Festivals celebrated in any part of the world always emanates a sense of excitement and happiness. New attires, gifts, timed sessions of family photos and get-togethers become the foundation of any festival. But there’s one element that tops it all without which the celebration loses its essence- food. Can you imagine a festival without a spread of delectable delicacies?
The season of Navratri and Diwali involves food that is cooked with immense mindfulness and devotion by people who believe in the legacy of traditional food that must continue to be devoured for generations to come. From Sabudana khichdi to Aloo Poshto and Boorelu, these foods reflect India’s cultural expression of Navratri and Diwali.
Fasting or Fasting Food?
Fasting can typically mean abstaining from food for a particular period of time, but in India it doesn’t typically mean the same.
The 9-day festival of Navratri, has a set of fasting food that is known among different communities in India and each community celebrates it differently. But most communities resort to simple food for 9 days in order to cleanse one’s body before the day of Dussehra or Vijayadashmi. For instance, singhare puris are made from water chestnut flour and potatoes, sabudana thalipeeth is a crisp soft pancake made from tapioca pearls while Dahi arbi is colocasia-taro roots cooked in a thin yogurt gravy. These fasting dishes are not just easy to make but are equally easy on the body and mind.
Kolkata’s Paradisiacal Platters
Bengali cuisine has been one of the most talked about cuisines during the festival of Durga Puja and evidently differs from the rest. The people of kolkata are specifically known to have a sweet tooth due to the range of desserts that they offer like chum chum, malpua, rasgulla and sandesh. These desserts have a common condiment of dairy which makes it rich in nature. Made from full-fat milk, these desserts are made with chenna or paneer that is drained and cooked with sugar and other ingredients.
These sweets find a resemblance with Chhena Poda which is a popular dessert of Odisha. Chhena Poda is made with paneer or chenna, sugar, milk, cardamom powder and is baked on a bed of banana leaf. Chhena Poda is similar to a cheesecake, but only richer.
Savoury dishes like Luchi, Ghugni, Aloo Poshto, Illish Shorshey are found in most Bengali homes and are offered to Goddess Durga before being consumed. Every dish that is prepared in a Hindu household in any Indian festival is often presented in front of the altar as a devotion to deities before it can be consumed by the people of the house.
The Nizams Uncompromisable Delicacies
The land of Nizams offers a versatile shade of food that has its own charm. Dussehra and Diwali in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is not limited to vegetarian food. If the Bengalis devour fish, people of Hyderabad relish their meats during these festivals.
Dishes like Mirchi Bhajji, Pheni, Tamarind rice or Pulihora, Puran poli, boorelu, take precedence in the Brahmin community of Hyderabad. The extensive spread of food on these festivity afternoons signifies the grandeur and importance of the festival in a Telugu household.
Indian Food is a Feeling
In India, the foods that we know of may have different names among communities wide and far, but ultimately they’re similar in taste and preparations. They go back to generations of intricately cooked food with specific ingredients that make it flavoursome.
There’s no ounce of a doubt that anyone who eats in India for the first time has a life-changing experience. The versatility and flavour of Indian food is nothing but a feeling that even an outsider can resonate with.
These flavours will continue to sustain through the many conversations we have in our dinner halls, office cafeterias and many first attempts.