I fist ate the is five ingredient dish when Belmira, a parishioner of mine, here at St Stephen’s  made this for a small intimate gathering for the parish fathers. I could not wrap my head around the flavours. She made it again at the cooking contest that was held at parish and which was judged by the head of department, Don Bosco’s Culinary School, Annabelle Rodrigues who also happened to be my professor at culinary school.

Do not be fooled by the simplicity of ingredients because this dish packs a complexity of flavours. Indian food tends to be over spiced and the subtle flavours of the main ingredient itself is often lost. However, the combination of the chillies is crucial. The motuo or Aldona chillies have a thick skin and and short and deep reddish black. The Bedgi bring in the heat and the Kashmiri adds a bit of colour and spice. You can buy the Aldona chillies from Mapusa market in Goa, they sell them by the piece ( in hundreds) and not by the kilo.

This dish combines a lovely pungent, sour and salty flavour while retaining the flavour of the meat it self. For best results, always use fresh meat rather than meat that has been frozen.  Other recipes add ginger and garlic along with turmeric, cumin and coriander seeds. I liked this dish the way it was made.Pork Solantulem is also called Pork Amsol or Pork Binda Sol

INGREDIENTS

1 kg – lean pork – 3 tablespoons rock salt – 3 large onions – 5 kashmiri chillies – 5 Mapusa or Aldona or Motuo chillies ( different names for the same type of chilli) and 7-10 Bedgi chillies – A handful of Kokum  or ten halves

METHOD

Take 1 kg of pork with little fat, cube it (make big cubes), wash well, drain all the water out, you may also use kitchen towels to drain the excess water.  Add 3 teaspoons of rock salt & apply to the meat using your hands till the salt has been incorporated into the meat thoroughly, At this stage you could use a tablespoon of ginger garlic paste if you so desire but this recipe did not have it. Set aside. Take 3 large onions, cut horizontally.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a vessel. Add the onions and sauté till transparent. Add the chillies after breaking them into half. You could also leave them whole but take off the stem. Add the  Kokum and Sauté for a 1 minute. Add the Meat and Sauté for 2 minutes.Add one cup of water and bring to boil, then simmer till the meat is tender.  Serve Hot and enjoy over a shot of Feni with friends.

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It’s Christmas Eve or Trinity Sunday? – Saturday, 4th week in Advent – Luke 1:67-79

It’s Christmas Eve and the song of Zechariah or the Benedictus is ‘sung’ at the Gospel today. The Benedictus is a prayer of thanksgiving said by Zachariah at the birth of St. John the Baptist. It is called the Benedictus because it begins with the Latin word “blessed.”

Zechariah’s hymn of praise at the birth of John has many parallels with Mary’s Magnificat. It is firmly rooted in the Old Testament and the faith story of the people. The prayer focusses primarily on Jesus, as Saviour, not John. God is faithful to the promises God has made. John is the prophet who will go before the Lord to prepare the way and give knowledge of salvation. The tender mercy of God offers light, hope and the way of peace.

Interestingly, there may be a little detail that may elude us. The Benedictus is preceded by the fact that the Holy Spirit filled Zechariah and he spoke this prophecy regarding Jesus. The Holy Spirit is integral to the Christmas narrative. It is the Holy Spirit that comes upon Mary and covers her while the power of the most high overshadows her. Elizabeth too was filled with the Holy Spirit when she heard the greeting of Mary at Ein Karim. In Today’s text, the Holy Spirit fills Zechariah prompting this prophecy. It is the Holy Spirit that rested on Simeon in the temple and guided him to meet the parents of Jesus at his circumcision. The Christmas story is a Trinitarian one; the will of God the Father, the Birth of Christ the son and the workings of the Holy Spirit.

God has come to rescue his people as he promised long ago. The promise still holds for us. Whatever trouble we may be in, God is coming to save us and we can be at peace.

On the eve of Christmas, I want to wish all of you, my dear faithful readers on pootypadre.com and all of you who follow my YouTube channel a very happy Christmas. As some of you may be aware I will be taking a sabbatical for two years in five months from now. I will be moving to Goa where I will continue to study scripture and write and record my teachings.

Have a blessed Christmas day tomorrow. We will not be broadcasting tomorrow but will be back on Monday, 26th December. It is a special day for the parish of St Stephen as we will be stepping into our 75th year as a parish. His Eminence, Cardinal Oswald Gracias will celebrate the Thanksgiving mass at six pm here at St Stephen’s. Do join us in the celebration of the Hoy Eucharist.

God bless you all and Happy Christmas once again.

Fr Warner D’souza

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A  Child that Christmas forgot – Friday, 4th Week in Advent – Luke 1:57-66

It is true that the birth of John the Baptist is celebrated on the 24th of June but look at the buildup to the Christmas narrative and his birth is a page before that of Christs’. In fact, the Gospel of Luke positions the birth of the precursor as an immediate text before the birth of Christ in chapter two. The liturgy most deliberately wants us to pause and reflect on the birth of another very significant child before we can ring the bells of Christmas.

The birth of John was greeted with rejoicing, both for the parents and to God who had shown them great mercy. While the Gospel of today mentions the birth of John in just two verses it dedicates the next eight verses to the his circumcision and the events surrounding it. The birth of John was an act of God’s mercy and part of his salvific plan, the actions surrounding his circumcision reflect the faith of those who were beneficiaries of this mercy. Elizabeth and Zechariah are presented as models of faith and fidelity.

God commanded both Abraham and Moses to circumcise male babies when they are eight days old (Genesis 17:9-14; Leviticus 12:3). John’s circumcision, while routine, nevertheless marks Zechariah and Elizabeth as faithful in their observance of Jewish law. That is to be expected, of course, given that Zechariah is a priest (v. 5; see also v. 6).

In the culture of the Israelites, the name of a child was very significant. God sometimes changed the name of a person, such as changing the name of Abram to Abraham, of Sarai to Sarah, and of Jacob to Israel. At other times, God gave the name of the child before birth. Such is the case with both John and Jesus.

The drama of our text has to do with a family argument over the name which was to be given the child of Zacharia and Elizabeth. Names were important in that culture, and were supposed to embody something of the importance or character of the person or to make some sort of statement or to express some sort of faith. The naming of a child would normally be a parental function, but these neighbours and relatives try to influence this naming to honour Zacharia by naming the child after him. The question which we must bear in mind as we approach our study of this passage is, “why would Luke bother to include the account of a family argument over the name of a child?” There are two theories.

The naming of the son after his father implied that this child would walk in the steps of his father, that he would carry on the father’s name, and thus his work as well. Had John been named ‘Little Zach,’ he would have been expected to grow up as a priest, just like his father. He would thus have gone about with his father as he carried out his priestly duties, learning how to do things, just like his daddy did them. To be named by any other name would have implied just the opposite. John would not follow in his father’s steps.

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A little voice, a big speech – Thursday, 4th Week in Advent – Luke 1: 46-56

It is a human tendency to make much of things that are insignificant often even placing them on the high altar of ‘the best in the whole world.’ Depending on our age and status in life it can range from ‘the best coffee in the whole world’ to ‘the best burger in the whole world.’ When we finally stumble on something that meets what we have been either craving to have, or that which matches our tastebuds, or that someone we want to spend our life with, or whatever that longing for may be; we tend to magnify what we have to the status of the ‘best in the whole world.’ We then talk about it, tweet and Instagram it, recommend it, battle its critics and stand by it to the bitter end. We make everything bigger than it is.

Mary, was told that she was to be the mother of the saviour. Between being terrified and even dumbstruck, she managed to find a little voice that said a very big yes to God’s plan. Now her thoughts are driven to her cousin who was in the sixth month of pregnancy. She comes not to boast of her new found status and rank but to be of service.

Elizabeth had no clue what had happened to Mary; perhaps she could barely wrap her head around what had happened to her and Zechariah. Her days of girlhood being long past, she was now to be the mother of a child whose name was given by the angel; he was to be called John.

Yet, the babe leapt in her womb only when Mary greeted her and Elizabeth “was filled with the Holy Spirit.” This was THE MOMENT that the mystery of God’s plan of salvation was revealed to Elizabeth who declared Mary and the babe in her womb blessed.

Mary knew at once that this singular grace bestowed on her came from one hand only; God. It is to him that all glory belongs. She did what we would do today with the people and things we fall in love with; she magnified her God in a song of praise that has been sung through the ages. Every aspect of God’s grace in her life is now shouted for the world to hear. Every act of God is now proclaimed.

Magnifying God is what we are called to do; for he too has looked on us, his lowly servants, with favour.

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Your presence is more important than your presents – Wednesday,4th Week in Advent – Luke 1:39-45

On the face of things this seems like a meeting of two women, yet there were four persons that day in that little town of Ein Karim, high up in the mountains. The forerunner, John the Baptist and the Messiah are physically present, each in the womb of his mother. Here, a young Galilean carries within her womb the one ‘who is and who was and who is to come’. At this remarkable point in time and space the new covenant of God with his people is beginning.

The journey from Nazareth to Ein Karim was long and uncomfortable. Mary, carries the secret; she is the womb of God but that secret is let out of the bag or should I say out of the womb when John the Baptist leapt on hearing the voice of the Mary. This isn’t just a cute “I felt the baby kick” moment. It’s God’s Spirit at work. Zechariah had been told something about her child, “ he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.” – Luke 1:15. This visitation could best be described as a Eucharistic moment. The light of Christ comes to Elizabeth through Mary.

But this text rightly focuses on Elizabeth too. The scriptures record very little about Elizabeth, but she was a remarkable woman. She believed Gabriel when her husband did not. Mary was a young woman and she was an old woman, but Mary needed the encouragement that Elizabeth gave her. She assured her that all those things that had been told to her, by the angel, would happen.

What a wonderful encounter: two women, bound by kinship, both bearing sons, both blest by the Lord. How affirming to Mary that the revelation made to her, is understood by her kinswoman. Like Mary, when we share our faith story with someone we proclaim the greatness of God in our life. Think how blest we are each time we have the opportunity to ‘magnify the Lord’ through our faith narrative. We all have someone with whom we can share what God is doing in my life.

So what is our take away from this Gospel? Let me share three of them with you.

The first; John leapt for joy in the presence of his Lord. Earlier David ‘danced before the Lord with all his might’. The Psalmist tells us to ‘shout for joy’. Saint Paul urges us to ‘sing and make melody to the Lord with all our heart’. It is the child in us that can truly be open to God’s constant invitation to be born again, to be part of the creation which is itself constantly being recreated. Do I celebrate this life God has given me?

The second; the child leapt for joy.’ In Luke’s Gospel, joy emerges wherever Jesus is. Angels and shepherds rejoice at his birth. His disciples cannot fast and mourn while he is around. Zacchaeus rejoices when Jesus comes to his house. The disciples at Emmaus were overcome when they recognised Jesus as their companion, and the Gospel ends with the disciples returning to Jerusalem with great joy. I ask that I may also be full of joy because Jesus is near.

Finally, this Gospel also helps us to focus on what the upcoming season of Christmas is all about; the giving of one self. God so loved us that he gave his only son to save us from our sin. Mary gives of herself and her time. She herself, who is with child, chooses to make a long and arduous journey to Ein Karim to be of service to her cousin who is herself expecting a child. The gifts we give this Christmas is not so much an ‘exchange’ in anticipation of receiving but a giving that comes from a heart that has received much. Give of yourself this Christmas. Your presence is more important than your presents.

For another reflection based on this text please click on this link
https://www.pottypadre.com/why-us-why-now-why-4th-sunday-in-advent-luke-139-45/

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