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
Chef Sanjay’s Dal Makhani
Slow cooked black dal with garlic, tomato, butter and cream
- 280 gms Whole urad dal (black lentil)
- 60 gms Red kidney beans
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- Pinch of asafoetida
- 650 ml Tomato puree
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 green chilli crushed
- 10 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1” piece ginger finely chopped
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- ½ tsp garam masala powder
- ½ tsp crushed Kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
- 100 gms butter
- 60 ml single cream
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnish
- ½ ” ginger slivers for garnish
- 1.5 to 2 ltrs Water for cooking dal
- Soak the black lentils and kidney beans overnight in a bowl in plenty of water.
- In a large heavy bottom stock-pot add the black lentil and kidney beans along with the water and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer on a low heat for an hour. Stir a few times and scarp of the foam from the top. Continue cooking for further 1 hour and 30 minutes
- Drain, reserving the cooking water and set aside to use for later. Mash the lentils till you have a coarse consistency. You want some lentils whole but most of it mashed.
In a heavy bottom large stockpot heat the oil, add the asafoetida, chilli and cumin seeds. Let them crackle for few seconds and add the garlic and ginger for frying for a further 30 seconds, add chilli powder. Cook till the oil seperates.
- Add the tomato puree and fry for a further 3 minutes to let it cook
- Season to taste and add the mashed dal. Stir well and make sure to mix all the spices with the dal
- Add 650 mls cooking liquid and stir. Bring to a boil and simmer for 60-90 minutes on a very low heat with the lid on. Make sure to stir a few times preventing it from sticking to the bottom of the pan
- The dal should be thick and creamy so add a little more water only if you need to. Add the garam masala powder along with the butter. Stir well simmering for a minute
- Just before you serve add crushed Kasoori methi, butter, a swirl of cream, fresh coriander and ginger. Serve with paratha or pulao
Serve with paratha or pulao