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
- Dry roast kadalai paruppu and paasi paruppu till golden brown
- Wash and soak for two hours
- 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
- Make small balls and flat discs and steam in a greased tray/mould for about 15 minutes
- Dry grind the balls again for an even end product of halwa without lumps
- Keep aside the lentil powder
- Grate the coconut and keep aside
- Heat a little clarified butter in a pan and fry the cut cashewnuts and raisins and keep aside
- In a pan slightly heat jaggery in little water until jaggery dissolves completely
- 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
- In the same pan, when the jaggery is ready, add the lentil powder to it and start stirring well
- 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
- Add the fried cashews and raisins
- Stir well till jaggery is completely absorbed by the lentils and a smooth halwa consistency is arrived
- In the end add the grated coconut and mix well till the raw smell and juiciness of coconut is gone
- 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
- Quantity of jaggery depends on each family
- As mentioned above, addition of red lentils is another option
- I used banana leaves to steam the lentil mixture for some extra aroma
- 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
- 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.