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Vella seedai: A dish that adds flavour to Krishna Jayanthi in Vrindavan
An unforgettable experience remains like a beautiful image in one’s memory.
Many years ago, when I was invited by my princess friend Madhu Varma to her palace-cum-farm in Delhi along with my Canadian friend, Heidi, I jumped at the opportunity. As I reached there all excited, I noticed a beautiful Krishna temple adorning her vast gardens. The guruji, who got it done, has an ashram in Vrindavan near Mathura, where Lord Krishna was born and brought up. Krishna Jayanthi, his birth anniversary was coming up, and the swamiji assured us that it was worth a visit to Vrindavan during that time.
The ashram and Vrindavan had a mesmerising serenity, with nature at its best in the whole place, which was surrounded by several plants and trees. The sound of Yamuna river flowing down the ghat was music to ears, as cooking was happening on wood fire — emitting an enchanting aroma of bhog (prasad) food. As the food’s alluring smells came wafting through, we decided to eat first before listening to the famous story of Raas Leela.
Laddus and ghee khichdi with jeera aloo were part of the bhog, which reminded me of the seedai we make in the South for Krishna Jayanthi. I decided to don my chef’s cap and make seedai for guruji and others at the ashram to taste. As I was cooking, one of the inmates charmed us with the existing myths and truths of the mystical Nidhivan. Vrindavan has more than 5,000 temples that attract thousands of tourists from all over the world, who come to pay homage to Lord Krishna and explore the history of the place. Located in Uttar Pradesh, on the banks of Yamuna, Krishna and Radha have made this place eternally renowned. Vrindavan is the most known for the mystical gardens of Nidhivan. Within Nidhivan, there’s a temple named Rang Mahal, where Lord Krishna is said to have adorned his beloved Radha with ornaments before the famous Raas Leela. People still believe Lord Krishna visits the temple every night. After 7 pm aarti each day, Nidhivan is closed, leaving a plate of bhog, paan, betel leaves, rose water and flowers on an ancient, carved wooden swing which hangs in the garden. All the trees around Nidhivan, are believed to be the gopis, who came alive at nights to dance. In the morning, the food is found eaten and flowers scattered. One may grow curious listening to the story, but no one ventures close to the place at nights. Whether or not one believes this mystical story, there are certainly evidences to what people around claim.
The bhog was not only delicious, but satiated one’s body, mind, heart and soul. The seedai were a big success and now added on to the ashram’s blog. Sharing the special vella seedai recipe with you all, which wasmade at Vrindavan.
— Chef Ramaa Shankeris the author of 'Festive Offerings to theGods: Divine Soul Recipes'