India. A country know for its rich culture, hot tourist spots, iconic movies, lavish festivals, and, of course, their huge encyclopedia of food. So what happens when you combine the two best things something has to offer? We get hype. Super duper hype.
That’s right we will be talking about specialty foods found mostly during festival times in India. Why are these foods found only during festival time? Because the tradition says so; follow the tradition (at least that is what mom and dad told me).
However, I think there’s a different reason. We all know festivals are not celebrated without reason, even if it sounds silly. The foods eaten during these times have to signify the reason the festival is being celebrated – the life lesson the food offers along with festival. So I am going to be talking about the three biggest festivals in India: Sankranthi, Dusserha and Diwali. Let’s get into this without any further delay.
This festival is pretty much the Christmas of India. It is celebrated from January 10th to January 17th. The celebration is a sign of the arrival of new brightness (which is summer) and bright beginning in the new year.
It is celebrated in different ways in different states throughout India. Let’s talk about the most lit one, which is Andhra Pradesh. It was even listed as one of the places in India you should visit for food.
Andhra Pradesh is divided into four different days: Bhogi (Pre-Game Day), Makara Sankranthi (The Big Day), Kanuma (Hangover Day) and Mukkanuma (The Day Where Everyone Is Done and Has No Energy Left). Families all over the world get together for a week, blockbuster movies come out, kids play with games, men gamble and get drunk, teenagers pull pranks and flirt with each other…and everyone’s favorite part: your mom, aunt and grandmother get together with the other women of the family and make some of the greatest food. So let’s see which weight gainers we got present here.
Indian Filter Coffee
Made with pure ground coffee powder from the farms of Araku Valley, Andhra Pradesh and mixed with boiled and frothed milk. The coffee is known for its strong flavor and rich taste. The coffee is strong enough to wake you up and energize you like a little kid who just ate a bag of candy. Here is a recipe to enjoy the coffee anytime you wish.
This coffee is rarely homemade due to effort that has to be put into getting the powder and boiling the milk at the right temperature to make it perfect drink. The significance of the coffee is that it inspires you to be as strong as the flavor, as rich as the taste in life, and also as hot as the milk (okay, I made up that one).
As you can see, they look like a really popular food, right? Yeah, it’s pretty much the Indian doughnut. Except, it has chilies and pepper mixed in with the oily bread. This food is mostly eaten during this festival because it signifies the fact that everything cannot be perfect and there is always a hole (a defect) attached to everything.
It is not generally made during non-festival time because the ingredients used for this are not as fresh as they would be during the festival time, and not many bother making them because they’ll suck unless you are the Master Chef.
Pulihora (Tamarind Rice)
This is the most addictive Indian food to be made. The more you eat, the more you want it. It’s the perfect blend of Basmati rice, curry leaves, lemon-soaked tamarind, red chile, peanuts and oil make this most celebrated South Indian dish. Like, they might as well make tamarind rice rehabs.
It sucks that mom or grandmother don’t make the effort to make this on a normal day and just save it for the festival. I guess it’s supposed to signify that you cannot always have the best. So enjoy the most and enjoy it at its best when you can.
Pappu Pulusu (Vegetable Stew)
It’s rare to get healthy and tasty at the same time. This South Indian dish has plenty of nutrients and is delicious at that same time. It is loved by everyone, but not many know how it’s made. It has only been mastered by a few.
The cooked red gram dal along with the mix of carrots, onions and the tomato mash make this dish ah-mazing. The dish signifies the fact that the belief that the purest are the most beautiful ones. It’s a tough task to make this dish during the festival itself, so it would be rare for mom or grandma to try and recreate the magic on normal days.
Sometimes when mom is having a good day she makes it for breakfast. Check out what else we have for breakfast.
Mamidikaya Pappu (Mango Dal)
This is a treasured classic. It’s a family favorite. And no one remembers it because we are bad people. It is so underrated. Peeled mango pieces mixed with the red garam dal, turmeric powder, and chilli flavor make this dish a perfect one to eat with your family. It is not seen around much during festivals anymore, so it would be a miracle if it was found during a normal days.
Gutti Vankaya (Stuffed Eggplant Curry)
My personal favorite and my family’s least favorite. Eggplant is mixed with a curry made out of red chili, corianders, butter and masala filled with spices. This is the best vegetarian curry to ever be eaten.
It is a great substitute for chicken curry. If you are looking for its significance, then I am sorry, because this curry is the definition of fun and everyone (except my family) gets hype when they hear the name of this curry.
This festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. On this day, Ramayana and Mahabharata (India’s version of Odyssey and Iliad) had the happy ending. It is celebrated every October and of course, families get together, great movies come out, and the statue of the bad guys are burned down as everyone watches. And, of course, some great food is cooked.
Made out of yogurt, water and sugar, lassi is every household’s favorite drink. The mix of crushed almonds and other nuts make it a perfect drink for festival time. The right mixture does wonders for this drink. Why doesn’t anyone tend to make this during non-festival time? Just too much effort. I guess you only the get the best of someone during a special time, which what I think the drink signifies.
This is a dish that includes almost every Indian’s favorite ingredient. Butter. Yeah, there’s also the carrot, sugar, milk and cashews. But who cares, there’s butter in it! Even carrot haters love this sweet dish because of the butter. It is all about the butter life back there. This dish is just a reason to consume butter in heavy amounts and not be cursed by your mom for it.
This rice has a great lesson to offer. It’s just plain Basmati rice in the beginning. However, after adding ingredients such as butter, oil, cumin, bay leaf, cinnamon, butter (YAAAASSSS) and salt, it has a taste that will make a strong mark on your taste buds. It is highly addictive once you get a taste of it. So moral of the story, spice up your life. Add stuff and don’t be boring. That is actually the significance of this dish.
Paneer Tikka Masala
Let us be honest. The fame of this curry is unconquerable. Square paneers, butter (YAAAASSS), pepper, yogurt, onions, tomatoes and several other ingredients make this curry the best to eat whenever possible. You just cannot say no to this curry. It is that good.
Diwali, the festival of lights. Celebrated during late October through early November, Diwali is celebrated because of the lack of electricity in India. I am kidding. It is truly celebrated because of the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil and hope over despair.
Others say it is because Lord Ram won the Lady Sita from the bad guy Ravana. Honestly, who cares because we also get together with family, watch some movies, set off some fireworks and, of course, eat some great food.
Made from pure buffalo milk and mixed with black tea from the fields of Assam, cinnamon, sweetener, ginger and other spices that make this drink hot, spicy, and perfect for the cold weather that starts around late October. The tea will get you spiced up in time for the fireworks. The spicy heat is a pain at first but as you get used to it, it is the most magical tea you will ever have.
Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)
This is almost everyone’s favorite sweet dish. This dish is really special because mythology books say that this was Lord Krishna’s favorite sweet, along with butter (YAAASSS).
Made with coconut milk, jaggery, vermicelli and several other ingredients, kheer is popular during Diwali time because Diwali is believed to be the favorite festival of Krishna and we chose to honor that by eating his favorite food. Check out these other sweet dishes similar to kheer that will help you avoid paying for a flight.
This is just Jeera rice, but mixed with vegetables such as corn, beans and carrots. Talk about making something beautiful into ugly. I mean, I get it, try to get something tasty and healthy at the same time. However all the moms tend to overdose the healthy part of it. I guess we can make an exception for one festival. This dish just signifies the fact that moms will be moms trying to make you eat vegetables all the time.
This is the only non vegetarian item that is eaten during all the big festivals, unless you are me and you can bend the rules and find loopholes. This honestly had no significance other than the fact that chicken is just really cheap around October to November time compared to paneer. It is essentially paneer minus the paneer. The gravy and the spices are the same: butter, oil and cloves.
Well that’s all I have for you. However, this is a very small list compared to the varieties found during festival time. It is a very big world out there. There are different cultures and foods to explore within a country.
So book a ticket and travel there during festival time to see happy families, a bunch of movies which come out at the same time and eat each other’s money at the box office, and, of course, the food that you won’t find during the rest of the year because it takes too much effort to make them.