The day after Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated as Rishi Panchami in Maharashtra, as a way to mark respect for the ancient sages. It is a tradition in Marathi homes, to prepare a mixed vegetable, called Rushinchi bhaji (a vegetable for the sages) on this day. According to Ayurveda, ahara (food) is classified into three categories and there are certain qualities attached to it, which ultimately seem to affect the qualities and temperament of the person consuming these. These were rajas aahar (food fit for the kings, containing sweetmeats, nuts and fat), tamas aahar (food that generate heat and acidity, fit for a warrior temperament) and sattvik aahar (food which is unctuous, stable and promotes peace of mind, fit for sages). It is probably from these concepts, that the tradition of only consuming sattvik food, for food fit for the sages on Rishi Panchami came from.
The norm is that all the vegetables used in the preparation of this bhaji, should be produced without using the effort of the ox; which basically meant that none of the vegetables were mass produced in the field, and either grown in the backyard or foraged from the forests. Most vegetables are seasonal in nature. Whatever may be the mythological association behind this preparation, I think the tradition of preparing this vegetable is a great example in practicing sustainability itself. Traditionally, about 15-21 different vegetables go into the making of this Rushinchi Bhaji; I could manage much fewer last week when I made it; but the overall taste does not change much. The flavor is very basic, from the vegetables itself, and from a little ghee, chillies and coconut that go into it; but it is comfort food at its best.
2 Colocasia leaves with stalks (Aluchi paane/ arbi ke patte), stalks chopped into 1-inch pieces, leaves finely chopped;
½ bunch Green sorrel leaves (Ambat chukka/ambadi), finely chopped;
250gm Pumpkin (lal bhopla), peeled and diced;
8-10 okras (bhendi/bhindi), chopped into 1-inch pieces;
1 cucumber (kakdi), peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces;
1 ridge gourd (dodka/turai), peeled and chopped into roundels;
1 corn (maka), cut into 2-3 inch pieces;
1 cup green peas (matar);
3 slit green chillies;
1 cup freshly scraped coconut;
1 ½ tbsp clarified butter (sajuk tuup/desi ghee);
¼ tsp cumin seeds (jeera);
Chopped jaggery, to taste;
Salt, to taste.