Monday, April 21, 2008
Raama Navami (paanaka, kosambari and godhi hiTTina unDe)
The day of Raama navami dawned bringing with it among other things the task of explaining the significance of the day to my 3 yr old. I had told him the story of Raama's birth many times. He loves to hear how Dasharatha performed the putrakaameshTi yaaga, how Agni appeared and gave him a bowl of 'paayasa' and how after drinking the paayasa the three queens gave birth to sons. There was even a day when I had made paayasa at home and he refused to eat it, saying he would have a baby just like Kaushalya if he ate the paayasa. Dont ask how, but I was able to convince him that he would not have a baby as he is a boy just like king Dasharatha and not a girl like queen Kaushalya(He does not know male/female yet, everything is still either boy or girl). On that day too he wanted to hear the story again and as expected I recieved a barrage of the "W's" (why, what, where, where and who s). I did my best to explain everything to him and he seemed satisfied. I was proud to have sowed in him the seeds of OUR culture, belief, traditions etc., until....(follow the conversation below to know more...)
Me: Puttu, after bath you should go and do namaskaara to Raama maami. (maami is baby talk for God in Kannada)
He, fresh from his bath, wrapped in a towel, looking like the embodiment of bhakti: ok amma. Why only to Raama maami? not to others??
Me: Well, to others too... but especially to Raama maami today, as it is His B'day. I told you all about the story of Raama's birth, right???
He: yeah... Why should I do namaskaara to maami everyday, amma?
Me: Then the Gods will be happy with you.
He: Can God talk?(I later understood it to be his version of "does God exist"?)
He: (taking my answer to be No)then, how can he be happy??
Me: He does not say anything, but He knows everything...
Me: (wondering if I succeeded in making him a Believer?)
Standing in front of the pantry shelf that has been converted to the pooja area, my son asks me to carry him, as he is not able to see the Gods, who ironically are perched high up just so that they can be safe from him and don't end up being his toys. He joins his hands in prayer and I proudly expect to hear either the 'raamaaya raamabhadraaya.....' or 'raam raam seetha raam....' that I taught him and he knows so well. Guess what I get to hear? Hands joined, head bowed, eyes closed, wrapped in a towel, my son seriously sings "Happy bday to you, happy bday to you, happy bday dear Raama, happy bday to you" correct to the tune and the last word. He is not done yet.. he opens his eyes, looks Raama straight in the eyes(in the pic) and asks, "Where is the cake?" I cant help laughing and I cant help wondering either... Is Raama happy with my pooja, shlokas and offerings of the naivedya or by the simple, innocent expression of belief by the 3 year old boy? No prizes for guessing the right answer.
Well, traditionally in Karnataka, Raamanavami calls for preparing the paanaka(juice) and kosambari(salad) for naivedya. Guess it goes with the weather too... Being the hot and sultry time of the year, the cool paanaka and refreshing kosambri are more than welcome. You can see the autorikshaw stands in some parts of Karnataka serving these as prasaada to tired and thirsty passers by on this day. It is said that Wheat was Raama's favorite. So a sweet dish made of wheat in the form of either paayasa, or halwa or as in my case here, unDe(laddu) is offered as naivedya.
Ingredients for Paanaka:
6 glasses of Water
Juice of 4 Limes
1 cup of Brown Sugar or Jaggery
A pinch of Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper powder
1 teaspoon Cardamom powder
8-10 strands of Saffron, crushed and soaked in a little warm water
Method for Paanaka:
1. Mix everything well, until Brown sugar/jaggery dissolves and serve chilled.
2. Adjust the sweet and sour tastes to liking.
Ingredients for Kosambari:
1 cup Moong dal washed and soaked for atleast 2 hours
1 cup grated Carrot
1/4 cup grated Coconut
2 teaspoons Lime juice
1 Green chilli, finely chopped
A few sprigs of coriader, finely chopped
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons Oil
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
A pinch of Hing
5-6 curry leaves torn in half
Method for Kosambari:
1. Mix the first six ingredients well, in a bowl.
2. Heat the oil in a oggaraNe/tadka ladle.
3. Add the mustard seeds. When they sputter, add hing and curry leaves and stir. Take off heat and add to the bowl. Mix to combine well.
Ingredients for Godhi hiTTina unDe:
1 cup Wheat flour
1 cup powdered Sugar
1/4 cup Ghee
1 teaspoon Cardamom powder
A few Cashews and Raisins, fried in ghee.
Method for Godhi hiTTina unDe:
1. Add two teaspoons of ghee to a heavy bottomed pan and heat.
2. When melted, add the wheat flour and fry until you can smell a nutty aroma. The color of the flour should have turned just a shad darker.
3. Remove from heat and add all the other ingredients and mix well.
4. Wait until it slightly cools down.
5. Take handfuls of the mixture and form into balls pressing them between the palms of your hands. This takes some practice. But you will get the hang of it. If the mixture gets too cold, put it back on heat and warm it up a little bit and add a few teaspoons of ghee. Adding more ghee will make it easier to form the laddus.