I wish all of you a very happy and prosperous Vishu! This year’s Vishu was a resounding success for me. Although she is rapidly maturing, my daughter seemed to love the pre-dawn commotion as much as I did. In the evening of the previous day, we made our obligatory trip to a local store to stock up on everything we’ll need to celebrate Vishu properly. This was our finest buy: nice bunches of Konna Poo, pre-cut sambhar veggies, and a roll of plantain leaves to dine on, all wrapped in transparent plastic bags with price tags. There were no tears or dark stains in the leaves, and I have enough to make Elai Ada tomorrow morning! Yum!
Those readers who know Malayalam should check out Vishu Ashamsagal, a wonderful account of a vishu celebration from fifty years ago in a hamlet outside of Kerala. In contrast, I had no large family, essentials like nellu and unnakkalari, and no river to run to and watch the early in the morning fireworks that are a popular feature of vishu day celebration. My own celebration was a long cry from that.
Tossing a new rupee coin is the customary way to assess one’s year’s fortunes — heads signifies good luck, tails means bad luck, and you get two extra chances – it’s the better of three! – so we got up at 4 am to see a magnificent Kani which I had put up the night before. This was the favourite part for my daughter:)
This morning’s breakfast included Vishu Kanji & Chakka puzhukku, in keeping with the festive spirit. I was out of boiled rice, so I substituted basmati for the purpose of making this thick porridge. Earlier, we had picked up a good portion of a ripe jackfruit, but it wasn’t quite ripe enough for us. And that’s before I even cut, cleaned, and chopped it! The women in the family will be appalled, but the length of time it takes too clean it up is the exact reason I don’t use this fruit in my cooking. A steady hand is all that’s required. Unripe jacks exude a sticky gum, as shown in the photo below, which should be liberally rubbed into your hands as well as the knife when attempting this at home. Here’s how to make it:
The Vishu Kanji calls for this (serves 3)
- One-and-a-half cups of rinsed basmati rice Half a cup of water 1 cup of shredded coconut 2 teaspoons of salt
- Clarified butter or ghee: 1 tbsp
- In a pressure cooker, combine the basmati rice, water, and coconut and cook for 1 whistle.
- Salt and ghee should be added to the mixture and served.
- Chakka Puzhukku (serves three to four):
- A pitted and sliced quarter of a huge adult unripe jackfruit
- 1/3 of a litre of water
- Grated coconut makes roughly 3/4 of a cup.
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 12 tsp. of ground turmeric
- The curry leaf is two sprigs.
- Salt To Taste: 1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
Cook the chopped jackfruit in 1/2 cup water, salt, and turmeric for 1 minute or until tender. The temperature should be reduced to a simmer after the first boil. This process should take no more than 8 to min to complete.
Using a little water, grind the coco and cumin into a paste.
Add the coco cumin paste and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes after the jackfruit appears cooked.
Turn the heat down and add a liberal amount of coconut oil and curry leaves as a final garnish.
I couldn’t cook all the sadya foods, but there was sambhar, avial, manga kaalan, thoran, and puli inji. The lunch was also traditional.