It’s that time of the year again………
……….when a dreary, wet month of incessant rain ends in a bountiful harvest.
……….when the roads are full of busy shoppers weaving their way through the never – ending traffic.
……….when vibrant hues of the flowers are matched only by the exuberance of the happy, excited children who pick them.
………..when the elegance of the cream and gold ‘mundu’ is seen across caste and creed.
………..when every ‘koottan’ on the ‘vazha ela’ is a masterpiece.
………..when houses are dressed up with pookalams in all shapes and colors..
………..when the atmosphere vibrates with the delightful sounds of joy and laughter ; youngsters play on the swing and ladies dance to the steps of kaikottikali .
………..when the rhythmic refrains of the spectacular, colorful and legendary vallamkalli / snake boat race, are heard through the coast of Kerala.
Legend has it that during King Mahabali’s reign in Kerala, the prosperity and righteousness achieved, reached great heights of excellence. The Devas becoming insecure and envious, prayed to Lord Vishnu for deliverance. Lord Vishnu came as Vamana and asked Mahabali for as much land as could be covered by his three steps. The Lord assumed his true form and with the first two steps he took the earth and heaven. Mahabali bowed his head for the third step. He was sent to Patala but was given the boon of being able to come every year on Onam day to visit his subjects…....And every year, all Malayalis rejoice and welcome back their beloved King of Kings.
In olden days, ‘naalu kootu’ – Erissery, Kalan, Mezhukkuperatty and Olan or Ishtoo were the staples of Sadya. Erissery is a healthy combination of protein rich cowpeas and beta-carotene pumpkin. Here the roasted coconut imparts that unique attractive flavour which makes this dish stand out. Always a part of sadya and a reminder of happy times and family togetherness, the sweetness of the pumpkin, the heat of the chilly, the creamy sauce, and the golden crisp scrapings of coconut merge to form an apt companion to hot steaming red rice.
- 1/4 cup Vanpayar / Cowpeas / Black eyed peas
- 3 cups Mathanga / Pumpkin
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp Chilli powder
- 1/2 cup Grated Fresh Coconut
- 1 large pinch Jeera
- 2 Green Chillies cut
- 1 flake Garlic – optional
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 sprig Curry Leaves
- 1/2 cup Fresh Grated Coconut
- 1 Dry Red Chilli
- Wash, peel and cut pumpkin into 1″ cubes
- Clean, soak cowpeas overnight or for 6 hours, drain.
- Grind together coconut, jeera, green chilly and garlic well.
- Pressure cook cowpeas with 1.5 cups of water.
- Let the pressure cooker cool. Add pumpkin cubes to the cooked peas in cooker and add salt, chilli and turmeric powder to it. Add water, if needed and cook for a whistle only.
- Again allow the pressure cooker to cool down. To the cooked vegetable and cowpeas, add ground masala. Mix well. Let it simmer on low flame for few minutes. Take off heat.
- Heat oil in kadai, and when mustard seeds splutter, throw in broken red chilli and curry leaves, followed by grated coconut. Fry in low heat till golden brown and crisp.
- Add seasoning to curry and mix. Serve hot with steaming red rice.
- Quick Sadya Dish – Injithairu is a must-have for any sadya. It is as the name implies, minced ginger in curd. Ginger has many good properties the chief among which is that it aids digestion. The legend of Vararuchi describes how his future wife solves his puzzle to provide eighteen curries by serving injithairu which shows the importance in which it is held.
- Add 2 tsp finely cut ginger, 4 chopped green chillies, a few cut curry leaves and required amount of salt to a cup of whisked curd in a bowl. Toss well and transfer to a serving bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes and it is ready to be served. You will love it!
- Quick Tip – Always fry ground masala in low heat to retain its color and taste.