- By Deepa Krishnan
I've been doing a lot of food walks lately. Last month I did a Matunga food-walk for the BMW-Guggenheim Foundation, as part of a 3-week Mumbai event that they organised.
|At the start of the walk, the organiser from BMW-Guggenheim Lab explains what the lab is all about|
A food walk is, of course, a wonderful way to understand a country. Especially in India, where food is not just a personal dietary preference; but a reflection of a way of life. Our walk began outside the Astika Samaj temple, where I explained to the group how as a Palakkad Brahmin, I have so many "food memories" associated with the temple.
|The Samaj has been painted afresh as part of a |
major kumbhabhishekam ceremony. But for me, this temple
is more about food than religion :) :)
For me, Astika Samaj will always be associated with their wonderfully dark nei-payasam which our neighbour Moorthy-mami brings us as prasadam (recipe here). Made of ghee, jaggery and rice, the prasadam is a thick gooey delight that leaves you licking your fingers.
I also remember the many feasts I have had here, at thread ceremonies, bangle ceremonies, naming ceremonies and what not. Served on banana leaves, these elaborate multi-course meals are not just about food, but also about an old and established way of doing things. Ammu-patti's blog explains some of my community's food traditions very nicely here.
My cousin's bangle ceremony was held some years ago at Bhajana Samaj, another popular temple in Matunga.
|Ceremony to celebrate the pregnancy and to pray for the health of mother and child. And of course, to eat lots of food!!|
During the bangle ceremony, I sneaked into the kitchens to get the early morning bustle as they prepared the morning "tiffin".
|Coconut being grated for the chutney and for the sambar. Idlis being removed from the traditional cloth base (don't see this cloth often these days). Our breakfast was idli, vada, sambar, chutney and sweet pongal.|
After the ceremony we all got to take home some of the delicious 'bakshanam'. I have taken home countless murukkus, laddoos, athirasams, thengoyals and so on from all these family functions!!
A couple of months ago I went to Bhajana Samaj during Diwali. It was buzzing with activity, as they were selling specialty South Indian sweets. They were being cooked "on the spot" and sold. More fun with my camera!!
|Super-efficient team of caterer A S Rajashekar. They handled the tasting counter and ordering process smoothly and with a smile. I went with my mom and aunt, we met several other people from our community and had a pleasant time chatting.|
Just standing outside these temples brings back so many memories for me. And each time I visit Matunga, meet people I know, taste my traditional food, it adds a new layer of comfort.