Category Archives: Jaggery Based Sweets

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.

My love for nutty jaggery Brittles – 2. Kadalai Mittai/Peanut Brittles 3. Dry Fruit Brittles


Smitten by the brittle bug, I continue my jaggery journey with peanuts and dry fruits. If anyone tells you – Kadalai Mittai and Ellu Mittai are one of his or her favourite snacks, waste no time in guessing their age. They must surely be in their late thirties or beyond…. Rarely early thirties…. More certainly, they grew up in a traditional environment with no space for the likes of popular fast food Giants.

Before our children look at us as bizarre creatures from an alien world – who say no to burgers or croissants for snacks, it’s high time we train them to accept the goodness of healthy traditional stuff. If you are already an alien, waste no time. Start immediately. Make them feel comfortable with their snack boxes with no junk. Now, before defining what is junk to our children, I think WE should understand JUNK.

One can’t actually make out what is junk and what is not. Correct me if am wrong…….

Junk can just be that which is craft fully made, temptingly displayed, yet made with UNHEALTHY ingredients.

A good snack or food can be equally craft fully made, temptingly displayed, yet not accepted as it is what your mother served you at home.

This acceptance of home made or even store bought traditional foods, would develop only if we change as a community of parents. Peer pressure seems to be the most common and simple reason for falling into certain traps… especially into the trap laid by fast food Giants . Peer pressure contributes to what children prefer packing to school for snacks and lunch.

With no more thoughts to elaborate, let us start making Kadalai Mittai (peanut brittles) and dry fruit brittle… Anytime healthier than snacks that constitute white flour, white sugar white butter. Brittles are called Chikkies in the northern part of India.

I didn’t want to do separate posts for both brittles… The method being the same and just alteration of nuts, this is a post with dual recipes.

Kadalai Mittai (Peanut Brittles)

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Ingredients

  • kadalai/peanuts – 2 cups
  • vellam/jaggery – 1 1/2 cups
  • water – 1/2 cup
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 2 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder- 2 tsp

Dry fruit Mittai (Dry fruit brittles)

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Ingredients

  • combination of almonds, walnuts, cashewnuts, peanuts (one may also include pecan nuts, hazelnuts) – coarsely chopped – 2 cups
  • vellam/jaggery – 1 1/2 cups
  • water – 1/2 cup
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 2 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder- 2 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Dry roast peanuts and keep aside / Coarsely chop mixed nuts, dry roast them and keep aside.
  2. The procedure is the same for any brittle…
  3. Grease a flat tray
  4. Heat up jaggery and water until jaggery dissolves
  5. Strain the liquid
  6. Boil the jaggery water along with cardamom and dry ginger powder until it reaches hard ball consistency – place a bowl with water and drop the syrup into it. If the syrup doesn’t melt and turns to a harder ball, that’s right for making brittles
  7. Switch off stove, mix the roasted peanuts and spread on greased tray.
  8. Make slices while hot with a greased sharp knife
  9. Break the pieces when cold.
  10. Store in air tight containers.

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Note:

  1. If one is unable to cut perfect bars, just break the brittles into random pieces… The crispy bars are what you want.
  2. If one hasn’t got the right consistency, if the brittles are chewy…no worries they are equally good while sticky
  3. If they turned out harder…. they taste like toffees, first suck the jaggery juice and then eat the peanuts.

Come along, Life is all about positivity.

My love for nutty jaggery brittles- 1. Ellu Mittai/Sesame Seed Brittles

Brittle is a type of confection consisting of flat broken pieces of hard sugar candy embedded with nuts such as pecans, almonds, or peanuts.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brittle_(food)

 As per the above definition, normal brittles are made with sugar and water, mostly white sugar. 

Traditional indian brittles are made with jaggery. Hence, are a combination of health and taste. Kadalai urundai (peanut jaggery balls)/ ellu urundai (sesame jaggery balls)/ pori urundai (puffed rice balls)/ pottukadalai urundai (roasted bengalgram balls) are common combinations made with  jaggery syrup brought down to hard ball consistency.

Urundais are sweet balls, but the less time consuming version is the Mittai – Brittles. Kadalai Mittai and Ellu Mittai are squared brittles. When was the word ‘Mittai’ included in Tamil vocabulary is a matter for research.  Before the concept of urundais or sweet balls came into making, the kitchen guardians must have powdered the nut and jaggery in the ural -mortar and enjoyed the marriage of sweet-nutty flavour.

Making sweet balls or bars involve perfect string consistency of jaggery syrup. After continuous efforts, off-late my nut brittles are almost good. Before I got the right consistency to harden the syrup to be perfectly crispy , we used to munch chewy candies. The sticky  chewy candies were equally a joyous endeavour in the mouth…. reluctant to leave the teeth. 

I shall be ever grateful to my daughter and husband, who never hesitated to pull the chewy candy from teeth to tongue. It is because of their patience, that I have reached this stage, making crispy brittles.

For the recipe, as usual, chukku podi/dry ginger powder for easy digestion and elakkai podi/cardamom powder for flavour have been added.

These are a few brittles that I’ve tried …

  • Ellu Mittai/Sesame Brittle
  • Kadalai Mittai/Peanut Brittle
  • Dry fruit Mittai/Brittle

Let’s handle them one by one.

Ellu Mittai/Sesame Seed Brittle

Ingredients

  • ellu/sesame Seeds – 1 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 3/4 cup
  • thanneer/water – 1/4 cup
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. I used white sesame seeds. Dry roast sesame seeds until golden brown and crispy
  2. Grease a plate for spreading the done mixture later
  3. Heat a pan, and let jaggery melt in water
  4. Strain the jaggery water in a clean hard bottomed pan.
  5. Add dry ginger powder and cardamom powder. Let it boil
  6. When the syrup reaches hard ball consistency – when you drop a little syrup in cold water, it should form a hard ball – switch off stove and add the roasted sesame seeds
  7. Mix well and immediately spread on the greased plate
  8. Level the presently sticky mixture and cut into squares with a sharp knife. 
  9. Remove pieces once it is cooled.
  10. Store in air tight container and relish the goodness of ths healthy brittle.

The Good Fat Black Ball

Whatever the title makes you comprehend, I am here to clarify. 

Nowadays we hear people say – ’40 is the new 20′. Times are changing and we seem to ‘age’ slower with advanced medical facilities, anti-aging feel-good slogans and social media messages.  In contrast, children less than 15 are falling prey to life style diseases, which used to be post-middle age illnesses.

The classification as middle age illness or old age disease doesn’t hold good anymore. Anyone gets it anytime. While 40 seems to look like the new 20…. is 20 the new 40?? Kind of role reversal here? The reasons for this contrast may be varied. But, as a food blogger and believer in providing healthy food to the family, my focus is on a few factors- primary being  ‘Choice of Foods and Ingredients’.

We all seem to be living in ‘DANGER ZONE’ amidst junk food outlets and super markets  with evil jaws inviting us into the harsh and tragic world of dangerous health hazards.  Making better choices is something written and preached about for a long time. It is not enough if we just understood better choices – but its high time  ‘making right choices’ an important part of our life style.

With ‘making right choices’ comes the most important ingredient of our culinary indulgences – ‘FAT’. Everyone is talking about Good Fat and Bad Fat – understanding FAT has become an essential element in averting several health related disasters.

While our diet needs to be balanced with all necessary components, why say NO to Fats? 

A few of the noticeable consequences of ‘Say No to Fats’ theory, according to me are-

  • Margarine replaced Butter
  • Refined oils that boast to protect your heart replaced Cold pressed Oils 
  • Low fat fruit yoghurts (the added sugar went unnoticed) replaced Plain Natural home made Yoghurt 
  • Canned/bottled Fresh juices most of which hide the added sugar replaced Fresh fruits
  • Diet drinks with added Aspartame and Aerated drinks replaced freshly squeezed juices
  • Brown bread in varied Avatars (whole meal, multi grain etc. ) with very little reduction of white flour replaced white bread which itself substituted indigenous grains decades ago

These are only a few to be named… the list is longer.

Unknowingly, we as a whole generation have fallen prey to many misconceptions and unclear theories. While I am neither a dietician nor a physician to guide my readers, I only know for sure that Not all Fats are Bad. It is quintessesntial to understand the differences between Good Fat and Bad Fat. 

I am not attempting to write a post of Good Fats and Bad Fats… internet is bloated up with information on this. Please read those carefully. Nor am I trying to justify indulging in sweets. This is a humble post to encourage using better ingredients for indulgence too.

Now, understanding Good Fats and Bad Fats would let us make Right Choices. Making Right Choices is the Core.  This by itself would bring in a huge Positive Life Style Change.

As sweets/desserts are major contributors to Fat, I chose to introduce this Urundai/Sweet Ball with better choice of ingredients.

When it comes to desserts, I have realised, traditional sweets of any culture with the choicest of unrefined ingredients, eaten in moderation cannot be hazardous.  If your physician has adviced you to stop any kinds of sugar, then this recipe is not for you, but the post is for everyone aiming at a healthy life style.

So, for the benefit of all sweet toothed members of the household, in consideration of the FAT intake of my family, I say NO to these –

  • white sugar
  • white flour
  • margarine

and replace with unrefined cane sugar, jaggery, mollases or palm sugar;  substitute white flour with milled wheat flour and use clarified butter, which is medicinal instead of margarine.

I cut down my Bad Fats  and  include Good Fats such as nuts and oily seeds. These are simple changes made to bring out different nutritious combinations. 

Atlast, I have arrived at the reason for naming the Sweet Ball that I made for Deepavali. The GOOD FAT BLACK BALL has ingredients with Poly unsaturated Fats – Sesame seeds and Flax Seeds – which are Good Fats. White sugar has been replaced with unrefined cane sugar.  Very little clarified butter has been used for binding them into urundai. Cardamom powder for flavour and dry ginger powder for digestion. 

Benefits of the ingredients

Aalli Vidhai/Flax Seeds

Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s. Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed#1

Ellu/Sesame Seeds

Not only are sesame seeds an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, sesame seeds contain two unique substances: sesamin and sesamolin. Both of these substances belong to a group of special beneficial fibers called lignans, and have been shown to have a cholesterol-lowering effect in humans, and to prevent high blood pressure and increase vitamin E supplies in animals. Sesamin has also been found to protect the liver from oxidative damage. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=84

Naattu Sarkkarai/ unrefined cane sugar/powdered jaggery

It activates the digestive enzymes in our body, thus helps in proper digestion of food.  It acts as a detox, as it helps cleanse the liver by flushing out nasty toxins from the body. Jaggery is loaded with antioxidants and minerals like zinc and selenium, which help prevent free-radicals (responsible for early ageing). It helps boost resistance against infections, hence building stronger immunity.  
www.indiatoday.in/benefits-of-eating-jaggery


This is certainly a guilt free sweet. Please have in moderation.

THE GOOD FAT BLACK BALL

Ingredients (makes 22-25 urundais)

  • ellu/sesame seeds – 100 gms – 1 cup
  • aalli vidhai/flax seeds – 100 gms – 1cup
  • naattu sarkkarai/unrefined cane sugar – 50 gms
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • chukka podi/dry ginger powder –  1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Dry roast sesame seeds and flax seeds separately till crispy

2. Cool both and blend well  with cane sugar, cardamom and dry ginger powder into a fine powder

3. Transfer into a bowl

4. The oil in both the seeds would make the powder greasy. That is why, very little clarified butter is used to bind

5. Heat clarified butter and pour inside the blended powder

6. Make medium sized balls 

7. Store in air tight container. It lasted well for over two weeks.

8. I preferred using black sesame seeds, but white sesame was available at home. Use as per preference. 

 

Say ‘NO’ to refined – white sugar! – Candied Walnuts with Jaggery

  

Caramel seems to be omnipresent…. be it chocolates, ice creams, milk shakes, macchiatos, puddings, cappuccinos, cakes, frostings and the list is endless. If not a weight watcher, I am certainly a health watcher. When craving (especially to indulge in sweets) takes a huge leap, I try to substitute with my favourite unrefined forms of sugar. My immediate choice is palm or sugarcane jaggery which involves dissolving and filtering from scratch. The next in line to make Urundai/Sweet Balls, I prefer raw unrefined palm or cane sugar for direct usage.

When we went to dine in this beautiful restaurant, the dessert served was vanilla ice cream with caramelized/candied walnuts. The hot, gooey, a touch of bittery sweetness in the caramel that coated crispy walnuts was truly awesome. After a while when the caramel coat hardened a bit, it was a wonderful crispy cracker. Though I relished the taste of it, the guilt of having something with white sugar hit me hard, as usual.

Hence came this recipe. I substituted jaggery with sugar. The kadalai mittai- peanut crackers, ellu mittai- sesame crackers, pori urundai- puffed rice crackers…. all native sweets of Tamilnadu, made with jaggery syrup caramelized to perfection – for the crunchy bite came to my mind. When we could make caramel popcorn with jaggery syrup, why not caramel walnuts? Yes we can. There is no butter or clarified butter to add extra calories.

  

Candied Walnuts (with jaggery syrup)
 

coated well


  

Ingredients

  • walnuts – 2 cups
  • vellam/jaggery – 1 cup grated
  • water – 1/2 cup
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • chukka podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp

  
Method of Preparation

  

  

  1. Dry roast walnuts until crisp –
  • Preheat oven at 350°F. Place walnuts on butter paper/cookie sheet.
  • Bake for appr. 10 minutes- couple of minutes more or less . Do keep checking frequently.

  

2. to caramelize jaggery

  • On a stove, dissolve 1 cup jaggery in 1/2 cup water
  • After jaggery has dissolved completely, strain for impurities
  • Take a hard bottomed chatti/pan, pour the filtered jaggery water
  • Add cardamom powder and dry ginger powder- cardamom for flavour and dry ginger for quick digestion
  • Let it boil until syrup consistency is reached
  • Once the liquid becomes syrupy, simmer the stove and wait for the required three string consistency or hard ball stage.

  

3. Hard Ball stage in syrup

(courtesy: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com)
  

4. Next step is a quick and swift one – otherwise the syrup consistency would turn disastrous.

5. When the syrup is perfect hard ball consistency, drop quickly the roasted walnuts and mix well until every walnut is coated perfectly.

6. Spread on a greased plate.

7. When the walnuts are cool, they would be crisp. Store in an air tight container. They taste awesome when hot too.
  

bird’s nest with caramelized jaggery

 

Moongil Arisi Payasam/ Bamboo Rice Payasam


  

Moongil Arisi or Bamboo Rice, is a rare variety among native rice which is the gift of the bamboo flower, during the last stages of the plant. Almost similar to wheat in looks and nutty in taste, it is highly adaptable as payasam/sweet pudding, dosai/pancakes, uppuma, or a replacement to cooked rice with loads of nutritious value.

High protein, high in potassium and vitamin B, strengthens heart, reduces cholesterol, maintains sugar level as it is low in glycemic index…. so many details available.  No doubt, it is several times healthier than the polished, refined rice and other carbs that are available today.

I chose to make a payasam/sweet pudding to relish this exclusive gift from the Bamboo Flower to mankind.
  

Moongil Arisi Payasam/Bamboo Rice Sweet Pudding
  


  

Ingredients

  • moongil arisi/bamboo arisi – 1 cup
  • vellam/cane jaggery – 3/4 cup
  • thengai pal/coconut milk  – thick milk: 1/2 cup; diluted thin milk :1/2 cup
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tsp
  • mundhiri paruppu/cashewnut – 8 no.s broken into smaller pieces

  
Method of Preparation

1. Soak jaggery in 1/4 cup hot water and close lid. It would be mostly dissolved after 15 minutes. Crush the jaggery pieces if any and filter for impurities. Keep aside to use it later

2. Wash well and soak moongil arisi/bamboo rice for 4 hours.


  

3. Use the soaked water for cooking too. Take 4 times water to 1 times rice (I used 4 cups water for 1 cup bamboo rice)


  

4. In a pressure cooker, reduce the burner after the first whistle and cook for 20 more minutes

5. Open lid after pressure subsides completely


  

6. Pour the filtered jaggery water and cook till the mixture thickens


  

7. Add the diluted thin coconut milk and cook for another 5 minutes. Like the paasi paruppu payasam, moongil arisi can be cooked in third coconut milk and then second and the first thick milk can be added to complete the process. But, moongil arisi is a hard nut to crack. I thought it might need more time to soften and hence used water to cook the rice well.

8. While using store-bought canned coconut milk – dilute 1/4 cup milk with 1/4 water and add at this stage, or if using home-made coconut milk from scratch, add the second milk (not so thin) after the rice is cooked with jaggery.


  

9. Heat clarified butter in a pan and fry cut cashew nuts and add to the boiling payasam. One can also use fried coconut slices or raisins to enhance flavor.


  

10. Check whether the rice is cooked well and absorbed the jaggery and coconut milk.

11. Now, add the thick milk and boil for just 2 minutes in simmered flame. The jaggery may curdle the coconut milk.


  

Nutritious Moongil Arisi Payasam is ready to be served.

My favourite Childhood After School Snack : Paal Aval – Rice flakes soaked in milk and coconut

When my daughter comes back from school with loads of stories in her school bag to share with me, it is a beautiful time that brings in timeless memories. I see myself running back from school to narrate never-ending stories to my all-time best friend – Amma. The special bond between mothers and daughters, especially mothers in the kitchen most of their time, transforms daughters into carriers of tasty treats to the next generations, I suppose. Might differ from person to person, but that’s true in many cases that I see.

Certain comfort foods create such cozy reminiscences. Yes,  Paal Aval or Nanaicha Aval -(Flattened Rice or Rice flakes soaked in milk and coconut) brings in warm memories of coming back from school to recite non-stop happenings at school to Amma.  The  dish has not only left behind impressions of the past,  but the simple taste of the soft rice flakes and the crunchiness of freshly grated coconut makes me thrive for more, even today.

Aval is known as flattened Rice, beaten rice or rice flakes in english. It is commonly called Poha or Chuda in the hindi belt of India.  It is identified as Pawa in many countries outside India.

  

  

When we came back from school, hungry and tired, Amma would have kept this ready. After a snack, drinking milk is the norm in the evening. This Nanaicha Aval/flattened rice or Poha has milk, sugar and coconut. It fills your tummy with the requisite milk of the evening… hence, no extra milk after the snack. It is such a comfort food, I can’t explain in words.. you need to taste this humble mix. It is certainly very easy as a ”no cook meal’ and not at all time-consuming, even for busy mothers and caretakers of children.
  

A multi-faceted meal
 

Why I call it a multi-faceted meal –

  1. it can also be an equivalent or substitute to today’s cereal-milk breakfast, so popular in Indian households too
  2. it can be an after school meal – quick to make-quick to eat, quite filling but not heavy on calories
  3. it can be a dessert with fried cashew nuts or soaked almonds, plus no cooking at all, easy isn’t it?
  4. it can be a quick meal apt for lazy weekends, during an emergency hour or a hunger prank during pregnancy too.
  5. It can also be a baby food (toddlers who have already been introduced to various other simple foods) without coconut of course.

  
A versatile dish

it is also a versatile dish to adapt itself to various additions

  1. Add chopped bananas, apples, pears or fruits of your choice – after aval is well soaked, this gives a fruity taste; choose fruits those wouldn’t curdle the hot milk;
  2. Add chopped nuts while mixing hot milk, so that the nuts are softened;
  3. Alter sugar with unrefined cane sugar, palm sugar, cane jaggery, honey;
  4. Use white aval or kaikuthal aval (unprocessed red aval) – whichever is available easily.

  

palm jaggery, cane jaggery or unrefined cane sugar


  

Now, this isn’t funny-

  1. among the three ingredients added to aval (milk, sugar and coconut)- Skip the milk, add just sugar and coconut to washed soft aval/flattened rice and that itself is a delicacy – it is called nanaicha aval/aval nanaichathu/ vella aval with jaggery;
  2. Skip the sugar, add coconut and fruits and that’s good for those who wish to avoid sugar in their meal;
  3. Skip coconut, have aval soaked in milk alone with raisins;

  

choose or skip


  

True – versatility personified!
  

Simplicity
Additionally, I believe the ‘x’ factor of this dish lies in its simplicity. Wash the flattened rice; boil the milk, grate the coconut- add everything together with sugar. Soak for 20 minutes and you get this simple and tasty treat with literally little or no effort at all. The recipe is done. So easy.
Simple recipe has already been explained in a paragraph. Still being a food blog, let me do the honours, please.

  

Paal Aval – Rice flakes soaked in sugar,milk and coconut
 


 

Ingredients
  


 

  

  • aval/flattened rice/poha (I have used red aval) – 1 ½ cups
  • milk – 4 cups
  • coconut grated – ½ cup (more or less as per preferred)
  • unrefined cane sugar – 6 tsp (more or less as preferred)
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – ½ ts
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – ½ tsp
  • chopped nuts – ¼ cup (optional)

  
Method of Preparation

1. Wash aval/ beaten rice. Do not overdo it. This is a very soft material to handle, wash it with care just twice carefully not mashing it. Keep in a bigger bowl to soak other ingredients.


  

2. Keep adding all the dry ingredients – sugar, grated coconut, cardamom powder, dry ginger powder and chopped nuts


  

3. Bring milk to boil and pour over the aval, sugar, coconut mixture


  

4. Close with lid and leave for about 20 minutes to soak well and soften. A hotcase can also be used to keep it hot.


  

Serve paal aval on all occasions that suit you.