I love a good, filling festival feast! But then, who doesn't? No matter what religious festival it is that one is celebrating, the love for the associated food is commonly shared. :)
It's probably because of a combination of the joyous childhood memories we have associated with festivals and the amount of care and hard work which always goes into making food fit for celebration.
Being a strong believer in the power of spiritual vibrations, I feel that food when it's made with the intention of a offering to a deity as neiveidhya first before being eaten is most sublime.
Among all the festival we grew up celebrating, my fondest memories are of Gowri and Ganesha (not even Diwali with all its fire crackers matches up). For the first half of my life, I lived in a big, happy joint family. We were fourteen of us in one huge bungalow. All festivals were celebrated together, as a family.
On the first day was the Gowri pooja followed on the next day by the Ganesha pooja. The story is that Gowri comes down to Earth on that day to visit her mother and Ganesha (Gowri's youngest son) accompanies her to stay at his grandma's place. And grandma spoils him with all kinds of delicious goodies. After the festivals are done, a few days later Ganesha safely takes his mother Gowri back up to Kailasa (heaven). That's when we leave the clay idols in water as a send off until the following year.
A few days before the festival, when the adults purchased the larger Gowri and Ganesha clay idols for the ritual, they always purchased smaller ones for us kids.
Me, my little sister and our two little cousin brothers used to willingly and enthusiastically wake up at the ungodly hour of 4 am on both festival days, get dressed in traditional clothes and sit at our mini altar to do the ritual to our little Gowri and Ganesha. The girls did the Gowri ritual and the boys did the Ganesha ritual. We even had miniature silver vessels, aarthis and all the other stuff required for the ceremony. And at the end of the ritual, the feast was brought out and placed in front of the deities as an offering. This marked the end of the ceremony. After this, we could commence wolfing down the yummy goodies! :D
Those were such utterly joyful days!!
Now hubby and I bring home only the Ganesha (I visit my mom's place and all my aunt's places on the day of the Gowri festival) and perform a simple, short pooja. But we do make sure to cook a whole bunch of the traditional delicacies for the neiveidhya offering so we can stuff ourselves later to our tummies' content. :D
This year we made three types of kadubus/kozakottais, unfermented idli with coconut cilantro chutney, sundal out of small, brown channa and these miniature steamed snacks (don't really know what they are called).
For the three kadubu fillings - coconut jaggery, sesame jaggery, savory urad dal - we followed the recipes from Subbu's Kitchen. For the outer rice dough covering we used a slightly different method.
1 C rice flour
1 C water
2 tsp oil
a pinch of salt
Mix everything into a paste in a heavy bottomed pan and place on medium heat. Stir continuously (will take maybe 5-10 minutes) and let it cook until the paste starts coming together into a ball of dough.
Take the pan off the stove and once the dough cools a bit, dip your palm in cold water and knead the dough until it's smooth. Follow instructions to make various fillings, stuff and steam.
Fun Little Savory Steamed Snacks
These are usually made out of leftover kadubu dough but I like them so much that I always make extra dough just for these. :)
1 tsp moong dal and 1 tsp channa dal (soaked together for half an hour)
2 fresh green chillies, asafoetida and salt (crushed well together)
2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
Mix everything together.
Form into fun little shapes - ball, stick, ring, disk etc...
Steam along with the kadubu for 5-8 minutes.
Another Ganesha Chaturthi dish that I truly relish is Kandundes (didn't make them this time around though). They are made of four kinds of lentils soaked together and ground to a thick paste along with spices, shaped into balls and steamed. Then they are dunked in a yogurt based gravy and served. I make these on non festival days too because then I get to add onion (a festival no no) and also a bunch of chopped veggies. I either serve those in a vegan yogurt based gravy or just plainly spiced vegan yogurt. I'll share a recipe for those the next time I make them.
What goodies do you prepare for Gowri Pooja and Ganesha Chaturthi and which ones are your favorites?