Guava Kosambari (Guava Salad)

I grew up with guava, which is a very popular fruit in South India. It was amazing how bags of guava came out of woodstock at the end of summer – whether by the way of my grandparents’ neighbors, relatives visiting from the village, or one of my parents friends. The donors were probably as glad to give them away as we were to receive them, and I remember the happy anticipation of waiting and slicing fresh guava, sprinkling salt and pepper and enjoying the tasty slices. Up here people seem to prefer their guava crunchy-free, a creamy puree long cooked in pastries. The flavor of fresh guava is delicate, and I prefer them as they are, uncooked may be in combination with some other raw ingredients.

Today’s recipe, guava kosambari, is inspired by a why not attitude. Kosambari, the salad of south India is a traditional Raw Rocks kind of meal starter. Usually prepared with moong dal, cucumber and carrots, and peppered with salt, pepper and lime juice. The cool, raw energy of kosambari seems to be enhanced by the excitingly sweet guava in guava kosambari. It was genuinely good food.

Guava
Guava

Guava Kosambari
(for two adults for two meals)

3 Guavas: cut to bite-sized pieces.
(The guavas I added in this recipe are small, about lime sized and have very delicate paper like thin skin that didn’t need peeling.)
1/4 cup – yellow moong dal, rehydrated
(Soak moong dal in water for about 2 hours to rehydrate.)
1/2 cup each – diced carrot and cucumber
Salt, black pepper and lime juice – 1/4 teaspoon each or to taste
1 tablespoon – finely chopped fresh cilantro

Take guava, moong dal, carrot and cucumber in a bowl. Sprinkle cilantro, salt, pepper and limejuice. Combine gently. Refrigerate for half an hour for the flavors to be charmed by each other.

Serve the guava kosambari as a meal starter or an evening snack with a cup of tea or ragi ganji.

Guava Kosambari (Guava Salad)
Guava Kosambari on a Guava Leaf ~ For Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Going Ga Ga for Guava: Guava Guacamole

Last Saturday, I was surprised to see bushels of guava at Fiesta, a local Mexican market.

From a distance the guava looked like good quality limes. They were small, pale yellow in color and smelled promisingly sweet. At pound $ 1.99, I couldn’t resist those yellow beauties.

After mangoes and cherries, guavas are my favorite fruit. I don’t know what it is about them, I could easily go into nostalgic ga ga over familiar fruits. Here I was in 2006, going on and on about guava. They inspire such longing, don’t they?

After I had my fill of raw fruit, which were delicious and sweet, I’ve thought of making something new with guava today.

Guavas with salt and pepper are a common roadside snack growing up in Bharath. These guavas I purchased are from Peru. To honor their origin, what’s better than an addition of avocado? Like I’ve imagined, the guava gave the avocado some sweetness and nice hint of aroma. Plain guacamole is always good, but guava guacamole tasted supreme. I loved this Aztec and Bharath combination for my meal today.

Guava Guacamole
(makes about two small cups)

1 big-sized, semi ripe avocado
3 lime-sized, semi ripe guavas
1 lime, for juice
Pinch each – salt and red chilli flakes

Cut avocado to half. Take out the pit. Cut the fruit to tiny pieces.
Cut guavas to small, bite sized pieces.
Place avocado and guava pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle salt and red chilli flakes. Squeeze lime juice. Gently combine. Serve.

Meal Idea: Generously apply guava guacamole on a warm chapati, paratha or pizza for a taste that defies description. We had it with thin crust pizza for dinner. Good meal.

Guava Guacamole
Guava Guacamole ~ For Meal Today

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.

Weekend Houston ~ Annakut at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston

Being closer to God has several privileges and advantages. We live at about ten minute driving distance from Swami Narayan Mandir – Houston. The temple is one of the great structures in the USA. The structure and sculpture bring the divinity and belongingness with God. The temple is also one of the deciding factors for us while buying our new home last year. During our parents’ six-month stay here, we visited the temple every Sunday to attend the evening arathi.

It is never a better time to visit the temple than during the celebrations of Deepavali and Annakut. This is the time when bhakthi and bhukthi come together and reach to its best during the year. Families celebrate one of the most sacred and important festivals, Deepavali. Traditionally this time of the year also coincides with the completion of the harvest. As an offering of gratitude to God for his bountiful blessings, the new harvest is first used to cook exquisite foods for the Bhagavan.

In BAPS Swaminarayan Mandirs ‘Annakut‘, literally a mountain of food is offered to God on this day. A vast array of vegetarian foods is traditionally arranged in tiers or steps, in front of the Bhagavan. The sweets are placed nearest to the Bhagavan. As the tiers descend, other foods such as fruits, grains, dals, vegetables, and various fried savory foods are arranged. A mound of cooked rice, symbolic of Mt. Govardhan, is placed in the center.

In all Swaminarayan mandirs, sadhus and devotees then sing ‘Thaal’ – kirtans composed by the poet paramhansas of Shri Swaminarayan. These kirtans list and glorify the food items in an aesthetic, rhyming and pleasant manner, praying to the Bhagavan to accept them.

Annakut arrangement starts early in the morning until 11AM. From 11 to 1 PM, melodious Thaal kirthan singing, followed by a grand arati goes on. Bhagavan and Annakut darshan are open till evening. Around 4 PM, the now sanctified Annakut prasad – sweets, fruits and nuts are distributed to the visitors and devotees, followed again by evening arati.

We went and had Annakut darshan for the first time today at Swami Narayan Mandir. It was really an impressive, pleasing display of food art. A dedicated devotee or food connoisseur for a feast, we can’t help but praise “Jai Swami Narayan Bhagavan” for blessing us with such wide variety of fetching food. I recommend Annakut darshan ~ A celebration of food.

Swami Narayan Bhagavan ki Jai.

Deepavali Celebrations at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston
Deepavali Celebrations at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston

Annakut Neivedyam at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston
Annakut Neivedyam at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Houston

Swami Narayan Mandir website: BAPS, Houston
Photos 2 & 3, and Annakut description: courtesy of BAPS, Houston

Shubha Deepavali

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