Tuesday, September 7, 2010

From God's own country..

It has been a long time since I blogged..I write to you from the land of Ayurveda,spices,music,culture,tradition and good home style cooking..or should I say "aum" style cooking..
This afternoon was a meal extrordinaire.
Ela Sadya
A Sadya is a big feast associated with a special occasion, such as a marriage, birthday, childbirth but there was no such special occasion today except to celebrate the day,the present moment,the culinary experiments that I am more than happy to be part of..always..
The meal is traditionally a vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf and can have upto 24 dishes served as part of it.
We eat the meal sitting cross-legged on the floor.
The dishes are plain boiled rice, many curries, papadum, plain yogurt and or buttermilk, banana,cassava or plantain chips, and two or more sweet dishes. The curries are made of different vegetables and have different flavours,textures,colours. They can be made of yogurt, bitter gourd, mango, jaggery and several other local vegetables.
It is often said that we should never allow a guest to leave our homes without them enjoying at least 3 dishes.With such a wide array of gastronomic delights,guests would be very satisfied.
Coconut, being abundant in Kerala, is used in almost all dishes. Coconut milk and yoghurt are also part of the culinary fare as star ingredients.
There is a specific place for each item on the plantain leaf. For example, the pickles are served on the top left corner and banana on the bottom left corner. We can this determine what is missing on each guests' leaf just by glancing at an empty space on the leaf.
There are variations in the menu according to the place and the religion. Some communities include non-vegetarian dishes in the sadya. Although custom was to use traditional and seasonal vegetables, it has become common practice to include vegetables such as carrots, pineapples, beans in the dishes. Onion and garlic are not typically used in the sadya.
The sadya is usually served as lunch. Preparations begin the night before, and the dishes are prepared before ten o' clock in the morning on the day of the celebration.
All the dishes are served on the plantain leaf; it requires a special skill to eat the food. The whole palm and fingers of the hand have to be used in the form of a ladle to lift the food from the leaf and eat it without spilling it.
Traditionally, the people of the neighbourhood spent the night helping the cooks in preparation viz., scraping coconut and cutting vegetables.
I really wish that you were here to share this wonderful meal with me.To take in the flavours of the food,the fragrances of the little town,its very hospitable people,the therapeutic recipes and the divine ambience.
Maybe,we will make a trip back to my "aum" land together very soon..
Until then,eat well
chOrruNDO? is a combination of the words chOrr(u) "cooked rice" and uNDO? "did you eat?" and literally means "Have you eaten your rice?" In Asia, it's very common to ask whether you've eaten or bathed. Such a greeting doesn't mean anything; it's just a way of saying hi. (The reason why it asks whether you've eaten rice specifically is simply because in Kerala, rice is considered essential for any good meal)