Deepawali 2019 – The Laddu Saga

Laddu might be a favourite sweet for many. Any type of Laddu, called ‘Urundai’ in Tamil, denotes, sweet balls made with different ingredients… like neiurundai/split green gram laddu, kadalai maavu urundai/bengal gram laddu or the unavoidable thengai urundai/coconut laddu.

These traditional urundais are healthy with the roasted lentils, in comparison to the white flour based creamy sweets. With new age food therapies from bloggers like me, there are other healthier versions – flax seed urundai, ragi urundai, and other millet based sweet balls.

But, no one can beat the Boondi Laddu. The King/Queen of Laddus in the south is the boondi laddu and, in the north of India, it is the ‘Moti choor Laddu’. The Moti choor of north India, is named due to its miniature pearls. The boondi, must have been named after the Hindi word- ‘Boond’ which means ‘droplet’.

One version of the South Indian Laddu, is the most popular Laddu of the Temple of Thiruppathi. The Thiruppathi laddu must be the most sort after, next to the presiding deity in the temple. The Boondi Laddu of the south, is made with slightly bigger pearls, than its northern counterpart. In colour too, the north prefers orange and the south prefers yellow. The Thiruppathi laddu though is brownish, as the pearls are deep fried and, taken out after they reach a darker colour. This might be for longer shelf life.

So, Laddu has been on my bucket list for many years. Before starting to make the Laddu, I wanted to do my homework well. I had my cousin in Chennai, who was and is still an expert in making Laddus. I approached her during one of my holidays, and that was my ‘Laddu Workshop’, in its best and simplified form. After that fruitful lesson, I thought Laddu was not as hard as I used to believe.

The hands that gave me a live demo and a true workshop on Laddu..

Thanks Sweety for that excellent demonstration!! These are the beautiful laddus we made.

So, inspired by the skillful workshop on Laddus by Sweety, I was confident, my laddus were going to be perfect.

Last Deepawali, I decided to make Boondi Laddu, along with Flax seed/black sesame Laddu – (https://dosaikal.com/2018/11/24/the-good-fat-black-ball/). But, I messed up with the Paagu or the sugar syrup. The sugar syrup got a bit thicker and couldn’t bind the laddus together. instead, we had them as dry sweet boondi. It was not a waste, that had to be thrown away, or altered to settle down in other variations, like the athirasam. But my mission remained unaccomplished.

I felt like the same maths student in my previous article (https://dosaikal.com/2019/11/07/deepawali-the-victory-story/), whose procedures were right, yet answer went wrong.

I researched into the shots, that I had taken at my cousin’s. Then I went through this youtube -demonstration- Laddoo by Revathy Shanmugam

After setting myself into a Yogic meditator’s mode, I went into the kitchen, at 9 in the night. I told the chatting and helping enthusiasts at home, husband and daughter, not to come near the kitchen, till further instructions.

Two alterations I did to the original recipe –

  1. No food colour or turmeric powder was used.
  2. Since I didn’t want to use white sugar, I used unrefined cane sugar.
  3. Also, Mrs. Revathy Shanmugam’s recipe suggested 1 1/2 cups sugar for 1 cup of bengal gram flour. I took equal quantity of both, as my family needs less sugar.

Even then, we found the Laddus to be too sweet for us.

Hence, with no food colour and brown sugar, the colour of Laddu was not as yellowish as it is available normally, still the taste was unaltered.

Ingredients (makes approximately 25 laddus)

  • Kadalai Maavu/bengal gram flour (store bought) – 1 1/2 cups
  • baking soda – a pinch
  • water – to make batter
  • unrefined cane sugar – 1 1/2 cups
  • cashew nuts – 10-15 halved
  • raisins – 10-15
  • cardamom powder – 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

Before we start making boondi for laddu, it is advicable to make the sugar syrup. As Mrs. Revathy Shanmugam mentions, mixing boondi in hot syrup doesn’t yield the best of laddus. Let the syrup cool a bit, then the boondi or bengalgram pearls can be mixed.

First – Soft Ball/Single String consistency – How to make the quintessential syrup?

the syrup – a bit brownish because of the cane sugar
  • In a wide pan, take 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1/2 cup water
  • Bring it to boil and then keep the stove in sim position
  • Check for Soft ball consistency.When the sugar syrup is boiling well in the vessel – keep a bowl of water and add a few drops of the syrup. The drops should settle in water and one should be able to make a soft ball out of the droplets. 
  • Soft ball consistency is same as single string. Take very little syrup in between thumb and index finger (be cautious… the syrup is too hot), now, single string should be formed. This is the right consistency of syrup.

Now that the syrup is ready, leave it aside to cool.

Start making Boondi.

the first batch came out really perfect
  1. Sieve kadalai maavu; Add baking soda
  2. Add water little by little and mix into a batter, almost suitable for dosa or pancake
  3. Heat oil in a pan. The oil shouldn’t be too hot – then the boondi would turn brown immediately, without being properly cooked. The same way, oil shouldn’t be low in heat too. Boondi would turn out soggy.
  4. Like the porridge of the baby bear, in Goldilocks Story, the oil should be – ‘not too hot not too cold’- just right.
  5. Keep the boondi ladle over the oil and pour enough batter
  6. Tap the ladle so that beautiful pearls drop in harmony
  7. Do not make too many pearls in one ladle, as they would reduce the heat of oil, in turn, the boondis would become soggy
  8. When they are done, that is, when they reach a beautiful yellow colour, take them out on kitchen tissue
  9. Finish the whole batter
  10. When the batter is done, in the same oil, fry the cashewnuts and raisins and mix with the boondi.
  11. Add powdered cardamom powder too.

Making Laddu

  1. By now, the syrup must have cooled.
  2. Mix the boondi to the syrup and stir well. Leave it aside for at least a couple of hours or even overnight. This helps the boondis to soak in the sugar syrup well.
  3. I couldn’t wait beyond a couple of hours… so, I started making Laddus by middle of the night.
  4. The well soaked and cooled boondi in syrup, binded beautifully to make perfect Laddus.

Truly, a happy ending to a fruitful Saga!

Deepawali – The Victory Story

Deepawali in the south of India or Diwali in the north, the festival signifies victory of good over evil. In the north, it is Lord Rama’s homecoming, after his victory over Ravana; In the south, it is the day of Lord Krishna’s victory over demon Narakasura.

Now, my victory story, doesn’t involve any such philosophy. It is the victory of perseverance, victory of persistence, diligence, commitment and the list is endless. Why have I suddenly drenched myself in a sea of boastfulness? Let me elaborate. Exactly on the victorious day of Deepawali – I was a changed person. I suddenly felt my soul reached an unexplainable ecstatic state – with my victory over two things.

One – victory over the tricky Athirasam and Two – victory over the complicated Boondi Laddu! Doesn’t that sound awesome??

Athirasam

Athirasam has always been a tricky affair, since my first article on Athirasam in November 2011. It seems to have been a long journey, but this time, I am a contended soul.

I prayed very hard to all Gods, not for me, not for Athirasam, and also not for the Gods to whom I devoutly offered…. but extensively for my family. They are super appreciative of my efforts in the kitchen. A few times, I succeeded making replica of flattened pumice stone with the athirasam batter. Though it was capable of breaking any tooth, as strong as diamond, they appreciated the polished texture of the thing I made.

A few other times, the batter disintegrated in oil, they sweetly commented, it looked like blooming flowers in a lake. I was smart enough to stop with the first batch. I converted the batter into Appam with Banana or sweet Paniyaram. I even got hugs and kisses for being so very innovative.

Though, my heart brims with pride, having made them proud, on such countless occasions, I could somehow feel they were worried souls, on the eve of Diwali. They were in fact getting panic attacks, when I was preparing the Athirasam batter. With a true feeling of helping them out of this stressful situation, this time I prayed to all Gods, with utmost Devotion.

Thankfully, the Gods didn’t drop – good looking, perfect athirasams from Heaven. That’s when, I started to think, and hence, got so much stories to share with you guys.

So what made the difference? There were a few things I thought I should re-analyse. All numeric ratios were checked and they seemed just right. The measurements were perfect; the ingredients were exact; the procedure was flawless. I felt like a school going kid, with my math problem gone wrong. All formulas right, done in the exact step by step procedure, rechecked several times….. but the answer went wrong. All my teachers stood in front of me, and seemed to be telling me – Maths is all about Practice. Not only Mathematics, anything in life comes with a price – and the most important of all might be…. Time – Devoted Time to practice and practice again.

I realised, making Athirasam was more than a tough mathematical calculation. Practice was not enough. But, learning new nuances from continuous practice helped. What I learnt from continuous Practice is listed below-

  1. Rice flour used for Athirasam needs to be moist and not too dry. That’s why, raw rice is soaked, dried at home for an hour or so, and powdered in the mixer while slightly wet.
  2. Jaggery used should be the darker variety and also one which is right for syrups – we call it the ‘Paagu Vellam’ in Tamil.
  3. Though the ratio is provided, always keep additional rice flour. Because, some varieties of jaggery might take in more flour. If there isn’t enough flour, the mixture would be watery, a consistency not suitable to make athirasam.
  4. Also, always mix rice flour to syrup and, do not pour the syrup into rice flour. This helps in binding the mixture well, and gives room to add more rice flour if needed. But, while pouring syrup into the flour- one might end up having a very thick batter. And, if there isn’t more syrup in hand, it would be difficult to alter the consistency of batter.
  5. The most important of all – THE SYRUP…. that makes the difference. What we need, is a single-string consistency or soft ball consistency syrup.

Soft Ball consistency – How to make the quintessential syrup?

  • Heat jaggery with 1/4 cup water in a vessel to dissolve
  • Filter when jaggery is dissolved and make a syrup.
  • Check for Soft ball consistency? When the jaggery is boiling well in the vessel – keep a bowl of water and add a few drops of the syrup. The drops should settle in water and one should be able to make a soft ball out of the droplets.
  • Soft ball consistency is same as single string. Take very little syrup in between thumb and index finger (be cautious… the syrup is too hot), now, single string should be formed. This is the right consistency of syrup.

Now, after getting the consistency of syrup right, add the rice flour to the syrup and let the batter ferment overnight.

For recipe and ingredients of Athirasam, and my initial stories on how I learnt athirasam from our family kitchen, visit – https://dosaikal.com/2011/10/25/the-tricky-athirasam/

RICE FLOUR

The next important aspect of this year’s Athirasam making was the rice flour. I had store-bought rice flour, that was Idiyappam maavu. While I was wondering, how to use this flour, as an easy option .. this website came to my rescue. https://www.sailajakitchen.org/2018/10/adhirasam-recipe-using-ready-made-rice.html

It had an answer to keep the store bought dry rice powder in moist condition. The author asked to sprinkle water little by little on the rice flour, and after mixing, powder the bread-crumb-like flour with dry ginger and cardamom in a mixer. The moist rice powder for Athirasam is ready.

Isn’t this super smart! I adapted this method, with a slight correction in the syrup consistency- accurately soft ball.

Thank You Sailaja! you made my Day!!

After allowing the batter to ferment overnight, I made athirasam on the day of Deepawali. Gods had answered the prayers of my family. My Athirasams were just perfect.

I had mixed feelings… Had I scored full marks in mathematics? Or was I an athlete, who has just reached the finish line, faster than ever? I touched my head…. do I feel a chef’s cap? I suddenly realised, my feet didn’t touch the ground, then, I pressed myself down.

It might sound like an exaggerated triumph, but, this is no mean feat either. My mother agrees with me. Since Deepawali until today, she has been the lone soul, to have listened each word of my triumphant story of Athirasam, in complete silence on the other side of the telephone. And just said, ‘I’m proud of you’ with tears in her eyes, that I could visualise through my BOTIM call.

Navaratri in Abu Dhabi – Binding Traditions Stronger!

Come September, there are a number of festivals in line. And, for an Indian household, festivals mean exclusive traditions and exquisite food. Pillayar Chathurthi passed with mouth watering Modhakams or Poorna Kozhukkattai. Then came Navratri/Navaratri with many varieties of Sundal or the Healthy seasoned Lentil salads.

This year, Navaratri/Navratri was a special affair. Living in Abu Dhabi, one doesn’t feel out of homeland, with millions of Indians, especially South Indians quite huge in number. But, it is certainly an amazing place where festivals are celebrated in their best traditional way, with undoubted authenticity.

My Navaratri in Abu Dhabi, reminded me of Chennai, where I would go to houses of relatives and friends, to see Golu – the display of dolls/artefacts and many more, in beautifully decorated steps. Golu, showcases the innovative decorations of mostly the women in the house, and ofcourse without gender bias, the men do give a helping hand. Whoever contributes to it, It is creativity at its traditional best.

Why Abu Dhabi reminded me of Chennai, is purely because, the Golu display, Traditional attire, Sundal and singing of Keerthanais in Carnatic music, all part of Navaratri back home, came as a complete package this year. The only difference being, back in Chennai, I went in Pattu Pavadai – the traditional dress for little girls in south India; here in Abu Dhabi – I took my little daughter who came in Pattu Pavadai.

Nostalgia heavily strikes the middle aged .. has any philosopher/psychologist mentioned it? If not, then it’s me to profess it to the whole wide world.

I truly need to thank my friends here, Radha, Rekha, Shalini and Uma, who took me in a time machine and made me relive those splendid memories. Back at home, in one’s own homeland, one is always part of the already built-in society. Sharing traditions and remaining rooted, becomes an easy affair there. Here, in a land of one’s livelihood, one needs to become part of a new society, as well gather parts of their own society to remain culturally rooted. This Navaratri/Navratri and Golu that I write about, are not community events, transferring the cultural current from a core transmitter. Most admirable part here, is that, these women of the household, professionals in their own walks of life, have independently and individually transmitted the tradition and culture, they learnt from their parents, to friends and members of an extended society.

Here are a few pictures of the fascinating decorations in their homes, arranged to perfection. The Navaratri celebrations with the Golu, provided splendid feast for the eyes, soothing traditional music for the ears, scrumptious food for the tummy, and glorious memories for the heart.

The first home that I visited… Golu at Radha’s

the beautiful steps

the Krishna concept

the Devis

the Ganeshas

Golu at Shalini’s..

the beautiful steps

such eye-catchy colours..

the Krishna concept..

surprising twist.. Cambodian concept..Apsaras and Angkor Wat

This one, rekindled my Khmer Memories. Cambodia holds a special place in my heart, for the history of the land, warmth of the people, traditional cuisine and the connect with India, especially Tamilnadu- during the eras of the Pallava and Chola Empires. Nostalgia Overloaded. For more information on my love for Cambodia – please visit – https://dosaikal.com/category/the-cambodia-diary/

Golu at Rekha’s..

the beautiful steps…

Thanjavur thalaiyatti bommai – dancing dolls of Thanjavur – the shopkeeper’s gallery

A big ‘Nandri’ my friends!!

Hand Crafted Poetry!

What a way to start my UAE Diary!! After Holland and Cambodia, it is time to start a new adventure in a new country. What more can I expect, than an artistic push to kick start my Diary in the UAE..

Recently, Ms. Mani Suri, esteemed spouse of the Ambassador of India to the UAE, H.E. Navdeep Singh Suri, displayed her unique pottery creations. Ms. Suri’s 12 year passion, saw the perfect limelight in the midst of the Arabian sands, visible through the glasses of the 90th floor exhibition hall, in Burj Mohammed bin Rashid Tower, near the World Trade Centre,  Abu Dhabi.

She is a professional herself, working as the Design Head of a Production Company in Jaipur. She holds a Masters Degree in Economics from the Guru Nanak University in Amritsar, Punjab and additionally a degree in Communication Design from the USA.

A creation is always a mirror of the artist’s mind. In many cases, it represents the personality of the  creator. The exhibition named – ‘Down to Earth – Mani’s Vibrant Creations in Clay’ showcased the simple person that Ms. Mani Suri is, and yet a vibrant social personality, her friends know her to be.  

Earthy Hues- so close to Mother Earth

I regard handcrafted creations of any medium- be it fabric, metal, rock or clay, as highest forms of artistic creativity.   This one exhibition,  the medium being clay, transferred the connoisseur to an arena, so close to Mother Earth, far away from the mechanical world,  thereby showcasing the artist’s truest appreciation of life.

mother

While ‘Mother’ stimulates nostalgia, ‘Desert Safari’ and ‘Palm Tree’ show the Arabian Charm;

‘Soulmates’ and ‘Lotus’ are synonymous to perfect; if these are perfect, what do we say about the ‘pomegranate’ -flawless? If pomegranates are flawless, the other pomegranate – ‘Anar ka Dhana’ with tiny seeds intact is a stunning thing to watch.

desert safari


palm tree

soulmates

pomegranates


anar ka dhana – seeds intact

All creators are narrators too. This one narrates her flaws too.  The crack in the pot and her perseverance in putting it back to a better shape is inspiring. Optimism has brought out one of the most beautiful pieces in the collection.

optimism at its best!

The colours are striking like those in the ‘Rainbow Ride’ or the ‘Sunshine’.  ‘Cheer Up’ truly cheers you up with its vibrance.   It’s surely an apt name-  ‘the vibrant collections’.

rainbow ride


sunshine


cheer up

Pottery or Poetry?

Ms. Mani was introduced to clay in South Africa, and since then clay from different parts of the world, has been an integral part of her life, hopping off and on different destinations, with her Diplomat husband. She continued her game with clay in Egypt and Australia subsequently.

The products displayed had different creative techniques – rustic, metallic, glazed or the sheeny finish and what not. The artist has gloriously played with clay and her imagination.

One of my favourites is ‘by the beach’.  The relaxed mood that the artist transfers to the onlooker is the success of such pieces of art. The happy mood that ‘let’s go, party’ throws on you is not to be missed.

by the beach

let’s go, party

The ‘Mother Hen’ and the ‘ugly ducklings’ are given such befitting names. 

ugly ducklings and mother hen

The work of pottery is nothing less than poetry in clay. But the names given to the pieces shows Ms. Mani’s interest in playing with words too. interesting and a few definitely fascinating…like the ‘hat trick’, ‘peekaboo’ or  ‘Copernicus’.

hat trick


peek a boo

coppernicus

 

When asked which piece of art she considers her master piece till date, Ms. Suri says – “I can’t name one, all are my children”.

Life can be driven by several forces. But, to lead one that is driven by Passion, is certainly an accomplishment in itself. ‘Down to Earth’ portrays this positive celebration of Life- symbolising Ms. Suri – the artist and creator.

Indonesia – the lost link – part 3

A visit to Borobudur is incomplete without visiting Candi Mendut and Chandi Pawon. The three are grouped as the Borobudur Temple Compounds. And that’s what we did. 

The Borobudur Temple Compounds consist of three monuments: namely the Borobudur Temple and  two smaller temples situatued to the east on a straight axis to Borobudur. The two temples are Mendut Temple, whose depiction of Buddha is represented by a formidable monolith accompanied by two Bodhisattvas, and Pawon Temple, a smaller temple whose inner space does not reveal which deity might have been the object of worship. Those three monuments represent phases in the attainment of Nirvana.
https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/592

h

Candi Mendut

Chronologically, mendut is the oldest of the three. The stairs leading to the main temple is quite steep. Inside the temple are seated three huge deities. One is Buddha Sakyauni in ‘Dharmachakra Mudra’. On either side of him are Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani.

Buddha Sakyamuni

Avalokiteshvara

Vajrapani

On the outer walls along the steep stair, we find carvings of Jataka tales.

The clever monkey and the crocodile
The Turtle and the Swans

A few more from the temple –

Even to this day, Mendut is used as a religious temple. When Buddhist pilgrims visit Borobudur, they always visit Mendut first. They then walk to the nearby temple Pawon and end their pilgrimage with a climb to the top of Borobudur. While Mendut is not as famous as its bigger cousin, Borobudur, it still stands strong as one of the greatest Buddhist temples on ancient Java. https://www.worldsiteguides.com/asia/indonesia/mendut/ Candi Pawan

Candi Pawon

Between Mendut and Borobudur stands Pawon temple, a jewel of Javanese temple architecture. Most probably, this temple served to purify the mind prior to ascending Borobudur.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pawon

Kalpataru – the celestial wish granting tree

shop that sells traditional folk crafts outside the temple

My admiration for these architectural wonders is rekindled after this post… Every temple that I visited, every sculpture that I watched awe struck… is well preserved not only in my gadget, but in my memory too. I know these medieval temples would call me back..


Indonesia- the lost link – 2

Let’s start our journey to the mesmerising medieval temples- Buddhist and Hindu temples of Indonesia. This isn’t a research paper. Hence, as mentioned in the previous post, we would do a pictorial tour with an introduction to the historic site.

I am delighted to share these pictures and hope you will be encouraged to visit these amazing architectural wonders. Or if you have already visited, please share your thoughts.

First in the list of the temples of Yogyakarta is Borobudur ..

The Borobudur Temple Compounds is one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world, and was built in the 8th and 9th centuries AD during the reign of the Syailendra Dynasty. The monument is located in the Kedu Valley, in the southern part of Central Java, at the centre of the island of Java, Indonesia.

The main temple is a stupa built in three tiers around a hill which was a natural centre: a pyramidal base with five concentric square terraces, the trunk of a cone with three circular platforms and, at the top, a monumental stupa. The walls and balustrades are decorated with fine low reliefs, covering a total surface area of 2,520 m2. Around the circular platforms are 72 openwork stupas, each containing a statue of the Buddha.

https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/592

After the introduction, its time for the pictures-

The Panels-

 

Intricate carvings-



Animals in stone- Jataka Tales…

The Stories –

The Life –

The Buddha –

Indonesia – the lost link

Couple of weeks ago, I had a surprise waiting for me. A surprise from as far as Indonesia. Almost 4 years ago, we left Cambodia and 5 years ago, we made our memorable trip to Bali, Yogyakarta and Jakarta – the mesmerising cities of Indonesia. This surprise was a delicious package, sent by my Indonesian friend ‘I’.

As a person who respects traditional cuisine and culture, I am amazed by the ‘cuisinical’ links that my state Tamilnadu shares with south-east Asia – especially with the countries I have visited till date- Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

‘I’ addressed me as ‘sister’ – I am reminded of the Tamil verse written in Purananooru – one of the many collections of poetries in the Sangam age (3rd BCE to 3rd ACE), , by the Tamil Poet ‘kaniyan poongundranar’:

“yaadhum oore yaavarum kelir” –

யாதும் ஊரே யாவரும் கேளிர்
தீதும் நன்றும் பிறர்தர வாரா
நோதலும் தணிதலும் அவற்றோ ரன்ன
சாதலும் புதுவது அன்றே, வாழ்தல்
இனிதென மகிழ்ந்தன்றும் இலமே முனிவின்
இன்னா தென்றலும் இலமே, மின்னொடு
வானம் தண்துளி தலைஇ யானாது
கல் பொருது மிரங்கு மல்லல் பேரியாற்று
நீர்வழிப் படூஉம் புணைபோல் ஆருயிர்
முறை வழிப் படூஉம் என்பது திறவோர்
காட்சியில் தெளிந்தனம் ஆகலின், மாட்சியின்
பெரியோரை வியத்தலும் இலமே,
சிறியோரை இகழ்தல் அதனினும் இலமே. (புறம்: 192)

To us all towns are our own, everyone our kin,
Life’s good comes not from others’ gifts, nor ill,
Pains and pain’s relief are from within,
Death’s no new thing, nor do our bosoms thrill
When joyous life seems like a luscious draught.
When grieved, we patient suffer; for, we deem
This much-praised life of ours a fragile raft
Borne down the waters of some mountain stream
That o’er huge boulders roaring seeks the plain
Tho’ storms with lightning’s flash from darkened skies.
Descend, the raft goes on as fates ordain.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise!
We marvel not at the greatness of the great;
Still less despise we men of low estate.

Kaniyan Poongundran, Purananuru – 192
(Adapted from translation by G.U.Pope, 1906)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaniyan_Pungundranar


yaadhum oore yaavarum kelir – the first line of the poem means – ‘To us all towns are our own, everyone our kin’ – the thought of world is one, written two millennia ago is a startling evidence of the well established Tamil civilization.

This thought of oneness is what I felt, when I visited the medieval temples of south-east asia. The cultural and historical impact that the temples have left behind in my mind is huge. The historical sites are not mere tourist attractions to me – but they are evidences of a long lost civilizational connect – often researched by scholars.

The former Indian President, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam while rendering his speech on the occasion of the golden jubilee year of the European Union in April 2007 spoke about Kaniyan Poongundranar and his ‘world is one’ concept-

“i am reminded of the dream of the indian poet kaniyan poongundranar who articulated 3,000 years back in tamil classic Purananuru , he says “yaadhum oore yaavarum kelir” which means, “i am a world citizen, every citizen is my own kith and kin” he said 3,000 years back”

When ‘I’, my Indonesian friend sent me a few traditional sweets of the country, I was delighted. First, there was the joy of receiving a surprise, next the joy of receiving one of my favorite delicacies, next was the incomparable elation of revisiting the past – the recent touristic and the distant historic past.

This is the exotic package I received –


on top: Dadar Gulung; below left: Onde Onde; below right: Kelepon

Dadar Gulung is sweet coconut pancake; Onde Onde are deep fried glutinous rice balls filled with mung beans and sugar and wrapped in sesame seeds, and Kelepons are green coloured steamed rice balls filled with liquid palm sugar and coated in grated coconut.

All of these and more that we tasted during our Indonesian trip back in 2014 – from my photo collection-

dadar gulung and kelepon
kolak – sweet potatoes, banana, rice balls, jackfruit in coconut milk and palm sugar

Now, one would understand my delight after I received onde onde, dadar gulung and kelepon from ‘I’. The taste that I had cherished for so long, arrived so beautifully and rekindled my fondness for south-east Asian countries.

Our spread in the hotel dinner also had these –

Sayur Lodeh – vegetable soup in coconut milk, which resembled our own sodhi
ayam bakar – grilled chicken
ikan asin – salted fish

Shrinking the world into one nation and considering all citizens as kith and kin is certainly an unbelievable noble thought. The same way – respecting different beliefs, embracing different cultures, accepting and reciprocating the warmth of humanity is what strikes us the most in the medieval Indonesian historical places that we visited.

History provides clues to various aspects of identity of a race. Language, Religion, Trade, Culture, Cuisine and many more contribute to this great search called ‘Identity’. Indonesia teaches strong lessons to countries that fail to understand and preserve their rich history and heritage.

A country that has transformed into an Islamic Nation, Indonesia sets an example in conserving its rich past, wherein medieval temples might occupy the largest fraction in its historical study. The temples, especially in Yogyakarta or Jogja stand as great representations of the country’s antiquity and glorious past.

The excellent way, these have been preserved shows the country’s respect for its past, irrespective of the present faith. This open minded acceptance of history is what makes Indonesia, a country par tolerance.

In my next post, I invite the readers to a pictoral tour of the beautiful medieval temple sites that we visited in the province of Yogyakarta.

candi sewu