Sunday, January 6, 2013

A tale of Lord Jagannatha and Dahi (Curd / Yoghurt)

A very famous story about lord Jagannath (like all his stories) is related to Dahi (Curd or Yoghurt).  Interested? Here goes the story and then a delicious Odiya recipe using yoghurt and egg-plants which is an inseparable dish in every Odiya kitchen.

The Story:

The tale is from a time in Odisha, more than 600 years ago. Gajapati (King Of Puri) Shri Purushottama Deba was to be married to princess Padvmavati of Kanchi. 

Every year, Lord Jagannatha has his car festival wherein he, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra ride their respective chariots to go and visit their maternal aunt's place. Before the chariots start out for the trip, Gajapati comes and cleans them with his broom which was made of silver bristles and a gold handle. When the king of Kanchi heard that the king of Puri (Gajapati) brooms, he got furious and said "Chaandala haatare mu jhia debi nahi" {Meaning, I will not wed my beloved daughter to a man who brooms chariots}. Gajapati could not take this insult. He immediately declared war on Kanchi. 

On the way from Puri to Kanchi, there is small village called Aadipur, where a poor milk-maid (Maanika)was selling cool and refreshing yoghurt to travelers. This was her only way to earn money. The day before the war, she saw two soldiers, one on a white horse and one on a black horse were passing by. They bought some yoghurt from her but did not have the money  to pay her. So the soldier on the white horse gave her a ring and said "We do not have money, but only this ring. Gajapti is coming behind us. When he comes here, show him this ring and he will pay you your whole money". 

The milk-maid accepted the ring and waited for Gajapati to come. When Gajapati came, she gave him the ring and explained the situation. That ring was no ordinary ring. It was Lord Jagannatha's and the soldiers on the horse were none other than Shri Jagannatha himself and his elder brother Lord Balabhadra. Gajapati could recognise the ring at once as Lord Shri Jagannatha's very own stone-studded ring. After seeing the ring, Gajapati realized that, Lord Shri Jagannatha is on his side for the war. He was so happy that instead of a little money that Lord Jagannatha owed to the milk-maid, he gifted her the whole village of Aadipur. After that day, Aadipur is also known as "Maanika-Patana" (Meaning, where the milk-maid stays).

Now off to the dish that I promised earlier. Dahi Baigana, is a favorite Odiya dish. Its always made at weddings and summer lunches where there is fried rice and mutton curry. Yoghurt is very cooling, so having this dish with rich food is good for the food-intaker (thats you..silly !!).

Here is what we use...

  • Egg-Plant (the longer ones taste the best.. according to me) cut into long pieces
  • 1 small red onion sliced thin
  • Few curry leaves
  • 1 cup plain yoghurt
  • 1 table spoon sugar
  • 3-4 green chillies slit through length
  • salt to taste
  • Oil for deep frying the egg-plants

Here's how we make it...

  • Deep fry the egg-plant and keep them aside. While frying, ensure that it does not get burnt. Fry on low flame.
  • If you are worried about deep fried stuff.. lay the fried egg-plants on tissue paper.
  • Now, add yoghurt, a little water, sugar, salt and mix well.
  • In a small pan, heat some oil (may be 1 or 2 tea spoons).
  • When oil is hot, splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves and then add the onions.
  • Fry the onions till they are pink and translucent. Take care that they do not turn brown. They should still be crunchy.
  • Now add the onions into the yoghurt mixture and mix well.
  • Finally add the egg-plants to the yoghurt mixture and mix everything well.

Note that we do not cook the yoghurt. Just mix and serve. :)

Whenever there is a potluck, the most lazy person picks the yoghurt accompaniment called Raita. :)
At least thats what my friends think. So I decided to make a better yoghurt dish and prove that bringing Raita to a potluck does not mean you are lazy. Just means, there are more things that can be done with Yoghurt and Egg Plant. LOL.

Enjoy !!

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