Ganesh puja officially means the start of the festive season in India and also the countdown to Durga Puja for Bengalis.
It is celebrated with much fervour in Maharashtra ... for ten whole days.
And for us, the common citizens, it means staying shut in the house, not being able to venture into the old city side for chores or errands, erratic traffic on the roads due to pandals dug up everywhere ... that stretch into the middle of the road and worse of all .... having to put up with loud speakers blaring out the most inane songs of Bollywood.
I dread these few days like the plague and mentally will them to move farther and farther away.
But that does not work.
On the first day we woke early, to an ear splitting "Main nagin to sapera ...." and " dushman ki jo vaat lauli ...." from the slum nearby.
Combined with the dhol beating.
Nothing cultural or rythmic about it .... just a few kids beating the dhol right and left to create a noise that is meant to go beyond the loud songs playing.
The torture has started.
I immediately had a vision of what was happening in Kailash at that moment.
A tearful little Ganeshji hiding behind Parvati, bawling " I don't want to go; please don't make me go ...." while a very worried Shiva and Parvati wonder how to save him from the forthcoming ten days.
The following days see us in different levels of discomfort.
From trying to play the tv to drown the noise from outside .... very very bad idea ...., to looking up places outside the city to go and spend the rest of the week .... not at all feasible.
So all we can do is to soothe ourselves by counting the number of days left to Anant chaturdashi ... the bidding of goodbye to Ganesha and immersion.
And wait when the clock will strike 10:00 in the night .... the permissible time limit for the blaring loudspeakers.
But that is not to be.
Saw the papers this morning .... the pandals have got an extension to the permissible time .... it will be 12:30 in the night before they turn off the music / noise.
I wait with hope that there will be a miracle.
Meanwhile let me share with you this very rustic dal from the land of Punjab.
I did not eat it in Punjab the first time, but much before that ... in Rajasthan. We have enjoyed this with some rustic open air baked batis during our extensive trips all over Rajasthan.
It is also made regularly at my in laws' place.
Since Mum in law does not eat garlic, she often makes it with onions and ginger ... I am yet to try that version.
Thick, heavy and packed with flavours, this Maah ki dal is very different from the Punjabi Dal makhni.
While both are slow cooked dals, this Maah chole di dal is made from split Urid dal and is paired with the Bengal gram or the Chana dal.
This dal is served regularly in langars or sit down meals in Gurudwaras and hence has got the name of Langarwali dal.
I remember the flavour of this dal at the langar in the Golden temple in Amritsar ... very basic tempering and has that beautiful flavour of slow cooked dal.
I do not add tomatoes .... if you are a long follower of this blog, you will know how little I use them .... or any garam masala powder.
The garlic and ginger give it that punch that is so typical of Punjabi dals.
For best results, do soak the dals overnight and cook in an open, deep pan.
You can use a pressure cooker too ... but you have to be careful not to cook them to a mush.
Here is how I make it.
Split Urid dal - 1 cup
Chana dal or Bengal gram dal - ½ cup
Garlic - 10 fat cloves, chopped
Ginger - size of a thumb, sliced thinly
Fresh green chillies - 3 to 4, chopped
Turmeric / Haldi powder - a pinch ... not too much
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Ghee - 1 tsp ( you can use cooking oil too )
Salt - to taste
Water - around 3 cups
How to :
Wash both dals separately and soak for around 4 hours.
For convenience, I soak them overnight.
Cook in a pressure cooker with a little haldi powder + salt for 1 whistle on low heat.
If the dals are not soaked, then cook them for 2 whistles on low heat.
Wait till pressure releases on its own.
Remove cover and stir the dal around a little with a spatula.
Heat a heavy pan or a kadahi.
Add the jeera.
When it starts to sizzle, add the chopped garlic + ginger + green chillies.
Fry on low heat till the raw smell goes away and the garlic starts to brown.
Add the cooked dal, red chilli powder + salt + water.
Adjust salt if needed.
Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and cover.
This goes very well with steaming hot rice with an extra dollop of ghee on it too.
Takes the meaning of 'dal chawal' to another level completely.
I had paired this with rotis along with some tindaa and kale chane ki sabzi for a vegetarian lunch that day.