Category Archives: Deepavali Sweets and Savouries

Thengai Burfi/Coconut Burfi

With Diwali around the corner, it is certainly time for some sweets and snacks suitable for the festive occasion.
IMG_2665

 

Thengai Burfi is one my childhood favorites. Coconut based burfi or urundai/laddu can be made in different styles – with milk and sugar, with sugary condensed milk, with milk powder and sugar, with sugar syrup without milk… thengai burfi (square shaped sweet) or thengai urundai (coconut balls) is something the tongue and teeth wouldn’t forget for long – Tongue for the taste of it and Teeth for the extras that always cling on to it. The Chewy, Juicy, Sugary, Coconut Milky flavor of the sweet takes me to a special day called MISSION SUNDAY.
My early years of schooling in an Anglo Indian School introduced me to a bit of Christianity and to the Sisters of the Missionaries. MISSION SUNDAY used to be a fun filled day of events, something equivalent to Carnivals in European Schools. A day of food, games and fun activities – all done by combined efforts of Teachers, Parents and Children. Nothing to do with religion, it was a Sunday devoted to opening stalls, selling your home products- especially food cooked by mothers/grandmothers, earn money and donate it to school. I remember Amma used to make Thengai Burfi in different colors – Pink,, Red and Yellow and Amma and me used to be a team selling thengai burfi. As Stallmates, we used to earn a bit… that was a very happy feeling of being a junior entrepreneur at an early age. So that’s the juicy story of Thengai Burfi.
My cousin ‘S’ would remember more as we went to the same school and what more we did in our stall together for Mission Sunday is something to discuss about. My memories are somehow stuck up with Coconut Burfi.
This version of Thengai Burfi is with the basic ingredients – coconut and sugar. There is no milk and no food color in the recipe. As I had saffron, I chose to bring in the exotic flavor of saffron and its beautiful mild yellow color to the burfi. Also added is cardamom to complete the combined flavor of the sweet.
Thengai Burfi/Coconut Burfi

 

IMG_2673
Ingredients (makes 20-24 pieces)

  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 2 cups
  • sarkkarai/sugar – 1 1/2 cups
  • water – enough to soak sugar – appr. 1/2 cup
  • elakkai/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • kungumapoo/saffron – a few strings
  • nei/clarified butter – to grease the tray

 

grated coconut and cardamom

IMG_2651IMG_2654

 

saffron and sugar-water

IMG_8429IMG_2656
Method of Preparation

  1. Grate coconut, without the brown layer close to the shell. We need the white meat alone
  2. Grease a tray with enough nei/clarified butter
  3. Place pan (preferably non-stick) on stove and heat sugar and water with saffron strands and cardamom powder
  4. When water comes to a boil add grated coconut and stir well
  5. Keep stirring till the mixture starts to thicken and foams up in the pan. It would not take much time
  6. The sweet is almost ready and once it starts to leave the pan, spread in the already greased tray/bowl
  7. When it is a little warm, mark the spread sweet into desired shapes and remove only when completely cool
  8. Juicy Coconut Burfi is ready.

 

 

Notes:

  1. Grating only the white meat of coconut is important for the beautiful white colour. A substitute option to easy traditional grating is to take coconut completely out of the shell, remove the brown outer layer and then cut into small pieces. Then, grate in a mixer-grinder. (see picture above)
  2. Saffron is optional. The aroma and subtle yellow color are the true benefits of saffron. Those who prefer the original white color of coconut shall avoid saffron.
  3. Sugar can be altered as per taste preference. More the sugar, finer the structure of pieces. I have stuck to medium sugar.

Rectifying problems in consistency:

  •  if you find the consistency of burfi too thin and hence not ready to form stiff pieces, keep the mixture back in pan and stir for some more time
  •  if the mixture seems too thick to spread or turns into granules, put it back in the pan, add little water and stir till it softens and remove at the right consistency

IMG_2665

Mundhiri Kothu – the traditional and exceptional sweet!

 

IMG_8823

 

I have always been fascinated by the name of this sweet. Whoever named it Mundhiri Kothu – which translates as ‘Bunch of Cashews’- has been a keen observer of the making of this sweet. This deep fried snack/sweet comes out like a bunch when taken out of oil.

Mundhiri Kothu is a popular sweet from the Kanyakumari region of Tamilnadu.It can be called the healthier cousin of Susiyam which is also known by the names Soyyam/Sugiyan. For recipe refer- (https://dosaikal.com/2011/10/18/susiyam-deep-fried-lentil-jaggery-sweet-balls/).

Susiyam is made with kadalai paruppu/bengal gram; and the outer dip is prepared with maida/all purpose flour. Whereas, Mundhiri Kothu is made with paasi payaru/green gram and the outer dip is with rice flour. This is a sweet with the best choice of ingredients, except that it is a deep fried snack. The pleasing aroma of roasted green gram combined with other ingredients would surely make one’s kitchen a favorite place to work more!

Mundhiri Kothu is a popular sweet in the Yaazhpanam or Jaffna Area of Srilanka too. With slight variations, people call this as ‘Payatham Paniyaram’. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munthiri_Kothu
Now to the making of Mundhiri Kothu –

Mundhiri Kothu

 

IMG_8831

 

Ingredients (makes approx. 30 mundhiri kothu)

  • paasi payaru/whole green gram – 1 cup/150 gms
  • grated coconut – 1 cup – 75-80gms
  • ellu/sesame seeds (i used white) – 3 tblsp
  • elakkai/cardamom pods – 20
  • chukku/dry ginger – 3 gms
  • vellam/jaggery – 250 gms
  • rice flour – 2 cups
  • salt – 1/4 tsp
  • water – to mix rice flour and to dissolve jaggery
  • oil – for frying

 

Method of Preparation

1. In a pan, dry roast whole green gram till nice aroma comes out of the grain, along with cardomom pods

 

IMG_8778

 

2. Dry grind green gram and cardamom, with dry ginger into a coarse powder (not too coarse)

3. Dry roast grated coconut and sesame seeds

4. Mix green gram powder, roasted coconut and sesame seeds

 

IMG_8800
5. In a separate pan, dissolve jaggery in water and strain well

6. Boil jaggery in water to make a syrup – little sticky consistency, to make a tight ball with the powdered ingredients; Be careful not to make it stringy consistency

 

IMG_8802
7. Mix jaggery to the powdered ingredients and make marble sized urundai/ball

 

IMG_8803

8. Make a not too thin-not too thick batter with rice flour, salt and water; The batter should be thick enough to coat the jaggery balls before deep frying

IMG_8809

 

9. Dip each urundai/ball in rice batter and deep fry till well cooked

10. As the cooked mundhiri kothu would be in a bunch, separate each ball after it cools a bit.

 

Note:

  1. Cardamom is added for flavor and I have added dry ginger for easier digestion; for me – addition of dry ginger makes any jaggery based sweet taste divine.
  2. The above can be omitted too.
  3. The quantity of grated coconut and sesame seeds can be altered/reduced according to taste preferences.

Few Other Variations of Mundhiri Kothu

  1. Traditionally, the batter is made by soaking raw rice and grinding it wet into a dosai consistency; But, I have used rice powder.
  2. In the above mentioned, soak and grind method, dehusked black gram is also soaked and ground together with rice (50 gms ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram for 200 gms pachia arisi/raw rice).
  3. Turmeric powder is mixed to the batter and hence mundhiri kothu looks yellow.

 

Happy Diwali!

 

IMG_8823

 

Pathirpeni/Sugary Snow White Crisps

 

IMG_3397

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.

 

IMG_3744

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….

IMG_3725

 

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

IMG_3722

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

 

IMG_3385

Ingredients (makes 30-35)

 

IMG_3426

 

  • 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

 

IMG_3670

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
IMG_3673
5. Make three even balls of the dough

 

IMG_3681

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

 

IMG_3683

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

 

IMG_3684

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

 

IMG_3685

 

pulled long

IMG_3687

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

these are little big, i had to make them smaller

IMG_3694

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.

 

IMG_3688

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

 

IMG_3692

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!
Note:

  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.

 

IMG_3367

 

Ukkarai/Okkarai – Lentil Halwa for Diwali

 

IMG_2921

 

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

 

IMG_3051

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

IMG_3209

 

after soaking, grind and steam the mixture

IMG_3211

 

then, dry blend to avoid lumps

IMG_3214

 

mix well with fried nuts and grated coconut

IMG_3234

 

Notes:

  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.

 

IMG_2941

Deepavali Kashayam-Magic Drink for Indigestion

After so much of sweets and oily savouries for deepavali, there has to be some kind of a repair mechanism or de-stressing of the digestive system. There is need for some destressing technique for minds too! Just think back the number of somasis, murukkus or polis and bowls of payasams or halwas that would have gone in during the celebrations and that alone is sufficient enough to be stressed about the calories and fat that has gone into the system. But, not to worry! There is always a way to come out of it. Though burning those calories is not  my arena, de-stressing and cleaning the system by home remedies can fit in here.

After Deepavali and the sweets and snacks along with it, Deepavali Legiyam is something to end the jaw breaking culinary experience and to set right the stomach abuse  in these days of celebration. It is a semi-thick paste made of various herbs – mostly simple home medicines. Usually, this legiyam is made along with the sweets and savouries and in the morning of Deepavali, a gooseberry sized ball of legiyam is forcefully given to everyone, to keep the system clean. In north India, Chawanprash is more popular – this is a kind of legiyam.

It is amazing and even astonishing to know the knowledge our ancestors possessed on the usage of herbs, to take care of simple as well as major ailments.  Especially siddha maruthuvam – Siddha Medicine – where the Siddhars have documented the ailments and remedies in the form of tamil poems on palm leaf. Wikipedia says, ‘The Siddha medicine is one of the oldest medical systems known to mankind . This system of medicine originated from South Indian Tamil traditional medicine’.  For more details on Siddha Medicine – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siddha_medicine.

Now, ‘Naatu Marundhu’ or the traditional tamil medicine is not Siddha Medicine. It might be a simplified version of home remedies, transferred through generations by the elder members of the household. Hence, it is also called Paatti Vaithiyam or grandma’s home remedies.  There are Naattu Marundhu or traditional medicine shops which sell these home remedy herbs – the simplest of them are mostly available at home.. manjal-turmeric, milagu-pepper, chukku-dry ginger, omam-carom seeds and so on. Whenever there is cough or running nose, indigestion or acidity – these handy helpers help in getting relief from such minor problems. Getting relief by taking precautionary home remedies could save a lot of pain and time. These herbs also boost immunity in children.

As I have always respected the wisdom of our siddhars, I adore the warmth and affection of the grand old grannies who have been passing on the traditional tamil home remedies without demanding any appreciation! If our grannies passed their experienced wisdom mostly unknowingly and as part of the day-to-day routine, there is pressure on the present middle ager to compulsorily impart granny’s knowledge to the younger ones. Or else, like other ancient richness, this paatti vaithiyam would also have to be popularised by the west to be aped by our own people. Regarding this, I came across an excellent piece of work,  while I was searching for an english word for Legiyam – http://sundar72.blogspot.com/2010/04/thanga-bhaspam-velli-bhaspam-legiyams.html.

Now, Legiyams are time-consuming, kashayams or kada in hindi, are easier. Legiyams are pastes and kashayams are medicinal drinks – magical drinks even.  They are concentrated syrups made of a combination of herbs and household spices. Though, I am not used to preparing a deepavali legiyam, I always make different kinds of kashayams to treat minor ailments of the whole family.  This trust worthy kashayam is very useful in cleaning the bowel and helps in better digestion. Because of the ingredients, this might also help in treating simple cold and cough. (The kashayam for cough and cold is a little different.)

Kashayam for better digestion

 

 

 

Ingredients (sufficient for one person)

  • milagu podi/black pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • manjal podi/turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • athimadhuram (available in tamil -naatu marundhu kadai) – 1/2 tsp
  • omam/carom seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • seeragam/cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • perunjeeragam/fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • kothumalli vidhai/coriander seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • vellam/jaggery – 1 tsp (or acc. to taste)
  • water – one glass

Method of Preparation

  1. Take one glass of water (nearly 250 ml) in a vessel and turn on the stove
  2. Add all the powders – pepper, dry ginger, turmeric, athimathuram
  3. Crush or dry grind all seeds – carom, cumin, fennel and coriander – and add to water
  4. Dissolve jaggery in 1 tsp water and strain jaggery water into the kashayam vessel
  5. Boil till the while liquid reduces to half the quantity
  6. Strain it and it is ready to drink.

 

 

Note:

  1. If dry ginger is not available, one can use mashed fresh ginger
  2. Crushed black pepper is preferrable than the pepper powder from market
  3. Instead of jaggery, honey can be added after straining hot kashayam
  4. Some might also add spices like jathikkai/nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. I make it with the above things
  5. If athimathuram is not available, one can skip it.

Important Note:

  1. Do not drink kashayam too hot – it might cause hiccups
  2. Do not drink water for atleast 1/2 an hour after any spicy kashayam – it might lead to loose stools
  3. I have just followed aachi’s (grandma) instructions on the above two important points!

 

The Tricky Athirasam!

***Updated on 03rd November 2016
img_7799

Deepavali as we know is marked by the sweets and savouries made for the occasion. The day of Deepavali starts with the early morning oil bath, new dresses, poojai with the – ever tricky athirasams. Athirasams are fried delicacies made of rice flour and jaggery. The texture of athirasams depend on the jaggery syrup and quality of rice flour. Generally, raw rice is soaked and dried at home and powdered, then used with jaggery syrup to make this exotic sweet. But rice flour from the store (fine quality) can also be substituted. The result might not be the best. I have used rice flour from shop – the shop did not have raw rice but had rice flour – hence I opted to settle with that.

Athirasam as the name suggests means very tasty or might be ‘x’ factor in taste! It certainly has it. All other sweets and savouries are prepared the day before Deepavali and Athirasams are a morning poojai affair. At my parent’s home on the Deepavali morning, as children we would be busy trying the new outfit/outfits and enjoying sparklers and crackers. So, I did not really have the experience in helping or making athirasams  – it was restricted to tasting alone.

After marriage, specially at my husband’s granny’s (paatti) home, I could be part of the athirasam making team of youngsters! The chief cook is always the octogenarian or nonagenarian granny – she doesn’t know her age – but calculating through her first son’s age, she could be in her nineties, but by her active cooking abilities – this is difficult to admit.  She makes flat athirasams on banana leaf, and guides her helpful daughter-in-laws to fry them to perfection, and other grand-children would be pressing excess oil out of the hot athirasams… This was thoroughly a watcher’s delight! First time, I joined the children’s gang to press out oil (atleast a hundred athirasams would be fried); Next deepavali, I graduated or got a double promotion sitting near paatti (grandma) to make flat athirasams on banana leaf. She wouldn’t allow me in front of the oil stove to fry!

img_7799

Making athirasam was so easy this way…but to make it alone for the first time is quite a difficult one. Making the dough for athirasam is a very delicate work which has to be done with caution. If the consistency of the jaggery syrup is not right, the athirasams  might break inside oil or turn out strong enough to break your enemys’ teeth! Being a high level optimist, I felt I was quite lucky this time – (oh, I don’t mean breaking anyone’s teeth but talking about athirasams) though not perfect as amma’s or picture perfect as paati’s athirasams – they tasted good enough though didn’t look the most perfect!

They were not hard but surely lacked the oily glow, one of the special features of athirasams. I didn’t know whether I should be happy about the less oil texture or worry about the missing originality… Then, I decided I would worry about the latter. The reason behind the not-so-good outcome might be the quality of rice flour or the more likely culprit – consistency of jaggery. I am going to try and rectify these known mistakes. Suggestions regarding this are always welcome. But since this is the proven right recipe by amma and paatti for making athirasams…might be you get it better than mine! Next time, I am going to try with raw rice from scratch…ofcourse when it is available in the Indian grocery shop  (better athirasams in the near future).

***Updated on 03rd November 2016
***The next time of good Athirasams arrived recently, from Athai/Aunt, who gave me a perfectly done dough to be stored for months. This has been a loving way of making Athirasam available all the time,  when you are out of your home town. The prepared dough has been stored in the refrigerator. I follow these simple steps for the true joy of Athirasam.

a. I take the required dough out

b. place it in a warm place to bring it to normal temperature

c. Mix very little warm milk to make a smoother dough

d. Fry in hot oil

e. Squeeze the oil out

f. Serve and enjoy tasting every bit of it.

I have certainly graduated with my paagu – syrup in making perfect groundnut or sesame or dry fruit brittles. Athirasam shouldn’t be very far off. But, when I had the opportunity of relishing Athirasam through the caring hands of Athai, didn’t miss the chance.

Nanri Athai.***

Athirasam

img_7783

Ingredients (makes approximately 10 athirasams)

  • arisi maavu/rice flour – 1 cup
  • thuruviya vellam/grated jaggery – 1 cup
  • Elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • yennai/oil – for frying

Method of Preparation

  1. Heat jaggery with 1/4 cup water in a vessel to dissolve
  2. Filter when jaggery is dissolved and make a syrup
  3. The syrup should be single string consistency – When the jaggery is boiling well in the vessel – keep a bowl of water and add a few drops of the syrup. The drop should settle in water and one should be able to make a soft ball out of it – it should not be too sticky. This is the right consistency of syrup.
  4. Turn off the stove.

Making dough

  1. Add rice flour to jaggery syrup and mix with a ladle. There should be no lumps
  2. Do not wait for the dough to become stiff. One can stop adding rice flour if the dough becomes pasty
  3. Jaggery stiffens the dough after a while and hence the dough should be a little sticky
  4. Keep the dough closed overnight.

 Frying Athirasams

  1. Next morning, heat oil in an iruppu chatti/kadai
  2. Apply little oil on an aluminium foil, take a small ball and press it even into flat discs with greased fingers

  1. Deep fry one by one till golden brown
  2. Depending upon the colour of jaggery, athirasams can also be dark brown – mine was done from the darker variety of jaggery
  3. Soon after athirasam is removed from oil, place it on a dabara/kattori and press it with another dabara/kattori to squeeze out excess oil. This helps  in flattening the athirasams

Store in containers. Athirasams become softer after a while.

img_7800

Tip:

  1. If the dough thickens or is stiff after 12 hours – add 1 or 2 tsp of curds/yoghurt and knead well to bring it a soft dough consistency.
  2. Some might also add milk instead of curds.
  3. If one finds the sweetness of athirasams less or more, texture of athirasams soft or hard, can be altered in the next attempt! There is always another chance!!

I wish everyone a very HAPPY DEEPAVALI!

Sweet and Special Somasi!

 

 

Somasi is certainly a special traditional sweet – Why special? Because it is also international in the making process. These may very easily be mistaken for puff pastries – deep-fried but just a little different in shape. Whenever I try baking ‘dutch apple flappen’ with pastry sheets – I am reminded of somasis. The filling, (of course with different ingredients) – which goes into all-purpose flour rotis instead of the pastry sheet, sealed – then deep-fried for somasis and baked for apple flappen!

Somasi is usually cut with a special somasi cutter. At present, I do not possess one… It is a spoon with a wheel like cutter at the other end – somewhat like a pizza cutter with a spoon at the handle position –  (another proof of its international appeal!) I used a knife to cut the extra dough and my daughter helped in making the edges intact with a fork. By the time I made nearly 20 somasis, I felt quite tired.. Might be because this was the first time I made it all by myself! I know the next time it is going to be easier.. After completion, it seemed to resemble another all time favourite ‘f’rench pastry – the croissant’ (especially in the photo down below)!

I once again remembered and missed the joy of making sweets and savouries together with two generation of experienced hands as a kid. One to roll the dough and keep the filling, we the kids to cut it to proper shape and the other elder member to deep fry in oil – with filter coffee by our sides to keep the energy intact… But thambi (brother) would only need those somasis or already made murkkus to keep up his energy!

Somasis

Ingredients (makes approximately 15-18 somasis)

  • freshly grated coconut/desiccated coconut – 1/2 cup
  • ghee – 2 tsp to roast coconut
  • pottukadalai/roasted split chick peas – 1/2 cup
  • white sesame seeds – 3 tsp
  •  sugar – 1/2 cup
  • cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • all-purpose flour – 2 cups
  • salt – a pinch
  • water – just enough to make a dough
  • oil – for deep-frying

 Method of Preparation

The filling

  1. Roast grated coconut with 2 tsp ghee. I used the desiccated coconut from the super market – the dryness in it helped roasting easier and quicker
  2. Dry roast sesame seeds till golden brown
  3. Powder pottukadalai and sugar separately
  4. Mix roasted coconut, powdered pottukadalai, roasted sesame seeds cardamom powder and sugar and keep aside

The dough

Mix all-purpose flour and a pinch of salt with enough water to make a smooth dough to be rolled into rotis

Making somasis

1. Make small balls out of the dough and roll them to round medium shaped rotis or puris

2. Keep 1 tbsp of the filling on the rolled rotis

3. Fold the roti into a semi-circle

4. Cut the folded semi-circle clean in the edges, with a knife or a pizza cutter or with a somasi cutter if one has it

5. Mix the removed excess dough with the basic dough

6. If cut with a knife or pizza cutter, seal the edges with a fork

7. If done with a somasi cutter, the cutter would take care of the edge design

8. Heat oil in a chatti/kadai

9. Gently drop the raw somasis into oil

10. Fry till golden brown and take them out in a kitchen tissue to absorb excess oil

11. Let them cool and store in an air-tight container.

 

Note:

  1. Sugar can be increased if needed
  2. If there is left-over filling, it can be stored and used within a week to make somasis again or any other sweet.

The All time Favourite Murukku!

Murukku in tamil and chakli in kannada and marathi and chakri in gujarati is very popular for its different shapes and crisp fried taste. It is also handy due to its storable convenience. Nowadays, even in india, families prefer to get them from savoury shops to distribute for deepavali and even to send abroad to their children.

Murukku – as a verb in tamil means ‘to twist’. The dough made of rice flour and urad dal flour(dehusked black gram) is twisted and swirled to be made into round shapes, and hence the name! There are also different kinds of murukkus –

  • thenkuzhal – plain murukku
  • magizhambu or mullu murukku – murukku with a thorny sharp texture
  • kai murukku – hand twisted murukku
  • vennai murukku – butter murukku

and many more with a little variation like ribbon pakoda, kara sev and so on.

Murukkus can be magical for first timers – especially first time makers. Be it the ones made by the murukku maker, or the hand-made kai-murukkus, making murukku is an art by itself. Tasting, without knowing when to stop can be another art worth mentioning! Not getting into any gender bias, boys seem to fare better in this art! Sitting with aachi and amma to see the murukkus being made by hand on plastic sheets or the murukku maker ones directly into oil with elegant expertise, I have experienced the joy of viewing, tasting and once in a while trying to make some too.

They are quite easy to make – with the murukku maker and some patience – you can surprise your family and yourself too with these excellent crispies.  The rice flour used to be prepared by a long process of soaking raw rice, then drying them in a clean white cloth in a shady place at home, and later milled. With easily available rice flour in the indian markets abroad, this has become easier, though nothing to match the home-made rice flour. Of course, the urad flour is not available so easily in the markets – that has to be done at home. I have always used the flours sent by amma, this time I thought I would try making urad flour at home but had the milled rice flour from chennai!  Making urad flour was not at all a tedious one!

Deepavali snacks are incomplete without these different kinds of murukkus.

 

Making Murukku

 

 

Ingredients (makes approximately 15 murukkus)

  • rice flour – 2 cups
  • urad flour – 1/2 cup
  • white/black sesame seeds – 1 tsp (cumin seeds can be used instead of sesame seeds)
  • salt – as needed
  • oil – for frying

Method of Preparation

Making Urad flour

  1. Heat a hard bottomed vessel or kadai
  2. Dry roast ulundham paruppu/urad dal – dehusked black gram till golden brown
  3. Grind to a fine powder in a blender
  4. Sieve it and keep aside.

Note: 100 gms urad dal gives 100 gms urad flour

Making dough

  1. Sieve rice flour and urad flour
  2. Soak salt in very little and let it dissolve. This helps in even distribution of salt
  3. Add dissolved salt, sesame or cumin seeds and enough water to flour mixture and make a smooth dough
  4. The dough should neither be too tight nor too loose. 

Making murkku

1. Take one portion of dough and fill it inside the cylindrical container of the murukku maker

2. Close it with the single holed disc

 

3. Press into medium size murukkus on an aluminium foil sheet or any oiled plate

 

4. I used a greased plate and used a dosai thiruppi – ladle used to turn the dosais, to take it out and drop in the oil

 

5. Take care to drop the murukkus gently in the oil

6. Fry till golden brown

7. Remove in kitchen tissues to absorb excess oil

8. Let them cool and store in an air-tight container.

 

Susiyam – Deep fried lentil-jaggery sweet balls!

Susiyam – (nothing to do with yummy sushi) is a festival sweet – especially made for deepavali. It is popular by the name susiyam in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi. In Chennai and nearby areas it is called sooyan. In Kerala, it is known as sugiyan with slightly different combination of dal or the outer batter.  These are bengal gram and jaggery balls, dipped in all-purpose flour and deep-fried. One can also store them for a couple of days.

Susiyam

Ingredients (makes approximately 30 susiyams)

  • kadalai paruppu/channa dal/bengal gram – 1 cup
  • jaggery – 3/4 cup
  • cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • all-purpose flour – 1 cup
  • salt – a pinch
  • vegetable oil – for deep-frying

 

flour, lentil and jaggery syrup

 

cook lentil and jaggery into a thick paste

 

make small balls

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Cook kadalai paruppu till just done with little water. It should not be overcooked
  2. Mash well with a ladle
  3. Boil jaggery with very little water in a vessel. Let jaggery dissolve well (to strain mud in the jaggery)
  4. In a hard bottomed vessel, take mashed paruppu and strain the jaggery into it
  5. Add cardamom powder and dry ginger powder
  6. Cook well till it becomes a thick paste
  7. Make small balls and keep them aside
  8. Mix all-purpose flour with salt and water to make a thick batter
  9. Heat oil in an iruppu chatti/kadai
  10. Dip each ball in the flour batter and fry them till golden brown
  11. Take them out in a tissue to absorb excess oil.

 

the fabulous five!

 

Note:

  1. 1 tsp rice flour can be added to all-purpose flour to make susiyams crisper.
  2. The balls should be coated well with the batter, or else the paruppu mixture might spread in the oil. Hence, batter should be a little thicker.
  3. When the oil is hot, the susiyams would turn golden brown very soon. Be careful to take them out of the oil in right time.

 

Omapodi/Ajwain Sev

Now, to one of Deepavali savouries – Omapodi or Sev in hindi. Before coming to omapodi, about the savoury maker – achu kuzhal. The traditional achu kuzhal or the mould for making different kinds of deep-fried snacks used to be a wooden one or a metal one. I am yet to find mine as I kept it safely in the shaft but couldn’t locate the safe place. It has thin round plates/discs with different shapes and holes to make different kinds of savouries. In the picture is a modern murukku/sev maker – but the different discs and tubular press do the same as the traditional achu kuzhal. The tight dough of the savoury is put in the tubular container and the lid is fit with the required disc and closed. Then the dough is pressed out into hot oil and fried.

the murukku maker with discs

 

tubular container with small-holed disc

 

Omapodi or Sev

Omam is tamil means Carom seeds or ajwain in hindi. This sev is made with ajwain or carom seeds which helps in digestion and also relieves cold and chest congestion. Among the moulds, the thinnest is used to make omapodi. If preferred the next size mould can also be used. Rice flour is added to gram flour to make this savoury crispy.

Ingredients

  • kadalai maavu/gram flour – 3 cups
  • arisi maavu/rice flour – 1/4 cup
  • omam/carom seeds – 3 tsp
  • salt – 2 tsp
  • hot oil/ghee – 2 tsp
  • oil – for frying

Method of Preparation

Making dough

  1. Sieve kadalai maavu and arisi maavu (both flours)
  2. Soak omam in water for 2 hours and grind to a smooth paste with salt
  3. Strain the omam paste and add this syrup to the sieved flour
  4. Add hot oil or ghee too to the sieved flour
  5. Make a stiff dough by sprinkling water little by little

ready to store omapodi 

 

Making Omapodi

  1. Heat oil in a kadai
  2. Apply oil inside the tubular container so that the dough does not stick to it
  3. Keep one portion of dough and close the lid with the very small holed disc
  4. Squeeze omapodi/sev into hot oil
  5. Turn it gently and cook
  6. When the spluttering ends, omapodi is ready
  7. Remove and place on tissue to absorb excess oil
  8. After it cools, crumble and store in an air-tight container.

Note: (I read from Mrs. Mallika Badrinath’s cook book)

  1. Red chillies can be added to omam while grinding for extra flavour.
  2. After adding omam syrup, the coarse flour can be divided into three portions. Sprinkle water to each portion just before frying.
  3. This keeps the total dough fresh from becoming dry and each portion of dough is freshly made for more perfect omapodi.