You can make this gluten-free ladoo, a round ball of melt in the mouth magic called Besan Laddu or plain Besan Unde. Simple pantry ingredients make this sweet a divine offering to the Gods! Served in a traditional meal as a sweet or as a dessert, a delicacy made with Bengal Gram flour you cannot stop eating just one!
The first rains bring in a petrichor and you dash out to get wet.
Monsoon evokes pictures of rains, pakoda and ginger-infused tea!
Monsoon also means festivals, think Ganesh, Raksha Bandhan, Nag Panchmi, Rath Yatra, Teej.
Festival follows food where we gorge on good food. We forget that we have to eat light food and end up with a bloating or worse tummy upset.
The diverse country that we are, even our rains are different in different parts of the country! Like, Central India it pours then it becomes all cool and pleasant. My hometown is Dharwad, a hill station, it drizzles continuously and it gets cold. But in Goa, we get 100 cms of rain! We do not see the sun for 4-5 days and the humidity is extremely high. Because it is humid you do not feel cold at all.
All around the country, there are jobs to be done before the monsoon. The farmer tilling his fields is common but there are other jobs too.
In Goa the work for the monsoon begins well in advance right from unclogging the drains, cutting trees, maintenance works.
The common man in Goa too has an agenda, he is after what is locally called “Ghar shivu Jai” the house is to be stitched. The age-old houses with tiled roofs that are typical of Goa need to be relaid. Of course like the rest of the country the fields are tilled for sowing paddy.
The Goan homemaker is worried she needs to do “Purmet” or storage. Purumet che feast is an old and important fair. In the past villages used to barter goods for the coming rains, people will even now prefer to buy at Purmet. You have the vendors selling small onions braided together, kokum, coconut oil, salt, chillies, dried fish, alsande. Dried fish too is stored as Goan cannot do without fish and there is a ban of fishing activity from June, every year.
Schools reopen and so the scramble for new uniforms, rainy sandals (we were open-toed sandals till September), bags, books and book covers rule the roost. If that is not enough the school bus or rickshaw arrangement!
But from this year onwards I will be missing the noise, as Akanksha is moving to Bangalore. The place will seem more empty now!
This is me and my rant about Monsoon! What about you? Do you also love it and hate it!
Most of my concerns, as usual, are food and what to eat to be in good health.
Most Indians consciously or unconsciously follow Ayurveda. Food habits follow Ritucharya or seasonal guidelines. That means that following the seasonal guideline we can maintain good health and enjoy the season!
So how do you meet the Rainy Season headon?
1. Build up immunity
- The dampness of monsoon means colds and stomach upsets. It is important to take care of personal hygiene. Also, keep your skin dry to prevent skin infections.
- Avoid street food, cut fruits and vegetables, especially now post the lockdown period. Eat warm but light food that is steamed or boiled and low in spices. Drink a lot of water as your body needs it.
- To build immunity think soups, khichdi, pez or Kanjee made from the local boiled rice is a staple in Goa.
- Teezan or Ragi Porridge keeps you full and healthy too.
- Drinking Kasai or Kashaya helps keep cold and sore throat away. It is made by boiling coriander seeds, pepper, tulsi, ginger, haldi, jaggery. The other ingredients like black raisins etc differ from household to household and the age of the person to whom it is to be administered.
- Fresh Haldi leaves are used to steam food too. They impart a delicious aroma and flavour to the food and also help in building up your immunity.
2. Stick to traditional food
What you look for in monsoons is comfort food!
- In my family, it happens to be soup! Between the rains and wet raincoats and umbrellas, we all need a warm soup! Since we keep drinking 2-3 bowls it becomes a meal. I have not documented many of my soups because I forget to take pictures. This year hopefully will be different.
- Then who does not like hot bhajiya!
- Khichidi and papad? I generally pair khichidi with a sweet and sour rasam we call Good saar!
- Rasam hot steaming bowls of rasam is wonderful.
- Since there is a ban on fishing, fresh fish is scarce. The stored dried fish is used to make many curries, kissmore etc in Goan homes. You can also make vegetarian kissmore like papad kissmore, Vidyacho Kissmore, karati kissmore.
- Then we have magad, a jam made from mangoes, pineapple halwo again a jam. I prefer the pineapple one as it is laced with a little chilli powder so it is sweet and pungent too.
3. Stick to Regional Foods
During rains, regional food takes a lot of importance.
- Since we need to eat light food include the local cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins.
- My maid, when she visits her village during the rains, comes with something she calls “karchikai” it is a small pod which she fries with garlic and red chilli powder. Tastes good!
- We get and store tubers like yam or suran, Madi these stay good for an extended period and use them.
- Arbi or Colocasia leaves grow mainly in this season. make Alu Vadi or Patra, Muddi Palya, a traditional Karnataka style vegetable, fresh green vegetables are used to make patal bhaji, tastes great.
- In Goa, a vegetable called Taikulo grows wild and is relished with jackfruit seeds and Amado or hog plums.
- Jackfruit seeds are sun-dried and stored to be eaten in the rainy season.
- Another way of eating these jackfruit seeds is in dal or sambar.
- You can also pressure cook the jackfruit seeds and then eat them with a mixture of oil, salt and chilli powder.
- We also get tender hog plums the pickle made with them is mouthwatering.
- Wild mushrooms are highly prized and are available for a very short period. They are generally made into tonak. I have tried making biryani and stir fry too with them. The taste is delicious and different from any others we know of.
4. Enjoy The Festivals
The season of Hindu festivals starts here in the rain. Am I correct that we start with Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles, after all, he the first Deity we always worship!
- Steamed food is offered to the Lord!
- In Maharashtra, we have Rishi chi bhaji on the second day of Ganesh.
- In Goa, Khatkhate, a stew of veggies is popular the main spice is “Triphala” or schezwan pepper. The one spice that is either loved or hated.
- Fresh turmeric leaves are used to make patoli, to flavour mangane, a here.
- Patoli is made by the Hindus for Nag Panchmi and by the Catholics for the Feast of the Virgin Mary on the 15th August.
- Who can forget the Rath Yatra, the annual fair of Lord Jagannath celebrated with pomp and festivity?
- Then in Tamil Nadu, water bodies are ritualistically worshipped. so you have a variety of dishes made from rice right from coconut rice to sweet Pongal.
- Janmashtami and Gopalkala are also celebrated during this season. Krishana favourite food Poha is made to celebrate the festival.
- But I suppose the most awaited festival is Onam with its Sadhya!! An amazing spread!
This Monsoon is what I love about Monsoons! Of course, I have painted a rosy picture of it. There are floods, landslides, famines and droughts. Lives are lost as well as livelihoods! I firmly believe that look at positives and that builds up. That is what I am focusing on.