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A Treat To The Taste Buds During Regional New Year In India
Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

by Sudha Mathew

Happy New Year!

India is a land of festivals . I am quite sure there is a celebration on most days of the year in some part of India. But New Year festivals across the world are special for the annual opportunity to take a break and rethink our plans. The same goes for India, in fact the list of regional new year in India is kind of long. The majority population of Hindus follow the Lunar Calendar to mark the New Year. But the actual date depends on other factors like regional traditions and the agricultural cycle. Each region in India has its special food to mark the New Year. Describing the festive spirit in each regional New Year in India within this small space is a Herculean task. So I have divided it into four broad categories: North, East, West, South and have highlighted only the most popular New Year festival foods prepared in each region.

New Year food in Eastern India

The end of the first fortnight of April marks the Bengali New Year. In Bengal, it is referred to as Poila Boishakh. Bengalis being passionate gastronomes, celebrate the fiesta with a grand feast. The platter starts off with the cool and refreshing Aam Pora Sharbat (raw mango juice) and Gondhoraj Lebur Sharbat (Lime Juice mocktail). The starters often see the traditional Moroger Surua (chicken starter) and Pora Tomato Surua (roasted tomato starter). The main course list is long beyond measure. From Aar Macher Jhal (cat fish curry) to Prawn Malai Curry; from Echorer Kaliya (Jackfuit Curry), Chanar Dalna (Paneer), Thakurbarir Dal (Lentils) to Pulao, Luchi (deep fried wheatbreads), Pomfret and Bhetki Paturi (baked fish), Bengali cuisine is a delight for foodies! The menu is incomplete without desserts. Be it Nolen Gurer Sandesh (milk sweets made with date palm molasses), Roasted Rosomalai, Sita Bhog, Dorbesh or the traditionally popular Misti Doi (sweetened yoghurt), the sweet tooth is always pleased at the end of the feast.

New Year Platter In Bengal
The Poila Boishak Platter

Eastern India also has another New Year festival called Bihu or specifically Bohaag Bihu. Celebrated around the same time as Poila Boishakh, this commemorates Assam New Year. Jalpaan is a special food item, indigenous to Assam. Chira Doi (curd and flattened rice), Aakhoi ( roasted Indian corn) Sandahguri (lumps of boiled and parched rice), Gur (unrefined sugar or jaggery) constitutes Jalpaan. Sweets like Pithas (wraps), Naru (balls of grated coconut and jaggery) are also made.

New Year food in North India

The most prominent New Year festival of North India is Vaisakhi or Baisakhi. It is celebrated across the Northern plains, most prominently by the Sikhs in Punjab. This festival marks the establishing of Khalsa. Indulge yourself in traditional Baisakhi food. Achari Mutton (mutton made in tangy curry), Saag Chicken, and the popular Tandoori chicken (chicken roasted in ovens called Tandoor) top the list of meat dishes. Vegetarian food items include Saarson da saag (mustard leaves), Makke di Roti. Pindi Chana. Sweets include Gajar ka Halwa (grated carrot  and sugar), Coconut Laddoo, Dry fruit Kheer.

New Year food in West India

Moving to the west of India, that’s where you will see Indians celebrating Gudi Padwa. Apart from being Maharashtrian New Year, this day also marks the end of the agricultural harvest cycle and marks the beginning of another. If you visit the region during this period of the year, you would experience great enthusiasm, fervor and food. The traditional dishes made to celebrate the New Year festival in Maharashtra are kachoris made from wheat flour, filled with spicy ingredients, Moong Dal (Lentils) with Curd, Toovar ki kachori, Sprouted Gram seeds Usal, Puran Poli and Wheat Chakli. The most popular sweet dish is Shrikhand, a thick dessert made from hung curd similar to icecream.

New Year food in South India

Towards the south of the Vindhya range, the culture changes drastically compared to the region north of the Deccan. Ugadi and Vishu are the major ones. Ugadi is celebrated by the people of Andhra Pradesh and the Karnataka. Ugadi Pachadi is the main dish for the festival. Marking the true spirits of life, joy, sadness, bitterness, surprise, the ingredients are chosen accordingly. Raw mango, neem leaves, Jaggery, chillis are made into a chutney. Apart from this, you can enjoy delicacies like Paramannam or badam halwa, Jaggery Donuts, Boorelu, Chandrakanthalu. There are a wide range of savoury snacks too. Ribbon Murukku, Pappu Chekkalu, Rava Pulihora, Chitranna, Raw Plaintain Fritters, Raw mango rice, the list goes on.

New Year Platter in Kerala
Ugadi Special Dishes

The Kerala New Year is called Vishu. Food plays a pivotal role in the celebration. Kerala is rich in its   legacy of delicious cuisine leavened by historical influences. Breakfast is served with Vishu Kanji or Vishu Katta. Lunch is served on a banana leaf and is called sadya. Olan, Koottu Curry, Kanji, Avial, Kalan, Thoran are some of the traditional dishes served on auspicious occasions such as Vishu. The main thing that stands out from other cuisines is the generous usage of whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon and pepper.

India, true to her diversity, celebrates the start of the Lunar Calender year with fun, frolic and food. The plethora of food served across the country on the New years is mind bogglingly splendid!

Cheers

Sudha

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Have I whetted your appetite? Here are more of my posts on food to feed your mind.

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Picture Courtesy:

Poila Boishak Platter, Wikipedia

Ugadi Platter, Spicing Your Life


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Posted by Sudha at 12:53 pm
2 comments
    Comments ( 2 2)
  • Jaqui Preketes (Australia)

    May 17, 2014

    Hi, Sudha,
    I just love your website! It is informative, with a plethora of excellent hotels, and detailed descriptions of each property. I especially love your blog, and the tidbits of information that could only come from a local such as yourself.
    Wishing you the very best of success with this fabulous business!
    Kindest regards,
    Jaqui Preketes
    (Melbourne, Australia)

  • sudha

    May 21, 2014

    Thanks, Jaqui! We aim to please :)

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Plan to travel to an Indian holiday destination?

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About me

The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell

 

My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.

 

While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

 
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