I am so excited!
Today is Narak Chaturdashi, the day when Narakasur the demon was defeated by Lord Krishna. The triumph of good over evil, yet again! Narak Chaturdashi is typically celebrated as Deepavali in our family.
There would be a race between families in our building to get up at the crack of dawn, get well-oiled by the woman of the house, have an abhyang snaan and rush downstairs to burst the first bomb of the day. As we grew older, we let the kids have that privilege. Who really wanted to get up that early anyway! And if we could have, we would have thrown a bucket of water on that well-scrubbed kid in new clothes who was jumping up and down with glee. We'd get our revenge when it was Holi!
After Abhyang Snaan, my mother would line us all up for a puja. She would make us look into little steel bowls with red water till we saw our face. Then she would give us what we really wanted: an envelope stuffed with money. But before that, we had to break the kaarit with our heel and then taste the bitterness it spewed. It was all very symbolic. To leave behind any bitterness associated with the past, to forgive and move on to a more fulfilling year ahead. We always cheated, we dipped one finger and licked another. But with the whole family watching, we always got caught! Which meant we had to lick the finger we had dipped and do it again properly. The brightly colored, always crisp, Rupee notes in the envelope helped soothe some of that trauma. But the best was what followed, Diwali cha faraal with pohe.
Then we made the rounds, from home to home, wishing everyone a Happy Diwali. At the end of the day, we had eaten several different types of pohe and a zillion variations of faraal. And we returned home with as many packets of faraal. The packet I looked forward to the most was the one from my Pushpamaushi's home. She made chaklis that melted in my mouth, karanjis that had the right amount of sugary sweetness with the goodness of fresh coconut, besan ladus with a hidden gem, a plump manuka, and her chivda was to die for. Memories...
My excitement, however, is about something else. I found two recipes in the deep recesses of my Mother's blue diary for nankhatai! My Mom made the best nankhatai ever and for years, I have been ruing the fact that I don't have her recipe. The instructions are a little vague and there is no mention of what temperature they should be baked at! I am pretty sure that this recipe is from the days when my Mom had a round counter-top electric oven, with a little glass window at the top. It lacked temperature control so whether it was a cake or a nankhatai or flan, they all baked at the same temperature! Since I don't know what that might be, I asked around and looked it up on Google. 375F for 20 minutes seemed to be the most popular suggestion. One batch at this temperature and I was rushing to pull them out within 15 minutes as the bottom had started charring and the cookies looked more brown than golden! They don't look very good but they taste just like nankhatai! The next batch went in at 300F for 30 minutes. They don't look great either but they're done.
Tomorrow, I will try Recipe #2 and see which one is more like the one my Mom used to make. It's entirely possible that she didn't use either of these recipes but since there's no way of knowing that now, we'll be happy with what we do have. Depending on which recipe works out best, I will try to post that with pictures. But I am making no promises!
I am so excited!