Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lord of Cosmic dance

It is that time of the month in the solar calendar when Lord Shiva is said to have performed the "Dance of Bliss" a.k.a Ananda Thandavam for his devotee, Nandanar. Nandanar, born in a caste whose people where not allowed into temples, was a great devotee of Lord Shiva. He was so devout that Lord Shiva ordered Nandi, the cow, to move and give way so that his devotee could get a glimpse of him. Pleased to see his devotee happy Lord Shiva or Nataraja performs his cosmic dance.
Today people celebrate Lord Shiva's cosmic dance every year in the month of Margazhi (Dec-Jan in the Gregorian calendar), a full moon day (pournami) when the star is Tiruvathirai. The festival is called Thiruvathirai or Arudra Darshanam. The festival is celebrated with simple kali (rice with jaggery) and kootu (simply put mixed vegetable curry). There is a story of how this came about to be true. I have not heard this story before but you can read it here.
So today my mum also made the dish- let me tell you- it was AWESOME!!

Recipe (amma sollu padi..., for those of you who don't understand- in my mum's words)
of course dad cut those beautiful veggies!

Kali
1 cup rice, dry roast and just break it into small pieces (like sooji, may be slightly bigger or dalia)
2 cups water
3/4 cup jaggery, make a syrup out of it (my mom says it should not be too thin)
Powdered Elaichi
Cashews, roasted in ghee (clarified butter)

Cook the rice in 2 cups of water (takes about 20-25 min). Add the cooked rice to the jaggery syrup with elaichi and cashews. Freshly grated coconut is optional.

Kootu
All sorts of tuberous veggies can be used (usually such items for festivities are made with odd number of veggies, don't ask me why!
Today, my mom used
half a sweet potato
half a potato
1/4th of a butternut sqaush
2 taro roots (sepankizhangu), boiled separately
1 carrot
Tamarind, size of a small lime
Spices
Dhania- 3 tbs
Chana dal-2 tbs
Red Chillies- 8 (as per taste)
Asaefoetida-a pinch
Grated coconut- 3 tbs

(Traditionally the veggies used are raw plaintain, avarakkai or broad beans, pumpkin, sweet potato, taro root and yam, we have used carrots and potatoes instead)
Boil all veggies including boiled taro root in tamarind water with some salt and a pinch of turmeric powder.
Roast the spices in oil until the chana dal turns brown, cool and grind the mixture.
Once the veggies are cooked add the ground spice mixture.
Cook until you don't smell the raw spices (say about 5 min)
Mix either rice or all purpose flour in water and add to the kootu (binding agent)
(You can also soak dry black chickpeas overnight. Roast it next day in a little ghee and to the kootu)

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