Feasting at Festivals

>> Saturday, 3 November 2007

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This week, Hindus throughout the world will be celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, and that includes us here in the Caribbean where Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname are home to the largest populations of Caribbean Hindus and Muslims. Hindu and Muslim religious holidays are therefore, national holidays.

Growing up in a multicultural society with people of various races and religions helps one to gain insights that some people go a lifetime without glimpsing. Coming from a bi-racial family, I often had a front-row seat to the cultural heritage of both my parents. Click here to read the column and some of my memories of celebrating these holidays.

The tradition of celebrating, for example, Diwali, is thought to have been brought to Guyana in 1853 by the first set of indentured labourers from India.

Though I'm neither Hindu nor Muslim, I miss celebrating these holidays with my family and friends. Today, I thought I’d share with you some of the foods of these religious holidays that I look forward to having and miss dearly. I want to sincerely thank my cousin, Doris for guiding me through the process, long distance, of making parsad; my aunt Betty for showing me how to make her version of parsad and roat; my cousin-in-law, Shireen for the step by step demo of making vermicelli cake; and my friend, Safie for sharing her mitai (kurma) recipe with me. I hope that I did justice to all your teachings and look forward to getting better.

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Typical veg meal on religious holiday

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Curried potatoes (aloo curry)

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Sauteed pumpkin (fried pumpkin)

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Sauteed spinach and channa

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Split-peas dhal

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Parsad (parched flour, ghee, sugar, water, milk, cardamom and raisins)

Parsad is what we call this dish, if you recognise it by another name based on the ingredients or look, can you let me know? Thanks.

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Roat (flour, ghee, sugar, milk and raisins)

Again, if you recognise this sweet by another name, please share it with me.

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Mitai (Kurma)

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Vermicelli cake

Happy Diwali! And email me for any of the recipes.

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By now, many of you may have heard or seen the Click event being hosted by the tireless duo at Jugalbandi, Bee & Jai. Based on all that I’ve read and seen, I’d say that the first event was a tremendous success and that this event will get stronger and bigger as time goes by.

Last’s month’s theme was eggs and you can have a look here at the entries and here for the winners in the various categories. A generous and very creative woman, Sunita of Sunita’s world was the overall winner. Congrats my friend.

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This month, the theme is noodles and I am honoured to be asked to join the esteemed panel of judges for this month’s event. Read the details of the event. For info on this month’s theme and how to submit your entries, click here.

I’m excited to see your entries so click away!

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