Navarati, literally translates to ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit with ‘nava’ meaning nine and ‘ratri’ meaning night; these nine nights and 10 days are dedicated to fasting and worship of the nine avatars of the Durga goddess by Hindus all over India. There is fasting and feasting accompanied by the popular dandia dance and flowing jeweled dresses with bangles and flowers adorning the Devi as well as the womenfolk! The 10th day is a major festival called Dussehra or Dasera, depending on which part of India you are from…
The Navaratri period is a very busy time of the year, especially for the woman of the house, as special vegetarian dishes made of restricted type of cereals and ingredients can be prepared and consumed only.
In south Indian homes, ‘Golus’ are set up and form an integral part of the festival; wooden planks are arranged in a stepwise manner and dolls or idols depicting gods and goddesses are displayed. People visit each other and are offered the special dishes prepared for these nine nights.
Thakkali-sadam or south Indian-style tomato rice is one of the dishes offered and is prepared without the use of onion or garlic. Aside from being served on these festival days, this dish is great as a lunchbox item for your school-going kids or even as a dish to travel with, in case you don’t want to take the risk of eating outside food.
Here is the recipe for this easy to prepare dish.
Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 25 mins
Rice – 2 cups
Tomatoes – 4 large, chopped
Green chillies – 4, julienned
Coriander leaves -2tbs, chopped
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Chilli powder – 1tsp
Garam masala – ½ tsp (optional)
Salt – to taste
For Tempering: Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Urad dal – ½ tsp
Channa dal – 2 tsp
Dry red chillies – 2
Oil – as needed
Wash the basmati rice and cook with salt and a little oil to keep the grains separated. Keep aside.
Then take a deep wok, and heat little oil before adding all the seeds and allowing them to splutter. Next add the dry red chillies too. Then add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies and allow them to soften, stirring gently. Add a little salt to complement the salt added into the cooked rice, along with the spices in powder form. Continue stirring on a low flame till the ingredients thicken into an aromatic semi-gravy form.
Finally add the chopped coriander leaves and put off the fire. Allow it to cool a little before folding in gently into the cooked rice. A little oil or ghee might be of help to the first-timer here. Allow it to stand for about 10mins before dishing up!