The day is dry and bright. The people are preparing for an auspicious day. The day Lord Ganesha gives strength to overcome the obstacles in our lives, makes us stronger. The prayers have listened, all mighty Ganesha will lead us along the path of righteousness. All of Mumbai, indeed all of India, is full to bursting with anticipation. This can only mean one thing: Ganapathi Bappa Moria. Ganesh Chaturthi is also known as ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ is celebrated by Hindus around the world as the birthday of Lord Ganesha. With such a hype, you’d expect gatherings, puja, food, decorations… and you will not be disappointed! The spirit goes on for a whole 10 days. One has to experience the high energy Ganesh Chaturthi for whole 10 days from puja on day 1 till procession on the on the 10th day of Ganesh Chaturthi. It is said that the high spirited Ganesh Chaturthi procession started as early as 1894.
Kudumulu or Undrallu are steamed sweet rice balls made of rice flour, Jaggery, typically made Andhra Pradesh state in India. They offered to Lord Ganesha on the festival of Ganesh Chaturthi (Vinayaka Chavithi). They are also called bellam kudumulu, teepi kudumulu, bellam undrallu. Fresh sweet potato crop comes in fall, though they are available throughout the year. Perfect time for Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri, and Diwali. Ganesh Chaturthi is also a festival of food. Lord Ganesh is said to be a foodie. His favorites varieties of Prasad are modak, kheer, Puran Poli, undrallu, kudumulu, and list goes on. Foodies wait for mouth-watering food made of grated jaggery, coconuts, and dry fruits on Ganesh Chaturthi.
Ganesh Chaturthi is high spirit and enthusiastic celebration. Preparations start days before the festival. Preparations to make Ganesh idol to buying new clothes and planning for food etc. Ganesh Chaturthi is also known as ‘Vinayaka Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’.
Bandaru Laddu is also known as Thokudu Laddu – one of Andhra’s most favorite sweet. They are originated in a place called “Machilipatnam” in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The so-called modern day Machilipatnam used to be called “Bandaru”. Hence the name Bandaru Laddu. These laddus made by pounding the fried besan murukus. In the Telugu language which is spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh Pounding is called tokkudu. Hence the name Tokkudu Laddu. Bandaru laddu, with its striking and smooth velvety texture melt right in your mouth.
Like most cultural celebrations, food forms a major part of the Diwali experience. Carts sell sweet and spicy food on nearly every street throughout the festival, and families and friends watch the festivities or relax afterwards over sweets. Food is also a major part of the Indian identity. Children grow up at their mothers’ apron strings, watching as families come together to cook and chat. As adults, they return to bring the family recipes to life and catch up on everything that’s happened between visits. To cook Indian food is a window into what it is to be Indian, and I intend to give each of my readers that authentic experience.
At the time of this writing in 2018, India is celebrating 72nd Independence Day. India’s Independence Day is celebrated on August 15th. On this day, India got freedom from the British rule in 1947. British ruled India between 1765 – 1947. On the observation of India’s Independence Day, it is the National Holiday in India. The Indian freedom fight against British ruling began in 1857. The English came to India to trade and rule. This attitude increased the distance between the rulers and the ruled. From the 1920s onwards, Mahatma Gandhi led the Indian independence movement. His belief in non-violence inspired many and led to successful Independence. Along, many activists such as Vallabh Bhai Patel, B. R. Ambedkar, Alluri Sitarama Raju, Tanguturi Prakasam, Lala Lajpat Rai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Mangal Pandey, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Muslim League, led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah and many more fought for freedom.
South India is the land of rice dishes. Every state in Southern India has different variations of rice dishes made of unique ingredients. Such diverse recipes. It takes a lifetime to learn about Indian states, culture, and food. South Indian states Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have an exclusive cooking style, you just have to explore each one of them yourself. Indian cuisine as most westerns know is not just naan, chicken butter masala. It is quite elaborate. Exploring Indian cuisine is quite fun. So many ingredients, so many variations, whats common is the great taste. South Indian rice dishes are clean. They are made of fresh, clean ingredients. Turmeric in mango rice gives you the best nutrition. Moreover, most of them are vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free.
JalJeera is an all-natural, clean, summer drink staple in North India. A vegan, vegetarian Indian drink. JalJeera has been the quench for hot summer thirst for millions for the past many decades. More than a homemade drink, JalJeera is popular selling on the streets on carts in a clay pot called matka. Matka is clay pot, which naturally keeps drinks cold without consuming any energy. JalJeera is sold by street vendors. They wrap matka in a cloth to keep it chilled and is served with a steel ladle. JalJeera is usually garnished with boondi, sometimes with mint and coriander leaves. It is so refreshing that it rejuvenates you instantly, with natural ingredients, without any carbonation, extra sugars, artificial colors or flavors. Just ditch the high-calorie, high sugar, and carbon-di-oxide drinks.
I wish my readers a happy Puthandu and Aluth Avurudda. It is India’s new year season. Each state has their own new year day. Today is an auspicious day of Puthandu (Tamil new year) and Aluth Avurudda (Sinhalese/Srilankan new year). Though are called by different names, Tamil and Srilankan new year falls on the same day, yet customs are a little different.
Chutneys are a staple food in Southern India. Chutneys can be made with a variety of vegetables. Mix n match a wide variety of vegetables, nuts, seeds to make rich, enticing, exquisite chutney. This is a Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, Paleo, nut-free recipe. Aromatic spices with vegetables, nuts in tampering makes chutney an ultimately delicious and healthy. Whichever vegetable you make chutney out of, Chutney is loaded with iron, vitamins, and antioxidants. Traditionally, vegetables are cooked in spices and crushed with the hand in mortar pestle to make chutney. In the modern generation, grinders are used. Chutney is usually consumed with rice and ghee poured on top. Lately, with low carb consciousness, people prefer eating chutneys as homemade dips for tortilla chips, pita chips, south Indian snacks as sakinalu, janthikalu and karappusa.
Gongura, which is known to the western world as Roselle, is a tangy and sour leaf. Roselle plant leaves and flowers both are edible. Gongura (Hibiscus Sabdariffa) leaves – the most popular dish in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India. Gongura leaves are widely used in Andhra Pradesh. It holds a very special place in Andhra peoples hearts. It is called as Andhra favorite dish – Andhra maatha or Andhra Shakambari Varaprasadam which is translated to “Vegetarian mother of Andhra”.
The weather is dry and bright. The people are gathering their diyas, cooking like crazy, and preparing for the influx thousands of tourists and the homecoming of far-flung loved ones. All of Mumbai, indeed all of India, is full to bursting with anticipation. This can only mean one thing: Diwali is upon us!
Often known (and literally translated) as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is one of the most sacred and beloved events in the Hindu calendar. Though it’s officially a holiday in 11 other countries (and one province in Pakistan), Diwali is most lavishly celebrated in India and Mumbai, its largest city. While the scripture behind Diwali varies between Hindu traditions, all celebrate a common theme: the power of humankind, guided by the light of self-control, furthered knowledge and compassion for others, to triumph over darkness and evil. In many traditions, Diwali marks the veneration of Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, and Dhanvantari, God of Hope and Healing.
With such a meaning, you’d expect bursts of color and light as far as the eye can see, and Diwali doesn’t disappoint! The whole of India hangs diyas, or colored lights, outside windows and doorways; they burn throughout the festival nights. Colorful floor decorations called rangoli dot the floors of homes and businesses. The streets are ablaze with lights, fireworks, and colored powder and abuzz with shopping and celebration akin to the West’s Christmas observance.