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Etrog


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Legacies

Noreen Daniel, The Indian Jewish Congregation of USA Newsletter, October 2012

Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will show thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. (Deuteronomy 32:7)

Holidays are times to share some of the stories of bygone days with the family. Recollecting wonderful memories of our grandparents and parents, and sharing them with the children of the next generation is like paying homage to our ancestors.

Holidays are times to share some of the stories of bygone days with the family. Recollecting wonderful memories of our grandparents and parents, and sharing them with the children of the next generation is like paying homage to our ancestors.

My father Dr. Samuel Solomon was a professor in the College of Agriculture, Pune where I spent the first 16 years of my life. On Simchat Torah morning, the gardener used to bring a basket of jasmine buds and roses as a gift. I would spend the morning making garlands of jasmine and roses for our living room doors and windows. By evening, our rooms were full of fragrance of the jasmine blossoms. I made a special thick Veni of jasmine buds for my long braids.

I looked forward to the holiday of Simchat Torah since I could wear new clothes with some of my mother’s jewelry. My mother would make Sat Padar (pancakes) stuffed with fresh coconut and jaggery, which I would eat to my heart’s content.

We would go the Succath Shlomo synagogue early in the morning, as daddy had to bid for the small Torah for my two brothers to take around which was at a premium. I used to be in the women’s gallery with my mother and gave flying kisses to the Sefer Torah being carried around in a circle with song and dance. As I watched my younger brothers carry that beautiful little Torah in red velvet case and silver crown, I envied them. My parents insisted that three of us should share everything. Why couldn’t I carry that Sefer Torah for a little while? I asked my mother and she simply said: “Girls are not allowed to carry the Torah.”

We moved to Bombay to live with my granddad Solomon Moses when I was 17 years old. While my maternal grandfather Dr. Elijah Moses was Orthodox, my paternal grandfather was Liberal. The Liberal prayers had a lot of English and women participated along with the men. Rabbi Hugo Gryn and Rabbi Naativ changed the sequence of prayers and celebrated Simchat Torah on Shemini Atzereth eve.

During the sixth and seventh circuits, women made a circle and the Torah was passed from one woman to another. I cannot describe how emotional I felt when I held the Torah for one minute in my arms. I kissed it, said a prayer for my family’s well being and embraced it tight. A shiver went through my spine and tears welled up in my eyes. I felt truly blessed to be so close to the holy Torah.

On Simchat Torah day, my mother did not go to work in her clinic. We would rise early to shower and to have our breakfast of pancakes. My mother always bought a bright colored sari for me for Simchat Torah. She used to braid my hair and decorate it with a string of jasmine flowers or chrysanthemums. I was allowed to wear my mother’s jewelry.

After getting me decked up, mummy used to take me to my granddaddy’s room. “How does your granddaughter look today?” she would ask him. He would say: "Very nice. Put a black dot under her foot to ward off the evil eye.” She would follow his suggestion.

We would first go to Magen Hasidim Synagogue to see a couple of circuits of Sefer Torah and the dancing by young and old men, and to socialize with mummy’s relatives and friends. Some of them would glance at me and ask: “What does your daughter do?” Mummy would answer: “She is studying in college.” Then we would visit the Eli Kadoorie School where the celebration of Simchat Torah attracted big crowds. It was like a fair with stalls for different types of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food with soft drinks and ice cream. I remember eating biryani and samosas and drinking Roger’s raspberry drink. “Meet my son so and so, he is studying to be ... or working for ...,” I would hear from time to time. I had to follow mummy’s instructions: “Be nice. Don’t show an attitude. Your manners reflect on my upbringing.”

Soon I would be complaining to my younger brothers: “Tell mummy that we are tired. Let’s go home.” One of my younger brothers would take up my cause: “Mummy I am feeling tired. Tomorrow we have to go to college. Granddaddy must be waiting.” On the way back home, mummy would be muttering to herself: “Once a year Simchat Torah comes. We get an opportunity to meet people of our community. With this attitude you will either remain a spinster or you’ll get married to a non-Jew and break the Jewish line of past so many generations.” Well, neither of my mother’s fears came true. I married my second cousin and have continued the wonderful legacy of our religion and customs. I have passed on the baton to my children. I hope and pray they pass it on to their children too.




Recipes

Introduction by Noreen Daniel and Recipe by Florence Manglani

Citrus Fruit Marmalade

The etrog is considered an auspicious fruit by Jews all over the world. It is an interesting fact that fruits of different generations can be found on the same tree. I remember seeing an etrog tree as big as a lemon tree in the Magen Aboth Synagogue compound in Alibag. It had fruits of all sizes available at any time of the year. For Brit Mila (circumcision) celebrations, family members used to ask for the etrog for its fragrance.

In India, all the fruits form the Succah were cut and shared among the children on the Simchat Torah morning. The etrog, however, was auctioned off to the highest bidder. The belief was that if any married woman was expecting a child, she may be blessed with a son. Etrog does not taste very sweet but one can make marmalade out of it to enjoy the fruit and to expectantly wait for the result.

The recipe below was contributed by Florence Manglani.

Ingredients:

1 etrog

1 grapefruit (pink or yellow)

1 orange

2 lemons

4 cups water

8 cups sugar

Directions:

1. Scrub the fruits, place in a large bowl, and cover with boiling water. Let the fruits stand 2 to 3 minutes, then drain. Remove peel from fruit with a potato peeler, and cut the peel into thin slices.

2. Carefully remove pith and seeds from the remaining fruit. Place the fruits in a large piece of cheesecloth and tie into a bag. Set it aside. Chop the remaining fruit flesh into small pieces. Do not puree the fruit.

3. Combine the chopped fruit, cheesecloth bag, and water in a 4 to 6 quart stainless steel pan. Cover and simmer over low heat for about one and a half hour, until reduced by almost half of the original quantity.

4. Add sugar and let it dissolve over low heat. Once the sugar is dissolved, bring the contents to a boil. Lower heat to medium and simmer mixture until it falls in sheets from a spoon (about 20 to 30 minutes).

5. Turn off the heat. Pour mixture into sterilized jars and store in the refrigerator.




Pancakes with Sweetened Coconut Filling

Introduction by Noreen Daniel and Recipe by Marie Solomon

These sweet pancakes was my mother Dr. Ruby Solomon‘s specialty for Simchat Torah. We all try to make them with variations. The one below is courtesy of my sister-in-law Marie Solomon.

Ingredients:

1 large fresh coconut, grated (only grate the white kernel)

½ lb jaggery or brown sugar

1 lb all-purpose flour or Maida

3 extra large eggs, beaten

½ cup canola oil

½ onion (medium size)

10 almonds, soaked and sliced

5 cardamoms, shelled and powdered

1 cup 2% milk

¼ teaspoon salt


Directions:

1. Divide jaggery into small pieces. Place a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add jaggery pieces and stir often until the jaggery melts. Add the grated coconut and stir until it is completely mixed with jaggery. Add sliced almonds and cardamom powder. Mix well until the mixture is dry. Allow it to cool, stirring occasionally.

2. Pour all purpose flour in a bowl. Add beaten eggs, milk, and salt. Mix well with a ladle until the mixture becomes smooth and thick, adding a little water if required.

3. Put a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Stick a fork into the onion, dip the bottom portion of the onion in oil, and rub the oiled portion of the onion on the pan to make it greasy all over. This is done to ensure that the pancake mixture doesn’t stick to the pan.

4. Pour a ladleful of pancake batter onto the pan. Move the pan so that the mixture spreads evenly. The pancake should not be too thin. Cover the pan. Remove the lid in about 3 minutes when the bottom side of the pancake is cooked through.

5. Turn the pancake carefully with a flat spatula and cook the other side without the lid for about 1 minute. The pancake will come off the pan easily when it’s fully cooked. Slide the pancake off onto a flat plate.

6. Add a tablespoon of sweetened coconut filling onto the pancake and fold it 4 times into a handkerchief. Repeat with the rest of the pancake batter to make approx. 20-25 pancakes. Enjoy with your family & friends.

 

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