Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My 60th Birthday and Obbatina Oota

My 60th Birthday and Obbatina Oota

It was my birthday eve last month – my 60th birthday. Mother was narrating the story about how father had specially ordered for coconut-sized laddoos for my first birthday, and how the palace was incidentally illuminated on that evening, and how the house was bustling with relatives, and how excited they were when they remarked that the palace was illuminated for the Maharani’s (meaning myself!) birthday and the story went on and on and on. Though we had heard this story a thousand times, we listened to her with rapt attention as we gazed at the star lit sky to see if we could spot a satellite or an U.F.O, just as we did decades ago. We sat around the circular cement fish pond in the large garden, chatting, laughing and remembering those good old days. We were pulling each other’s legs and shared our stories with our next generation. The white egrets looked like a string of pearls as they flew in the dusky sky. There was a ripple in the pond as the fish swished by. A friendly owl hooted from the nearby Ashoka tree. The fragrance of the Jaji flower filled the cool breeze. Nothing had changed at my mother’s place except that father was no more, and my kid brothers had taken up the reins of the household. Though the four of us siblings have branched off into four different families, the same old pranks, and our togetherness resurfaced with the same excitement, just the way it did whenever we got together. This time we got together at mother’s place since my brothers decided to perform a mammoth homam for the welfare of the clan on my 60th birthday.

The poojas started very early in the morning. It took about an 
hour for the vaadyars (priests) to prepare the Homa Kundam (The altar where ghee and rice was to be offered to the deity through Agni or the Fire God), and get the other articles in place. One of them drew the Lalitha Yantram using coloured rangoli powder. Lailta is the cosmic power or the Goddess who creates, sustains and finally engulfs the universe. Yantram is a geometric diagram which represents the deity. The diagram, especially its angles, is supposed to attract positive energy. The vibrations produced by the sound of the mantras, drive away all negativity and fill the space again with positive energy. The fumes arising from the Homam purifies the home and the entire atmosphere, since specific medicinal dry twigs (Sammith) are used for the purpose. All in all Homam is said to purify and heal the body, the soul and the mind.

“OM SREE MATAYAI NAMAHA”. “OM” - the seed word representing the cosmic energy… “SALUTATIONS TO THEE MOTHER “… Thus started the homam and went on and on and on till each one of the thousand 

and eight names of The Goddess were recited, as the vaadyars made offerings to the fire. My brothers and my husband joined them in the offering while the rest of us assisted them. Mother at 78 years, was running around with great zest and cheer. The youngsters clicked away photos and also managed to run on errands. The clanging of the vessels and the aroma of food cooking in the courtyard competed with the sound of the Mantras and the aroma of the fumes arising from the Homam.

Finally the pooja was over and all of us felt blessed. We felt even more blessed when we sat in 
front of rows of banana leaves awaiting the grand feast to be served. It was indeed a lavish feast, the feast being an obbattina oota! The cook served the sago payasam (a sweet porridge) first. This was followed by beans curry, ladies finger fry, sweet kosumalli, salt kosumalli, mixed vegetable koottu, cucumber pachadi, ama vadais (some vadais were even soaked in mor kuzambu), mor kuzambu, lime rice with capsicum and peas, ash gourd sambhar, sweet pongal (prasadam offered to the Goddess), 
a delicious rasam, papad and pickle, along with steaming hot in the center of the leaf; The special sweet of the day was Obbattu, and finally curd. The boys started an obbattu eating competition when they took ‘good care’ of each other. Some had it with ghee and the others had it with hot milk.

I remembered my mother-in –law who loved this sweet. She prepared it on all occasions as long as she lived. I used to assist her by cooking it on the tava as she patted out one after another obbattu on a banana leaf.
After returning from my mother’s place I could not resist my urge to prepare obbattu all by myself at least once. It was not a bad try and this is how I prepared it.

OBBATTU - Sweet bread filled with coconut lentil filling
Ingredients for the filling or Poornam

Bengal gram dal – 1 cup
Jaggery – ¾ cup
Fresh coconut gratings- 1 cup
Cardamom powder – 1 pinch
Method for the filling or Poornam
1. Soak dal for half an hour
2. Cook it in just enough water till tender but not mushy.
3. Throw away excess water if any left , and allow it to cool.

4. Grind dal, coconut gratings and jaggery adding the cardamom powder.

5. It will become like chapatti dough.
6. Keep this Poornam aside.

Ingredients for the Obbattu dough
Maida or plain flour – 1 to 1 ½ cups

Turmeric powder- 1 pinch

Salt – 1 pinch
Cooking oil – 3 to 4 tbsps
Method to make Obbattu dough

Mix all ingredients and knead into a dough using little water. The dough should not stick to your hands. Allow it to stand for half an hour. The more it is allowed to soak the more elastic the dough will be.

Method to make Obbattu

1. Take a lump of dough and roll it into a lemon sized ball.
2. Flatten the ball and place a ball of the sweet filling in it.
3. Bring the edges together and make a ball again so that the ball of poornam is inside the dough ball.
4. Grease a banana leaf and your fingers too.
5. Place the prepared ball on the leaf and pat it evenly on the leaf giving it a round shape as thin as possible.

6. Heat a tava and invert the banana leaf on it, peel out the raw obbattu on to the tava / pan.

7. Cook both sides on low heat until golden coloured patches 

My husband relished it with milk while I savored it with ghee. Bless the obbattu hang over!

24 Post your Comments:

S.R.Ramachandran said...

pictures and obbattu looks grand and feel like eating now itself

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your birthday. What a beautiful puja.

Anonymous said...

We were also there to polish it off. It was really yummy.

Arun Visweswaran said...

Wow ! Very tempting.

YOSEE said...

Such cosy warm family togetherness ! Nicely narrated, with feeling. ( Only thing missing was a song : "Yaadon ki baraat!")....Coconut filling or Dal filling, without or without ghee/milk, Obbatto is deliciousoo !

ST said...

Wish U A very Happy Birthday .Gr8 Puja and obbatu looks mouthwatering.

Jayashree said...

Happy 60th to you. The obbattus look perfect and delicious.

Srivalli said...

Oh..the pictures look beautiful!..my wishes on your birthday and obbatina or poli as we call looks delicious!

Asha said...

Happy 60th to you Chitra amma, may you live and be happy beyond your 100th year! :))

My Mysore Thatha used to have all this homa on special occasstions at his home. Obbattu with Hesarubele payasa was their choice to serve after that! These photos are beautiful to look at, thanks for posting them here.
Please don't show me any Obbattu photos, I can't take it anymore! ;D

Deepa Kuber said...

wish u a many happy returns of the day.. obbattu looks good. u have a nice blog

Indian Khana said...

Belated birthday wishes to Chitra Amma..wish her many more birthdays to come. The pooja, feast everything looks so gud and reminds of India so much dear...Obbtatina looks yummy.

Unknown said...

Wish you many many happy returns of the day ! the puja pictures look good and the obbattu looks yummy :)

bee said...

a very happy birthday and year ahead to you.

Sangeeth said...

Many more happy returns! Lovely pooja and explanations..luved obatu...

notyet100 said...

mny mny happy returns of the day..thnks for the recipe,..;-)

Mrs.Kannan said...

Belated birthday wishes for you ChitraAmma....The pooja and the food and your blog everything is amazing..Way to go

Guhan said...

Happy Birthday Periamma,
it was great to be around during that pooja, it sure was wonderful

Lakshmi said...

Belated Happy Birthday amma..May you live 100years ..
Obbattu looks yumm :) Happy Obbattu day in other words :D My dad is about to complete 60 years ..all these remind me that we should celebrate it too..

delhibelle said...

Belated Happy Birtday, Chitra Amma.
Thanks for sharing such beautiful memories.

Bungle Bee said...

Nice description of Obattu. Only that the particular cook uses Tur Dhal as a variation

Chitra Amma's Kitchen said...

Dear all,
Thank you very much for the overwhelming response.Wish all of you the very best.
Chitra amma

sra said...

Dibs, a very happy birthday and many happy returns!

medonim said...

happy 60th birthday!EVERYTHING LOOKS YUMMY! Will try making some of the dishes before I say anything more.

Anonymous said...

wishing you many more wonderful years ahead....