During the month I was in India, there were several harvest festivals being celebrated. India has a huge agriculture production industry and according to this article, it has the second highest agricultural output.
Khichdi or Makar Sakranti is celebrated in my parents' states (Uttar Pradesh and Bihar). It marks the beginning of harvest season and the celebration is to show the sun gratitude for healthy crops. In different parts of the world, Khichdi has different names & rituals. In Gujarat it is Uttarayan (people fly kites), Sakrat in Haryana, and so on. Makar Sakranti, the holiday's common name means the change of astrological positioning of the sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn (which will mark the end of winter). This ties back to the worship and showing gratitude to the sun for its good crops, bringing its Vitamin D after winter, and bringing light & longer days. In my last post, I spoke about the relation between mindful eating and community, this post hopes to capture the essence of that through the celebration of Khichdi and the process of making Urad Daal puri that I saw my naani (grandma) make.
According to my mom, for Khichdi, people went to bathe in Ganges river at sunrise and prayed to the sun. Additionally, they donated rice, turmeric, sesame, jagger, urad daal, and all the key ingredients used to make Khichdi, a common yet sacred dish in many parts of India. Being from an old farmer community, this day is more special for my mom's side of the family. However, me having lived in a major city, did not see or know much of these traditions. Luckily, with time spent with my grandparents, I got to get the gist of them.
Khichdi is not just the holiday's name but also a popular staple Indian dish in India. I cannot lie - Khichdi is not one of my favorite Indian foods. Although many people in India (my relatives and ancestors included), have lived long and happy healthy lives on a wholesome diet from Khichdi, I don't think I am one of those people. Although it is something I have eaten during my times when I have been sick, it's not a staple in my diet (and I think I can speak for many other picky eaters when I say this). Maybe someday I will learn the discipline where I regularly eat Khichdi but I am not sure it will be soon, no matter how great the health benefits and how simple it is to make.
And so because of my no great like for the Khichdi dish, my grandma made Urad Daal (lentil) Puri for me. Although a complicated recipe that I have note made before, my grandma is an expert. After soaking the lentils overnight, she mixed it with atta (a type of wheat commonly used in India), to make the dough.
The dough is then rolled the same way a roti or naan is. But instead of being toasted on a pan, it is put into a traditional Indian dish, called khadai, and deep fried in oil.
For anyone interested in the actual recipe, this is one of the best and few accurate recipes for Urad Daal puri. Tarla Dalal, whose recipe is linked, is equivalent in India to Martha Stewart in the US.
Not only is Urad Daal puri full of protein and very tasty, it is a personalized part of our meal for an important harvest festival.
We take a little bit of food at the beginning of our meal and keep it away to show gratitude to God, universe, and whatever higher power you believe in (a tradition I talked about in my last post). The first, untouched food from everyone's plates is kept away to be fed to stray animals (originally it was farm animals but we live in Gurgaon, a big city, so we don't have a farm or any farm animals).
So, over some hot Urad Daal puri and Khichdi, I sat with my grandparents, mom, and uncle for a great meal over a celebration my ancestors would have celebrated many years ago too. This is something I was very grateful for since I know I cannot have a lot of meals having lived abroad most of my life. What a great way to cherish this moment my family while collectively following and ancient ritual of gratitude for our food, surroundings, and beyond!
Hi! My name is Vaishnavi and this is a curation of all things food. I travel a lot and since an early age, much like both my grandmothers, I have enjoyed cooking, baking, exploring dining options, and experimenting with food. In college, I started @foodbyvivarmaa as a creative outlet for all things food related. And since then, friends and family have asked me for recommendations and recipes and I thought why not make a traditional blog? Growing up in India and UAE and now living in NYC I have been privileged to be exposed to a very diverse set of dining experiences. My parents gave us the opportunity to travel all over, which has only further expanded my curiosity to explore more. Although I don't put a label on it, 90% of my diet is vegetarian. In India, cooking and eating food is a community ritual. Most of my favorite memories revolve around having a good meal with those who I love. To continue that tradition, I hope to curate my own community as I travel and continue building my life in different parts of the world & hopefully inspire and give others the same feeling of community brought together by food.