It is the time for rice harvesting. In October and November, we reap as we sowed, or transplanted, with the onset of the monsoon rains in June-July. The fields are now being harvested.
The roadsides are once again littered with paddy straw and chaff from winnowing the harvested rice.
The combine harvesters create a buzz in the fields from early morning to sunset. Bullock carts, autorickshaws, tempos and trucks are seen along roads by evening time as farmers gather the harvest or fill the grain that is being sun-dried.
Bamboo mats, or sovyem, can be seen together with the coloured silpaulin sheets. Jute sacks and the extruded plastic sacks jostle for space on the cart or tempo alike.
The grain is being dried in the sun, milled, pounded or polished. It is time to celebrate with fresh rice kheer, that people in South India call pongal or paysam.
The ‘Made in Saligao’ Community Market started in its new avatar on the same day as Vijaya Dashmi, a day that marks a new beginning in the Indian context. The theme selected for the second week was ‘Harvest’, and the focus was on rice.
During the event, a young agriculture graduate, Dhannika Dias Barros Pereira, who can operate a mechanized rice transplanter, spoke about the different varieties of rice grown in Goa. Then, there was a talk on the traditional sweets that Goans make from rice, including those that we now prepare with wheat flour.
The test of the pudding is in its eating. Team leader, Emera Remedios e Fernandes, the spark that has caught the attention of the people in the current season of ‘Made in Saligao’, introduced a cooking competition on rice-based sweets to get participation by non-vendors and vendors alike.
Veteran vendor Santana Fernandes picked up the first prize for the Rice Kheer made with coconut jaggery. Young student, Luis Sylvester Andrade, bagged the second prize for his tasty and tastefully plated rice pudding that could give a batika a run for its money.
The third prize was won by Goretti Barnetto for the traditional patolleo. The contestants happily shared their dishes with the visitors at the event.
SEASON OF RICE
We have already celebrated Dussehra and are heading to celebrate Diwali. It is a time to enjoy the harvest with pounded rice (fov), and puffed rice crackles (chirmuli), with or without sugar or made into bhelpuri, churma or laddoos.
There is no limit to the sweets that one can prepare using rice, even those things that we now routinely make with wheat flour. Pattoleo, Dhrone, Xirvoyo, Ale bele, Khoiloyo, Sanna, Muttli, Manos, Dhonnos, Laddoo, Kheer are traditional rice-based dishes, while grated coconut, coconut milk and coconut jaggery are accompaniments.
The organisers of ‘Community Markets’ work as a T.E.A.M. (for Together, Everyone Achieves More)! Unlike commercial pop-up markets, there is no money to be made. There are bouquets and brickbats in equal measure and one has to learn how to deal with the brickbats.
This Tuesday, the market is focused on Diwali, a festival where the Narkasur now dwarfs Krishna, thereby reflecting the evolution of our society.
The Tuesday after that is bang on Children’s Day. It will be great to see what the children can come up with, and how the vendors respond to the occasion. See you in Saligao on the evening of November 14, 2023.
The author is a former Chairman of the GCCI Agriculture Committee, CEO of Planter's Choice Pvt Ltd, Additional Director of OFAI and Garden Superintendent of Goa University, and has edited 18 books for Goa & Konkan