should be available at South Asian grocery stores – ones that specialize in Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi ingredients. Such as Patel Brothers in the USA. Otherwise you can look online – quite a few South Asian grocery stores have started delivering. If you can’t find a specific ingredient – just skip. Ingredients such as raisins, and semolina can be found at regular supermarkets.
- Roast / fry the ingredients on medium heat, stirring often to ensure that they don’t burn. The key to roasting / frying is to remove the rawness of the nuts and seeds, and enhance their flavour by releasing their nutty fragrance and flavour. In case an ingredient does get burnt – it’s best to discard as it can give the entire batch of panjeeri a bitter taste.
- Roast and fry the ingredients separately as they all have different cooking times. Certain ingredients such as nuts can be fried together, but ingredients such as edible gum or coconut should be fried separately otherwise, they can burn, and taste bitter.
- The same principle applies when processing the fried nuts, and seeds. Smaller ingredients such as nuts and melon seeds will blend quickly and can turn into a buttery consistency if processed too much. Plus processing items in small batches ensures that the ingredients are ground evenly, and don’t clog up the machine.
- Raisins and dates tend to turn the food processor blades sticky. Pulse a dry ingredient such as fox nuts / lotus seeds after processing them to remove the stickiness.
- The texture of the panjeeri depends on your personal preference. Some people prefer it on the coarse side, and don’t pulse it too fine. My preference is to keep it on the finer side, so I tend to process it more.
How to Eat
Panjeeri is healthy no doubt, however, it needs to be eaten in moderation. It is high in fat due to the nuts and seeds, but it’s the right kind of fat. Eat a small bowl, or 1 – 2 tablespoons at a time. It can also be eaten with milk similar to granola or muesli. It can also be sprinkled as a topping on yoghurt.
Panjeeri can be stored in an airtight container for a month. It can also be frozen, and kept for upto 6 – 8 months in the freezer.
More Pakistani / Indian recipes to try
Panjeeri / Panjiri
- 2 ½ cups / 500g semolina (suji / sooji)
- ¼ cup / 50g poppy seeds (khash khash)
- 1 ⅓ cup / 100 g desiccated coconut
- Ghee clarified butter, as needed
- ¾ cup / 100 g pistachios
- ⅔ cup / 100 g almonds
- 8 tablespoon / 100g edible gum (gondh)
- ¾ - 1 cup / 100g melon seeds (char magaz)
- ⅔ cup / 100 g raisins
- 1 cup / 200g medjool dates seeds removed
- 7 – 8 cups / 100 g foxnuts (makhanay / phool makhanay)
- ½ cup sugar or to taste
- Heat a large nonstick pan or skillet over low-medium heat. Once it is hot, add the semolina. Dry roast the semolina till it turns light golden, and emits a nutty aroma. Make sure to stir the semolina often so that it roasts evenly and doesn’t burn. Once the semolina is roasted, remove and place into a large bowl.
- In the same pan, add the poppy seeds and dry roast for a few minutes till they release a nutty aroma. Remove, and place in the same bowl as the roasted semolina.
- Turn heat to low, and add the coconut. Lightly toast the coconut, till it turns light golden and releases a coconutty aroma. Coconut tends to burn quite quickly so make sure to keep an eye on the stove, and stir often. Once the coconut is toasted, place it in the same bowl as the roasted semolina and poppy seeds. Mix all the dry roasted ingredients and set them aside.
- In the same pan, add a tablespoon of ghee and add the pistachios. Fry for 2 – 3 minutes, until they are light golden and release a nutty aroma. Remove the almonds and place them in a small bowl.
- Add a tablespoon of ghee to the same pan, and add the almonds. Roast till golden, making sure that the nuts don’t burn. Remove the almonds to a small bowl.
- Heat another tablespoon of ghee and add the edible gum (goond). Fry them for about 3 – 4 minutes, making sure to stir often. The edible gum crystals will puff up and double in size. Once they are fried, remove from the pan and place them in a small bowl.
- Next, add the melon seeds and lightly toast for 2 – 3 minutes until they release a nutty aroma. The melon seeds tend to sputter so be careful when frying them. If necessary, add ½ - 1 tablespoon of ghee.
- Heat another tablespoon of ghee, and add the raisins. Fry for 3 – 4 minutes, and then remove to a small bowl. Next, add more ghee and add the medjool dates (making sure that the seeds are removed) and fry for a few minutes. Remove and set aside in a bowl with the raisins.
- Add 2 – 3 tablespoons ghee to the skillet, and add the foxnuts / lotus seeds (phool makhana) to the pan. These tend to absorb quite a lot of oil / ghee, so it’s best to add them in the end. Roast for about 8 – 10 minutes, making sure to stir frequently until golden and crispy. Add more ghee if required. Remove the fried foxnuts / lotus seeds to a large bowl. In case your skillet is small, fry the fox nuts in batches.
- In a food processor add the pistachios and almonds (or whatever nuts you are using). Pulse for few seconds till the nuts are coarsely chopped. Remove and add to a large bowl.
- Next, add the melon seeds and fried edible gum crystals to the food processor. Pulse for a few seconds till coarsely chopped, and crunchy. The texture should be similar to the nuts. Remove and add to the large bowl with the nuts.
- Next, add the dates and raisins to the food processor. Pulse for about 30 seconds – 1 minute till they are coarsely chopped. The raisins and dates tend to be a little sticky and stick to the blades, so add a cup of the fried fox nuts / lotus seeds to the food processor. Pulse for a few seconds till the mixture comes together, and then remove to the bowl with the nuts.
- Add the remaining fox nuts / lotus seeds to the food processor and process for about 30 seconds – 1 minutes till a coarse texture is achieved. I prefer my panjeeri to be on the finer side so I usually process more, but you can leave it more whole and coarser. Add the crushed fox nuts to the large bowl. Give all the nuts and ingredients a thorough mix, and then add the dry roasted ingredients. Mix well.
- At this point, taste the panjeeri for sweetness and add sugar to taste. I usually use ½ cup – ¾ cup sugar but you can add, based on personal preference.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If storing panjeeri for longer, keep it in a box in the freezer. This recipe makes about 1.2 kg of panjeeri – it’s possible to halve the recipe as well.
- It’s always best to measure out the ingredients for panjeeri before starting the recipe.
- Roast / fry the ingredients on medium heat, stirring often to ensure that they cook evenly, and don’t burn. In case an ingredient does get burnt – it’s best to discard as it can give the entire batch of panjeeri a bitter taste. It's best to roast / fry ingredients separately as they all have different cooking times.
- The same principle applies when processing the fried nuts, and seeds. Smaller ingredients such as nuts and melon seeds will blend quickly and can turn into a buttery consistency if processed too much.
- Raisins and dates tend to turn the food processor blades sticky. Pulse a dry ingredient such as fox nuts / lotus seeds or nuts after processing them to remove the stickiness.
- The final texture of the panjeeri depends on your personal preference. Some people prefer it on the coarse side, and don’t pulse it too fine. They also leave the fox nuts / lotus seeds whole for extra crunch. My preference is to keep it on the finer side, so I tend to process it more.