Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tanjore Maratha Cereal - Lentil recipes

Tanjore soon became the second home of Marathis. Like the Saurashtrians of Madurai, Marathis of Tanjore were embraced by locals. Their rule was considered benevolent and their food, rituals and vocabulary were absorbed into Tamil culture. The Katha Kaalakshepam ( Religious Story telling) , Poikkal Kuthirai Aattam (Horse dance), their style of paintings (Tanjore paintings), their technique of embossing/ etching bronze plates ( thanjavur thattu) were all gleefully amalgamated. Dishes like puran poli, sambar, rasa vangi, dangar etc are now traditional tamil recipes.

This amalgamation came at a price. Their language, culture and cuisine became so altered that they lost touch with their roots. (In fact, Tanjore marathis would hesitate to speak Marathi before a Maharashtrian for fear of being ridiculed !) This alone might not have been serious. But almost overnight, they were downgraded from rulers and large landowners to commoners, forced to earn their living. Some coped by rising as eminent administrators, but as a whole, the community suffered, dwindling from a peak of 250,000 to less than 500 today!

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Okay, let me start from the very beginning. 1500 crore years ago, with a Big Bang, the Universe is born. It expands dramatically. Hydrogen forms, contracts under gravity and lights up, forming stars. Some stars explode, dusting space with the building blocks of life. These condense into planets, one of which is Earth. Over time, self replicating molecules appear, multiply and become more complex. They create elaborate survival machines (cells, plants, animals). A variety of lifeforms evolve. Soon, humans arise, discover fire, invent language, agriculture and religion. Civilisations rise and fall. Alexander marches into India. Moguls establish an empire. Britain follows. Independence. Partition. Bloodshed. The license raj is in full sway. I'm born. India struggles to find its place. Liberalisation. The Internet arrives! I move from Tirupur to Chennai. Start a company. Expand into Malaysia, Singapore and the Middle East. Poof! Dot com bust. Funding dries up. Struggle. Retire. Discover the joy of cooking, giving, friendships and the pleasures of a simple life. Life seems less complicated. Pizza Republic, Pita Bite and Bhojan Express bloom !

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