Category Archives: Deepavali Sweets

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.

‘Manoharam’ – Gram Flour Fritters (Churros) dipped in jaggery syrup

426

 

Manoharam is a traditional Tirunelveli sweet. The gram flour fritters soaked in gorgoeus golden-caramelly cane/palm jaggery syrup is a delight in every crispy bite.  With healthy Bengal gram flour and no white flour as the base and Unrefined Jaggery and no white sugar caramel for the coating, this is a no nonsense fritter as well as a childhood comfort snack.

When asked about the recipe, Amma fondly remembered both me and my little brother, having plates filled with these crispy fritters as an after school snack, giving more emphasis to the filled plates. Those were the days of no botheration of putting on weight, leave alone childhood obesity. We could burn the nutritious extra calories earned from healthy millet flours and cane and palm sugars, with the crazy amounts of time we spent playing in the streets. No store bought chips or cakes, buns or pastries loaded with white flour, white sugar and salt.

Manoharam and Spanish Churros – great observation by my Little Chef

Since I didn’t have the thenkuzhal/plain murukku – fritter disc, I used the magizhampoo disc – which is a sharp edged or star shaped fritter disc. Once the fritters were done, the little chef at home exclaimed that they resembled Spanish Churros, thanks to so many cookery shows in countless channels. That observation was quite a surprise to me indeed. When I put my eyes through her thought, the traditional Manoharam did look like Churros. While Churros are made with all purpose flour and coated with cinnamon sugar, Manoharam is made with gram flour, rice flour and a pinch of salt. And instead of the chocolate sauce to dip, we coat them in jaggery syrup. Both the tastes are completely different, created with local ingredients available – yet, there seems to be a slight similarity in the concept of making and looks.

If you don’t feel so, that’s ok.. let’s move on to recipe.

For a detail look at churros, I referred http://www.justataste.com/easy-homemade-churros-chocolate-sauce-recipe/

Manoharam

for fritters

  • kadalai maavu/bengal gram flour/besan – 1 cup
  • arisi maavu/rice flour – 1/2 cup
  • ulundha maavu/dehusked black gram flour/urad – 2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 1 tbsp
  • uppu/salt – a pinch
  • thanneer/water – as needed

 

for syrup

  • vellam/cane jaggery – 1 cup
  • thanneer/water = 1/2 cup
  • yelakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp

Method of Preparation
Bengal gram flour and rice flour may be easily available in stores. Black gram flour should be made at home.

I. Making Black gram/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
  5. Cool and Store in air tight container, and use when needed.

 

II. Making Fritters

  1. Sieve all three flours without lumps

358

2. Add salt (just a pinch), clarified butter and just enough water to make a stiff dough
364

 

3. Heat oil in a pan for deep frying
4. Use any single holed disc of a Murukku Maker to make the fritter (for details of murukku maker and single holed disc, refer – https://dosaikal.com/the-all-time-favourite-murukku/
5. Take a portion of the dough and place inside the cylindrical container of the murukku maker and press into big circles,  directly inside hot oil
6. Fry both sides till golden brown

 

365
7. Remove in kitchen tissue to absorb excess oil

8. Break them into finger sized pieces
370

 

9. Keep them aside till we make the jaggery coating.

 

III. Making Jaggery Syrup and Coating the Fritters

  1. Let jaggery dissolve in water
  2. Filter the liquid to remove impurities
  3. Take a pan and pour the jaggery water
  4. Add cardamom powder and dry ginger powder
  5. Let the liquid come to a single string consistency or thick enough to roll the fritters through
  6. Keep the stove in sim position to judge the right syrup consistency

375

7. Once the liquid has become a syrup, drop all the fritters and gently mix well in the syrup

8. Let the stove be on and the thick hot syrup would coat the fritters well and reach the required crisp texture

 

381
9. When the syrup is thick and coated completely in the fritters, switch off stove

390

10. Jaggery coated glowing Manoharam is ready.

 

427

 

Happy Deepavali 2016 with Thiripagam – an easy variant of Badam Halwa

 

452

 

pre-diwali and diwali delicacies

295423
Deepavali falls on the 29th of October, 2016 in Tamilnadu. If Deepavali means lots of happiness and loads of sweets and snacks- the festivity arrived a week earlier at home.

In the earlier decades of joint families or extended families close by, or at least a few siblings to share and pick up the last bits of sweets and snacks from the thooku chatti, festivals meant making of sweets and savories literally in several kilograms if not tonnes.

Presently, with nuclear families, especially with single children or children in different destinations, the sweet and savories story isn’t a kilogram affair, but has become a ‘grammy’ indulgence. Additionally, there is no aachi-amma duo to occupy the kitchen for consecutive hours, patiently filling the big chattis with goodies. Making so many delicacies in a couple of days fit for consumption for diwali and a few days beyond has become too strenuous now, atleast for me.

But, when the most important ingredient of a good festival – the energy to make and share traditional sweets and savories was still bright and shining as the lights of Diwali, there arose a patient plan. The patience behind making several goodies gave rise to a Pre-Diwali weekend.Instead of slogging in kitchen with so many things in mind, I started off with a few last weekend. Festivity started a week earlier, yes- for the sheer temptation of making more and introducing more traditional sweets and snacks.

Cooking is a bliss when you have people around to gobble it in a jiffy. Now, I really miss the ever hungry tummy of my little brother, who let amma and aachi feel delighted to make more and more ‘norukku theeni’ aka nibblers with the same enthusiasm for years together.

Yet, I have a little nibble hunter, who is as enthusiastic to taste new palagaram/snacks as to cook a few.

These are a few of my little one’s contributions for this Diwali…

 

magizhampoo murukku by her

312

And also, a few kiliyanchatti/diyas hand painted for several occasions

painted lamps in gorgeous colors

458

and this one’s already lit with imagination

493

 

For the Pre-Diwali weekend, I made

  1. Gulab Jamun
  2. murukku in two different shapes

and  3. dragonny jilebis (those first attempt jilebis which turned out off-shape)

Mid way in the week, started off with the true notion of cooking traditional sweets from the place I hail from – Tirunelveli.
Thiripagam, Manoharam and Kara Sevu passed to the top of the list. If the first two resemble names of mythical characters beyond seas, that’s merely co-incidental. Not to worry, they are sweets and the third one is a popular spicy savory, available throughout South India.

 

444

 

First, to the most uncommon among the three – Thiripagam.
When Amma had already started with Thiripagam – a long forgotten sweet, I just grabbed the opportunity of introducing the same here. Thanks to her, took step by step instructions to make.

I was introduced to this elegantly presented sweet in my uncle’s marriage. The feast had this different sweet, but with a very familiar taste. Was it Mysore Pak or Badam Halwa ? The former is the ghee oozing/melting in the mouth sweet with bengal gram flour and the latter is the wonder pudding with the goodness of almonds. Now, Thiripagam is somewhere between both. Kadalai Maavu or Bengal Gram Flour is the base ingredient with equal proportion of nei/clarified butter. Add the sugar and it would very well become mysore pak. This sweet has an additional inclusion of milk to the gram flour, that acts as an alternate to the almond milky flavor. These might be reasons for the resemblance of Badam Halwa and familiarity of Mysore Pak.

The pudding is shaped in rectangles or squares and wrapped in cookie sheet/butter paper. This is what aids in its elegant presentation with the distinct taste.

If made in a micro wave, this is certainly a 10 minute sweet to prepare. But since I don’t prefer micro wave cooking, I’ve done in the pan, which took about 30 minutes of stirring to reach the adequate kali/halwa consistency.

Thiripagam

 

471
Thiripagam, – which means three parts, where the name must have come from the three core ingredients – bengal gram flour, clarified butter and milk.

 

img_5177
Ingredients (makes 16 pieces)

 

330

 

  • kadalai maavu/bengal gram flour (besan) – 1 cup
  • nei/clarified butter (ghee) – 1 cup
  • paal/milk – 1 cup
  • cheeni/sugar – 3/4 cup
  • kungumapoo/saffron – generous strands

 

Though Amma mentioned the quantity of sugar could vary between 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups, I added only 3/4th of a cup. One can alter as per their sweet preference. Another alteration I made was the deduction of pachai karpooram/edible camphor. The flavor of the sweet comes from edible camphor, but I thought saffron could be a flavorful component to this exceptional sweet.

 

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Sieve kadalai maavu/bengal gram flour and keep ready
  2. Warm milk and mix the saffron strands
  3. In a bowl, mix the sieved flour, sugar, 1/2 cup clarified butter and milk with saffron – without lumps

 

341

 

4. Having the batter without lumps is very important – I used a fork to press the few lumps that was left over in the batter

345

5. Keep the other 1/2 cup clarified butter to add in the end when pudding is almost done

6. Mix well till all sugar is dissolved

7. Heat the batter in a non-stick pan and let it boil

8. Keep stirring and when it starts boiling, simmer the burner

 

347

9. The batter would reach a thicker consistency in about 30 minutes time in sim position

 

351
10. At this stage, pour the reserved 1/2 cup clarified butter and stir well

 

354

11. When the kali/halwa has become thick enough to be spread in a plate, switch off stove

12. Spread the halwa in a greased plate and cut into rectangular/square piece when warm

13. Take cookie sheets and cut into squares enough to fold the thiripagam pieces

14. Place the piece inside the cookie sheet and fold into beautiful squares

 

img_5177

15. Thiripagam is ready in its perfect presentation.

 

Vella Seedai/Jaggery Rice Ball Crispies

 

IMG_6400

 

Vella seedai, as the name suggests is made of vellam or cane jaggery. The sweetness of the festive delicacy comes from the traditional jaggery and the right consistency of the dough results in a crunchy melting snack.

As mentioned in the Uppu Seedai recipe in the previous post, the dough stands the risk of melting while frying, the culprit being the temperature of jaggery, we need room temperature jaggery water. Hot jaggery water might lead to a break-up of seedai in hot oil. The sweet deep fried balls lose their shape and end up in a powdery chunk if the jaggery water is hot. So, one needs to be cautious on that.

Otherwise, this sweet is an easier affair in comparison to Uppu seedai, which can be revolutionary and exploding.

The step by step procedure of making of the basic rice flour has already been posted in https://dosaikal.com/2016/08/29/uppu-seedaisalted-rice-ball-crispies/

But, to reduce web-browsing time, I repeat the procedures below.
Vella Seedai/Jaggery Rice Ball Crispies

Before making seedai, we need home made, fine powdered rice flour, the core ingredient for both the salt and sweet version of seedai.
Rice Flour

 

  • Wash well and soak 3 cups pacharisi/raw rice in enough water for 2 hours. Drain the water and spread in a clean cloth, preferably cotton towel which would absorb the excess water and dry the rice inside the room.

 

IMG_6333

 

  • Never use paper, especially newspapers to dry rice or any kitchen purposes, as they contain highly dangerous ink which can cause illnesses.
  • The rice shouldn’t be dried too much. With a bit of moisture still in the rice, dry grind in a blender to a fine powder.
  • Sieve well and keep aside

 

IMG_6338

 

Dehusked Black Gram Flour
Also needed is black gram flour, which is dry roasted and powdered.

dry roasted…

 

IMG_6346

 

and powdered…

 

IMG_6351

 

  • Grind again the granules left over from the first sieve
  • Combine only very fine powder which is very important in the making of seedai.

Ingredients (makes 75-80 balls)

 

  • pacharisi maavu /rice flour – 2 cups
  • ulundhu maavu/dehusked black gram flour – 2 tbsp
  • varutha ellu/roasted sesame seeds – 2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tbsp
  • uppu/salt – a pinch
  • vellam/cane jaggery – grated – 1/2 cup
  • thanneer/water – to dissolve jaggery
  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 2 tbsp
  • yennai/oil – for frying

Method of Preparation
Part I

 

  1. Dry roast rice flour till aroma comes out, but be careful not to over roast as it will change the colour of flour.
  2. Take jaggery in enough water and heat slightly till it dissolves. We do not want a syrup here. So, be cautious.
  3. Strain and keep aside.

 

IMG_6372

 

Part II

IMG_6371

 

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients – rice flour, black gram flour, sesame seeds, salt and grated coconut with clarified butter.
  2. Make a stiff dough with just enough jaggery water.
  3. Always have extra flour (both rice and black gram) in hand. This might come handy when the dough becomes soft.

 

IMG_6373

 

Part III

 

  1. Heat oil for deep frying in a pan to start frying seedai. Keep in medium flame.
  2. Make small balls of equal size.
  3. Fry in medium hot oil till done – end product would be dark brownish in colour.
  4. Drain excess oil in kitchen tissue and store in an air-tight container.

 

IMG_6393

Vaazhai Pazha Appam/Banana Wheat Flour Fritters (south indian style)

IMG_8307

 

Appam is a simple sweet that can accommodate itself into any occasion… household snack or a festive sweet. Like the Vadai, this one is a comfort food for all purposes. The distinguishing quality is the simplicity involved in the making of appam. The versatility of vadai was written in the post on vadai (dosaikal.com/ulundhu vadai); I shall call Appam the sweet version of salted vadai in terms of Versatility.

It is also a healthy snack with whole wheat flour and jaggery. A plain appam can be made with whole wheat flour and jaggery as main ingredients. This one has the added flavor of banana. It is almost a fried version of banana cake. Hence, it can also be a remedy for finishing off those over-ripe soft bananas left in the fruit basket, not fit to be had as a fruit anymore.

It is certainly a quick sweet for unexpected guests. It can be made very fast, with jaggery syrup ready in fridge. Even without the syrup, appam batter can be mixed in a jiffy with or without blender, with hands or egg beater too. It can also be an awesome holiday snack or a rainy day comfort snack.

Apart from the special sweets made for specific festivals, Appam can be a sweet made for many festivals and orthodox prayer days as a quick morning Puja Delicacy.

 

IMG_8336
Jaggery Syrup

  1. In a pan/vessel, immerse jaggery in just enough water
  2. Once jaggery is dissolved, strain for impurities
  3. Keep the strained jaggery water in a pan on stove, add cardamom powder and dry ginger powder
  4. Boil the mixture till it thickens a bit, say for 5 mins till the syrup takes the flavor of the powders well
  5. Cool and store the syrup in fridge
  6. Use when needed in sweets.

Vaazhai Pazha Appam/Banana Appam  (Banana Whole Wheat Fritters)

Ingredients (makes appr. 40 appams)

 

IMG_8291

 

  • vaazhai pazham/ripe banana -2 no.s
  • gothumai maavu/whole wheat flour – 2 cups
  • arisi maavu/rice flour – 2 tblsp
  • vellam/jaggery – 1 cup
  • uppu/salt – a pinch
  • baking soda – 1/2 spoon
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • water – as much required for dissolving jaggery
  • oil – for deep frying

IMG_8114

 

Method of Preparation

Different Versions of Appam

I. Deep-fried Appam

 

IMG_8120IMG_3404
The below given recipe is the deep fried version.

  1. Dissolve jaggery in just enough water and filter for impurities
  2. Mash the well ripen bananas
  3. In a mixer-grinder bowl, mix whole wheat flour, rice flour, mashed bananas, jaggery water, salt, cardamom powder, dry ginger powder and baking soda and blend to a fine paste
  4. Use little water initially to dissolve jaggery, so that if more water is needed to make a medium consistency batter, water can be added then
  5. Heat oil in a frying pan
  6. Pour the batter through a spoon and fry till done
  7. Appams would be soft and fluffy because of the addition of baking soda.

II. Less oil Appam – Vaazhai Pazha Paniyaaram

IMG_4220IMG_4222

Paniyaara Chatti/Pan used to make Paniyaaram (dosaikal.com/paniyaram), can be used for a low fat, less oil Appam. Just grease the moulds of pan with little oil or pour 1/2 tsp of oil in each mould and fry both sides. The non-fried appam is called inippu paniyaram/sweet paniyaaram.

 

  1. Pour very little oil in the paniyaaram moulds
  2. Use the same batter and fry on both sides

III. Healthier version using Palm jaggery  –  Karuppatti Appam or Paniyaaram

Substitute the jaggery (made from sugar cane) with palm jaggery (made from palm). Palm jaggery is the same as jaggery, in the shape of a small-hard ball. Dissolve in water, strain for impurities and use as in recipe. Deep fry or use paniyaara chatti as preferred.

dosaikal 7 179

 

IV. Using powdered palm sugar – Karuppatti Appam or Paniyaaram

IMG_2407IMG_4189

 

Using powdered palm sugar is the easiest and healthiest of all. The dissolving and filtering process of jaggery can be omitted and mixed directly with the other ingredients. Deep fry or use paniyaara chatti as preferred.

 

  1. Using palm sugar makes the batter darker and appam more brown in colour. The taste is almost the same but be rest assured about the high nutrient qualities of palm sugar in comparison to cane jaggery
  2. For 2 cups of wheat flour, 2  well ripen mashed bananas and 1 1/2 cups of powdered palm sugar (instead of 1 cup of jaggery)
  3. Substitute the jaggery in the recipe with powdered palm sugar and follow the same instruction for deep fried or paniyaaram version of Appam
  4. Deep fry or use Paniyaara chatti a preferred.

Note:

  1. Quantity of jaggery/palm sugar can be altered as per preferences.
  2. Grated coconut (1/4 cup)  can be added for additional flavor.
  3. Usage of rice flour aids in crisper appams.
  4. Keep a watch with water. Less water can be rectified by adding more water. More water needs more flour and more mashed bananas, which might create chaos.
  5. Always use well ripen very soft bananas for soft flavorful appam.

IMG_8336

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