There is nothing more comforting that beginning the week with a visit to the market. The colours, the smiling faces, the women with flowers in their hair, the men neatly stacking up the veggies for sale. If you want to feel a sense of festivity, there is no place better to really get in the mood than at the market.
This morning, as soon as the veil of morning mist had just lifted, I drove off to the local market, something I haven’t done in the longest time. And I reacquainted myself with sights I haven’t seen in the longest time. The trucks were offloading the freshest greens, veggies, fruit and flowers. Outside, rows of hawkers set up temporary shops, selling everything from plants to akash-kandeels, diyas, fairy lights and an assortment of things to beautify the house. Inside, I almost got high on the aroma of fresh veggies. Nothing makes me happier than to buy lovely fresh local produce, and as usual, the foodie in me might have gone overboard. Just a bit.
In this part of the world, Diwali excitement begins tomorrow. I think a true test of how much of a childhood tradition you have imbibed, is how much you are able to do and translate into your own home. While all through my growing up years we celebrated Diwali with much excitement, the spring cleaning, the preparation of food, the sweets, the endless stream of friends and relatives, the exchanging of dry fruits, the diyas, the decorations and of course the new clothes, was all a big part of Diwali. But having moved to Goa, I find so much of that has slipped out of the way. Not intentionally, and not with regret, but quite naturally so. The first year I was mildly shaken and homesick, because it was probably one of those defining moments in realising how much changes when you move from home. But the second year (and this is true for the whole year in general) I was so consumed at work that I didn’t have the energy to do anything extra to make it feel Diwali-like, nor the time to feel homesick and festival-withdrawal symptoms. Sad, I know, but its the truth.
For the last three years, Diwali has come and gone quite silently. I do the customary spring cleaning round, change the sheets and curtains, get the diyas out and on Diwali, light a few lamps and try very hard to feel festive. You see the spirit of the festival is in the togetherness. And its hard to feel festive when its just the husband and me. The family we have accumulated here all tend to go home and celebrate with their families, and since VC and I are not big on going back to Bangalore, we make do here. Last year, we had an especially sedate Diwali, with the only sense of it being a festival was felt at work, where we had Ethnic Day and a host of Diwali-related contests and fun.
So this year, I’m trying again. For nothing, but to keep the spirit alive. With the cleaning done, I’m bringing out the lights, I’m doing up the house a wee bit. And I’m going to probably make something sweet, to share with folks here. It’s the only way I know how to spread the Diwali cheer! I’m eyeing a few wonderful recipes I’ve spotted over the past week, and as of this morning, I think its safe to say that hyper-Diwali-festivities might have finally struck me. Albeit a little late.
Meanwhile, here’s a round up of the many faces of comfort food I have been cooking up last week. Some homely, some sinful, some healthy, some warm and wonderful.
I cannot seem to think of comfort food without this home delicacy. So when VC and I needed to give the rich and masala-filled food a break, this was the perfect way to balance it all out. Cool, soothing and so hearty.
It so happened that a few days later, I was still not over the joys of simple, uncomplicated home food. So I cooked up this stir-fry, South Indian style and made a meal of it by itself.
Another day, I woke up dreaming of peanut butter in muffin form. And I had to do something about it. So I did a little research and whipped up these breakfast muffins. Peanut butter, oatmeal, whole wheat and with a hint of chocolate — these are eggless, butterless and with very little sugar — and they made an excellent breakfast two days in a row. Comfort food of a different kind!
So until I figure out what I’m making to bring in the Diwali, savour these, do up your house and spread the joy. I know, come tomorrow, I will want to do the same.