Feasting the fast with ‘Vrat ki Thali’
Focus on to the served delicacies
Gayatri Dwivedi is working as a Public Relations professional. Masters in Video Productions and Journalism, she started her career as a journalist with print and broadcast media. She has also produced documentaries on social and ecological themes and exclusively written on Afghan War and International developments. One of the successful documentaries include on alternative sources of energy in Kerala. She loves spending time with family.
Born and brought up in an orthodox Brahmin family, certain things got into our behavior just like that. We never questioned the practice, picked it up because everyone else in the family did it. One such thing was fasting during Navratris. Since it was a nine day affair …I could not make out whether it was a fasting event for religious reasons or a feasting one for social reasons. Or may be a mix of both. Whatever the reason …I enjoyed the days, tastefully. And you know, it was not only the delicacies prepared particularly for the pious days. It was the round of festivities which marked the phase.
It was a religious version of otherwise social activities with the sumptuous spread being at the heart of it all. We had all the aunties in the best of their sartorial elegance, of course traditional, as that is how the Devi preferred it. Though, I never had that sort of detailed communion with the Goddess, despite my being an ardent devotee. These aunties would come in huge groups; sing songs in praise of the Goddess and dance and I would enjoy watching it all. But then the focus moved on to the served delicacies.
Oh, the list was pretty long …if not unending. And it was surprising how the “gang” got to know what was allowed and what was not. I was enjoying it all. But my favourite were the pooris of kuttu ka aatta with the even all the more tasty aalo- ki-sabzi. For the uninitiated kuttu is Buckwheat and is considered an edible during the Navratri-feast. And you would find it yummy …simply irresistible, tempting and very un-waitable waitable experience. Waiting for the same to reach the dining table from the frying pan in the kitchen was the longest wait I ever had. But it was worth the wait.
The pooris – crispy golden swollen with pride of being the uncrowned queen on the occasion with aloo in the fray felt seemed to be so inviting as if those were the only days one could lay their hands on them. Oddly, so true. I loved them so much and always thought at a later date would enjoy them once again. But once the Days were over, I never remembering going for them. They were completely off the radar.
As my life moved on from a child in the family I grew up, got married, and moved into my own set up. But I never cooked the same for myself. I still cannot figure out whether that was the magic of Maa and later Bhabhi- who was equally affectionate, that infused that divine taste to the dish or some other factor. But I have never got the same satisfaction from any of the culinary presentations that life has offered me.