Gobar Times
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Fun Feast

Eat, drink and make merry

Everywhere in the world harvest festivals have a common theme. Food. And in India, where agriculture defines the history, economy, and culture of the land, this season throws up a lavish feast. Every region turns festive in its own special way. With dances, songs, drum beats and Food! We, the non-farmers, love the festivals for the lip smacking delicacies. These are the gastronomical chronicles of India’s heritage. Here, sample some.

Lohri (North India)

The festival marks the start of a financial year of a farmer, as his harvest of wheat is now ripe and golden. He celebrates it as a thanksgiving, acknowledging nature’s bounty, that blessed him with a good crop. Lohri is also believed to be the longest night of the season hence it is spent with the entire community, around a bonfire. It signifies the onset of winter solstice (see box), and welcomes the forthcoming warm long days of summer.

      a goddess is made from Goba (cow dung) and worshipped as the Lohri goddess.

Avial’s pongal

Ingredients
1 finely-grated coconut,1 tsp roasted Channa dal,1 tsp roasted Urad dal,1/4 tsp asafoetida(heeng),2 green chilies,1/4 tsp turmeric powder,Assortment of vegetables, excluding salad and leafy vegetables and beetroot (cut and diced).

Preparation:
Blanch the diced vegetables and set it aside for use later. Grind channa dal, urad dal, asafoetida and green chillies to a paste. Heat ghee in a separate shallow pan and add the grounded paste. Fry lightly till it emits fragrance. Add the grated coconut and sauté it over a low flame. Add the blanched vegetables and cook till done. Add salt to taste. Serve hot.

Gannee Ki Kheer

Ingredients
Sugarcane juice: 1 litre. Basmati rice: 100g.

Preparation:
Put the sugarcane juice in a pan and heat. Wash and add the rice to it and allow it to cook in the juice on a slow fire. Continue cooking till the rice and sugarcane juice form a smooth mixture of thick consistency. Take it off the fire. Allow it to cool. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Pongal (South India)

Sunshine overseeing the fields. Maattu pongal is for thanking the animals, the cattle especially, which had toiled with the farmer for teh good harvest. Some communities also hold bull fights. This day is also called as Kanu pongal, signifying a tradition of feeding crows. The crows are known for their kinship. They never eat alone and are always ready to share. Then the next and the final day is called Kaanum pongal, where the family and relatives express love and gratitude to each other.

       An adage, chanted during Pongal, Ekah Swadu Na Bhunjeedha (Good things should not be eaten alone), mirrors the spirit of the festival.

Relish the festival fares. And wait for the next celebrations. Meanwhile, send us your recipes, which we can share with others.

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Eat, drink and make merry