Each year I never seem to see the festive season coming up, before I am actually in the middle of it! This year was the same - the first week of October saw me travelling on work and hubby and kiddo came along since the schools were shut for the C'wealth Games. By the time we got back, Navratri - the nine day festival dedicated to the Goddess in all her myriad forms - had begun.
Saptami (the seventh day) this year, was also the closing ceremony for the Games and that was the first day of the Durga Puja in our neighbourhood pandal. The aarthi in the evening with the rhythm of the Dhak and the langurous movements of the beautiful Bengali women as they worshipped the Goddess in their own special way, was overwhelming.
Just as each day of Navratri has a special significance for various communities in India, the food which is prepared for each day also varies. At home, we didn't have a tradition of fasts or of keeping "Golu" - the beautiful symbolic practice of arranging dolls at home and inviting ladies and children in the evenings for some bhajans and pradasam.
In our home, Saraswati Puja on the 9th day - Navami, was the most auspicious when books and pens and tools would be laid out in the prayer room and the whole house decorated with haldi and kumkum (including all the appliances!). And the main preparation on this day was Sundal - a simple preparation of cooked lentils or legumes tempered with mustard and coconut - black chickpeas for Navami and white chickpeas for Dasera or Vijayadashami - the 10th day. People who had rituals or fasted on the other 8 days as well, prepare different lentils/legumes for each day - moong dal, urad dal, chana dal etc.
For the past couple of years, I have started preparing this through the year as well so that hubby can have it as a salad - a break from the usual cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, roasted veggies etc. Its filling, nutritious and fibre filled - perfect for filling you up without the extra calories. It is very, very, simple to make but I am including a recipe anyway.
This year for Saraswati Puja - we had this sundal made of black chickpeas- then there was Boli (also called Holige and Obbattu in Karnataka where it is very popular) which is basically a flour based poli (flat bread) stuffed with a coconut jaggery filling and shallow fried on a griddle. Medu Vadai - deep fried lentil fritters- and Bisibele Bhath - a delicious rice cooked with lentils, a coconut based spice mix , tamarind and some vegetables, made up the rest of the meal.
Wishing you a very Happy Dasera celebration!
Sundal (Tempered Chickpea Salad)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
pinch of hing (asafoetida)
curry leaves - handful
red chillies - 2-3
grated coconut - 1/4 cup
salt to taste
1. Pressure cook the chickpeas for 45 minutes to an hour - that would be 2 whistles and then 30-35 minutes on a low flame. If using canned, go to step 2
2. Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds and when it splutters, add the rec chillies, asafoetida, urad dal and curry leaves.
4. Add salt and grated coconut; mix and remove from flame after a minute.