Tag Archives: India

Holi on the Beach

It’s like a color run with food instead of running!

  
  Photo source: Vikasacharya

Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that celebrates the advent of spring. It occurs each year around the spring equinox.

The legend behind Holi is the story of a prince who is rescued by Lord Krishna from his arrogant and evil father. The king’s wicked sister tries to burn the prince, but she ends up being consumed instead. As the story goes, people put the ashes from the fire on their heads. 

Today, Holi is celebrated with a party in which participants throw colored powder on each other, eat special food, and drink. Hindus as well as non-Hindus participate in Asia and around the world.

  
Celebrating Holi Sint Maartin-style means a party of on the beach, of course! The South Asian Medical Student Association at AUC hosted Holi at Mullet Bay. After the colored powder ran out, everyone played a game of beach volleyball. According to some of the participants, the colors did not wash off in the ocean. I’m looking forward to seeing whether shampoo takes it out or if some of the med school students will have tie-dyed heads for a while.

Foodie Tuesdays: Indian Kidney Beans

I love making ethnic food. Especially when I have absolutely no idea what it is. Today, I tried something that I’ve never made before, and it was a winner. An empty-the-pot-and-ask-for-more winner. Kidney beans and rice with rajmah masala!

Sometimes, Indian food is a little to spicy for me– sometimes it is way too spicy for me. This, on the other hand, was the perfect amount of spicy and savory.

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I got the box mix last night from my neighbor. He was cleaning out his kitchen and offered me a bunch of cool spices and other yummy things– perks of having an awesome neighbor! If you don’t have as box mix, you can make your own rajmah masala from spices in your kitchen.

You will need:

  • Kidney beans (2 or 3 cans, or a package of dry beans, prepared)
  • Three cups of rice
  • Small onion
  • Tomato or tomato paste
  • Rajmah Masala, either packaged or:
    • Crushed coriander, salt, dry mango, pomegranate seeds, chili, cumin, musk melon, black pepper, slack salt, fenugreek leaves, cloves, mint, nutmeg, dry ginger, bay leaf, cardamom seeds, caraway, mace, cardamom green.
    • If you don’t have all the ingredients, no worries– go with what you have.

Prepare beans and rice.

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Mix all the spices together.

Chop onions, fry in a pan until golden brown. Add tomatoes.

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Add a tablespoon or so of the spice mix, stir until it forms a paste.

Mix the spices and onions into the beans. Let simmer for a few minutes.

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Serve beans over rice.

Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights

As the sun begins to set on a small waterfront resort, people of all ethnicities trickle into the courtyard. One by one, candles and lights begin to illuminate the surroundings. As the courtyard fills, the aromatic scent of curry begins to grace the air. It is the second night of Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights.
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This is the West Indies, not India. Yet even here in the Western hemisphere, we are eager to celebrate the triumph of good over evil– and, of course, what promises to be the apex of human culinary achievement.

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Someone announces that the food is ready, and we all line up, plates ready. The menu consists of rice, banir (vegetarian red sauce), chicken tika masala (red sauce with meat), yogurt sauce to cool our mouths after the spice, naan (Indian flat-bread), and samosas (fried dumplings filled with potatoes and peas). We find a group to sit with and dig in. It’s as delicious as it smells!

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The group we sit with is comprised of people who were born in India or raised in Indian homes. The conversation quickly turns to Indian culture and geography as people discuss and compare their location of origin, lingual heritage, and family traditions. I take the opportunity to ask questions and learn about the diverse and colorful nation of India.

A university student explains to me the origin and traditions centered around Diwali. Diwali is a traditional Hindu festival lasting five days. On the first day of Diwali, people hope for wealth and prosperity. The second day of Diwali celebrates the triumph of light over dark, good over evil. The third day is the actual day of Diwali, the Indian new year’s eve. The fourth day, the new year, celebrates love and devotion between husbands and wives. The final day is a celebration of sisters. Siblings honor one another and exchange gifts on this day.

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The night grows blacker and sparklers are lit, illuminating the party scene. Indian pop music wraps us all in an exotic sheath of sound. Children dance and spin in the candle light. People migrate from tables to the bar and the dance floor.

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Before long, the deck is crowded with smiling and laughing dancers. The sky is black, but for us, the darkest night of the year is bright and joyous.

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