Ganesha Banda,Kai Kadabu thinda,Chikkereli bidda,Doddakereli yedda
From time immemorial, this exquisite rhyme has been heard often on the lips of young ones and the elderly, heralding the onset of a festival that is celebrated in all its gaiety and fervour and as a public festival in Karnataka. Falling on our ears like aromatic notes and tickling the palate, it awakens the sensory nerves especially the taste buds of children who wait once a year to take part not only in the festivities but also savour the ethnic, traditional cuisine that is unique to Ganesha Chaturthi.
Recalling the good, olden days, Annapurnamma, now in her eighties, says, “All the sweet dishes and cuisine pertaining to this festival used to be prepared in the traditional manner using the best of the ingredients and raw materials sourced from our own gardens.
However, nowadays it is the modern way of preparation, cooking on gas stoves and using food processors. Now, everything is grounded and mixed mechanically with the result, the unique sweets loses its pungent flavour. But even today, I prepare the sweets for my grandchildren and the neighbourhood children on the traditional chulla and everybody loves the taste of modakas, kajjayas, holiges and of course, the sweet and khara kadabus.”
Kargadbu: One can’t forget the sweet memories of childhood when one literally hogged Kargadbu (as known in Bangalore/Mysore region) or Karjikayi (Mangalore/Udupi region) which is usually deep fried or steam cooked with fillings ranging from desiccated coconut or dry copra with sugar or jaggery depending on the regional taste. In fact, this is a must for this festival as the offering is kept next to the idol of Ganesha for the pooja.
This time despite the spiralling prices of each and every item be it coconut, jaggery, sugar, dals, til seeds, flour, dry fruits, fruits and vegetables, people are thronging the markets to make their last minute purchases to prepare the best of the sweets and savouries for the Ganesha Habba.
Some people make the preparations a little bit early before the Gowri pooja, while some do it on the D-day itself. All the items prepared for offering to the elephant God are done following a strict regimen and ritualistic practices.
Modakas: It is a sweet dumpling prepared in south and western parts of India. Believed to be a favourite of Lord Ganesha, an offering of modakas is made to the deity on Ganesh Chaturthi day as prasada. Very tasty if prepared in the traditional way.
Preparing the batter is a little bit difficult but if one is used to it, it comes out very fluffy and delicious. The steamed modakas with various fillings like cococut, groundnut, sesame, khus khus is one of the varieties that is usually prepared and offered to the god depending on the traditions followed by a family. However, modakas have gone modern today. New fangled varieties like the peda modak, paneer modak, mawa modak, malai modak and even chocolate modak have evolved over the years with people getting innovative and coming out with different kind of fillings.
Other sweets that are prepared during this festival are : Kajjaya which is nothing but rice and jaggery fritters deep fried, Obattu or Holige which is nothing but plain, flat stuffed bread or pancakes with fillings varying from region to region like the filling is peanuts and jaggery in north Karnataka while it is coconut and jaggery in south Karnataka and sometimes , it is also sugar and coconut. Payasa is a must for any festival and Ganesha Habba, all varities and combinations are prepared that is jaggery or sugar based mixed with different variations like dal, khus khus, vermicilli or sabbakki.