Saturday, November 9, 2013

LIGHTing it up DOWN UNDER - err a bit late.

It's six months since I set foot in the land of the breathtakingly beautiful New Zealand. Time flies but the rollercoaster ride never ends. Well, things are mellowing down now but the initial settling phase was not as smooth as I had expected it to be. "Ignorance is bliss" is not something I used before but we all do learn and our eyes do eventually open up. No wonder we all look back at those times when we were most ignorant as the "best of times". Confused beings that we are, always wanting the good times but trying hard as ever to get ahead. Ha ha ha!

Six months and we move from my birthday to the birth of my nephew, exactly on Diwali. I smile when I think of the silence back at home on this otherwise unusually noisy day at my house. The hustle and bustle to decide who would go to distribute the sweets and if you had got all the people on the list of people to whom sweets need to be distributed, the packing of the sweets, the visits to the temple, the Lakshmi puja, the Saraswati puja, the Ganesha puja and the best drive around the town to get a glimpse of all the firecrackers for free. (wink)

Now, Diwali is known as the festival of lights but has many reasons for its significance. One is the return of the beloved Lord Ram from exile for which the lamps are lit and the night sky lit up with crackers to provide sufficient light for the returning lord, on a moon starved night. (Psst...Diwali usually falls on a new moon day). Another is to mark the end of another harvest season which brings us to the reason for this post. 

It is believed that as a sign of success and prosperity one must eat 7 vegetables on this joyful day and as this blog of mine focusses on recipes amongst other things, I made Sindhi Sai Bhaji with Bhuga Chawara. I ensured that I added as many veggies to the Sai Bhaji as possible. Fortunately for me, I got the quintessential ladies finger here in Auckland. Darn this place, you get a quarter of the veggies you get in India and even if you do get some, you have to buy them frozen. Grrr!!! (Ignorance is bliss until you move to a country only to realize what you have gotten yourself into.) Last year I had made Pav Bhaji with as many veggies.

Here's how we celebrated Diwali this year.

The quintessential start to my day - a cup of chai.

Bachpan ke din yaad dilaane waala lunch - sai bhaji and bhuga chawara - recipe below

Preparation Time : 5 minutes
Cooking Time : 12-15 minutes

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 1 large onion finely sliced
  2. 1 cup of rice
  3. 1 stick of cinnamon
  4. 4 cloves
  5. 1 bay leaf
  6. 1/2 tsp red chilly powder
  7. 4 tbsp oil
  8. 2 cups of water
  9. Salt to taste
How I made it :
  1. Wash the rice and soak in water
  2. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil
  3. Add the whole garam masala - cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf
  4. Once the aroma spreads, add the onions and fry on medium low heat till the onions caramelize into a nice dark brown colour. Do not burn and the colour is essential for the dish.
  5. Add the red chilli powder and fry for a minute. 
  6. Add 2 cups of water.
  7. Add the rice once the water comes to a boil.
  8. Adjust salt. 
  9. Cover the pressure cooker and when the steam begins to rise, lower flame to minimum and leave for 8 minutes. 
  10. Turn off heat and serve with sai bhaji or dal fry.
A visit to the Diwali Fest held by the Auckland Council - good food and company and some of the best fireworks I've seen thus far.
video

Gulab Jamoons as they were getting ready







Sandalwood scented tea light candles adorning the corners of my house