We celebrate 3 new years. No kidding! A lot of my friends are surprised at this. Ugadi – the new year as per the Hindu calendar for Kannadigas, Puthandu(Varusha Pirappu) – the new year as per Hindu calendar for Tamilians and the usual new year on 1st on Jan. Thats Indian diversity for you!
The new year is an important Hindu festivals marking the start of the hindu calendar.
I was introduced to the tamilian way only after marriage. Fruits, vegetables, grains are offered decorated before the lord, the night before the new year day. The traditional lamp is lit. Early morning, the children wake up to see the decorations signifying an auspicious start to the new year. My little boy enjoyed this little custom and the rest of the day was followed by dozens of questions that arose in his little mind!
Back at my home, Ugadi is celebrated with Bevu Bella preparation. Bevu in Kannada meaning bitter Neem leaves signifying sadness and Bella meaning sweet Jaggery signifying happiness. Such a lovely concept signifying that these elements in life are are sides of the same coin. An elaborate meal is cooked and is first offered to the Lord(Naivedya) during worship.
This new year, I made this Godi Payasa or Huggi which is made of whole spelt grains and jaggery. This dish is synonymous to me with Ugadi as it was for some reason prepared only on that day once a year. My Dodamma(maternal aunt) and ajji(Grandma) prepared it the traditional way on a chulha(cookstove with wood) in the backyard. Back in childhood, myself and my sister werent very keen on this dish. We`d rather be feasting on cakes and candies..Its only now years later…thousands of miles away from home, that I have grown fond of it. Absence does make the heart grow fonder!
Godi Huggi – Godi Payasa – Spelt PuddingYield – about 6-8 servings
Things you need -Spelt – 1 cup, about 150 gms
powdered Jaggery or brown sugar – 2 cups
1 tsp cardamom powder
4-5 cups water
1 cup milk
2 tbsp ghee or clarified butter + a little more for garnish
For garnish - handful dry fruits like cashew nuts, almonds, raisins and saffron , optional
How I made it -
1. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a pan. Add the nuts and raisins and stir until the nuts are golden brown and the raisins are slightly puffed up. Switch off heat and keep aside.
2. Boil the spelt with 4-5 cups of water in a heavy bottomed vessel or pan on medium heat until the spelt garins start to become tender i.e the grains when pressed with a spatula should slightly lose shape. This takes around 20-30 minutes. Feel free to add more water if required.
3. Add the jaggery or brown sugar, cardamom powder and milk and continue to cook for another 15-20 mins stirring occasionally until the jaggery or sugar, milk, spelt has formed a smooth mixture. Note that the spelt grains should be tender enough but not completely mushy.
4. Garnish with the nuts and raisins and serve hot with a tsp of ghee or chilled.