Celebrating with Food

St Mary's Feast

Tuesday, September 15, 2009Me! In words

The St Mary's feast on September 8th each year is the only vegetarian feast I have come across for us Roman Catholics from Mangalore. This year too, I was in Mangalore for the feast. Part of the tradition dictates that we get freshly harvested stalks of rice from the church where it is blessed. And also sugarcane which is distributed to the children who had come for the 8-days of flower throwing custom that we have each year at the church.

Rice grains have to be taken out of the stalk - one for each member of the family present for the festive lunch. This has to be out into a sweet that is made of coconut milk. After a prayer, the head of the family feeds each member a grain alongwith a spoonful of the sweet.

Coconut milk sweet with the grains of rice

On this day, there is an odd number of vegetables made for lunch. It should be 3 or 5 or 7 or 9 and so on. And so this is what was laid out on our table this St Mary's feast.

The coconut milk sweet with the rice grains to start of the meal. This is actually a payasam and sorts but has a very watery consistency. Nevertheless it is yummy. It is also eaten as an accompaniment to sannas (the mangalorean version of idlis but much softer) and shevyo (also known as semige or shavige depending on where you are from)

Next comes the cucumber pachadi, which is a salad with slices of cucumber in a coconut/green chilli/curd marinade and with spices. This is one dish I can generally demolish without batting an eyelid. It is also one that has a very short lifespan thanks to the curd and coconut.

Cucumber pachadi

There was also a gravy of brown channa. Again coconut based and tempered with curry leaves and mustard. I love the way mom makes it with the chana being soft as cotton.

Brown channa

Another must-have gravy is the sprouted moong with collocasia stems. Here too the coconut gravy and the soft moong taste fabulous with sannas or shevyo.

Moong curry

Every year for dad's sake there is a karela dish. And I must confess that all these years gone by, I have yet to taste even a morsel of it. No matter how you disguise karela you can't really get it down my throat.


As accompaniments we had the sannas, shevyo and good old boiled rice.

Soft sannas

Freshly pressed shevyo

Boiled white rice

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