Weekend brunch: Tri-colored javein

I was born and raised in Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in all of India. If UP, as it is popularly known, were a nation, it would be the 6th biggest country in the world.

That reflects in the cuisine of the state, which has been influenced over centuries by waves upon waves of empire-building invasions. The long series of Mughal invasions gave rise to the famous Awadhi cuisine. The most common Indian food served in US restaurants is a mixture of Awadhi and Punjabi food, richly spiced and cooked in butter and cream.

Food at home, while eclectic, was decidedly more saatvik. Influenced both by the geography and religion, it relied on fresh vegetables, fruit, lentils and light dairy. Made with very little oil and few spices, it was simple, fresh, and supposedly kept one peaceful and calm.

A classic example of saatvik breakfast fare is Javein (Juh-vayn, with just a hint of the n at the end). Tiny whole wheat pasta rolled at home by women, this version of vermicelli can be sweet or savory. I grew up watching the neighborhood aunties make their morning rounds, carrying a tiny tin of dough in the folds of their saris, their fingers busy rolling pasta as they exchanged news. My mom could roll a pound of javein in a week, dry roasting the pasta before storing it for future use.

She still does the same, sometimes dyeing the dough with fresh vegetables and spices before shipping it to her daughters.

I make javein like she taught me, sautéed with a few vegetables and sprinkled with lime juice. It makes for a light and delicious brunch.


1 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric (I omitted it here because I wanted to keep the color of the pasta)
1 tbsp green chili-ginger paste
1 cup parboiled vegetables (peas and carrots are common choices)
1 cup vermicelli, broken into shorter lengths (orzo would make a fine substitute, but you may have to adjust the water according to package instructions)
2 cups water
1 tbsp lime juice
a few sprigs of cilantro
salt to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Wait till they start popping, then add the ginger-chili paste and saute quickly. Add the vegetables and salt and saute for a minute or so.

Pour in the water and bring it to a boil. Now add the vermicelli, turn the heat to low, cover and cook, stirring once or twice till all the water is absorbed. Add the lemon juice, gently fluff and serve with chopped cilantro on top.

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About purplesque

Psychiatrist, cook, bookworm, photographer. Not necessarily in that order.
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24 Responses to Weekend brunch: Tri-colored javein

  1. Jabulani says:

    Does Mom want another "daughter" to send Javein to? I'll send her hand-sewn stuff … or maybe Aunty would like an South African/English niece?? Hungry now. Thank goodness chinese is on it's way 😉

  2. Purplesque says:

    🙂 I think she'd be delighted. What did you order?

  3. Katiebell says:

    Oh My. that does look lovely. Do you think some tofu, black bean or chicken could be added without ruining the flavor. (I have to have protein)

  4. Purplesque says:

    Either of the three would be fine, Katie! I added fresh Indian beans instead of peas to up the protein a bit. Black eyed peas, chickpeas, black beans..

  5. jaklumen says:

    Very interesting– I did not know about these regional differences of Indian cuisine.The recipe looks fabulous– I made a note of it on my computer. Can other types of short pasta be used in a pinch?Oh, and by the way, I have been exploring solar cooking (solar-electric cooking, actually, more on that here). Any suggestions?

  6. Purplesque says:

    I think do, Jak..any kind of short, thin pasta should work. Something like orzo or trofie..I don't have much experience with solar cooking in the US. We had a solar cooker in India, a long time ago. My mom used it to cook copious amounts of rice and protein for the dogs 🙂

  7. jaklumen says:

    Something like orzo or trofie..Don't have anything like that… egg noodles, maybe? The rest is lasagna, spaghetti, and macaroni.

  8. Purplesque says:

    Hmm..you might be better off just substituting rice, then. The bigger pasta would be too dense..

  9. Emmi says:

    Love the colorful plate of food. Thanks for posting the recipe!
    The Aryuvedic principle is somewhat backed up by a recent study in the journal Nutrition, that vegetarians are "happier" (whatever that means…) than meat eaters.

  10. Brown Suga' says:

    Wow! Looks good… like a slightly different version of bhelpuri.

  11. Purplesque says:

    Thanks, Emmi. As for vegetarians being happier, I don't know, having lived with vegetarians all my life..lol

  12. Brown Suga' says:

    How is the javein made? Is it like standard bhujia, except it's made with atta instead of maida/ besan? Is it baked or fried?

  13. Purplesque says:

    Su, Javein are usually made of atta, maida, or a mixture of two. They're neither baked nor fried, just dried (in the sun if possible) and then dry roasted before cooking in water. So the end product is not crisp like bel puri but soft like cooked pasta.

  14. Brown Suga' says:

    Oh ok. I must try it sometime!

  15. Vijay says:

    I was going to call you a typical Northie-turned-American with no understanding of geography for saying UP could become the sixth biggest country in the world when India is only the seventh biggest country in the world. Then I realized you were talking about population, not area!! 🙂

  16. Purplesque says:

    Good, because if you had said that I would have chased you down to your dark air-conditioned office with its many computers and tackled you. 😉

  17. Priya says:

    I LOVE your blog. And this is one of my favorite posts (along with the Heirloom post from last year and the one you did on the Indian sweets). I love your evocative descriptions (and pictures) of the traditions and foods you grew up with and your family. Such a lovely little glimpse into a part of India that I am totally unfamiliar with (my family is from the Kanara coast). Your mom sounds like my mom – just plain WONDERFUL 😉

  18. Purplesque says:

    Thank you so much, Priya. Your comment means a lot. 🙂 Moms are wonderful, aren't they? Do you have a web presence?

  19. Priya says:

    Unfortunately no web presence 😦 I am a tech dum-dum 😉 Only use my computer for email and faithfully reading my fav blogs.

  20. what an awesome recipe and a treat to the eyes as well!

  21. SingingTuna says:

    Hi!!Oh, that looks so good!I hope you've been well and happy!Not sure if you'll remember me; I left Vox (except for this old identity) a while ago but learned last night about the closing. It's so sad!!!!!!I wanted to stop in and say that you gave me the courage to try some new recipes. You also shared the most exquisite photography of food (especially) that I've ever seen.For the next few days I'll be posting little updates, in case anyone wants to know where I am. I already have a WordPress blog ( since before I came to Vox). It's daily posts, just yammering. And The SingingTuna has successfully migrated to Typepad but that site is confusing the heck out of me…LOLAnd on my Redbubble site I list all the other place I am:HEREAnyway…………….I hope to stay in touch. And if you'd rather not, I understand.

  22. Purplesque says:

    Oh. My. God.((hugs)) and **kisses**!!!How have you been? Where have you been? I kept thinking about you..We'll Definitely keep in touch. I'm just SO happy to hear from you! I haven't decided where (and whether) to move my blog elsewhere- may be it should rest in peace with Vox. Will be thinking about it this weekend.

  23. SingingTuna says:

    ((((((happyhugs))))))I've been making art, trying to sell it…..doing a lot of blogging, trying to get my name out there. Slow going.But I'm everywhere on the internet! Seriously…lots of places. None like Vox, though.I WISH you'd bring your photography to Redbubble!!! You'd be sooooooooooooooooooooooo welcome and your art would sell (if you want) and if you just wanted to show it (not selll it) you'd still be a huge HIT!! It's free. It's very simple. If you don't want to sell, you don't have to give them any personal info, just an email, like Vox. Gotta go for now.Back later!

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