Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Wish all of you a happy new year.
May 2011 bring you joy and prosperity.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Karthigai 2010

Hope everyone celebrated Karthigai in the traditional manner. We celebrated Karthigai this time at Jalandhar. All the neighbours had dia for Diwali and had just closed their Diwali lighting on the previous day, and we had dias once again on Full moon day. Jalandhar being in Punjab is the right place to have dias on Karthigai day as it is celebrated as GuruPoornima or Guru Nanak Jayanthi by Sikhs. We could not visit any Gurudwars to see their celebrations, though, as we were busy with Karthigai. We lighted lots of dias and as usual had Poriurundais and Neyyappam and Adai. I was wondering where to get Pori for Karthigai for sometime now. Interestingly, our neighbour gave us Pori and a piece of sugar candy as Prasad after Lakshmi Puja on Diwali day. I was surprised that for Deepa puja south and north have Pori as Neyvedyam. Unity in Diversity indeed.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010


How this ever popular sweet got its name has been a mystery for me always and to this day I have no clue about the origins of the name. Mysorepak has been a very popular sweet for the Kalyana cheeru (sweets given during marriage) for more than 6 or 7 decades among Kerala Iyers. When my chithappas were married, each mysorepak that came with cheeru was almost  4"x2"x2"  in size. So huge; of course the laddus and appams were also the size of coconuts then. Appam dough was not poured into the mould using a ladle but using big glasses.

The original mysorepaks have this brownish color in the centre and a cream color at either end and they are porous and crisp and melt in the mouth. These days, the soft mysorepaks are more popular. I prefer the crispy, porous ones though.

The trouble with mysorepak, for many, is always that it tends to either become brick-like or just crumble to pieces. Getting the mysorepak just right is not very difficult though.The important ingredient, the bengalgram dal powder (besan) is usually the culprit. The store bought besan is sometimes adulterated and you may not get the best results with it. I usually buy the bengalgram and get it powdered taking care to see that no other powder gets mixed with it. I know it is a tall order in most places now; perhaps you can buy the branded ones from reputed stores. I am trying to give step by step instructions with the help of photographs at various stages of preparation; sorry, no videos this time. Now on with the job.


Bengal gram flour (besan) : 1 cup
Sugar: 3 cups
Ghee: 3 cups
Lemon juice: 1tsp


Sieve the besan so that there are no lumps. In a large thick bottomed pan, put the sugar and just enough water to dissolve it. When the sugar dissolves, lower the heat and add the lemon juice. The impurities in the sugar will form a layer on top. Carefully remove this layer. Increase the heat. Meanwhile heat the ghee on another stove. Lower the heat before the ghee reaches smoking point. Keep the ghee  heated; it is this hot ghee poured into the mysore pak at various stages of its preparation that gives it the brown colour in between and the porous texture.

Keep a tray greased.

The sugar syrup should attain one string consistency (remove a little syrup between your fingers and stretch. A fine thread will form between the fingers).

Now add the besan to the sugar syrup a little by little while stirring constantly.

First timers could have some one else do this for them, when they are doing the stirring part. When all the besan has been added, add a ladle of hot ghee and continue to stir. The whole mass should be boiling with some white bubbles at the sides.

Keep adding the hot ghee ladle by ladle, with constant stirring, until all the ghee has been used. Continue to stir, until the whole mass starts frothing from all sides and leaves the sides of the pan while stirring.

Immediately remove from the stove and pour into the greased tray. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of sugar on top. Allow to cool and cut into desired size after half an hour.

Tasty, porous, mysore pak is ready.


Having some one add the besan reminds me of the distress overseas phone call my handsome and charming younger son made years ago, while, then a novice in cooking, he was trying to prepare Upma. He asked me how one was to add the rava to the boiling water while stirring. I asked him how he did it in India, while learning how to make upma. "Then", he replied, "as I was stirring, patti (ammupatti) would add the rava, or if I added the rava, patti would stir. How can I do both together?" Now that he is a very good cook, things are very different altogether.

Happy Diwali.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


What is the sweet for Diwali is the question in every one's mind. As I have always said, Ukkarai was the traditional sweet for Tambrams for a long time. In places like Puthucode, until few decades ago, there was no other sweet for Diwali. This was the easiest sweet to be made for all occasions when the menu demanded a sweet dish. I remember when we were very young, there was this custom of distributing idli, chutney and a sweet to all the extended family members on the eve of the death anniversary of our grandfather's parents. Ukkarai was made for that occasion also.Ukkarai is a very nutritious sweet as there is not much ghee in it and also it also does not have refined sugar. On  the positive side it is loaded with protein from the Chanadal and iron and carbohydrates from jaggery. It is easy to prepare as well.

Now for the recipe.


Chanadal: 1 cup
(Bengal gram)
Turmeric  powder: 1tsp
Salt : a pinch
Jaggery: 1 cup
Ghee: 1 tbsp.
Cashew nuts: 5 or 6
Raisins: 2 tsp
Cardamom powder: 2 tsp
Grated coconut: 2 tbsp


Wash and soak the chanadal in one cup of water for about an hour. Pressure cook the dal in the water it was soaked in until just cooked; alternatively microwave high for 8 minutes. Strain in a colander to drain all the water content (This water can be used for making rasam, sambar or any other curries).Grind the dal without adding any extra water. This should be a dry, thick, powdery mass.

Meanwhile melt the jaggery in a half cup of water. Strain to remove any impurities and heat again to get a hard consistency (kallupakam). Add the ground chana dal mixture and keep stirring continuously for a minute. Add the grated coconut and cardamom powder.Remove from heat and keep stirring continuously for 5-8 minutes until the dal mixture is coated with jaggery and it attains the consistency of jaggery coated dal powder .

Heat the ghee in a small pan; add the cashew nuts and raisins. When cashew nuts turn pink add the mixture to the Ukkarai. Mix well.Your Ukkarai is ready.


Happy Diwali

Tip: The jaggery syrup should be of right consistency or else the dal mixture would sink in it and you wont get a nice powdery ukkarai.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Patti at last

It gives me tremendous joy to announce the birth of our first adorable and perfect grandchild (a grandson) on 30th October 2010, finally, I am a real Patti.

May he be blessed with good health, long life and every thing good in life.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Down Memory Lane

On his routine phone call, our younger son  (handsome and charming) mentioned the fast approaching  Halloween festival and how the whole neighborhood was getting ready for the festival. This brought back memories of our US visit during Halloween years ago. The whole place was filled with varieties of pumpkins and pumpkin festivals were being held all over the place. We had been to a few such festivals to see the pumpkin carvings.

This also brought to my mind that it was around this time that I started this blog in October 2005. I cannot just believe that this blog has been going on for the past 5 years. What started as just a pastime has become a demanding obsession now.  Our son casually told me one day,"Why don't you start a blog,  Ma?". I actually was not very conversant with the term blog, then. Although I had been using the Internet since the later 90s when our son went to the US for his higher studies to send him emails, chat with him and later to browse topics of my interest (read knitting, embroidery, hobby ideas etc), I had not been browsing any blogs till then. Our son explained to me what a blog was and I was still not sure what I would write there time and again. He said,"write whatever you want to write." After much deliberations and prompting by hubby dear, I said that I would try to write about all things happening around us today and how different they are from what they were when I was growing up. Or to put it in other words, how my astute and blessed mother-in-law would have commented on current affairs had she been around. That's how we decided on the name of the blog "Ammupatti's thoughts."

Ammu was the name of my beloved, alas late, mother-in-law in whose honor I have named my blog. Originally I intended to write my observation of everything around through her eyes (what she would have said were she to be around) for she was a keen observer and a lateral thinker. I learnt a lot about people's  body language and the actual meaning of their words from her. She had this wonderful ability to make friends with everyone, and engage in long conversations with them, be they little kids, teenagers, older people, college goers, anybody. She did not think any one was unreachable. And she had this "never say die" attitude, which I am still  learning. There was never a dull moment when she was around. She could go on talking to people of all ages and cultures. She would even talk to my friend Veena, who spoke no other language other than Kannada and my mother-in-law did not speak any Kannada. "What are you saying to Veena, Amma?" I would ask her, "She doesnt know our language." "She can perfectly follow what I say," she would reply.

And what started as just thoughts, soon metamorphosed into a food blog, owing to the continuous requests from my readers. I never knew today's youngsters would be so interested in learning cooking the traditional style. So I keep writing, though not as much as I would like to, due to my various other preoccupations.

Initially, not many people knew about my blog except close family members. Soon, other relatives around the world started noticing someone named Ammupatti writing about Puthucode and also observed some family photographs. They could not recognise who the author was, as there was no Ammupatti in my family. One asked the other and the chain continued until it reached one of my siblings who explained who the author was. Other Puthucodians also started noticing this blog about Puthucode. Soon enough I had many readers from all over the globe, some of whom have become very close friends and even visited me at my home in Bangalore and it is a nice feeling.

My brother told me this interesting incident that happened during this past Navarathri, which as I have said many times, is a very big festival in Puthucode. One lady who was visiting Puthucode along with some friends asked my mother (taking her to be just another Puthucodian),  which village she belonged to. My mother said she belonged to South village. (We have four main streets in our village which run due south, east, north and west). This lady then asked my mother, if she knew one Ammupatti from South village. My mother said that there was no Ammupatti in south village. The lady insisted that there was one. Then my mother asked her what her connection with Ammupatti was and the lady said that she just wanted to meet this grand old lady from South village who keeps a blog by the name of  Ammupatti's thoughts. My mother had a hearty laugh and said, "Oh that is my daughter." My brother insists this lady was pretty disappointed. "She was expecting to meet an octogenarian," he says.

This journey would not have been possible at all without the continuous support from my hubby dear and our beloved, handsome and charming sons, who patiently read all my drafts and gave me suggestions to improve and also helped me with the photographs. And of course, all of you readers, without whose inspiring comments, I would not have continued writing. Thanks to all of you.

I miss my dear mother-in-law and beloved appa, who would have been very happy to see that I was maintaining a blog with such good readership. These two were the people who were most proud of whatever I did. I actually may have inherited this writing bug from my appa, whose letters and diaries were always very interesting to read. My mother-in-law also used to write exhaustive letters, which give us a lot of merry moments even today.

Thank you my readers, once again and best wishes

Friday, October 22, 2010

Navarathri at Jalandhar

Hope everyone had a nice Navarathri. We had a nice Navarathri, this time at Jalandhar. While leaving for Jalandhar last month, my sis-in-law asked me,”What would you do for Navarathri in Jalandhar, you won’t be able to have your kolu and inviting people for thamboolam”. I said, “I will peacefully do all my puja and recitation of Lalitha Sahasranamam and Soudrya Lahiri and other stotras”. I did exactly that and I also made different neivedyams every day. On Vijayadasami day, we had Neyyappam, Vada, Dhokla, Semiya Payasam, tomato bhath, lemon rice and curds rice. We also invited two couples for lunch. I had the satisfaction of celebrating Navarathri at a faraway place.

The attraction in North India is of course, the Ramlila when, on Vijayadashami day, the effigies of Raavan, Kumbhkaran and Meghdhoot are burnt with bursting of a lot of crackers and merriment. My maid was asking me, if we had similar burning of effigies in our place, to which I said, no. She asked me,”Aap to Raavan ka pooja karte honge, na”( perhaps,you would be doing puja to Ravana), “I have heard there are people down south who worship Ravana”. I said, though we do not worship Ravana, we dont burn any effigies either. However, we decided to go and watch the fun in the evening. We barely managed to see the last effigy, of Ravana, being burnt. We did wander through the very crowded mela though. Maybe the next year we will be able to see the whole event.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Durgashtami, Mahanavami and Vijayadashami

We are already into the 8th day of Navarathri. Durgashtami, Mahanavami and Vijayadashami are the 3 most important days of Navarathri. Durgashtami is specially celebrated in Kerala as “Pooja vaipu”(keeping for the pooja). On the evening of Durgashtami, after cleaning the Pooja room, children keep all their books on a decorated stool for pooja. All the holy books like Ramayana, Mahabharatha and other books of religious importance are arranged. The books are then covered with a red silk cloth.

On Mahanavami day, Saraswathi pooja is performed to the collection of books. All family members including the children perform the pooja. The neivedyam on Saraswathi pooja includes palpayasam, vella payar and vada. Arati and neivedyam are done in the evening also. On the next day, i.e., Vijaya dashami day, punarpooja is done to the collection of books. The neivedyam on Vijayadashami day includes neyyappam and payasam.  After the pooja and arathi,  the books are distributed to the respective owners. All the members sit facing east and after writing the alphabet (Vidhyarambham or initiation to studies) in rice, start reading the books.Children are sent to school only after Vidhyarambham.

Vidhyarambham or Aksharabhyasam (initiating to the alphabets) is done on Vijayadashami day for children above the age of 2 who are not yet initiated to letters. After the pooja, children sitting on the laps of their parent, are made to write “Om Maha Ganapathaye Namah” followed by all the alphabets on rice filled in a tray. From now on they can start reading and writing.

In Kerala Vidhyarambham as a community festival is conducted in many places, the more famous one being Thunjan Parambu. Thunjath Ramanujan Ezhuthassan was a very famous poet of Kerala and he is considered as the father of Malayalam language. The place (in Malappuram district of Kerala) where he lived has been converted into a memorial and huge function of initiating children to Vidhyarambham takes place here. It is believed that children who are introduced to learning here will attain great scholastic skills.

Many temples in and outside Kerala also have Vidhyarambham function on Vijayadashami day. Temples like Mookambika in Kollur (Karnataka) have Vidhyarambham function on all days of the year.

Saraswati pooja is also known as “Adachu pooja” (closed pooja) as the books are kept covered and not touched for two days. One is not supposed to read or write on these two days. When we were children, we would be so happy to keep the school books covered for two days. And yet, we did not miss out on any story books, for which we were promptly admonished. But these are not our school books, we used to say.

Vijaya Dashami is also celebrated as Aayudha Pooja. People keep all their tools and house hold knives etc., and do pooja to them. Vehicles are also decorated and pooja is done to them.My friend Veena, to whom Vidhyarambham was a new word when I introduced her to our custom, always asks me, "Why are you not keeping your household implements like knife, scissors etc., on pooja”? She would herself answer, "For you, books and pen are your tools”.

Happy Saraswathi pooja and Vidhyarambham!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Vella Payar (Sweet Cowpeas)

No Navarathri is complete for Puthucodians without this sweetened cowpeas neivedyam. Most of the houses will have this offering on the first day itself as a sweet beginning.This is also distributed as Prasadam in the temple during Navarathri. I invariably  make this neivedyam on the first day as well as on Saraswati puja day. 

This dish is also prepared when the new born baby is put in the cradle for the first time. Yes, we have a function for putting the baby in the cradle. Usually it is done on the 28th day after the baby is born in the maternal grandparents’ home as is the custom. When the baby is taken to the paternal grandparents’ home, there again is a cradle function. But I digress; Vellapayar brought back memories.

Let us get on with the recipe.

Cowpeas: 1 cup (it is also known as black eyed peas)
Jaggery : 3/4 cup
Cardamom powder: 1tsp.
Freshly grated coconut: 2 tbsp.


Wash and soak the peas in enough water (the water level should be above the peas) overnight. Pressure cook the peas in the same water. The peas should be cooked very soft. Otherwise they will harden when put in the jaggery syrup.

Melt the jaggery in one cup of water. Strain to remove all the impurities, sand particles etc. Pour the strained syrup in a wide, thick bottomed pan and heat to make a soft syrup. Add the coconut gratings and cooked peas. Mix well. Keep stirring until all the moisture is absorbed. Remove from heat, add cardamom powder and offer as neivedyam.


Happy Navarathri!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Navarathri Neivedyams

Having said that Navarathri is the celebration of the power of the Divine Mother, Shakthi, and hence the celebratrion of womanhood, it also has to be admitted that it is the busiest season for women. Any festival is a lot of activity in the Indian families and a festival spreading over 9 nights and 10 days keeps the women all the more busy.

The preparations for Navarathri has to start a couple of weeks in advance, like preparing the “kolupadi”(steps for arranging the dolls), taking the dolls out from their safes, cleaning the dolls, decorating the kolu mantap, planning the kolu neivedyams and invitee lists, planning the give away gifts,planning the pujas, the list is endless.Though there always was a lot of activity prior to Navarathri in the olden days, it has become much more hectic in the present day situation for the working women.

For the Puthucodians though, Navarathri is even more hectic as there is the 10 day temple festival in the Bhagavathi temple. Navarathri is the annual festival in the Annapoorneswari temple and has always been a big celebration. The celebrations are getting grander by the year with Her children, who are spread all over the world, becoming more and more prosperous. This annual festival is also the time for a grand reunion for all the Puthucodians.

When we were children,we had wooden collapsible steps for the arranging of the dolls, which would be put together by the carpenter at the beginning of Navarathri and dismantled after Navarathri every year. From the time the carpenter arrived for putting up the Mandapa padi (the steps), we children would get ready for the bigger events to follow. We had to run a lot of errands to get things ready. The great event was making a adhesive paste with maida. There were no quick fix or instant adhesives then. The local decorator was Mr.Swamy, who would get called to all the households to cut and paste flowers, animals and festoons out of crepe paper. With the help of the children (children from all families helped Mr.Swamy in this in all the houses), Mr.Swamy would finish the job in time for the women to arrange the dolls on the first day of Navarathri. Then we had to take out the dolls from the wooden boxes and almirahs, clean them and do minor repairs if needed. We had to dress up some of the dolls. With scraps of material collected from the tailor, we would dress up the dolls and make necklaces with beads for decorating them.

After installing Devi at the Kolu mantap, puja and neivedyams were offered three times a day and special pujas were offered on the last three days. Some households observed a special Navarathri puja on all the 9 days which was more elaborate. Our echiyamma and Kalathappa (my paternal grandparents)observed the special Navarathri puja whenever they were in Puthucode during Navarathri. Sometimes the harvesting season, when they would be at our farmhouse,
coincided with Navarathri. Our Kalathappa believed in the dictum, “Work is Worship” and stayed put in the farm house. Only our echiyamma would make a lightning trip home on the important days of Navarathri. In those years, we had special puja only on the last three days. However, we children participated in the daily special Navarathri puja at our Amman’s (our echiyamma’s beloved brother) house.

There would be a payasam for the Navarathri puja every day in the morning. It could be palpayasam, maasi pournami payasam, kovil payasam or neypayasam. When one had enough of payasams, there would be what in our house is knowns as Shashti payasam. This is an interesting payasam. Some rice would be cooked in milk and water and 2 pieces of jaggery would be kept on top and offered for puja. We children would fight for the piece of jaggery.

The practice those days was to invite everyone on all days and distribute prasadams and thamboolam to all. We children would visit all houses on a regular basis and by the time we returned our hands would be full of little packets filled with all sorts of goodies given as prasadams from all houses. That would suffice for our dinner.

In Puthucode (that is the only place I have been to for Navarathri other than Bangalore), a variety of neivedyams were offered. We had sweets as well as savouries for Neivedyams and each day there was a new one. The common neivedyams offered were Sweet Payar (this was a must),Chundal (we knew about only one type of Chundal, that is the Kondai kadalai chundal), Neyyappam, Morappam, Bajji, Bonda, Pakoda, Sweet Aval, Okkarai, Kozhukkattais (Sweet, Ulundu, Ammini, Sweet Ammini), Puttu, Vada, Pori urundai etc. In Bangalore, where I have seen only Tamilians having the Bommaikolu, the neivedyams are almost always a chundal, either chana or chana dal or moong or rajma, etc.

With people getting busier and having to visit many houses and also entertain guests in their houses, these days it is very difficult to determine the number of guests you would have on a particular day. The new trend is to fix one or two days and invite people on those days only so that one can have an idea about the expected guests. And yet, somebody would always drop in on some other day. So these days, I make a  sweet and savoury like rava ladoo, ribbon pakoda, thenkuzhal, manoharam or muthucharam at the beginning of Navarathri which would keep until the end of Navarathri. This could be offered to guests visiting anytime. Additionally, I would prepare limited quantities of  fresh neivedyams every day for distribution. I plan it in such a way that I would have couple of people visiting everyday for thamboolam.

Puthucode Navarathri itself is material for series of blog posts, which I dare not attempt now.

Happy Navarathri!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


Navarathri is an important festival in the Hindu Calendar. Though there are 2 navarathris celebrated in India, the Vasantha Navarathri (in March-April) and the Sharad Navarathri (in September-October), the Sharad Navarathri is more famous especially in South India.
Sharad Navarathri is dedicated to Mother Durga and is celebrated for 9 days (navarathri literally means 9 nights). The most important ritual of Navarathri is the Bommaikolu (arranging the dolls).
Mother Durga is worshipped on all the 9 days in three different forms. The first three days are dedicated to Durga, the next three days to Lakshmi and the final three days to Saraswathi. Pujas are offered three times a day . This is an important festival for women and girls as the Goddess worshipped is Mother Durga. When the demons, Madhu Kaitabas, Mahishasura, Shumbha and Nishumbha were attacking the Gods in the Heavens and Indra and other Gods had to flee from the Heavens, they prayed to the Divine Mother. She took different forms and killed the demons and installed the Gods back in Heaven. This victory of good over evil is celebrated as Navarathri and the Divine Mother is worshipped. All women (girls included) are treated as Devi and worshipped and offered all that represents goodness and prosperity.
Women and girls adorn themselves in their best and visit each others’ homes and they sing songs in praise of Mother Durga.
On the evening of Durgashtami (the eighth day of Navarathri), books are arranged in front of the kolu where Durga is worshipped and on the 9th day the books are worshipped as Devi Saraswathi. Devi Saraswathi is considered to be the Goddess who imparts knowledge. This day is celebrated as Saraswathi puja. Puja is offered on the next day known as Vijaya Dashami also and then the books are taken from the puja and distributed. This day is also celebrated as “Vidhyarambham” in Kerala, as a new beginning is made after the worship of Devi Saraswathi. Children are initiated to learning on this day. Vijaya Dashami is the last day of Navarathri. After the puja and Arati, the dolls are taken down and kept away for the next Navarathri.
Happy Navarathri to all. May Devi Bhagavathi bless us all with peace, happiness and prosperity!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Ulundu kozhukkattai

Hope everyone celebrated Janmashtami and Ganesh Chaturthi in a grand way. I was travelling on both occasions and hence could not celebrate the functions as usual at home. But my recently married son and daughter-in-love who are now in living US celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi by making kozhukkattais and they turned out very well, they said! I was so very happy hearing this (My mother was a bit unhappy that I could not celebrate either festival).

We were on a pilgrimage to Rameswaram on Janmashtami and we were travelling to Jalandhar on Ganesh Chaturthi. We are now in Jalandhar, where our elder son is currently posted. Jalandhar Cantt. is a beautiful place with long stretches of roads without much traffic or pollution and greenery all around. The weather is still warm though. It took me almost a week to unpack and get the kitchen in full swing. Each time I visit our son at his new place of posting, I feel, I may not after all get through this unpacking and get the kitchen going and each time my husband assures me that you will come around in a few days time. I am through this time also.

I have been wanting to post the recipe for savoury kozhukkattai for a long time now and since I could not post it during Ganesh Chaturthi, I am posting the recipe now. I have been making varieties of savoury kozhukkattais. Here I am sharing with you the traditional savoury kozhukkattai, also known as Ulundu kozhukkattai or Urad dal kozhukkattai.


For the outer covering:
Rice flour: 1½ cups
Coconut oil or any other cooking oil: 2tsp.
Salt: a pinch
Water 3 cups

For the stuffing;

Urad dal : 1/4 cup
Grated coconut : 2 tbsp.
Green chillies: 1 or 2
Salt to taste
Oil: 1 tbsp.
Mustard seeds: 1tsp.
Urad dal: 1tsp.
Hing: 1tsp
Curry leaves : a few

Soak the urad dal for 1/2 hr. Drain the water completely and grind with green chilles, coconut and salt coarsely. Spread the mixture on a clean cloth and steam for 10mnts. Cool and crumble with hands. Heat oil in a pan. Add hing and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the urad dal. When the urad dal turns pink in color, add the curry leaves and crumbled urad dal and coconut mixture. Shallow fry for five minutes. The stuffing is ready.

The rice flour coating:

Heat a pan and add 2 tsp of oil. Add 1½ cups of water and pinch of salt and boil. Meanwhile mix the rice flour in 1½cups of water into a smooth batter without lumps. When the water starts boiling add this batter and keep stirring until the rice flour becomes a smooth shiny ball. Remove from fire and cool.

To prepare kozhukkattais:

Knead the rice flour dough well. Take a lemon sized portion and form into a cup. Smear little oil on your finger tips to make it easier to handle the dough. Put a smaller size ball of the stuffing inside and close from all sides and pinch the ends together. Repeat till all the dough and stuffing is used up. Steam the kozhukkattais in a steamer or a idli steamer for 15 minutes.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Your onam story for the week

Well another Onam is over and we are all back to our usual routine. Our handsome and charming son who now lives in the US celebrated Onam in his own way. He had invited a couple of friends, among whom was an American friend of his who loves Indian food, for his Onam dinner. When our son invited Scott, he asked him what food he was preparing for the dinner. Our son told him the menu which included aviyal. Scott asked him what aviyal was and our son said, “you will know when you come for the dinner.”

On Onam day, his friends arrived and they were all at the dinner table.Scott  (who had done an elaborate search on the Internet to find out what aviyal was) asked our son which of the dishes was aviyal. He tasted the aviyal and was very impressed and asked our son, “do you know there is an interesting story about how aviyal came into existence?” Our son asked him what the story was and Scott narrated the story about the Maharaja of Travancore at the Murajapuram Vedic seminar. Our son asked him where he found this story. Scott said, “you know, there is an interesting blog site by name “Ammupatti’s Thoughts”. That is where I picked this story”. It truly is a small World Wide Web.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Wish you all a very Happy Onam



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Recipe: Naranga Achar (Lemon/Lime Pickle)

Today is Uthradam, the day before Thiruvonam, the busiest day for all those who celebrate Onam. My mother was reminiscing about how busy they used to be on Uthradam day with a full house bursting with all the family members. We had to prepare Kalan, Pulinji, Naranga Achar, fry Chips(Varuthupperi and Sarkkaraperatti) and if Avaniavittam follows Onam, then grind Idli batter (some 5kg rice and dal for the same), she was saying.

The Naranga Achar prepared during Onam is not the usual lemon pickle, this lemon is different in that it is much bigger in size than the usual lemon used for lemonade. The leaves of this lemon(citron) are used for making another pickle known as Veppilakatti (recipe later). So having fried the chips, and prepared puliinji, I prepared naranga achar also this time. This is a very simple pickle to prepare.


Citron lemon : 1 cut into small pieces
(about one cup pieces)
salt: 3 tbsp
Red chilli powder: 3 tbsp
Sesame oil: 2 tbsp.
Mustard seeds: 2 tsp.
Fenugreek (methi) powder: ¼ tsp.
Hing powder: ¼ tsp.


Mix the cut lemon pieces, salt and red chilli powder in a clean and dry dish. Let it sit for half an hour. Water would have oozed out of the lemon pieces. Mix well.

Heat the sesame oil in a pan. When the oil starts smoking, add the hing powder and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start crackling, remove from the stove and add to the prepared pickle. Add the fenugreek powder and mix well. Naranga achar is ready for use. It is an instant pickle but will keep good for long.

The caterers when preparing this pickle in large quantities for wedding parties etc., prepare this slightly differently. Boiling water is poured over the prepared lemon pieces for immediate maturing of the pickle. This will also keep for up to 10 days.


Happy Onam

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Recipe: Erissery

Atham was last week. Thiruonam is round the corner. It is not Ponnin Chingam yet. All the same, Onam festivities begin with Atham. How soon time flies. I cannot believe one year has passed since we last celebrated Onam. Happy Onam to all my readers.

As usual, I started my Pookkalam on Atham day. I was pleasantly surprised to see a nicely done Pookkalam in front of a house during my walk this morning. I regretted not taking my camera along. I did the next best thing I could at that moment, I went upto the door and rang the bell and congratulated the lady of the house for the beautiful Pookkalam.

As I have said in my earlier Onam blogs, Onam means good food, happiness and well-being. I would like to give few of the Onam special recipes during this Onam season.

I will start with Erissery. Erisserry is an exclusive Kerala dish. Erisserry can be prepared using Yam and Banana, Red Pumpkin, Jackfruit, etc. Though the Onam special is erisserry made of Yam and banana, today I am giving the recipe of Mathan Erisserry (pumpkin erisserry) which is a favourite of all at home. During our younger son’s early days in America, he used to say he was not able to get red pumpkin (though when I visited US I found that varieties of squash and pumpkins were available). I used to tell him to go to the pumpkin carving during Halloween and collect all the pieces the carver would cut as waste.:) Let us get moving with erisserry.


cow peas : 2 tbsp.
Red Pumpkin: ½ kg
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp.
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp.
Salt to taste
Jaggery: 1 tsp.
Grated coconut: 4 tbsp.
Jeera: ½ tsp.
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp.
Mustard: 1tsp.
Urad dal: 1 tsp.
Curry leaves: 2 sprigs.


Soak the cowpeas in water for 3-4 hours and pressure cook.

Grind 2 tbsp grated coconut and jeera to a fine paste.

Cut the pumpkin into 2” pieces. Cook the cut vegetables with turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt, adding 1 cup of water. Add cooked cowpeas.Add jaggery (this is optional. If the pumpkin is naturally sweet, you may omit the jaggery). Add the ground coconut paste and boil. Remove from the stove and add one sprig of curry leaves.

Heat the coconut oil in a wide fry pan, add mustard, urad dal and curry leaves. When the urad dal turns to light pink, add the remaining grated coconut and fry till the coconut turns red in color. Pour the seasoning on top of Erisserry.

This erisserry can be served with rice, chappathis, dosa, etc.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Grand Finale

The much awaited day dawned. Of course, we were all up much before the day dawned and we did not see any daylight until it was late afternoon. We had to leave for the venue very early, so we all woke up after a very short nap and got ready to leave, (we had to collect the fresh flowers from our garden for Y’s hair dress and pick up other things kept ready) so that we could reach in time to do the bridal make over for Y. We were planning to start the ceremonies at 6.30am.With the help of Veena and Y’s mother we got Y ready on schedule.
We had the bride and groom exchange the garlands with lots of merriment.We had planned to have an oonjal ceremony before the Arya samaj style wedding, as this is a function full of fun and everybody enjoys it. We had a lovely oonjal.
The Oonjal ceremony was enjoyed by all especially by the bride and her parents. My cousins Rama and Geetha sang the oonjal songs.

Immediately after we started with wedding ceremonies.
The ceremony had most of our rituals, like Kanyadhan, homams, Panigrahan, saptapadi, shilarohan, parikarma, lajahoma, mangalyadharan, sindhoor, Aashirvad, etc., though there were some differences in the rituals from the regular tambram rituals. For instance, in the Shilarohan ceremony (ammi mithikkal), it is the groom who leads the bride by taking 7 steps towards the granite slab and places her foot on to the slab, saying whatever difficulties arise in our life you must be firm like this granite stone. In Arya samaji style, it is the bride’s mother, who places the bride’s foot onto a piece of granite and tell her to be firm as a granite under any circumstance.
Then there was another ritual in which the groom’s mother is asked to sprinkle some water onto the bride’s head and tell her, “as a family there could be occasions when we may have to use harsh words, but you are advised to keep your cool and take everything as contributing towards the welfare and happiness of the family.”

We are 5 now with the addition of beautiful Y into our family
The wedding ceremony was followed by a reception with Y dressed in a beautiful Kimono. The reception makeover was completely done by Y’s super talented mom.
So the much awaited, much planned and much discussed about event took place to the satisfaction of one and all.

As usual every one praised about the planning and execution of various events. And yet there were events which won the appreciation of one and all. Some of these were:

The flower decoration was something which was very very special.
The food. The food was exotic to say the least. The banquet executive had taken special care to provide all the items in the menu, onion and garlic free to selected guests. (We had asked for one or two items onion and garlic free as there were some elderly people in our family who wouldn’t eat onion and garlic. He assured us that he could provide a special spread of all items in the menu onion and garlic free for our special guests).

The reception. Every one appreciated the gesture of the bride and groom moving among the guests and meeting each and everyone of them. The usual practice we find these days is the bride and groom and their parents standing in the mantap and the guests queuing up just to go up and wish them and getting photographed and hurrying up to have their meal and leave.
A special appreciation for timing of the reception for the noon. Many of our guests, especially the senior citizens and ladies were very happy that it was a lunch reception as it becomes very difficult for people to commute for a dinner reception in the late evenings, in the present day traffic chaos of Bangalore.

And finally, we had arranged for the bride and groom to come home after the reception. We also had Y’s parents accompany them to follow the tradition of leaving the daughter at the in-laws’ home. After the usual aarati at the front door, we gave the bride and groom paalum pazhavum(milk and banana). As my Vasantha chithi says, having paalum pazhavum symbolises the couple complementing each other like banana in milk, at the same retaining their identities.

I beseech all my readers to join me in wishing the couple a happy and long wedded life. May Heaven’s choicest Blessings be showered on them.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Counting Down

The frequency with which I am writing gives me jitters that I might not finish the wedding episode by the time my children celebrate their anniversary.Ever since our son got married we have been taking vacations like never before. The recent one at the peak of the summer to Kerala was both enjoyable , because we visited many places that we had been planning for years and very tiring because of the heat and humidity. Bangalore itself saw one of the worst summers in the recent times with temperatures hitting a 30 years high and the months of April and May this year were just unbearable. We followed it with a really humid summer in Kerala. Thankfully, we had the satisfaction of visiting all our destinations without any problems.

To continue with the wedding, as I said earlier, I was like a robot once the children arrived. I had to accompany them on their shopping and check with the tailor on the new dresses to be made, visit the hotel for the last minute briefings and arrangements about the decoration, food, etc., and be at home for meeting with various event managers and do up the house. Y was a great help in decorating the house. She and our elder son did all the decoration at home. I was also cooking all the meals at home especially because we did not want Y to get any problems eating out as this was her first visit to India. I am proud to say that Y ate all her meals at home (the regular tambram food) and never complained. We all appreciated her for that gesture.

As the D day was approaching we were almost ready with all the preparations and plans and moves and what should be done whens and who should be doing whats and where would one be at any given times, and…. ….. And yet there were things that could be done only on the given day and we made sure everything was well planned

And it was 1st February. Y’s parents arrived and were comfortably put up in the same hotel as the wedding was to take place. We had planned a meeting at home and wanted to serve home made food. As Y had been with us for few days now, I had planned a menu in consultation with her so that her family would be comfortable with the food served. They all enjoyed the Kali, Kari, Bajji, Mysorepak and especially the black tea that they preferred. Indian tea is very tasty, they said. On the 2nd, Y with her brother and parents went around Bangalore. Since it is a custom with us to give lunch to the bride’s people after the wedding, we decided to take them out for lunch on the following day (there was not enough time after the wedding).

On the evening of the 3rd was the Mehendi ceremony. As we were not sure about the contents of the commercially available mehendi cones, we were planning to use the mehendi powder we had made at home from hand picked mehendi leaves . We were not very successful in getting the powder to a consistency that could be squeezed through a cone. We tested the commercial cone and were satisfied that Y had no sesitivity to the product. Y was very excited about getting the mehendi applied. My friend’s daughter applied mehendi for Y.

Our guests from outside Bangalore started arriving on the morning of the 4th. Lunch was arranged at home. The decorators did up the house and the house was reverberating with the usual “Kalyana veedu” conversations.

We had arranged for a get together with all the family members and Y's family in the evening. Y’s parents were very surprised that all the guests present at the function were immediate family members. We told them that there were many more who could not make it for the function. We also had a sort of Nischayathartham in the evening and presented Y with the saree and the jewellery she was to wear the next day. Our son was also presented with the clothes he would be wearing the next day. As is the custom, my mother and brothers gave gifts to us and our son. We wrapped up the evening with dinner at home. The guests went back to their rooms for a good night’s rest.

We were busy till late into the night keeping everything ready for the next day and double checking. We had to leave home by 5.30am so that we would have enough time to get Y ready. We had not hired a professional for bridal make up, as again we were not sure if Y would be comfortable with the cosmetics used by the local beauticians. My friend Veena had taken up the responsibility of helping Y to get dressed up for the function. And so, we also went to bed for a short rest in the wee hours.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Preparations get frenzied

My husband and I reached Bangalore by middle November and we were glad that we had only recently had the house painted and refurbished just before we left for Hyderabad. We did not have to do anything towards preparing the house for the occasion except for the routine cleaning.

And yet, by the end of the first week at Bangalore, we were nowhere near our target. The first and foremost requirement was to fix the venue for the wedding without which we could not submit the affidavit at Arya Samaj (we had to mention the date and time and venue of the wedding) nor could we print the invitations. Though we had asked our friends at Bangalore to shortlist a few venues not much progress had been made on that account. By end of the first week, we decided to visit some of the hotels we had shortlisted and make enquiries. My nephew who is a student of hospitality management suggested The Chancery Pavilion and we visited the hotel and were very happy with the ambience. It was also centrally located in the city for the convenience of all the guests. Moreover, we could book our international guests in the same hotel. We did have some initial difficulties with the rates but with the help of a good friend we could get the services at an affordable price. It was 5th December and the date of wedding was fixed for 5th February 2010. We had exactly 2 months to go and the list of things to do was growing like Hanuman’s tail. We prepared a list prioritising the things to do and marked the date by which each activity should have been done. This list was getting updated every day.

Having decided on the venue the first thing to do was to submit the affidavit at Arya Samaj. Next was getting invitations printed. Getting the card blanks was not a difficult issue as we knew exactly where to go for them and our son had already indicated the type of card he would like to have. A good friend of my brother who owns a printing press promised to get the cards printed in 2 days. By 15th December, the cards were also ready. We decided to post the card for outstation guests in the first stage so that they would receive them well in advance. Then started the process of inviting the local guests personally. While doing the rounds inviting people, we made it a point to visit the famous shops in those areas and get a good picture of the things available at each place so that we could decide on the shop and purchase the items on a convenient day. This made our final shopping very easy.

Meanwhile we were also busy with getting the saree blouses stitched for Y which was one of the most difficult tasks. As Y did not have a saree blouse for sample, I had asked her to send me the necessary measurements to get a blouse tailored, but none of the tailors we approached were ready to stitch a blouse with only body measurements. They all needed a sample blouse. Different people take measurements differently, they said. I would have stitched the blouses for Y myself, but I was already running short of time doing the various other things and decided it was not a wise idea . Finally I remembered one of my teachers from whom I had learnt embroidery, who was also a very good tailor and approached her. I knew she was too old to take any orders but she ever so kindly recommended my problem to her niece who is a very good tailor. My idea was to get 2 sample blouses done and send one to Y so that she could try it on and tell me of any corrections to be made. That was a big relief and the tailor promptly delivered the blouses so I could send one to Y in time for her to try and comment.

2010 arrived on time. We were progressing as scheduled. Invitations had been sent and acknowledged. We had a fair idea of the number of outstation guests who would be attending the wedding and accordingly accommodation had been booked for them. All shopping for the bridal couple as well as gifts for the other family members and guests had been done, except the jewellery for the bride. We were waiting for Y to arrive and choose her jewellery. The dates of arrival of the bride and family were known and accommodation booked. I felt that we were in a comfortable situation. Yet I would spend sleepless nights occasionally counting on the long list of small errands yet to be run. All the other members of the family assured me that everything was going as planned and there was no need to panic.

Finally, our handsome, charming and now soon to be wedded son arrived. I had taken an assurance from him that he would be present wholly at home with no phone, no office work, to be with me to help organise my thoughts and plans and do the last minute finalisation of the photographer, florist, etc.

A week later our elder son arrived and so did Y. We got busy again shopping for the jewellery for Y and also the wedding dresses for our sons and some Indian dresses for Y. The wedding was less than 2 weeks away and I was getting busier and busier as I had to take care of the preparations at home as well as accompany the children for the shopping. I was working like a robot.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Picking the rituals

Having decided on an Indian wedding, we now had to decide on what wedding rituals would be most convenient and comfortable considering the bride and family were totally new to Indian rituals. As I had written earlier, a truly south Indian wedding is an elaborate affair extending for more than 2 days and long hours of sitting in front of the havan(homam). We were not sure Y and family would be very comfortable doing that. At the same time, since our son wanted an Indian wedding we wanted to include as many South Indian rituals as possible. After long deliberations and Internet searching we decided that an Arya Samaj Wedding would be more appropriate since the wedding rituals included most of the South Indian rituals in a concise manner. It included a havan for a short duration and also a laaja homa. We were in Hyderabad at this time and we wanted to have the wedding in January – February. We got in touch with the Arya samaj at Bangalore. The following are the procedures for conducting a wedding in Arya Samaj style.
  1. First one registers with the local Arya Samaj and pays a registration fee.
  2. An application form to be filled by both the bride and groom and their parents and witnessed by one representative from each side has to be submitted to the Arya Samaj, giving the date and place of the wedding. A sum of Rs. 3000 to be paid as marriage donation.
  3. A notarised affidavit stating that the couple are getting married on their own accord to be submitted.
  4. We may conduct the wedding at any venue.
  5. The Arya Samaj also gives a wedding certificate that may be used to register the wedding in India.
  6. The Arya Samaj wedding rituals last about 90 minutes. If one wants to conduct extra rituals they may be conducted either before or after the arya samaj rituals.

Having decided on the Arya Samaj wedding, we set out getting the forms signed by our son and the bride. We were still in Hyderabad and were planning to reach Bangalore by end November. After having informed all the family members by phone, we set out making plans and schedules and setting time limits. We spent atleast 2-3 hours a day improving on our plans and schedules.

Y was excited about all these elaborate wedding rituals and said she was willing to wear a Mangala Sutra and insisted that she wanted to wear a saree during the ceremony. So I requested my mother who was then staying in Kerala to get a pair of traditional Thirumangalyam done. Having given the order for the most important and auspicious piece of jewellery, we set out planning for other details.

The next was picking the venue. Though there are very spacious and luxurious and sophisticated wedding halls which may cost upto Rs. 2 lakhs per day, one thing we have noticed in most of them was the chaos in the dining and washing areas and the restrooms. Hence we decided that we would conduct the marriage in a hotel, where all the basic amenities would be taken care of. Picking the venue would have to wait until we got back to Bangalore anyway.

We had our friend K pick an auspicious day and time for the marriage.

The guest list was prepared.

The gifts list for the guests was prepared. This took a long time as there were different types of gifts for different sets of people. Starting from the innermost circle of the bride and groom to the outermost circle of all the guests who participated in the wedding it was a large set of concentric circles. Care had to taken not to miss out anyone.

Accommodation for the out-station guests was also an important item. We decided to postpone that until we reached Bangalore.

Regarding the rituals and functions, we wanted to have as many functions as possible but at the same time wanted to restrict them to the ones that Y and her parents would be comfortable with. We did not want to inconvenience them with rituals they were not comfortable with. After all a wedding is an occasion for celebration and not for punishment. For example, Y said her parents may not be comfortable with washing the son-in-law's feet, which is a ritual in our Kanyadhan. Similarly it would have been difficult for them to sit through long hours of havans in the typical Iyer style of wedding. The Arya Samaj style accommodated these requirements.

So we decided that we would have some functions to entertain the guests like a Mehendi for the bride and groom, a get together the previous day at home with lunch and dinner, a small function to gift the bride and groom with the wedding dress and other things in place of Janavasam and Nischayathartham.

And we decided to reach Bangalore well in advance to do the actual preparations for the wedding.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Vishu 2010

Wishing all my readers a happy vishu. May the new year bring you prosperity and happiness.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Back from a break

Hello everyone! It feels nice to be able to greet all my readers after a long time. As many of you had correctly guessed, we were busy with the wedding of our handsome, charming and younger son. It is rightly said in the Tamil proverb, “Kalyanam Panni Par, Veettai Katti par” (Conduct a marriage, construct a house), by the time one gets done with the job, one gets so exhausted one needs plenty of energy boosters to get going once again.

So, it was with lot of excitement and joy that we celebrated the wedding of our handsome and charming son on the 5th February, 2010. To put it in my husband’s own words, it was a truly international event. Owing to its international nature, each ceremony had to be planned carefully, taking into account that the most important guests were new to all this. A lot of thinking and discussions and suggestions went into planning each little event so that all the guests would be most comfortable. As such, a wedding in India is an elaborate and time consuming affair with both the bride’s and the groom’s family planning separate events and ultimately merging on the mega day to make it a grand affair. In our case, since all the arrangements had to be done by us it was even more exhausting.

To begin at the beginning, as all of you know we had been planning to get our son married for sometime now, when he was in India to expand his company’s business. We were not successful in getting a suitable bride for him and in the first quarter of 2009, he returned to the U.S. We were all the more concerned at the turn of events as now we had to look for somebody who would be willing to relocate to the U.S. After a few months of being there, our son called us up one day to say that he had found the right girl for him to get married, if we had no objection in his marrying an American. Our only concern was that the girl should be open to Indian culture considering that our son himself is very strongly rooted in Indian values and culture. He never misses an Indian festival even in America, living alone. He would want to observe all the Indian festivals. Apart from that, if he felt that they are compatible we had no objection. So it went back and forth and the girl had to get her parents’ views about marrying an Indian and in short, it was decided our son would marry Yoshimi, an American citizen of Japanese origin. We would like to have an Indian wedding, said our son. Having read my earlier posts on South Indian wedding, Yoshimi was also very excited in getting married in India. This started the planning for the great event our family held to everyone’s satisfaction.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Long Timeout

I am in the midst of a very long timeout from my blog. I have been very busy with some very happy upcoming family events. I will of course write about all of it once we are done next month. While it is a very exciting time for us, unfortunately it has left me with very little time to even sit at a computer let alone write.

In the meantime, I wanted to link to another blog in the ever expanding Blandings Media Empire. Gally says is written by my handsome and charming son and is a very entertaining read. Please enjoy the blog.

Let's hope I can be back in a couple weeks. Until then, I hope you all had a good Pongal and will have a good Sivarathri.