Tag Archives: jaggery based sweets

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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Ukkarai/Okkarai – Lentil Halwa for Diwali

 

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The festival of lights is back again! No need for long paragraphs saying Diwali brings in joy and happiness and teaches the traditional values to the younger generation….. Whatever said and done, not said and not done – Diwali or Deepavali in Tamil, brings in loads of sweets and tonnes of savouries – to relish and eat and ofcourse over eat!

So, let’s plunge into some special sweets and savouries one after the other in the coming week. Today it is Okkarai or Ukkarai – a Halwa with two/three lentils and jaggery.

Some make it with all the three basic lentils of an Indian kitchen – red lentil, dehusked green gram and bengal gram or a combination of two of these or just bengal gram. Though amma does not make okkarai, I was re-introduced to this exquisite sweet by my friend Lakshmi in Chennai. When my daughter was very small and we lived in the same locality as theirs, we used to be treated with Okkarai very often and it became one of my daughter’s favourites. The beautiful brown colour, the aroma of clarified butter with the fried nuts added and the flavour of lentils mixed jaggery is just exotic with no words to explain.

Lakshmi, I never knew the effort that was involved in Okkarai until I made it now. So, it is a rekindled, more respectful thanks for the strain you put yourself to!
Recipe adopted from-

In Rajasthani cuisine, Moong Dhal Halwa occupies a special place. To me, it is one of best desserts of Indian Cuisine. I should confess, anyone can swap their home made moong dhal halwa/dehusked green gram halwa – rajasthani style – with the best of my pattu/silk sarees (or my husband’s favourite suits)!!
Okkarai/Ukkarai – Lentil Halwa

 

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Ingredients (serves 4)

  • kadalai paruppu/bengal gram – 1/2 cup
  • paasi paruppu/dehusked green gram – 1/2 cup
  • thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 1/2 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 3/4 cup
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 1/2 cup
  • mundhiri paruppu/cashew nuts – 4tsp
  • ular thiratchai/raisins – 4tsp

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Dry roast kadalai paruppu and paasi paruppu till golden brown
  2. Wash and soak for two hours
  3. Grind into a coarse paste with no water – the same as dry grinding but the lentils are wet as they were soaked – but no water please
  4. Make small balls and flat discs and steam in a greased tray/mould for about 15 minutes
  5. Dry grind the balls again for an even end product of halwa without lumps
  6. Keep aside the lentil powder
  7. Grate the coconut and keep aside
  8. Heat a little clarified butter in a pan and fry the cut cashewnuts and raisins and keep aside
  9. In a pan slightly heat jaggery in little water until jaggery dissolves completely
  10. Strain it well and place in low heat for a thick syrup  – Even if the syrup is not too sticky like a single string consistence, do not bother. There is enough time while the jaggery gets mixed with lentil powder- but just be careful not to get it burnt
  11. In the same pan, when the jaggery is ready, add the lentil powder to it and start stirring well
  12. Heat the clarified butter into a pourable consistency and add to the jaggery, lentil mixture while getting cooked. This helps the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan
  13. Add the fried cashews and raisins
  14. Stir well till jaggery is completely absorbed by the lentils and a smooth halwa consistency is arrived
  15. In the end add the grated coconut and mix well till the raw smell and juiciness of coconut is gone
  16. Tastes best when served hot.

 

roast the lentils together

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after soaking, grind and steam the mixture

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then, dry blend to avoid lumps

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mix well with fried nuts and grated coconut

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Notes:

  1. Quantity of jaggery depends on each family
  2. As mentioned above, addition of red lentils is another option
  3. I used banana leaves to steam the lentil mixture for some extra aroma
  4. Add the lentil powder to syrup jaggery or pour in the jaggery syrup into the pan of lentil powder – either way the halwa would come out the same
  5. Quantity of nei/clarified butter can be altered. I love nei in my sweets – hence this quantity. If one prefers lesser clarified butter  -feel free to reduce it. The texture of ukkarai would be slightly powdery – like Puttu (steamed rice cylinders) and hence, okkarai is also called ‘Paruppu Puttu’, I learnt it now.

 

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

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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 https://dosaikal.com/2013/07/29/pidi-kozhukkattai-karamsalted-rice-dumplings. We directly move on to make the dough ready for kozhukkattai.
Vella-k-Kozhukkattai/Steamed Sweet Rice Dumplings(with Jaggery)

Ingredients

  • 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

 

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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.

 

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Notes:
  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.

 

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Thai Pongal – The Harvest Festival and Sarkkarai Pongal

Pongal is the harvest festival of the Tamils. After the tamil month – Maargazhi, comes Thai (not pronounced as in Thailand. Pronounced as in thigh). It marks the end of the harvest season.  According to the tamil seasons – the month of Thai falls in Mun Pani Kaalam – early winter.

These are the tamil seasons classified in the literary works-

  • Ila Venil Kaalam – Milder Hot Season – The months of Chithirai and Vaigasi (mid april and mid june)
  • Muthu Venil Kaalam – Hot Summer – The months of Aani and Aadi (mid june to mid august)
  • Kaar Kaalam – Cloudy/Rainy Season -The months of Aavani and Purattasi (mid august to mid october)
  • Koothir Kaalam – Cold Season – The months Aippasi and Kaarthigai (mid October to mid December)
  • Mun Pani Kaalam – Early Winter/Dew – The months of Maargazhi and Thai (mid December to mid February)
  • Pin Pani Kaalam – Later Winter/Dew – The months of Maasi and Panguni (mid February to mid april)

(http://sangamtamilforeignscholars.wordpress.com/robert-butler/)

 

Pongal cannot be considered a religious festival, though it is more popularized as a Hindu Festival. It can be called as a thanks giving celebration – the farmers thank the Sun God for a bounty harvest and thank their cows for their milk and the bulls who helped them plough their fields and pull their carts.

People living in cities are not really connected to this professional affair. With much population moving towards towns and cities for non-agriculture based livelihoods, what keeps the tradition still alive?

The quintessential grain of the people of south india – ‘Rice’ is needed for making Idli, Dosai, Cooked Rice, Payasams, Savouries and many more food items. Might be this connection between those farmers and city dwellers keeps everyone celebrate pongal alike. When the farmers thank their cattle and nature for helping in their bountiful harvest, people in other parts celebrate Pongal as a thanks giving festival to  the Farmers who provide them with the incomparable and unsubstitutable RICE, other crops and vegetables.

 

Pongal is a four-day affair.

1. The first day – the last day of the month of Maargazhi – this year (2012) January 14 – is called Bhogi Pongal and is the day of cleaning.  All old unwanted things are shed away. People white wash their houses and new Kolams – traditional drawings on the floor with rice flour and the house gets ready to celebrate Pongal the next day.

 

Kolam  from free pongal wall papers 

 

 

All the houses from the richest to the humblest are thoroughly scrubbed and whitewashed. Homes are cleaned and decorated with “Kolam” – floor designs drawn in the white paste of newly harvested rice with outlines of red mud. Often pumpkin flowers are set into cow-dung balls and placed among the patterns. Fresh harvest of rice, turmeric and sugarcane is brought in from the field as preparation for the following day. http://www.123pongal.com/pongal/festival/bogi-festival.html

 

2. The second day is Thai Pongal. The day of Pongal, which falls on January 15, 2012 is the first day of the month of Thai. The Tamil saying goes –
‘Thai pirandhal vazhi pirakkum’ – meaning when the month of Thai is born,  good things start coming into everyone’s life.

Pongal is also called Thai Thirunal and Thamizhar Thirunal – which means the festival of the Tamils – beyond religions.

Pongal means boiling or spilling over in reference to rice or milk. It is celebrated in cities on the gas stoves in the kitchen. In villages and towns, mud stoves or brick stoves are used to cook the newly harvested rice on man chatti/earthen pots or vengala paanai/brass pot. The stove is kept on the traditional kolams drawn on bogi night and pongal – plain rice and sweet jaggery rice is cooked not in the kitchen but in front of every house – thanking the Sun God.

 

pongal wishes from free pongal wall papers

 

 

The Vengala Paanai used only for Pongal purpose, is also called the ‘Ponga paanai’ is given to every bride by her parents and the first pongal after marriage is called ‘Thalai Pongal’ and the new daughter-in-law celebrates Pongal with her new Ponga paanai. After a few years of usage, unfortunately now, mine lies back home and so I use the normal pressure cooker in kitchen to make Pongal.

There would be two Paanais/vessels. One with plain white rice and water and the other with plain white rice and when it boils, jaggery is added to make Sarkkarai Pongal – the sweet jaggery rice – the delicacy associated with the festival. When the new rice boils and spills over the paanai, women of the house say – ‘Pongalo Pongal’ in chorus.

Maavilai thoranam/decorating houses with fresh mango leaves, Manjal Kizhangu/Fresh turmeric with the fresh leaves tied to the Pongal Paanai, Karumbu/Sugarcane and Panankizhangu/Palm Root are certain things associated with Pongal and those which I miss a lot during these special days, not to mention the fresh Banana leaves.

Not only Sarkkarai Pongal, the whole feast meal consists of those traditional vegetables – the normal four coarse meal – ilai saapadu – is enjoyed by the whole family. Sambar, Rasam and Yoghurt being normal, Avial – a vegetable dish with coconut gravy – using raw banana, egg-plant, pumpkin, drum sticks and many other root vegetables is the highlight of the day. By the end of the day, the tongue would have lost its taste co-ordination due to the unlimited intake of sugarcane!

The strong and courageous use their strong teeth to peel the skin of sugarcane – enjoying the real taste of course. The more pampered ones like appa – my father – would have their share of sugarcane cut to bit size pieces by his mother – aachi . The sight of my then sixty-five to seventy year old aachi sitting down on the floor with her arivalmanai – colloquially aruvamanai – the all in all traditional metal knife with a base – which cuts, chops and grates coconuts, and cutting sugar cane for appa is still framed in my mind. Even now, she is ready for it, but we don’t let her do it!

For photo of Aruvalmanai – see – http://www.flickr.com/photos/techno_freak/512113871/

 

3. The third day is Maatu Pongal – the day to thank the cattle. When in Thoothukudi in my maternal grandparent’s home, since there were cows, maatu pongal would be a colorful affair. Mamas/Uncles would paint the horns of cows and calves in different colours and we youngsters would tie colorful flower garlands to their necks. Thaatha would bring the bullock cart from his farm – and when we were very young, would even taken a ride in the bullock cart. That diminished later, and only painting horns and worshipping them continued till there were cows at home.

This day is also famous for Manju Virattu or Jallikattu – the bull fight – the tradition that is regarded to be more than 2000 years. In ancient days, parents of a girl would give their daughter to a courageous man who tamed the bull.

 

Jallikattu is more than 2,000 years ago old. Good proof for it are cave paintings, showing men chasing bulls, that were found in Karikkiyur village located in the Nilgiris district. Long time ago Jalikattu used to be a way for local women to choose their husbands. http://traditionscustoms.com/strange-traditions/jallikattu

 

4. The fourth day is Kaanum Pongal. It is the day of meet and greet. People visit their relatives and friends on this day. This is also a day of family picnic with ‘kootanchoru’ – the mixed rice packed by aachis and ammas for everyone for lunch. My maternal grandfather – thatha would drive us – the grandchildren – to River Thamiraparani in Vallanadu in Tuticorin district. We would swim in those cold waters – or literally warm water – nearly for three to four hours enjoying kaanum pongal picnic. Thatha made it a thatha and peran/pethigal – Grandfather-grand children day. When we were older, thatha took us again – just to see the water which had turned ankle depth – that made us really sad.

 

 Now for the true essence of Pongal, Sarkkarai Pongal!

 

 

 

 Sarkkarai Pongal

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • pacharisi/raw rice – 1 cup
  • paasi paruppu/split green gram/moong dhal – 1/3 cup
  • grated vellam/jaggery/gud – 1 1/2 cup
  • yela podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter/ghee – 4 tbsp
  • mundhiri paruppu/cashew nuts – 3 tbsp

 

 

 

 

Method of Preparation

  1. Cook rice and lentil in enough water in a pressure cooker (I used 5 cups for my rice quality)
  2. Mash well and keep aside
  3. Boil jaggery in 1/4 cup water till it dissolves and filter it straight into cooked rice and lentil
  4. Add cardamom powder and cook till jaggery syrup mixes well in rice and pongal reaches a thick consistency
  5. In a separate pan, heat ghee and fry cashew nuts
  6. Pour into Sarkkarai Pongal and mix well till everything blends well
  7. Sarkkarai Pongal is ready.

 

 

 

 

Note:

  1. The quantity of jaggery can be reduced if preferred
  2. Though amma prepares sarkkarai pongal with only rice as in traditional pongal paanai, this is the standard pongal cooked at all times – with split green gram mixed to it
  3. For an even better traditional taste – a bite of banana and coconut with a spoon of pongal tastes heavenly for some (I am one among those)
  4. For those with no sweet tooth or less sweet preference, but like to taste pongal – might try this one – have the sweet pongal with some sambar or coconut chutney.

 

5. January 16 of every year is also celebrated as Thiruvalluvar Naal/Thiruvalluvar Day. Thiruvalluvar is the author of Thirukkural. This would give a clear picture of the man and his contribution to Tamil Literary Works.

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Thirukkural is the masterpiece of Tamil literature with the highest and purest expressions of human thought. It is written in the form of couplets (two line poems) expounding various aspects of life. It contains 1330 couplets, divided into 133 chapters of 10 couplets each

Thirukkural was written by Thiruvalluvar, who is believed to have born 30 years before Jesus Christ. The Tamil Calendar is dated from that period and referred as Thiruvalluvar Aandu (Year). We find Thiruvalluvar as a moral philosopher, political scientist and master of public administration in the first two parts of Thirukkural. We find him to be a creative artist in the third part, depicting the fascinating aspects of lovers.

Thirukkural’s immortality and universality are unquestionable. Its ethics and values are applicable to all religions, countries and time. It has been translated in over 60 languages of the world. http://www.tn.gov.in/literature/thiruvalluvar/thiruvalluvar.htm

Susiyam – Deep fried lentil-jaggery sweet balls!

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

Susiyam

Ingredients (makes approximately 30 susiyams)

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

 

flour, lentil and jaggery syrup

 

cook lentil and jaggery into a thick paste

 

make small balls

 

Method of Preparation

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

 

the fabulous five!

 

Note:

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

 

Adai Pradhaman/ Ada Pradhaman

I have always felt jaggery based sweets are more traditional… might be because special occasions are marked by those made of jaggery. Pongal is celebrated with sarkkarai pongal which is sweetened by jaggery. Diwali though not a traditional tamil festival, is marked by adhirasam which is again made of jaggery. Or more so because, in today’s world everyone prefers making the comparatively easier sugar based sweets to the time-consuming  jaggery based sweets.

Adai pradhaman is one such sweet. Though it is more popular as a kerala payasam or kheer, the people of tirunelveli district of tamilnadu, having proximity geographically to kerala also prepare this payasam. When we were young, adai – flakes of cooked rice – the base of this payasam was not available in shops in chennai. My grandmother used to send from tirunelveli where it was made in bulk. In kerala, it is made fresh for the payasam.  Nowadays it is very easily available in packets in most of the indian shops even if we live abroad.

Till today, I believe adai pradhaman is the most heavenly and divinely of all payasams! The smell of adai or flakes of cooked rice, cooked in jaggery, and coconut milk added slowly would travel around the house… not to leave the cashewnuts fried in ghee poured on top of it.  Another payasam to come close to this would be paasi paruppu payasam/ dehusked green gram (moong dhal) payasam (recipe shortly).

Unlike Kerala where adai pradhaman is a festival sweet, in tamilnadu or more specifically tirunelveli, it is prepared for guests and special occasions. Sometimes it used to be a sunday special and I used to be so delighted to have tirunelveli special in chennai! Now to the recipe..

This recipe needs thin – 3rd milk, medium thick – 2nd milk and creamy thick – 1st milk of coconut to be added gradually in the rice flakes cooked in jaggery. Here, I have minimised work by using canned coconut milk.

 

Adai Pradhaman

Ingredients

  • adai/flakes of cooked rice – 200 gms
  • vellam/jaggery – 400 gms
  • coconut milk – 1 can – 200 gms
  • ghee – 2 tbsp
  • cashewnuts – 12 no. halved
  • cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp

the humble Nut

 

palm jaggery might give a darker colour to the payasam

 

cooking adai

 

jaggery might have impurities

 

 

 Method of Preparation

  1. Boil water in a big utensil
  2. Always add adai to boiling water as these  flakes might stick to the bottom of the utensil if water is cold
  3. Adai should be completely immersed in water and there should be enough water to cook the adai 
  4. When it is cooked soft, drain and wash in cold water 
  5. In a separate pan, take jaggery and 1 cup of water
  6. When jaggery is melted, filter it
  7. Cook adai in filtered jaggery in a hard bottomed wide cooking pan
  8. After about seven minutes add half the canned coconut milk
  9. Simmer for five minutes. If the payasam tends to thicken, little water can be added to adjust the consistency. This thickening might be due to the thick canned milk. Mostly this doesn’t happen when thin and medium thick 3rd or 2nd milk is gradually added
  10. Add cardamom powder and dry ginger powder and mix well
  11. Now add the remaining coconut milk and let it cook for another five minutes
  12. Payasam is done. Turn off the stove
  13. Fry cashewnuts till golden brown in ghee and pour it on the adai pradhaman
  14. Tastes best when served on a banana leaf. Tackle it with all five fingers and palm to send it to the taste buds of the tongue.  

 

Adai Pradhaman