Happy Deepavali! Continue reading
Ting. I glanced to see another email pop up at the corner of my screen. “Re Happy Deepavali” read the subject. I smiled as I leaned back knowing full well I could expect many more to stream in through the day. This morning as I picked people from my personal contacts list to send a wish, I enjoyed the process. Reading each name and wondering about the last time I spoke to them or connected with them. There were some that I had spoken to over the weekend and some whose names brought a smile to my face. People whom I had forgotten existed.
As the replies came each wishing me back or some with a return wish and a “How have you been?” tacked to the end, I filed them in order mentally making a note to respond. Deepavali unlike other festivals for me is all about socializing. I take that back. Its about new clothes, good food and socializing. Growing up, the cherished part of deepavali was the clothes shopping. Each year mom and I would make our ritual Pondy Bazaar outing. Stopping at Flora and Poonam and Sonali. Glancing at all the wares disinterestedly waiting for the eventual stop at Naidu Hall. One year it was the bright yellow ‘frock’ type top with a motley print bottom. One year it was the denim blue top with a white bottom. Yet another year was the punjabi style flared pajama with a tight fitting salwar. Some years I picked two and even three salwars. Thank god for readymades I would think for they fit me perfectly. Heading home, I would try them on, one by one and parade in front of the mirror or the scant audience comprising an adoring amma and a disinterested appa. The worth of the clothes marked by how much Amma paid for them. As the years passed, there was a time when I was influenced by peers to try the roadside shops by alsa mall or the tailored sets that cost much lesser. That phase did not last long though.
Fast forward a decade, not much has changed. I eagerly look forward to my ganga snanam, new salwars still lying in their original bag from India and my first attempt at making sweets and savories this evening. I look forward to calling my friends over the phone and smile filled faces wishing “Happy Deepavali” all day tomorrow.
Iniya Deepavali Nal Vazhthukkal aka Happy Deepavali!!
Rads’s post on Holi sent me back on a trip down memory lane. I have only ever celebrated Holi once. I hate being ‘dirtied’ in color and dreaded stepping out on ‘Holi’ should some enthusiastic stranger decide to anoint me with gulal. I escaped all my school years simply because Madras and specially the suburb I grew up in had very few people who celebrated.
College in Coimbatore was different though. There were occasional episodes of being unwillingly made colorful. The final year however, saw me and my friends plan to celebrate it. The details are hazy now, but I have memories of running in the ground near the stadium with a friend determined to apply color following me. A little while later, the bunch of us were summoned to the AO’s room and given a nice lecture on ‘decency and decorum’. I got a special lecture as well since the AO was friends with my father. I remember the boisterous feeling evaporate and feeling very small standing in front of him.
Looking back, I wonder if I never really enjoyed the festival because it is a festival of sponatenity and I saw myself as prim and practical? Or I felt it was something alien to me. Looking at all the holi wishes and pics on facebook makes me want to celebrate now.
Ezhu kari kootu or seven vegetable stew is a savory stew of vegetables in tamarind water garnished with a spice mix that replaces the sambar powder. This is usually served with Thiruvadhirai Kali or Chakkara pongal. It is customary to use seven, nine, eleven or odd numbered vegetables.
Stuff you will need:
Seven vegetables that are a combination of root vegetables, pods, over the ground vegetables etc. A sample list is as under. Cut these into equal sized bits. Ideally 1″ bits so they retain shape even when pressure cooked.
Flat beans (Sabre beans)
Seppan kizhangu (no idea what it is called in other languages)
Mocchai (similar to lima beans)
Dry red chillies – 8
Bengal gram – a handful
Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
1/4 of a coconut shredded
Curry leaves – 2 – 3 twigs
Thuvar dhal – 2 handfuls
Salt to taste
Turmeric – 2 tsp
Tamarind the size of a small lemon – soaked and extracted to a pulp
Oil for tempering
Black mustard seeds – 1tsp
Urad dhal – 1 tsp
Jaggery – 1 tbsp
How to make it?
Dry roast and grind the chillies, bengal gram dhal, coriander seeds, coconut gratings and curry leaves. Set aside. Pressure cook vegetables and thuvar dhal with salt, turmeric and asafoetida in little water. In a wok, heat oil, season mustard and urad dhal. When done add tamarind pulp, cooked vegetables/dhal, ground spice mix, jaggery and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Turn stove off and garnish with coriander leaves.
This is usually served with Thiruvadhirai kali or Chakkara pongal.
Pongal chutney brings images of warmth in me. Always. Pongal being typically associated with Margazhi visually conjures up foggy mornings and the warm pongal sliding down my throat. The chillies in the chutney and the black pepper in the pongal warming my insides and the contented feeling of a full stomach.
Stuff you will need:
1 cup white rice
1/2 cup moong dhal
Salt to taste
Black pepper – 2 tsp broken
Cumin seeds/Jeera – 2 tsp
Curry leaves – 2 twigs
Cashews – 10 broken in half and roasted in ghee
Ghee – 2 tbsps
Ginger 1 inch cube – shredded
How to make it?
Pressure cook rice and dhal together with salt to taste with 5 cups of water. Heat ghee in a small tempering vessel. Add cumin seeds. As it browns add black pepper, curry leaves and ginger. Set aside. When the rice dhal mixture is done, add the seasoning and the roasted cashews. Using a flat ladle mix it all well. The resulting texture should be a soft mashed pongal with the smell of ghee emanating.
Pongal is usually served with coconut chutney. A handful of grated coconut, a handful of pottu kadalai, 2-3 green chillies and salt to taste. Grind it all up to make a smooth paste, season with mustard and urad dhal and its done!