Socorro, August 14, 2016: On Independence Day that falls on August 15, a tiny village in Goa will not only celebrate the country's freedom with fervour and zeal but will also honour the patoli, an unsung, delicious, time-warped local dessert, served delicately wrapped in turmeric leaf.
The Socorro Socio Art and Cultural Association has been using the aegis of Independence Day to promote the patoli, a unique and traditional delicacy, which is cooked in both Hindu and Christian homes on festive occasions, especially during the monsoon, when fresh turmeric leaves are available in plenty.
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Located in a valley around 10 km from capital Panaji, the village of Socorro is actually just a short distance from the bustling National Highway 17, but in reality, with its green fields, foliage and traditional Goan homes, the village could well be stuck in a past era.
Marius Fernandes, who has been the soul and strength behind the Patolleanche fest (festival of the patolli), says the success of the festival proves that without sponsorship, alcohol, chief guest and plastic, an event driven by genuine passion can still be a success today.
Patilo, a delicacy in Goa. Image source: minifoodescapades.wordpress.com
"It's basically three festivals rolled in one. At 9 a.m., the feast of Our Lady of Assumption is celebrated at the Our Lady of Socorro Church followed by an Independence Day programme by Our Lady of Succour primary school, also in Socorro. As we do not have to wait for a chief guest, we start with the Patolleanche Fest exactly at 11 a.m.," Fernandes tells IANS.
"We also have some basic rules and aims for our festivals, like there is no chief guest, no sponsors, no prizes, no competition, no plastics and no alcohol. The aim of our festival is to empower women and children. Our festival caters to over 1,500 people, so villagers form groups in the seven vaddos (wards) of Socorro to take up the responsibility of buying, cooking and sharing cooking recipes," says Fernandes, who prefers to be called a cultural activist.
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The star of the event is obviously the patolli.
The ingredients required are all earthy and available in Goa, especially during the monsoon. There's grated coconut, coconut jaggery, cardamom, salt to taste, rice and, of course, turmeric leaves.
The rice is first boiled and kneaded into a paste and smeared on the turmeric leaf, the rest of the ingredients are boiled in a little water until the stuffing is cooked. It is then wrapped into the turmeric leaf and steamed for around 20 minutes.
When it's time to eat, one simply strips the turmeric leaf off and bites into the patolli.
While for Hindus a patoli is the dish-of-the-day during Nag Panchami, for the Christians it is the flavour of the day during the feast of Our Lady of Assumption.
But Independence Day in Socorro is not just about gobbling down the delightful patolis. There's more to it.
"This year's menu will include local Goan rice, bhende (okra) curry, fish kismur (a dish made from dry fish and grated coconut), mango pickles and like served on a patraval (leaf plate) besides sannas (idlis fermented with toddy) and pez (rice water) which will be served in kotteio's (coconut shells). We try and be as eco-friendly as possible," Fernandes says, adding that the venue will be decorated with recycled material and cloth flags.
"We have been using the same material and flags for the last five years. Our festival has created a great deal of interest and sometimes we are invited to share our ideas." (IANS)