I'm an ignoramus when it comes to the philosophical complexities of mythology, but the fact is that all these parables are completely applicable to social life as well as the laws of nature, provided you have the fortune of having it interpreted from various frames of reference. If not, all they will remain as, are tales to be amused by for an hour or two before dissipating from the cerebral cortex without ever having the fortune of getting registered as a memory. Even worse, if interpreted by someone with their own personal egoistic agenda, you're finished, what could have been a learning experience turns into a roiling puddle of fear that has the potential to turn into a cesspool of ignorance and hate.
And so it is with these nine days of 'Navratri'. To me it represents the spirit and valor of the feminine aspect of nature, the same force that drives a girl to defend herself tooth and nail against those who seek to strip her of her dignity, a mother who would go to any lengths to protect and nurture her offspring, a wife who willingly takes a back seat supporting her spouses career ambitions as well as those women who give it their all to 'lean in'.
As with every mission that ends in success (whether its a victory over demons, or simply a difficult Anatomy test , -- which was my Achilles heel, I just couldn't remember which muscle originated from / inserted into which bone, leave alone where it got its blood & nerve supply from! ), there needs to be a 'cooling off' to rest and recharge and the last day of Navratri represent just that. It is observed in Southern India as 'Saraswathy puja' where books and other 'tools of the trade' are worshiped and given a day of rest. As the saying goes.. 'Tomorrows another day', a day for new beginnings and endeavors that hopefully brings us success in whatever we're seeking.
Badam Kheer (Almond dessert soup with Saffron)
1 cup raw almonds
4 -5 cups reduced fat milk
3/4 -1 cup sugar
3 - 4 pods cardamom, seeds crushed
18 - 20 strands saffron
2 tablespoons pistachios crushed (optional)
Blanch the almonds by dropping them in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Shock them by immersing in cold water and then proceed to squeeze out the loosened skin. Add 1/2 a cup of milk (or more, if you prefer) to the almonds and blend them to a smooth puree. Warm up another 1/2 a cup of milk (until its acceptably warm to the finger tip) and soak the strands of saffron to release their color and flavor.
Whisk in the almond puree, the remaining milk, 3/4 cup sugar and the crushed cardamom together. In a large saucepan, heat the mixture on low heat until it begins to simmer, Add the saffron infused milk and taste it at this point to check if its sweet enough. If not add in as per your preference. If you prefer having s bit of crunchy texture, add in the crushed pistachios. They add a pleasant color contrast. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes until the pistachios have softened slightly. Ladle into glasses, or bowls or goblets or mugs and sip away!
Not sure if I should repeat the recipe for my 10th consecutive Stir fry, but here goes
Peanut Stir Fry
1 cup skinned raw peanuts
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 arbol chile, broken into 2 pieces
1 sprig curry leaves
Salt to taste,
1/4 teaspoon turmeric,
Lime juice for drizzling over
Boil the peanuts with the turmeric and salt until they soften and and have a yielding 'bite'. Drain and set aside. If you've added too much salt, rinse the peanuts and drain off the water thoroughly.
In a cast iron skillet, heat the oil (remember the peanut is oily, so cut down on the added stuff) and add the cumin, curry leaf and arbol chili pieces. Once the cumin pops and the arbol chile turns a deep reddish brown, add the peanuts and give it a good stir. Lower the heat and cover the skillet and allow the flavors to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Transfer to a serving dish and add the lime juice just prior to serving. Serve warm.
Tomorrow is the day for new beginings, - Vijaya Dashami or the day of victory. Planning to serve up some Semolina pudding (Rava Kesari) and a Navy bean stir fry.