I love Diwali. It is the only festival in our parts that sanctions non-vegetarian food. Dunno what the story behind that is, but whatever it is I have no complaints. Every other festival calls for an over dose of sathvik food. And a couple of days before the onset of the veggie festivals itself I go into pangs of anxiety. ‘Green Anxiety’ -a sudden and inexplicable need to stuff my face with anything which once had legs/fins/shells/or got laid (ummm you know what I mean; so minds out of the gutter please). I simply go pure non-veg in preparation for (sometimes just a day of) the vegetarian ordeal ahead. I get almost panicky, and stay up till midnight to have my last omelet at 11.59 pm.
Diwali lets you go tamasik. I really don’t know if that is a Tam tradition on a Mallu one. Anyway, its one of the best features of living in a mixed culture like that of Kanyakumari district. See, like I said once, the best of both worlds. In Kerala, Diwali is not at all a big thing. Just a bursting of crackers, And often even that goes by with just a whimper. Mallus are big on crackers during Vishu, or so I understand.
Anyway back to Diwali, and this time too as usual, I was tempted with e-mails and now scraps on orkut too, from the folks back home, all about the awesome mutton curry my sis-in-law made or the delectable chicken biriyani my sis made. Yea that’s de rigueur, mutton curry and dosa for breakfast and chicken for lunch, either fried or as biriyani.
And then the diwali palahaarams. The sweets and the savories. Parippu vada is a must for us. The rest can follow as the case may be. Stuff that everyone made, -the friends and neighbours- would come pouring in. and it is sweet indulgence indeed to sit with family and a cup of chaya around the dining table, comparing the merits of my mom’s vada against my aunt’s or the silkiness of our kesari against that of our neighbor’s or how so-and-so’s unniyappam could have been just a li’l bit softer. And two days after diwali all the parippu vadas mysteriously reappear as rasa vadas. I love the parippu vadas just for that, in anticipation of the rasavadas that are to follow.
This year round, our family seems to have had a standard menu when it came to the palahaarams. Whether it’s the Nagercoil/Trivandrum/Bangalore/Vishakhapatnam or the US branch, everyone went for unniyappams and parippuvada.
The more enterprising ones (read everyone other than me) made more stuff like seven cups and kesari and diamond cuts etc. I made unniyappams for the first time this year. I went ahead with it since every time my mom or sis-in-law made it at home, it would come out perfect, soft and ‘poo pole’ (soft as a flower, so to say) and would stay so for days, unless it got over by then. It’s this foolproof recipe that we got from a neighbor, which uses just rava, jaggery and ghee. It simply cannot go wrong, something like ‘Unniyappam for Dummies’.
Well I proved them all wrong. I have this unique talent for making the most ‘fail-safe’ recipe fail. If a recipe can be messed up, rest assured I shall do it. Even if it cannot be, leave it to me, I’ll find a way. So my unniyappams turned out rock-hard. Mind you, they were tasty, once you managed to break through the crust without damage to your teeth.
They reminded me of the ‘eripadakkams’ or ‘throw crackers’ back home. You know the ones you hurled hard on the ground and they went boom. Those were my favorite kind of crackers and I miss them so. And maybe that is why I unconsciously made my unniyappams turn out like them. Ahhhhhhhh that’s it. That’s why they failed, I didn’t actually mess up. It was my sub-conscious effort to psychologically reconnect with my cherished childhood and indulge in comforting, warm, fuzzy, nostalgia to counter the debilitating effects of being far from home on a much loved festival. (phew!)
So folks, Happy Diwali or like we say it, Deepavali! Yeah yeah, I know I am late. I was too busy indulging in my favorite pastime – nostalgia of course!