Ganesh Chaturthi is a Hindu festival in India celebrating the birth of Lord Ganesha. It’s a ten-day-long celebration that falls in August or September depending on the Hindu calendar. The highlights of these 10 days include the Ganesha idol made on the first day of the celebration, the special poojas, get-togethers, and the grand Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu and special prasadams ( sacred food offered to God) made with much devotion. The 10 days of celebration ends with the immersion of Lord Ganesha’s idol in water.
The Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu is a feast and consists of Ganeshji’s favorite dishes. Here I am sharing how Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated by Tamilians. Most importantly, the Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu that we usually prepare at home during these 10 days is explained here.
Ganesh Chaturthi Celebrations in my Place
While the basic idea of the celebration remains the same, the pooja methods and the items in the Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu differ from region to region. I am a Tamilian and here I am describing how Vinayaka Chaturthi is celebrated by the people in Tamil Nadu.
A day before the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi, we purchase a Ganesh idol from stores or make one at home from scratch. My father in law makes clay idol every year at my home. He takes mud from the nearby river or a well. He recites Vinayaga slogans when making the idol and the whole process is divine and worth watching.
Nowadays everything is available in the market. You can get Ganesh idols in different sizes, colors, and avatars. Most importantly, choose eco-friendly materials whether you choose to buy or make the idol. It’s our responsibility to make sure our celebrations don’t harm the environment.
This time I have ordered a DIY Ganesh Idol kit from amazon for my kids. This way I can involve them too in our rituals and traditional ways. You can also make Ganesh idol at home.
Before the commencement of the celebrations, the entire house is cleaned and decorated to invite the Muthal Kadavul (First God).
Initially, the idol is placed outside the main door of the house. An abisayham (cleansing of the idol) with water and rose water is done by the elders. It is then followed by a small pooja. The pooja symbolizes the inviting of Lord Ganesha into our house. Generally, a devoted corner of the house is decorated by us to place the Ganesh idol for the next ten days.
Poojas are performed and neivedyam(special food) is offered to God on all ten days.
After the morning poojas, I make an elaborate Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu on the first day. For the rest of the ten days, I offer very simple neivedyum like fruits, nuts, poha, sweets, and some times morning tiffins like Pongal, vada, etc. In some households, a grand lunch is prepared for all 10 days.
Finally, after 10 days of celebration, the Idol of Ganesha is immersed in water with much pomp and show. This marks the end of that year’s Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations.
Today I am sharing with you the Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu recipes that are easy and less time-consuming.
Ganesh Chaturthi Lunch Menu Ideas | Vinayaka Chaturthi Recipes
As said earlier, the type of dishes that make to the Ganesh Chaturthi lunch thali depends on the region you live in. But a few things are common everywhere. Kozhukattai/modak, laddus, and sundal are a must as these are considered as the favorite foods of Vinayagan.
I make kozhukatttai, sundal, and sesame laddoos as prasadam every year. These are called Chathurthi offerings or Neivedyams.
After the neivedyam, lunch is served in a Thali or a banana leaf. It includes rice, curries like Sambar, kara kulambu, rasam, and various stir-fries and kootu (mixed vegetable preparations) followed by yummy desserts. Following is a breakdown of the recipes that I make usually at home as a part of the Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu. You can also follow the same.
Chathurthi Offerings or Neivedyams for Vinayaga Chaturthi
Modak/kozhukattai, sundal, and ladoo are a must for this festival. We make both sweet and savory kozhukattai.
When I was a child, I used to forget the names of the festivals. The only thing I used to remember was the special foods served on each festive occasion. So I would aptly call Ganesh Chaturthi as the ‘Sundal and Kozhukattai festival’. In the letters I wrote from boarding school, I would ask amma to take me home for the ‘Sundal and Kozhukattai festival’. Reaching home just to devour freshly made sundals and kozhukattai was the best part of Vinayaka Chaturthi celebrations during childhood.
Modak Recipes for Ganesh Chaturthi
A mathakam/modak is made specially as an offering for Lord Ganesha. In South India, it is called kozhukattai or kolukattai.
We can make dumplings with ragi flour, bajara flour, red rice, bamboo rice, etc. It’s a dome-shaped dumpling with the outer layer made with rice flour and inside sweet filling of coconut.
The traditional one is steamed modak. It is also called Ukadishe modak. Steamed modak is a dumpling made with rice flour as an outer cover and a filling of jaggery and coconut mixer inside.
Other modakams are a twist to the traditional modakam to bring in variety. For example, one of my favorites is Chocolate Modak that is an easy version. A fried version of the modakam is also available.
Kozhukattai is the South Indian version of modak and it is usually made in both sweet and savory flavors.
So here is a list of modakam and kozhukattai recipes I usually try at home.
Ladoo Recipes for Vinayaka Chaturthi
Ladoo is another must include sweet as it is also a favorite of Lord Ganesha.
Different ladoo/ laddu recipes I usually make are-
Sundal Recipes for Ganesh Chaturthi
Sundal is another popular offering for Pillayar Chaturthi. It is made with any pulses and coconut tempered with mustard and chili. We can make many varieties of sundal like channa dal sundal, red/white cowpeas sundal, green gram sundal, soaked groundnut sundal. Black channa, white channa, rajma sundal, horse gram sundal, sweet corn sundal, black urad dal sundal, green peas sundal. Adding lots of coconuts gives a good taste to the sundal.
Here are a few recommendations from me.
The Ganesh Chathurthi Special Thali or Ganesh Chaturthi Lunch Menu
Once the offerings and poojas are over it is time for the feast. The Vinayaka Chaturthi lunch is served in a Thali or in a banana leaf. We usually use the banana leaves for lunch on auspicious occasions.
The number of items in the Ganesh Chathurthi lunch menu varies. In some households, apart from the mandatory modaks and sandals, only rice, side dish, kootu, and curry will be made followed by a dessert. In others, a grand feast with many varieties of foods gets prepared for the festival.
The main course starts with rice and dal. Then proceeds to sambar/puli or kara kulambu followed by rasam and ends with curd.
The number of side dishes depends on one’s ability to cook and eat . Poriyal, kootu, thuvayal, pachadi, appalam, I can give a long list itself for the side dishes. Avoid pickle on festival days as it is pre-cooked. Everything freshly made is only considered worthy to be consumed on festival days.
Kulambu and Sambar
For the main course, when the lunch is served in banana leaf the kulambu or sambar is a must. Kulambu is basically a curry made with tamarind water as the base. Dal and different spices are also added to this.
You can make kulambu with the soaked and boiled channa dal. Just soak a handful extra when you prepare Sundal for prasadam.
During elaborate lunches like these, I add only fewer vegetables to the kulambu as there are already many side dishes with a variety of vegetables. I normally choose drumstick, carrot, ash gourd, and potato for sambar. Ladies’ fingers or channa are used for kara kulambu most of the time.
To save time you can try a one-pot method of cooking too. Just add all the ingredients into the cooker along with the required water. Wait for two whistles or till everything is cooked well. Add the tempering at the end.
There are many varieties of kulambu and sambars. Here are 8 Sambar Recipes you can try for any festival occasion. In case you are making channa dal vada as a part of the Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu, you can try paruppu urandai kulambu too.
Rasam for Vinayaka Chaturthi Lunch
Rasam is a very simple South Indian recipe. Moreover, it aids proper digestion and hence is a must after the heavy Ganesh Chaturthi meals. Make nice flavored thin consistency rasam with lots of garlic, jeera, and pepper. Here is a simple Tomato Rasam recipe.
This is a must in our lunch and it is very simple to make. Just pressure cook the toor dal or split moong dal with turmeric, salt, and green chili. Add the tempering and serve. There are variations too in which onion, cumin seeds, etc are added. Here is a traditional South Indian toor dal or Paruppu kuzhambu Recipe.
Mor Kulambu or Buttermilk Kuzhambu
It is a sour curd based curry. Note to use fresh curd as we are making this for the festival. Here is a simple ash gourd mor kulambu recipe. Likewise, you can make ladies’ fingers, yam, and even the urad dal vada mor kulambu. A plain mor kulambu with just shallots, ginger, and red chili is also popular.
Poriyals/ Sabzi Recipes
Poriyals or sabzis make the side dishes in your Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu. Try to select veggies that take less time to clean, chop, and cook. For example, I make raw banana fry or potato sabzi. Cabbage poriyal and cauliflower poriyal are good options if the quantity required is more. Long beans and potato stir fry is also a good combination.
Snakegaurd, cauliflower, beans, kovakai, yam are all good options.
The basic recipe for poriyals remains almost the same. You cook the vegetables and add a tempering of mustard, chilis and curry leaves. Here is a collection of 44 best South Indian Poriyal Recipes from Archana’s Kitchen.
Kootu Recipes for Ganesh Chathurthi
Kootu is a thick gravy side dish. I would suggest making a mixed vegetable kootu, just take a few chopped veggies from all the dishes of the day. And some channa dal and make it in one pot.
Snake guard kootu is my personal favorite out of all kootu recipes. A paste made of ground coconut, green chili, fennel, garlic, coriander seeds, and a few jeera makes the base masala for most of the kootu recipes.
Thuvayal or Chutney
Thuvayal is a chutney with very less water. It is made with coconut as a base. You can use channa dal, urad dal, sesame seeds, or groundnuts or as a combination of veggies and dal to make this chutney. I would suggest choosing ginger or pirandai(adamant creeper) thuvayals to aid in digestion after the Vinayaka Chaturthi feast.
Vadas and Bondas
The easiest of all is medu vada or urad dal vada. Many of us find it difficult to get the perfect donut-like shape for the vada. If it’s difficult for you just make it like bonda or fritters.
Paruppu vada tastes yummy and is my favorite one. If you don’t have the time to soak and grind the dal, you can just make bondas or bajis with gram flour too.
Dessert and Sweets Recipes for Vinayaka Chaturthi Lunch Menu
After the main course, sweets and desserts are a must. We usually make sweet Pongal for Ganesh Chaturthi. Poha sweet Pongal is the simplest one. Just add the cleaned poha into boiling diluted milk. Once it is cooked, add the jaggery and fried cashew nuts.
We can make moong dal payasam or the very simple vermicelli payasam. Dates kheer and rice kheer are also simple and tasty. Atta halwa, carrot halwa, beetroot halwa, millet-based halwa like ragi halwa, foxtail millet halwa is also easy to make. Puran Poli, karanji, etc are also apt for the occasion.
Here are a few dessert and sweets recipes available in our blog.
Fruits, Pan, and other Condiments
When you have lunch in the traditional way in a banana leaf, banana is a must. Appalam or papadam is also a must. You can add other fruits too depending on the availability.
The elders of the family chew pan made of betel leaves after lunch. The younger ones are not allowed to.
So these are the items that I usually include in my Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu. You can add more too. We usually prepare just enough for our family members on a daily basis. We divide these recipes throughout the 10 days to include something special on each day’s lunch and neivedyam.
Here are a few tips and tricks I stick to when preparing lunch for Vinayagar Chaturthi. This makes it easy for me to prepare a decent lunch during the festivals. Moreover, these tips help me to save time and allow me to pooja and other functions too instead of spending the entire time in the kitchen.
Plan the menu a week before.
Have a checklist.
Finish the shopping two days before.
Chopping the veggies on the eve of the celebrations makes cooking easy on the D-day.
In addition scraping the coconut, powdering the jaggery, peeling the garlic, etc can also be done a day before. (I would suggest to not peel or chop onions the previous day as it is not good for health.)
Any dry masala needed can be prepared beforehand and stored in airtight containers.
Cleaning, mopping, and decoration can be done the previous day.
Don’t stand for hours in the kitchen. Take rest in-between. For example, when chopping the veggies sit on the floor or in the dining table.
Take care to be hydrated and have fruits in between.
Most importantly soak the channa the night before to reduce cook time.
Do not pile up your sink.
Use the kitchen utensils frugally
We may grind a lot so rinse your mixer jar immediately after each use.
Most importantly involve all your family members. Get help from your kids too. My husband takes care of the Pooja room.
To sum up, this is how I celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi at my place. This time the pomp and show may be a bit dim due to Corona, but celebrating festivals has a positive effect on us. So don’t hesitate from making a clay Ganesha or preparing a Ganesh Chaturthi lunch menu to bring in that ray of hope and positivity amidst this uncertainty.
Ganapathi Bappa Morya! Vinayagan Thunai!