Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Festival = food, festival = nostalgia

I swear I wait for festivals to come around mostly for the food it brings with it.

I'm so outright lazy I'll never really cook any of it on my own. But honestly, I don't see the need to, because there are so many generous people around me, piling on the gorgeous fried and sweet food, while I pile on the kilos.

And the first generous person who'll pamper me is mom. Who always invites us over for every festival in her own bastion. Again, I'm not complaining, because I get to enjoy so much food. And don't have to slog in the kitchen for it.

What i do miss, though, sometimes, is the nostagia attached to the process of making it. I still remember learning from my grandmother how to "seal" a kadubu or a modaka for Ganesha. Roll out the little ball of wheat-flour dough, pat on a bit of hoorna somewhat towards offcentre, carefully lift up one edge and pull one half of the dough over to the other edge. Seal the edge with a few dabs of water and then the tricky bit -- what my grandma called "murige haakodu" or literally pleating the edges. The dough had to be gently pinched and twists, and patted down and the whole process repeated all over the moon-shaped kadubu, each pleat folding into the next. It's quite crucial because if it's not sealed right, it breaks open and the hoorna remains uncooked. Over the years, i dare say i became an expert of this process. Provided my mom made the hoorna!! (Ya, ya laugh in my face.)

We usually steam it and not fry (the more popular variety). I used to take great pride in being given the responsibility to make these two dishes for the naivedya for Ganesha. I just don't know why, but this year, we didn't make it. It never struck me till last night and I haven't yet asked my mum "why?"

While I myself don't really cook festive specials, I still feel terrible when I don't get the homemade staples. It's rather rude and demanding of me, yes, but that's what they've made me used to ;-)

Another dish I miss at festivals now is the bhajji. On most festive occasions, we would fry bhajjis -- either potato, or heerekai (ridge gourd). We slowly stopped that saying fried food is not good for health; it's too tedious; there's so much other food anyway. Then slowly, after granny died we started outsourcing other festive food too. We would place orders and have them door delivered to save my mum the trouble.

I still have cousins who'll do the entire retinue of dishes for each festival without fail, and  feel terrible that i never got around to learning them. Still, I'm not exactly motivated to learn either. So i admire all those women/girls/moms who handle all other responsibilities and this too with aplomb.

Ganesha Chaturthi is also when i remember my dear neighbour who used to walk with her head bent the whole evening because then she would surely see the moon. It's a time to stop and wonder why no group of young kids come to "see" the Ganesha in your house, count them, say they are going to see at least 101, take prasada and go. This year, no one came to collect donation for putting up a Ganesha in any neighbouring street either. It's sad. This year, I didn't go to any of my relatives places either to see their Ganesha. I'm as much a part of the changing tide as the others are.


Garima said...

There is something about the traditional cooking... I call it soul food.. which makes it very exciting.
I have tried my hand at a few Indian Mithai.. but I relegiously suck. Plus, its too much effort. My MIL has tried to teach me, and I politely decline... I just tell her, you are there naah, Its okay.

The tradition will be lost in the coming days... but the "halwaii's" will have a feast. I look at it liek this.. my laziness employs them. ;-) Very mean I know.

Aparna said...

I consider myself a great enthusiast about trying new kinds of food but there's something about festival food that I somehow never get around to trying it. And of course my mom stays on the ground floor so there is no great need to most of the time :). This year we too missed out on the kozhukottais - weird coincidence with your post!

In earlier days with joint families and lots of people around the kitchen, cooking during festivals was such a joyous occasion. But now thinking of slaving all day (or all previous day) in the kitchen and missing the actual spirit of the festival really deters me from trying my hand at it :(.

Forever mother said...

Heheheh girls, what more can i say? We're three of a feather flocked together :-)