Hindu Temple of Colorado, Sheep's Eyes and Carrot Salad

Not much in common, those three things in the title of this post. But I was never well-known for being relevant!

After having the Lemont Temple become an integral part of our lives, I was disappointed to learn that the nearest Hindu Temple was over an hour away in Littleton, Colorado. But we made the trip in any case last month. As we approached the temple, my husband asked me to look around for it but there was no temple in sight. At least not anything that looked even remotely like a temple. The Hindu Temple of Colorado looks nothing like the photos on their web site. Those are all pictures of temples in India and I find that rather misleading. The temple is actually a simple unassuming building off South Wadsworth Boulevard in Littleton. The pictures below are what it really looks like.

Hindu Temple of Colorado
It's a charming temple with one large hall in which all the idols and deities are worshipped. The Acharyaji has a very soothing voice and it's a treat to listen to someone who can really sing as opposed to someone who thinks they can sing. I say that because in Chicagoland there were more of the latter than the former!

There is a Bal Vihar every Sunday from 10 am to 11 am in the basement, where Acharyaji teaches religion as well as the Hindi varnamala. He then leads a puja sponsored by a local family in the main hall upstairs. Anyone can sponsor the puja. The sponsor makes a donation of whatever amount they wish and organizes lunch for that day. By 1 pm, everyone comes back down and settles down on white sheets that are spread out in the area where the Bal Vihar is held. You sit knee to knee (and sometimes even very large thigh over your knee) in close proximity with people you've never met before. Very soon bowls of sheera or some special prasad are passed out. You keep passing it on to the person next to you until everyone down the line from you has a bowl in hand. Then come the plates stacked with food. It's kind of tricky passing these down and I was amazed that there weren't any mishaps.

When we went there were at least 200 people because the puja had been sponsored by someone who was rather popular and it also happened to be the day that most people who don't come to the temple decided to put in an appearance. Apparently it isn't this crowded on most Sundays. It was what I would call a total community experience. I think it was very good for my daughter. The food was free, courtesy of the sponsor and it's quite amazing how they manage to feed everyone even though they don't know how many people will show up.

We'll probably go to this temple only once a month as it's a little far for us. I won't do the lunch again even though I think it's a great lesson in community for my daughter. Some of the people were there just for the food and I found the attitudes a little disgusting. I can't understand why "free food" makes people lose all sense of propriety and behave like they have never seen food before.

The temple is about 10 years old and the trustees are looking for an alternate site where they can build a temple that looks like a temple. They are seeking involvement from Hindus in the Denver area in whatever way possible. So if you live in the Denver area and are willing to get involved, the Hindu Temple of Colorado will welcome you with open arms. The Calendar of Events has their address and phone number as well as that of Acharyaji.

Carrot Salad tossed with peanuts

Gajjarachi koshimbir

  • 3-5 medium size carrots, grated
  • 1/3 cup uncooked peanuts
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • pinch asafoetida or hing
  • 1 dried red chilli, broken in two pieces or 2 hot green chiles
  • 1/2 tsp of urad dal
  • 3-4 kadipatta leaves
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • dash of lime
  • salt to taste
  • A few cilantro leaves, chopped
Carrot Salad tossed with peanuts

  1. Put the grated carrots in a serving bowl
  2. Roast the peanuts using your preferred method. I do it in the microwave in two 1-minute sessions.
  3. Allow the peanuts to cool and then husk them to get rid of the outer skin
  4. Pound the peanuts to a coarse powder using a mortar and pestle. I let large chunks of peanuts remain instead of slaving over it to bring it to a powder of same consistency.
  5. Put the peanuts in the serving bowl on top of the carrots
  6. Heat the oil
  7. Add the mustard seeds and when they start spluttering or crackling, add the hing
  8. Add the red chilli and kadipatta leaves and turn the gas off. The oil tends to splatter all over the stove during this step so it helps to have a lid handy to keep the clean-up down to a minimum.
  9. Add the urad dal and allow it to sit for a while in the oil to get nice and crunchy but watch that the red chilli does not get burnt in the process.
  10. Pour this oil over the peanuts
  11. Add the sugar, salt and dash of lime and mix everything together.
  12. Garnish with chopped cilantro and your gajjarachi koshimbir is ready!

This can be served as soon as it is made or it can be chilled and served cold. I prefer it chilled.

What was that about the Sheep's Eye, you ask? No I didn't forget! My 7 year old dissected a sheep's eye in her school yesterday. She identified the iris, the cornea, the schlera, the vitreous body, the lens and the optic nerve. She doesn't much care for the little boy who sits next to her and she was quite delighted when he got grossed out and refused to go anywhere near the sheep's eye. She chose not to wear gloves, much to the distress of a certain doctor in New Jersey who had waxed galore about the dangers of not wearing gloves during such an experiment.

During dinner, my daughter announced that her piano teacher asked her whether she had washed her hands today. My antennae went up and I remembered the wise doctor's words.
Me: Well? Had you?
Her: Yes! Mrs. Wilson washed all our hands. But there was so much black stuff that it wouldn't wash off and look it's still there under my nails!
Me, leaping into the air: We need to go to the bathroom now!

I washed her little hands in warm water, clipped her nails and kept washng her hands till most of the black stuff was gone. Lord knows what else she ate with those grubby hands. And I hate to think of what the piano teacher thinks of me as a parent!!

4 comments:

Smita said...

Hi Manisha,
After reading your carrot halwa experience on - http://www.anothersubcontinent.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=978&st=60&p=67934&#entry67934

I was wondering if I could find a complete recipe of it on your blog..looked under Indian sweets and Carrots as well but couldn't find it.

If it's there somewhere can you please point it to me? :)

Thanks,
Smita

Manisha said...

Smita, you are in luck! I have a gajjar halwa recipe coming up. It's a modified version of Sue's recipe (the one on AS) and I think I need to make it once more before I can post it with confidence. I hope to make it once more this weekend. Will let you know!

Smita said...

Thank you so much Manisha!!
Looking forward to the recipe.
cheers,
Smita

Swetha said...

hi
i recently came accross your blog and like your blog. i have also started a foodblog recently.keep up your good work and i wish u a very success.

cheers
swethaskitchen.com

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