Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Tamizh New Year & Thirst Quenchers!



Ugadi arrived with a burst of tender green leaves and a colourful riot of flowers. More or less a fortnight after that the Tamizh new year has arrived bringing along the scorching heat of the summer Sun. The name of each Tamizh month is mentioned with a rhyming phrase which describes the weather conditions that particular month ushers in.Adi katril ammium parakkum’- means even the grinding stone flies away in the Adi wind. ‘Aipasi madam adai mazhai peyum’ – refers to the heavy rains during the Aipasi month. Likewise Chittirai madam - the first month of the new year is famous for its Kattiri veyil (The Cutting / scorching heat of the Sun). While the new year is celebrated with the seasonal mango and neem flower dishes, cool and refreshing dishes and drinks - Panakam, Neer mor and Kosumari -form the integral part of the festivities. These were also prepared during the Sri Rama Navami festival. (Birth day celebrations of Lord Sri Rama).

My mother’s mother was a multifaceted and dynamic lady. She was way ahead of her times in her thinking and actions. She looked every inch a perfect traditional ‘mami’ clad in her nine yards saree. She was very spiritual on the one side, and grandiose on the other when it came to entertaining guests, and magnanimous in her philanthropic activities. Her deft hands could swirl murukkus – a rice based savoury- with the same ease and perfection with which she played tennis.
I remember the Tannir Pandal (A shelter or shade built with bamboos and coconut leaves under which water and neer mor was distributed during Summer) which she promptly erected in front of her house during the month of Chittirai. A large earthen basin filled up with clean sand was placed on a table. The huge ‘panai’( mud pot) full of neer mor (watery butter milk ) was placed on this basin. This way the drink stayed cool all through the hot day. Grand mother served the neer mor in glasses to thirsty passers by. She felt immensely happy when they blessed her after quenching their thirst. This beautiful custom which was practiced as a mark of compassion to the fellow beings, and to uphold universal brotherhood by many homes, has now become restricted to only a few youth associations or temples in modern days .

Curd – 1 glass

Water – 5 glasses
Coriander leaves – a few
Curry leaves – a few
Fresh Ginger – 1” piece
Salt – 1 tsp
Lime – 1
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Roasted and powdered fenugreek seeds – ¼ tsp
Oil – ½ tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Red chilly – 1( Optional)

1. Wash coriander and curry leaves and skin the ginger.
2. Grind them with salt and roasted fenugreek seed powder into a fine paste.
3. Add curd and run the mixer until all the ingredients blend.
4. Pour it into a large vessel and add five glasses of water.
5. Cut the lime and squeeze out the juice into the neer mor.
6. Discard seeds and then float the empty lime skin into the neer mor which gives it a good flavour. (Avoid the skin while serving.)
7. Heat the oil and add mustard seeds.
8. When it splutters add asafoetida powder and the broken red chillies, and pour the seasoning into the neer mor.
9. Chill and serve with ice cubes.

Jaggery – 1 cup
Lime – 1 large
Cardamom – 2
Saffron – a few strands
Dry ginger powder – 1 /4 tsp
Salt – 1 pinch
Pache kalpooram (Edible camphor) – equal to 1 pin head

Caution: Read about Camphor here. Camphor that you normally get is not edible. You need to ask particularly for EDIBLE CAMPHOR. Using the wrong camphor is poisonous! While edible camphor is mild compared to regular camphor, even the edible variety has a very strong smell and taste. Truely an amazing ingredient, and just a very tiny little spec will give your sweets and beverages a magical flavour - any more than that, will ruin the taste and flavour.

1. Dissolve jaggery in one glass of warm water and filter it.
2. Add the saffron strands while it is still warm.
3. Squeeze the lime juice into it with out the seeds.
4. Add powdered cardamom , salt and the dry ginger powder.
5. Crush the pache kalpooram between the thumb and the fore finger and drop the powder into the Panakam.
6. Add 5 glasses of water and chill.
Enjoy the refreshing Panakam topped with ice cubes on a hot and sweltering day

Cucumber – 1
Raw mango – 1
Split Green gram dal (Mung dal) – 1 cup
coriander leaves – few stalks
Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Chopped Green chillies - 1

1. Wash and soak split green gram dal for half an hour and drain.
2. Wash and cut cucumber and raw mango into small pieces. The peels can be retained if the vegetables are fresh and tender.
3. Chop the coriander leaves.
4. Mix all the above adding the salt.
5. Heat oil and add mustard seeds.
6. When it splutters add asafoetida and the chopped green chillies.
7. Pour the seasoning on the kosumari and mix before serving.
All the three dishes are very nourishing and refreshing during hot summer months. They help in cooling down the system and prevent dehydration , nausea , loss of apetite and pittam(Biliousness) - the other common symptoms prevalent during the summer months.

21 Post your Comments:

Unknown said...

Great drinks to welcome summer. I dint know camphor was added to panakam! Lovel recipes.

Lakshmi said...

Happy New Year to you all. I love panakam and kosambari :D just can't refuse them ......

S.R.Ramachandran said...

this blog brings me memories of gowri mami and the way she was preparing very thin finger potato -thread size. time goes very fast and yesterday 13-04-09 was her birth centenary-- 100 years. appa

Raks said...

I just long for that panagam every year! Lovely post!

இனிய தமிழ் புத்தாண்டு நல்வாழ்த்துக்கள்!

Chitra said...

Happy tamil new year:)yummy drinks for summer.My Mil makes panakam in a similar way,nice post:)

Asha said...

Happy new year to you and family. Love the Majjige and Panaka, slurp!

Yasmeen said...

It is indeed a very noble tradition to serve such thirst quenching drink to passer's by to cool off on scorching summer heat.Happy new year to you:)

Jayashree said...

Liked reading about mami. Where I come from, neer mor and panakam are still made and distributed to everyone who passes by on the nine days preceding Rama Navami.

Cham said...

Happy Tamil New Year! The panakam and other recipes are simply inviting!

Priya Suresh said...

Happy new year to u & ur family:)...love panakam and kosumbari much..prefect drinks for summer:)

A_and_N said...

Oh I will make some neer mor tonite! I love it but had forgotten all about it :)

YOSEE said...

Fond remembrances of a charismatic mata-mahee. She also bought ice-cream and lollies in summer for her dog !
Pankam, neermor and kosambri : the unbeatable cool trio to beat the heat.

sra said...

Happy New Year!

Uma said...

A very happy new year to you and your family!

kittymatti said...

Puthaandu vazhthukkal!! Neer mor! I wish I had a glass here ;)

Chutneytales said...

Wonderful summer drinks and salad recipe.

jayasree said...

Happy new year to you and your family. Great recipes to beat the summer heat.

TestingSalesforce said...

That is the nice treat for festival..

Vaishali said...

What a beautiful, beautiful spread Dibs, and I can't think of a better way to start the new year. A very happy new year to you and your family!

vidhas said...

Lovley spread. I also made all these, adding camphor is new to me. I love neer moar , it is perfect for this weather.

bee said...

wonderful recipes. thank you and belated new year greetings.