Food diary: A day of feasting on Deepavali
5.00 AM: The alarm bell loudly goes off, waking me up in a jolt. I slowly open my eyes and it takes me a couple of minutes to realise its Deepavali! Once I do, I immediately jump out of bed and open my bedroom door. I can smell the sweet aroma of sakkarai ponggal (a sweet rice dish made with brown sugar, ghee, cashew nuts and raisins) permeating through the air.
5.20 AM: I walk downstairs and see my brother talking on the phone. He has a glass of badam kheer (a sweet drink made with milk, ground almonds and cardamom) on the table next to him instead of his usual green tea. I greet him and head to the kitchen.
5.25AM: My mum is busy, but she smiles when she sees me. I give her a hug and tell her how amazed I am that she still insists on cooking for us on every single festive occasion, instead of catering or hiring a chef, and as usual she tells me that cooking for her family makes her happy. As I walk out, I see her adding spices and herbs for the three chutney varieties.
7.00 AM: After the traditional oil bath and morning prayers, the whole family gathers for a hearty breakfast. As the norm with every festive occasion, instead of using our usual porcelain plates, we use freshly cut banana leaf. My mum has made a wholesome Indian breakfast: there’s rava thosai, plain thosai, idli, sakkarai ponggal, sundal and three varieties of chutney; puthina (mint), tomato and coconut. Warm badam milk completes this breakfast.
9.30 AM: It’s time for round two of breakfast! We have freshly cooked appam with coconut milk and ven ponngal (a savoury rice dish) with vegetable sambhar. Complementing this meal is masala tea.
1.00 PM: Lunch time is here and my mum has cooked up a feast! While we stick to a vegetarian breakfast, our meals after are typically non-vegetarian. I look around the table and there are two varieties of crab dishes (crab curry and a drier stir fried crab masala), fried fish, mutton varuval, chicken curry with potato, spicy fried chicken, two varieties of briyani (chicken and vegetable), natural yogurt, rasam, tomato rice, brown rice, vegetable kurma, pappadam, mango pickles and 3 vegetable dishes.
4.00 PM: By this time visitors have begun to come and go; some join us for lunch while others drop by for a chat. There are plenty of Deepavali sweets and snacks for everyone. From nei orunda (sweet ghee balls), murukkus, gulab jamuns, laddus. Everyone compliments my mum on her exceptional culinary skills, with some even taking recipes!
5.30 PM: Time for tea time snacks and my favourite vegetable cutlets and samosas are the special snacks for the evening. I indulge in a bit too many but still leave room for dinner. I make myself a nice tall glass of mango lassi to cool my stomach.
7.30 PM: For dinner, it’s just the family and we go lighter than we did for lunch. Mum has made puri with potato gravy, chapatti, chicken gravy and paneer butter masala. Rounding up our dinner is a nice warm cup of Milo. There’s laughter and cheerful banter all around the table as my family reflects on the day and share funny dining_tatler_stories. We usually take our time with dinner and toast to a great celebration! Happy Deepavali!