Ganesh Chaturthi: From Modak to Payasam; range of lip-smacking delicacies
It is that time of the year when big pandals are erected and grand idols of Ganesha are installed while people gear up to welcome into their homes 'Bappa', the elephant God during the Ganesh Chaturthi festival.
The 10-day annual festival, which marks the birthday of Lord Ganesha is celebrated with much fervour across western and southern India. This year, Ganesh Chaturthi falls on September 2 and Visarjan will take place on September 12.
As no festival is complete without scrumptious food and delectable sweets, for Ganesh Chaturthi too devotees prepare a variety of lip-smacking delicacies to offer to the benevolent God.
The savouries prepared during this 10-day long extravaganza vary from one region to another.
People in Maharashtra who celebrate the festival on a much grander scale are known for preparing elaborate meals and offerings for the occasion. "We prepare new bhog every day. On the fifth day of the festival a total of 51 dishes are prepared," says Shweta Patil who hails from the state.
While Maharashtrians stick to traditional recipes, North Indian offerings are slightly different. Nidhi Sidhana, who hails from Punjab says, "Apart from modak, we offer lassi, pakora, and no-onion, no-garlic chola bhatura to lord Ganesha."
Monica Bachchan who is married into a south Indian family believes that anything that is less spicy and easy to digest can be offered to Ganesh. "The offerings need not necessarily be sweet. Even foods which are bland can be offered to God," she says.
As dishes differ across regions, we enlist top 10 traditional foods that are offered to Ganesh during the festival.
Given the fondness of Ganesh for modaks, this comes as no surprise. It is the most popular delicacy that is offered to him across regions. Made from flour, jaggery and coconut, modaks are available at every sweet shop and one can buy varieties of these humble dumpling. "On Ganesh Chaturthi, we focus on modak. We prepare a variety of modaks including chocolate, kesar, kaju, motichoor and khoya modak," says Ramesh Sharma, Haldirams.
It is another common offering that is prepared to please God on this festival. Made from semolina and sugar it is typically prepared in two flavours- banana and pineapple.
A traditional Maharashtrian dish, Puran Poli is flatbread stuffed with lentils and jaggery which is commonly offered to God in the state.
Another favourite sweet of Ganesh, Motichoor Laddoo is a popular offering with many shops stocking the delicious sweet. "Besides, modak we prepare motichoor laddoo for the festival," says Vikas Madan, Sant Sweets.
The delectable combo consists of crispy puri made from refined flour and a sweet dish prepared from strained yoghurt topped with nuts.
This festive treat is a deep-fried snack prepared with sabudana and potatoes along with spices and roasted peanuts.
Another Maharashtrian savoury, Kothimbir Vadi is crisp fritter made from gram flour, coriander and spices. This is also a favourite offering among devotees.
One of the most popular delicacies Satori is offered to Ganesha in Maharashtra. It is made up of khoya, clarified butter, gram flour, and milk.
Made with a dollop of ghee, semolina, yellow split gram and delicious topping, this south Indian snack is offered to Ganesh as bhog.
Another south Indian delicacy, payasam is a kheer made from rice cooked in milk, jaggery, coconut and garnished with lots of dry fruits. This traditional sweet is a hit among devotees from the southern part of India.
The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi is indeed a gastronomical delight with new delicacies prepared every day. However, it is the zeal and the love of devotees for the lord Ganesh which makes this festival popular across the country.