Delicious World of Chefette Spicy

formerly Ladles and High Heels


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Pongal Post- Finally an Update!

pongal kolamI am like the worst blogger. Ever. Okay, that is probably an exaggeration- neither do I update only once a year nor do I leave random burns on other blogs. But I am down there with the ones that seldom reply to the comments you leave on their blogs and the ones that never post recipes to yummy food they put up pictures of. Anyhoo, Happy New Year and Happy Pongal, people!

I have been monstrously busy since 2014 slid in and I am still trying to find time to click pictures of stuff that Amma (or I) cook. No, seriously. I am so behind on blogging that I haven’t even done my post for the monthly Photo Styling Challenge and we are done with two Mondays already this month. I am aiming at getting that up over the weekend. We had good holidays, ate wonderful food, like this Orange Cola Cake (with leftover cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving) that the NJ aunt made-
orange cola cakeI know, crappy pic but it was a rainy day and  I had to click before anyone got to it, which meant switching on the kitchen lights in a very photogenic kitchen. Blasphemy, I know! So we got back down south on New Year day and hence began the same ol’. Preparing for the commencement of semester, running behind Aarabhi and finding a good daycare. All of the above were achieved, I went to school for a couple of weeks, we celebrated a rather important Indian festival, Pongal. We call it the Indian Thanksgiving but during the three days of Pongal, we show our gratitude to the Sun, the hardworking farmers that plow our fields of rice, without which almost all South Indians would starve!
pongal4
The first day of Pongal, called Bhogi, signals the end of one Tamil month (Margazhi) and the beginning of another (Thai). Until around ten years ago, people used to burn leaves and papers amongst other things, signifying the death of all things old and the beginning of everything new (and good). Well, the good news is that we have stopped setting fire to random combustible objects but  Bhogi still means  let the good times roll, baybay!

The second day is the most important day of all four: Pongal. On this day, we make a huge feast which begins with boiling new rice with milk and jaggery. When this concoction boils over, we yell “Pongal-o Pongal”, which literally means “Boiling over, boiling over!” Sounds weird, right? It is actually so much fun at home, when all of us are peering over the brass pot perched on the cooktop, with a metal plate and ladle in hand. And when the white milk rises to the brim, bubbles up and starts overflowing, with clangs and clings, we yell (most of the time into each others’ ears) with all the lung power we can muster!
pongal2After all the screaming (at the pot of milk by the whole family and later, by Paati at us to go take a shower), we get clean, wear new clothes, bring out all the yummy food and thank the sun for being merciful on our farmers and the crops. Phew! That was a pretty long narration. This year, Pongal was special because it was A’s first and for the first ever time since we got married, we had a set of parents at home with us to celebrate with. Thankfully the weather behaved itself too, a surprise since we have been seeing a lot of rains.

So about the blog: the url has changed! You can find us at http://www.chefettespicy.com from now. We have a new banner also. And as always, I will do my best at keeping the updates consistent and constant. Thassal, folks!

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Divine Intervention Not

So I recently encountered this nearly foreign ceremony that I was supposed to perform to the “goddess” of all “Sumangalis”- Lakshmi. Back at the Iyengar household in my pre-wedded era, this particular Puja was blissfully skipped since it was a non-entity in the books of the vertical stripes clan. Now, nearly a year after declaring my collaboration with the Iyer clan, I was expected to follow the whole thanksgiving-to-Lakshmi ceremony. Though the goddess is married to Vishnu, the clan leader of the mighty Iyengars, it is beyond me why we ignore it.

Anyway, swathed in a poorly tied 9 yard saree, thanks to a random tutorial by a wise Paati online, the Pujai spanned for two excruciatingly painful hours with us trying to fanthom complicated Sanskrit words from the Devanagiri and Latin scriptures. We spent five hours in preparation. The ceremony, to top it all, had a whole list of, what my mother calls, Nachchu Velais, aka, silly work. So the function had these various steps that put my head in a dizzy but then, since we were two people, we prevailed. I have never imagined the task of cooking and preparing for an important ceremony but I can now tell you that it was a painful pain pain.

By lunchtime, we were famished and weak, what with the fast we had to go on until the ceremony ended. So after we reached the finish line, both of us declared our happiness at putting the day behind us for a whole year. While gobbling up the Idli and the Kozhukattai that were the staple food for the Vratham, we remembered that the next day was Avani Avittam, again a Tam-Bhram ceremony for the men. It was that one day in the year when the brahmin men realize that their Poonal is now old and smelly and unless they exchange it for a new one, they would be social outcasts.

This is where the epiphany came to me and I reaffirmed my belief that we live in a hugely patriarchal world. For one, Avani Avittam is not all that huge on fasting. It depends on the man. They take exactly forty minutes to do the Pujai, don’t really have to wear  the Panjakacham (the male equalent of the 9-yard Madisar), they even found an audio file to make the chanting of the Mantrams easier and since they seldom let themselves see the insides of the kitchen, the women are left with the task of cooking. A menu Kalyanam-worthy. So we the women had to wake up earlier than them. Again. And grind, fried, cut and cooked again. EOD was the same: fatigue. This time, the men empathized with us because all the good food did them in.

Later in the day found me arguing with the mister about the partiality that is our society but I ultimately abandoned it after a playful banter. Agreed that I enjoyed decking up my Amman Mugam but until next August, its a big, relieved bye!

She is obliously laughing at us!