Religious festivals in India are the best time to experience the country at its most…most. Every community pulls out all the stops for their most beloved festivals – fantastic colors, brilliant lights, thumping music, people dressed in their best finery, joyous singing and dancing, huge crowds, huge celebrations and of course, amazing food.
Ganesh Chaturthi, or Ganesh Utsav celebrates the birth of Ganesh in such style, especially in Maharashtra. Families and communities bring home a Ganesh idol and celebrate with and around it for 10 days together. This means 10 days of decorating, praying, music and best of all, eating.
There is even special food for the various days of the festival. Every day, a special meal is offered to the idol and in Maharashtra, this meal features luscious, thick, srikhand and puri, along with delicious food cooked without any onion or garlic. On the first day particularly, there is always Modak – the sweet dumpling that has become inextricably linked with this festival. Modak are made with with flour and deep fried and Ukkdiche modak, the most loved variety are steamed modak stuffed with gur and coconut in a rice flour dumpling. Many families try and offer a minimum of 5 different sweets to the idol every day during Ganpati.
And on the last day of Ganpati, to counter the overload of sugar from all the modak and srikhand, there is a special daal made that is a refreshing, textural delight. It is sour, spicy, thick, wholesome and delicious. This dish can be eaten on it’s own, as a side or even with roti and rice. Although served especially during Ganpati, this is an anytime dish with big flavors
250 gms Chana dal
3-5 Green chillies, or as per taste
50 gms Raw mango grated
Salt, to taste
1 tsp Sugar
100 gms Fresh coconut grated
1 bunch of Coriander
2 tbsp Oil
Pinch of Mustard seed
Pinch of Asafoetida
1 whole dry red chilli
2-3 Curry leaves
Soak the yellow chana (flat round) daal for 4-5 hours. Drain and dry the daal and add the green chilies, the grated raw mango and grind these together. Add the salt, sugar, grated coconut, coriander and mix it all together. This will turn into a coarse paste.
To temper the daal, heat the oil and add the mustard seed, asafoetida, dry red chili and curry leaves and cook till very fragrant. Pour this mixture over the ground daal and serve.
Recipe by Mrs. Nitu Ghanekar