India is a land of traditions and rituals. On Sunday, I was invited to lunch by my friend Sunitha. It was the eleventh day ceremony of her granddaughter. Let me share a few on rituals for newborns that are usually performed for every newborn. Every part of India has different rituals for the newborn. In south India on the eleventh day after the birth of the baby, a ritual bath is given to the mother and newborn.
Close family and friends are invited to bless the mother and child on this occasion. Food is prepared and a lavish spread is served. The mom and baby are made to wear new clothes and gifts of jewellery are given by both sets of grandparents and family members.
A ritual massage and then shampoo and bath is given to the mother and the baby. In the past, the mother and the baby were given only a sponge bath until then and the actual bath took place on that particular day. But now, with hygiene being the primary concern, we are allowed to bathe even with the stitches on, so it just remains a ceremony these days.The mom, Sona and her sweet baby girl looked adorable in their finery.( I am dying to have a granddaughter now)
I liked the lavish lunch spread. South Indians are total rice eaters and usually have sit-down lunches and dinners. We were asked to sit at a table and given fresh green plantain leaves to eat from. Eating off a plantain leaf is so healthy and exceptional.
The cuisine of Andhra is the spiciest in the whole of India. Liberal use of chili powder and tamarind make the dishes hot and tangy. Most of the dishes are vegetable and lentil based. The more fertile Andhra coastal region has a long coastline along the Bay of Bengal, and its cuisine has a unique flavor with various seafood, shrimps are the hot favorite and fish. Chicken and meat are regularly eaten.
The waiters come one after the other and keep piling your plate. They barely listen if you say no. They start by serving a sweet first and then a fritter, later, pachadi, pickles, curries, dal are served. Pulao, korma and a raita made with onion and yoghurt are served first. Once you finish that then hot steamed rice is then ladled on your plantain leaf. A dollop of ghee is put on the mound of rice and you are free to dig in and eat with your fingers. Believe me, eating rice with your fingers feels divine and you feel satiated after a meal. Generous helpings of sambar, rasam and yoghurt are also placed alongside your leaf, along with some crispy papad.Once you finish you wait for everyone to finish and only then get up to wash your hands. For the non-vegetarians, there was Chicken drumstick, Chicken Biryani, Dosakaya Mutton and Masala Shrimps.
The meal ends with Paan (a mouth freshener and digestive) made with betel leaves and dessert. I had two paans and the sinful ice-cream (crumbled brownie over vanilla and strawberry ice-cream); I ate on the way home.
One tends to over eat at a traditional South Indian lunch.I was so stuffed that I had to take a long nap to get over the hangover of the sumptuous meal!If you have Eating from a Banana Leaf then do share your experience here.