As Rogeracchan Vellam once sang,
Yellow yellow yellow,
the chips are really in there
not if you can eat it..
Any more payasam
There is no space I am really filled
A distant meal is on the horizon
Original photo here
Today is Thiruvonam. The day when calories don’t count. Human number systems are incapable to counting up to such large numbers. That’s why. Legend has it that the King Mahabali pays a visit to every Malayalee’s house on this day. I met him today.
KA: Wassup bro? Howz Paathaala?
MB: Chillin’. Dayumn, the weather’s oppressive here.
KA: You are Da King of the Underworld, and you are tellin’ me Chennai is hot?
MB: Uhun. You heard me bro
KA: So why did you get sent to the underworld anyway. This guy tells me you were a really good king and all. Golden age of Kerala and all. So why did they send a dwarf with Shaq-size feet to trick you out of your kingdom?
MB: It’s cuz I’m black. I’m Asura. Ain’t no white Devas gonna stand for a successful black man in this part of the woods.
Anyway, Mahabali left soon enough. He had to catch the 1.10 Deccan Airways flight to Kochi. It was now worship time. We worship Ganesh on Ganesh Chaturthi, Krishna on Janmashtami, and Food on Onam. Yes. Full, no-holds-barred Pet Puja (Stomach Worship). The Onam Sadhya (Feast) is designed to satisfy all possible tastes, simply because it uses every edible ingredient in the known universe.
For the full list of items served in a traditional Onam Sadhya, see here
There is an interesting story about one of the dishes, the simple sounding Puli Inji (Tamarind Ginger), a brown chutney like paste of Tamarind, Ginger, small onions, Fenugreek seeds and red chilly powder among other things. Legend has it that Vararuchi, a poet in the court of Vikramaditya was once asked by the king to quote the two most critically significant verses in the Ramayana. He had trouble choosing two from so many good verses that he retired to the jungle to meditate on the topic. Since it turns out that his great-great-great-(n times)-grandson was Dr Dolittle, he overheard 2 birds talk about the finer aspects of Valmiki’s epic. He found his answer in their conversation, and also overheard that Vararuchi was fated to marry a Pariah woman. This being 200 AD, these things apparently mattered. So he was worried about this. When he went back to the king and impressed him with his choice of two verses, he also asked the king for a boon. All girl babies born on the day the birds predicted his future wife was going to be born were to be killed by royal edict. The king acquiesced and the order was carried out. Of course, one baby was spared by a merciful soldier who could not find the heart to kill it. This baby, in true Bollywood style, grows up to be an incredibly talented woman who is bought up by a poor priest who finds her floating in river. One day, Vararuchi happens to visit this priest and orders him to serve a meal of 101 dishes. Deeply worried, the poor priest asks his daughter what can be done. His daughter tells him not to worry and proceeds to make the world’s first Inji Puli, a dish that contains the taste of 101 dishes.
Ahem. Since the traditional Onam Sadhya is usually followed by an Onam Siesta, I take leave.