Change is a good thing, but some changes make me sad. When I was a child, Onam was a festival that brought a lot of joy.....we used to pluck flowers from our garden....it didn't matter which flowers we used....all that mattered is that we got up early, plucked flowers, washed the front yard and decorated it with flowers. Even when we had pookkalam competitions in school, most of us used flowers that grew in our homes. The sadya was cooked at home and enjoyed by the entire family.
These days, not many children are aware of flowers like mukkutti poo and thumba poo. With more and more people living in flats, these flowers have all but disappeared. Onam has become just another reason for stores to offer discounts and grocers to rack up their prices. The commercialization of a festival that is celebrated by all religions and castes saddens me.
To help myself feel better, my pookalam on all 10 days was made of flowers and leaves from the neighbourhood. My ona sadya consisted of some basic dishes that make this season a special one.
Kaalan is one of the dishes that I made. You don't have to wait for Onam to make kaalan. Any time you have a lot of curd left over, you can turn it into this delicious dish.
What you need:
Thick,sour Curd - 3 cups
Turmeric powder – 1/2tsp
Black pepper powder – to taste
Yam –1/3 cup, peeled, cut into pieces, cooked and drained of water
Coconut – 1/2 cup, grated
Green chilli – 1 or 2
Beat curd well without lumps. Add turmeric pwd,salt and pepper to it and let it boil on low flame until all the moisture evaporates and it is reduced to an almost solid consistency.
This can be stored in the refrigerator for upto a month.
On the day you want to make kaalan, take the required amount of the stored mixture. Add cooked yam to it. Grind coconut and green chillies to make a smooth paste. Mix it in. Boil for a few minutes.
Heat a tsp of coconut oil. Add broken red chilli, mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the seeds pop, add methi seeds and remove from heat. Pour this over kaalan.
This can be eaten mixed with rice, or as a side dish.
The quantities given are approximate, as I did not measure the ingredients. Please use your judgement.
The more sour the curd, the better the kaalan will taste.
Plantain can be used instead of or along with yam in this recipe.