Tag Archives: vellam

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.

Karuppu Kavuni Arisi Payasam/Black Kavuni Rice Payasam (Southeast Asian Black Rice)

 

  

When I  posted  traditional rice varieties of tamilnadu  back in January 2017, I knew very little about these exclusive varieties. Used extensively in Chettinadu households and being part of their ceremonies, these rice varieties are less popular or even unknown in other parts of Tamilnadu. Apart from these, there are countless rice varieties that the ancient Tamils cultivated across centuries, those were high in nutrient value and unpolished. There is an urgent need for the revival of these species of rice, while we are moving forward as a junk food community in India as a whole.

Now, moving on to black rice –   I was introduced to black, red and brown rice almost four years ago in Cambodia.  After almost 8 years of life style change to brown rice of southern India, finding longer grains of unpolished rice in southeast Asia was a blissful event in my life.

Cambodian brown rice then became our staple lunch rice and Cambodian red rice was used in simple sweets (cooked rice with palm sugar and coconut). The local rice vendors sitting with gunny bags with their home made-hand milled red or brown rice was another nostalgic scene for me… What we used to see in the local markets of Tamilnadu.

Everything takes its own time in life, and now the time has come for this beautiful travel of the black, red and brown rice in my dosais and sweets. It is an educative travel with loads of nutrition. Come along!

  

  

The deep black or the purple hue of the black rice is a marker of its high antioxidant properties. Similar to blackberries and blueberries, that appear deeper in colour because of their high content of anti-oxidants. The outermost layer of the grain (the bran and the hull), contains immense amounts of the antioxidant-anthocyanin. In fact the amount of anthocyanin contained in black rice is higher than any other grain, including brown rice, red rice, red quinoa, or other colored whole grain varieties. http://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/7-incredible-benefits-of-the-forbidden-rice-the-black-rice-1688420

  

When I took out the Karuppu Kavuni Arisi or the Black Kavuni Rice sent by friend ‘T’ (refer: dosaikal post), I found a container with glutinous black rice preserved from Cambodia, which looked almost the same. When I googled to learn more on the similarities of Karuppu kavuni and black rice of Southeast Asia, I knew they belonged to the same family.  The genetic ancestors of karuppu kavuni might be the chinese/southeast asian black rice, which migrated to the southern regions of India through the Maritime Trade Communities, thousands of years ago. That is why it is still among the traditional varieties used in Chettiar Community of Tamilnadu, who are among the elite overseas Tamil Traders even today. Or… Could the travel have been the other way round. Research needed. That’s for another post though.

In the below mentioned research article, the author mentions of Black, Red and White rice being mentioned Sangam Tamil Literature, which dates back to 3rd Century BCE to 3rd Century ACE. The root word of ‘Rice’ is also of Dravidian origin is a well known established fact.

  


  

The origin of black rice (karu nel; kalikalu nel; kar nel;  kayam pu nel;  irul samaththanna erungaru nel; maiirul nel; karunavarkaniyanna nel; mattrundu arikila manjur eyahtu nel; kallanvulamkandanna nel; )  white rice (thuvel arisi; thuppaianna velnagai nel; velli vilangu nel; manthur nagai mani nel; ullurai ueranna velmulai arisi;  paruthipoothanna pasum nel); Red rice (keliru kannan kudumsennel; kuruthivoonnna nel; ratha mani nel; rathinam pothithanna nel; murukkam poo nel; sivel nel)  have been abundantly mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature.
http://tamilpaddycivilization.blogspot.in/2012/01/evolution-of-rice-in-tamil-nadu-ancient.html

  

While I decided to try out dosai/dosa with Karuppu kavuni arisi , my sweet teeth conquered in tempting me to make a payasam, Tirunelveli style with jaggery and coconut milk. My newly acquired clay pot made the recipe more exclusively traditional.

I am just a learner here, but there are mothers and grannies of chettinadu households who have provided enough recipes on the different brown, red and black rice varieties in the world wide web. I thank them all for making my quest more interesting with their authentic recipes transferred from generations. My dishes are only an adaption of their original recipes, with twists here and there.

A  few blogs that I referred for knowing more about karuppu kavuni arisi are mentioned here-

http://www.annamsrecipes.com/2013/11/kavuni-arisi-chettinad.html

https://www.kannammacooks.com/kavuni-arisi-chettinad-kavuni-arisi/

http://swarnaprashana.org/the-miracle-rice-karuppu-kavuni-arisi-black-kavuni-rice/

Now, to the Payasam or the Sweet Pudding.
  

Karuppu Kavuni Arisi Payasam/Black Kavuni Rice Pudding
  

Ingredients

  • karuppu kavuni arisi/black rice – 1 cup
  • water – to cook rice – 4 cups
  • vellam/jaggery – 3/4 cup grated to make syrup
  • elakkai podi/cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • chukku podi/dry ginger powder – 1/2 tsp
  • thengaipal/coconut milk (thick milk) – 200 ml
  • nei/clarified butter – 2 tsp
  • mundhiri paruppu/cashewnut – 6 no.s chopped to medium sized pieces

 

Method of Preparation

Getting ready

a. Wash well and soak black rice overnight to be cooked soft; I soaked the rice for about 4 hours for a nutty crunchy texture.


  

b. Dissolve jaggery in hot water to dissolve and strain for impurities. Boil the strained jaggery for while into a pourable consistency syrup. One can pour the strained jaggery directly to cooked rice and cook for a while till the  pudding gets a bit thick, befoe adding coconut milk.  I have the syrup ready in fridge that makes it easier to mix in sweets.

  

Making Payasam

1. Use the soaked water and add more if needed to make it 4 cups to cook rice in pressure cooker. After the first whistle, simmer the stove and cook for 4 more whistles or approximately 20 minutes.


  

2. In a clay pot (any cooking pan), pour the clarified butter and fry cashewnuts till golden brown.


  

3. Not wasting any time, pour the cooked rice inside the pan. Otherwise the nuts would get burnt.

  
4. Add the jaggery syrup, cardamom powder and dry ginger powder, and bring to boil.


  

5. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to boil. Be cautious to keep the stove on medium flame.  Coconut milk with jaggery in high flame for more time might split the milk.


  

6. As soon as the payasam comes to a boil, switch off stove. Payasam is ready to relish.


  

Note:

  1. Alter quantity of jaggery and coconut milk as preference.
  2. One might use palm sugar too, but no white sugar here please.
  3. Do no think of replacing coconut milk with cow’s milk..No way.