Mahashivaratri is not only a day (and night!) for worshipping Lord Shiva, but it is also the time to cleanse or detoxify our body and mind by fasting, meditating and even keeping vigil at night. It is also a great time to de-stress our bewildered mind and relax in the devotional mood.
While fasting, the digestive system gets the much required rest after continuous loading of food from time to time. While fasting, to meet its needs, the body starts breaking down and utilizing the stored reserves. The customary food offering prepared for the Lord (prasadam) is planned in such a way, that it agrees with the system of the fasting devotee, when the fast is eventually broken. After a long fast, a devoitee can savour the prasadam without fear of any ill effects.
Usually a fast should not be broken by consuming a rich and heavy food, because it takes a little time for the system to get accustomed to food after a long gap. The payasam peps up the devotee with instant positive energy as it has the sweet jaggery in it. The payatham paruppu (mung dal) is easily digestible, and replenishes the body with proteins. Beaten rice is very easily digestible. Puli aval (tamarind flavoured beaten rice), being non greasy, is very light on the stomach.
PULI AVAL - Tamarind Flavored Beaten Rice
INGREDIENTS:Beaten rice (hard variety) – 2 cups
Tamarind – a ball the size of a small lime
Salt – 1 ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Jaggery – 1 tbsp
Sambar powder – 1 tsp
Cooking oil (Preferably sesame oil) – 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Spilt Black gram dal (urad dal) – 1 tsp
Bengal gram dal (chana dal) – 1 tsp
Ground nuts - 2 tbsps
Dry Red chillies – 2
Curry leaves – a few
Dry Roast and powder the following ingredients:Fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Pepper – ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – ¼ tsp
White sesame seeds – 1 tbsp
1. Soak tamarind in enough warm water and extract the juice to make 1.5 cups.
2. Add salt, turmeric powder, sambar powder and powdered jaggery to the tamarind juice.
3. Wash the beaten rice two times at least.
4. Soak the beaten rice in the prepared tamarind juice for half an hour.
5. When the beaten rice bloats and soft, it is ready to be seasoned.
6. Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds.
7. When it splutters add the black gram dal and the bengal gram dal.
8. When the dals become golden in colour, add the ground nuts.
9. When the ground nuts crack, add the broken red chillies and curry leaves.
10. Add the soaked aval and blend well with seasoning.
11. Add the dry roasted and powdered ingredients and blend well.
12. Cover and cook on low flame for a few more minutes.
13. Switch off the flame when the pleasant aroma draws you towards the dish.
PAYATHAM PARUPPU PAYASAM - Mung Dal Sweet DishINGREDIENTS:Mung dal (Split Green gram dal) – ½ cup
Powdered jaggery - ½ cup
Cardamom powder – 1 pinch
Milk – 4 cups
1. Dry roast mung dal in a pan, till it becomes pinkish and gives out a pleasant aroma.
2. Add 4 cups of water and allow the dal to cook just enough, without becoming mushy. Add more water if required. (Avoid pressure cooking, as the dal tends to become a paste).
3. Add jaggery and cook until it melts and blends giving out a pleasant aroma.
4. Add cardamom powder.
5. Add milk (use previously boiled milkand bring it to a boil and switch off flame.
6. You can vary the quantity of milk as per your preference. Add less milk for a pudding-like consistency, and more milk if you wish to savour the payasam as a beverage.
TIP: Store bought jaggery may at times have some impurities. Dissolve the jaggery in warm water and filter through a fine sieve or cloth, to filter out the impurities, before using in any recipe.
Offer the payasam to Lord Neelakanta ('the blue throated one' – another name for Lord Shiva) so that it can cool down HIS throat, where He benevolently holds the scorching poison, thus saving the universe. Read more about this story here!