Be it a wedding or an upanayanam (a ceremony to baptize a boy into brahamanhood -the one who has to realize Brahaman, or The Self, by chanting the Gayatri Mantra), a first or a 60th birthday, or Deepawali, Meenakshi Mami would be there to prepare the Seer Bakshanams- the sweets that would be displayed during the function, and then distributed among the relatives and guests. It is customary to prepare five varieties of sweets for these functions. Mami would get set for the elaborate preparations very early in the morning after a short prayer and her morning cup of coffee. As she was very much used to our house hold she took the liberty to take the needed things by herself and never bothered any one of us for the particular vessel or for the ingredients. My mother-in-law wanted to take hundred pieces each, of the five varieties of sweets for my nephew’s upanayanam. Meenakshi mami stayed with us for only three days, by which time she had prepared all the items and packed them too. She never had lunch or any other snack until she had finished her work for the day, except for a glass of lime juice in between. We were all amazed by the speed and ease with which she prepared the sweets, especially the Ravai Urundai which usually tends to fall apart if the sugar and ghee are not warm enough. We were very happy and surprised to see that not even a single urundai had crumbled when we reached my sister-in-law’s place after six hours of car journey.
Semolina - 1 cup
Sugar – 1¼ cups
Ghee - ¼ cup
Cashew nuts – 10
Raisins – a few
Cardamom – 4
1 .Dry roast semolina till red in colour, and giving out a pleasant aroma. Allow it to cool.
2. When it is thoroughly cooled, grind it with sugar and cardamom till it becomes a granular powder. The sugar becomes very fine and the semolina remains granular.
3. Heat ghee in a bandali (heavy bottomed pan) and add the cashew nuts and the raisins.
4. When the nuts turn golden in colour, add the ground semolina and sugar mixture and blend well. Switch off the heat immediately.
5. Take a handful of the mixture and press hard to shape it into an urundai (ball).
6. Wash your hands after shaping four or five balls, and then continue. This is to avoid the ‘erosion’ of the urundais, when they rub against the powder stuck in your hands.
7. The urundais can not hold shape, if the mixture becomes cold. Keep warming it up till all the urundais are shaped.
Warning - As you savour the crisp semolina and fine sugar melting in your mouth, you may find that eating every piece, becomes compulsive!
This post goes to JFI Nov '08 Festival Treats hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 all Seasons, as well as Yummy Festival Feast at Pallavi 's, All Thingz Yummy blog.
Saturday, October 25, 2008