New Delhi, Apr 13 (PTI) From kadhi in Punjab to kuttu curry in Kerala down south, it’s feasting time again with large parts of the country saying Happy New Year over plate-fulls of food reflecting the melting pot of cultures and cuisines that is India.
Tomorrow, Punjab will celebrate Baisakhi, Kerala Vishu, Tamil Nadu Puthandu and Odisha Vishuva Sankranti. Sunday is the time for Bihu in Assam and Pohela Boishakh in West Bengal.
Different names in different states to celebrate the end of the harvest and the New Year. And like any other festival, this is also a time to celebrate different food traditions.
With dishes like tandoori chicken, saag gosht, butter chicken, chole bhature, pulao and Punjabi kadhi, the Baisakhi feast is appropriately laid out for the discerning foodies from the northern state.
Chef Ravi Saxena of city-based restaurant Dhaba Estd 1986 Delhi, said they would be serving all traditional Punjabi delicacies along with some lip-smacking vegetarian and non-vegetarian kebab platters.
The gastronomical extravaganza down south is strictly vegetarian.
Keralites dig into the scrumptious ‘sadhya’ (feast), served on a banana leaf.
As many as 24 dishes are prepared to ring in the new year, said Chef Arun Kumar of Zeaside, a restaurant chain specialising in coastal cuisine.
He added that the number of dishes goes up to 64 — from unni appam (snack made from rice, jaggery, roasted coconut pieces, ghee), rice, pickle and pappad, to sambhar and a bowl of sweet payasam — during the celebrations at the Aranmula temple in Kerala.
Specialty restaurants in the national capital like Mahabelly have on offer a Vishu Sadhya for lunch as well as dinner for Rs 749.
“There are over 20 items. We will be serving vegetable curries as well as the customary sambhar and rasam.
“Yogurt curry with raw mangoes, kootu curry (vegetables cooked in coconut mixture) are also on the list,” Thomas Fenn from the restaurant said.
Bengalis might be gorging on delicious food all year round and making merry, but Pohela Boishakh is one occasion when the community likes to take it slow, according to food consultant Pritha Sen.
Sen said the low-key celebrations can be attributed to the commercial significance that the day holds.
“This is the day when new account books – the Haal Khaata – are opened by traders to mark the beginning of the new accounting year,” said Gurgaon-based Sen.
The day, however, does see a heavy exchange of Bengali sweets — mishti doi, sandesh, roshogollas.
The Assamese community, on the other hand goes all out to welcome Rongali Bihu, a seven-day long celebration, with feasting, singing, dancing … and yes, romancing too! “Rongali Bihu is the time when boys and girls in Assam fall in love…they sing, dance and of course enjoy the best of north-eastern food,” said Shyamkanu Mahanta, organiser of the north-east festival in the capital.
And what does the sumptuous platter hold? The day begins with jalpan (light breakfast) which includes chira (akin to Poha) with curd and an array of pithas (rice cake), followed by a grand lunch comprising of vegetables, xaak (saag), chicken, dark meat and pork.
And, to wash all this down, there is rice beer.
The dinner, Mahanta said, is prepared with 101 herbs.
Oh golly! the plate is literally full now. Anyway, bon appetit.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.