The last few days have been full of candles, marigolds, fireworks, singing in the street and food. You can see lots of pretty photos of those first few things at my friend Amos' blog here and http://www.consonantaspirations.com/2010/11/more-rangoli.html, so I thought I'd let you know about Tihar food. I know this is supposed to be a linguistics blog and not a food blog - but after 3 days of continuous eating food has been somewhat at the forefront of our attention.
Tihar is a very positive festival, and part of that is you eat lots of luxury food to celebrate - amongst other things - Laxmi, goddess of wealth, and cows, the sacred animals of Hindu. So there's lots of dried fruit, nuts, curd, fresh fruit, meat and all those things that are a bit too expensive to eat too much of most of the year.
Another thing that's eaten this time of year is Sel Roti, which is something like a doughnut, but less fluffy. They're deep-fried rings of sweet bread made from rice, and this year I got to watch my friends making them. I took enough photos to be able to bring the Sel making experience to you guys as well - but be warned, you might find them slightly less appealing after reading this!
3 kg of uncooked rice, soaked overnight in water
1/2 kg sugar
1 lt liquid ghee
6-8 cups plain wheat flour
blend up the rice, ghee and sugar in small batches. Doesn't that look yummy already?
blend in the flour, you may need to feed small batches back in to the blender. Do this until you have the right consistence - something that will still flow but isn't too liquid.
Fry! To get the attractive ring shape one must have the batter at the right consistency, then swirl it around deftly into the bubbling oil.
Repeat, more than a few times, and there's your Sel:
Those white dots are grains of sugar that have come in contact with the oil, and give a crunchy counterbalance to the smoothly blended rice dough. Those who cook might have noticed that 3 kg of rice is a lot of base ingredient to start with, and you'd be right. All up our friends made around 100-150 Sel, which took about 3-4 hours just for the frying alone, and this in a small household. It gives you an idea of just how much eating goes on here over Tihar!