Tag Archives: kadalai paruppu

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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Navaratri and the Sundal Connection (Kadalai Paruppu Sundal/Channa Dal Sundal/Bengal Gram Salad)

Navaratri is a Hindu festival of worship of Shakti or Parvathi or Durga. These are nine nights of festivities. The word Navaratri means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning night. During these nine nights, Goddess Parvathi is worshipped in nine forms. The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadhasami.

If it is Shivaratri for her husband Shiva, Navaratri is exclusively for Shakti. The difference is that, Mahashivaratri is celebrated on one particular night in the month of march, but navaratri for shakti is celebrated for nine days. Ofcourse, there are the monthly sivaratris. In most states of India, Durga Puja is celebrated in different names.

Navaratri is also celebrated four times a year in some parts of the country. In Tamilnadu, as far as I know, the most popular celebration of navaratri is in the month of Purattasi (September-October). One can find more details on navaratri on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navratri.

The first three days are devoted to Parvathi as she is popularly known in Tamilnadu – goddess of power, the next three days are devoted to Lakshmi – goddess of wealth, and the last three days are devoted to Saraswathi – goddess of wisdom. The tenth day is celebrated as Vijayadasami – the day goddess durga defeated the demon mahishasur and she is worshipped as Mahishasuramardhini.

Beyond these religious aspects, worship techniques or maintenance of rituals and customs, which might differ with every household, I have always been more concerned and attracted to the cultural and traditional aspects of any festival.

In Tamilnadu, the ninth day is celebrated as Saraswati Poojai and Ayudha Poojai and tenth day as Vijayadasami.

For Saraswathi Poojai, all our books would go to the Poojai Arai or Puja Room and appa would make a beautiful seating arrangement covering all the books with special new silk dhoti, on top of which the usual framed photo of goddess saraswathi with the veena on her hands would graciously sit. Sometimes we would give our gold chains to adorn saraswathi.

That day, used to be the happiest.. More because we would be instructed not to study or even read any book. Suddenly by noon, I would feel so bad not studying or reading my favourite magazines! I wouldn’t have missed my books so badly any other day!!

Ayudha Poojai would be marked by cleaning all instruments, equipments, metallic substances of day-to-day use – cycles, bikes, cars, all musical instruments at home.  Everything associated with the household or work places would be cleaned, decorated and worshipped. Agricultural equipments for a farmer, type writer in a typing class, sewing machines, an aruval (sharp big knife specially for coconuts) for a coconut vender and so on..

All new ventures would begin from Vijayadasami. Even today, some schools take in children for kindergarten sessions starting from vijayadasami day. It is believed anything started on this particular day would be successful. All forms of art classes are started from vijayadasami. Every year, on that day, we show our special gratitude to our art teachers – whom we regard as goddess saraswathi herself.

When I was very young, navaratri meant sundal everyday (can I call it cooked lentil salad?), a different one every day.. After a few years, it used to be wearing the best of pattu pavadai (traditional long skirt and top in silk) and go to other houses in the neighbourhood, sing Carnatic music in front of goddesses and not to forget – collect the day’s sundal from their house. After a while, it was more of performing at home and neighbourhood (irrespective of what the neighbours or relatives feel – we are singing for the goddesses!).

But still, more memories are stuck with the different kinds of sundals prepared and the golu decorations in some households. Navaratri in tamilnadu is very much marked with golu or kolu. Apart from the traditional kolams or colored rangolis, golu is a kind of a decoration of dolls and other beautiful innovative things. Some arrangements might have five steps, seven steps or nine steps generally or always in odd numbers. Golu would be arranged with traditional dolls collected for generations, some of the gods and goddesses, some depicting epic scenes, also some new dolls – all displayed with a sense of ethnicity and beauty. It can be called a household exhibition of innovative artistic skills.

For more details on golu, I found this website with a native touch – http://cvrajan.hubpages.com/hub/Navratri-Golu-The-Hindu-festival-of-dolls

I find this golu decoration similar to the Durga Puja Pandals in West Bengal. If those pandals are a community event and done on a large-scale through committees or organisations, the one in Tamilnadu is a household affair – innovative, ethnic, traditional and religious involvement and excitement intact.

Now, to Sundals or lentil salads!

Sundals can be associated with mainly two things – one navaratri and the other – Beach! The beaches in Chennai and other places in Tamilnadu are always remembered with the sale of different kinds of spicy, tangy sundals. On beach sundal we shall talk in another post.. Now on navaratri sundal.

There used to be no golu decoration in our house. But worship of goddesses on all days with different sundals and distribution in the neighborhood was always there. In this session, let me share making a few varieties of sundal.

Kadalai Paruppu Sundal/ Channa Dal Sundal/ Bengal Gram Salad

 

Ingredients (serves 2)

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

Method of Preparation

  1. Soak kadalai paruppu for ½ an hour
  2. Pressure cook till just done – careful it shouldn’t be over cooked
  3. Strain the water and keep the dal separately
  4. Chop the onions fine (onions are optional – some wouldn’t prefer onions when prepared for puja)
  5. Chop green chillies or slit into two halves
  6. Heat oil in a kadai, let mustard seeds splutter
  7. Add urad dal, when it turns golden brown add curry leaves, onions and green chillies
  8. Red chillies can also be added if preferred
  9. Add the cooked kadalai paruppu and sprinkle salt
  10. Mix well and let it cook for approximately 5 minutes
  11. Be careful not to stir too much or else the dal might get mashed
  12. Sprinkle asafoetida
  13. When done sprinkle grated coconut and serve hot
  14. This can also be served as a healthy starter for dinners.