There were two dishes, special and singular
|Prompt 5-A Special Dish
The grapevine had the news that a neighborhood girl was getting married in May.
Jagan and several of his classmates knew Swathi very well. A week later, Jagan’s family was invited to the wedding to be followed by dinner at their house. Swathi had personally asked him and other friends of hers to come a little early to the venue and enjoy the evening. Traditional weddings were happy occasions when the groom and bride partake in several minor ceremonies before tying the knot. More guests, more merriment.
Swathi lived close by and so Jagan could hear music accompanying the rituals, which were being performed at her house from the morning of the wedding day. By four in the afternoon, the friends left for the wedding venue. Decorated with a variety of flowers, the venue was splendid. Chairs were laid facing a raised platform decorated with white and pink silk spreads with plenty of roses and lilies of the valley.
The groom arrived first and took his seat on the raised platform. Some initial religious preparations were under way. A few minutes later, the bride arrived at the podium with her sisters, parents and some relatives. The priest chanted the mantras relevant to the occasion. Soon, the bride and groom exchanged wedding vows in Sanskrit. The groom stood up and tied the holy thread with two gold lockets, around the bride’s neck . They were then pronounced husband and wife.
Dinner followed after several more rituals. Guests started pouring into the hall and started on their different courses. It was an hour later that the newly-weds joined the guests for wedding dinner laid attractively in the reception hall. The buffet had a number of delicacies, the most popular being chicken Pulao for the non -vegetarians and a dish called Pulihara for the vegetarians. Both are ever present at weddings and festivals.
Chicken pulao is a combination of rice and chicken that never failed to entice the diners in Andhra Pradesh, Jagan’s very own state in India. Briefly speaking, the preparation starts with chicken pieces being marinated in salt, ginger-garlic paste, green chilies, chopped mint, chopped coriander, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, yogurt and red chili powder for an hour. Rice should be washed and kept soaked in water till cooking begins.
Chicken Pulao is to be cooked with ghee. When the pot is hot we add the remaining spices and bay leaves, and onions to ghee and fry till brown. Marinated chicken goes next and few minutes later, rice is added. Cook with sufficient water till rice and chicken are done to satisfaction. Serve hot with rasam and curd chutney. Its flavor reaches out and the diners hover around waiting anxiously for their turn.
Pulihara is an equally popular dish marking any joyous occasions, big and small. Once again it is a rice preparation. Rice is cooked separately. Later spread in a wide plate to cool.
Adequate quantity of tamarind should be soaked in a little water. In the pan, add sesame seeds, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and black gram and Bengal gram. Curry leaves and green chilies cut vertically should be added. When these seeds and leaves splutter and turn brown, add the thick tamarind juice. Add salt and turmeric and let it thicken without burning. Set down and add it to the cooled rice. Mix well so the tamarind and rice blend well. Pulihara is now ready to consume.
The usual combination with Pulihara is payasam. Payasam is a sweet preparation with semolina, sugar and dry fruits and milk. This combination is irresistible to anyone from any corner of the world.
These are traditional dishes coming down the generations. Despite the number of modern delicacies, nothing can beat Pulihara and payasam. Jagan is partial to these traditional preparations which are healthy and tasty. It is easily digestible with several health benefits as it is a mixture of various tastes such as spicy, sweet, hot and sour.
Jagan remembered his grandma’s skilled preparation of Pulihara when she was alive. The family used to pack it for picnics during the months of November and December, when people go out to eat under gooseberry trees or in any wooded place by a lake or pond. The cold of winter is appropriately countered by Pulihara because it has enough of spicy and hot stuff.
Jagan and friends served food to the guests and bride and groom. Then, they sat down to enjoy the feast.
Word Count: 742
Written for World Weavers' Championship hosted by Nana Spindle