Traditionally, ‘Navarathri’ (நவராத்திரி) is the time to express one’s creativity, be it music, art, dance or even cookery. In those days, most Brahmin families encouraged their children to learn some art form, ‘karnatic’ music (கர்நாடக சங்கீதம்), instrumental music such as veena (வீணை) and violin (வயலின்) for girls or mridangam (மிருதங்கம்) and tabla (தபலா) for boys, ‘bharathanatyam’ (பரதநாட்டியம்) etc. During dussera, small children would dress up like ‘Krishna’, ‘Radha’, ‘Rama’ or 'Muruga' on the evenings and visit other houses to watch ‘kolu’ (கொலு) and feast on snacks! Singing, dancing or playing music in front of the ‘kolu’ was considered as 'offering prayers'.
Navarathri celebrations also offered ample scope to express fine art skills in the form of ‘kolam’ (கோலம்) or ‘rangoli’ (ரங்கோலி) drawn in the front yard of the house every evening. ‘Mutharathi’ (முத்தாரத்தி) is a form of ‘arthi’ (ஆரத்தி) offered to Goddess at the end of the day. It consisted of exquisite designs and forms made with sago (ஜவ்வரிசி), kumkum (குங்குமம்), turmeric (மஞ்சள்) and other colored powders, on a large plate. Camphor (சூடம்) would be lit in the middle of this plate and offered in the form ‘arthi’ (தீபாராதனை) to Goddess. It was our pleasure and challenge to come up with new designs for ‘Mutharathi’ everyday! Of course, women would express their culinary skills by making various sundal (சுண்டல்) varieties, vadai (வடை), kunukku (குணுக்கு), sweet aval (வெல்ல அவல்) etc as offerings to Goddess. Having learnt so much about dussera festivities, let us feast on a new sundal today!
Whole green gram (பாசிப்பயறு) – ½ tumbler or 100ml measure
Salt – to taste
Coconut – grated, 2 tablespoons
Red chilli – 3 no
Oil – 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Split urad dhal – 1 teaspoon
Cucumber – cut into small pieces, ¼ tumbler or 50ml measure
Asafoetida – a generous pinch
Curry leaves – a few
|Whole Green Gram Sundal (பாசிப்பயறு சுண்டல்)|
Method: Wash whole green gram and pressure cook with salt and ½ tumbler or 100ml of water for 5 minutes or 5 whistles. Drain excess water and keep aside. Cut cucumber into small pieces and keep aside.
Heat oil in a kadai, add red chillies and fry till they turn darker. Add mustard seeds and when they start to sputter, add urad dhal. Fry till the dhal turns golden brown. Now add cucumber, required salt and sauté for a minute. Add the cooked gram, asafoetida and coconut gratings. Sauté for a minute and garnish with curry leaves. Serve hot.
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