Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Festive Thali

Yesterday was Nagarpanchami and SutthaPunnav festival. Nagarpanchami is celebrated to worship god Naga or snake. SutthaPunnav is a festival celebrated mostly by married men or young boys who have recieved brahmopadesham. The sacred thread called jannuv is replaced with fresh one every year. During Nag Panchami we do not heat the tawa, put tadka, or fry anything. It is believed that it causes Naga's eyes to burn. Even to this day I do not know why this is followed. But back in home it was a typical menu for Nag Panchami. The morning breakfast was always Idli with alle or Ginger chutney. Lunch was some ghashi(The tadka would be kept ready the previous day) and cheppi kheeri(Rice with coconut milk and turmeric leaves. The sweetness in this rice is basically due to the coconut milk. No sugar would be added) and Pattholi (A sweet made with rice paste and jaggery filling wrapped inside turmeric leaves and steamed). For Sutthapunnav we made a variety of dishes. It would mostly be Bibbe Upkari(Cashew stir-fry), Chane ghashi (Black channa in thick coconut gravy), Phodi(Fried fritters) made of Cauliflower, Ripe banana, Karela, Yam and breadfruit or Raw Jackfruit or Sweet Potato, Daalithoy and white rice . The sweet was usually Phovaan kheeri( Sweet made with Poha/Beaten Rice in coconut milk with jaggery and cardomom).
We would wake up early during festival time and after a bath go to nearby temple offer prayers and come back home and have breakfast. We religiously followed this every year. During Nag Panchami We cousins would go to temple together to offer milk, turmeric powder, incense sticks, Tender coconut, flowers and laayi. We would go early in the morning as there would not be much rush and come back with teertha. Then we would have breakfast. During Sutthapunnav dad along with my manthu would go to our Kulpurohith's house and get the sacred threads for himself and brother and prasad for us. Coming to yesterday we too celebrated the festival in a small way. Down with fever and cold and parents absence too left me with no interest to cook either. The husband too would not come home for lunch. So there was no point in cooking for just me in the afternoon. But not wanting to let a festival simply pass by I made a simple fare of Bibbe upkari(Cashew stir-fry I made the seasoning the previous day. Yup I too follow my mom!), Batate Humman (Potato in coconut gravy), Sheeth, Saaru, Papad fried on gas and Phovaan kheeri. We had Appemidi pickles too to go with it. Here is a picture of the Thali that I served. Missed the picture of kheeri though! Wish we were back at home where festivals get the real meaning of uniting everyone than celebrating them alone in far away place :(

Bibbe Upkari:
What's needed:
100 Tender Cashews -soaked overnight and peeled & split the next morning
2 Green Chilli's slit
2 Red Chilli's torn
3/4 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Urad dal
Grated Coconut 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
1)Heat oil. Add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Once done add Urad dal and fry until pink.
2)Add green chillis and fry for some time then add red chilli's. Add cashews and fry for a min.
3)Add water and salt and cook till done.Take care not to over cook. If the cashews are very tender then do not add much water. Dried ones that are stored for long period of time need more water.
4)Sprinkle grated coconut and mix well.

Batate Humman:
What's needed:
3 medium sized boiled & cubed Potato
1 small cup Grated Coconut
4-5 Red Chilli's (Increase or decrease as per your taste)
marble sized Tamarind
black pepper sized Hing(Asafoetida) ball or 1/2 tsp hing powder
1 tsp Coconut oil
Salt to taste
1)Make a masala of grated coconut,hing,red chillis,tamarind and little water. The masala need not be very fine.
2)Add the ground masala to potato cubes and add water to bring it to desired consistency. check salt and add if needed.
3)Boil well. The curry should have a nice aroma of hing. If it does not then add little hing water. 
4)Once boiled well, drizzle coconut oil from top and mix well.