Habbada Oota – Ganesha Chaturthi
For as long as I can remember, Ganesha Chaturthi has been not just a festival, but an emotion and I speak for the entire Indian Sub Continent when I say this is one of the happiest festivals the world has seen.
Ganesha Habba as it called lovingly in Karnataka, is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of Lord Ganesha, who in my opinion is the OG Foodie and his birthday is a true reflection of it, the festival technically is celebrated for 2 days – Gauri Habba and Ganesha Habba, but lasts for more than a month where people put their own spin to it and the Lord extends his stay in our homes from a minimum of 3 days to 30 days as he pleases.
To entice the elephant-faced god, his humble devotees prepare a mammoth feast in his honour, which ranges from sweet-meats to savoury dishes, each prepared with love and devotion keeping in mind all his favourites. Traditionally prepared at home, but due to the fast-paced lives of today’s E-bhakts who’d rather forward graphic wishes to their entire WhatsApp list or upload statuses of their OOTD with #sanskari, most of the dishes like the nayvedya (offerings) are now packaged to perfection.
Since I was a little girl, Ganesh Chaturthi is one festival where I have the maximum amount of memories, the enthusiasm associated with this festival seeps into every single element, be it in the dressing up in our traditional best, house hopping to try to complete the goal of seeing 108 Ganesha Idols, as set by our grandparents motivated by the numerous delicacies we would get in each of those houses, listening to the legends of Lord Ganesha and thinking he is the coolest god there is, secretly dancing to the earth-shaking beats of the drums from processions miles and miles away, but the one thing that will always stay in my heart no matter how old I grow, is the charm and taste of – Habbada Oota.
Here is a glimpse from my memory palace of the best meal I am blessed with each year:
When it comes to the snacks prepared, Moti-Choor Laddoo and Modaks are a staple and come in a variety of flavours and fillings, they are decorated on a tray along with kadubu – a steamed dumpling made with rice flour and filled with a sweet mixture (made with jaggery, channa, coconut and dry fruits) or savoury; karjikai – a deep fried crescent shaped sweet snack filled with coconut and fried gram; Murukku or Chakkali – the deep fried savoury rings made with rice flour, urad dal and ajwain seeds, and my favourite Rava Laddoo – as the name says it Laddoo made from Rava. This tray is the centre of attention, second only to the well-decorated idol of the deity and the list of items increases from house to house in the neighbourhood.
To add on to the overflowing tray of snacks, A wide variety of sprouts or kallu are tossed in oil, mustard seeds and coconut to form the most soul-satisfying prasadam you will ever eat, the humble nature of this dish reflected in the taste fills your body with nutrients and your heart with joy.
The main feast of the day is served on the vibrant banana leaf to all the guests who come to seek blessing from the version of the Lord who sits proudly in your home, who are seen as the Lord himself accepting the food prepared, as the saying goes – “Athithi Devo Bhava”. The meal consists of the traditional kosambari – a lentil and cucumber salad; Palya – made from beans and carrot; Chitrana – lemon and mango rice; Steamed rice, served till your buttons pop, is topped with flavourful Sambar made from dal and beans and radish on the first serving, Tomato Rasam on the second and cool homemade curd to complete the meal. Fried Bajjis, Sandige/Appalam ( Papad) and a few samples from the nayvedyam tray and also served and the meal leaves you filled for days but still accommodating room to sneak in a few laddoos when no one is looking.
While the best way to get your hands on these delicacies is to trick one of your Bangalorean friends to invite you over, which we’d be happy to do as long as you do the same for us with your festivals, there are many tiny hotels and food joints in the Malleshwaram, JP Nagar, Basvanagudi area that serve these dishes all year round.
Best Moti-Choor Laddoos & Modaks – Kanti Sweets https://www.zomato.com/bangalore/restaurants/kanti-sweets
Best Traditional Food Joint: Oota Bangalore by Windmill Craftworks https://www.zomato.com/bangalore/oota-bangalore-whitefield
Legend has it that, Once, Lord Ganesha had finished his rounds to all his devotees’ houses and was returning home with a full belly, when he slipped and fell and dropped all his food on the ground and his belly burst upon impact. The cheeky moon in the sky saw this scene and could not control his laughter and mocked the lord for being too fat and eating more than he could handle. His punishment? The Lord put a curse on the moon, saying that anyone who glances at the moon on this day shall not have his blessings upon them.
Moral of the story: Don’t listen to anyone and enjoy the wondrous feast this festival has to offer without inhibitions and limitations, after all, one can never have enough laddoos.
Article by: Niveditha Vijayanand
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