Friday, January 2, 2009

A Wedding Meal which is not a Feast

During the different ceremonies and feasts which part of a wedding in eastern Uttar Pradesh (largest Indian province located in the north of India), is the lunch on wedding day. This meal stands out as it remains similar for most weddings in a community irrespective of their financial status

When the groom-to-be sits down with four other bachelors for this meal in a plate made of dried leaves pinned together with twigs, the simplicity stands in stark contrast to the evening's feast. In the evening he will be a ‘nausha’ (abbreviation of ‘nau shah’ meaning ‘new king’), with expensive embroidered clothes to wear, horse to ride on or a decorated vehicle to drive-in, and a grand multi-cuisine spread for dinner. But this feast has become far removed from tradition and has turned into a grand extravaganza which follows the fashion of the season. The spread is representative of financial status of the hosts rather than culture and history.

On the contrary, this lunch on wedding day has three basic dishes on the menu made from (relatively) inexpensive ingredients –

moochhi : a curry similar to the more popular kadhi-pakaudi, but 5-6mm. thick and couple of inches long fried gram-flour sticks rather than the pakaudi-dumplings

fulauri – this is similar to the dahi-vada but the vadas (fried urad-dal dumplings) are soaked in butter milk rather than yoghurt

matar ki dal – while toor/arahar is most common lentil, with moong or split gram (chana dal) also popular, the dal for this meal is made from split peas

All these are eaten with rice, along with vegetable curries which may vary based on season but would not include more expensive ingredients like paneer (Indian cottage cheese).

A look at the plate would show how little attention is paid to color coordinating the dishes and organizing the courses – it is a simple, rustic meal but which ensures that for a meal even the ‘new king’ becomes one with the larger masses.

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