Category Archives: Jaggery Based Sweets

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

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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

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

 

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7. Remove in kitchen tissue to absorb excess oil

8. Break them into finger sized pieces
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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

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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

 

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

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10. Jaggery coated glowing Manoharam is ready.

 

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Ellu Kozhukkattai/ Rice Flour Dumplings with Sesame Seed and Jaggery

 

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Pillayar Chathurthi, Ganesh Chathurthi or Vinayaka Chathurthi is being celebrated today. The Gods we worship have different names in different parts of India. Pillayar in Tamilnadu is also called as Ganesha or Vinayaka, followed by a list of many other names. Different names don’t interfere in the festivities on the street and inside homes.  What the elephant-headed God, being Pillayar or Ganesha likes is fixed – Kozhukkattai in Tamil and Modakam in Sanskrit. Different Forms of Modak are the most important preparation of Pillayar Chaturthi.

Added to the well popularised Modakam in the God’s hands, is a long chain of local ingredients – fruits, vegetables and grains that come up during the season.

In Tamilnadu, what Lord Ganesha is simplified in the poetic verses – ‘Appamodu Aval Pori’ – which gives the best three things that he likes to eat –

a. Appam/Deep fried Rice flour-jaggery Dumplings (the altered version being made with wheat flour and sometimes banana too)
b. Aval – Flattened Rice
c. Pori – Puffed Rice.

This also shows the socioeconomic connection behind these religion based celebrations. The major crop of the area – Rice and its different versions, has been adapted as ‘Festive Food Essentials’. I often think, if Ganesh Chathurthi had been celebrated elaborately in the northern parts of India – Wheat based specialities would have been his favorite, wheat being the major crop of that part of the country.

Now, the core ingredient of Kozhukkattai or Modakam is the rice flour. What enters into the beautiful rice cover can be optional. Coconut – Jaggery is the ultimate killer combination of all kozhukkattais according to me. The next classic filling is the Sesame Seed – Jaggery combination. The nutty flavor that the sesame seeds give and the traditional sweetness from jaggery can also be a low-fat version for those who feel coconut or fried coconut is rich in cholesterol (not me). Apart from this stuffed modakams, there are also varieties of non-stuffed stuff – pidi kozhukkattai or plain sweetened or salted steamed dumplings pressed with the impression of fingers – that aid additionally as quick and easy evening snacks.

Coconut-Jaggery Kozhukkattai and Pidi Kozhukkattai – Sweet and Salt and Spicy versions, have already been posted. It’s time for Ellu Kozhukkattai or Sesame Seed-Jaggery filled Dumplings this time.
Ellu Kozhukkattai/Rice Flour Dumplings with Sesame Seed and Jaggery
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a. Ingredients specified below makes 20-25 dumplings

b. The V -Part demonstration is for precise comprehension alone – otherwise these dumplings are quite easy to make

 

Part I – Making Rice Flour at home
The core ingredient Rice Flour can be store-bought which comes out well, but the snow-white colour of home-made rice flour is something beyond comparison. For those who prefer home-made rice flour, please refer https://dosaikal.com/2016/08/29/uppu-seedaisalted-rice-ball-crispies/
Part II – Making the Rice Dough which is the outer covering

Ingredients

 

  • arisi maavu/rice flour – 1 1/2 cup – app. 200 gms
  • thanneer/water – boiling hot to make a stiff yet soft dough
  • uppu/salt – 1/2 tsp
  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 2 tsp

 

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  1. Boil water in a vessel;
  2. In a bowl, mix rice flour and salt;
  3. Pour boiling hot water on it and mix well with a ladle immediately before lumps form;
  4. Add the gingelly oil for smooth consistency.

 

Part III – Making the filling

 

  • ellu/sesame seeds (white or black) – 100 gms – app. 1 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 200 gms – app. 1 cup
  • thengai thuruval/grated coconut – 1/2 cup – app. 50 gms
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp

 

roasted sesame with jaggery water…

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mixed with coconut, dry ginger powder and cardamom powder..

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and shaped to be filled..

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  1. Dry roast clean/non-muddy sesame seeds till golden.
  2. Separately dry roast coconut – for 10 mins – with the coco-nutty stickiness intact.
  3. Dissolve jaggery in just enough hot water and filter the mud that is present.
  4. In a pan, heat together sesame seeds, grated coconut, jaggery water, dry ginger powder and cardamom powder.
  5. Let the mixture thicken, ready enough to make small stiff balls.
  6. Make equal sized balls for filling.

Part IV – Making Kozhukkattai/Dumplings

(for step-by-step procedure for keeping the filling inside and closing kozhukkattai please refer – https://dosaikal.com/2011/09/14/modhakam-pillayar-chaturthi-special/

 

  1. Make small equal sized balls for the outer covering.
  2. Keep a bowl with 3 tsp gingelly oil for greasing palm – this helps the rice dough not sticking to the palm.
  3. Grease palm with gingelly oil.
  4. Take one rice ball and press it flat in the palm and fill it with one sesame jaggery ball.
  5. Cover it well and make kozhukkattai/dumpling.
  6. Make all dumplings to be steamed.

 

ready to be steamed

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Part V – Steaming Modhakams

 

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  1. Take an Idli Kopparai/Idli Cooker or any Steamer.
  2. Boil water in the base of the steamer.
  3. Oil the moulds and place the kozhukkattai/dumplings.
  4. Place the mould in the steamer and steam for 15 minutes.
  5. Kozhukkattais are ready to be served.

 

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Vella Seedai/Jaggery Rice Ball Crispies

 

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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.

 

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  • 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

 

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

dry roasted…

 

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and powdered…

 

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  • 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.

 

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Part II

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  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.

 

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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.

 

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Cheeni Kizhangu/Sarkkarai Valli Kizhangu-Karuppatti/Sweet Potatoes in Palm Sugar Syrup

 

sweet potato soaked in palm jaggery syrup

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I have very less memories of Sarkkarai Valli Kizhangu or Cheeni Kizhangu – Sweet Potato as a vegetable. But I have evergreen memories of sweet potatoes floating in a tub of Palm syrup in Thoothukudi, my maternal grandmother’s house.

The big chatti or hot vessel filled with sweet aromatic Palm jaggery syrup and the  floating sweet potatoes inside was one of my favorites. Of course, still is. Mildly spiced with dry ginger for balance and added digestion, this delicacy can be had hot, warm or cold.

Cubed or Circled Sweet Potato pieces cooked in Palm Jaggery Syrup is a sweet coated with Divinity. No, it isn’t served for the Gods but the Divinity comes from its soaked flavor. The naturally mildly sweet Sweet Potato dipped in the flavorful Palm Jaggery Syrup offers a unique aroma and taste different from the other well-known sweets of Tamilnadu.

This might be termed as a healthy sweet as there is no frying involved.

 

Why should we stick to Traditional Foods?

 

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Do you believe in  –

 

  • the whole wheat breads of market that offer 50 % refined flour and still take the name ‘whole wheat’?
  • the baked chips with loads of sodium that still claim to be 0% cholesterol?
  • the high sugar/banned low sugar or honey filled granular bars that claim to be health snacks to start the day?
  • the mostly refined ready to eat whole grain cereals that are sent through high heat to be moisture free for longer shelf life?
  • and additionally, do you believe in the never-ending list of hazardous goodies that cheat us in the name of health food?

 

If you don’t believe in the above, then I’d suggest you to try out the traditional recipes of each culture.

Believe me!

These Sweet Potatoes –

  1. cooked in Palm Jaggery
  2. soaked well in the same syrup
  3. not deep-fried
  4. do not possess the minutest droplet of butter, ghee or oil
  5. no added milk or coconut milk
  6. no added cream or coconut cream

– can be claimed fat-free, gluten-free, free from milk and milk products, no allergic nuts involved in making, no soy products and so on.
Fortunately,  there is no claim of traditional sweets to be fat-free – no tagged promises. As there cannot be any food that could be completely fat-free/sugar-free/chemical free/ and to top the list – that is suitable for all. It is for the consumers to identify what suits their family, more importantly what suits their pocket and most importantly what suits their family’s health and well-being. But staying away from products that have higher shelf life and those beautifully arranged in the stores, could definitely be a healthier choice for the family, especially with growing children.

This simple logic has made me believe and rely completely on traditional foods. They don’t stay longer – reason one, we lick the bowls to our heart’s content and then, they have no added preservatives to stay long and tempt us longer. They can be high in calories, high in sugar, high in cholesterol as analyzed by dietitians. But, they are at a comfort kitchen zone where the intolerant levels can be altered.

Hence, while one cannot alter the sugar content of sweet potatoes, feel free to alter the amount of Palm jaggery used in the recipe.

 

Sweet Potatoes and the South East Asian Connection

 

 

I am amazed by the connection of south East Asian cuisine with the cuisine of Tamilnadu. On our visit to Indonesia, I could taste the same Cheeni kizhangu karuppatti in Indonesia, but with the twist of taste with coconut milk. Yummy Treat! The same Sweet Potato in different parts of the world can be used in different ways. But the abundance of Palm and Palm Sugar and Coconut and Coconut Milk has given way to a number of common recipes among the different countries of South-East Asia, Srilanka and Southern India that share sea space. This cuisine connect is also a remarkable proof of the successful maritime trade between Tamilnadu and other South East Asian Countries extending till China, the give and take of several recipes twisted to local tastes.

Here is the name of the delicacies with almost the same preparation. Please correct me for errors.

Indonesian – 

Biji Salak – Sweet Potato Dumplings cooked in Palm Sugar Syrup and flavoured with coconut milk and Pandan (screw pine) leaves and thickened with tapioca flour

Kolak Biji Salak – The above mentioned sweet with the addition of Bananas

Malaysian – 

Bubur Cha Cha – Sweet porridge made with 3 kinds of differently coloured sweet potatoes, yam, tapioca pearls (sago),  bananas and black eyed beans, thickened with tapioca flour and added flavor with coconut milk and Pandan leaves

Singaporean – 

BoBo Cha Cha – Bubur Cha Cha is also called BoBo Cha Cha and made with a mixture of different colored tapioca pearls. http://www.singaporelocalfavourites.com/2010/08/easy-bo-bo-cha-cha-recipe.html

 

Now, to the Tamil Recipe –

Cheeni Kizhangu Karuppatti/ Sweet Potatoes in Palm Jaggery Syrup

 

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Ingredients

  • cheeni kizhangu/sweet potatoes – 1/2 kg
  • karuppatti/palm jaggery – 1/4 kg
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • water – 250 ml and little more for potatoes to float

 

Method of Preparation
1. Wash and peel sweet potatoes

2. Cut them into circles preferably or cubes as per the size of potatoes

 

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3. In a pan, place Palm jaggery and water and heat slightly till jaggery completely dissolves

4. Filter the liquid as Cane or Palm jaggery always consist impurities/mud

5. Take this liquid in a wide and hard bottomed pan and add dry ginger powder and cardamom powder

 

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6. Add the cut sweet potatoes and add little more water if potatoes don’t have enough syrup to float

 

7. Slow cook sweet potatoes in the Palm syrup till done

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8. Pressure cooking would result in mashed potatoes; Slow cooking the pieces in the syrup not only enhances the flavor but also helps in perfectly soft and spoon-able pieces

9. By the time the potatoes are cooked, the syrup would have thickened a bit

10. Yet there would be enough syrup for the sweet potatoes to float in

11. Enjoy this delicious sweet hot or cold.

 

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Note:

  1. If you have access to different colored sweet potatoes, just indulge – do not worry about the color.
  2. If there is no Palm jaggery available, try using powdered Palm sugar available in Thai markets, or use any unrefined cane sugar or jaggery.  No white sugar here please.
  3. If the potatoes are huge in size – slice in halves, if the circles turn out to be too big
  4. If preferred, this sweet can also be converted into a Payasam/Kheer, with the addition of coconut milk (like the Indonesian Biji Sala)

Ulundhankali/Black Gram Pudding – To my daughter with Love

 

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Ulundhankali/Ulundhu kali/Ulundhamkali – these are different ways of spelling out a super healthy sweet. It translates as Black Gram Pudding. It is a black gram-palm jaggery sweet from Tamilnadu, made especially for young girls during those special days of the menstrual cycle.
Ulundhu or Uluntham-paruppu means Black Gram
Kali is the word for a thick/sticky pudding. Take note not to pronounce it as ‘Kaali’ with a double ‘a’, which denotes the Hindu Goddess or Shakti of India.

Kali is pronounced as –

‘Ka’ as in Kabab or Kanji with ‘a’ as short vowel and

‘Li as in muesli or vermicelli.

As gentle as its name, this pudding is also very soft in consistency. But, the soft yet thick pudding can play different roles in the healthy life of a girl as a tasty sweet as well as a medicine.

Girls grow up to play several roles in the society… Of course that stands good for boys too. No gender bias here. But, as tradition goes and in reality, the healthy balance of the different roles played by women is directly related not only to their own well-being and sound health, but to the well-being of their families too.

When a girl says good-bye to childhood and is ready for the next phase, the organs responsible for her ability to continue the beautiful process of Procreation need additional focus. That responsibility of making her healthy to be part of branching the family tree, lies in the hands of mothers and grand-mothers, who were little girls long long ago.

 

pudding or sweet ball, as preferred

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One of the key elements to sound reproductive health has been transferred from generation to generation through a few kitchen tricks. Ulundhankali or Black gram Pudding is one element of those handing-over strategies. One doesn’t know when this started. Hence, a tiny bit of imagination to understand… When my great grand mother became a big girl, her mother gave her ulundhamkali, taught by her grandmother in order to –

a. keep the hip bones strong,
b. completely cleanse the uterus after every menstrual cycle,
c. thereby develop her uterus without fibroid and cysts.

That is why, when the monthly cycle is done, we are given Black Gram Rice with Sesame Seed Chutney (refer – dosaikal.com/blackgramrice-sesame seed chutney) and this Kali/Black Gram Pudding. These foods are believed to act as uterus cleansers.

No written records here…. Only stories of information passed on by word of mouth from mothers to daughters. The making and consuming of ‘Kali’ starts with early teenage and goes on till menopausal stage of every woman.

The long generational chain hasn’t been cut till now and so the information thread is well intact.  So, this recipe of Ulundhankali is in honour of mothers, grand mothers and great grand mothers who have passed on the torch of good health to the daughters of their home.

So, here it is…. KALI – an exceptional recipe for the most precious princess and angel of my life. A mother’s contribution in making a Princess transform into a Majestic Queen!
The goodness of ingredients
The goodness of Kali lies in the most important three ingredients that go in the making. Each of the ingredients is rich in nutrient value and what impresses me the most, is the thought process that went into making such a balanced food, that aids in the core well being of the core member of each household. Especially, starting it off at an early age to proceed smoothly into the consecutive phases of adulthood in the journey of life.

 

black gram – whole or split but with skin

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Ulundham Paruppu/Black Gram: The health notes on Black gram, which is the main ingredient of this simple 3 ingredient pudding, has already been discussed in – dosaikal.com/black gram rice with sesame chutney

 

karuppatti/palm jaggery

 

Health benefits of palm jaggery –

 

  1. high in energy and low in calories compared to white sugar
  2. rich in iron and helps fight anemia
  3. regulates liver functions
  4. symptoms of PMS like fatigue, irritability, weakness and muscle spasms can all be regulated with jaggery
  5. can boost the immune system and fight germs and infections. Regular intake can increase the resistance power of the body
  6. the potassium present in jaggery is vital for healthy nervous system functions and helps in smooth functioning http://www.diyhealthremedy.com/14-great-health-benefits-of-palm-jaggery/

 

nallennai/gingelly oil or sesame oil

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Wellness aspects of sesame seeds have been posted in dosaikal.com/black gram rice with sesame chutney.

In the making of Kali,  sesame seed oil, which is called Nallennai in Tamil and Gingelly Oil or cold pressed Sesame Seed oil acts as a binding agent of the sticky pudding. The gingelly oil used for cooking and cosmetic purposes in the southern part of India, was cold pressed oil. Not very sure whether today’s store bought, packaged Nallennai/Gingelly oil still uses traditional ways of low heat extraction. But, a satisfying sight is the ‘Chekku’ or traditional oil extracting machines newly cropping up in the cities of Tamilnadu.
 Cold Pressed Sesame Oil

Cold-pressed sesame oil is a good source of vitamin E, containing 11.8 mg of the vitamin for every 100 g of the oil. Vitamin E gives sesame oil its antioxidant property. It also has a high concentration of fatty acids, including polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acids and monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acids. Other constituents of cold-pressed sesame oil include zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium and iron as well as vitamin B-6. Zinc contributes to healthy bones; copper is good for the management of rheumatoid arthritis; calcium is essential for the prevention of osteoporosis, migraine and colon cancer; and magnesium contributes to respiratory health. http://www.livestrong.com/article/498331-cold-pressed-sesame-oil-benefits/

 

The ‘Chekku Yennai’ or grinding sesame seeds with a pestle and extracting oil with no high temperature setting is the traditional-goodness filled oil extracting method.
Alarming fact of present day refined oils –

The modern method of oil extraction involves supplying a lot of heat. The oilseed is first crushed, and the pulp is heated under pressure. As a result, almost all the oil is extracted.

The downside is that the oil is heated up to temperatures of 230 degree centigrade. Heating it to such high temperatures alters the properties of the oil molecules in unfavourable ways (Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons  are formed at high temperatures which are carcinogenic) – and strips it off of its nutritional value.

For optimum extraction of oil, a solvent is added, in this case, hexane. The hazards of exposure to hexane are many – including dermatitis and CNS depression – depending upon the quantity of hexane inhaled or ingested. http://www.thealternative.in/lifestyle/cold-pressed-oil-switch-refined-oil-much-healthier-alternative/

 

KALI – Research and Development

red rice and black gram

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The first step in making Kali is making a powder out of Black Gram. Roasted Black gram is milled to a fine powder.

The traditional method of making Kali is by cooking the powder directly with Palm Jaggery water and Gingelly oil with constant stirring. This might take hours and result in a beautifully darkened, glossy Kali, with the addition of sore fingers and aching elbows and shoulders.

Aachis and Ammas (grandmothers and mothers) never bothered about their aches those days. And after all, making this pudding is all about that – reducing muscular, joint aches and strengthening bones. Might be they had an extra bowl of the strengthening KALI, to treat the after-effects – their aches.

After thorough analysis of the condition of our already very strong bones and muscles (so many stories of chiropractors and physio-therapists that we visit these days before 40), the elders of our households have devised an easier version of the extensive process of Kali Making.

The new found result after research comprises two main changes –

1. Mixing red rice to the black gram while making a powder – to aid in a ‘not so sticky’ paste;
2. Pressure cooking the three main ingredients – which drastically reduces the time involved in the making of kali.

After this simplified process, the Kali mixture (red rice-black gram powder cooked in palm jaggery water) is again cooked well in a pan with oil but with reduced stirring and brought to the right consistency. No complaints of joint aches and muscle pulls while making Kali anymore.

The introduction of red rice has reduced the trouble further. As mentioned previously, Ulundhamkali is usually made with ulundhu/black gram alone. But the sticky texture might be hard to handle sometimes. And might result in a burnt or lumpy semi-solid in the cooker. The addition of red rice (better than processed white rice) blends the mixture into a sticky cake in the cooker. This would be easily removable from the pressure cooker and transferred into the hard bottomed chatti/pan. Lastly, the sticky pudding is cooked well with gingelly oil.

The last ingredient which is the gingelly oil, helps bringing the sticky paste to a beautifully glowing glossy pudding. The end product ‘Kali’ can also be made into ‘urundai’ or sweet balls, easy for children.

 

Ulundhankali/Black Gram Kali – Palm Jaggery Pudding

 

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Step I

Making the Kali Powder

 

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  • muzhu ulundhu/black gram (split or whole but with skin intact) – 1 cup – 100gms
  • Sivapparisi/Red rice – 1/2 cup – 50 gms

 

  1. Dry roast black gram and red rice separately till a beautiful roasted aroma comes out
  2. Milling is the best as a fine powder yields better pudding. When there are no chances of milling, powder both together in a mixer and filter to remove coarse lentil-rice particles
  3. Use the fine powder alone for making kali; No compromises here
  4. The left over coarse powder can be used for any other dosais

 

Step II

Making Kali

Ingredients

  • ulundhu-arisi maavu combo/black gram-red rice powder combo – 1 cup or 100gms
  • karuppatti/palm jaggery – 150 gms
  • thanneer/water – 2 cups
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp (my optional inclusion)
  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 1/2 cup (little more or little less, but more the better)

 

Method of Preparation
1. Let 150 gms palm jaggery dissolve in 2 cups of water; Strain it
2. Mix 1 cup of Kali powder in strained Palm jaggery water
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3. Pour the mixture into a cooking utensil with 2 tsp nallennai/gingelly oil
4. Pressure cook in the separate cooking utensil inside the cooker – After the first whistle, reduce flame and let cook for 5 minutes
Note: Never cook the mixture in direct pressure cooker as the palm jaggery would burn and kali would stick to the cooker. Pressure cook in a separate utensil inside the cooker base with water to avoid burning. Yet, the mixture would be sticky but no burnt jaggery here

 

5. When done, remove from the cooker and transfer the cooked mixture into a hard bottomed pan with gingelly oil

sticky mixture from the cooker

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6. Keep stirring well till the sticky mixture reaches a non-sticky consistency
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7. The beauty of the glowing Kali after addition of oil is certainly a remarkable feat

oil needs to get incorporated well to lose its sticky texture

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8. It is just right to serve when the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom and scoops out well in a ladle .

hurray!

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Enjoy Kali feeding your young ones. Additionally, Kali is also suitable for all, as it aids in keeping our bones stronger.

So, I mention again… this was it…. KALI – an exceptional recipe for the most precious princess and angel of my life. A mother’s contribution in making a Princess transform into a Majestic Queen!

Home made Healthy Caramel Popcorn (with palm jaggery) – A Promise Kept!

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While on our recent flight, when my daughter asked for a caramel popcorn snack, I obviously restricted her not only due to the white sugar caramel.. but I could imagine a long list of unnecessary components dancing their way into the box. I was and am truly scared of the butter… too much salt… baking soda…. corn syrup… preserving agents and other unknown ingredients in the pack. I know I sound quite obsessed with healthy food. And as always, I promised her to make a healthier version of Caramel Popcorn at home.
Though in a while relaxing my obsession, I bought her a pack of caramel popcorn and tasted to find the original taste and texture of it. Crispy, buttery, salty, perfectly sweetened with caramelized sugar –  it definitely tasted good. Reading the ingredients, I couldn’t control the guilt of having those unwanted preservatives and unknown elements included in the pack to increase its shelf life.
Now, to keep up the promise..(by the way, I am approximately 75% good at keeping up my healthy promises in the kitchen), I decided to try a healthy caramel popcorn version not altering the taste of the packed junk that we had.
Off late, I have been quite successful in making peanut and sesame candies with jaggery syrup. With that confidence of getting the right syrup consistency, I went to fetch cane jaggery from my storage. In a corner, I saw the ‘chukku karuppatti’ specially bought from Thiruchendur Temple.

 

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Chukku Karuppatti is a flavourful/healthy combination of palm jaggery and dry ginger, moulded for storage in a hand-made palm leaf box. It is a household remedy for cold, cough and indigestion. So, you guessed right… caramel would be made from ‘chukku karuppatti’ – ‘dry ginger palm jaggery’ – that would aid in digestion too!
Here’s how I made it .. from scratch… with dry corn and no added ingredients. I prefer the taste of popped corn made from the humble pressure cooker than one made in a microwave.
Palm Sugar Caramel Popcorn – flavoured with dry ginger

 

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Ingredients

for pop-corn

  • dried corn (to pop-up) – 1 cup
  • oil – 1 tsp
  • salt – 1/2 tsp

 

pressure cooker popcorn

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for caramel

  • chukku karuppatti/palm jaggery with dry ginger – 1/2 cup

Cane Jaggery can also be substituted for Palm Jaggery

healthy brown syrup

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Method of Preparation

coating popcorn in palm syrup

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  1. Melt 1/2 cup palm sugar in 1/4 cup water either in minimum heat or by just stirring
  2. Keep the palm sugar aside at this melted level
  3. Before making caramel, it is better to make popcorn as the thickened syrup would harden quickly
  4. In a pressure cooker, take 1 tsp oil and salt; add dry corn and mix well
  5. Close the lid without the whistle and let the corn pop up in a few minutes
  6. Pop corn is ready
  7. Open the lid and keep aside and start making caramel
  8. For caramel, in a wide bottomed pan, take the already melted palm sugar and make a two string consistency syrup
  9. If one feels the quantity of syrup is too much for the quantity of popped corn, take the extra syrup and store for any other candy next time
  10. Immediately add the popcorn in the syrup and mix well
  11. Crispy Caramel Popcorn is ready
  12. Cool and store in an airtight container.

 

 

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It is truly a great feeling of satisfaction and pride to have fulfilled a promise given to your young one!

 

Thirukkaarthigai and Pori Urundai/Festival of Lights and Puffed Rice Sweet Balls

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Thirukkarthigai was celebrated yesterday – 25.11.15. This is one of the ancient festivals of Tamilnadu and originally the Festival of Lights. It calls for decorating the house with lamps. A detail post on thirukkarthigai was written in 2011. Refer – dosaikal.com/thirukkaarthigai
There are various sweets prepared for different festive occasions- it can be a mix and match affair as far as the sweets are concerned. But there are certain specific delicacies for specific festivals. ‘Pori’ or Puffed Rice forms a basic part of Thirukkaarthigai. It takes the name of the festival and is called ‘Kaarthigai Pori’.

 

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In the previous post on Thirukkaaarthigai or Kaarthigai Deepam, I had tried Pori Urundai or Puffed Rice Jaggery Balls but had not been successful. Hence, it was converted into uthiri pori or sweetened puffed rice.

This time I was successful and could make Pori Urundais because of the right consistency of jaggery syrup.Graduating from a learner to a better learner, this time ‘Maavilakku’ or the lamp made with rice flour also came out better shaped, certified ‘good’ by my daughter. What else one needs as good marks from your child!

To the recipe-

Pori Urundai

 

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Ingredients (makes approximately 30 balls)

  • pori/puffed rice – 5 cups
  • vellam/jaggery – 1 cup
  • thanneer/water – 1/2 cup
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • nei/ghee – to grease hands

 

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Method of Preparation

  1. Keep puffed rice in a wide bottomed bowl, enough to mix jaggery syrup
  2. Take Jaggery in a pan with water and heat till jaggery dissolves
  3. Strain jaggery to remove mud which is generally present
  4. Keep the strained jaggery water on stove and add cardamom powder and dry ginger powder
  5. Boil till it becomes a thick syrup and reaches a consistency where it forms a ball when dropped in water – this is called uruttu padham in tamil

 

6. When the syrup reaches proper consistency, pour into puffed rice bowl and mix well with a ladle

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7. Adjust the quantity of puffed rice according to the syrup

8. Grease both hands with little clarified butter/ghee and make medium sized balls

9. Pori Urundai is ready.

Note:

  1. The puffed rice can be moulded into balls only if the consistency of jaggery syrup is right.
  2. If the rice mixture turns hard after a while, keep on stove and reheat till it melts a bit and continue making again.
  3. If the pori has become crispy with syrup and is unable to be moulded, the syrup has crossed the required consistency. In such case, enjoy uthiri pori or fried sweet puffed rice.
  4. Adjust the quantity of pori as per need while mixing the syrup. I needed to mix at least 1/2 cup more to bring it to right ratio.
  5. Pori Urundai cannot be made with sugar; Jaggery is the only sweetener. Or one can try palm sugar.
  6. Dry ginger powder aids in easy digestion and helps especially in case of over-eating.
  7. If the puffed rice is not crispy and is a bit soft, dry roast before making urundais/sweet balls.

 

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Pottukkadalai-Nilakkadalai Urundai/Roasted Channa-Groundnut Laddu

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Happy Diwali!

Any happy festival is made happier when it is made healthy too. With varied sweets and snacks to eat and greet, it is also important to include a few healthy sweets and snacks to reduce the damage already created by fatty intake of delicacies. After all the goodies have been stuffed and the digestive system has had over loaded duty to perform,  there is always the kashayam/poshion for stomach cleaning (dosaikal.com/deepavali kashayam), which is given as a damage control mechanism.

Yet, this is my contribution to a healthy sweet for the festival of lights, especially suitable for kids and due to the Clarified Butter/Ghee content- in limitations for adults too.

Pottukkadalai/Nilakkadalai Urundai/Roasted Channa-Groundnut Laddu (Sweet Ball)

 

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These Urundais/sweet balls are made in combination with roasted channa, peanuts and palm sugar all in powder form.  It is an easy to make sweet as well as high in nutritional value due to the protein rich chick pea and peanuts. White refined sugar has been avoided as they have only empty calories. Palm sugar which is rich in iron and other minerals is an added source of nutrition in the recipe. If powdered palm sugar is not available, cane jaggery syrup, palm jaggery syrup or unrefined cane sugar which is ‘Naattu Sarkkarai’ in Tamil can be used.

Pottukkadalai/Roasted Channa

 

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Pottukkadalai is Roasted Channa, also called Chutney Dhal in the northern part of India. It gets this name as it is directly used to make chutneys/dips without the burden of frying/roasting the lentil at home. It is had as a simple teatime nibbler too in Tamilnadu. Combined with pieces of coconut and jaggery it can be a healthy munch suitable to curb hunger between meals.

 

  1. They are naturally fat-free, saturated fat-free, and sodium-free. Roasted chana helps lower your risk of heart disease and may reduce your risk of colon cancer.
  2. They help to keep blood sugar low as the carbohydrate present in them takes longer time to digest and hence it has a low GI which makes them a suitable snack for diabetics.
  3. Use them to add a protein boost to meals without introducing meat or unnecessary fat to the dish.
  4. Roasted chana contain 6 grams of dietary fiber, or 22 percent of the recommended daily requirement of 28 grams. Dietary fiber encourages regular bowel movements, prevents constipation and lessens the risk of heart disease.
  5. They are also a good source of calcium, potassium and magnesium.http://www.tarladalal.com/glossary-roasted-chana-1800i

 

Nilakkadalai/Peanuts

 

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Here are a few nutritional facts of groundnuts or peanuts-

  1. They are actually legumes but carry almost all the qualities of other popular edible kernels such as pistachio, almonds, etc.
  2. They compose sufficient levels of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), especially oleic acid. MUFA helps lower LDL or “bad cholesterol” and increases HDL or “good cholesterol” level in the blood
  3. The kernels are an excellent source of vitamin E (a-tocopherol);
  4. The nuts are packed with many important B-complex groups of vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. 100 g of peanuts provide about 85% of RDI of niacin, which contribute to brain health and blood flow to brain.
  5. The nuts are rich source of minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
  6. Just a handful of peanuts per day provides enough recommended levels of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins, and protein.
    http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/peanuts.html

 

Pottukkadalai-Nilakkadalai Urundai/Roasted Channa-Peanut Laddu/Sweet Balls

 

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Ingredients (makes appr. 20-22 urundais)

 

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  • pottukkadalai/roasted channa – 1 1/2 cup
  • nilakkadalai/peanut – 1 1/2 cup
  • palm sugar (powder) – 1 1/2 cup
  • elakkai/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – appr. 1/4 cup

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Dry roast- roasted channa and powder it in a blender
  2. Dry roast peanuts, remove skin and powder it in a blender
  3. Take a wide bowl and place all the dry powders – channa powder, peanut powder, palm sugar powder, cardamom powder and dry ginger powder and mix well
  4. Heat clarified butter in a small pan and pour on top of the powder mix.
  5. Make lemon sized balls and they are ready to enjoy.

 

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Note:

  1. Be mindful of the roasted channa. Normal raw bengal gram is not the one to be used here. Go for the roasted gram available in south-indian groceries.
  2. Palm sugar can be substituted with ‘Naatu Sarkkarai’ which is unrefined cane sugar, easily available in local stores in tamilnadu.
  3. Another substitute can be jaggery syrup or palm jaggery syrup. In that case, usage of clarified butter can be reduced as the syrups act as binding agents themselves. A little touch of ghee should be enough.

 

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

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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.

 

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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)

 

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  • 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

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Method of Preparation

Different Versions of Appam

I. Deep-fried Appam

 

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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

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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.

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IV. Using powdered palm sugar – Karuppatti Appam or Paniyaaram

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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.

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Mundhiri Kothu – the traditional and exceptional sweet!

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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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

 

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

 

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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

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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!

 

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