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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Veganism and Spirituality: A Commentary

Dear Readers, greetings! The festive season is upon us and today is the first day of the Navaratri. The Navaratri period is marked by the theme of the victory of 'good over evil'. This is that time of the year when people worship 'shakti' (the divine power) and embark on a 'purification' drive by consuming 'strictly vegetarian' food. While we believe that self-cleansing is an ongoing process that does not need a special occasion, we do however appreciate the emphasis given in these nine days to live a 'good life' and the willingness of people to accept it. We fervently believe that one day all the evils, whether of thought or of action, will become passé and humankind will be able to completely realize its true spiritual self. This is the self that can give and receive all-pervading love, kindness, and compassion, both towards other humans and non human animals.

To grace this occasion, we are privileged to introduce our guest writer on the blog, Dr. Krishnaiyengar Varadarangan, who will share his thoughts on the topic of 'veganism and spirituality' and comment on how both are interconnected, just like the helices of the DNA. Dr. Varadarangan holds a Ph.D degree in Applied Physics and is currently working as Director – Wireless R&D, Melange Systems, Bengaluru. He is also an accomplished musician and a musicologist, and has several publications to his credit. Needless to say,
Dr. Varadarangan follows a vegan lifestyle and is actively involved in the promotion of ethical values and compassion towards animals through his blog PREVANKA, Facebook, campaigns, and writings.

Dr. Varadarangan can be reached at We are immensely grateful to Dr. Varadarangan for enriching this space with his pearls of wisdom.

By Dr. K. Varadarangan

At the outset we shall briefly explore the meaning of the terms, ‘veganism’ and ‘spirituality’. The key objective of this article is to demystify spirituality and examine what it involves to lead a spiritual life.

I)    Demystifying Spirituality

Veganism: Veganism (pronounced ‘vee-gun-ism’) is a lifestyle based on the core ideal of non-violence and, for that reason, seeks to avoid the use of animal products and products tested on animals. According to Donald Watson, the father of veganism, “Veganism” may be defined “as a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”. We explore more about veganism later in this article.

Spirituality: Spirituality is the process of inner awakening that enables one to realize complete purity of thought, word, and deed. This inward journey takes a person to a higher level of consciousness. Through spiritual practice, one develops the ability to recognize his/her pure, absolute, and unbiased true self. Spiritual practice involves giving up selfishness, greed, arrogance, and cultivating the qualities of composure, inner power, moral strength, love, compassion, and respect for all beings human and non human. A spiritually-aware person is able to envision that we all are part of a whole and that all forms of life are interconnected. Spirituality inspires a human being to assume responsibility and not run away from life.

For many people, spirituality is synonymous with understanding God. For many others, it is seeking the ‘reality’ or the ‘truth’. Some others see spirituality as reaching out to our inner core or the ‘soul’. Whatever the approach, it should be clear that spirituality is our fundamental nature and may be experienced by all theists and atheists included.

Spirituality and Ahimsa: Compassion and respect for all beings is the core element of spirituality. Thus, the practice of ahimsa is an essential aspect of spirituality. Ahimsa literally means non injury, not only to humans but to all sentient beings, including animals. In the broader sense, ahimsa implies ‘compassion and respect for all life’. In his book, Bliss Divine, Sri. Swamy Sivananda writes:
Practice of Ahimsa develops love. Ahimsa is another name for truth or love. Ahimsa is universal love. It is pure love. It is divine Prem. Where there is love, there you will find Ahimsa. Where there is Ahimsa, there you will find love and selfless service. They all go together...There is one religion the religion of love, of peace. There is one message, the message of Ahimsa. Ahimsa is a supreme duty of man...Ahimsa is a great spiritual force.
A man on the path of spirituality sees no difference between himself and others. He treats every being with equanimity, love, and compassion. He has no ego, no superiority complex. He has rid himself of selfishness, greed, arrogance, and materialistic desires. He sees no difference between himself, a dog, or a cat. He seeks to live in harmony with his fellow humans, animals, and the environment. He seeks to harm no one. He seeks the well being of all life forms, and all his thoughts, words, and actions are directed to achieve that goal.

Spirituality and Liberation: The ultimate goal of spirituality is liberation liberation of the ‘society at large’, consisting of both humans and animals from abuse, exploitation, bondage, pain, and suffering. Liberation starts at the individual level and gradually expands to the whole Universe as more and more people make spirituality a way of life. Dr. Will Tuttle, author of the book, World Peace Diet regarded as one of the most important books of the 21st century, succinctly puts the idea of spirituality and liberation as follows:
Spirituality is about liberation, and thus always calls us to awaken to the interconnectedness of all life, and to practice kindness and respect for others. These are both pre-requisites forand the natural results ofauthentically realizing our essential nature as spiritual beings.
Action and Reaction: We Reap What We Sow: One of the basic laws of nature in general and a law of physics in particular is, ‘action and reaction are equal and opposite’. So every action of ours has an equal and opposite reaction. These laws not only apply to physical entities such as the natural forces but also to every kind of action that occurs in the Universe.

During our lifetimes we indulge in several activities and our actions create an influence on the external world. When we commit brutalities such as cruelty to animals, where will the reaction to such evils go? They can not just vanish. There has to be a reaction to neutralize the action because everything in nature is balanced. This cumulative evil has to react upon us. Conversely, good actions such as acts of compassion and love to fellow beings and animals are sure to bring us everlasting happiness and peace. Thus we reap what we sow.

Most often, the connection between our actions and the results of the actions may not manifest immediately or in ways that we understand. This is primarily because of the limitations of our senses. We understand our external world through the five senses of touch, smell, taste, sound, and sight. Coupled with our ability to think and reason, we are able to understand things that are beyond our senses. However, our sense organs and the ability of the human brain hit a limit to which our perceptions and knowledge can stretch.

By developing a compassionate and loving attitude, we create a win-win situation. We save the animals from enormous pain and suffering, we save our flora and fauna, we save our environment, we save our Earth our only home, and we save ourselves from the horrific effects of our crimes. Lord Mahavira proclaims:
Non-violence and kindness to living beings is kindness to oneself. For thereby one's own self is saved from various kinds of sins and resultant sufferings and is able to secure his own welfare.

II)    Why Vegan?

Ethical, personal health, and environmental issues are the three major aspects of a vegan lifestyle. However, the primary reason for people converting to vegan is ethical.

Vegan is Ethical: At the core of a vegan lifestyle is the ideal of ‘ahimsa’ or non injury. Thus vegans avoid all products that are derived from animals. Even milk is avoided as it rightfully belongs to the calf and not to us. Modern dairy practices involve unimaginable cruelty to cows in the form of artificial insemination, killing of male calves, constant cycles of pregnancies leading to shortened lifespans, unethical hormone injections to increase milk yield that leads to diseases, and finally treacherous transportation and brutal murder at the slaughter houses. How can a person with conscience consume milk under such conditions?

Animal sacrifice in the name of God is one of the most heinous, disgusting, and absurd acts that one can ever imagine. Animal sacrifice amounts to murdering and then offering the corpse of the butchered animal to the creator Herself! What an irony! What gross ignorance! What shame! She is the creator, the mother, of every one of us, including the animals. How can we offer a butchered child to its own mother? What will the mother think of us? We call her mother, then kill her own baby and even worse, expect her to consume it!

Sacrifice means surrendering ourselves to the supreme force in all humility. We need to surrender our ego, selfishness, greed, hatred, and arrogance and not the lives of hapless animals over which we have absolutely no right of ownership. Cruelty to animals is indeed a grave crime. In what way is killing an animal different from the murder of a human being? In the words of Sri. Rabindranath Tagore:
Cruelty (to animals) a fundamental sin, and admits of no arguments or nice distinctions.
Vegan is Healthy: Innumerable studies have shown that a plant-based diet is healthy and associated with a lowered risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and mortality. Replacing non-vegetarian food with a diet of whole grains, vegetables, dry fruits, nuts, and fruits, combined with a regular exercise regime helps in greatly lowering blood cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and obesity. Plant-based foods in general have lower saturated fats and cholesterol. They are also rich in soluble fibres that reduce serum cholesterol. Further, a vegetarian diet of fruits and vegetables is rich in antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, flavonoids, folic acid, phytosterols, and caretenoids that provide a good measure of protection against cardiovascular diseases.

Vegan is Environment Friendly: As several large-scale scientific studies have confirmed, severe environmental degradation is taking place due to animal farming. Animal farming for meat, leather, and milk is depleting our natural resources at an alarming rate. This depletion rate is estimated to be anywhere between 10 to 1000 times. Green-house gas emissions from animal farms are a major contributor to global warming. Enormous amounts of water and plant food is required to produce meat. It is estimated that about 100,000 litres of water, 100 kilogram of hay, and 4 kilogram of grain is required to produce just one kilogram of meat. Another serious issue is managing the waste produced in these animal farms. Such wastes are becoming potential threats and causing air, soil, and water pollution. Referring to the practice of animal farming Keith Akers in his well researched and highly popular book, A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1989) notes that:
This is a matter of historical record. Most of the world's soil, erosion, groundwater depletion, and deforestation—factors now threatening the very basis of our food system—are the result of this particularly destructive form of food production.
All of Us are Born Vegans: All of us are born impeccably pure. The food that a new born child needs is only the mother’s milk and nothing else. Nourished by the mother’s milk, her love, and care, the child develops to become a pure and perfect human being. It opens its eyes to the beautiful world around with awe and joy. It makes an instant connection with the beautiful animals around and wishes to befriend them and play with them. There is no discrimination, no superiority. Only love, that is unconditional, pure, and absolute. This love is our essential being.

The human being is created to be an herbivorous animal. Thus, we are all born vegans. But what happens over our socialization with the world is a profoundly saddening process of corruption of our pure being. Cow’s milk is poured into our mouths in the name of nutrition. Flesh is thrust upon us in the name of food. The lesson of ‘might is right’ is taught. We are assured that God has sanctioned all this. We are made to believe that all is well with this utterly heinous, tragic, and nonsensical stuff. We are told that it is our habit, culture, and tradition. After years of brainwashing we turn ourselves in to the kind of unthinking adults that we are. We start advocating all the negative conditioning we inherited. Thus the cycle of crime goes on and on.

III)    Veganism at the Core of Spirituality

With the ideal of non-violence being the core, veganism and spirituality are inseparable from each other. The practice of ahimsa in thought, word, and deed automatically purifies our mind and elevates our consciousness. We become sensitive to the consequences of our actions. Our diet changes to a plant-based one because we can never hurt an animal for the purpose of eating. We are unable to tolerate violence and so, animal products such as leather, silk, fur, wool, and so on get eliminated. We stop traveling or transporting our goods by animal driven carts. We boycott the use of animals for entertainment. We stop using products tested on animals. We abhor the use of animals for medical experimentation. We never abuse and exploit an animal for any purpose, whatsoever. We always weigh our words before we speak to others and be kind and polite to them. Our very thought process becomes pure, lofty, and noble.

We Are what We Eat: As the saying ‘sound mind in a sound body’ goes, a healthy body is essential to have a sound mind. However, many foods influence our mind directly and in this context, a vegan diet is most appropriate for a spiritual life. A vegan diet helps to develop a healthy body, mind, and spirit. Most plant-based foods are gentle as they emit positive vibrations. Animal protein is a potent carcinogen. Many animal products are found to influence our mind adversely. Most importantly, when flesh is consumed, there is a tremendous amount of negative vibration, because the animal had died in pain, agony, and horror. Toxins are also produced in animal bodies during slaughter. Such food is simply incompatible with the practice of spirituality.

Veganism as Spirituality: For most vegans who choose to be so on ethical grounds, veganism is no different from spirituality. At the core of veganism is the recognition that all life forms are interconnected. In the words of Isaac Bashevis Singer, author and Nobel laureate:
When one becomes a vegetarian, it purifies the soul.
A vegan diet promotes good health and creates positive thoughts. The philosophy of veganism is all-encompassing and promotes the harmonious coexistence of humans and animals on this planet. Veganism has enormous potential to conserve our plants, save the animals from pain and suffering, conserve our environment, and reverse global warming and climate change. What more can we ask for? Simply by changing our attitude towards life we can accomplish so much! Let us create a world that is cruelty free. Human sufferings will melt like snow when we end cruelty to animals. Our planet will breathe easy. Let us celebrate Freedom!

~ ~ ~

Sunday, September 18, 2011

One Year of Pony Love: A Commitment to the Cause and Care of “Working Animals”

Animal rights NGO, Samabhava organizes annual function, a Vegan India! report.

Bangalore, Rotary Club Auditorium, Lavalle Road, 17-Sept-2011: The plight of “working animals” in our country is comparable to the plight of the human workers in the unorganized sector. In the absence of adequate legislation or in the presence of poorly enforced legislation combined with the lack of will on the part of influential human counterparts, both suffer numerous injustices that have direct bearing on their health and safety. The next time you see a pony pulling a cart on the streets of Bangalore, do spare a few moments and think about this “working animal” that transports load, mostly pipes and other construction materials, from the core commercial areas of the city to destinations within the city to aid human economic activities. It is only just reasonable that these working ponies are treated fairly: treated for wounds that they are highly susceptible to and given old age care as opposed to being abandoned.

An organized effort to bring about change in the status of working animals

It requires organized efforts to bring about change in the status of working animals and Samabhava in the first year of its existence has made this change possible. Samabhava has brought together trained veterinarians, donors, NGOs, horse lovers, and pony caretakers on the same platform to think and act to better the status of working ponies in Bangalore. The result is something for all to be proud of and the result gives us hope: hope, that human compassion and fairness is not lost; it only needs to be kindled.

A working pony

In the first year of Samabhava’s existence, 442 ponies have been treated as part of curative care for a range of conditions such as external injuries, respiratory disorders, musculoskeletal disorders (lameness), gastro-intestinal disorders, eye problems, skin diseases, hoof ailments, and infections. Lameness (153 cases) and wounds (101 cases) were found to be among the dominant conditions that afflicted working ponies. Preventive care has been rendered to 275 ponies, to many in the form of vaccinations against tetanus – a deadly disease that when once sets in, can be fatal to the ponies. Besides this, donors with space, resources, and the mindset have come forward to rescue and adopt 5 ponies who for various reasons such as accidental electrocution, emotional trauma, being differentially-abled, and abandonment are not fit to pull loads. Today, these ponies are leading lives of dignity amidst compassionate human beings in the farms and shelters in and around Bangalore.

Identifying the core causes of discomfort for working animals: Dialogue with farriery or horse shoe makers and experts

What is exceptional about Samabhava’s work that this Vegan India! blogger found is their attention to detail. This attention to detail translates to the identification of the prime areas of concern in the working lives of ponies that happens to be 1) lameness and 2) external injuries. Lameness in ponies largely stem from the ignorance of the caretakers about the biomechanics of a pony’s feet with the result that the animal ends up working with badly designed shoes. To bridge this gap, Samabhava has networked with experts from abroad to train farriery and horse-shoe makers in Bangalore to produce shoes that are comfortable for the ponies and will help prevent lameness and wounds in the long run.  

A holistic approach to animal welfare and animal rights

Another exceptional aspect of Samabhava’s intervention is the organization’s holistic approach to animal welfare and animal rights – by integrating the concept of a vegan lifestyle and helping people to make the connection between animal suffering, human suffering, and the degradation of the Planet due to human choices. Veganism is the ultimate goal in any animal rights movement because the philosophy seeks to ameliorate animal suffering. All of Samabhava’s founder members are vegan (you can click this link to get introduced to them), including the chief guest at the function, the soft-spoken, Mrs. Amala Akkineni. Mrs. Akkineni, former film actor and now at the helm of affairs at the Blue Cross of Hyderabad, is one of the loveliest celebrity animal rights activists and supporter of a host of human rights work as well. Icons such as her demonstrate that human rights and animal rights go hand-in-hand, one is incomplete without the other, and “compassion” is an over-arching philosophy towards “life” in general, be it that of a human or an animal.

Future plans

Where does Samabhava go from here, we ask Sandesh Raju, Founder Trustee and Managing Trustee of the organization. Sandesh explains:
"We hope to train the caretakers of the ponies in better preventive management as well as in measures, which will help alleviate the day-to-day 'working' lives of the ponies. We know that this change will not be an overnight phenomenon and we hope to continue to work for this cause for as long it takes. On similar lines we hope to continue and expand "Project Atonement" (rescue and adoption of old, abandoned, and injured equines) so that more and more equines can live out the rest of their lives in comfort and dignity".

There are other aspects to Samabhava’s work that you can explore by visiting the organization’s website at: You can also read in detail about the five freedoms of animals that Samabhava seeks to work for by clicking this link on the website.

In conclusion

What is life without food? What is life without good, nutritious, healthy, and most importantly vegan food?! The celebration of Samabhava’s first year was commemorated by a lovely vegan lunch sponsored by In The Pink organic-vegetarian bazaar and restaurant based in Bangalore. The highlight of the platter was delicious peanut-curd rice and ragi payasam sprinkled with cashew nuts. We leave you here to enjoy a photograph of this appetizing platter!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Vegan Bengaluru Potluck, Sept. 24, 2011

An announcement from the Vegan Benglauru team 

The official Vegan Bengaluru potluck for this month will be held at Jaaga on Lalbagh KH Road on the 24-Sept-2011. It is a lunch potluck from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.

The address for Jaaga's new location is:

No. 68, Lalbagh KH Road
Opp. Vijaya Bank & Next to HDFC Bank
Bangalore – 560027

Check out Jaaga's website for a map by clicking this link.

Here's some information about the Vegan Bengaluru potlucks:

1. *All* are welcome! :) You don't necessarily have to be vegan to attend the potluck event. Even if you're just curious about a vegan lifestyle or interested to learn about veganism you can join us.

2. You *MUST* bring a 100% vegan dish to share. Everyone brings something so it won't be fair if you walk in empty handed.

3. It would be nice if you bring a vegan dish that is prepared by yourself; however, if you are unable to cook then feel free to carry food which you have purchased.

4. If you've purchased the food, then make sure there's an ingredients list on the package so we can be assured that it is vegan. Particularly if you're a first time attendee who is not vegan, please don't expect us to take your word for it that the food you've purchased is completely vegan.

5. If you're unsure about what to bring then the best bet is fresh fruits or fruit juices. Everyone appreciates fruits. :)

6. Please bring plates, bowls, forks, spoons, serving spoons, and glasses for yourself. Everyone brings their own.

7. Come, relax, and enjoy the food, and conversation! :)

Please do drop in and RSVP on the Facebook event page if you get a chance by pasting this link on your browser. You are also welcome to join us at the Vegan Bangalore facebook group or follow the Vegan Bengaluru blog to get updates about all the latest vegan-related happenings in Namma Bengaluru. :)

Looking forward to meeting everyone. :)

– The Vegan Benglauru Team

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Seven Vegan Recipes from Orissa on Ganesh Chaturthi

For more recipe-related articles featured in this blog, you can click this link.

Welcome to the second post in the state vegan recipe series! This time we bring you recipes of seven vegan dishes from the state of Orissa in east India. Similar to Bengal, Oriya vegetarian cuisine is mostly vegan and offers a large variety of dishes cooked in numerous styles. Each style represents a particular region in Orissa. We bring you a sample selection that particularly represents the coastal-cooking style of Orissa. The recipes have been contributed by Smt. Minati Mishra, resident of Keonjhar in Orissa. We are grateful to Smt. Mishra for sharing the recipes of these Oriya dishes that are not only easy to make but very tasty and nutritious too. The last dish on our menu is the “Chuda Ghasa”, a sweet creation that is offered to Lord Ganesha on Ganesh Chaturthi day. Chuda Ghasa is a concoction of nutritious ingredients that does not require any cooking, and therefore is a raw-vegan preparation!

As mentioned in our Bengal post, in all our recipes, we have used the cold-pressed versions of cooking oils obtained from organic stores and organically-grown raw ingredients to ensure that we are offering the healthiest food to our bodies. However, if you have difficulty procuring organically grown raw materials, please do not let that hinder your trial with the recipes.
The Recipes

1) Brinjal Paga (Brinjal Garnishing)

For four servings, you will need:
Brinjal – 5, as big as medium sized tomatoes
Tomato – 2, medium sized
Mustard oil – 1 tsp+
Onion – 1, medium sized
Garlic – 6-10, medium sized pods
Coriander leaves – As per need
Green chilli – 1-2, as per taste
Salt – As per taste

Preparation: Piece the brinjals into two longitudinal halves and tomatoes into four longitudinal parts. Heat 1 tsp mustard oil. Sauté the vegetables in high flame for 3-5 minutes or until they are 80% cooked. Remove from fire and keep covered for 20-30 minutes. Finely piece the onion, garlic, coriander leaves, and green chilli. Mash coarsely the sautéed brinjals and tomatoes, and add the finely pieced ingredients, salt, and a few drops of mustard oil as per the pungency you want. Brinjal Paga is ready to be served. Very similar in idea to the North Indian “Baigan ka Bharta”, Brinjal Paga is a dish that is relished across Orissa from the rural to the urban areas.

In fact, Paga can be prepared with different vegetables such as okra, ridge gourd, potato, and tomato. The okra and ridge gourd needs to be roasted while the potato and tomato needs to be boiled. The rest of the method is the same.

2) Mushroom Haldi Pani (Mushroom in Turmeric Water)

For three servings, you will need:
Mushroom – 200 gram, as available in one packet
Onion – 1, medium sized
Garlic – 6, medium sized pods
Mustard oil – 1 tsp+
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Turmeric – Two pinches
Salt – As per taste
Amchur powder or Tomato – 1 tsp or one small, respectively

Preparation: Piece the mushrooms and onions into small cubes. Crush the garlic. Heat 1 tsp mustard oil. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the onion, garlic, one pinch turmeric, salt, and mushrooms. Cover and sauté until all ingredients are soft. Add two cups of water and bring to boil. Add another pinch of turmeric and amchur powder (or finely chopped tomato). Boil for 5 minutes. Add a few drops of mustard oil as per taste and remove from fire. Mushroom Haldi Pani is ready. You can serve it either as a standalone soup, and/or with steamed rice or toasts to make a full meal. Mushroom Haldi Pani originates from the Puri district in Orissa.  

3) Saaga Mooga (Green Leaves in Green Gram de-skinned and split)

For four servings, you will need:
Drumstick or Methi (fenugreek) or Mooli (radish) leaves – Two bundles
Garlic – 6, medium sized pods
Moong dal – ¼ cup
Salt – As per taste
Mustard oil – 1 tbsp
Panch phoron – ½ tsp (Please check the Bengali vegan recipe post for notes on the panch phoron by clicking this link.) 
Green chilli – 1-2, as per taste

Preparation: Clean methi leaves and keep aside. Boil the moong dal with salt in a pressure cooker removing from fire just before the first whistle and keep aside. Heat mustard oil. Add panch phoron, crushed garlic, and green chilli. Add the methi leaves and cook until it is 75% done. Add the boiled moong dal and cook fully. Saaga Mooga is ready to be served. This dish is relished across Orissa. You can follow the same method of preparation using drumstick or radish leaves; however, the natives swear by the drumstick leaf preparation!

4) Chawala Chuna Bhaja (Shallow Fried Vegetables in Rice Powder)

For four servings, you will need:
Kantola – 5, medium sized
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Salt – As per taste
Any white oil – 2 tbsp
Rice + jeera + dry red chilli mix – 2 tbsp (In proportion of 50:25:25. You can make this mixture in a slightly larger quantity and store for at least 6 months.)

Preparation: Piece the kantola into thin disc-shaped slices. Steam kantola with turmeric and salt in half cup water until it is 50% cooked and keep aside. Soak and dry the rice (you can soak the rice and keep it to dry overnight). Coarsely grind the rice with roasted jeera and dry red chilli. Heat any white oil. Shallow-fry the kantola. Add the rice + jeera + dry red chilli mixture. Remove from fire when the preparation turns slightly red and the texture is crispy. Chawala Chuna Bhaja is ready. This dish represents the Puri-Bhubneswar style of cooking. Kantola can also be substituted with karela (bitter gourd).

5) Khatta (Translated means “sour”)

For five servings, you will need:
Tomato – 6, medium sized
Any white oil – 1 tbsp
Panch phoron – ½ tsp
Green chilli – 1
Dry red chilli – 1
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Curry leaves – As per taste
Dates – 10
Green peas – ¼ cup
Jaggery – 100 grams

Preparation: Piece the tomatoes into medium-sized cubes and keep aside. Heat any white oil. Add panch phoron, green chilli, dry red chilli, asafoetida, and curry leaves. Add the tomato, dates, and green peas. Cook until all ingredients are soft. Add jaggery and cook until each ingredient has blended with the other. Add one cup water and simmer for 5 minutes. Khatta is ready to be served. Khatta is a universal phenomenon in Orissa.

6) Dalma (Oriya Dal)

For six servings, you will need:
Arbi (colocasia) – 4, medium sized
Potato – 1, medium sized
Parval (pointed gourd) – 2, medium sized
Barbati (long beans) – 4
Mooli (radish) – 1, medium sized
Raw banana – ½ of a medium sized one
Arhar (thoor) dal – ½ cup
Salt – As per taste
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Grated fresh coconut – 3 tbsp or as per taste
Any white oil – 1 tbsp
Jeera – ½ tsp
Dry red chilli – 1

Preparation: Piece the vegetables: arbi, potato, parval, barbati, mooli, and raw banana in long, big parts. Pressure cook the vegetables with arhar dal, salt, and turmeric with 2 whistles. Keep until all the steam is out. Add the grated coconut into the pressure cooker and keep aside. Heat any white oil. Add jeera and dry red chilli. Let them splutter. Add the boiled vegetables and dal. Dalma is ready to be served. Dalma is the traditional Oriya dal recipe. You can include kathal (jackfruit) too.

7) Chuda Ghasa (Powdered Rice Flakes Mixture)

You will need:
Rice flakes – 1 kg, thick variety
Grated fresh coconut – 2, big sized
Powdered jaggery – ½ kg
Camphor – 1 pinch
Cardamom – 2
Black pepper – 8

Preparation: Coarsely grind the rice flakes and add the following ingredients to it: grated fresh coconut, powdered jaggery, and camphor. Mix, rubbing all ingredients together until you get a homogenous consistency, or until you can no longer tell individual ingredients apart. Coarsely powder the cardamom and black pepper and lightly add them to the mixture. Chuda Ghasa is ready. Chuda Ghasa is a preparation that originates from the coastal area of Orissa. Traditionally, preparing Chuda Ghasa is a community activity where women sit around banana leaves mixing the concoction to perfection. It is made in large quantities and offered to the Gods because the preparation is raw or uncooked and nutritious as well. Chuda Ghasa is offered to Lord Ganesha on this holy day in Orissa.

Happy Ganesh Chaturthi, Everyone!

“Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test, consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.” ~Milan Kundera, Author, The Unbearable Lightness of Being~