Category Archives: Starters and Snacks

Nutritious Package – Sprouts : salad and sundal


The Sprouts Story

Sprouts have become a regular part of our diet, for a few years now. These are the sprouts that I have been using presently. Many whole millets/grams can be sprouted and made into healthy alternatives to snacks and meals.

  • sprouted green gram

  • sprouted black chick pea

  • sprouted fenugreek seeds

Before we move on to the benefits and usages of sprouts, my Sprouts Story is something to be shared.

Initially, the inclusion of sprouts started as a salad for breakfast. It was great, light, refreshing and tasty.. They were accompaniments to a light breakfast.  Only on a few weekends, we would start the day with sprouts alone to break the fast. After a few years, there was a change in breakfast. I converted to dosais or idlis with whole grains, millets or unpolished rice varieties. Hence, sprouts were shifted to be part of the lunch platter. Fresh salad with carrots, cucumber or any salad veggies with liberal juice of lemon, went with lunch.

Here, there arose a problem. While packing lunch in the morning, the freshness of the sprouts was lost.  I moved it further evening as a replacement for tea/coffee. Now, I couldn’t survive without my coffee. If coffee was consumed with a healthy stuff, I believe the goodness of the healthy food is eaten up by caffeine in coffee and tea. Tell me I’m wrong, and I shall include my lonely coffee with breakfast, lunch and dinner too.

Coming back to sprouts, I switched it over to evening.. as a snack during tea. Then, winter set in. The fresh sprouts wouldn’t go well raw, cold with fresh veggies- I wanted something hot for the chilly weather. Additionally, the sprouted black gram was posing problems to chew . I thought of cooking or braising it to make it softer. While we had elders as guests, it made a lighter healthier snack while cooked… Easy to munch and tastier with South Indian seasoning- mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies. A great snack for a cold winter evening. I have to mention here, I had my coffee after sufficient time gap.

Beyond the health benefits, sprouts are a beauty to watch grow. They mark the beginning of growth or existence. One can truly see the glow of new life in the sprouted seeds. If you feel I am excessively exaggerating, please try for yourself.

There are different ways to sprout seeds. This is what I do.

Soak seeds overnight. Drain water. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Place in a clean dry box and close with a damp cheese cloth. Shake every now and then. Be careful, if there is too much water in the seeds, they would attract fungal growth. If they are too dry, they wouldn’t sprout. It might take a few times to understand the process and succeed.

Note: Green gram sprouts quickly. Fenugreek is a bit sticky. Black gram poses greater problems… It  attracts fungus very easily. But be patient… Do not lose hope.. Slow comprehension of the process of each seed would help flawless sprouting, even after a few failures.

Health Benefits of Sprouts

Pre-digested foods refer to the foods that have been pre-digested for us either by another animal or machines or equipment. The nutrients are in pre-digested form, so they require very little digestion, and the nutrients are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Thus, an elemental diet provides you nutritional needs while giving your digestive system at rest. Sprouts nutrition reduces high blood pressure, helps in weight loss, lowers cardiovascular risk and helps us to fight against diabetes and fatty liver.

To know more about benefits of sprouts, google has loads of information.

Suggestions on how to include sprouts in your meal pattern

These salads are vey flexible, one can alter all ingredients as per preference.  These are only a few suggestions. Usage is purely one’s own imagination or innovation.

Sprouts Salad -1

Ingredients (serves appr.  3)

  • sprouted green gram – 2 cups
  • sprouted fenugreek seeds – 1/2 cup
  • grated carrots – 2 cups
  • pomegranate – seeds of 1 fruit

Mix all together and season if needed with salt,  pepper and lemon. This tastes awesome without any seasoning too.

Sprouts Salad – 2



  • sprouted green gram – 2 cups
  • sprouted fenugreek seeds – 1/2 cup
  • finely chopped or grated carrots – 1 cup
  • finely chopped onions – 1 cup
  • finely chopped green chillies – 2 no.s


Mix all together and season with salt,  pepper and lemon.

Steamed or Cooked Version of Sprouts: Sprouts Sundal


  • sprouted black chick pea – 1 cup
  • sprouted green gram – 1 cup
  • sprouted fenugreek seeds – 1/2 cup
  • finely chopped onions – 1 cup
  • finely chopped green chillies – 2 no.s


  • oil – 1 tblsp
  • mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • dehusked black gram – 1 tsp
  • curry leaves – a few
  • asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
  • salt – as needed

Method of Preparation

  1. Cook sprouts in very little water. One can pressure cook with 3/4 cup water for 2 whistles in full burner
  2. Or saute the sprouts and cover and cook in a closed pan
  3. Heat oil in a pan, let mustards splutter, then add black gram
  4. When black gram turns golden, add curry leaves, chopped onions and chillies
  5. Then, add the  cooked and drained sprouts, salt and mix well
  6. When they are mixed well, sprinkle asafoetida and switch off stove
  7. Sprouts Sundal is ready to be served.


Vellai Kondaikadalai Sundal/Stir fried Chick Pea for Pillayar Chathurthi



Sundal or stir fried lentils are not only part of Navaratri (dosaikal/navaratri and the sundal connection), but also a speciality on pillayar chathurthi or ganesh chathurthi. Starting from the day Lord Ganesha stays at every home immediately after the chathurthi day celebrations, extending till the day his clay idol is immersed in the nearby sea or river, the evenings are flavorful ones with different kinds of Sundals offered to him. This is the norm at home.  So, this Ganesh Chathurthi, I thought I would make white chick pea sundal with the ellu kozhukkattai/sesame seed dumplings.

The extra special artwork of the day was the creative kozhukkattais by the little one at home. The dumplings came out in various shapes and truly were a great treat.


So, straight to the Sundal or the healthy stir fried lentil recipe.
Vellai Kondaikadalai Sundal/Stir fried White Chickpeas


Ingredients (serves 3 to 4)

  • vellai kondaikadalai/white chick peas – 1 cup
  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 1/2 cup
  • yennai/oil – 2 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1/2 tsp
  • pachai milagai/green chillies – 1 no.
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few
  • perungayam/asafoetida powder – 1/4 tsp
  • salt – to taste

Method of Preparation



  1. Wash and soak white chick peas in enough water overnight or at least for 8 hours
  2. Pressure cook till soft – this might take at least 20 minutes in low-medium heat
  3. Heat oil in a pan and let the mustard seeds splutter and add black gram
  4. When dehusked black gram turns golden brown, add asoefetida, split green chillies and curry leaves and saute
  5. Strain the cooked chick peas and add to the pan
  6. Add salt to taste and stir fry well
  7. When all ingredients are combined well – this might take five minutes – turn off the stove
  8. Sprinkle freshly grated coconut to serve
  9. Coconut can be added while sundal is still getting stir fried. Then, the color of fresh coconut is lost but an excellent flavor of pan roasted coconut enhances the salad.
  10. My choice is non-roasted fresh coconut to be cautious of those extra calories due to roasting!


Poondu Kara Sevu – Spicy Fritters with a Garlic Twist




Kara Sevu is a very popular spicy fritter, which is not only a festive snack but an all time crunch partner, specially to serve guests and while travel. The spice note delivered from red chilli powder and/or black pepper can be enhanced with the addition of garlic that makes kara sevu more flavorful.


Kara Sevu/Spicy Gram Flour Fritters with a Garlic Twist




  • kadalai maavu/bengal gram flour – 1 cup
  • arisi maavu/rice flour – 1/2 cup
  • poondu/garlic – 10 cloves
  • milagai vatral podi/red chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • perungaayam/asafoetida powder – 1/4 tsp
  • omam/bishop’s weed or carom seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • uppu/salt – 1/2 tsp
  • yennai/oil – 2 tbsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 1 tbsp
  • thanner/water – as required
  • oil – for deep frying

Method of Preparation


  1. Sieve gram flour and rice flour


2. Make a coarse paste of garlic



3. Keep the carom seeds in enough warm water
4. Mix sieved gram flour, rice flour, garlic paste, red chilli powder, asafoetida powder, carom seeds with water, salt, oil and clarified butter with enough water into a tight dough




5. Heat oil for deep frying

6. Take the kara sev disc in the murukku maker – disc 3 from left is the kara sevu disc

7. Keep enough dough into the cylindrical container and close with the kara sevu disc

8. Press Sev directly inside oil into single circular murukku/fritter



9. Fry both sides till golden

10. Take out in kitchen tissue to absorb excess oil

11. Split the circular sev murukku into small pieces

12. Store in an air tight container.




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


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.


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




for pop-corn

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


pressure cooker popcorn



for caramel

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

Cane Jaggery can also be substituted for Palm Jaggery

healthy brown syrup



Method of Preparation

coating popcorn in palm syrup



  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.



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


Ulundhu Vadai – The Outstanding Snack For All Occasions


A great topic of research

Vadai is a deep fried snack, generally made with soaked and blended lentil. The most common of the Vadai Varieties are –

1. Ulundhu Vadai or Ulundha Vadai made with dehusked black gram and

2. Aamai Vadai or Paruppu Vadai made with bengal gram.

These two in themselves have different names. Ulundhu Vadai is also called ‘Medhu Vadai’ meaning Soft Vadai; Aamai Vadai is also referred to as Masala Vadai  and they also possess many more names. Quite interesting though – that’s why the topic ‘Vadai’ can be a great research title!

One can also hear different versions of the same name – Vadai, Vada, Vade, Bada and I think in Punjab it is called Bhalla as in Dahi Bhalla, Thayir Vadai (Vadai soaked in curd) in Tamil.


Different Kinds of Vadai


ulundhu vadai – dehusked black gram vadai

That is not all! While we make Ulundhu Vadai with dehusked black gram and Aamai Vadai with bengal gram, there can be various kinds of Vadais made with different combinations to these two core ingredients.

  • Vazhaipoo Vadai – with Banana Flower
  • Keerai Vadai – with Spinach
  • Milagu Vadai – with Black Pepper
  • Thavalai Vadai – with combination of lentils

and many more innovative crisps by chefs at home. Vadai is served with chutney and/or sambar.


 vaazhaipoo vadai – banana flower vadai




Apart from combining ingredients, there can also be other impressive ways of serving Ulundhu Vadais – the softer among the two.

  • Sambar Vadai – vadai soaked in Sambar – the lentil curry
  • Rasa  Vadai – vadai soaked in Rasam – the digestive soup (for easy comprehension)
  • Thayir Vadai – vadai soaked in yoghurt with mild spices

Aamai Vadai/Paruppu Vadai made with bengal gram is crispier and enjoys special place in a few curries like-

  • More kuzhambu –  yoghurt curry that has paruppu vadai in place of veggie
  • Vadai Curry – an exotic spicy curry with ground spices, wherein the gravy is thickened by soaking the deep fried vadais. The taste of the spicy curry mixed with the flavour of fried vadais is a great hit with Idli and Dosai.


The Versatile Vadai




Vadai can fit in all places and occasions.

Any traditional festival, celebration or happy occasion would be half done without these for sure.
Breakfast  – with Idli, Dosai or Pongal, Vadai makes the breakfast a complete ‘Platter’

Lunch – served with the three course Vaazhai Ilai Sappadu (traditional meal served on banana leaf) -the phrase actually is – ‘Vadai-Payasam’ – vadai and payasam/pudding to make the traditional meal a respectful finish

Dinner – who would say no to Vadai soaked in the lunch sambar or rasam, which is now a converted sambar vadai or rasa vadai for dinner..

Evening Snack – any guests for coffee/tea? – this snack can be simple and exotic, traditional and trendy – served with coconut chutney or any other chutney

Starter/Finger food – a grand dinner party – made smaller in bite size shapes, vadai can be an ideal starter or finger food

Street Food – it can be a sort after street food at any tea joint, or in bus or train stations

Live Kitchen – it could also be an eye-catchy as well as an appealing live display snack in Restaurants
The Balancing Factor
In addition to these impressive qualities, I find the essence of Vadai might be a culinary balance in festive occasions. For any festival, event or celebration, the quintessential flavor is sweet. Different kinds of or atleast one sweet dish is prepared for any special occasion. When enjoying food forms part and parcel of the day to day activities of an Indian household, the place of food in festivals is ultimate. The concept of making an occasion happy by distribution and consumption of sweets can sometimes be a painful practice for the self proclaimed ‘sweet toothers by birth’ too.

Here is where the role of Vadai stands appealing. When there is heavy downpour of sweets that smoothly glides into one’s tummy, there is always the quite bland and crispy/semi crispy salted vadai which is served with spicy chutney to give relief from the overdose of sweets. It certianly does great justice in soothing one’s palate during those essential times.

Hence, Vadai always forms part of festive food, to ensure a Balance might be.
Vadai-like ‘Akara’ in Nigerian Cuisine

While reading the recent article posted by dear fried Oz of ‘kitchen butterfly’, she had mentioned she tasted Vadai in Dubai and it tasted like ‘Akara’. I was anxious to know about akara.

Akara is a deep fried Nigerian Snack and breakfast meal made with ground de-hulled(peeled) brown or black-eyed beans and spices.
It is a very popular snack that can be eaten anytime of the day. Although Akara is popular as a breakfast meal, it can also be eaten as a snack or taken with Pap(ogi), custard or Agidi(eko) as a light dinner
Akara is also known as Acarajé, Fried Bean Cakes, Koose or Fried Bean Balls.


Almost the same, with the different lentil. Black Eyed Pea is called Karamani in Tamil. I also found ‘Karamani Vadai’ recipe posted by fellow south indian bloggers. Learnt many things here. Akara and Karamani sound similar too!

Thanks Oz for aiding me know about akara and nigerian cuisine through that comparison.
Ulundhu Vadai



Ulundhu Vadai is made with dehusked black gram. The lentil is soaked and blended to a thick foamy consistency. For binding, rice flour is added while mixing with salt and other ingredients like onions, green chillies, black pepper and curry leaves. I prefer to soak little rice with black gram and blend together. This I feel gives a better texture to the batter.

The speciality of this type of Vadai also lies in its shape. This is a doughnut shaped snack. Hence, little extra effort is needed in bringing in the exclusive shape.

One can also make basic vadai with three ingredients – lentil, rice or rice flour and salt blended with water and deep fried. Adding onions, chillies and curry leaves enhances the flavor of this snack.
Ingredients (makes appr. 15-20 vadais)


dehusked black gram

dosaikal 6 012

batter with chopped ingredients




  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1 cup
  • arisi/rice (any non-sticky variety) -2 tsp
  • uppu/salt – as needed
  • vengayam/onions – 1 medium chopped or 4-5 shallots chopped
  • pachai milagai/green chilli – 2 no.s coarsely cut
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – 7-8 leaves randomly split
  • inji/ginger – chopped or grated – small piece
  • perungayam/asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
  • yennai/oil – for deep frying


place batter on wet palm or banana leaf



make a hole in middle



Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak black gram and rice for a minimum of 2 hours
  2. Remove water and grind into a thick yet foamy batter by sprinkling very little water
  3. Add salt and all other chopped ingredients and mix well
  4. Place hard bottomed pan on stove and heat oil for deep frying
  5. For the doughnut shape of the vadai –  keep water in a small bowl
  6. Wipe palm of your hand or banana leaf with little water, take little batter, place on palm and make small hole in middle
  7. Gently slide the vadai in oil and fry till golden brown
  8. Take out and place the vadais on kitchen tissue to absorb excess oil
  9. Serve hot with spicy chutney


fry in hot oil


Paasi Paruppu Sundal/Stir fried Dehusked Green Gram Salad



Here comes another Sundal/stir fried lentil to end the navaratri season. But sundals are not the sole speciality foods of Navaratri alone. They are very simple recipes yet highly potential protein foods providing essential nutrients to the body, both children and elders alike.

As I had mentioned in earlier posts, sundals can be a substitute to fried starters in parties; nutritious snack than junk food during relaxing times. Especially for kids returning from school, sundal can be an excellent source of nutritious energy – now stop them grab their white flour butter cookies out of tiredness and hunger!

Call Sundal, Stir Fried Lentil as well as Salad – is this right?- Omit the seasoning, add carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and don’t hesitate to choose from your favourite salad veggies to the boiled lentil to make it a healthy salad.
Paasi Paurppu Sundal/Stir Fried Dehusked Green Gram Salad




Mung dal is high in fiber, low in saturated fat, low in sodium, and contains no cholesterol. Because of the wide range of nutrients contained in mung dal, these legumes offer a whole host of health benefits for the immune system, the metabolism, the heart and other organs, cell growth, protection against free radicals, and diseases such as cancer and diabetes.

Here is a list of the nutrients that mung dal provides:

· Protein

· Vitamin C

· Folic acid or folate

· Iron

· Zinc

· Potassium

· Magnesium

· Copper

· Manganese

· Phosphorus

· Thiamine


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • paasi paruppu/dehusked green gram – 1 cup
  • yennai/oil – 2 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1/2 tsp
  • vengayam/onions – 1 no. or chinna vengayam/shallots – 4 no.s
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few
  • pachai milagai/green chillies – 2 no.suppu/salt – to taste
  • perungayam/asafoetida – 1/4 tsp


Method of Preparation

  1. Chop onions finely and slit the green chillies; red chillies can also be added or substituted
  2. Wash and soak dehusked green gram in enough water for 2 hrs
  3. By 2 hrs, the lentil would have become softer and bigger in size – cook the lentil in a pan with the same soaked water
  4. Do not cook this lentil in a pressure cooker as it would mash very fast
  5. Keep checking for water and be alert not to overcook; If water is evaporated, the lentil might be burnt or if it is overcooked, it might be mashed while seasoning
  6. Once the lentil is cooked, switch off stove and keep aside
  7. If there is excess water after cooking, drain away
  8. Heat oil in a pan, let mustard seeds splutter and add dehusked black gram
  9. Add chopped onions, curry leaves and green chillies and saute for a couple of minutes
  10. Then add cooked lentil and salt and mix well
  11. Mix carefully that the lentil remains in perfect shape
  12. Sprinkle asafoetida powder and switch off stove
  13. Sundal is ready.




Navaratri and Nostalgia – Karuppu Kondaikadalai Sundal/Stir fried Black Chick Peas



This is the week of Navaratri – the Hindu festival devoted to the three women deities – Parvati, Lakshmi and Saraswathi, consorts of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma respectively.

Religious aspects differ with families and mindsets of families. This holds good for traditions too. But, I strongly believe that the procedural aspects of religion are secondary and so are the mythological stories that have evolved to keep a community within its boundaries. But the traditions that have been transferred through grandmothers and mothers of households holds a community, society and a race intact, without losing its identity.

Passing on stories and memories of one’s childhood to the next generation is an interesting event on a day-to-day basis. With nuclear families as the norm and families living in different countries around the world, the connection between generations has slowly gone to a negative index. Thanks to modern social networking tools and low-cost international call facilities, the widened gap has reduced. But, the role of story telling is switched over predominantly to the parents from grandparents greatly.

This ‘Role Adoption’ of a mother as a story-teller in transferring culture and traditions to the next generation, has its own advantage, especially during festival occasions.

More information had been written on the religious and festive aspects of Navaratri in So, let us talk about the experience of story telling with Navaratri and Nostalgia.

The immediate ones, apart from other elaborate and striking features, that would come to my mind about Navaratri are –

a. Pattu Pavadai – the traditional dress worn by little girls on festive occasions;

b. Carnatic Music – classical south indian music, the classes of which would start from the day of Vijayadasami;

c. Recital of Songs – as small and young girls, we would go in groups or with amma to worship the golu celebrations or the decorative arrangements of our near and dear ones and

d. Sundal – the lentil salad if I could call it which would be made everyday for poojai and also distributed to families in the neighbourhood!

Pattu Pavadai Chattai



Now, as a story teller, Nostalgia hits me first with the Pattu Pavadai Chattai – Pattu – Silk; Pavadai – Full Skirt and Chattai – Blouse; the traditional silk skirt and blouse of the little girls. Everytime I buy new clothes from Chennai, Pattu Pavadai is part of the collection – it comes from various sources – maternal and paternal grannies and other grandmothers and grandfathers of the total clan!

I get them stitched like any other Tamil person in different heights so that my daughter can wear each one new as she grows taller day by day. There is also the concept of ‘duck’ – not the noun which quacks but the verb – the work that the tailor does to alter the height of the Pavadai/skirt. We tell him ‘ducku podunga’ – might have been ‘tuck it in’. He tucks the extra length of the skirt cloth in one or two layers to be unthreaded as she grows and the height of the skirt is increased. What excellent tailoring sense from generations!

When I see her wear the Pattu Pavadai Chattai for any occasion – my childlike senses are rekindled – this time I made the ‘puff kai chattai’ – puffed hand blouse – which I dare not try to wear for my Pudavai/Saree today.



Carnatic Music

Telling her stories of Paatu vaguppu/Music classes, I have become her music teacher too – just the basics!



With the new edition of the same old book of basic classic Carnatic music to the easily portable shruthi box – I try to dig in to memories back home!

Navaratri without Sundal – lentil salad is like Pongal without Karumbu/Sugarcane.(

The protein rich, nutritious sundals are real treat during this festival.  Different lentils are soaked and cooked and seasoned with minimum oil and just stir fried to be presented as a healthy snack. Among the various varieties, it is Karuppu Kondaikadalai Sundal this time.

Now, to the recipe –

Karuppu Kondaikadalai Sundal/Stir fried Black Chick Peas




Chickpeas are a source of zinc, folate and protein.Chickpeas are low in fat and most of this is polyunsaturated. Nutrient profile of desi chana (the smaller variety) is different, especially the fibre content which is much higher than the light coloured variety. One hundred grams of mature boiled chickpeas contains 164 calories, 2.6 grams of fat (of which only 0.27 grams is saturated), 7.6 grams of dietary fiber and 8.9 grams of protein. Chickpeas also provide dietary phosphorus (168 mg/100 g), which is higher than the amount found in a 100-gram serving of whole milk.

Recent studies have also shown that they can assist in lowering of cholesterol in the bloodstream.

Ingredients (serves 3 to 4)

  • karuppu kondaikadalai/black chick peas – 1 cup
  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 1/2 cup yennai/oil – 2 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1/2 tsp
  • milagai vatral/red chillies – 1 no.
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few
  • perungayam/asafoetida powder – 1/4 tsp
  • salt – to taste



Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and soak black chick peas in enough water overnight or at least for 8 hours
  2. Pressure cook till soft – this might take at least 20 minutes in low-medium heat
  3. Heat oil in a pan and let the mustard seeds splutter and add black gram
  4. When dehusked black gram turns golden brown, add red chillies and curry leaves and saute
  5. Red chillies can be substituted with green chillies if one prefers
  6. Strain the cooked black peas and add to the pan
  7. Add salt to taste and stir fry well
  8. When all ingredients are combined well – this might take five minutes – turn off the stove
  9. Sprinkle freshly grated coconut to serve
  10. Coconut can be added while sundal is still getting stir fried. Then, the colour of fresh coconut is lost but an excellent flavor of pan roasted coconut enhances the salad; While non-roasted fresh coconut might not add those extra calories due to roasting!
  11. The addition of coconut can be left to choose as per family preference
  12. Enjoy the healthy snack which can also be an excellent starter in dinners.


Inippu/Vella-k-kozhukkattai/Jaggery Rice Dumplings – Steamed

Pillayar Chathurthi/Ganesh Chathurthi/Vinayaka Chathurthi falls on September 9 this year. It is Poorana Kozhukkattai – Stuffed rice dumplings or Modhakam the favourite of most of the households. (For Modhakam – see modhakam-pillayar-chaturthi-special.) There can be variations in the stuffing too – coconut-jaggery filling or sesame-jaggery. I hear some make kadalai paruppu/Channa Dhal – jaggery filling in their Poorana Kozhukkattai! Uppu Kozhukkattai (pidi-kozhukkattai-karamsalted-rice-dumplings) and Vella-k-kozhukkattai are the dumplings which have no stuffing but a mixture of few ingredients to make the kozhukkattai sweet or spicy.

Vella-k-kozhukkattai is the sweet rice dumpling. Vellam means Jaggery in Tamil language and Kozhukkattai is Rice Dumpling. The taste of coconut and jaggery blended with cardamom powder tastes heavenly and is versatile in south indian cooking.  It can be made as Poorana Kozhukkattai/Modhakam, Poli – sweet stuffed chappathis (poli-a-different-story/) or non-stuffed plain-mixed rice dumpling, which is what I am writing about today – Vella-k-Kozhukkattai!

This steamed rice dumpling has the simple mix of grated coconut, jaggery and cardamom powder with the core ingredient – rice flour. This is yet another version of ‘Pidi Kozhukkattai’ – Given the shape by pressing with hands! This can be a healthy snack for children any time – and what more those little hands can make their own shapes and munch them too!!

For the initial procedures of grinding rice flour and roasting it to be ready to make dumplings – please see We directly move on to make the dough ready for kozhukkattai.
Vella-k-Kozhukkattai/Steamed Sweet Rice Dumplings(with Jaggery)


  • arisi maavu/rice powder – 1 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 1/2 cup (for the sweet toothed can make 3/4)
  • thengai thuruval/grated coconut – 1/2 cup or more as per taste
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • thanneer/water – 3/4 cup
  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 1 tsp to grease hands and 1 tsp to grease vessel/idli plate




Method of Preparation
  1. Dry roast the ground rice flour to take away the raw smell out of it
  2. Sieve the flour, remove granules away and take the required quantity of smooth flour in a wide bowl to mix all the ingredients in
  3. Mix grated coconut and cardamom powder to rice flour
  4. Dissolve jaggery in water and strain for impurities
  5. Boil jaggery-water in sim position for 3 minutes – this would not make a thick syrup but yet a thin syrup which will blend well with rice flour
  6. Pour the hot syrup on rice flour and mix well into a soft dough
  7. Add jaggery syrup carefully because more water might make the dough sticky.  Stop when you feel water is enough to make a soft dough
  8. Half teaspoon of nei/clarified butter can be melted and pour in the dough for some festive aroma, which is purely optional
  9. The dough should be neither sticky nor dry
  10. Slightly grease hands with gingelly oil/clarified butter, so that dough doesn’t stick to hands
  11. Take small portions in hand and press slightly with fingers, to get the beautiful impression of fingers in the rice dough
  12. Steam for 8 to 10 minutes.
  13. Always grease the bowl/idli vessel before placing kozhukkattais to steam. This helps dumplings from not sticking to the vessel
  14. Inippu Vella-k-Kozhukkattai/Sweet Jaggery Dumpling is ready.




  1. Since the rice flour is dry roasted, cooking time is less.
  2. Always sieve the ground flour after roasting. Granules tend to form while roasting.
  3. Always make thin jaggery syrup first and filter as jaggery of any kind would have mud/sand particles in it.
  4. Too thick a syrup would make dumplings harder – Be careful not to make a thick syrup .
  5. I somehow feel comfortable with the syrup if boiled a little while. So, I let the jaggery water boil a bit but yet not loose its thin consistency. Then add to rice flour-coconut-cardamom powder mixture.
  6. Thin jaggery syrup should be boiling hot. By this, the rice flour becomes cooked a bit.
  7. If one is using rice flour from shops, use the flour meant for Idiyappam-string hoppers and do not forget to roast it a bit.
  8. Thick dough might make dumplings hard and sticky dough might not result in dumplings at all. A slightly soft yet tight dough is needed for soft kozhukkattais.
  9. Any problem with the shape, just make small balls and steam.
  10. Both Kaara-k-Kozhukkattai and Vella-k-kozhukkattai would become dry too quick. For immediate consumption, keep in a hot case. Or else, cover it well and lightly steam before serving. Never leave it open.



Pidi Kozhukkattai -Karam/Salted Rice Dumplings-Spicy



Kozhukkattai is a steamed rice dumpling made sweet or salt. We had already seen the stuffed version of Kozhukkattai before – ( Poorana Kozhukkattai or Modhakam has the filling of coconut and jaggery inside, and are steamed till done.

These Kozhukkattais are called PIDI KOZHUKKATTAIs,  as they are given their shape with hands. ‘Pidi’ in Tamil means ‘to hold’. They have no filling inside but several ingredients are mixed to the ground rice flour to be made into a dough. The sweet or salted dough is shaped into beautiful dumplings by pressing with fingers. These are also called Uppu Kozhukkattai which means salt dumplings.
About Kozhukkattai…

Kozhukkattais can be an evening snack on weekends after a lazy nap;

a healthy snack when kids come back from school, hungry to fall prey to some junk food;

why not…. can be a wonderful finger food/starter in a dinner served with any spicy chutney (

Above all, not so simple it might look, but made frequently, Kozhukkattais can be a simple breakfast or dinner menu for light eaters! To add variety to a breakfast or dinner – make both salt and the sweet versions.

Ko-ZHU-kkattai – ‘Zhu’ is not pronounced ‘su’ or ‘zu’. The word is not pronounced kozukkattai. ‘ZHA’ is the twisted tongue version of ‘la’. The tongue is twisted towards the inner portion of the upper jaw to get the sound of ‘zha’. This letter ‘ZHA’ is the speciality letter of Tamil language. Malayalam also has the letter as it is the latest language to have parted from its elder sister – Tamil. Malayalam still possesses some authentic and long forgotten pure words of Tamil Language.

The word TAMIL itself is pronounced ‘TAMIZH’. For easier comprehension and pronounciation, it is written as TAMIL. The people – the Tamils – are proud of their speciality letter – but is that anymore – only Tamils/Tamizhs can answer!?


Kozhukkattai is the favourite food of Lord Ganesha.  Sweet jaggery filled Modhakams, Ellu Urundai (Sweet Sesame Balls), Uppu Kozhukkattai (Steamed Salted Rice Dumplings), Inippu/Vella Kozhukkattai (Steamed Sweet Rice Dumplings) and Appam (Wheat-Banana-jaggery Fritters) are some of the speciality foods made on the special day.  The special celebration dedicated to Lord Ganesha or Pillayar as he is called in Tamilnadu, Pillayar Chaturthi falls in September.

Why am I posting the Uppu Kozhukkattai so soon?  There is a special reason behind it.

June and July were summer holiday months in Cambodia. Now, with a six year old getting bored at home, I had to make some arrangements to keep her busy… yet interested! Myself and my daughter charted out a time-table for seven days of the week – Arts, Music, Chess, Maths, Tamil language, English Writing, Swimming and COOKING! We baked some cakes, made some potato snacks and not to mention those flop cookies which were burnt!

And when I had to think hard of something which is easy as well as healthy for kids to make and munch, these Kozhukkattais came in. It is such a pleasure to see her write her own recipe book with her cookery class recipes. We made both the salt and sweet version of rice dumplings.

That is why Kozhukkattais before Pillayar Chaturthi!! This time it is Uppu Kozhukkattai – Salt Kozhukkattai. Also called Kara Kozhukkattai or Spicy Kozhukkattai- with added red chillies.


Rice Powder


soaked raw rice being dried



rice – powdered



The basic ingredient for the dumplings is the rice powder, made from Raw Rice. Kozhukkattais taste best with freshly ground rice powder. This is how I made it –

  1. Soak Raw Rice for two hours in water.
  2. Strain water and spread the rice in a clean cloth
  3. Let the rice dry in shade inside home
  4. When the rice has dried 75%, dry grind in a mixer to make a powder
  5. The dried rice should be still wet a bit, able to be powdered but would not become a paste
  6. Soak the quantity of rice that can be ground in your dry grinder; Use as needed and store the rest
  7. After grinding, dry roast the rice powder, then sieve it to remove the granules of rice (see picture)
  8. Dry Roasting of rice powder helps in storage
  9. Use it within a week kept in freezer
  10. If kept in normal temperature, use within a couple of days in humid temperatures.


always sieve flour after roasting to remove granules

IMG_2209 (2)


Uppu Kozhukkattai/Kara Kozhukkattai – Salt and Spicy Rice Dumplings



Ingredients (makes 20-25 dumplings)

  • pacharisi maavu/raw rice flour –  2 cups
  • uppu/salt – to taste
  • thanneer/water – 1 1/2 cups or a little more or less
  • yennai/oil – 1 tbsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1 tsp
  • milagai vatral/red chillies – 2 no.s split (according to taste preference and spiciness of the chillies used)
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – optional – a few


mixed dough



Method of Preparation

  1. Dry roast the ground rice flour to take away the raw smell out of it
  2. Sieve the flour, remove granules away and take the required quantity of smooth flour in a wide bowl to mix all the ingredients in
  3. Heat oil in a pan; Add mustard seeds and let them splutter
  4. Add dehusked black gram and when it turns golden, add red chillies and curry leaves
  5. Pour over rice flour and mix well
  6. Boil water with salt in a pan
  7. Pour boiling water into the rice flour mixture carefully. Carefully because more water might make the dough sticky
  8. Make a dough which is neither sticky nor dry
  9. Take a small portion in hand and press slightly with fingers, to get the beautiful impression of fingers in the rice dough
  10. Steam for 8 to 10 minutes.
  11. Serve with coconut chutney or any spicy chuntey.


ready to be steamed



  1. Since the rice flour is dry roasted, cooking time is less.
  2. Always sieve the ground flour after roasting. Granules tend to form while roasting.
  3. Over steamed dumplings might become harder. Be careful on that.
  4. Water should be boiling hot.
  5. If one is using rice flour from shops, use the flour meant for Idiyappam-string hoppers.
  6. Thick dough might make dumplings hard and sticky dough might not result in dumplings at all. A slightly soft yet tight dough is needed for soft kozhukkattais.
  7. Any problem with the shape, just make small balls and steam.




Pachai Payaru Sundal/Hari Moong Sundal/Green Gram Salad

This is another sundal for navaratri – pachai payaru sundal.

Pachai Payaru is also called Paasi Payaru. It is the whole green gram. All whole lentils are healthier because of the husk in them. This pachai payaru or green gram is very versatile too. Apart from the simple seasoned dal to go with rice or chappatis, various other dishes can be made out of this payaru. Pachai payaru payasam or sweet pudding and dry curry in combination with other vegetables ( are a few delicacies. Mulai vitta payaru or sprouted green gram with other salad vegetables is a tasty, crispy and healthy option for hunger cravings.

The health benefits of Pachai Payaru

The green gram is one of the most wholesome among pulses in India. It is free from the heaviness and tendency to flatulence, which is associated with other pulses. Cooked dal of green gram is a very digestive food for invalid and sick persons. Its regular use during childhood, pregnancy and lactation helps one to get the required nutrition and promote health. It is rich in proteins, fibre, minerals, calcium, phosphorus, iron and also a small amount vitamin B complex. 

Pachai Payaru Sundal



Ingredients (serves 2)

  • pachai Payaru/hari moong/green gram– 1 cup
  • onions (optional) – 1 medium
  • green chillies/red chillies or both – 2 nos
  • salt – as needed
  • oil to temper – 2 tsp
  • mustard seeds – 1tsp
  • urad dal – 1 tsp
  • curry leaves – a few
  • asafoetida – ½ spoon
  • grated coconut – 1/2 cup

Method of Preparation

  1. Pressure cook pachai payaru till just done – careful it shouldn’t be over cooked
  2. Strain the water and keep the dal separately
  3. Chop the onions fine (onions are optional – some wouldn’t prefer onions when prepared for puja)
  4. Chop green chillies or slit into two halves
  5. Heat oil in a kadai, let mustard seeds splutter
  6. Add urad dal, when it turns golden brown add curry leaves, onions and green chillies
  7. Red chillies can also be added if preferred
  8. Add the cooked pachai payaru and sprinkle salt
  9. Mix well and let it cook for approximately 5 minutes
  10. Be careful not to stir too much or else the dal might get mashed
  11. Sprinkle asafetida
  12. When done sprinkle grated coconut and serve hot
  13. This can also be served as a healthy starter for dinners
  14. Sometimes, we used to have this sundal with sugar or jaggery sprinkled on top. It would have the mixed flavour of chillies and jaggery.