Navaratri. The 9-night long festival that brings back a flood of memories. We had a nice golu in our house for as long as I can remember. Every year, we'd try to add to the golu on the two sides. A park one time, a village scene another time. Attention to detail was essential. All schools would close immediately after the Mahalaya Amavasya except for my own. We'd have school till the 5th or 6th day of Navaratri and then remain closed for some 7 days after Dussera. I find it funny to this day that just because it was a central government school, we had to follow the north blindly in terms of holidays.
Fortunately, my school didn't have a quarterly exam system, so we were spared excessive studying during festival time. We'd accompany Amma to Parry's Corner to buy bags, coconuts, sweet lime, betel leaves, turmeric, supari, and some steel items to give away. Then we'd sit late into the night making vettalai paakku bags for all guests.
We had cute invitation cards printed. Amma would draw up a list of people from the IIT Madras directory. Then there was this list of Appa's relatives that we'd send invitations to. Amma's colleagues, our school teachers... so many people. Then H and I would drop these invitations around campus. We'd also get invited to people's houses and everyone used to have the standard, "Oru Paattu Paadu Maa" (Please sing a song!). I was a moody child just as I am a moody adult. And I never did like singing at other people's golus. Forgive me all of you die hard Cartnatic music fans (I am one myself, but even then) for saying this. Maamis would ask me to sing and then give me "expert advice" on technique, gammukkam, taalam (like I went to music class with some other intention!) and succeeded in killing any residual interest I may have had in classical music. Today I regret giving up learning, but try and see the world through the eyes of a 14 year old who has been learning music from the age of 4, who is interested in good music and not necessarily in raagas and azhuttam and all the associated stuff and you'll know what I mean. For those of you who asked about which genre of music I sing: bhajans, semi classical music, hindi film music and retro English numbers.
While Navaratri is almost synonymous with loads of classical music, it is also synonymous with sundal. Nine varieties of sundal on 9 nights. What fun! Much as the family I grew up in is not a believer in "kitchen religion", I indulge every once in a while. While I am not making a sundal every evening this Navaratri, I will be making it on as many days as I can.
We had invited some guests over for dinner on Saturday and made this kadalai paruppu sundal. I was the only one in the group for whom sundal was a tradition. The other three, my hubby included, were from A.P. and had no clue about the navadhanyam for navaratri concept and had never eaten or heard of sundal. But they loved it and that's all that matters!
1/2 cup Gram Dal (Chana Dal), soaked for 1 hour
1 tsp Oil
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Urad Dal
1/4 tsp Chana Dal
1 tsp Green Chilli Paste
1/4 tsp Ginger Paste
1 Red Chilli
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
1/4 tsp Dry Mango Powder (Amchur)
1 tbsp Coconut, scraped
Salt to taste
Pressure cook the chana dal with salt for 2-3 whistles. Drain when done.
In a kadhai, heat oil. Add the urad and chana dals, mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves, ginger and chilli pastes, and the red chilli. Fry for a minute. Add the cooked dal and a little salt. Cover and cook a couple of minutes with a little water if necessary. Garnish with the scraped coconut and enjoy.
I am sending these to Viji as my second entry for the RCI - Tamil Festival event. I am also sending this to Vee for her Dassera event.