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JFS:Dassera – the Round Up.

Raaga at The Singing Chef made some sundal to go with the memories of celebrating Navratri in Madras (now Chennai). 9 types of sundals for 9 nights! Now that is some Naivedyam. Along with the good, the somewhat not good memories surface.

Raaga-Sundal

We’d also get invited to people’s houses and everyone used to have the standard, “Oru Paattu Paadu Maa” (Please sing a song!). I was a moody child just as I am a moody adult. And I never did like singing at other people’s golus. … but try and see the world through the eyes of a 14 year old who has been learning music from the age of 4, who is interested in good music and not necessarily in raagas and azhuttam and all the associated stuff and you’ll know what I mean.

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Rachna from Soul Food made Vrat Kadhi

Rachna-Vrat Kadhi

From my childhood days, I’ve spent these nine days fasting and feasting on yummy fasting food, hearing bhajans glorifying the mother goddess and waiting for my ‘kanjak’ on the 8th day. (In Punjab, on the 8th (ashtami) day, little gifts and a plate of halwa-poori, chole is given to little girls).

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Renuka from Fusion writes how Navratri Golu is celebrated in Tamilnadu. She lists the 10 Devis and their temples,too.

In Tamilnadu the tenth day is known as AYUDHA POOJA .On this day people worship books,instruments,machineries,vehicles….On VIJAYADASAMI it is considered auspicious to start anything new.Here we can find lot of children joining schools,music classes and dance classes

Her second entry brings recipes for 8 types of sundals. Now that is a celebration!

Sundals are made using Black channa,White channa,Channa dhal,Moong dhal,Green peas,White peas,Motchai,Horse gram,Greeng gram,Groundnuts/Peanuts,Red lobia (Karamani),White lobia.

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Siri at Siri’s Corner had a tri-color feast with Aloo Pulav, Palak Methi Paneer and Carrot Halwa. Check out the cream laced Palak Methi Paneer. Definitely my kind of girl! She also has a story.

But Rama needed 108 blue lotuses for the worship of the Divine Mother, while Rama had managed to procure only 107. He was on the verge of laying one of his eyes that was lotus-shaped and blue in color at the Goddess’s feet when Shakti, satisfied with the measure of his devotion, granted her blessings.

Siri-Collage

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Musical from Musical’s Kitchen explains the rules of fasting in Punjab and makes some smashing Khatte Wale Aloo.

People enjoy goodies made out of swaang (literal meaning, pretend) da chawal (samo), singhare da atta (water chestnut flour)-relished as rotis, choora and halva, kuttu de atte di roti (rotis made out of kuttu flour) etc. Salt is replaced by kala loon/kala namak/sendha namak (black salt). The sabzis, daals and kadhis are made sans and onion, garlic and even tomatoes! People enjoy the laddoos/pinnis made out of jaggery and red amaranth seeds (boor, seel, rajgira).

Musy-Khatte wale aloo

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Roopa at My chow Chow Bhath made some lip-smacking Bhoondi Ladoos. Now, if that doesn’t sound like festive season, I don’t know what would.

Roopa-Bhoondi Ladoo

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Radha has lovely photos of the golu, thambulam and the Carrot Halwa and Black Kondakadalai. She explains the golu as

The Golu arrangement is a sheer exercise of creativity which reminds us of the age old folk lore and puranas. In modern context it gives an opportunity for people to mingle with one another and relish the refreshments served. The guests invited are offered betal leaves (thambulam) which is mutually reciprocated during the visits of friends and relatives. On an auspicious note, exchange of thambulam spells harmony and good will for hindu families.

Radha-Thambulam

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Easy Crafts made some Jevarisi (Sabudana/Sago) Pudding. Check out her other posts for navratri, too.

Easy Crafts-Jevarisi Payasam

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Sunita from Sunita’s world has a wonderful post on her childhood bijoydashmi memories. When a post starts as I quote below, you know what follows has to be good.

..the Durga puja season…the season of autumn( sorot kal, as we call it)…. when there is a slight nip in the air…when the sun shines down a bit lazily…when there are smiles all around…people moving to and and fro with that sense of urgency to reach the puja mondop and offer their prayers…to get a strategic place to stand before it gets over crowded.

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Sharmi at Neivedyam made some Sago Pudding. Man, does that bring back memories.

Sharmi-Sago Pudding

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Vegconcoctions has some really beautiful and creative Golu pics at her blog. A must-see.

Navrathri Golu

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Rina at >Rina’s Recipes has some very sunny sundal

Rina-Sundal

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Remya over at Spices ‘n Flavors has Golu at her blog along with some gorgeous Sweet Appam”

Remya-Sweet Appam

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Vineela at Vineela’s Cuisine has some beautiful Golu pics as her entry.

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Daily Meals has very festive Boondi Ladoos up her sleeve.

Daily Meals-Boondi Ladoos

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An excellent Dasara in Mysore post by Namratha at Finger Licking Food.

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Srivalli at Cooking 4 all seasons has neivedya for Ayudh Pooja

Srivalli-Ayudh Pooja

and Vijaya Dashmi.

Srivalli-Vijaya Dashmi Feast

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Rachna of Soul Food has some easy Peanut Ladoos, tailor made for the modern Indian pantry.

Rachna-Peanut Ladoo

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Asha of Foodies Hope brings in a Tamilian Festive Feast to the gathering. Asha, How do you do it? The Mysore Palace and links toMysore Dassera celebrations make this a must-see post.

Asha-Feast

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Kajal of Kajal’s Dreams has all you ever wanted to know about Navrathri/Dassera and garba and more.

Modern Garba is also heavily influenced by Raas a dance traditionally performed by men. It is performed on 9 nights, ‘Navratri’ to Goddess Ambica, where women dance gracefully in circles sometimes also using, ‘Bedu, Kanjari’ or just ‘Taali’ and ‘Chapti’. The word Garba is derived from the word Garba Deep meaning a lamp inside a perforated earthen pot. The light inside the perforated earthen pot symbolized the embryonic life.

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Sandeepa, the one of the Bong Mom’s CookBook, the one who weaves stories with her words, the one who has disabled mouse selection on her blog – gives me a special post that has been coming a year. There are many parts of the post that would have been great previews, but lack of space and -ahem, some technical difficulties – led to me selecting this one.

..see Sondhi Pujo on Friday evening and wait for the 108 lamps to be lit albeit by electricity, wait for the Arati and seek blessings from those flames for myself, my daughter, my family, have Bhog on Styrofoam plates balanced on my knees, catch up with friends and overhear elderly Bengali ladies displaying their expensive saree and jewellery subtly.Amidst the crowds and the haze of the incense, I will look up to Durga’s face and see her still smiling kindly and I shall hope that smile gives my daughter belief in her own strength…

Sandeepa, special rule for you from next year. You need to send in the preview of your post as part of the entry. And that’s whats you get for the union wise crack. 😎

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Talimpu has the most photogenic Andhra Pulihora. Don’t believe me? Just take a look!

Talimpu-ava_pulihara

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Gulkand and Khoya come together for this delicious sounding treat from Mansi at Fun and Food.

Mansi-Gulkand-Burfi

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I definitely know there were more entries around the blogospere for Dassera. But these are the only ones that I have emails for. If your entry is not included, please drop me a line! Diwali Entires next.

Stuffed Chillies.

I have had mind-boggling two weeks which along with the weather hasn’t helped my disposition at all.

Really groggy weather in my neck of the woods right now. It is not raining but it seems likes it would rain any minute now and its been like that for the past three days without a drop of rain. The greenery seems to be going brown without going through the customary color change and that is just sad. For fall is not fall until the colors come in. Three weeks into september and I am already missing summer. The weird weather is to blame. There is slight chill in the air. Not much but enough to send the kids into the customary change of season cold. I am already dreading the winter this season.

The weather, though, has had me craving for deep-fried stuff all week. I am resolutely ignoring it. Thinking ahead, I am saving myself for Diwali, you see. Maybe if I abstain for the next month, I can gorge away the diwali goodies guilt-free. One can always hope. Sedentary lifestyles make you plan ahead for these things. But I digress. I was talking about the last two weeks.

Early on, as soon as I posted about the sweet appe, my blender died on me. Serves me right for cribbing about it in the last two posts. I had a good GE model with a coffee grinder attachment which had served me well the past 4 years. With the kind of use I have made of it, I am surprised it took so long for it to give up on me. But, the whole thing was disappointing. I always thought that the day it dies on me would be the day I have a dozen people for dinner. There I would be trying to grind up a heavenly curry paste and it would blast out, make horrible sounds, keep sputtering and the red light that signifies the machine is on would fade away slowly, kind of like the eye of the terminator at the end of each movie. And that I would see my dream of an Indianised Martha Stewartesque meal fading away with that light. O, the horror! O, the pain! If nothing so melodramatic, I thought that it would at least do me the favor of dying a spectacular death with the top flying away and the stuff that I was trying to grind hitting the roof and coming down in a shower. You know, a shower of strawberry smoothie early in the morning would be a spectacular way to start a day, wouldn’t it? But alas, no such luck. It just sputtered and ground itself to halt, never to make a peep again. Why? Because.

So anyway, I am having the biggest internal debate. I have decided to take this oppurtunity to invest in either an Indian mixer/grinder or the wet grinder. I can’t decide between the two. So I have decided to make it a democratic decision. I invite my readers to please vote for either so that I can finally decide. Yes, the word decide is on my mind too much these days. The Libran moon is up, my friends.

While you guys are voting on that, you could also comment on how one should deal with a 3 year old when you trying to talk to him about a certain not-good-boy thing he did and he replies,

“I don’t want to talk about it”.

To say, I was flabbergasted would be putting it mildly. I was completely dumb-founded and had no idea how to proceed. I stood there mute, actually feeling the sting of the ‘chaata‘ I would have got from my parents in such scenarios. They same ‘chaata‘ that they never got a chance to dispense, btw. He hasn’t repeated the action, but I would still like to be more prepared for statements like that one in case they make an appearance again. I still haven’t thought of a good retort. Yep, amazing two weeks I have had.

I decided to stuff my misery, my undecisiveness and my complete lack of ability to overcome a 3 year old among other stuff into some Anahiem Peppers and have a good dinner, instead. This decision was the easy part.

Stuffed Chillies

Recipe:

1)

Prep the chillies. Make a small horizontal cut,parallel to the stem about 1 cm below it. Make a vertical slit perpendicular to the first slit to the tip of the pepper. OPen up the pepper gently and remove all the seeds inside. I don’t remove the ribs. Sprinkle some salt on the peppers and keep it aside while you prepare the stuffing. The salting is an optional step. I do it because it softens the peppers just enough to allow it to cook quicker.

2) For the Stuffing. Mix

1/2 cup Besan/Chickpea Flour
1/4 cup Fresh Coconut gratings
1/4 cup Peanut powder
1 tsp Coriander Powder/Dhaniya
1/4 tsp Turmeric/Haldi
1 tsp Peanut Oil
a pinch Asafetida/Hing
Salt to taste
Juice from One lemon

together to almost form a dough. This stuffing is enough for 6 medium length peppers.

3) Gently stuff the dough into the chillies.

4) In a 8′ pan, heat a tsp of oil and spread it all over the pan’s surface . Add

a pinch of hing

Place the peppers on pan so that they are not overlapping. Immediately lower the flame, cover and cook for about ten minutes on each side. The time taken to cook would depend upon the amount of stuffing in your chillies. The steam and juices from the pepper should go through the stuffing right to its center. Make a cut on one of the chillies to make sure it has cooked all the way through. There is nothing good about uncooked besan. Enjoy.

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Naivedya: Sweet Appe

Nothing shouts coastal cuisine than an abundance of coconut in it. Other than seafood, that is. But we are still in the festive mood and so lets just stick to the coconut part. If I had any doubts regarding the role coconut plays in our life, they are crushed to smitterens every time I ask my mom for a traditional recipe. And it was replayed again when I asked for the recipe of Goud(Sweet) Appe (dumplings?). These appe are the traditional naivedyam offered to Ganpati during the Chavathi festival. They are made of, among other things, coconut and jaggery which seems to be a recurring theme in all the forms of prasad that is offered to this diety. Of course, growing up they were not my favorite things but as is the case with things, once they were no longer present I missed them. I asked my mom for the recipe so that I could recreate it this year. Now we are all familiar with the way moms tend to dispense recipe nuggets. However, with traditional recipes like these which are made once a year, my mom has exact proportions for all the ingredients except they are in coastal cuisine lingo.

Do you all remember basic geometry theorems? You have one-line theorems that you have to prove using other one-line theorems that could be proved using the current theorem you are trying to prove? You do? Good. Because deciphering the recipe is almost the same. Of course, there are some basic assumptions.

First, the ingredient list.

“Ekka Narla-ka, ek Kilo Goud aNi ek Kilo Rawa”

Translation:

For one coconut, one kilo jaggery and one kilo rawa.

Assumptions:

1) One coconut = gratings of one coconut.
2) Size of said Coconut = medium.
3) Any konkani worth his/her salt would know what a medium coconut is. (Have I not taught you anything, O clueless child of mine?)

Procedure Part 1.

Narla Vatooche, goud ghalnu melNu yevve tai vatooche. Kadeke rawa ghalnu ek pati ghundache

Translation:

Grind coconut, add jaggery and grind till everything is mixed. Finally add rawa and blend once to mix.

Assumptions:

1) 1 kilo Jaggery = 1 kilo jaggery grated.
2) Cardamom not mentioned is cardamom included.
3) Grind coconut = grind coconut till just enough.
4) Any konkani worth his/her salt would know how much is just enough. (Have I not taught you anything, O clueless child of mine?)

Procedure Part 2.

Don ghante puNi bareen kaNu dAvarche. Maagiri hoguru Ujjari toLNu kadche.

Translation:

Keep aside for at least two hours and deep-fry on a low flame.

Assumptions:

1) Deepfrying Fat = Ghee.

The last one is the best because she manages to give the most important tips for the recipe in one sentence. One, to let the mixture rest and two, to deep fry on a slow flame. How do you know when it is cooked? Any Cook worth his/her ……

—-Sorry Mom—–

Goud Appe

The biggest challenge after deciphering the recipe was to convert it into cup measures. Even though I have access to a coconut, the necessary implements for grating it and the enthu to grate it, the output from those proportions would still take us weeks to finish off. The second problem was the deepfrying the mixture. There is essentially no binder ingredient (like flour) in this mixture and it depends on the rawa absorbing all the liquid from the coconut and jaggery to help keep it together. The resting period goes a long way in achieving that. I have cribbed about my bender before and I do it again. In my kitchen, it is doing a job it is not engineered to do. Extra liquids go a long way in achieving this. More liquids means more trouble for the mixture to bind together. So, I decided to forgo the deepfrying to actually making them like appe. Which means access an Aebleskiver pan or the japanese takoyaki pan or the appam pan is essential.

Recipe :

Grind in a blender/ mixie, till the gratings seem like an homogenous mixture and not separate grains

2 cups Coconut gratings

using water, only as required. Once done, add

2 1/2 cups of jaggery, grated

and blend till the jaggery disintegrates. Add

1/2 tsp Cardamom/Elaichi powder, fresh always good.
1 cup Rawa/Sooji

and blend once just to mix everything together. Remove to a bowl and set aside to rest for at least 2 hours. I kept it for 4 hours.

Heat the appam pan. Lower flame to medium-low. Pour

1 tsp melted ghee, in each depression

When the ghee heats up, add

2 tbsp of the mixture, in each depression

This needs to be done very gently, be careful of the splattering ghee. Cook uncovered till the mixture on top changes color. Gently turn the appe over. You might have to slightly scrape the sides of each depression to do that. I use a small knife for the scraping and a spoon to turn it over. Cook until the other side browns up. Remove and drain on paper towels.

This recipe yields 32 appe. This post also joins the Festive cooking series: Ganesh Chaturthi at The Yum Blog.

GaNpati Bappa Morya…

Naivedya : Malai Modak

My favorite Deity is celebrating his birthday today.

I am missing Bombay, I am missing Wadala Math and Krida Mandir and more than that I am missing my family. Even with loud music blaring from speakers and all the vargani politics in Bombay, this festival rocks!

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi, Happy Chavathi, Everyone!

On the day before Chavathi, we have Gauri/VaiNa pooja.

Vaina Pooja 2007

A humble coconut goes from a hard nut to a beautiful woman’s face. All of the dried husk from its shell are removed. In fact, I actually take a knife and scrape on the hard shell to make it as smooth as possible. Each family takes pride in how smooth they can make the coconuts surface. The three “eyes” of the coconut become its face. The top two are applied “KaJaL” to signify its eyes while the bottom one is applied “Shindor” to imply the mouth/lips. The “Shindoor” is orange powder and different from the ” KumKum” which is red. ‘Gaandh’, sandalwood paste is applied in between the “eyes” to signify the ‘bindi’ ( and the ‘Savashini’-married not widowed status). Kumkum is applied on top of the “Gaandh’ and a flower on top of the coconut making the transformation to a ‘Savashin’ complete. At the end of the pooja and just before the aarti, a little ‘diva’ is replaces the flower turning the ‘Savashini’ into gauri/vaiNa. After the pooja, each of the VaiNa is distributed to all the ‘savashin’ females of the house.

Till tomorrow people…

The Patholi Pictorial.

This summer I finally did what I had been planning for a long time. I pushed some fresh turmeric root into a pot of soil and prayed. In a classic manifestation of “ask and ye shall receive”, I received. Each of the root turned into a beautiful plant, having at least 10 leaves each. Though the leaves were nowhere near the size that one would get in an Indian market during this season, it didn’t matter because I had the leaves and that means that I could finally make some Paan Patholi.

Patholi is essentially Coconut+Jaggery mixture in rice+coconut paste steamed in turmeric leaves. It is a Konkani specialty and is usually made during Nagpanchami which is when I made these. The magic in this comes from the leaves. It is all about the leaves in fact. They are not just the pot holder here. They impart a very subtle taste to the rice paste during the steaming process that cannot be replicated by any alternative. Well, Banana leaves can be used but it would be a different taste. Good, but not the same. And the aroma, Oh the aroma, to die for. Not before eating a steaming hot patholi, though.

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Turmeric Plants in my patio Garden

For the past four years, I made the patholi in parchment papers in the absence of the turmeric leaves. Shilpa has a great post on that.

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Leaves washed and wiped clean

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Trimmed and lined for the magic

And the magic happens so.

For the rice paste,

Soak

1 cup raw rice

for 1-2 hours. Grind the rice with

1 cup poha/flattened rice
2-3 tbsp of grated fresh coconut
1/2 tsp of Jaggery, grated
salt, a pinch

with as little water as possible,till it forms a smooth paste. With my blender the way it is, I had to add more water and ended up making it more watery than it is upposed to be. It didn’t hurt the end product, but it was messy applying it to the leaf. This paste needs to be not runny at all. You should be able to scoop it up with your fingers and smear it on the leaf, in the leaf’s shape without the paste running over. Once done, keep aside.

For the stuffing,

Mix, slightly crushing it to release the coconut and jaggery juices,

1 cup Fresh coconut gratings
3/4 cup Jaggery gratings
2-3 Cardamom Pods, crushed and powdered

Let the stuffing begin. Line the leaves on a clean table/counter top. Hold the tip of the leaf with your left hand, scoop some of the paste with your right hand and apply the rice paste, starting at the mid vein of the leaf. Start working outwards to follow the shape of the leaves. The hand instructions reverse if you are left-handed, of course. The paste should be applied in as thin a layer as possible without the green of the leaf coming through.Repeat for all leaves.

Wash hands. Have the steamer ready with the water boiling. Scoop the stuffing and put it on the mid-vein of the leaf in a thin line. This is so that when the leaf is folded over, the stuffing is exactly in the middle and the thin line makes sure that the stuffing does not overflow. When the jaggery melts during the steaming, it will start spreading towards a wider surface area.

Fold one side of the leaf over the other length-wise. Press ever so lightly around the periphery of the leaf, so that paste sticks together. Steam for 10-12 minutes till the kitchen smells of all things wonderful. You will know, you will just know.

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Paste applied and stuffing layered on the leaf.

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The leaves folded over the stuffing and ready for steaming

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The patholis steaming away to glory in a traditonal steamer. This is called the ‘peDavaNa’ and was a gift from my mother. A more traditional steamer would have been made of ‘pithili’ (brass, I think).

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A Patholi uncovered and ready to be devoured.

Believe what I say and don’t believe my camera. The photograph does not do justice to the magic that is patholi.

My entry to JFI-Rice, over at Sharmi’s Neivedyam, and RCI-Karnataka at Asha’a Foodies Hope.

Turns out to be a excellent entry to Green Blog project-Summer 2007 over at Deepz, too.

UPDATE Aug 31 :

Just wanted to clarify that you do not eat the actual leaf. You peel the leaf off a steamed patholi, and just eat whats inside. At this point, the leaf has already given all of its magic to the patholi. The actual dish is the steamed rice + coconut paste with the sweet stuffing inside.

The different names for this sweet in various regional cuisines,

Konkani – Patholi
Kannadiga – Genesale
? – Paangi