Once in a year, on Ashwin Vadhya Panchami(according to Hindu calender)- a panchami which comes after full moon day(Punav) of Dasara, is celebrated as ‘Panchami devkarya‘(Devkarya – Pooja) or ‘Vade panchami‘(the name comes from the main naivedyam – a special kind of vada). This day hundreds of devotees of this god gather at this temple and a pooja is performed. After Pooja, a delicious lunch is served on banana leaves at around 4.30. People wait for this lunch and a group of volunteers serve the food.
According to my opinion, the best dish served on this day is Mooga moLe randayi. I have not seen this dish served in any other place. My brother and I used to ask my Aayi to prepare this dish at home. From the taste of the dish, she came up with this recipe. This is one of the favorite dishes at my home now. Though I feel this dish tastes amazing, I still crave for that temple lunch :).
Ingredients: 2 cups sprouted moong 1 cup raw banana(plantain) pieces 1 cup coconut 1/4 tea spn tamarind extract 1/2 tea spn pepper(miryakan) 1/2 tea spn mustard seeds 4-5 curry leaves A pinch asafoetida Oil Salt
Method: Wash the moong to remove as much skin as possible. Cook moong with plantain pieces. Grind coconut with pepper and tamarind. Add this paste to cooked moong, add salt. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they start popping, add curry leaves and asafoetida. Add this seasoning to the dish, Serve hot.
According to Hindu calender, today is Karthika Shuddha Dwadashi or Uthan Dwadashi. This day is celebrated as “Tulsi pooja” or “Tulsi Vivah(Tulsi wedding)”. Almost all the Konkanis have a structure called as “Tulsi katte” in front of home which has a Tulsi (Holy basil) plant in it. A lamp is lit in front of this daily and worshiped. The “Tulsi katte” at my native looks like follows.
On “Tulsi pooja”, this structure is decorated with sugar canes and flowers. We have a square removable wooden structure which is fixed around the Tulsi katte and sugar canes are tied to this wooden structure and decorated with flowers. Few Amla(goose berry) and tamarind tree branches, along with Amla and tamarind, are planted on the sides of Tulsi plant. In the evening, after sunset, lights are lit on the square wooden structure. Bhatmam(priest) goes to all the houses and performs a wedding of Tulsi to a small statue of Vishnu or Saligram(a form of Vishnu). All kids who attend the function burn crackers. Sweets, sugar cane pieces, churmuri(puffed rice) and coconut pieces are distributed to all the people who come to see this pooja.
These decorations are usually removed on the next day. Along with this, all the lightnings done for Diwali, like the colored lights and “Akashabutti” – a small paper basket kind of thing which is tied around a light, are also removed. Usually “Tulsi pooja” signifies the end of Diwali.
As a kid, this was one of my favorite festivals. I liked to decorate the Pooja-thalis, draw Rangolis in front of the Tulsi katte and burn crackers..
The main sweet we prepare on this day is Sweet poha – poha prepared with jaggery(goD). Molasses, which is generally called as “Pattal goD“(liquid jaggery) is used for this dish. So the actual Sweet poha is almost black in color(takes the color of molasses). I was not having molasses with me, so I used normal jaggery and prepared this dish today to get a feel of Tulsi pooja here.
Aayisrecipes would not be a “Konkani site” if I had missed this dish. Hittu/khotte is one of the most popular dishes for Konkanis (This is also popular among Kannadigas). For most of the people, it is just a festival food, but at my home, aayi prepared this whenever we wanted. She made these small baskets with jack fruit leaves and then poured idli batter and steamed them to get the “hittu“. Though it is just idli batter poured in these baskets, the ‘hittu‘ gets a very distinguishing aroma from the leaves.
The other most popular combination is called “hittu-hinga udak“(hittu with asafotida water). Hittu with few drops of coconut oil, asafoetida water, ginger pieces, fresh grated coconut, salt and green chilies. While eating, the hittu is powdered using hand, chilies are crushed in salt and mixed with coconut-asafoetida water-salt-ginger. Then the hittu powder is mixed with this coconut mixture. Few drops of coconut oil are put on top. This tastes so amazing that once you eat it, you will never ever forget the taste. (This is also done with nomal idlis).
As I said earlier, the batter is same as the idli batter. But I am going to post the pictures of how to make these baskets here. These are woven with 4 jack fruit leaves and thin sticks (called as “shigir” in Konkani). These sticks are either got from the betel nut tree or coconut tree.
Hold 4 leaves with ends one upon another as shown.
Fix one leaf to the second with the help of stick. 5 small sticks are necessary to hold all the leaves together.
The leaves with the bottom woven looks as below.
Now fold two adjacent leaves taking care there is no space in between. If there are small holes, the batter comes out.
Cut the tips/ends of the three leaves. Leave one as it is so that when the ‘hittu’ is cooked, it can be lifted easily.
Following is the traditional steamer used to steam these ‘hittus‘.
This traditional dish is almost forgotten. I have not seen anybody preparing it these days. When I was a kid, aayi prepared them occasionally. It requires a lot of patience and time to prepare this dish. If you master it once, this might become easier. But the taste is so unique and tempting that you would feel like making again and again. Back home, we enjoy it the most when eaten with a hot cup of tea on a rainy day in July.
This is a special variety of "Chattambade". Few days back, I had posted about the "Chattambade" that is made of chana dal. But the difference is, the chana dal chattambade, need to be eaten immediately, and they are a bit soft. Gharyo are very crispy and can be stored for around 15 days (like any other munchies). It was an absolute favorite of my Dad and when my parents saw the Diwali spread here, he started asking my Aayi to prepare it :D.
PS: While grinding the daal for this dish, water SHOULD NOT be added. Though I knew this, I added little bit of water because my blender was not grinding it properly. But then, when I tried making these, they just got broken and I had to make them again. So be careful, NO water while grinding.
Ingredients: Urad dal with skin 2 cups Coconut 1 tbl spn Ginger 2" piece Green chilies 4-5 Curry leaves 6-7 Oil Salt
Method: Soak the urad dal(with skin) in water for around 1-2 hours. Grind it coarsely without adding water. Add coconut, chopped ginger, chopped chilies, curry leaves pieces and salt. Apply some oil to a plastic sheet(I used aluminum foil). Take a small ball of the mixture, and spread with hand (spread as thin as possible, take care they should be able to lift easily).
Heat oil. Lift the vadas and deep fry on a very low flame. (If flame is kept on high or the vadas become thick, they remain soft from inside). Take out on a kitchen towel. Cool them to room temperature and store in air tight container.
Preparation time : 1 hr
Updated on 25th Oct 2006: Following is an easy method of making these. Pelicano said, "I used a small "cookie scoop"(the kind which has a release hoop that ejects the mixture)to scoop up the ground urad daal and place mounds of it on the board. Then, as the oil was heating(i used 350-360 F),I took a steel "wok spatula"(the Asian groceries have these)and dipped it into the oil to coat it. This spatula has a curved edge and needs to be kept oiled like cast iron…don’t know if you’ve seen these, but they hold a film of oil on itself very well…I used the underside to press the raw vada as flat as possible…and it did so very neatly…then when, the oil was hot, i used this same spatula to lift it and turn into the hot oil….it became an easy system,just had to dip the spatula into the oil each time i made a new group to fry".
WISH YOU ALL A VERY VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS DIWALI.
Finally I managed to cook some goodies for Diwali. To say the truth, this is the first time I cooked so many things for the festival. All these years, my Aayi prepared and I ate. But this time since I am so far from home, I was missing all the fun. When I came to know, my brother and sis-in-law are going to native for the Diwali, I started feeling homesick. Also I needed something to come out of all the tensions that I am going through these days. So here is what I made. All these took me 2 hrs to make(that was pretty slow). I feel very relaxed now :D. Here is what I did(not good pictures, please excuse me).
From the top, ganti(sweet), bottle gourd burfi(gardudde khadi), chivda, ghariyo(savoury). Will post all the recipes soon.
Chivda is a kind of ‘namkeen’. There are many kinds of ‘chivda’ or ‘chivra’ (see here for the Konkani version). Among Marathis and Kannadigas, the no-deep frying version is more popular. My aayi prepares this frequently and we call it “Phova upkari”. The thin variety of poha(also called as ‘paper avalakki’) is used for this. Everybody has their own versions of it, I have tasted many varieties during my college days, but I always loved my Aayi’s version as it is more flavorful. She serves this poha topped with some fresh grated coconut.
Chili powder and sugar can be increased or decreased to suit the taste.
Method: Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they start popping, add curry leaves. Fry on a very low flame. Add pea nuts, dalia and fry for sometime. Add chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder and cumin powder. Add the poha and mix well. Now add sugar and salt (do not add sugar and salt before). Mix well(if needed, add extra oil). Keep on a very low flame for sometime, till the poha becomes crispy. Cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container.
While serving add some fresh/frozen coconut on the top.
This is one of the most popular Konkani chivda/chooda (In Konkani we call it ‘chudvo’). There is a very popular(but very old) restaurant called ‘Alka’ in Kumta(they also sell munchies and sweets). Their ‘chudvo’ is one of the best and loved by all. During the wedding functions, people make this at home. This is served at the wedding and also served to the guests/relatives before and after wedding. One of the perfect accompaniment with a simple upma. Other times we buy it from ‘alka’. Aayi has stopped preparing it these days, but she would prepare this frequently when we were kids.
I had missed Dasara celebrations as I am very busy these days. But Diwali being one of the biggest festival for us, I don’t want to miss it. So I prepared this ‘chudvo’ yesterday. It requires a lot of patience as the thick poha and other things needs to be deep fried in very hot oil on a very low flame. Though this is not very healthy due to the deep frying, I prefer this once in a while. (Non deep frying version is here).
The most important thing I miss here is diwali celebrations with lighting of lamps and the crackers. My dad would decorate the house with colored lights, we would light lamps(or candles) in front of the house. We don’t make any specific food on this day, only normal food with some sweets. But the pooja and rituals performed on the 4 days of diwali were so much fun. Here is how we celebrate the 4 days.
– On previous evening of diwali (Thrayodashi) we decorate the water well as well as the vessels (‘kolse’-Konkani or ‘koda’-Kannada or ‘matka’-Hindi) with a creeper called “Karita vali”. “Karit” is a small ping pong ball sized special cucumber with bitter taste. The bathrooms as well as the place were water is filled and heated for bath called as ‘bhan’ are decorated. In the evening, a pooja is done to the water well and then water is taken out and filled in ‘bhan’. This water is called ‘bhangra(golden) udak(water)’
– Next day, I mean the first day of Diwali, is celebrated as “Naraka Chaturdashi”- Ashweja Vadhya Chaturdashi according to Hindu calender. According to Hindu Puranas, Lord Krishna killed evil Narakasura on this day and returned home. In order to overcome his fatigue, his mother Dewaki gave oil bath to him. To celebrate this event, all members of the house getup early this day, apply oil to body and take bath (from the ‘bhangra udak’). Food is taken only after the bath. According to traditions, a small piece of ‘Karit’ is eaten and then sweet poha is served. Some people also have a tradition of ‘aarti’ this day. Elders of the house make all the youngsters to stand in front of a diya(lamp) and make aarti to them (here also the youngsters first break a ‘Karit’ with their legs and then taste it). I don’t know the significance of ‘Karit’ in this. If anyone of you know, please leave a comment. In the evening, aarti is done to daughter and new son-in-laws and then gifts are given to them. (After the wedding, the first Diwali has more significance. The couple has to go to the girl’s place and there aarti is done).
– Next day, Amavasye, is celebrated as “Dhana lakshmi pooja”. Dhana meaning money. This is the pooja of ‘goddess of wealth’ – Lakshmi. On this day, pooja is performed to all the vehicles in the house(“Vahan pooja”). The shopkeepers decorate their shops and a Lakshmi photo. Lots of coins are kept in front of the photo and pooja is performed. Some sweets are distributed after the pooja.
– Next day, Padya, is celebrated as “Dhanya lakshmi pooja”. Dhanya meaning grain, in other words it is a pooja of ‘Goddess of food’ – Lakshmi. This day is also celebrated as “Gopooje” – pooja of holy cow. A sweet dosa called Gandarli/surnali is offered to the cows. They are decorated well and the pooja is done. In the evening, the books are kept in front of the god and pooja is performed. Same time ‘aarti’ is done to small children in the house. All the 4 days, crackers are burnt and lamps are lighted in the night.
Ingredients: Thick poha(avalakki or rice flakes) 2 cups Poha masala 2 tea spns Pea nuts 1 tbl spn Split dalia(hurigadale/putani) 1 tbl spn Curry leaves 1 strand Red chilies 2-3 Sugar 1 tea spn Salt 1 tea spn Dry coconut pieces 1 tbl spn Sev 1/2 cup
Peanuts, dalia, coconut and the powders can be increased or decreased according to taste. In India, there are 3 types of poha available. Thin, medium and thick. The thick kind is also called as ‘chooda poha or chudva phovu’. Since I was having only medium thickness poha here, I used the same for this. But the thick poha is best suitable for this.
Method: Mix poha masala, sugar and salt. Keep it aside.
Heat oil. Deep fry pea nuts. Take in a large bowl.
Deep fry dalia and take out. Just for fun, I added few Chana dal also, but it is NOT required.
Deep fry curry leaves, red chili pieces and coconut. Take out.
Deep fry poha, one table spoon at a time. Fry on a very low flame. They before slightly puffed after frying. (If not fried properly, the entire ‘chudvo’ becomes hard).
Add the masalas to the fried poha, sev(mix besan, a pinch of soda, salt with water and press into hot oil using chakli press. Use the disc with many tiny holes to make the sev) and other things and mix well.
When it is cooled to room temperature, store in an air tight container.
Preparation time : 30-45mins
Updated on 25th Oct 2006: Following are the pictures of “Udak bharche”(thrayodashi celebrations – read above) taken at my native Kodkani.
Today is â€œAnant Chaturdashiâ€ commonly called as â€œNopiâ€. This is usually celebrated on â€˜Bhadrapada shukla Chaturdashiâ€™ which comes on the 11th day after â€˜Vinayak Chaturthiâ€™. There are two significances to this day.
First one, the Ganesha idol brought home at Vinayak Chaturthi is immersed in water on this day, only in those houses where Ganesha festival is celebrated for 11 days and in â€œSarvajanika(public) Ganeshasâ€.
Second one,it is celebrated as â€œNopiâ€. This festival is usually celebrated at temples. There are few people who celebrate this festival at home, this is done at home only if it is celebrated from generations. At our native, this festival is celebrated only in temple. Here is how it is celebrated in our native at â€œVeer Vithal MaTh(temple)â€.
People gather in the temple, perform the pooja to the temple. They take two empty â€˜Kalshasâ€™,a copper Vessel with mango leaves and coconut on top of it, in palanquin to â€œflowing waterâ€. They take bath in water and fill the kalashas with water and perform pooja to the kalashas. Then they bring the palanquin back to temple in procession. There the Kalashas are taken inside the temple and pooja is performed after decorating the Kalashas. Then the Prasad(prasadam) of panchakajjaya is distributed. 14 namaskars, similar to â€˜Surya namaskaraâ€™, are performed. Lunch is served on banana leaves. In the night again pooja is performed and Ananth Chaturdashi story is told to the people by the priest.
Most of the people prepare a dish called “alvatthi” – Colocasia leaves and chana cooked in coconut masala, but this dish is not prepared at our temple. One of the dishes usually (but not always) prepared for lunch at the temples is â€œKesribhathâ€ or “Kesari bhath”. In Bangalore, people call â€˜Sheera/Sanjaâ€™ as Kesribhath, but we call â€˜Kesriâ€™-with kesar/saffron(or orange colored), â€˜bhathâ€™-rice, to a dish prepared with rice and orange in color. Kesribhath is also called “Kesar bhath” or “Keshar bhath” or “Sakhar bhath”.
Ingredients: Rice(Preferably Basmati rice) 1 cup Sugar 1 cup Ghee 2 tbl spns Raisins(dry grapes) 2 tbl spns Cashews 1 tbl spn Cloves 2-3 Orange color a pinch or saffron strands 7-8 Cardamom powder Â½ tea spn
Method: Heat 1 tbl spn of ghee and fry raisins, cloves and cashew for 2-3 mins. Add rice and fry for 5-6mins. Add water and cook till rice is completely done.
Now add sugar and remaining ghee. Add saffron strands diluted in 1 tbl spn warm milk or orange color. Mix well(mix gently) and cook for around 5mins. Add cardamom powder.
Serves : 3 Preparation time : 20mins
Note : Add sugar only after cooking the rice completely. Last time when I prepared it, I added sugar when the rice was 3/4 th cooked, thinking it would cook completely after adding sugar. But though I cooked for a long time, the rice still remained uncooked.
Cheppi (bland taste) kheeri (kheer in Marathi means ‘payasam‘ or ‘pudding’, the dish I am referring to is ‘kheeri‘ the difference may be because there is no sugar in it) is a festival dish. At my native it is usually prepared as the offering to god on the next day of Janmashtami. (I explained about Janmashtami rituals yesterday, I have uploaded some of the pictures that I had clicked last year on Janmashtami).
On Janmashtami all the decorations are done as shown here, the next day, some rituals are followed to take out these decorations. The poojari (or bhatmam) goes to the places where he had kept the saligram and bala-krishna statue previous day. He does the pooja and offers ‘cheppi kheeri‘, ‘cow’s milk’, ‘venti randayi‘ to god. After the offerings are done, bhatmam takes off the decorations and takes his saligram and bala-krishna statue back with him. The tulsi and other decorations are discarded near ashokakatte(a round stone structure beneath the tree where the poojas are offered).
‘Venti randayi‘ is a side dish prepared by cooking chana and colocasia leaves and stems (venti literally means stem) in coconut gravy. Usually a few pieces of leaves are tied into knots and put into the dish, this is the specialty of the dish). Following is the picture of the leaves being cut (taken during Janmashtami 2005 at my native, last year I didn’t know I would be writing this post, otherwise I would have taken the detailed pictures).
Cutting colocasia leaves and stems for ‘venti randayi‘
‘Cheppi kheeri‘ looks like Rice congee, but since coconut or milk is used, it looks completely white. The main aroma of this dish comes from ‘turmeric leaves’ (haldi panna). These leaves are grown at home and usually used in variety of dishes for their aroma. (I do not think these are available outside India).
Cook rice. Grind coconut with enough water to smooth paste. Add this paste to rice and cook. Tie each turmeric leaf into a knot and add to the dish.
Cook for around 5mins. People like it to eat with or without salt. The leaves are discarded while eating.
Sugarless rice pudding(Cheppi kheeri)
A sugarless pudding made with rice and coconut that is eaten on the day after Krishnashtami in Konkani homes
Today is the auspicious day of Srikrishna Janmashtami, a hindu festival celebrating the birth of lord Krishna. This is my favourite festival among all hindu festivals. Here is how we celebrate it.
Few people keep a fast (without food and water) on this day. But at my home, we used to eat a light fasting lunch. The main celebrations start in the night. At our native, this pooja is performed only in few houses and in temples. Men gather at a place to do the pooja.
The poojari (called as ‘bhatmam’ in Konkani) goes to these places and lends them small saligram and a statue of Bala-Krishna (child krishna, The statue looks similar to the above picture). Bhatmam does the initial pooja to both saligram and statue and prepares the ‘Panchamrit/panchamritam’, offering prepared by mixing ‘panch’ – 5, amrit – immortal nectar. The main ingredients here are milk, sugar, yogurt(curd), honey and jaggery (molasses).
Then the men at home/temple carry on with the remaining procedures. They decorate god with lotus and other flowers. Then one of the men take the lead and read 1000 names of lord Krishna (Vishnu sahasranama), others follow him, with each name, men offer one tulsi dala (two leaves connected together) to lord. After 500 names one pooja is performed and after all the names are chanted, a offering of food followed with the main pooja is performed. So at the end of the pooja, the small statue of krishna would be completely covered with tulsi leaves and it won’t be visible from outside. The whole procedure starts around 8 in the night and goes on for around 2 hours (depending on the speed with which men chant the names). Usually at the final pooja, the arrangement looks like this (picture was taken during Janmashtami 2005 at my native)
The offering to god on this occasion are very simple, but we make a variety of dishes. They include – Cashewnut laddoos (these days these are replaced by sesame laddoos with few roasted cashewnuts) – Layya pitto (Layyi or layya is a kind of unsalted popcorn. Layyi pitto is coarsely powdered popcorn. This powder is mixed well with coconut and jaggery, cardamom, ghee and offered to god) – Rosa phovu (Poha soaked in coconut milk, jaggery and cardamom powder) – Dhaya phovu (Poha soaked in curd/yogurt and sugar) – Cucumber pieces or Taushe hulel – GoDa panchkajjaya (Procedure is given below. GoD meaning jaggery in Konkani)
Following picture was taken during Janmashtami 2005. In the top vessel-layya pitto, left-sesame laddoos, bottom-panchakajjaya, right-cucumber pieces can be seen.
So when we were kids, we used to sit patiently and eat this ‘prasad/prasadam’. Mom would make a simple dinner of rice, daali thoy and we would be more than happy to eat dinner along with her pickles and taushe hulel.The next day of Janmashtami is also special. I would write more about it tomorrow.
Method: Dry roast dalia splits(hurikadale) and coarsely powder them. Wash sesame seeds and dry roast them (till they split open). Mix molasses and coconut (by hand). Add the dalia powder, sesame seeds, cardamom and ghee to it and mix well.