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Easter Special: Kottayam-style Egg Masala Curry
Today is Easter and this year, the festival is going to be vastly different. There won’t be crowds in the market for last-minute purchases, no churches echoing packed congregations, no festivity beyond what is permissible and no Easter bunny hunts or family get-togethers.
Easter has always been special — a time to rejoice spiritually and the oncoming of ‘the season of the
The origin of the word ‘Easter’ isn’t certain. The Venerable Bede, an eighth-century monk and scholar, suggested that the word may have come from the Anglo-Saxon Eeostre or Eastre — a Teutonic goddess of spring and fertility.
Another possibility is the Norse Easter, eastur, or ostara, which meant ‘the season of the growing sun’ or ‘the season of new birth.’ The word east comes from the same roots. In this case, Easter would be linked to the changing of the season. The spiritual explanation comes from the Christian background of Easter. The resurrection of Jesus Christ, who was nailed to the cross and took on the sufferings of mankind. His resurrection on the third day was Easter, a day of joyous celebration all over the world.
There are many traditions that surround Lent season, Holy Week, and Easter Sunday. Generally observed traditions across the globe include the Easter bunny, coloured eggs, gift baskets, and flowers. In Australia, Aussies celebrate with their native marsupial, the Billy, which has large ears and a pointy nose. In Poland, on Easter Monday, boys try to soak people with buckets of water. This tradition is rooted in the baptism of Polish Prince Mieszko on Easter Monday in 996.
In Greece, the morning of Holy Saturday is known as the annual ‘pot throwing’ where residents throw pots out of windows. It is a tradition used to mark the beginning of spring and new crops being gathered in new pots. In Europe, there are large bonfires called Easter Fires that are lit on Easter Sunday into Monday. The Saxon origin is that the fires will chase away winter and Easter will bring spring.
In India, Easter is celebrated all over, with each state’s native dishes being cooked and the easter eggs making an appearance in all major cities.
Goa and Kerala have their distinctive styles of celebrations. Kerala has three of the greatest religions in the subcontinent, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam — and the cuisine reflects that. The Syrian Christians are among the world’s oldest Christians (legend has it that they were converted by St Thomas, the apostle who was the Doubting Thomas of the Bible).
Many years back, Vinod Valson the GM of one of the Taj properties in Bengaluru had thrown a lavish Easter party to coincide with hotel celebrations.
I was invited and took two of my friends, Zubair Ahmed, who now runs an event company in Bengaluru and Vaibhav Jain, a top executive of a fashion brand in Dubai, to experience the Easter feast. The buffet was a lavish spread beyond imagination. Many dishes were Kerala-based.
The authentic cuisine from Kerala reflects a true depth and each dish was unique in its flavour. The Easter dinner thrown by Vinod Valson was not only a big success but covered all segments of Easter celebrations by including a small basket of Easter eggs, cookies and chocolates for each guest.
Kerala dishes include roast duck, fish molee, chicken cutlets, mambazha pulissery, erachi choru, vegetable stew and prawns roast. Dishes from other southern states include nullu appam, beans poriyal, bisi bele bath, etc. For vegetarians who ate eggs, the Kottayam egg masala was the top favourite. Vegetarians can replace eggs with soya chunks or paneer.
— Chef Ramaa Shanker is the author of ‘Festive Offerings to the Gods: Divine Soul Recipes’