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.