Thali Menu #143 -Navrathri Special- South Indian
Navarathri Navratri is one of the most significant festivals of the Hindus held in honour of the divine feminine, celebrated all across the world. This is also one of the most ancient festivals dating back to the times. The word Navratri is derived from two Sanskrit words—’nava’ meaning nine and ‘ratri’ meaning night.
Navratri is celebrated differently in India’s various regions. For many people it is a time of religious reflection and fasting, for others, it is a time for dancing and feasting. Among the fasting customs are observing a strict vegetarian diet and abstaining from alcohol and certain spices. It is celebrated as Durga Pujo in Bengal. Dances performed include Garba, especially in Gujarat.
Typically the festival’s nine nights are dedicated to different aspects of the divine feminine principle or shakti. While the practices varies somewhat by region, generally the first third of the festival focuses on aspects of the goddess of Shakti or inner power, Durga, the second third on the goddess of wealth Lakshmi, and the final third on the goddess of knowledge Sarasvati. Offerings are often made to the goddesses and their various aspects, and rituals are performed in their honour.
In South India, this festival is also celebrated with ‘Golu’, a display of dolls in a stair/steps arrangement. Usually, the steps start from 3 and it can extend to 9. Golu features clay dolls of Gods’ and Goddess’, statuettes, figurine, and themed dioramas. Each step in the Golu has a greater spiritual significance. They are a metaphor for ‘ascending towards enlightenment’. The top 2-3 step features statuettes of deities and gods, while the lowest steps are covered with figures of animal and fruit. The middle layers usually depict scenes from daily life, like shopping, dancing, and just having a good time. Keeping Golu is considered as a tradition passed on from earlier generations in the family.
As per Hindu mythology, the culmination of nine days is Dussehra or Vijayadashami a time to celebrate the triumphs of good over evil, such as Durga’s victory over Mahishasura.
The foods associated with Navrathri in South India are sundals, tempered rice, sweets and simple vegetarian fares. We serve these at Daana this weekend with a prayer for your well being and happiness.
Recipe of the week
Maa Ki Dal
Slow cooked creamy, earthy black gram lentils
- 1 cup whole black lentils
- ½ cup Channa Dal/ Split Bengal gram
- 1 brown onion, chopped
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 inch ginger, crushed
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 2 tablespoon ghee
- 4 cups water
- salt to taste
- coriander leaves for garnishing
- Rinse the whole black lentils and channa dal in water 2-3 times and soak it in water overnight or at least for 4 to 5 hours
Preparing Maa ki dal
- In a pressure cooker or deep stock pot heat 1 tbsp ghee, add cumin seeds. when they sizzle, add chopped onions, fry the onions till golden brown.
- Add the pureed tomatoes and mix well.
- Add the crushed ginger-garlic or ginger-garlic paste, chopped green chilies, and all the dry spice powders mixed with a little water.
- Sauté the masala till the oil starts to leave.
- Add the soaked Whole black gram and channa dal
- Add water and salt to taste
- Cover the pressure cook for about 15 to 18 whistles or 30 to 45 minutes if cooking in stock pot, till the lentils have become soft and buttery. if still they are not cooked well, then continue to pressure cook/ slow cook as necessary.
- If the dal looks thin and runny, then simmer without the lid, till it reaches a creamy consistency.
- Garnish Maa Ki dal with coriander leaves and dollop of ghee.
Serve hot with steamed rice, roti or naan