Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Adai - a mixed lentil pancake

ADAI - a mixed lentil pancake

My friend and I visited each other and played for long hours in our vast gardens at Lakshmipuram, Mysore, on holidays unmindful of the meal timings. We were promptly called in for our meals at the appropriate time wherever we were, by my mother or by her mother. Many a time as we played in one of the gardens, as our mothers chatted away over the compound walls, across the rarely used service lane which separated the two houses. It was fun to shout out my friend’s name across the walls, indicating that my mother wanted to speak to her mother. She did the same to call my mother for a ‘meeting’. The stone bench under the guava tree was very convenient for me to stand up and throw my voice across. Since both the houses stood back to back, and the chatting took place at the bottom of the two gardens, there was total privacy and our mothers could converse even without stepping out of their homes.

On one such occasion my friend’s mother mentioned to my mother that I had savoured THREE adais for tiffin, “Not at all bad.She must have liked my Adais so much!” That day when I returned home, I told my mother about the delicious hot adais , that I ate at my friend’s place. Mother laughed and told me not to go over board while eating outside.

Adai is a heavy dish prepared with rice and a mixture of lentils. It can include onions or fenugreek leaves. I sometimes add finely chopped cabbage, grated carrots, or even drum stick leaves .
INGREDIENTS:
Rice – 1 cup
Tur dal – ¾ cup
Bengal gram dal – ¼ cup
Black gram dal – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Red chillies – 3
Ginger – 1 " piece
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves –a few
Fresh coriander leaves – little
Salt – ½ tsp

METHOD:
1. Soak the rice and dals together with the red chillies for half an hour.
2. Add ginger to the soaked ingredients, and grind into a thick and coarse batter.
3. Add chopped curry leaves and fresh coriander.
4. Mix in the cumin seeds, asafoetida and salt.
5. Chopped vegetables (such as carrots, cabbage, drumstick leaves, onion, capsicum and so on, as per your preference) may also be added at this stage.
6. Let the batter stand for about fifteen minutes.
7. Heat a tava and rub it with a drop of oil using a halved onion.
8. Pour a ladleful of the batter and spread it into a thick and round Adai.
9. Make a hole in the center with the edge of the spatula.
10. Drizzle with oil around the Adai and pour a drop of oil in the centre as well.
11. Cover with lid and cook for 2 minutes.
12. Remove lid and turn over the Adai and add a few drops of oil around.
13. Remove after a minute and serve with chutney, gojju or molaga podi.

Children like to have Adai with jaggery and ghee. Everybody at home prefers to eat the Adai while still hot. The crispy golden crust underneath (similar to a crunchy ama vadai!) and the soft top cooked in steam, makes it almost a two-in-one dish!

My sister-in-law has sent in photos of these dosai kals. These cast iron dosai kals (skillets) are from the temple town of Srirangam, in Tamil Nadu. Here is a link with a history of the temple. The shops outside the temple are famous for selling these kals.
Pazhakarudu
There is a lot that is said about preparing a new cast iron kal, before it is ready for use. If a new cast iron kal is used, just as is it is, you will land up with a sticky mess when trying to make adais or dosais, not to mention the impurities and rust that can get into your food! The procedure of preparing a kal is called ‘pazhakarudu’ in Tamizh. It involves washing and soaking the vessel in arisi kanji (starchy water left from boiling rice) for about 24 hours. After that, it is rinsed, dried, and then has some oil coated on it on all sides. The kal turns out better results, as it keeps getting used. I rinse my dosai kal with luke warm water with mild soap and immediately dry it before keeping it away. Before each use, I rub it with a little oil using a halved onion instead of a brush.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Deepawali Marundu Lehiyam - home made medicine

DEEPAWALI MARUNDU or LEHIYAM (medicine)

Lord Sri Krishna ended the atrocities of the demon Narakasura on this day and rescued the 16000 damsels who were captives of the asura and married them. This is a symbolic story which tells us that the Supreme Power, rescues mankind tormented by the worldly bondage, dispels ignorance or darkness, and leads mankind to supreme bliss and enlightenment.

Photo of fireworks over Chamundi Hills, Mysore, by Guggi Subramanyan

This is a happy occasion for every one to move forward from darkness to light, and to spread happiness all around. Festivities begin with cleaning and decorating of the house the previous day. The huge cauldrons used for heating water for the sacred bath, is scrubbed well. It is then decorated with turmeric powder and kumkum (vermillion powder). The sacred River Ganga is supposed to descend into the bath water on the eve of the festival. It is customary to greet people by enquiring them if they have had their Ganga Snaanam (Ganges Bath) on the Deepavali day.

After the neeru tumbuva habba (festival of water filling) a decorated wooden plank (manae) is placed in front of the decorated alter. New clothes which have to be worn after the Ganga Snaanam is neatly piled up on it. A big bowl of Gingelly oil (sesame oil) warmed up with a little Omam (Thymol, Ajwain) is also placed on one side. Just like Ganga is in the bath water, Goddess Lakshmi is supposed to reside in the oil. All the family members wake up well before dawn. The eldest lady of the family performs the 'ennae shastra' – by applying the sacred oil on the head, for all family members. After good oil bath, elders present the family members and all dependants with the new clothes and bless them.

Now is the time for the Deepawali Marundu or Lehiyam. At least ¼ teaspoon of this marundu (medicine) has to be swallowed by every one before binging on the elaborate sweet spread. This marundu contains all the ingredients to protect one from colds and coughs, indigestion and biliousness. One of my best friends is so fond of this marundu, that she relishes only this, and refuses to eat any other Deepawali sweet.

Here is the recipe for the DEEPWALI MARUNDU before you go to burst the first cracker. . .
INGREDIENTS:
Omam (thymol) - 2 tbsps
Coriander seeds – 2 tbsps
Black pepper – 2 tbsps
Cumin seeds – 2 tbsps
Dry or fresh ginger – to make 2 tbsps
Cardamom -2
Ghee – 4 tbsps
METHOD:
1. Warm up all the ingredients so that they can be ground into a fine powder. Roasting is not necessary.
2. Powder all the ingredients as fine as possible.
3. Add water and make it into a paste.
4. Measure the paste, and take twice the quantity of palm jaggery or plain jaggery
5. Cook the paste with jaggery till it becomes slushy, and add little ghee.
6. Cook until soft ball stage and add the remaining ghee.
7. Blend well and switch off flame.
8. When cooled, store in a clean dry bottle.

The Lehiyam or Marundu should be like a thick paste. Over cooking makes it hard. If that happens, it can be cut into small pieces and stored. Any which way, it retains its medicinal value!

WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY AND SAFE DEEPAWALI!

Photo of fireworks over Chamundi Hills, Mysore, by Guggi Subramanyan

***
This post goes to JFI Nov '08 Festival Treats hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 all Seasons.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Deepawali Sweets - Milky Creamy Pal Poli

PAAL POLI
Mother used to prepare this sweet instead of the payasam on special occasions. Since all of us loved the creamy sweet, she prepared it very often along with our evening snacks and how we loved to lick our fingers even after gobbling up three or even four of them! Since it is an exotic sweet, rich with thick milk and dried fruits and nuts, it can be served cold or warm as a dessert in parties. INGREDIENTS:
Maida or plain white flour – 1 cup
Milk – 4 cups
Sugar – 1 ½ cups
Saffron – a few strands

Edible camphor - one tiny granule is optional
Cardamom powder – 1 pinch
Cashew nuts – 12
Raisins – a few
Ghee for frying the nuts – 1 tbsp
Salt – 1 pinch
Cooking oil for frying
METHOD:
1. Knead maida with a teaspoon of oil, salt and little water into a stiff dough.
2. Boil the milk for ten minutes and add sugar, saffron strands and the cardamom powder. (Its optional to add the edible camphor. Even a tiny bit extra can ruin the taste so be careful. Just one small granule is sufficient!)
3. Let the sugar dissolve and then decrease the heat.
4. Make marble size balls with the dough and roll out into small poories.
5. Fold the round into half, and again fold it to get a triangle shape.
6. Roll out the triangles. They should not be too thin.
7. Keep a shallow dish with the prepared milk handy before deep frying polis.
8. Heat oil and fry the triangular Polis one by one, until they are crisp and golden in colour.
9. Drain out the oil, and dip the Poli in the warm milk
10. When the next one is ready for the dip, take out the previously soaked one and place it on a plate.
11. Soak all the polis and arrange them on the plate.
12. When all the polis is done, pour the remaining milk over the arranged sweets.
13. Decorate the sweet platter with roasted cashew nuts and raisins.

Enjoy the milky creamy Poli, warm or cooled .

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Deepawali Sweets - Rava Urundai - Sweet Semolina Balls

RAVA URUNDAI

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.

INGREDIENTS:
Semolina - 1 cup
Sugar – 1¼ cups
Ghee - ¼ cup
Cashew nuts – 10
Raisins – a few
Cardamom – 4

METHOD:
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.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Deepawali Sweets - Papu Pati's Godi Halwa

PAPU PATI'S GODI HALWA

This is a very special sweet adored by all my family members. My mother-in-law was a specialist in preparing this dish on all festive occasions. My nephew loved to relish this sweet prepared by his dear Pati. She did not mind all the laborious steps which she had to slog through in its preparation. She happily made two tambalams-ful (very large plate) of the halwa which would vanish in no time. The thought of the translucent and shiny halwa topped with blanched almonds and saffron strands makes my mouth water even now.

I had only watched her, and assisted her in the preparation and I never dared to try it out all by myself. Last year my nephew, who now resides in the U.S. visited us for a short stay. I immediately remembered his favourite (and ours!) Godi Halwa, my mother-in-law would have prepared had she been alive now. I pulled up courage and was determined to make the dish myself for my dear nephew. I tried it out by using broken wheat instead of whole wheat. and the mixer instead of the heavy grinding stone. Though the halwa was not comparable to my mother-in –law’s preparation, it had turned out well.

INGREDIENTS:
Broken wheat – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 cup
Ghee – ¼ cup
Cardamom powder – 1 pinch
Saffron – a few strands
Almonds – 15

METHOD:
1. Cover the broken wheat with water and soak for two hours.
2. Soak almonds in warm water, and remove the skin.
3. Soak the saffron strands in a little warm water.
4. Grind well the soaked wheat with water, and filter through a mesh to extract the wheat milk.
5. Grind it yet again with some more water and extract more milk.
6. Repeat the process till all the wheat milk is extracted, and discard the solids.
7. Add water, if necessary to make up four cups of wheat milk.
8. Start cooking the wheat milk with sugar in a heavy bottomed pan.
9. Keep stirring to avoid lumps.
10. Once it starts boiling it will thicken very fast. So keep stirring.
11. Add half of the ghee and keep cooking until the mixture becomes like a thick custard.
12. Add the soaked saffron and blend well.
13. Add the remaining ghee and cardamom powder and remove from heat when the halwa leaves the sides of the pan.
14. Pour into a greased plate and decorate with almonds.
15. The halwa will set like a custard when it cools down, and now you can cut them as desired.
Store it in the fridge in the plate as it is, and relish piece by piece when ever you crave for it!

***
A note from Dibs: Papu Pati’s godi halwa, is one of the most amazing sweets I have ever had. I would say the consistency of this halwa is between a custard and a jelly. A cut piece will hold its shape, but would be wobbly! Since only wheat milk is used, the halwa is a delicate translucent colour, and the ghee gives it a nice shiny gloss!

I really miss my Papu Pati!
***

Foodbuzz Publisher Community Launches

'World Foodie Power' - that's how we describe Foodbuzz.
Chitra Amma's Kitchen joined Foodbuzz a few months back. All that we can say is , we are so glad we did! We made heaps of foodie friends, and now we globe trot from our computers sampling different styles of cooking from Portland to Sydney! Cheers to the Foodbuzz team!

We are very proud of Deeba of 'Passionate About Baking' for getting our simply amazing Indian cuisine featured in 24, 24, 24 event of Foodbuzz. She has made a spread that's fit for a Maharaja! Congratulations Deeba!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Deepawali Sweets - Bournvita Fudge!

Bournvita Fudge for Deepawali
We tasted this fudge during my sister’s wedding at Mysore. Father had “imported” the then famous cooks from Chennai for the grand occasion. They usually operated in groups of tens or more, forming their own “sets”. When they trooped into our house in white dothis, shirts and anga vastrams (cloth worn on the shoulders by men) my little daughter, who was only three or four years old at the time, enquired with wide eyes, why the “strike” was coming into our house. We were all awed by the way the ‘‘strike’’ managed not only the cooking and serving, but also the other important chores, and even the minuscule details in the wedding.

One chap was all the time behind my husband, serving him with all sorts of dishes the moment they were ready. My jovial husband wondered why that person was so friendly with him in particular, but enjoyed the hospitality anyway, along with helping of fresh warm Bournvita fudge too. Sometime later after the wedding was over, to my poor husband's horror, (and to everybody else's mirth!) he found out that the person who took such good care of him was especially appointed by the Head Cook, to ‘look after’ the eldest mappilai (Son- in-law ) of the family, lest he feels neglected and shoots trouble in the wedding!


INGREDIENTS:
Plain white flour or Maida – 1 cup
Bournvita - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 3 cups
Ghee -1/4 cup

METHOD:
1. Heat ghee in a pan and roast the flour on a low flame, till it gives out a pleasant aroma. Take care that it does not burn. The consistency of flour and ghee mixture should be like a thick paste.
2. Keep the roasted flour mixture aside.
3. Dissolve the Bournvita in little warm water and keep aside. It should be thick like condensed milk.
4. Add one cup of water to sugar and boil till one thread consistency.
5. Add the roasted flour and stir to blend with sugar syrup.
6. Add the bournvita and blend well.
7. Keep stirring till the mass thickens and starts leaving the sides of the pan.
8. Pour on a greased plate and allow it to cool and set.
9. When it feels firm and still warm, use a knife and draw one set of diagonal lines on the cake. 10. Draw another set of diagonal lines in the opposite direction. This will make nice diamond shaped cakes.

Pop a piece into your mouth while its still warm, and melt away in ecstasy, as it melts in your mouth!

Note: It took me many trials to get the right texture for this fudge! However, whatever you land up with still tastes delicious! If you remove the fudge too soon from the fire, then you will land up with Bournvita Halwa instead of fudge! My kids would roll it onto a spoon, to get giant sized lollipops! If you cook it too much, then you will land up with hard and brittle pieces rather than a firm and soft fudge!

Here is a useful link I found on sugar stages, with videos! ‘Soft ball stage’ best describes the consistency for Bournvita Fudge.

This post goes to JFI Nov '08 Festival Treats hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 all Seasons, as well as Pallavi's Yummy Festival Feast at Pallavi of All Thingz Yummy, as well as Sunshinemom's FIC Brown event at Tongue Ticklers!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Versatile Uluttam Vadai

The Versatile Uluttam Vadai

The split black gram dal is a very nutritious pulse. Soak some, grind with spices, and fry, and you get the versatile Uluttam Vadai! Besides being the perfect accompaniment with idli, for an ideal breakfast combination, this vadai makes a tasty dish in a variety of avatars! Vadai Curry is prepared by immersing the cut pieces of crisp hot vadais in hot and spicy sambar. For the exotic Thair Vadai, dip the vadais in warm water, gently squeeze out the oil, and immerse in seasoned curd. Rasa Vadas are hot vadais soaked in flavourful rasam, and lighter on the stomach than the Sambhar or Vadai Curry! The best Vadais we have tasted so far are the ones distributed at the Hanuman temple on Saturdays. The fact that the vadais had adorned Lord Hanuman as a garland along with the tulasi (basil) garland lends it a divine flavour. Whenever we visited our village, Rukmini prepared the most exotic vadais. That is the magic of this dish. Whenever and wherever you happen to relish it, it seems to be THE best. To prepare the delicious Rukmini Vadais (as we have named it) we can follow the given recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

Split black gram dal – 2 cups
Fresh ginger – 1’’ piece
Salt – ½ tsp
Pepper – ¼ tsp
Onion – 1 very small
Curry leaves – a few
Cooking oil – for frying

METHOD:
1. Wash and soak black gram dal for half an hour.
2. Cut onions very finely into thin thread like slivers.
3. Drain the dal. Add ginger and salt, and grind coarsely without water.
4. Sprinkle very little water if the dal mixture sticks to the jar.
6. Add onion slivers, curry leaves and crushed pepper and mix well.
7. Heat oil in a kadai.
8. Dip your hands in water, and the take a lemon size ball of the dough, and pat it into a thick vadai.
9. Make a hole in the center using your finger.
10. Gently slide the vadai into the hot oil.
11. The vadais can also be patted to shape, on a banana leaf or a sheet of plastic.
12. Fry the vadais in batches of four or six, till golden brown in colour.
This vadai will be slightly crisp and firm on the outside, and soft inside, as shown in the picture.

Relish vadais as they are, or with a chutney dip, or make any of the variations with sambhar, rasam and curd!


A Note from Dibs: Although a relatively easy dish, there are huge variations in the texture of the vadais. There are two important factors in vadai making. One is the consistency and texture of batter, and the second is oil temperature for frying.

I don’t like to add soda and so on to any of my cooking. It is my experience that, how firm or soft a vadai is, depends on the amount of water used in grinding, as well as how smooth or coarse the batter is. Half an hour of soaking is sufficient for soft vadais, when the climate is not too cold! I have found soaking the dal for longer duration prouces rubbery vadais. A smoother batter with more water gives a softer and spongy texture. Very little water, and coarse batter like Rukmini vadais above, give a nice firm texture.

As with any deep frying, the temperature of oil should be closely monitored. If the oil is not hot enough, the vadai will eventually cook, but will result in a very oily and soggy vadai. If its too hot, the outside will quickly burn, leaving the insides uncooked. A best practice is to test, by dropping a spec of batter in the oil. If it rises immediately to the surface, and not burnt, the temperature is right. If oil is not hot enough the batter will sink and rest at the bottom. If its too hot, oil will smoke, and batter drop will be burnt in no time!


This post goes to My Legume Love Affair event started by Susan of 'The Well Seasoned Cook', and hosted this time by Sra of 'When my Soup Came Alive' !

Monday, October 13, 2008

Vijayadashami in Seeplaputhur, and Kuzal Puttu!

Vijayadashami in Seeplaputhur, and Kuzal Puttu!

While Mysore and Bengal celebrated the victory of Mother Goddess on Viayadashami, Seeplaputhur (Seelai-pilliyar-puthur), a very small remote agricultural village, on the banks of the gushing river Cauvery also celebrated the same, but for a different victory story.
Lord Sri Rama ended the saga of the valiant but vile Ravana on this very same day. Sri Rama, the presiding deity of the Kodanda Ramaswamy temple decked up in new clothes and flowers was carried in a procession towards the end of the street where a banana tree representing Ravana was installed. The Lord’s palanquin stopped in front of “Ravana”, and the priest performed certain poojas.
Then assuming himself to be Rama, he lifted up the bow and arrow from the palanquin and went round “Ravana” three times, each time shooting an arrow on the stem of the tree with the Naayanam (wind instrument) blaring in full frenzy. Thus after enacting the Rama Leela scene, the procession returned victoriously via the same street stopping at every house to receive the prayers which were offered and then reached the temple. A grand aarti was performed at the temple and Sundal and Sweets were distributed to one and all.

Each time we visit our village for the function, the ever smiling Rukmini has a tough time preparing about eight kilograms of sundal prasadam for distribution, and also the entire day’s meals for us. We relish her idlis which looked like white sponge balls and the hot crisp black gram dal vadais took us to new heights. She says that she used eight parts of idly rice and one part of black gram dal for the idly batter not forgetting to soak a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds along with it.
This time she agreed to prepare Kuzal Puttu in our presence on our insistence, and my husband readily started clicking his camera.

Here is Rukmini’s recipe for Kuzal Puttu.

KUZAL PUTTU
PREPARATION OF THE RICE FOR THE PUTTU
1.Wash 500 gms of raw rice and drain well.
2. Spread the drained rice on a cloth or a paper to remove all dampness.
3. When it is dry, grind the rice into a fine flour.
4. Bundle the rice flour in a clean cloth and place it in a vessel, and steam in a pressure cooker for five minutes.
5. Break the lumps, sift if needed and air the flour, and store in a dry air tight container.
6. This flour can be used to make Puttu as and when reuired.

INGREDIENTS FOR KUZAL PUTTU
1. Puttu flour – 2 cups
2. Grated jaggery – 1 cup
3. Grated fresh coconut – 1 cup
4. Ripe banana – 1
5. Raisins – 1 tbsp
6. Cashew nuts – 1 tbsp
7. Cardamom powder (Optional) – 1 pinch
8. Salt – ¼ tsp
9. Ghee – ¼ tsp

METHOD:

1. Mix coconut gratings and jaggery with the puttu flour.
2. Cut ripe banana into small pieces and mix.
3. Fry raisins and cashew nuts in ghee and mix into the flour.
4. Add cardamom powder and sprinkle a little salt water just to moisten the prepared 5. flour. The texture of should be sandy, and not lumped up.
6. Add a glass of water to the puttu pot and put it on the flame.
7. Take a strip of clean cloth and line the puttu holder or the tube.
8. Fill up the tube (Kuzal) with the puttu flour mixture lightly pressing it down.
9. Fit it on the pot and cover with its perforated lid.
10. Cook till the steam comes out (for four minutes) and the aroma of jaggery fills the air.
11. Switch off flame and allow it to cool.
12. Remove the lid and hold the kuzal in one hand
13. Gently pull the ends of the cloth strip together to remove the KUZAL PUTTU.
Relish the warm kuzal puttu as it is or with a dollop of ghee.

Tip: In case you do not have the puttu kuzal you can get creative, as the objective is to simply steam the puttu mixture. My daugther’s Keralite friend made puttu in their hostel. She took a scraped out coconut shell, and made a hole in the ‘eye’ of the coconut. This shell was filled with the puttu mixture and fitted over the nozzle of the pressure cooker (the weight is not required). The coconut cup was then covered with a small plate. The steam from the cooker directly cooks the puttu mixture in the coconut cup!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dasara, Kolu, and Paal Payasam

DASARA, KOLU, & PAAL PAYASAM


What better way to celebrate the victory of Sri Chamundeswari over
the demon Mahishasura and his retinue, than Dasara! According to the legend, the war lasted for nine days and victory prevailed on the tenth day - the Vijaya Dasami day. It is considered auspicious to start any venture on this day for its glorious success.







Mother Goddess is worshipped on all the ten days with great fervor. It is also a dolls festival and children and women get busy with Kolu or Bombe Koorisodu. The various types of dolls made of mud are show cased on nine steps constructed for the purpose. This is to illuminate the fact that the diverse creations are all made up of the one and the same element.




Animals, fish and birds are usually arranged on the first step from the ground, and then human beings and the avataras follow, culminating in the Divine form of the Goddess on the ninth or the highest step, indicating the evolution of creation.







The picture alongside shows a Nala Gowri puppet. These puppets are life size, an can be assembled in a variety of postures, and dressed up in different costumes.







Married women (Suvasinis) and young girls (Baalaas) are considered as the Goddess personified. They are invited and honoured with taamboolaas (Betel leaves, areca nuts, kumkum and turmeric powder, coconuts and flowers) as a mark of reverence. They are even treated to a grand feast at least on one day, if not on all the ten days.






Every day a special dish is offered to the deity during the pooja. Sakkarai Pongal, Ven Pongal, Curd rice, Tamarind Rice, and different types of payasams are prepared for the purpose. Sundal is prepared and offered in the evenings and it is distributed to the visitors who come to view the kolu.





Here is the recipe for Paal Payasam which I learnt from my athai (aunt) - who used to celebrate Navaratri with great religious fervour.







PAAL PAYASAM
Paal Payasam is a rice and milk based porridge like sweet, cooked a in heavy bottomed bronze vessel called Urli (see picture below). Rice is cooked in milk on slow fire for a long time until it reaches the creamy and right consistency.

We can achieve more or less the same result by using a pressure cooker which is less time consuming and demanding less attention.
INGREDIENTS:
Rice – ½ cup
Milk - 3 cups
Sugar – ¾ cup
Cardamom – 4
Saffron – a few strands
Almonds – 8
METHOD:
1. Soak saffron in a tablesppon of warm milk and keep it aside.
2. Soak almonds in warm water, peel and coarsely crush and keep aside.
3. Dry roast rice until it acquires a reddish colour.
4. Wash the roasted rice and add the milk and pressure cook until three whistles.
5. Leave it on low flame for five more minutes and turn off the flame.
6. When the pressure subsides, open the cooker and add sugar.
7. Cook without the lid until the sugar blends with the payasam.
8. Add saffron, powdered cardamom and crushed almonds.
Enjoy the creamy and rich Paal Payasam after offering it to the deity.


This post goes to Navaratri & Navaratri Festive Food Event hosted by our dear blog friend Lakshmi of Taste of Mysore.