Mahanandi

Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Flavors of Life ~ Pumpkin Blossom

Pumpkin Blossoms, Painting by Sree
Flavors of Life ~ Pumpkin Blossom
Painting by Sree (Colored Pencils on Paper)

It’s rarely that a pumpkin vine grows to its prime to bear fruit in our garden. At my place, we are crazy about the pumpkin leaves (tender ones), buds, flowers and the young pumpkins. Hence any growth is literally ‘nipped in the bud’. Might sound like a heartless act of greed, but just try a pumpkin flower stir-fry or crisp deep-fry, and you will know why! However, this vine crept up beside the home inconspicuously amidst a huge rose tree (yes, the rose bush has grown into a tree beyond the first floor), and one fine day we noticed a huge pumpkin (seven Kilos!) ‘harvested’ in time for Sankranthi.:) I wish the remaining flowers, leaves and buds as much luck this year.:)

~ Sree

Previously on Flavors of Life:

Click on the image to see the

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Pumpkin, Sree (Saturday February 2, 2008 at 8:59 am- permalink)
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Bottle Gourd, Fuzzy Melon and Silk Squash

Photo Purchase Keyword: Squash
(It takes money, time, effort and energy for food photography. Please don’t photosteal. Click on the links and purchase the photos legally to digital download and to print. Thanks.)

Bottle Gourd, Silk Squash
Bottle Gourd, Fuzzy Melon & Silk Squash ~ Pitta Pacifying Vegetables
for This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Bottle Gourd is also known as Sorakaya (Telugu), Anapakaya (Telugu), Dudhi (Hindi), Lauki (Hindi), calabash (Italian?), Opo squash.

Fuzzy Melon is sold as Foo Gwa and Mooqua at local Vietnamese grocery.

Silk Squash, other names are Neti Beerakaya (Telugu), Silk Melon and Chinese Okra (Chinese grocery shops).

- Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Vegetables, Sorakaya(Dudhi,Lauki), Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Beerakaya-Neti(Silk Squash) (Sunday January 20, 2008 at 7:03 pm- permalink)
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Semiya Payasam

Photo Purchase Keyword: Semiya, Payasam
(Please don’t photosteal. Make a photo purchase to digital download and to print.)

From hearing the Purandaradasa’s spiritual keerthana “Rama nama payasakke“, we will know that the semiya payasam we prepare at home has at least 500+ years of history. The recipe ingredients and the method have remained unchanged all these years. That is the greatness and as well as the simplicity of this recipe. What has changed is our attitude and regard towards such honest and soulful food. But that is a topic for another time. For now, continuing the 500 plus year old tradition, here is how I prepared the semiya payasam at my home for Neivedyam.


Semiya, Sugar, Ghee, Milk, Cashews and Draksha ~ Ingredients for Payasam

Recipe:

4 cups whole milk
½ cup cane sugar, ( or to taste)
Fine semiya, one bunch, about the size that fits baby’s fist (10″ long)
2 tablespoon of ghee, melted
16 cashews and 16 golden raisins
4 cardamom pods, seeds powdered

Heat ghee in a wide pot. Add and toast golden raisins to pink balloons first, and then cashews to pale gold color. Remove them in to a plate.

In the same pot, add and toast the semiya for one to two minutes. (This is to remove the raw wheat smell of semiya and I usually do it, but this is optional.) Take the toasted semiya to a plate and keep aside.

In the same pot, add the milk and stir in sugar. Bring the milk to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat and add the semiya. Also the cashews, golden raisins and cardamom powder. Simmer on slow heat for ten minutes. The fine semiya floats like water lily stems in a pond of sweetened milk. That is the consistency we want in semiya payasam.

Serve warm or cold, and enjoy this fine, honest dessert in the name of tradition.


A Sweet 500+ year old tradition ~ Semiya Payasam

Note:
Semiya, the fine wheat noodles are a speciality of India. They are prepared with durum wheat flour and water. Semiya is egg free, and that is the major difference between western egg-laden vermicelli and Indian semiya. (Semiya is available at Indian grocery shops).

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Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sugar, Milk, Indian Sweets 101, Traditions, Semiya (Tuesday January 15, 2008 at 7:13 pm- permalink)
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Sugar Figurines for Sankranthi

Chakkara Achchulu (Sugar Art of India)

Chakkara Achchulu of India
Mother and Baby Pheasants in Early Morning Mist
(Panchadaara Chilakalu)

Sugar Art of India
Baby Peacock Exploring the Countryside

Sugar Figurines of India
Baby Peacock and Baby Elephant at a Water Pool

The beautiful sugar figurines of India are prepared for Sankranthi and during Dasera-Deepavali festival season. They are Pooja ornaments, and also sweeten the saare (gifts) in functions like marriages and baby-shower etc. These delightful, melt in mouth treats are prepared by pouring the pure and concentrated sugar syrup into carved wooden molds. Little bit of care and patience, viola, the tiny decorative candy items are ready to enjoy.

The sugar figurines photographed here came all the way from India… survived the tiresome travel conditions halfway across the globe. Thank you dear Janani for sending these delectable delicate delights for us.

Sugar Figurines that Holds Sweet Memories ~ Photo Essay
Sugar-Khoya Figurines for Rukhwat

Indira

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Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Sugar, Indian Sweets 101, Traditions (Friday January 11, 2008 at 4:41 pm- permalink)
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Cookery, Indic ~ “Salads For All Occasions” by Vijaya Hiremath

Recipe: Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

Salads for all Occasions by Vijaya Hiremath
Published in December 2005 by Jaico Publishing House

Traditionally, salad or koshimbir has formed a small part of main meals in India, taking its place alongside pickles and chutneys. This probably explains why preparing salads has always flummoxed me. Grains, vegetables, and lentils formed a complete meal, and salads were the step-children on my thali. I managed with the usual suspects - chopped tomatoes and onions with a splash of lemon juice and salt; grated cabbage and crushed peanuts with a splash of lemon juice and salt; steamed beetroot and grated carrot with a splash of lemon juice and salt; *yawn* and so on. I did not fare any better at the elaborate salad bars in U.S. restaurants and cafetarias. With the seemingly endless choices, one never quite knows when and where to stop piling one’s bowl. The end result was always a mishmash of ingredients, all of which I savour individually, but were disastrous together. I also have a distaste for the usual dressings, based as they are in oil and vinegar.

I was not interested in the plethora of salad books found in the American bookstores. Since our main meals at home are always Indian, I needed a book that used Indian ingredients, and produced flavours that would not clash with the other parts of our meal. I had purchased Varsha Dandekar’s Salads of India many years ago, and while it is an excellent cookbook in other respects, it is not about salads. Most of the dishes were really sukhi bhaji (dry vegetable preparations without gravy). There are other books on salads published in India, but they usually just reproduced Western salads. Vijaya Hiremath’s book, which I almost ignored at the bookstore due to the rather bland title, has ended my days of salad ennui.

The book is completely vegetarian, with over 50 salad recipes using a wide variety of easily-available ingredients. Sprouts prepared from whole grains and beans play a prominent role in many recipes, a feature which raised the book several notches in my estimation. Hiremath presents several fresh and innovative combinations of vegetables, fruit, greens, nuts, and sprouts. For example, Country Garden Salad, a jaded menu item that evokes images of limp lettuce and cottony tomatoes, appears in an elegant and attractive avtaar in this book. It is made with tender fenugreek leaves, white radish, carrot, cucumber, tomato, onion, and roasted sesame seeds and dressed with lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh grated coconut, cumin powder, and salt. The dressings are sauces prepared from fruit, vegetables, or dahi; chutneys or dry masala powders. The layout of the book is user-friendly: one recipe per page with the nutritive value for each recipe provided at the bottom. There are plenty of photos, which are mercifully devoid of Indian artifacts and fabrics cluttered around the food.

The recipes use a combination of weight and volumetric measurements, which might pose a problem for those readers used to measuring in cups and do not own a kitchen scale. The instructions are terse and lacking in nuances. For example, greens and vegetables being used in salads must be properly rid of excess water after washing them; otherwise, it dilutes the dressing. Novice cooks might not realise this and the recipes do not include such instructions. The book also suffers another deficiency that is common to some cookbooks produced in India: absence of an index, which forces you to scan the entire table of contents if you are pondering over what to prepare with a particular ingredient. Each recipe, with calories ranging from 250 to 350, is supposed to provide one meal for a single person; but, small eaters might find the quantity too large to be consumed in one sitting. All these drawbacks, however, are minor irritations and easily overlooked once you taste the delicious and nutritious salads made from this book.

Veena Parrikar


Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

From: Salads for All Occasions by Vijaya Hiremath

Ingredients
100 gms wheat sprouts
100 gms carrot
100 gms tomato
100 gms cabbage
1 cup spinach leaves

Seasoning
2 flakes minced garlic
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
150 gms thick curds (dahi)
Salt to taste

Sprouted Wheat
To prepare sprouted wheat, soak them overnight in plenty of water. Next morning, drain the wheat, and place the grains in a clean muslin cloth. Hang the muslin around your kitchen sink tap, and sprinkle the cloth with water. The wheat should sprout in two to three days in mild to warm weather. During this period, sprinkle water occasionaly if the muslin looks dry.

Centre: Spinach and sprouted wheat. Clockwise from left: carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, dahi with minced garlic and salt, roasted sesame seeds.

Method
1. Shred cabbage finely. If spinach is tender, use whole leaves; otherwise chop roughly or break into pieces with your hands.
2. Cut carrot into small pieces.
3. Quarter tomato.
4. Beat curds. Add garlic and salt and mix well.
5. Combine vegetables with sprouts.
6. Arrange spinach leaves on a flat dish.
7. Spread vegetable mixture over the spinach.
8. Pour curd mixture over the vegetables.
9. Sprinke sesame seeds before serving.

Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad
Sprouted Wheat and Spinach Salad

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Goduma (Wheat), Spinach, Yogurt, Reviews: Cookbooks, Sprouts (Molakalu), Veena Parrikar (Monday January 7, 2008 at 12:24 am- permalink)
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Cookery, Indic ~ A Series by Veena Parrikar

Cookbook Collection

Last year, in anticipation of a long stay in India, I began organizing my collection of food-related books into a catalogue. As far as collections go, my cooking library is fairly modest with around 200 books. The catalogue, however, reveals a pattern that is, by and large, a reflection of my culinary inclinations.

  • 95 percent of the collection relates to the food of India.
  • Of these, only four or five cookbooks are published outside India.
  • Hardly two of the cookbooks describe themselves as Indian cookbooks.
  • There are zero books on fusion food. Before someone reiterates the profundity that all Indian food is ultimately fusion food because chillies and tomatoes were brought to India by foreigners, let me hasten to add that I am referring to fusion as we know it today.
  • None of the books are written by professional chefs or owners of restaurants serving “authentic Indian” cuisine; a miniscule number are written by serial cookbook authors; and none of them promise a meal with three ingredients in less than 20 minutes.

Infer what you will from these facts, but one thing has become amply clear to me over the last fifteen years since I began collecting these books. There is a vast body of English and regional-language cookbooks published in India by small publishers or the authors themselves. Most of these modest cookbooks never make it to the shelves of the large mainstream bookstores even in India. They have to be ferreted out of small local bookshops, from publishers’ offices, or directly from the authors. It is, however, here that the best Indian cookbooks are to be found, for they are authored by individuals who cook for their families, love their subject and are willing and able to communicate their knowledge.

For a number of reasons, these books lie largely below the radar of the traditional media, the internet, and the large chain bookstores. First and foremost, cookbooks in regional languages rarely gain a readership outside the geographical state or community that is literate in those respective languages. Even among the books written in English, which have the potential for wider demand, the authors often lack the means, inclination, or savvy to grease the media and marketing machinery into their service. Therefore, most of these books do not get the benefit of newspaper and magazine reviews or grand releases with a celebrity cutting the ribbon. Last and least, as is true of most things these days, medicrity abounds here too. Some of these books probably deserve their share of oblivion for their poorly written recipes, terrible photos, and quite simply, bad food.

So what makes a good cookbook?

Culinary enthusiasts have long debated this in forums, blogs, conferences, and articles. The answers vary depending on whom you ask. A publisher will tell you that it must reach out to a large readership base. Young men who “also cook” love books with pictures of female chefs bending over the pot and licking the spoon. Twenty-and-thirty-something women want to see, above all, lovely photographs of the food. The inexperienced want clear instructions that leave nothing to culinary imagination or wisdom. The reluctant cooks wait for books that will fire their dormant enthusiasm and catapult them from couch to kitchen. The ignorant want books that “comprehensively” cover the “ethnic” cuisine that catches their latest fancy. The purists look for authenticity; the apologists throw up their hands in the air and ask, “what is authenticity”?

Notwithstanding my somewhat flippant tone above, this is a serious question with no easy answers, which is why I have never understood the rationale behind lists such as “Five Best Indian Cookbooks”. Perhaps they serve a purpose in guiding those who are completely new to Indian cuisines. As someone who has grown up on home-cooked Indian food and now cooks it almost everyday, there really is no one (or even ten) great Indian cookbook. My culinary needs vary at different times: on some days, I want to spend three hours making a biryani in 20 difficult steps; on other days, I want to quickly find a new way to use up the five drumsticks and two brinjals sitting expectantly on the kitchen counter. There are days when I would rather lie on the couch and read about the old days when Indian kitchens did not have pressure cookers and mixer-grinders. I might be curious about how Kolhapuri mutton rassa is made although I am vegetarian and would not eat the dish except under extreme duress. Above all, I need Indian food books to keep feeding my interest in the subject almost daily for the more you explore it, the more acute the realization of how little you actually know. Therefore, I will not attempt to define my criteria for a good Indian cookbook.

In this series, I will highlight some selected books from my personal collection. These books are not likely to win awards or cookbook contests and they are not without their faults, but each one has some trait that I value in a cookery book. The series is also a small way of putting the spotlight on cookbooks that deserve more attention than they have received in the media. Since my literacy is limited to English, Marathi, Konkani, and Hindi, my collection is entirely comprised of books in these languages. I would love to hear from readers about their favourite lesser-known cookbooks in these and other regional languages.

Veena Parrikar

(Mahanandi will feature a column by Sreemathi Veena Parrikar, a culinary enthusiast and an excellent writer, on first Monday of every month. - Indira)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Reviews: Cookbooks, Veena Parrikar, Zenith(Family&Friends) (Sunday January 6, 2008 at 12:17 am- permalink)
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Date and Prune

Date and Prune
A Date with Prune ~ for this Week’s Indian Kitchen

Weekend Blog Read:

Hey, Sweetheart!

Love Song for Trader Joe’s

I Finally Said Goodbye to Food Network

Saturday Night at the Movies, The Obligatory Top Ten List

Blogging in Telugu: Tools and Tips

What’s Wrong with American Academia

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Dates (kharjuram) (Sunday December 9, 2007 at 2:42 pm- permalink)
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Toor dal ~ Fresh, Dry and Split

Toor dal (Tuvar Dal, Kandi Pappu - Fresh, Dry and Split
The Most Beautiful and Flavorful Lentil ~ Toor Dal
Fresh, Dried, and Split ~ For This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Toor Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen (Sunday December 2, 2007 at 5:16 pm- permalink)
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Punjabi Tinda, Parval and Tindora

Punajbi Tinda, Parval and Tindora
Punjabi Tinda, Parval and Tindora (from Lt to Rt)
Fresh Vegetables of India ~ for This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Vegetables, Dondakaya(Tindora), Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen (Sunday October 28, 2007 at 1:35 pm- permalink)
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Naaga Keshar, Cloves and Marathi Moggu

NaagaKeshar, Cloves and Marathi Moggu
Clockwise from left: Naaga Keshar, Cloves and Marathi Moggu
Special Spices from India ~ for This Week’s Indian Kitchen

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Herbs and Spices (Sunday October 14, 2007 at 1:52 pm- permalink)
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Dagad Phool, Kala Elachi, Badal Phool and Naagkeshar

Dagad Phool,  Black Cardamom, Badal Phool and Nagakeshar to prepare Goda Masala
Clockwise from left: Dagad Phool, Kala Elachi, Badal Phool and Naagkeshar
Spices to Prepare Goda Masala ~ for This Week’s Indian Kitchen


from Hindi/Marathi to Telugu and English:
Dagad Phool = Kallupachi (Black Stone Flower)
Kala Elachi = Nalla Elakulu (Black Cardamom)
Badal Phool = Anaspuvvu (Star Anise)
NaagaKeshar = Naaga Sagaralu

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen (Sunday October 7, 2007 at 3:50 pm- permalink)
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Fenugreek Seeds (Methi, Menthulu)

Fenugreek Seeds (Menthulu, Methi)

The one flavor category that is fading away from our meals today is the “bitter” flavor. The bitter taste category is considered to be one of the most healing and cleansing tastes by Ayurveda. Use of fenugreek seeds in traditional tadka is a good way to incorporate the bitter taste once in a while.

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) is a member of the pea family. Fenugreek plant is an annual with yellowish-white flowers and its pods contain 10-20 seeds. The common method of harvesting is to uproot the whole plant, allow them to dry in the Sun and then remove the seeds by threshing.

Whole fenugreek seeds have no aroma but once ground, they release flavor and sharp, spicy aroma. These seeds are very high in protein. 3.5 ounces (100 gms) of uncooked seeds supply 23 gms of protein. This is almost equivalent to the amount of protein found in a 3 -3.5 ounces serving of meat, fish or poultry.

Fresh Fenugreek, Menthi Kura, Methi
Fresh Fenugreek Leaves (Menthi Kura, Methi)

Methi (Fenugreek) Sprouts
Fenugreek Sprouts (Methi, Menthula Molakalu)

Fenugreek seed sprouts are used in salads. These sprouts are rich in iron and phosphorous. Juice from the sprouts is considered a cleanser of the kidneys and bladder.

In Maharashtra, we make an interesting pickle with methi sprouts, called Methi-Mirchi. This pickle stays good just for one to two days .

¼ cup fenugreek sprouts
1 Green Chilli – slit in middle and then cut into small pieces
2 tsp Mustard seeds
Pinch each - Asafoetida and turmeric
1 Lemon and salt to taste

Heat oil. Add mustards seeds, asafoetida, and turmeric. When mustard seeds start to pop, then add fenugreek sprouts and green Chilli. Mix well. Take off the heat. Add salt to taste and squeeze lemon juice. This pickle has a great combination of bitter, spicy and sour tastes.

Methi-Mirchi Pickle ~ From Anjali's Kitchen
Methi-Mirchi Pickle ~ From Anjali’s Kitchen

Fenugreek seeds are antiseptic and warming. It also has expectorant qualities and is used to ease coughs and sore throat. Fenugreek tea is used as a Blood builder and cleanser.

To make fenugreek tea – bruise 2 tablespoons of seeds. Add four cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for ten minutes. Add honey or lemon to flavor.

One of the five spices in Panch phoran is fenugreek seed. They are also added in curry powder, sambar powder and essential picking spice. It’s a very common practice for most of us to add a few fenugreek seeds to tadka when making everyday dal.

Dal-Methi with fenugreek seeds is a common dal among us Maharashtrians. I make this dal at least 2-3 times a month and it’s a good way to introduce fenugreek seeds to kids.

To one cup toor dal, add two to three teaspoons of fenugreek seeds and two cups of water. Pressure-cook to soft. Heat oil. Add mustard seeds, turmeric, green chilli and asafoetida. Add the toor dal-methi mix. Cook for two minutes. Season with salt and cilantro. Serve with roti.

Ingredients for Dal-Methi ~ from Anjali's Kitchen
Ingredients for Dal-Methi ~ from Anjali’s Kitchen

Ah! And how can we talk about fenugreek seeds and not talk about Fenugreek Seed Laddu (Methi Laddu)? Considered to be good for health and winter warmers, methi laddus are consumed in winter season to ward off cold, cough and fever. Here is a simple methi laddu recipe from Bawarchi.

It’s also a common practice in many parts of India to give methi laddu to the lactating mothers. I had these laddus after my daughters birth and many who have tasted these laddus would agree with me that they do not bring out the “hmm…” feeling. But Lakshmi Ammal of “Cook Food and Serve Love” has come up with an interesting Sweet Fenugreek Pongal. I wish I knew about this pongal eight years back.:) (Since fenugreek seeds are considered a uterine stimulant, they are avoided during pregnancy.)

Packed with protein and punch, and with so many benefits, it’s no wonder that the tiny fenugreek seeds have earned a very respectable place in our Indian spice box.

~ Guest Article by Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice

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If you have questions about fenugreek seeds, please post them in comments section. Anjali would be glad to answer them for you. Thanks.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Menthi Kura(Fenugreek), Anjali Damerla, Methi, Kasuri Methi (Thursday October 4, 2007 at 6:16 pm- permalink)
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Beautiful Bananas ~ Small Variety


Small Variety Ripe Bananas ~ for this week’s Indian Kitchen

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Weekend Reading:
Blogger to Wordpress ~ The Move
Wordpress 2.3 and Movable Type 4 ~ The Comment Exchange
The Saga of a Lemon Rasam
Mavalli Tiffin Room ~ MTR

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Bananas (Sunday September 30, 2007 at 6:00 pm- permalink)
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Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa ~ by Veena Parrikar

This year we celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa. Tourists come to Goa in hordes to enjoy Christmas and New Year’s Day, but fortunately, Ganesh Chaturthi here has remained a quiet, joyous festival that graces the home and the temple rather than strut the streets. Having grown up on the very public, loud, and grandiose observances in Mumbai, the Goan experience came to me with all the freshness and fragrance of a monsoon breeze. Here there are no gigantic idols worth crores of rupees, no loudspeakers blaring crude film songs, no vargaNi (monetary donations) demands at your door by Ganeshotsav associations, and none of the other attendant evils of commercialized celebrations. While there are saarvajanik (public) Ganesh utsav celebrations in Goa, the scale and noise is nowhere near that of Mumbai. The spirit of Ganesh Chaturthi - a celebration of the birth of Ganesh through private worship, cooking and eating delicious saatvik meals, visiting your friends’ and neighbours’ and sharing festival snacks, participating in the aarti, community events such as cooking contests, rangoli and maaToLi competitions - is still alive in Goa.

Here are some vignettes from our Ganesh Chaturthi in Goa.


Shri Shrikrishna Dhumal, a murthikaar in the village of DhargaL, Goa.
These artists shape the murthi by hand and do not use molds or templates. Only eco-friendly materials, from the clay to the natural dyes, are used.


Shri Umanath Naik, another murthikaar in Nagueshi village, putting the final touches on his creations.


The day before Ganesh Chaturthi is marked by paying homage to Ganesh’s parents, Shankar and Parvati.


As part of the naivedya for the Shankar-Parvati puja, a special dish is made with five different seasonal greens. These bunches are prepared and sold in the markets by village women. It includes pumpkin leaves, drumstick leaves, red and green amaranth, and chavLi greens. The greens are cooked without salt and offered to Parvati to take care of her pregnancy cravings.


Our Ganesh, resplendent in his birthday finery.


Modak for the birthday boy. Less than perfect in looks, but full of shraddha (and taste).


MaaToLi is a Goan tradition where, fresh fruits, vegetables, berries, etc. are hung on a wooden frame over the murthi, symbolizing Ganesh’s status as a provider. This is crafted with a great deal of care and passion in the villages, and the all-Goa maaToLi competition has many enthusiastic participants. This picture was taken in the remote village of Bambar in a peasant’s cottage. He had 175 unique items in his assemblage, all of them either grown in the farms or foraged from the wild. We later read in the papers that he won the third prize.


On the day of visarjan (immersion) - a quiet moment after the aarti.


Our Ganesh at the Panjim jetty, just before immersion. This is the hardest part of the festival.


The next morning we headed out to Nirankarachi Rai (nirankar = without form, rai = grove). This is a sacred grove in a forest in the village of Bambar. The Ganapati murthi are dipped in the stream and then left in the forest to naturally mingle with the earth. A more fitting farewell for Ganapati Bappa, I simply cannot imagine!

Photo Credits: Rajan Parrikar

Posted by Veena Parrikar©Copyrighted in Bhakthi~Bhukthi, Traditions, Veena Parrikar (Sunday September 23, 2007 at 2:44 pm- permalink)
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Mustard Seeds (Aavalu, Rai, Sarson)

Brown and Tiny Mustard Seeds from Telengana Region, Andhra Pradesh, India Also Known as Chitti AavaluBlack Mustard Seeds from India
Tiny Brown Mustard Seeds from Andhra Pradesh also Known as “Chitti Aavalu” in Telugu
and Black Mustard Seeds from Bharath

According to old-world tales, there was an interesting exchange of messages between King Darius of Persia and Alexander the Great.

King Darius sent a sack of sesame seeds to Alexander to show the vastness of his army. To this, Alexander responded with a sack of mustard seeds to imply not only the number but also the power, energy and the fiery nature of his men.

Mustard seeds are one of the oldest spices known to mankind and valued for their antiseptic, antibacterial, carminative and warming properties. They are also good source of omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium and protein. Mustard greens are an excellent source of Vitamin A, iron, zinc and improve blood circulation.

Mustard is a very economical plant. Its leaves are used as a vegetable, flowers and pods in salads and seeds as a spice. Mustard seeds hardly give away any fragrance when whole. This is because the enzyme that creates the hot, pungent taste of mustard is activated when it comes in contact with liquids. And for this very reason we wait for the mustard seeds to pop in our tadka. The popping of mustard seeds imparts the sharpness and nutty flavor to the dish.

The vibrant yellow flowers of mustard plants shout out the impending arrival of spring to the world. Folks in Punjab celebrate Basant Panchami when spring arrives with amazingly beautiful, bright and cheery rolling fields of mustard. A favorite of Bollywood films, fantastically yellow mustard fields are breathtaking and romantic. When you talk about mustard and Punjab, it is only natural that one thinks of “Sarson Ka Saag”. This one of a kind dish is best enjoyed with Makke de Roti (corn roti).


Sarson Ka Saag with Roti, and
Toasted Mustard Seeds, Part of Traditional Tadka or Popu

There are three types of mustard seeds – white (actually they look more yellow than white), black and brown. Brown mustard looks very identical to black mustard but has only 70% of the pungency. Mustard seeds are harvested when the pods are fully developed but not yet ripe. The mustard hay is then stacked to dry and then threshed to remove the seeds.

Oil of mustard is a rubefacient. It irritates the skin when applied and dilates the small blood vessels underneath the skin. This increases the flow of blood to the skin and makes it feel warm. Mustard plasters are used to relieve chest colds and coughs. To make a mustard plaster, mix some powdered mustard with warm water and spread it as a paste on a doubled piece of soft cloth. Do not apply this plaster directly on the skin. Take care to see that you don’t keep it on for more than 15 minutes.

A mustard foot bath is a traditional remedy for colds and headaches. Add one teaspoon of mustard powder to a bowl of hot water and soak your feet for about 15 min. The warming nature of mustard clears the congestion by drawing it away from the source. These foot baths or mustard plasters should be used carefully since mustard can irritate skin if used for longer durations. Also never use this remedy on small children.

I have read that it is fairly easy to grow mustard. If you plan to try it, make sure you choose a sunny area in your yard. Mustard is an annual plant and germinates easily. It spreads easily too so you just need to make sure that it doesn’t take over your entire yard.

I just loved the idea of harvesting our own mustards seeds, like this gardener had done and I am going to give it a try this year. Only time will tell whether I can actually get substantial amount of mustard seeds from my garden or not, but I will at least get a small piece of Punjab with beautiful and bright yellow flowers.

Guest Article by ~ Anjali Damerla of Supreme Spice
Photography by: Indira Singari

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If you have questions about Mustard spice, please post them in comments section. Anjali would be glad to answer them for you. Thanks.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Sarson (Mustard Greens), Herbs and Spices, Mustard Seeds (Aavalu), Anjali Damerla (Thursday September 13, 2007 at 5:12 pm- permalink)
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