The Festival Food of Ganesh Chaturthi

The benevolent face of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed Hindu deity, is an image that is instantly recognisable throughout not only the Indian sub-continent, but many other countries around the world. Ever since travellers first began exploring the shores of India, learning about the culture and the various belief systems that create this fascinating country, depictions of this beloved god have made their way into homes across the globe in souvenirs that personify the spirituality of the Indian people.

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Ganesha is a deity worshipped by many in India. He is the remover of obstacles, bestowing prosperity and good fortune upon those that please him; and the month of September sees one of the most important festivals held in his honour–the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi.

This 10 day festival is celebrated with vigour all over India. Intricately carved, clay images of Ganesha are created and set up in temporary shrines and private homes throughout the country, allowing people a place to visit to pay their respects to the deity.

However, this being India – birthplace of the mouth-watering cuisine we all enjoy at some of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants– the celebrations do not stop at worship. Instead special offerings, known as prasad, are whipped up in the kitchens of the country, specially chosen and carefully prepared to offer the god. Many of the offerings depend on the region of India that is celebrating as, in true Indian style, the recipes rely on the availability and seasonality of ingredients in this vast and varied landscape. However, many dishes are also based around foods considered to be Ganesha’sfavourites such as modak, ladoos and desserts rich in sugar, ghee and sweetened milk.

Of course, the festival food of Ganesh Chaturthi is not just for the god; the people of India incorporate an array of sumptuous dishes onto their party tables too, to celebrate as only India knows how –with some delicious festival feasting!

Some of the tastiest treats you can expect to be served up at Ganesh Chaturthi include:

1. Modak

This is the number one dish of the festival due to its elevated status as Ganesha’sfavourite snack. A steamed rice flour dumpling neatly encases a stuffing of grated coconut, syrupy jaggery and dried fruit and nuts to provide the perfect bite-sized hit of sugar.

2. Puliyodarai

One of the most popular festival dishes of Ganesh Chaturthi is puliyodarai, a rice dish cooked in an assortment of aromatic spices and flavoured with the tangy notes of tamarind. This fragrant dish is ideal not only for prasad, but for sharing with family and friends during the celebrations.

3. Puranpoli

One of the most popular festival recipes at Ganesh Chaturthi, these sweet flatbreads are stuffed with a lentil filling, sweetened with jaggery.

4. Patholi

These rice rolls, bursting with fresh coconut flavours and seasoned with jaggery, are a firm festival favourite, particularly in Goa and the Konkan areas of India. They are carefully wrapped in turmeric leaves and gently steamed, allowing the aromas of the spice to infuse the rice.

5. Ladoos

Another of Ganesha’sfavourite snacks, no festival held in his honour would be truly complete without these round, deep-fried balls created from spiced besan and grated coconut.