Monthly Archives: October 2013

Pathirpeni/Sugary Snow White Crisps



Pathirpeni is a very special sweet to me and to my brother! It was and is still a speciality signature sweet of Aachi  my paternal grandmother. I do not remember having pathirpeni in any other house in the big clan that we belong to. The sole supplier to all near and dear ones was Aachi – helped meticulously by Amma – my mother.

I had my miniature ‘Puri kattai’ or the spherical puri maker in wood to specially make pathirpeni and also puris. This was handed over to my daughter who used to help me make rotis, but feels she is a grown up and uses my bigger puri kattai. She painted my dear little puri kattai though the newer roller is intact.



Pathirpeni is for those with that extra sweet tooth – which might be god sent genetically or amma fed affectionately… We siblings have both – hence not one but two extras to successfully acquire that ‘happier the healthier’ plump look!

These are deep-fried crisps dipped/rubbed immediately in powdered sugar to get the snowy white finish. It is a simple sweet with minimal ingredients but one should be ready for some interesting variety of work. The sugar that melts in the mouth first is followed by the crispy crunch of the deep-fried discs.

These also involve an efficient team work. Since the count was always in hundreds, amma or aachi would knead the dough; they would take turns in pressing the spheres and frying in oil – the last quintessential part of rubbing the powdered sugar would be ours – mine and my brother… I think I did the rubbing and he contributed more into something which can also be decently termed as tasting!

So I did the rolling and frying and my 6-year-old did the sugar-coating! She wanted to make her own pathirpeni and then I was a proud mother!!


she started off like this….



and then graduated with flying colours!! – special seven that the little hands made!


These can be stored in air tight containers after cooled for a week – that’s not a concern as its life ends too quickly! Yet the tastiest crisps are those which directly come out of the oil and are delicately transferred for one’s taste buds to relish, sprinkled/rubbed very quickly with powdered sugar.

One cup of flour (about 150 gms), would yield 20-25 crisps. After a no maida/all-purpose flour and no white sugar life for many years now, this one has been an exception. Might be I try next time with whole wheat flour and brown sugar – but have to sacrifice on the colour as wheat flour would result in brown crisps and then we might call it brownie crisps!

Now to the recipe –
Pathirpeni/Sugary Snow White Crisps



Ingredients (makes 30-35)




  • maida maavu/all-purpose flour – 1 1/4 cup (200 gms)
  • cheeni/sugar – 1 1/4 cup (200 gms)
  • thanneer/water – as needed
  • uppu/salt – a pinch
  • nei/clarified butter – 1 tsp
  • arisi maavu/rice powder – 1 tsp
  • yennai/oil – for deep frying

Method of Preparation
1. Sieve all-purpose flour, add a pinch of salt and mix enough water to make a tight dough



2. Finely powder the sugar and keep in a wide bowl or plate; the deep fried crisps would directly land inside this bowl to have a sugar bath
3. Heat oil in a pan, keep in sim position
4. In a small bowl, mix clarified butter and rice powder
5. Make three even balls of the dough



6. Spread into flat breads – chappatis/indian roti size – not too thin, not too thick



7. Do not place rotis one on top of the other before spreading the mixture as they would stick to each other and one would have to make the three flat breads again. Make one and place on a plate; spread the butter rice powder mixture, make the second one and place on top of the first; spread the mixture and make the third; now place the third on top of the second. It had become messy as I had placed before spreading – I had to do it all over again. So be cautious on this



8. Roll this triple layered roti . Now it is time to pull the rolled roti as long as possible without spoiling or breaking the texture




pulled long


9. Then cut into very small bits, size enough to make small circular crisps

these are little big, i had to make them smaller


10. Roll into thin crisps – while rolling, see the side which was cut by knife – make thin puris/crisps pressing the knife cut edge into a circle. This helps the butter mixture to stay intact. Otherwise it would ooze out from the puris.



11. When the oil is ready, roll one by one and fry till crisp. We do not want a fluffy soft puri – make really thin and flat ones that come out crisp
12. Immediately drop it inside the sugar bed and apply well; the powdered sugar must have coated evenly



13. Tap the crisps slightly to reduce the excess sugar
14. Taste one to enjoy the true taste of pathirpeni – this is the most important step in my opinion; having identified the flaws (making thinner or thicker; right shape; less sugar coating; more sugar coating and so on), proceed with the next
15. Make all the crisps and let them cool
16. Store in an air tight container and enjoy.
17. Do not hesitate to help yourself with more – you won’t get those hot crisps after they are cooled – cannot be microwaved or reheated by any means!

  1. This is a simple one – yet, some caution on important steps would make it easier
  2. Try one and feel the crispness of it and accordingly try to make corrections on the thinness and crispness of the pathirpeni
  3. Each time, tap a little to take away the sugar if one doesn’t prefer so much sugar
  4. Adding cardamom powder to the powdered sugar might add some aroma and flavor though it is not added normally.




Ribbon Pakoda/Gram flour Fritters (ribbon shaped)



Ribbon Pakoda gets it name from its shape I suppose! The fritters look like ribbons – so when did the name come – after the Britishers came in, then what would have been its name before?

Ofcourse, there are a few tamil names to these fritters-
1. ‘Naadaa Thenkuzhal’ – fritters in the shape of string or rope
2. ‘Olai Pakoda’ – Olai is the name given to leaves of coconut and palm – especially dried leaves – Olai Chuvadi means Palm script written centuries ago. Ilai is the word for leaves in general – Maavilai – mango leaf; vaazhai ilai – banana leaf and so on…
Panai Olai for Palm leaf and Thennai Olai for coconut leaf – the dried version. The young leaves of these are called panang-kuruthu and thennang-kuruthu – so ‘kuruthu’ is fresh leaf here. Olai is the dried leaf. These fritters might look like the dried leaves too!!

There needs more exploration into the reasoning of names.

Now, to Diwali and the savouries stored for days, but the storage attempt always invariably fails – as they wouldn’t last a couple of days. All passers by in the family would open the ‘thooku chatti’ or the vessel in which the savouries are stored and then – not to worry – life moves on – to the next savoury or sweet.


Ribbon Pakoda





  • kadalai maavu/gram flour – 2 cups
  • arisi maavu/rice powder – 1 cup
  • milagai vatral podi/red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp
  • salt – to taste
  • perungayam/asafoetida powder – 1/4 tsp
  • vennai/butter or nei/clarified butter – 3 tsp
  • yennai/oil – to deep fry
  • thanneer/water – as needed

optional additions

  • poondu/garlic – 4 cloves (make a paste)
  • seeragam/cumin seeds – 1 tsp


dough and the mould


Method of Preparation

  1. Sieve both the powders together
  2. Mix chilli powder, salt, asafoetida powder and butter/clarified butter to the dry powders
  3. Add enough water to make a stiff dough
  4. Heat oil in a pan for deep frying
  5. Grease the inner cylinder of the murukku kuzhal/maker and place a part of the dough and close with ribbon pakoda disc
  6. When the oil is hot, turn down the stove to medium and press the dough into the oil into circular basket like fritters
  7. Fry till golden brown and crisp
  8. Remove in absorbant tissue and store after cooled. Break the fritters for easy storage (also to avoid over-eating).




  1. This is a quick and easy version with red chilli powder. A ground paste of red chillies and garlic tastes better. Garlic aids in digestion.
  2. Cumin seeds are sprinkled for digestion as well as better looks of the fritters.
  3. Butter helps in the softly crisp texture of the fritters. Hot oil can also be poured into the powder with butter.
  4. Do not fry in very high oil temperature. The pakodas would turn dark very quickly. Keep in medium and adjust the heat accordingly for the perfect colour and crispness.
  5. For those who are searching for asafoetida in ingredient picture, sorry the box got over and I threw it away. The other new one would arrive tomorrow from the Indian shop.
    If you do not have the disc – that’s something to worry at the moment… please buy one now!



Ukkarai/Okkarai – Lentil Halwa for Diwali




The festival of lights is back again! No need for long paragraphs saying Diwali brings in joy and happiness and teaches the traditional values to the younger generation….. Whatever said and done, not said and not done – Diwali or Deepavali in Tamil, brings in loads of sweets and tonnes of savouries – to relish and eat and ofcourse over eat!

So, let’s plunge into some special sweets and savouries one after the other in the coming week. Today it is Okkarai or Ukkarai – a Halwa with two/three lentils and jaggery.

Some make it with all the three basic lentils of an Indian kitchen – red lentil, dehusked green gram and bengal gram or a combination of two of these or just bengal gram. Though amma does not make okkarai, I was re-introduced to this exquisite sweet by my friend Lakshmi in Chennai. When my daughter was very small and we lived in the same locality as theirs, we used to be treated with Okkarai very often and it became one of my daughter’s favourites. The beautiful brown colour, the aroma of clarified butter with the fried nuts added and the flavour of lentils mixed jaggery is just exotic with no words to explain.

Lakshmi, I never knew the effort that was involved in Okkarai until I made it now. So, it is a rekindled, more respectful thanks for the strain you put yourself to!
Recipe adopted from-

In Rajasthani cuisine, Moong Dhal Halwa occupies a special place. To me, it is one of best desserts of Indian Cuisine. I should confess, anyone can swap their home made moong dhal halwa/dehusked green gram halwa – rajasthani style – with the best of my pattu/silk sarees (or my husband’s favourite suits)!!
Okkarai/Ukkarai – Lentil Halwa



Ingredients (serves 4)

  • kadalai paruppu/bengal gram – 1/2 cup
  • paasi paruppu/dehusked green gram – 1/2 cup
  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 1/2 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 3/4 cup
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 1/2 cup
  • mundhiri paruppu/cashew nuts – 4tsp
  • ular thiratchai/raisins – 4tsp


Method of Preparation

  1. Dry roast kadalai paruppu and paasi paruppu till golden brown
  2. Wash and soak for two hours
  3. Grind into a coarse paste with no water – the same as dry grinding but the lentils are wet as they were soaked – but no water please
  4. Make small balls and flat discs and steam in a greased tray/mould for about 15 minutes
  5. Dry grind the balls again for an even end product of halwa without lumps
  6. Keep aside the lentil powder
  7. Grate the coconut and keep aside
  8. Heat a little clarified butter in a pan and fry the cut cashewnuts and raisins and keep aside
  9. In a pan slightly heat jaggery in little water until jaggery dissolves completely
  10. Strain it well and place in low heat for a thick syrup  – Even if the syrup is not too sticky like a single string consistence, do not bother. There is enough time while the jaggery gets mixed with lentil powder- but just be careful not to get it burnt
  11. In the same pan, when the jaggery is ready, add the lentil powder to it and start stirring well
  12. Heat the clarified butter into a pourable consistency and add to the jaggery, lentil mixture while getting cooked. This helps the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan
  13. Add the fried cashews and raisins
  14. Stir well till jaggery is completely absorbed by the lentils and a smooth halwa consistency is arrived
  15. In the end add the grated coconut and mix well till the raw smell and juiciness of coconut is gone
  16. Tastes best when served hot.


roast the lentils together



after soaking, grind and steam the mixture



then, dry blend to avoid lumps



mix well with fried nuts and grated coconut




  1. Quantity of jaggery depends on each family
  2. As mentioned above, addition of red lentils is another option
  3. I used banana leaves to steam the lentil mixture for some extra aroma
  4. Add the lentil powder to syrup jaggery or pour in the jaggery syrup into the pan of lentil powder – either way the halwa would come out the same
  5. Quantity of nei/clarified butter can be altered. I love nei in my sweets – hence this quantity. If one prefers lesser clarified butter  -feel free to reduce it. The texture of ukkarai would be slightly powdery – like Puttu (steamed rice cylinders) and hence, okkarai is also called ‘Paruppu Puttu’, I learnt it now.



Paasi Paruppu Sundal/Stir fried Dehusked Green Gram Salad



Here comes another Sundal/stir fried lentil to end the navaratri season. But sundals are not the sole speciality foods of Navaratri alone. They are very simple recipes yet highly potential protein foods providing essential nutrients to the body, both children and elders alike.

As I had mentioned in earlier posts, sundals can be a substitute to fried starters in parties; nutritious snack than junk food during relaxing times. Especially for kids returning from school, sundal can be an excellent source of nutritious energy – now stop them grab their white flour butter cookies out of tiredness and hunger!

Call Sundal, Stir Fried Lentil as well as Salad – is this right?- Omit the seasoning, add carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and don’t hesitate to choose from your favourite salad veggies to the boiled lentil to make it a healthy salad.
Paasi Paurppu Sundal/Stir Fried Dehusked Green Gram Salad




Mung dal is high in fiber, low in saturated fat, low in sodium, and contains no cholesterol. Because of the wide range of nutrients contained in mung dal, these legumes offer a whole host of health benefits for the immune system, the metabolism, the heart and other organs, cell growth, protection against free radicals, and diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Here is a list of the nutrients that mung dal provides:

· Protein

· Vitamin C

· Folic acid or folate

· Iron

· Zinc

· Potassium

· Magnesium

· Copper

· Manganese

· Phosphorus

· Thiamine


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • paasi paruppu/dehusked green gram – 1 cup
  • yennai/oil – 2 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1/2 tsp
  • vengayam/onions – 1 no. or chinna vengayam/shallots – 4 no.s
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few
  • pachai milagai/green chillies – 2 no.suppu/salt – to taste
  • perungayam/asafoetida – 1/4 tsp


Method of Preparation

  1. Chop onions finely and slit the green chillies; red chillies can also be added or substituted
  2. Wash and soak dehusked green gram in enough water for 2 hrs
  3. By 2 hrs, the lentil would have become softer and bigger in size – cook the lentil in a pan with the same soaked water
  4. Do not cook this lentil in a pressure cooker as it would mash very fast
  5. Keep checking for water and be alert not to overcook; If water is evaporated, the lentil might be burnt or if it is overcooked, it might be mashed while seasoning
  6. Once the lentil is cooked, switch off stove and keep aside
  7. If there is excess water after cooking, drain away
  8. Heat oil in a pan, let mustard seeds splutter and add dehusked black gram
  9. Add chopped onions, curry leaves and green chillies and saute for a couple of minutes
  10. Then add cooked lentil and salt and mix well
  11. Mix carefully that the lentil remains in perfect shape
  12. Sprinkle asafoetida powder and switch off stove
  13. Sundal is ready.




Navaratri and Nostalgia – Karuppu Kondaikadalai Sundal/Stir fried Black Chick Peas



This is the week of Navaratri – the Hindu festival devoted to the three women deities – Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, consorts of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma respectively.

Religious aspects differ with families and mindsets of families. This holds good for traditions too. But, I strongly believe that the procedural aspects of religion are secondary and so are the mythological stories that have evolved to keep a community within its boundaries. But the traditions that have been transferred through grandmothers and mothers of households holds a community, society and a race intact, without losing its identity.

Passing on stories and memories of one’s childhood to the next generation is an interesting event on a day-to-day basis. With nuclear families as the norm and families living in different countries around the world, the connection between generations has slowly gone to a negative index. Thanks to modern social networking tools and low-cost international call facilities, the widened gap has reduced. But, the role of story telling is switched over predominantly to the parents from grandparents greatly.

This ‘Role Adoption’ of a mother as a story-teller in transferring culture and traditions to the next generation, has its own advantage, especially during festival occasions.

More information had been written on the religious and festive aspects of Navaratri in So, let us talk about the experience of story telling with Navaratri and Nostalgia.

The immediate ones, apart from other elaborate and striking features, that would come to my mind about Navaratri are –

a. Pattu Pavadai – the traditional dress worn by little girls on festive occasions;

b. Carnatic Music – classical south indian music, the classes of which would start from the day of Vijayadasami;

c. Recital of Songs – as small and young girls, we would go in groups or with amma to worship the golu celebrations or the decorative arrangements of our near and dear ones and

d. Sundal – the lentil salad if I could call it which would be made everyday for poojai and also distributed to families in the neighbourhood!

Pattu Pavadai Chattai



Now, as a story teller, Nostalgia hits me first with the Pattu Pavadai Chattai – Pattu – Silk; Pavadai – Full Skirt and Chattai – Blouse; the traditional silk skirt and blouse of the little girls. Everytime I buy new clothes from Chennai, Pattu Pavadai is part of the collection – it comes from various sources – maternal and paternal grannies and other grandmothers and grandfathers of the total clan!

I get them stitched like any other Tamil person in different heights so that my daughter can wear each one new as she grows taller day by day. There is also the concept of ‘duck’ – not the noun which quacks but the verb – the work that the tailor does to alter the height of the Pavadai/skirt. We tell him ‘ducku podunga’ – might have been ‘tuck it in’. He tucks the extra length of the skirt cloth in one or two layers to be unthreaded as she grows and the height of the skirt is increased. What excellent tailoring sense from generations!

When I see her wear the Pattu Pavadai Chattai for any occasion – my childlike senses are rekindled – this time I made the ‘puff kai chattai’ – puffed hand blouse – which I dare not try to wear for my Pudavai/Saree today.



Carnatic Music

Telling her stories of Paatu vaguppu/Music classes, I have become her music teacher too – just the basics!



With the new edition of the same old book of basic classic Carnatic music to the easily portable shruthi box – I try to dig in to memories back home!

Navaratri without Sundal – lentil salad is like Pongal without Karumbu/Sugarcane.(

The protein rich, nutritious sundals are real treat during this festival.  Different lentils are soaked and cooked and seasoned with minimum oil and just stir fried to be presented as a healthy snack. Among the various varieties, it is Karuppu Kondaikadalai Sundal this time.

Now, to the recipe –

Karuppu Kondaikadalai Sundal/Stir fried Black Chick Peas




Chickpeas are a source of zinc, folate and protein.Chickpeas are low in fat and most of this is polyunsaturated. Nutrient profile of desi chana (the smaller variety) is different, especially the fibre content which is much higher than the light coloured variety. One hundred grams of mature boiled chickpeas contains 164 calories, 2.6 grams of fat (of which only 0.27 grams is saturated), 7.6 grams of dietary fiber and 8.9 grams of protein. Chickpeas also provide dietary phosphorus (168 mg/100 g), which is higher than the amount found in a 100-gram serving of whole milk.

Recent studies have also shown that they can assist in lowering of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Ingredients (serves 3 to 4)

  • karuppu kondaikadalai/black chick peas – 1 cup
  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 1/2 cup yennai/oil – 2 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1/2 tsp
  • milagai vatral/red chillies – 1 no.
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few
  • perungayam/asafoetida powder – 1/4 tsp
  • salt – to taste



Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak black chick peas in enough water overnight or at least for 8 hours
  2. Pressure cook till soft – this might take at least 20 minutes in low-medium heat
  3. Heat oil in a pan and let the mustard seeds splutter and add black gram
  4. When dehusked black gram turns golden brown, add red chillies and curry leaves and saute
  5. Red chillies can be substituted with green chillies if one prefers
  6. Strain the cooked black peas and add to the pan
  7. Add salt to taste and stir fry well
  8. When all ingredients are combined well – this might take five minutes – turn off the stove
  9. Sprinkle freshly grated coconut to serve
  10. Coconut can be added while sundal is still getting stir fried. Then, the colour of fresh coconut is lost but an excellent flavor of pan roasted coconut enhances the salad; While non-roasted fresh coconut might not add those extra calories due to roasting!
  11. The addition of coconut can be left to choose as per family preference
  12. Enjoy the healthy snack which can also be an excellent starter in dinners.


Chinna Vengaya Thuvayal – Shallot Dip/Chutney



Unlike most of those plans/promises I have not been able to keep up, this time I could make it. As written in the previous post – here is the chinna vengaya thuvayal, ideal for lentil dosais. Also good for basic Idli and Dosai, but I believe the garlic content in this vengaya thuvayal helps to tackle the gastric problems which might arise for some, due to the protein rich whole lentils in the pancakes. In a whole, this thuvayal aids in digestion.

With simple ingredients and simpler preparation, this has the ability to change the earthy pancakes into a special treat or a quick and easy breakfast or dinner food.


Chinna Vengaya Thuvayal – Shallot Dip/Chutney

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • chinna vengayam/shallots- 12 no.s
  • poondu/garlic – 12 cloves
  • milagai vatral/dried red chillies – 6 no.s (less or more)
  • puli/tamarind – gooseberry size
  • uppu/salt – to taste


  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 6 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1 tsp
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few




Method of Preparation

  1. Clean, wash and cut onions and garlic
  2. Wash tamarind well
  3. Grind to a smooth paste with red chillies, tamarind and salt
  4. Heat 4 tsp oil, add mustard seeds and black gram; when the black gram is golden brown add curry leaves; fry for about 15 seconds in low flame and pour the blended paste
  5. Stir the blended paste well in the seasoned oil
  6. Fry/cook for about 10 minutes in slow flame
  7. The texture and taste of the end thuvayal/dip depends on the family.  If one prefers a slight raw taste of onions, frying for 5 minutes is sufficient
  8. Frying the thuvayal for 10 minutes would give it a darker shade colorwise and the raw smell of onions and garlic would be gone
  9. Do not forget to stir at frequent intervals from the bottom of the pan as the thuvayal might stick to the bottom and be burnt very quickly
  10. When the thuvayal is done, remove from the pan and transfer into a serving bowl
  11. Heat 2 tsp oil in a pan; Pour on top of thuvayal that has a glow on top due to hot gingelly oil
  12. Thuvayal is ready! While served with dosais, pour one or two teaspoons of gingelly oil for one of the best flavours you would have tasted till date!




  1. The quantity of red chillies can be altered according to taste preferences.
  2. Onions and garlic also contribute to the spice of the thuvayal – so try with lesser chillies and upgrade it the next time if needed.
  3. More gingelly oil, tastier the thuvayal. The taste of gingelly oil helps in tackling the spice level and pungent smell of garlic and onion – hence do not be conscious of oil here.
  4. Instead of seasoning first, one can also start with just heating the oil and pouring the blended paste and cooking together.This doesn’t make any difference to the taste.
  5. Season the thuvayal in the end. Pouring the seasoned oil or just hot oil –  on top of the done thuvayal is very important to make the thuvayal a delight with any kind of lentil dosais.