The Dassera Special
Being a Keralite brought up in Bombay has given me the opportunity to see different festivals celebrated in so many different ways. For instance Dassera, the name itself, can be spelt in so many different ways. I have always associated Dassera with two things, one being Dandiya and another being books (lets say the lack of it). For me Dassera is synonymous with the music and dance that people enjoy for during the entire festival. It does get pretty loud but it is also so pleasing to the eye – the colorfully decorated ‘pandals’, the beautifully dressed up girls and of course the music… You start dancing to the music without much effort, you don’t need to know how to – in fact I am sure Amit (who, I am pretty sure, has two left feet) can also manage pretty well. I so miss being in India for these festivals.
The other reason for me so looking forward to this particular festival is the way we traditionally celebrate it in Kerala. At home we celebrate it primarily as Saraswati Puja (worshipping the goddess of knowledge). Ashtami, Navami, and Vijaya Dashami the last three of the ten day festival are celebrated as Saraswati Puja in which books are worshiped. For me it had always been a three day festival at home. When you say worshipping the books, it literally means that, we used to set aside our school books for the puja on the 1st day and then on the 3rd day after the rituals are completed the books are given back to us. And during the three days we are not allowed to study!!! So now you know why, as a kid, this was indeed the most awesome three days.
In Kerala, the books are either kept at home for worshiping, or at the temple. The third day, Vijaya Dashami is also considered to be a very auspicious day to initiate children into the world of books (or rather into reading and writing). This ceremony is called Vidyarambham (which quite literally translates to Vidya – Knowledge, Arambham – beginning).
And then there was the Ayudha Puja (worship of tools, implements, weapons, automobiles, etc) which was also on the same day as the Saraswati puja. Our car used to get decked up in a garland. In fact any automobile you would see on the streets would have the garland.
In fact this festival is celebrated in different ways in different states in India. Since I am no expert, I won’t delve into the details. But it is celebrated with much grandeur in almost all the states.
So that being said, we celebrated Dassera this Sunday at home. And since I was a bit too busy celebration for us meant cooking and then eating some awesome food. I decided on a 3-course meal and I intend to share all three recipes right here. We started off with an appetizer, the main course and of course ended with a sweet dish.
This post is to share the Aloo Mutter recipe that I made thanks to the recipe I found online. The link is given at the end of the blog. The recipe I found was for Mutter Paneer (Indian Cheese with peas) but since the appetizer had paneer, I decided to adapt the recipe for Potatoes and Peas in a Tomato gravy. The recipe takes about 30-40 minutes from start to finish.
- 2 medium sized potatoes (cut into chunks and boiled)
- 1 cup green peas (cooked)
- 2 large tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1″ piece cinnamon
- 4-5 cloves
- 4-5 green cardamom
- 10-15 cashews
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup plain yogurt (make sure the yogurt is not sour)
- 2 teaspoons cream (optional)
- 1 teaspoon oil
- Coriander leaves for garnish
- Salt to taste
- Soak the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and cashews in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
- In the meanwhile cook the potatoes and peas separately.
- Make a puree of the tomatoes in the blender.
- Grind the whole spices and cashew to a fine paste.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan on medium heat and add the paste to it.
- Fry the paste for about 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the tomato puree and cook for another 5 minutes (or till the sauce starts getting thick).
- Add the chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder and turmeric powder and let the gravy cook for another 5 minutes.
- Now add the yogurt and continue stirring on a low flame to a simmer.
- Add the cooked peas and potatoes and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Add the cream and garnish with some coriander leaves and serve hot.
Since it was Dassera, I decided to indulge in some puris to go along with this dish. But you can serve this with any form of bread (indian or otherwise). The ingredients listed above make about 4 servings. The original recipe is available at http://www.tarladalal.com/Spicy-Mutter-Paneer-15657r. Hope you enjoy this version of Aloo Mutter. Sorry about the pictures, I took it a hurry, as I was worried that we would finish most of it and I won’t have any left to take pictures.