green banana leaf

Basically, a food blog. But, don't expect too many recipes. I am a foodie, alright, but hardly a nice, little cookey !

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Thiruvathira

Its the Malayalam month of Dhanu. Dhanu is the month of the mild, beautiful winter of Kerala. And, the month of Thiruvathira. It is the festival or fast women observe for the well-being of their husbands. Unmarried girls observe this fast for getting good husbands.

The concept behind Thiruvathira is the goddess Parvathy's attempts to get Siva as husband. Kamadeva, the god of amour, was trying to awaken love between Siva and Parvathy, when he was caught red-handed and was burnt down in the flames arising out of the third eye of the angry god. According to the Thiruvathira legend, the women in the world decided to commit suicide lamenting on the death of Kama. They prayed to Siva for one whole night to bring him back. Siva, pleased at last, decided to grant Kama life - only that he would remain without body.

So, the laments turned into celebrations. The ropes with which the women had threatened to hang themselves turned into swings of celebration. Thus was born the festival of Thiruvathira.

The diet on Thiruvathira included some special dishes, like muthirappuzhukku and koovappayasam. Ettangadi is another special dish. The fasting women do not eat rice, but only tubers, pulses and fruits.

Though it is termed a fast, Thiruvathira means over-eating in fact !

The recipees and more details I will add later.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Vazhuthananga chammanthi

Indira of Mahanandi, has written about onion chutney or Ulli Pachadi. My father has a special recipe for vazhuthananga chammanthi. Vazhuthananga is nothing but brinjal. And, chammanthi is what we term chutneys in Malayalam.

Well, not exactly. There is a difference. While chutney is the more watery accompaniment for iddalies and dosas (and only occasionally for rice), chammanthi is the thick paste, ground without adding water. Chutney is invariably seasoned with mustard seeds, dry red chillies and curry leaves (in the southern districts, with onions as well). But, chammanthi has no seasoning, except for a dash of coconut oil sometimes.

My father would saute chopped vazhuthananga pieces in a little oil, but the original recipee called for grilling over live coals, in the purely local way. When the wood stove gave way to cooking gas, he resolutely tried out the pan. But I improvised it to grilling over the gas flame !

After the vazhuthananga pieces are sauted well, he would saute small onions (chuvannulli) and a couple of red chillies, with a small lump of tamarind. Then, all ingredients were mashed together. The mashing too, became modernised with the advent of the mixie. Earlier, it was a mortar-and-pestle-affair. But, using a mixie can be tricky, as the mixture needs to be rough, not a smooth paste, which would rob it of all the punch. And came a final dash of coconut oil. Whhew ! No need for anything more with the rice.