Festival food

Modak

Ganesh Chaturthi (or Ganapati festival) is a very popular festival in India. A Ganesh idol made of special clay is brought home, wherever they have this tradition spanning generations. There is also public Ganesh pooja popularised by India’s national leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak since the days India’s freedom struggle. I am here to talk about how we celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi at home.

The preparations begin atleast one week before the ‘Bhadrapada shukla chaturthi‘ a day on the Hindu calendar which normally occurs in August or September of every year. There are three aspects to the preparation.

1. Mantapa
This is a structure normally made of wood, which is decorated, and the Ganesha idol sits inside this mantapa. Normally in our house, a mantap sits on the frontal edges of a waist height table big enough to host the three halves of the mantap. The mantap’s frontal is decorated with colored, gold/silver type papers and other decorative material. From the top and the corners is provided enough lighting for the Ganesha idol making it appear like its in a temple’s sanctum sanctorum. Also the house’s entrance and doors are decorated with mango leaves and flowers.

2. PhalavaLi
This is an assortment of fruits, vegetables and a coconut tied to a structure in a neat and organized fashion and hung from the top just infront of the mantap. Care is taken that the height of this PhalavaLi doesn’t interfere with people standing below it while performing the pooja.

3. Food preparations
Modak, maande, nevri, panchakajjaya are the most basic offerings to Ganesha. Many people add other sweets to this list as well.

On the day of Ganesha Chaturthi, we go to the Gudigar (or the one who makes the clay Ganesha idol) to whom we’ve ordered to make idol for us as per our liking. Normally we like Ganesha sat on a seat with right leg folded on the left one and colored skinny pink. After giving the price of idol wrapped in panna veedo(betel leaf with the betel nuts) to the maker, we bring home the idol carefully. At any point in time, care is taken so that no part of the idol gets broken in any way. This is very important. As per tradition, if this happens (Its called ‘bhagna‘ -in sanskrit) the tradition of Ganesha pooja at home is discontinued from that year. Before the idol is taken inside the home, at the main entrance, the idol is shown what is called as kumkum water (water mixed with kumkum) in a copper plate.

Then the Ganesha idol is placed inside the mantapa. Divli, a lamp with cotten threads in oil, is lit from 5 different sides in this. Then as per the Ganesha pooja proceedings, the prana pratishtha is carried out. It means to bring the Ganesha idol to life. There are mantras which go along with different proceedings. Usually this is done by the priest who goes to different homes. But in our place we do it ourselves after the priest instructed us how to perform the pooja. During the pooja all the various offerings are offered along with the meals which consists of dali thoy, rice, mooga randayi, biscuit Ambode (udid vada), khotto/hittu(idli batter cooked in jackfruit leaf basket), payasam, pancha kajjaya and various fruits. During the pooja, five different aarti are performed. We play the ‘Jayadeva Jayadeva Jaya Mangala moorthyaarti song in the background during the pooja. Ghantaanaad is also done.

After the pooja is over people who are invited as well as the people in the home sit for lunch served on banana leaves. After the Vayasa (meal offering to crows) and Gogras(meal offering to cows), the lunch begins.

Thus pooja is performed twice everyday until the day of visarjana – Ganesha idol immersion in either a well or a lake/river. Normally we keep the Ganesha at home for two days, meaning the next evening the visarjana is carried out. Many Sarvajanika (public) Ganesha are kept for 5 or 9 days. Some even 11 days.

Above Information about Ganesh Chaturthi is writen by my husband. At my parent’s house, we dont have the tradition of Ganesh pooja. We only celebrated Vayna pooja. But at my husband’s house, we have the tradition of Ganesh pooja (After my marriage, I never got an opportunity of attending this festival. So I asked him to write this post). This time we celebrated Ganesha pooja in a very small way here (The proper pooja with Ganesh idol is being performed at my in-law’s place in Kumta). Here is the picture of pooja (we had not planned it before. Just today morning we decided to have a small pooja. So we did it with whatever things available at home).

(From left- Nevri/karjikaayi, modak, dali thoy, mooga mole randayi, Down – Fruits, idli)

Here is the recipe for most popular dish of Ganesh Chaturthi. I prepared it with my MIL’s recipe which she has been following for years.

 

Modak

Deep fried dumplings stuffed with sweet coconut and jaggery filling traditionally offered to god during Ganapati festival
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 -10 modaks

Ingredients
  

  • Outer Covering:
  • 1 cup maida
  • Salt
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Stuffing:
  • 3/4 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup jaggery
  • 1/2 tea spn cardamom powder
  • 1 tea spn sesame seeds

Instructions
 

  • Heat 2 tbl spns of oil and add it to maida.
  • Mix it very well till all the maida gets the oil.
  • Add salt and water to make it a very stiff dough.
  • Keep aside the dough for around 1/2 an hour.
  • Roast the sesame seeds.
  • Heat jaggery and coconut together till jaggery melts and forms a uniform mixture with coconut. Mix sesame seeds well.
  • Remove from heat and add cardamom powder. Mix well.
  • Take small balls of the dough, roll it into small puris (if the puri becomes too thick, the modaks get a rubbery texture).
  • Keep a round ball of stuffing on the puri and cover with the dough to give modak shape.
  • Heat oil and deep fry the modaks.

Notes

Some people also use rice flour to make modaks. I have not tried that version any time.

 

Note : Reposting the recipe which was posted on Aug 28th 2006.

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Mango Rasayan / Seekarane (Ambe HashaLe)

mango rasayan

This is almost the end of mango season here. This must be one of the easiest and very popular dishes prepared with mango. It is usually made with coconut milk. At my home, we make it with normal milk. This is served during festivals in many homes. This is also prepared with bananas. This can be consumed as a sweet dish on its own or as a side dish with chapati.

Ingredients:
1 cup ripe mango pieces
2 cups milk or coconut milk
2 tbl spn sugar
Cardamom powder

Method:
Add sugar to milk (or coconut milk) and mix well.
Squish about 1/4 cup mango pieces with fingers to make a paste and then add the paste to sweetened milk. Add remaining pieces of mangoes.
Add cardamom powder. Serve as a sweet dish or as a side with chapatis.

Serves : 2
Preparation time : 10mins

Pictorial:

mango rasayan1

mango rasayan2

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Spicy Chickpeas (Chana Usli)

This version of Chana usli is usually distributed at the time of Ugadi and Rama navami festivals in our grama devi temple – which is a beautiful temple on the hills at our place. Everyone eagerly waits for this prasadam after pooja at the temple on these festivals. As some of our viewers requested, I thought of posting this traditional recipe. I got this from bhatmam(priest) of the temple who usually prepares this for the festivals. It is healthy and nutritious. Hence I introduced it as a side dish at our home too.

Click here to see another version of chana usli using black chickpeas.

Ingredients:
1 cup chana/chickpeas (soak overnight in water)
½ cup grated coconut
6-7 red chillies
2 tea spn coriander seeds
2 tea spn mustard seeds
½ tea spn cumin seeds
¼ tea spn fenugreek seeds
¼ tea spn asafoetida
1 tea spn jaggery
½ tea spn tamarind
Salt
Oil

Method:

Cook chana in sufficient water with the salt in a cooker and keep it aside.
Fry coriander seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chillies in oil. Turn off the heat and add asafoetida. Coarse grind this along with grated coconut and tamarind with minimum quantity of water. Add this mixture to already cooked chana. Add jaggery to this and cook for 2 minutes.
Chanal usli is ready to be served either with chapatis or as a side dish with rice. It can also be served as evening snacks.

Serves : 3-4
Preparation time : 25mins

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Rice Pudding (Tandla Paays)


Hope you all had a happy Ganesha Chaturthi. We had a small pooja at home this year too. We got a beautiful 10 inch Ganesha from local Indian store here. Ishaan also enjoyed looking at the decorations. We could not do much decorations this year as V did everything at the last moment, but still it was lovely pooja.

I made a small spread for the offering. It had idlis, dali thoy, muga randayi, tandla paays, baje, taushe hulel, modak. I wanted to make some paays/kheer with jaggery. So I called up aayi and she suggested this. It was a nice change from the usual sugar based paays/kheer I usually make.

Some other versions of this – paal payasam, kheer, tandla-chane dali paays

Ingredients:
1/2 cup rice (I used basmati rice, any rice can be used)
1 cup thick coconut milk
1/2 cup (approx) jaggery
1 tbl spn raisins
1 tbl spn cashews
1/4 tea spn cardamom powder

Method:
Cook rice in enough water along with cashews and raisins, till it is done, take care not to make it too mushy.
Add jaggery and cook till it is all melted.
Now add coconut milk and bring it to boil. Switch off the heat and add cardamom powder.
Serve hot or cold.

PS: – Sugar can be used in place of jaggery.
– If you do not like coconut milk, use normal milk.
– Depending on the color of jaggery, the color of paays changes. I had very light colored jaggery, so it came out very light.

Home made coconut milk:
Grind fresh/frozen coconut with a cup of water to a coarse paste. Sieve the paste and squeeze all the liquid off the particles. Again add little more water and repeat.

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Sweet Chana Dal Fritters (Sukrunde)

Sukrunde is a very popular sweet among Konkanis. At our place, there is a tradition to make these for the baby showers (Guruvari Javan). We also have a tradition of inviting pregnant woman to home and feed them this sweet. They are also served as prasadam for Anant Chaturdashi at our temple.

Sukrundes are prepared in two ways. One with chana dal and the other with whole moong. Chana dal version is more popular at our place. Here I am posting chana dal version. Whenever this is made at home, the water used for cooking dal is saved to make a delicious saru .

Sukrundes taste better when we eat them fresh and with ghee.

Ingredients:
1 cup chana dal
1 cup jaggery
1 cup besan (gram flour)
2 tea spn maida or all purpose flour
1/2 tea spn salt
1/2 tea spn cardamom powder
Oil

Method:
Cook chana dal with enough water. Drain water(Save the water to make saru). Take chana dal in a thick bottomed pan and cook it with jaggery. When the mixture gets dry, grind it to a smooth paste. Add cardamom powder.
Make small balls using the mixture.
Mix besan, maida, salt and water to make a paste of dosa batter consistency. It should not be too thin or thick. If batter is too thin, sukrundes break. If it is too thick, sukrundes become hard. Dip the prepared balls one by one in this paste and deep fry them in the hot oil. The balls should be fully covered by the paste. Otherwise they break open and the inner sweet contents go into the oil. Serve with ghee.

Makes about 12
Preparation time : 45mins

Pictorial:

Sweet Chana Dal Fritters (Sukrunde) Read More »

Panchakajjaya

ganesh chaturthi 2009
Wish you all a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi.

We had great festival celebrations at home today. We brought home a small Ganesha idol yesterday. We spent last two days shopping for pooja materials and getting everything ready.

ganesh chaturthi 2009-1
V built a beautiful mantapa . I prepared a traditional spread as offering. We did the pooja to the best of our knowledge. For the most part, we followed this vidhi. We had a nice ceremonial pooja. Such a calm, peaceful and comforting celebrations. It felt like being at home in India.

panchakajjaya
I was thinking about what to post on this auspicious occasion. And I thought the panchakajjaya – mixture of 5 types of delicacies, would be the best. This is a common offering, also is known to be prasadam, prepared for different poojas. At our place, those who bring home Ganesha idol make this in big quantities to share with the people who come to see the idol. While growing up, we kids, loved to go to neighbors houses to see Ganesha and get the prasadam.

Aayi says, in olden days, dalia was prepared at home from the chana. But it is a very long procedure and since it is readily available in markets, everyone(that I know of) buy it from stores.

I updated Vayna pooja & patholi post with aayi’s pooja at our native. Check out.

Ingredients:
1 cup dalia (roasted chana dal/hurigadale/putani)
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbl spns white sesame seeds
1 tbl spn ghee
2 tbl spn dry coconut (optional)
1/2 tea spn cardamom powder

Method:
Grind dalia to a powder. Add sugar and mix well. Take them out in a bowl.
Dry roast sesame seeds on a medium flame.
Add the sesame seeds, dry coconut, ghee, cardamom powder and mix well.

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Mango Pachdi

ramnavami-pachdi
This Friday was Ramnavami – Read more about this festival here. This festival is celebrated with all grandeur in all the Hindu temples. After the pooja, prasadam is distributed to the devotees. One of the very popular prasadam – pepper-jaggery paanakam is already on this blog. Here is another very popular item – Pachadi made up of raw mangoes. Any type of raw mangoes could be used for this.

Traditionally charcoal was used for a nice aroma to this dish. But these days, people have stopped using it. I am posting the version with charcoal, if you don’t find it, just ignore it and follow the remaining steps.

Ingredients:
1 cup finely chopped raw mango
Salt
1 cup grated coconut
3 green chillies /red chillies
2 tea spn jaggery
A pinch asafoetida
1/4 tea spn coconut oil
1 piece charcoal(optional)

Method:
Mix the chopped mangoes with salt and keep it aside for 10 minutes. Squeeze the chopped mangoes and remove the water to lessen the sourness. (This step is not required if mangoes are not sour).
Grind coconut, green chillies, a pinch of asafoetida, salt.
Mix the prepared chutney with mango and add jaggery.
ramnavami-pachdi1
Heat charcoal till it becomes red. Take it on a spoon or hold it with a tong. Add a drop of coconut oil on this red charcoal.
ramnavami-pachdi2
The fumes come out. Drop the charcoal in to the chopped mango-chutney mixture. Close the vessel, to avoid the fumes escaping.
ramnavami-pachdi3
Remove and discard the charcoal when the fumes stop.
ramnavami-pachdi4
This can also be used with rice as a sidedish.

PS: Though this version is our traditional preparation done at temples or at home, many people add soaked moong dal or chana dal.

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Gulab Jamun

Wish you all a very happy Deepavali/Diwali.

Gulab Jamun must be one of the most loved sweets in India. These days it is very easy to make them at home using ready made Gulab Jamun mixes, but few years ago, that was not the case. I used to make them from milk. It was a long process as making of khova or khoya takes a lot of time, but the hard work brings very good results. 

To make khova at home, heat milk in a thick bottomed pan on a medium-low flame. Keep mixing it once in a while making sure the milk does not get sticked to the bottom of the pan. When the milk has reduced to 1/4th quantity, you need to keep mixing it continuously to avoid sticking. When the milk has almost lost all liquid and got dry, it is called khova. 

Khova is readily available in markets these days. It can be used to make these jamuns.

Ingredients for Jamuns:
1 cup khova
1/4 cup maida (all purpose flour)
1/4 tea spn baking soda
Ghee for deep frying.

For syrup:
2 cups sugar
3 cups water
1/4 tea spn cardamom powder
1 tea spn rose water(optional)

Method:
Mix khova, maida and soda very well to make a smooth dough.

Make small balls from them (they increase in volume after frying and soaking the syrup, so do not make them too big).

In a separate vessel, heat sugar and water. When the syrup starts boiling, switch off heat. Add cardamom powder and rose water(if using).
Deep fry the jamuns in ghee and add them to hot syrup. I add them to syrup when both jamuns and syrup are hot. This helps jamun to soak the syrup easily. Allow them to soak the syrup for few hours and then serve.

Makes about 14 jamuns

PS: The quality of jamuns largely depends on the khova used. I never used store bought khova, I always make it at home. Try one batch, if the jamuns break as soon as they are dropped in ghee, instead of wasting the remaining dough, you can make pedas from them.

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Sweet potato shankarpali


After making so many sweets, I thought it is time for some deep frying. I had bought some sweet potatoes last week, as I like to eat boiled sweet potatoes. But they sat on the counter without being touched. Then I saw this shankarpali recipe in a book. So I thought of giving it a try.

Shankarpalis are small parallelogram shaped deep fried spicy or sweet treats. Many people make these for Diwali. I thought of making these special kind this time.

First batch was not as crispy as I expected. I was pretty much upset as I had made a pretty big dough – below recipe makes a huge batch. I thought the whole thing was a big flop. Then I remembered aayi’s tip, she always says we have to fry them on a medium flame till they are dark brown. I followed that and they came out very crispy. They were simply delicious.

Ingredients:
200gms(2 in number) sweet potato (approx 1 and 1/4 cups after cooking and mashing)
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour(maida)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tea spn baking powder
2 tbl spns ghee
1/4 tea spn salt

Oil + 2 tbl spns ghee for deep frying

Method:

Cook and mash sweet potatoes. Mix all other ingredients (except oil-ghee mixture used for deep frying) to make a dough.
Take a big ball of the dough and roll into a circle of about 1/4 to 1/2 cm thickness. Cut them into parallelograms(I used pizza cutter to cut).

Deep fry them in oil-ghee mixture on a medium flame. Remember to fry them till they are dark brown. If they are fried less than that, they don’t get crispy.
Cool to room temperature and then store in air tight container.

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Bottlegourd sweetdish (Gardudde paays)


Wish you all a very happy Ganesh Chaturthi.

Bottlegourd is called gardudde in Konkani. According to Ayurveda, this vegetable has many medicinal values. It is supposed to be very good for digestion. Yoga guru Shri Ramdev keeps talking about the importance of this vegetable in many of his shows. Many people take juice of this vegetable daily. This is even given to diabetic and jaundice patients.

We use bottle gourd in both spicy dishes and sweet dishes. Since today is the auspicious day of Ganesh chaturthi, I thought of posting this delicious sweetdish. I normally make burfis(gardudde khadi) from this which is loved by all at home. But occasionally we make this paays.

Ingredients:
1 cup finely chopped bottle gourd
1 cup milk or coconut milk
1 tbl spn cashews(optional)
1 tbl spn raisins(dry grapes)
1/2 tea spn cardamom powder
1 tea spn rice flour
1-2 tbl spns jaggery

Method:
Cook bottle gourd pieces in water along with cashews. In a bowl mix rice flour with about 1/4 cup of water. When the bottle gourd pieces are done, add the flour mixture and cook. Now add the jaggery, cook till it is dissolved and well mixed. Pour in milk (or coconut milk). Cook for a min. Take off heat and add cardamom powder.

Serves : 2-3
Preparation time : 15mins

PS: rice flour is mainly added to give thickness to the sweet dish. It can be avoided.

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