Festival season of India just went by but, when you are in North America you hardly notice it. That is not to say I don’t miss it, especially Navratri - Nine nights of festivities that marks the celebration of goddess Durga and all her various forms as Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Saraswati (Goddess of learning and education). It is celebrated all over India with a lot of grandeur. In the south of India, it is customary for women to invite other women to their houses for Kolu – a colorful arrangements of dolls each set to a unique theme. There is an exchange of beetle nut leaf, coconut, and bangles. As a child I remember my mom taking my sister and me to several of these. My pet complain about this particular festival was the food! Every house that we visited had some form of Sundal – a salad made from some sort of lentils or beans – the official food of Navratri. I would cringe at the thought of eating the same lack luster food for nine days! Each night after all our visits and sundal eating we would sit and compare sundals. ‘Oh that was so under seasoned’ or ‘The blackeyed peas at Vijaya’s house could have been cooked a little bit more’.
Now in Canada, and after many years, I miss the whole nine yards of Navratri, the gaggle of women in colourful Kancheevaram sarees and the scent of fresh jasmine flowers that adorn their hair. Funnily I also miss Sundal! Over the years, and after many many bad sundals I have come up with my own variation that I have come to love. It may not be traditional, and I can see the collective nod of disapproval from the Tamil Brahmin community, but I love it and make it all year long not just for Navratri.
You can eat this salad warm or straight out of the refrigerator and is a wonderful dish for picnics.
- 11/2 cup raw peanut soaked over night
- ¼ cup grated coconut
- Small bunch of coriander
- 1 pomegranate
- 1 mango diced
- ¼ cup grated carrot
- 1 spring onion chopped finely
- Juice of 1 lime
- ½ inch ginger grated
- 2 slit green chilly
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon urad dal
- A pinch of asafoetida (Hing)
- 4-5 curry leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the peanut, it should take about 40 minutes to an hour. I choose to pressure cook it, giving about 5 whistles.
Drain the peanut in a large bowl, add coconut, pomegranate, raw mango, carrot, spring onion, chilly and ginger
In a small pan heat the oil and add mustard seed to it, when it begins crackle add urad dal, pinch of asafetida and curry leaves. When the urad dal turns red turn off the heat and pour the seasoning on the peanut mixture.
Add the juice of 1 lime to this mixture and garnish with finely chopped coriander before serving.