Sunday, April 14, 2013

Vishu...

For the memory of Cassia Fistula flowers...
In lieu of Kani Konna, early morning sunlight on the the daffodils from our garden; a light dusting of  the soil. Unedited photograph.
Unda Sammanthi: Roasted Red Chilli and Coconut Chutney with Pappadams

This year, we have no traditional celebrations due to a death in the family. In lieu, I have memories to share  with perhaps only a replica of recipes,  to conjure up a scene from another time and space.

No taste! No Flavour!
Not like 'back home'! ...are the phrases we don like a second skin. We become zealous guardians of our 'traditions', fervently  striving to recreate the flavours and aroma's of what we left behind. What is real and what is presented for our audience through the blog is often left unanswered with our props, substitutes, posting and 'presentations'. The exercise often takes a stark, physical view of what  represents our food, tradition and culture. As long as they look like the originals, as along as they feel and perhaps taste (?) like what we used to get back home? As long as we do it on the same day of our solar / lunar calendar we have not let anyone or anything down. Then we may not ponder much on the disconnect across the oceans  and the actual seasonal connection of our cuisine to our land. 
Matta Ari Kanji, Chakka Puzhukku, Pappadam and Unda Samanthi
We may never use newly harvested rice, which symbolizes the new year for  traditions which revolve around growing seasons. Our Vishu Kanji had to do with store-bought parboiled Matta Rice, Chakka Puzhukku made with frozen jackfruit and was served on regular Corningware plates! But we did grind our coconut chutney on a grinding stone! Not the dark granite one's used in Kerala but one that gave similar results. This  pink, sandstone, Sil-Batta has northern provenance but in Ma's expert hands, produced a favourite recipe. She made  the occasion special.
This goes to Black and White Wednesdays # 79 , created by the The Well Seasoned Cook
and hosted this week by Food and Clicks
Vishu was always celebrated with our grandparents. Rice was important. After the morning ritual of Vishukani, Vishu kanji would be prepared. In some parts of Kerala there are elaborate feasts. In our nook, this humble, everyday dish is celebrated.

Puthari Kanji Vishu Kanji was special. One could use 'old' rice or the newly harvested rice for Vishu. If Puthari ( Puthiya Ari = New Rice) was used, it  was considered auspicious to  use a length of Uzhinja creeper around the cooking pot. Uzhinja- Cardiospermum Halicacabum, a native perennial creeper  is also  one of the ten sacred, medicinal plants in Kerala's folk and Ayurveda tradition, known as the  Dasapushpa's/ ten flowers. 


Chundakka Another important accompaniment to the Puthari Kanji was a dish made with the bitter Turkey Berries/ Chundakka.  Lightly sauteed in coconut oil, seasoned only with salt and red chilli powder.

Chakka Puzhukku The Vishu kanji was served with a touch of dried ginger/ Chukku, rock salt, clarified butter/nei and perhaps a generous heap of grated coconut. Some garnished it with boiled green mung beans. It was accompanied by the traditional coconut chutney and a hearty seasonal stew, the Puzhukku made with tender  unripe jackfruit pods and adzuki beans. The spicing was simple: turmeric, ground coconut and red chillies simmered with seasonal, raw jackfruit pods and soaked adzuki beans.

36 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Shylaashree; Happy vishu to you too

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  2. I sit in a hotel room wondering how i can abstain from eating stuff that we normally do not have on festival occasions. My new year went just like another day. Nothing special. But heyy it is a new beginning to many things in life. Your post warmed the heart and lifted spirits.
    Happy new year to you and yours Shri.

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    1. Lata! I wish you a very happy and prosperous year ahead!I hope things settle well soon.
      I can understand your quandary; it often happens here too- either an occasion at the office, or travel.
      New Year Greetings to you too.

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  3. Replies
    1. New Year Greetings to you too Viji!

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  4. Happy vishu wishes to u Shri, wat a beautiful post,well explained. Enjoyed reading.

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    1. Thank you Priya! New Year Greetings to you too!

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  5. Hope u had a great vishu,yummy clicks!!

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  6. Everything sounds very tasty. I now am craving kanji!

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  7. happy vishu n really nice cliks...makes happy 2eyes..

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  8. H Shri, happy festival to you !! you can reach me at nupurs.kitchen@gmail.com

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  9. Happy vishu....lovely pictures...

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    Replies
    1. Thankyou Shanthi. Puthandu ashamsakal to you too!

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  10. Enjoyed reading your post and the photos too!

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  11. Shri,

    Nice narration about Vishu traditions and memories. Belated Vishu Greetings.

    Shape of grinding stone is very unique, I saw it for the first time..specially the half moon shaped pestle. All images are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Awesome Awesome!!!! Hope you enjoyed vishu this year!!! We were neck down in shifting...just somewhat settled :)

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    1. Thankyou! Wish you a very happy new year too! Hope everything settles well. :-)

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  13. Hi Shri,
    Nice space and the recipes are looking very original....I myself do not have perfect recipes..rarely few ...my own recipes keep on changing..but i love to see perfect works and yours is surely one....nice space and the clicks are ggorgeous...... i will surely come here again......Hope u had a glorious vishu...perfect occassion for your recipes.

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  14. hi Sree,
    well abt the recipe its my mother in laws combination but my mum's way of cooking.There is a grey hue on ur webpage...s t created like dat or is t my pc i wonder.
    TC.
    Bny

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    1. Thanks Biny.
      I just checked the blog and did not find anything out of place; let me check it from an outside computer.
      I do have a lot of grey in the blog! :-)

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  15. Nice clicks Shri, lovely post, enjoyed reading it..

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  16. Lovely clicks Sri.. And recipes look really authentic.. I'm a new blogger... Do visit my blog.. http://kitchenserenity.blogspot.in/

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  17. Lovely clicks...happy following u,when free drop into space

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  18. Hi Shri, Nice to back here after a long time, gril i enjoy reading as always....one that struck me was how hard we try to compensate the missing taste and flavours with props and artistic pictures, so true! And Shri thanks for the note on Aviyal (tampering) i was not digressed, love to learn always :) Sorry about the loss in your family, hope time will heal the loss!

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  19. Nice one . Tempting and wonderful. :)

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