Maharishi Valmiki, writing the Adi Kavya or the Ramayana ,the first ever epic poem.
Ahuh Satyam hi paramam dharmam dharmavido janaah 2.14.3
Truth is the highest knowledge of Dharma
My grandmother would always give a lot of importance to prayers and we had to pray with her once in the evening before bedtime . She was very strict in this regard and so we could not mess around. Little did we realize that practice in this ritual would help us through lots of lows in our life and offer us strength.
She would read the Ramayana (a holy book of the Hindus about Lord Ram’s life) aloud to us on auspicious days translate it so that we could understand its meaning. It is a very simple story with complex meanings. But the main moral would always be “Good prevails over Evil”, which is what she highlighted to us throughout when we were growing up.
We came to believe this, and it has been a very important teaching that has helped me through many circumstances in life.
We were also reminded of this teaching by the festival of Dusshera which usually falls in October. We would go to the Ram Lila grounds where a fair would be held, and often a play depicting the Ramayana would be staged- sometimes huge screens would show a movie. As we watched, what we had heard from our grandmother during her prayers would come alive. A highlight of the fairs is the burning of huge effigies of Ravana, the great mythical ten headed demon Lankan king, along with his two brothers, Meghnaad and Kumbhakarna. The noise is deafening, marking the end of Evil.
So our Dusshehras were a simple affair each year, and I thought it’s all about the demon king’s defeat by Lord Rama. I would think it was only celebrated in Delhi…unaware of how Dusshera is celebrated in Mysore, Karnataka, in Southern India through centuries .
Dusherra, Vijaydhashami or Mysuru Dassara is the Nadhabba or the state festival of Mysore and prior to that the 9 nights where various goddesses are worshiped has been celebrated since 400 years.
Mysore, or Mahishur as it was called in the past, traces its history back to the mythical past, when Goddess Chamundeshwari of Chamundi Hill, killed the wicked buffalo-headed demon, Mahishasura. This event that marked the victory of Good over Evil is the inspiration behind the Dasara festivities.Mysore’s most famous festival is the 10 day Dasara, in September or October, when the entire city gets itself up to celebrations that include a majestic procession, dance, music, varieties of cultural activities and a torch light parade.
Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped. The 10th day is commonly referred to as Vijayadashami. According to a legend, Vijayadashami denotes the victory of truth over evil and was the day when the Hindu Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura.
Mahishasura is the demon from whose name, the name Mysore has been derived. The city of Mysore has a long tradition of celebrating the Dasara festival and the festivities here are an elaborate affair and attract a large audience from all over the world.
Festivities were first started by the Wodeyar King, Raja Wodeyar I (1578-1617 CE) in the year 1610. The Mysore Palace is lit up on all the 10 days of Dasara. During the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III, in the year 1805, the king started the tradition of having a special durbar in the Mysore Palace during Dasara, which was attended by members of the royal family, special invitees, officials and the masses.
On Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jamboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysore city. The main attraction of this procession is the idol of the Goddess Chamundeshwari which is placed in a golden howdah on the top of a decorated elephant. This idol is worshipped by the royal couple and other invitees before it is taken around in the procession. Colourful tableaux, dance groups, music bands, armed forces, folklores, the royal identities, decorated elephants, horses and camels form a part of the procession which starts from the Mysore Palace and culminates at a place called Bannimantap, where the Banni tree (Prosopis spicigera) is worshipped. According to a legend of the Mahabharata, Banni tree was used by the Pandavas to hide their arms during their one-year period of Agnatavasa (living life incognito). Before undertaking any warfare, the kings traditionally worshipped this tree to help them emerge victorious in the war. The Dasara festivities would culminate on the night of Vijayadashami with an event held in the grounds at Bannimantap called as Panjina Kavayithu (torch-light parade).
I miss the fairs in Delhi with their theatrical depictions of Ramayana, called Ram lila. I still remember the satisfaction and joy of the crowds when the effigies of the demon king were burnt.
This Vijaydashami or Dusshera, I would like to celebrate it differently… the Mysore way…A tribute to Mysore , to bring back memories of my grandmother’s prayers, the Delhi fairs and the age-old teaching of ‘Victory of Good over Evil’.
I decided to cook a festive Mysorean Thali for Dusshera...I researched many websites for this is a cusine I dont cook at home .
Kosambari is a raw salad traditionally made with split lentils (chana dal or moong dal) and vegetables (cucumber and/or carrot). Kosambari is one (sometimes two) of the sides in a traditional meal. Here is the recipe post for Whole Moong Kosambari. But you can make kosambari with other vegetables and lentils too - like this, with alfalfa and carrot or corn.
1 cup chana dal
1 medium cucumber, diced small
1 heaped tbsp fresh grated coconut
1-2 green chillies, chopped fine
2 tsp lemon juice (optional)
chopped fresh cooriander for garnish
salt to taste
1/2 tsp mustard seeds,rai
a pinch of asafoetida/hing
Soak chana dal for 2 hours. Wash a couple times, drain and keep aside.
Chop cucumber. Set aside for 10 minutes, then squeeze as much water out as possible.
Mix in the softened chana dal, cucumber, green chilies, coconut, cilantro and curry leaves.
Just before serving, add salt and lemon juice.
Palya ( Dry Vegetable with Beans )
This is a dry side dish of a thali and can be made with any vegetable
2 cups chopped alasande kayi/yardlong beans
2 tbsp chopped cilantro + for garnish
3-4 green chilies
1 tbsp coconut shreds (or more)
juice of one small lime
salt to taste
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
4-5 curry leaves
1/2 cup water
1.Make a rough paste of cilantro and green chilies.
2. Heat oil and add mustard seeds, After they pop, add turmeric powder, curry leaves and the ground paste and fry for a minute.
3. Add the chopped beans, water and salt to taste. Sautè for a few minutes. Cover and cook until the beans are cooked through.
4. Add lime juice and coconut and mix.
5. Garnish with cilantro and more coconut, if you like.
A thick Tur Daal based curry made with fresh spices with amazing aromas for special occasion usually eaten with rice.
1 cup tur dal, split pigeon peas , cooked until soft, with a little turmeric
1 cup ridge gourd, peeled and cut into thick chunks (or pumpkin)
1 tbsp grated copra or dessicated coconut
1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate (about a small lemon sized tamarind)
3/4 tsp jaggery shreds/brown sugar
salt to taste
2, 1" piece of cinnamon ,dalchini
a few pinches of asafoetida ,hing
1 small piece nutmeg,jaiphal
1 small piece mace
2 tbsp coriander seeds ,dhania
1 tbsp bengal gram ,chana dal
1 tsp urad dal
4-5 nos. red chillies
Tempering : Oil, mustard seeds, red chillies
1. Heat oil. Sauté cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and heeng. Keep aside.
2. In the same pan, fry the dals, then coriander seeds and then the red chillies. Let cool and grind the spices with the dals into a smooth powder.
3. In a pot, cook the ridge gourd (or pumpkin, the only other vegetable typically used in huli thovve) in water, until soft and well cooked.
4. Add the cooked dal, the ground masala, tamarind, jaggery, copra/ dessicated coconut and salt to taste.
5.Do not make this watery, as this is a thick curry. Bring to a boil.
6.Temper with mustard seeds and a few red chilies and add on top.
Bisi bele bhath
A very popular dish of Karnataka ,meaning Hot lentil Rice also called Bisi Bele Huliyana..a spicy rice dish wich is quite addictive!
1 cup rice, washed (sona masuri and the like. Not basmati)
1 cup tur dal, washed
2 cups mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, green beans, corn etc)
1 heaped tbsp grated coconut (or copra)
2 tbsp pre-made bisi bele bhath powder (MTR or any other store bought brand)
3/4 tsp tamarind concentrate (about a small lime sized amount of tamarind)
1/2 tsp jaggery (or brown sugar)
7 cups water
salt to taste
2-3 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds, rai
a few pinches of asafoetida ,hing
1-2nos. dried red chilies
1-2 cinnamon sticksdalchini
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1. In a pressure cooker, heat oil for the tadka and add mustard seeds. Once they pop, add the remaining tadka ingredients one by one and saute for a few seconds.
2. Add the chopped vegetables and mix well. Stir in the remaining ingredients - rice, dal, the MTR bisibelebath powder, copra/coconut, tamarind, jaggery, water and salt.
3. Cover and pressure cook until the dal and rice are soft and slightly mushy. It takes 3 whistles in my pressure cooker, plus another 2 minutes of simmering on low.
4.Once the pressure in the cooker is released, taste and adjust the seasonings.
5. To serve, scoop to a bowl or plate and add some ghee on top.
6. Serve with raita and boondi or sandigé (or papad) on the side
A traditonal sour and spicy appetizer soup to tingle those taste buds...
1 tsp thick tamarind concentrate (about a large lemon sized amount of fresh tamarind)
3/4 tsp Rasam powder, MTR brand ,saaru pudi
1.5 tsp brown sugar or jaggery
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 cups water
salt to taste
1/2 tsp mustard seeds/ rai
1 tsp cumin seeds/ jeera
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds,methi
2-3 red chillies, broken
2-3 black pepper pods, crushed
a pinch of asafoetida, hing
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp oil
1. If using tamarind concentrate, dissolve in one cup of water. Keep aside.
If using tamarind, soak in a cup of warm water for 10 minutes. Then squeeze and strain the juice. Keep aside.
2. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. Once they pop, add asafoetida, jeera and methi seeds.
3. After a few seconds, add the remaining tadka ingredients and sauté for a few seconds.
4. Pour the tamarind pulp, water and saaru pudi (rasam powder) to this and bring to a boil.
5. Add salt and jaggery and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes.
6. Taste to adjust the salt and jaggery levels.
7. Finish with chopped corriander and serve with a bit of ghee on top.
This simple flavourful rice dish is widely prepared in homes in South India . I have showcased the Lemon Rice version.
2 cups cooked rice, separated and cooled (preferably sona masuri. Not basmati)
2 tbsp shredded coconut
2 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
salt to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
3 green chilies, chopped
1/2 tsp mustard seeds,rai
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp chana dal, bengal gram
1 tbsp cashewnuts or peanuts
1/2 tsp turmeric
8-10 curry leaves
a few pinches of asafoetida,hing
1.If using freshly made rice, spread on a plate and let cool.
2. In a pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Add chana dal and cashewnuts (or peanuts) and fry for 30 seconds.
3. Add urad dal and asafoetida and fry another 30 seconds.
4. Add and fry green chilies, curry leaves and turmeric for another 30 seconds.
5. Switch off stove and let cool.
6. Once cool, mix in the rice along with lemon juice, coconut gratings and salt to taste.
Serve at room temperature.
A classic easy to prepare Indian dessert ,with roasted vermicelli, milk and nuts
5 cups Milk (you can use skimmed milk )
75 gms or 1/2 cup +2 tbsp Vermicelli/Semiya
1/2 cup (or as required) sugar
8 - 10 nos. Cashew nuts -
3-4 nos. green cardamom , powdered
10 -15 nos. Raisins
1 tbsp Ghee ( clarified butter) -
Heat 2 tsp of ghee in a pan and roast Vermicelli/semiya until light golden brown. Remove and keep it aside.
In the same pan, heat some more ghee and fry cashew nuts and raisins separately. Keep it aside.
Powder cardamom with a tsp of sugar and keep it ready.
1. Boil milk in a heavy bottomed pan, then add the roasted vermicelli to it and cook on medium heat until it becomes soft. Keep stirring it to prevent it from getting burnt. (I used 3.5% fat milk)
2. Then add sugar and stir until it dissolves.
3. Then add cardamom powder, cashew nuts and raisins.
4. Vermicelli kheer is ready to be served. It can be served hot or chilled according to individual preferences.
5. As it cools the kheer will become thick. You can add hot or cold milk to adjust the consistency of the kheer before serving.
Tips - To make the kheer more tastier, I powdered a little roasted cashew nuts coarsely and added to the kheer while adding the other cashew nuts. This is optional.
I know this as puran poli..made on festival days and usually in large quantities to enjoy after the festival!
Prep time : 1 hour, Resting time : 1 hour+ | Cook time : Approx 45 mins |
Makes : 15 - 20 Obbattus
Keeps for 1 week under refrigeration
1 cup Tur Dal - (Can also be made with a combination of channa dal & Tur dal)
3/4 cups grated Jaggery ,gud
1/4 tsp Turmeric -
1 cup Fresh grated Coconut
a large pinch frated Nutmeg ,jaiphal
1/2 tsp Powdered green cardamom,elaichi
A few Saffron strands - (optional)
Oil / Ghee- to grease the rolling pin and banana leaves - approx 1/4 cup
3/4 cup Wholewheat flour
1/4 cup White flour ,maida
4 tbsp fine Semolina ,sooji - (If you dont have this, lightly pulse normal Semolina once)
Two pinches of salt
A large pinch of Turmeric
Oil - to grease (approx 1/4 cup)
For the Covering or also called Kanika (ಕಣಿಕ) :
In a large bowl, sieve the flours and salt twice over. Add the fine semolina and mix well. Add turmeric and little water to make a smooth dough. Keep covered for 1- 1.5 hours.At the end of the resting / Soaking time, the dough should be stretchy without breaking, this is the test for the covering.
For the filling (aka Hoorana (ಹೂರಣ)):
1. Soak Dal for 1/2 hour. Bring 6-7 cups of water to a rolling boil, add the soaked and drained dal, turmeric and cook till the dal is cooked, and not mushy. If you were to press the dal between the thumb and the forefinger, it should be slightly soft, but still hold shape in the centre. This takes approx 25 mins. Drain and retain the water (yummy Obbattu saaru - or Obbattu Rasam is made out of the extract). Cool slightly & grind the dal along with the coconut to a smooth paste without adding ANY water.
2. In a non stick pan, melt the grated jaggery add the coconut - dal paste. Cook till the mass comes to a thickish consistency, and you are able to pat a little pancake on your palms with a small portion. At this stage, the filling would leave the sides and turn to a thickish slightly dry mass rolling all over the pan without sticking.
3. Add powdered elaichi and grated nutmeg to it and mix well. Cool and cover with a damp kitchen towel.
To make the Obbattu:
1.Knead the outer covering well for 5 mins. Make equal portions of the stuffing.
2. Grease a butter paper or banana leaf with generous oil. Pinch a small amount of the covering, and with the fingers, spread to a small disc, place the filling in the centre, and as with a modak, fold the dough over to cover the filling.
3. Pinch out excess dough.Very gently with your fingers or lightly rolling with the rolling pin, flatten it out to a thickish disc, approx 8 inch in diamater. Take care that the filling does not come out.
4. Meanwhile heat a flat griddle /tava on medium heat, flip the flattned out Obbattu on to the hot tava. Fry on both sides without oil till dark brown spots appear on both sides (this is to be done on low-medium heat) else will harden. There is no need to add oil for frying as the flattening out / rolling out is done on a generously greased surface
7. Repeat for remaining dough.
8. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee. Store between banana leaves in an airtight container - this keeps for upto a week under refrigeration.
And finally my thali came alive .....
Served with Rice pappad and Boondi Raita
Thali with Obattu
I now realise the true meaning of this celebration: a reminder for us to burn out and discard all our negativities depicted by the 10 heads of Ravana, so that we make space of positivity to take over our lives and as I offer these to the divine in each one of us ...I wish hope and pray that the bright light of the goodness in us shines forever.
Wishing you all a very Happy Dusshera .......
I wish to thank my sister SD for sending me photos of Mysore. And credit for these recieps from various websites .www.mysoorean.blogspot.com, www.sizzlingtastebuds.com.
All ingredients which are specific to this cusinine like the Sona Masuri rice , MTR Masalas,vermicelli,banana leaves etc are avaible at Lulu Hypermarket and Al Adil in Dubai.