Food has become an integral part of all festivals and Navaratri is no exception. Celebrated over nine days, it is the time to give Sundal a prominent place on the plate by experimenting with different recipes.
“Hospitality being the virtue of our households, it is important to treat our guests at home with some delectable dishes. Specially prepared food is offered to the Goddess during this festival and then distributed. Navadhanyam (nine food grains) such as wheat, rice, toor dal, moong dal, black chickpea, avare kalu, black sesame, urad dal and horse gram dal are cooked during this season and given to children and invitees,” says Sundaranarayanan Bhattar of Alagar Koil.
Though there is no fixed rule as to what food is to be cooked on each day , generally people prepare sweet pongal and horsegram sundal on the first day. “Apart from regular food items, we make a sweet made of split chickpeas and jaggery and plain curry made of yellow lentils for the meal. We also have specific flowers to be offered to specific deities on all these days. For example, Jasmine is offered to the first day’s deity Chamundi,” says Chitra Ganapathy, Managing Director, Kadambavanan, Ethnic Resort and Cultural Centre.
On the second day black chickpea and curd rice are prepared. Third day’s special is val beans and lemon rice. On the fourth day, chickpea sundal and tamarind rice are prepared. Fifth day’s special is kathamba sundal and kalkandu satham. Groundnut sundal and venpongal are prepared on the sixth day. On the seventh day ladoos and coconut rice are offered. Puffed rice, pressed rice, pal payasam and kadalai paruppu sundal are the taste of eighth day. On the ninth day guests are greeted with black chickpea and moongdal sundal.
Other than the sundals, kunuku, a dish made with raw rice, boiled rice, Bengal gram and dry chillies, is also prepared in most of the households. “It is just like adai. The crispy kunuku is liked by both young and the old,” says Saroja of Indian Bank Colony.