Tag Archives: jaggery

Thiruvathirai – the festival of Adavallan/Nataraja – the Dancing Shiva

Thiruvathirai, is an auspicious day for Hindus, especially Shaivites. January 10, 2020 was the Day of Thiruvathirai. It is the day to celebrate Lord Shiva, in the form of Adavallan – the Cosmic Dancer. It is celebrated on the full moon night of the Tamil month of Margazhi, which falls between mid December and mid January of the Gregorian Calendar. What I know, is Tiruvathirai is celebrated in Tamilnadu and Kerala, the southern states of India.

Society has always found new philosophies and concepts to make Religion, an indispensable part of an individual’s life. Stories and Narratives of different eras, that are documented in various forms of literature and also those which are not documented, yet transferred through word of mouth, may form the basis of value based religious education.

To me, language and culture are synonymous to one’s roots, but religion is not. Not getting too much into this, I stay put here, as a Food Blogger alone.

That is why, we will not discuss about the religious aspects of Thiruvathirai, but the literary and culinary aspects of the special day.

Tamil Bhakti Literature consists of thousands of hymns, composed by several Saiva Saints, in praise of Lord Shiva, between 6th century ACE and 12th century ACE. Thirunavukkarasar, the Saint who lived in the 6th and 7th centuries ACE and Thirugnanasambandar, who lived in the 7th century ACE, have sung about the auspicious day of Thiruvathirai.

“ஊர்திரை வேலை யுலாவும் உயர்மலைக் 
கூர்தரு வேல்வல்லார் கோற்றங் கோள் சேரிதனில் 
கார்தரு சோலைக் கபாலீச்சரம் அமர்ந்தான் 
ஆதிரைநாள் காணாதே போதியார் பூம்பாவாய்”

‘Athirai naal kaanathe….’ says the last verse by Sambandar.

“முத்து விதான மணிப்பொற் கவரி முறையாலே 
பக்தர்க ளோடு பாவையர் சூழப் பலிப்பின்னே 
வித்தகக் கோல வெண்டலை மாலை விரதிகள் 
அத்தனாரூ ராதிரை நாளா லதுவண்ணம்”

‘Athan Aarur Athirai naal…’ says the last verse above, by Thirunavukkarasar

These are literary evidences, that mention about the special day of Thiruvathirai, in praise of Lord Shiva, that go back almost 1500 years from today.

As a food blogger, who wishes to transfer the culinary legacies to the next generation, what is important to me, is the Gastronomy involved in the celebration of festivals. Celebrating cultural legacies and honouring heritage through these legacies, are key aspects in passing on the essence of one’s roots to our offsprings.

The festival of Thiruvathirai, is celebrated with Thiruvathirai Kali– a delicacy made with rice, split green gram and jaggery- that is cooked to a Pudding/Halwa like consistency. Kali might be Tamil word for Halwa… (I have already posted another Kali – Ulundhankali – which is made with black gram and palm jaggery).

This is how I made it, the day before yesterday.

Thiruvathirai Kali

Ingredients

  • pacharisi/raw rice – 1 cup
  • paasi paruppu/skinned, split green gram – 1/4 cup
  • vellam/jaggery – 1 1/4 cup (can use 1 cup if less sweet preferred)
  • water (to cook the kali) – 2 cups
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1 tsp
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tbsp
  • cashew nuts – 10 no.s, halved
  • grated coconut – 1/2 cup (optional- I didn’t add this)

Method of Preparation

  1. Dry roast rice and lentils separately, till they turn golden

2. Grate 1 1/4 cups of jaggery and add 2 cups water and let the jaggery dissolve

3. Once dissolved, strain for impurities and place in a hard bottomed vessel. This is the pan, in which kali would be stirred.

4. Dry grind the roasted rice and lentil. Keep on a plate or bowl.

5. Place the hard bottomed pan with Jaggery water on stove. Add cardamom and dry ginger powder. Bring to boil.

6. Once the jaggery water starts to boil, add the rice-lentil powder slowly. Keep stirring before lumps form.

7. Very quickly, the flour will start to thicken – almost like Upma.

8. Since the rice is roast and ground, it will thicken fast; An additional informative tip from Amma, unroasted raw rice powder will be sticky, but this roasted flour will have a coarse and dry consistency.. and is easier and quicker to get cooked.

9. Now, the Kali is almost done; keep stove in sim or if you fear it might burn a bit, switch off stove.

10. In another pan, deep fry cashew nuts in clarified butter till golden.

11. Add the clarified butter and cashew nuts into the Kali and mix well.

12. Switch on stove. Let the flame be in sim position, and keep stirring with the ladle. When the Kali doesn’t stick to the pan, remove and serve.

13. Feel free to add more nei/clarified butter. it only enhances the flavour.

14. If using freshly grated coconut, add before switching off the stove. Mix well and serve hot.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kadalai Mittai (Peanut Brittles)

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Ingredients

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

Dry fruit Mittai (Dry fruit brittles)

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Ingredients

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

Method of Preparation

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

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Note:

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

Come along, Life is all about positivity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are a few brittles that I’ve tried …

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

Let’s handle them one by one.

Ellu Mittai/Sesame Seed Brittle

Ingredients

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

Method of Preparation

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

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

  

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

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

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

  

Candied Walnuts (with jaggery syrup)
 

coated well


  

Ingredients

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

  
Method of Preparation

  

  

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

  

2. to caramelize jaggery

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

  

3. Hard Ball stage in syrup

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

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

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

6. Spread on a greased plate.

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

bird’s nest with caramelized jaggery

 

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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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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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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