Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Karthikai deepam - Recipe Adai

Hope every one had a wonderful Karthikai festival. We celebrated Karthikai with Pori, Neyyappam and Adai. I had planned to light lots of lamps and had put the wicks and oil in many small earthenware lamps as is the custom. But we have been observing that during this month there is a steady wind blowing as the sun goes down making it difficult to keep the lamps burning. By the time we finish lighting the lamps in a row all the flames get blown off by a gust of wind and we again start lighting them all over again. It was very difficult to keep them all burning continuously for five minutes. It is all the more difficult because our house is east facing and the direction of the wind is not favorable to us. We need more than two people to keep all the lamps burning for a longer time. Any way I managed to keep them on for some time running from this end to that end.

Coming to think of it I have not posted the recipe for Adai so far although it is an item prepared very often at home. There are different kinds of Adais we prepare, but Karthikai Adai is special and is known as Aanai Adai. Here is the recipe for this tasty Adai.


Boiled rice- 1 cup
Toor dal- 2 tbsp.
Chana dal- 2 tbsps
Whole black gram- 2 tbsp.*
Black eyed peas (Vella payer / karamani)- 2 tbsp.
Horse gram- 2 tbsp
Hing- a small piece
Jeera- 2 tsp
Whole black pepper- 2 tsp
Green chillies- 2 nos
Curry leaves- a few sprigs
Grated coconut- 2 tbs
Salt to taste
Oil for frying


Wash and soak the rice and pulses together for 3 to 4 hours. Add hing, jeera and black pepper while soaking. Grind the soaked ingredients with curry leaves, green chillies, coconut and salt to a coarse consistency. Heat a tava and pour one big ladle of the batter and spread to a nice circle. Sprinkle one tsp of oil all around. Allow to cook for 2 minutes. Gently flip over and cook the other side also sprinkling another tsp of oil.

This Adai is offered as neyvedyam with a dollop of butter on top.

After neyvedyam the prasadams can be served with butter or ghee or Jaggery or chutney or the all time favorite of aviyal. At the home, though we always had Adai with home made butter or ghee and honey

*One can use urad dal in place of whole black gram.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Tomorrow is Karthikai Deepam festival or rather we have decided to celebrate the festival tomorrow. I say this because most Hindu festivals are not celebrated on a fixed date either by the Hindu calendar or the English calendar. They are observed on a particular star or a thithi according to lunar calendar. Some festivals like Karthikai and Thiruvathirai are celebrated on the day that a particular star coincides with a full moon. Usually in the month of Karthikai (the Tamil month) or Vrischikam (Nov - Dec) in Malayalam, the star Karthikai falls on a full moon day. That is when the Karthikai Deepam festival is celebrated. More often there is a variation in this pattern like the full moon day falls on a day after the star Karthikai and then there are deliberations as to when to observe the festival, on the Karthikai star or on full moon day. And most people settle for a day according to what their priest says. Similarly this year, the Karthikai star rises at 3 pm on 8th December and Poornima starts in the evening of 9th December. So there are deliberations as to when to celebrate the festival. The famous Annamalai Deepam in the temple town of Thiruvannamalai dedicated to Lord Shiva is being celebrated this year on 8th December. But my mother tells me the priest in our village has said Karthikai is to be celebrated on 9th December. Some people are celebraing the fesival on the 10th as well.

As such there is always a difference in the days on which Iyers and Iyengars celebrate the various festivals. One sect gives importance to the star and the other sect gives importance to the thithi. All said and done festivals are celebrated to pray for peace and happiness all around; so a festival celebrated on any day is for the well being of mankind and it doesn't matter when one celebrates as long as the spirit of harmony and well being is maintained.

In our house, Karthikai has special importance and is always celebrated in a grand style. Our elder son always makes it a point to come home during Karthikai festival. He likes to light lots of lamps around the house. Karthikai is also important because my youngest brother was born on Karthikai day and his birthday is celebrated on Karthikai day. My husband was born the day after Karthikai, though his birth star is Mrigaseersham, which again goes to say that particular year, Karthikai was celebrated on Rohini star. We, including our sons, can visualise the day so clearly though none of us were born then, as it has been told to us on each Karthikai day by my mother-in-law. Happy birthday hubby dear and happy birthday my dear brother!

Make neyvedyams of PoriAppam and Adai and light lots of lamps to remove the darkness and bring in light of prosperity and love all around.

Happy Karthikai

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I am still not able to get over my hangover from the month long holiday and Diwali celebrations that we had. Yes, we had a great Diwali this year with both our handsome and charming sons, daughter in law and our ever so adorable and perfect grandson with us. We had lots and lots of fun and loads and loads of good food.
We had paruppu pradhaman, kozhukkattai, elai adai, sevai, puran poli, vadai, neyyapam, morappam, malabar paratha, stuffed parathas of various types, varieties of pulav, pathrode, cakes, semiya payasam, pal adai pradhaman, jangiri (jahangir), badusha, boondi laddu, mullumurukku, omapodi, ribbon pakoda, mixture, and samosas, to name a few.

Our sons, daughter in law and grandson arrived in Bangalore by navarathri end. We had a grand saraswathi pooja and vijayadasami followed by happy times in the company of our little bundle of joy. We had a great time like never before. In between we managed a trip to Puthucode and Guruvayoor.

Diwali was grand with boondi laddu, badusha, ribbon pakora and mixture. We bought crackers for diwali, something we had not done for 25 years. Our grand son thoroughly enjoyed the sparklers and flower pots and the chakras. He even enjoyed the exploding crackers that the neighbors set off.

We also celebrated the little one's first birthday, actually twice. First, according to Hindu calendar on his star birthday with Ayushya homam. We also did the jathakaranam, namakaranam and annaprasanam and we also had the varadhanam.

We had a cake cutting celebration followed by a lunch with our friends and extended family on his date of birth. The little one thoroughly enjoyed all the attention he received. We also enjoyed every moment we spent with him. He is such a wonderful kid, always cheerful and full of energy.

Our son, daughter-in-law and grandson have since returned to US and our elder son is spending the last few days of his leave with us. I am reminded of the times we used to leave our parental home enmasse after family get-togethers for various functions. Distinct is the memory of the day all us, including the newly married couple, left Puthucode after our youngest brother's marriage leaving only our parents behind at Puthucode. The party also included some family friends who had come to attend the wedding from Bangalore. One of them said, "Next time onwards please book your return tickets on different days so that your parents will not be left alone all of a sudden". I am also reminded of the proverb my dear mother in law used to repeat at various occasions,"alandalanda nazhi ozhinjozhinju varum" which when translated means, history repeats itself. One understands the implications of the various actions we undertake because of our various commitments only when one is at the receiving end. When one is busy with the family, one has no time to think of the effects of our routine actions.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Diwali

Wishing my readers a very happy and joyous Diwali. I hope you are all making nice and tasty snacks and sweets and enjoying them with your families.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Navarathri Neyvedyam / Recipe:- Puttu

Puttu is the favoured neyvedyam on a Navarathri friday. I had been making "Aval Puttu" for Navarathri all these past years. Sometime back, one of the readers had asked me the recipe for Therandukuli  puttu. Thats when I decided to prepare rice puttu. On an experimental basis I prepared this puttu earlier with fantastic results.

This puttu prepared using roasted rice flour, jaggery, cardomom and coconut was traditionally made when girls attained puberty. There used to be celebrations on a grand scale and puttu  was prepared using large quantities of rice. Rice flour was roasted in big urulis. During the days when girls were married before attaining puberty, tradition demanded that huge quantities of puttu be sent to the in-laws house.

Since I have very little time , I shall stop my story telling and proceed with the recipe.


Raw Rice: 1 cup
Jaggery: 3/4 cup
Grated Coconut: 2 tbsps.
Cardomom powder: 1tsp.
Ghee: 1 tbsp.
Cashew nuts: 1 tbsp.
raisins: 1 tbsp.
Salt a pinch
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp.
Warm water : 1/2 cup

Wash and soak the rice for 2 hours. Drain and grind to make a fine powder. Roast the rice flour to a light pink color. Allow to cool a little. Add a pinch of salt and turmeric powder to the rice flour. Mix well. Sprinkle warm water little by little to the rice flour mixture and mix gently, until it attains a bread crumbs consistency. Try to make a ball using the rice flour, with the fist. It should form a ball in the fist and crumble when the fist is open. That is the right consistency. Do not add more water. Transfer the rice flour to a clean, cloth and make a bundle.

Keep the cloth bundle on a steamer and steam for 20 minutes. Remove and spread on a clean plate. There should not be any lumps after steaming. If there are any lumps, run the rice flour in the mixer for a few seconds.

Meanwhile, prepare a hard syrup with jaggery(kallu pakam). Add the grated coconut and cardomom powder . Remove from heat and add the steamed rice flour little by little,stirring constantly. Add 1/2 tbsp. ghee and stir again. Stir until all the rice flour gets coated with jaggery and the puttu turns out like sand grains. It should not turn to a sticky mass(this means the syrup is not the right consistency).

Heat the remaining ghee and fry the raisins and cashew nuts to a golden brown color and pour over the puttu.

Offer to Devi and distribute to all guests. You will win accolades.

Happy Navarathri!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Happy Navarathri to All.

Before I could finish with my Onam posts, Navarathri is here. We had been so busy over the last week or so preparing the house for the visit of our children in a couple of days, we hardly found the time to get ready for Navarathri. Somehow I managed to set up the kolu this evening; it is only half done, I hope to add some more sparkle to it.

I have already suggested Navarathri neyvedyams for all the 9 days. I shall add some more as I prepare some different neyvedyams this year. To start with, I prepared "Rava Ladoo"today, for the surprise guests who always turn up.

Happy Navarathri once again!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ona Sadhya / Recipe : Inji Thayir

 img 0015

The days following Onam were very busy. There were many social commitments to be met with, finish the routine jobs that were kept at abeyance because of Onam and generally putting things in order for Navarathri is fast approaching.

We had a fabulous Ona Sadhya indeed. We had invited our elderly cousin who lives alone and my friend was a surprise guest. Above all, what made Onam very happy for us was that our charming and handsome sons celebrated Onam in their respective places. Special mention has to be made about the microwave 'palpayasam' our elder son prepared.

We had, Sambar,aviyal,puli inji, thoran, inji thayir, palpayasam,pappadam  and sweet and salty chips.

img 0008(blog related)

Inji Thayir as the name suggests is a ginger based chutney. In Kerala, Inji Thayir is served with all grand feasts, as the ginger helps in digestion. Inji Thayir is supposed to be equal to 1000 curries because of this property of ginger. There is an interesting story of the great "Vararuchi", considered to be one of the nine jewels in King Vikrmaditya's cabinet,  in connection with Inji Thayir.

Over to the recipe.


Thursday, September 08, 2011

Uthrada Sadhya / Recipe: Erissery(Nendrankaya and Elephant Yam)

Hope everyone had as lip smacking a Uthrada Sadhya today as we did.

We had Rasakalan, Erissery (plantain and elephant yam), Olan, Naranga Puliinji (a new recipe), Semiya Payasam, Pappadam and Upperi. My brother and nephew joined us for lunch.

I had given the recipe for Mathan Erissery some time back. The erissery with Nendrankaya and Chena (yam) is the one which is prepared for traditional sadhyas (feasts), especially for Onam. The recipe is a little different from Mathan Erissery.


Nendrankaya (raw Nendran banana): 1 no
Elephant yam (Chena): 250gms
Turmeric powder: 1tsp
Pepper powder: 2 tsp
Jaggery: 2 tsp
Grated coconut: 3/4 cup

Coconut oil: 1tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1tsp
Urad dal: 1tsp
Curry leaves: 2 sprigs
Salt to taste


Cut the banana vertically (do not peel) and then chop into 1/2" thick slices. Chop the yam into similar sized pieces.

Pressure cook the vegetables, adding turmeric powder and pepper powder.

Grind half the quantity of the coconut and 1tsp of jeera to a smooth paste.

Transfer the cooked vegetables into a thick bottomed pan and boil. Add salt and jaggery. Allow to cook for 5 mnts. Add the ground coconut paste and boil again. Remove from heat. Add few curry leaves.

Heat oil in a wide pan. When the oil starts smoking, add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start crackling, add the urad dal. When the urad dal turns pink in color, add a few curry leaves and the remaining grated coconut. Fry on a moderate heat until the coconut turns brown in color. Pour on to the prepared curry.

njoy Erissery.

Happy Onam to all.

P.S. Nendrankaya can be substitued with other varieties of raw banana also. The taste would differ accordingly.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Onasadhya /Recipe:Pazha Pulisserry

Thiruvonam is just around the corner. People observing Onam are busy shopping for the Onasadhya (the grand feast) and Onakodi (new dress for Onam). We had been to the Onachanda (Special Onam Shoppe) to buy the special Kerala vegetables. These days Onachandas are organised in almost all cities by the migrant Keralites for the benefit of the non-resident Keralites. Bangalore has more than one Onachanda; in fact there are many, one in each pocket of the metro where Keralites are concentrated. For the past two years, an Onachanda is being organised very close to where we live. Vegetables, fruits and other groceries like ada, banana chips, pappadam, coconut oil, red rice, puttu powder, unniyappam, jaggery etc are brought from Kerala and sold at a reasonable price. We bought Nendrakka (Macho plantains, unique to Kerala), Nendranpazham, Chena (Yam), Chembu (Arvi), and Vadukapuli Naranga (Citron) among other groceries.

Now to the Onasadhya. I have already given almost all the recipes prepared during Onam like RasakalanSambar, KalanOlanAviyal, Pachadi, ThoranErisseryPulinji, Naranga AcharVaruthupperi, Sarkkara Puratti, Vazhakkathol Upperi, PalpayasamChakka PradhamanIdichu Pizhinja PayasamSemiya PayasamParippu Pradhaman etc.

I strained my memory to recollect any more recipes that I have not included and I remembered Pazha Pulissery, Thayir Pachadi, Kichadi, Kootukari, Erissery (plantain and yam). There could be many more. Anyway, we will look at the recipe for Pazha Pulissery today.

Pulissery, as I have said earlier, is a fruit  based gravy curry, flavoured with coconut and green chillies in curds, of which Mambazha Pulissery and pazhapulissery are the most famous. As mangoes are out of season during Onam, it is pazhapulissery that finds a place in the Onasadhya. A meal with just pazhapulissery is a sadhya so one can guess what a sadhya it would be with pazhapulissery along with many more mouth watering goodies! Pazhapulissery is an all time favourite at home and I am sure it would be so with any one who has tasted this yummy curry.


Ripe Nendran bananas: 2nos
Turmeric powder: 1tsp
Pepper powder: 2 tsp
Jaggery: 1tbsp
Salt to taste
Thick sour curds: 3cups

Coconut (grated): 1 cup
Green chillies: 4 or 5 (according to taste)

Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 2 tsp
Red chillies: 2nos
Methi seeds: 1tsp
Curry leaves: 2 sprigs


Slice the nendran banana to thin discs. (The banana should be very ripe. Over ripe bananas are the best)

Boil the sliced bananas in a thick bottomed pan with 1 cup of water. Add turmeric powder, pepper powder and salt. Allow to cook in moderate heat.

Beat the curds well. Grind the coconut and green chillies to a smooth paste using one or two spoons of beaten curds . Mix the ground coconut paste with the remaining beaten curds and add to the cooked bananas. Add jaggery. Allow to boil. When the curry starts boiling, remove from heat. Add curry leaves.

Heat the coconut oil in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start crackling, add the red chillies (broken into 2) and methi seeds. When the methi seeds start turning pink in color, add few curry leaves and pour the whole garnish over the prepared pulissery. Mouth watering, yummy pulissery is ready.

Pulissery tastes best with steamed rice. It also tastes great with Idli, dosa or chapathi.

Enjoy this Onam with pazhapulissery.

Happy Onam to everyone.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Recipe : Ellu Kozhukkattai (Ganesh Chaturthi)

Hope everyone celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi with religious fervour. We also celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi with the usual Pooja and neyvedyams and visited the local Ganesh Temple. We prepared Sweet Kozhukkattai, Ammini kozhukkattai, Kadalai Chundal, Kovil Payasam and Ellu Kozhukkattai.

I usually do not prepare Ellu Kozhukkattai. The usual fare in place of Ellu Kozhukkattai is Ulundu Kozhukkattai. So. for a change, this time I prepared Ellu Kozhukkattais. Ellu (sesame seeds) is considered a favourite neyvedyam for Lord Ganesha. Our Echiyamma used to offer Ellurundai (Sesame Laddu) on Chaturthi day. Some time back our younger son asked me for the recipe of Ellu Kozhukkattai, so I thought of trying it out before telling him the recipe.

Here, then, is the recipe:


Ingredients for the outer shell same as sweet Kozhukkattai

For the Stuffing:

Black sesame seeds: ½ cup
Jaggery:  ¼ cup
Ghee: 1 tsp


Prepare the dough for the outer shell as explained here.


Dry roast the sesame seeds until they crackle. Cool and grind coarsely. Melt the jaggery in 2 tbsps of water and strain to remove dirt. Boil the jaggery syrup for 2 mnts. Add the ground sesame seeds and stir until all the moisture evaporates. At this stage, the stuffing will leave the sides of the pan. Remove from heat and remove to another plate (Any more heating will make the stuffing very dry and the kozhukkattais will break).

Make small cups of the prepared rice flour dough and stuff 2 tsps of the stuffing inside. Close the cups and steam for 15-20 mnts. Yummy Ellu kozhukkattais are ready.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Atha Pookkalam

Yesterday was Atham, the first day of the Onam season. As usual, I started making small pookkalams in my front yard. Happy Onam to all!

My Garden is getting ready for Onam!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Carrot Kozhukkattais

Once the month of Avani starts, there is an unending series of festivals. Close to Avani Avittam, we celebrated Gokulashtami and before we know it, Ganesh Chaturthi will arrive, to be followed immediately by Onam. Not too far away is Navarathri.

Though Ganesh Chaturthi was  a week away, I prepared sweet and savoury kozhukkattais last week, as our elder son was with us  and was going back to his work place before Ganesh Chaturthi

This time, for savoury kozhukkattais, I prepared carrot kozhukkattais. They came out very well and every one appreciated the new taste.

Here is the recipe.

Ingredients for the outer shell of the kozhukkattais are given here.

Ingredients for the stuffing:

Grated carrot: 1 cup
Moong dal without husk: 1/2 cup
Grated coconut: 1/2 cup
Green chillies : 2 nos

Salt to taste

For the garnish:
Mustard: 1tsp.
Split urad dal: 1tsp
Hing: 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves: a few

Oil: 2 tsps


Dry roast the moong dal to a light pink color. Cook with little water so that they are done but not over cooked. It should be soft to touch but the grains should remain separate.

Grind the coconut with green chillies without adding water.

Heat oil in a wide mouthed pan. Add the hing and mustard. When the mustard starts crackling, add the urad dal. When the urad dal turns pink in color, add the curry leaves, followed by grated carrots.Saute` for 5 minutes, add the cooked moong dal and saute` again for 2 minutes. Add the coconut mixture. Mix well and remove from heat.

Prepare the rice flour dough for the outer covering as per this recipe.

Make small cups of the dough and stuff 2 tsps. of the stuffing into it. Steam for 15-20 minutes.

Yummy carrot kozhukkattais are ready!

So, this time,for Ganesh Chaturthi, go the vegetable way!

Happy Gowri Ganesha to all. May the Elephant faced God remove all obstacles and give a Happy and Prosperous life to all of us.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vella Cheedai (Sweet Cheedai)

Sweet cheedais are a little bigger than the savoury cheedais. They are sweet crunchies, with a nice flavour of sesame seeds and cardamom powder. They are similar to savoury cheedais except that jaggery is added to the flour to make the cheedais sweet.


Rice flour : 1 cup
Grated jaggery : 3/4 cup
Sesame seeds : 1 tsp
Roasted urad dal powder: 1 tsp
Butter: 2 tsp
Coconut cut into small pieces: 1 tsp
Cardamom powder : 1/4 tsp


Seive the rice flour twice to remove any grains and dry roast it to a light pink color. Cool.

Prepare the urad dal powder as described in the earlier post of cheedai.

Melt the jaggery in half a cup of water. Strain to remove impurities. Cool. Mix the rice flour and urad dal powder. Add the cardamom powder and sesame seeds. Mix well. Rub in the butter. Add the coconut pieces. Mix well.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the jaggery syrup. Knead well to make a soft dough.

Roll into slightly bigger balls than for the savoury cheedais.

Heat the oil. When the oil starts smoking, add the cheedais, a handful at a time and fry to a reddish brown color. Repeat till all cheedais are fried.

Crunchy, sweet cheedais are ready.


A word of caution:- Be careful about the quantity of jaggery. It could be a little less than the prescribed measure, never more, which will cause the cheedais to disintegrate when put in oil.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Cheedais are unique to Tamil Nadu and Kerala and are synonymous with Gokulashtami (Ashtami Rohini/ Sree Krishna Jayanthi). These crunchy, yummy marble sized balls are liked by young and old and are very easy to prepare. Having said that, I must caution that things could go wrong even for an experienced cheedai maker. Instead of the crunchy crispies, one might end up with soft, chewy cheedais. Another thing that could go wrong in cheedai making is that the cheedais might explode when dropped into hot oil which can be quite hazardous. First time cheedai makers should make sure that little children are out of range and preferably, there is another adult present at home.

I have had a very bad experience while making cheedais. The very first time I made cheedais on my own was when both our children were under 3 years of age. Hubby dear was out of town on work and on Gokulashtami day, I decided to make cheedais  for our unnikrishnans (little krishnans - our babies). Those were not the days of internet - no google search for cheedai recipes. We did not even have a telephone to call home and ask for recipes, like our younger son does these days. But we had very friendly neighbours who were ever ready to lend a helping hand. Since I was the youngest occupant in the building, Komala mami and Lakshmi mami were always giving me tips on running the household. So, memorizing the recipe given by them, I ventured to make cheedais on my own. Our elder son, all of 2-1/2 years of age, was ever ready to help me. Our younger son was tied to his post, or else he too would crawl and come to help me. So, whenever I had  some work I did not want the baby to crawl into, I would tie a long string to his aranjan (this is a black cord tied to the waist of the babies on the 28th day) and tie the other end to the window grill, so that he would be free to move around the room, but not crawl into the kitchen or bathroom. His anna (elder brother) would keep him company.

Cheedais were made and were ready to be deep fried. Having warned our elder son not to come into the kitchen to help me, I started putting the cheedais into the hot oil. Within seconds they started exploding spraying hot oil all around. Our elder son, the all time joker those days, came running to see crackers bursting in the kitchen and also called out to his brother saying, "Nandu, come and see, amma is bursting crackers inside the kitchen". I had the presence of mind to switch off the stove and to send our son with an SOS to call Komala mami and Lakshmi mami. He wouldn't budge as the crackers were still bursting. I said, "Go tell mamis that mummy has crackers inside the kitchen". He immediately ran upstairs and brought the mamis, who said not to worry and to abort the cheedai making. "Make dosas with the dough", they said.

I have been making cheedais every year since then and they have never exploded. I was surprised when my sister-in-law said her cheedais exploded this year, as she is an expert in making these deep fried goodies. This was one of the reasons I did not post cheedai recipe earlier, because I did not want our over enthusiastic younger son to try making cheedais with a little baby around.

There are 2 types of cheedais, savoury and sweet. We will have the recipe for savoury cheedais first.

Over to the recipe.


Rice flour  : 1 cup
Urad dal powder : 2 tsp
Grated coconut: 2 tbsp
Butter: 2 tsp
Hing powder: 1/4 tsp
Jeera: 1/2 tsp
Black pepper: 1 tsp
Curry leaves: a few
Salt to taste
Oil to deep fry


Most of the crunchy snacks in Tamil Nadu and Kerala have Urad dal powder as the main ingredient, which gives the dish the crunchiness, if used in the right proportion.

Dry roast 1 cup of urad dal to a light pink color at which time a nice aroma will arise out of it. Cool and powder it in an absolutely dry grinder. Seive this powder twice to make sure that the powder is absolutely fine without any grains (Presence of grains in the powder is one of the causes of exploding cheedais). This powder can be stored in an air tight container for up to a year and used when ever necessary.

Seive the rice flour twice again to make sure there are no grains in the flour. Dry roast the rice flour in low heat for 5 minutes.

Dry grind the coconut, jeera, pepper, curry leaves, hing and salt to a coarse consistency. Mix the rice flour and urad dal powder well. Rub in the butter. Add the ground coconut mixture and knead to a soft dough adding water if necessary. The ground coconut mixture will add some greasiness to the dough, so add water very carefully. Make marble sized balls of the dough.

Once all the dough is shaped into balls, heat oil in a wide kadai. When the oil starts smoking, reduce the heat and put a handful of the balls into the hot oil. Keep away from the stove and watch for any explosion. Increase the heat after 2 minutes and when the balls turn light brown in color, remove from oil. Repeat until all the balls are fried.

To test the cheedais, press one cheedai in your palm. If the cheedai breaks softly and the inside is fried, it is done. It will turn crunchy when cold. Store in air tight tins.

Have a safe cheedai making session!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Recipe: Sweet Ammini Kozhukkattai (Kathavarayan Kozhukkattai)

These days, whenever our younger son calls, the first thing we ask is, "what is the baby doing?" The expected answer to this question is what the baby's progress is according to its age. This was a colloquial usage in our village. These days however, when we ask this question, the usual answer is, he is crying or sleeping or eating etc. My son knows to answer this question now and he says, he has started crawling, today he sat on his own, etc. I was always asking him, "has he crossed the threshold yet?" and the answer was "yes" one day. "We do kozhukkattai shower when the baby crosses the threshold", I said. "What is it?", he asked.

In the village houses where we grew up, there would be a small step between rooms. In some places like the front or back porch, there would be several steps. When the baby starts moving on its belly, at some stage it would cross this threshold between rooms. At this stage, sweet ammini kozhukkattais are prepared and offered to Kathavarayan Swamy and then a mixture of these kozhukkattais and small coins are showered on the baby's head as he crosses the threshold. The neighbouring children are invited and they scramble for the kozhukkattais and the coins. This is an offering to Kathavarayan Swamy (literally protector God) so he would protect the baby from any fall from the steps when he is growing up. In our house, Kathavarayan Kozhukkatai was also offered to the Lord, when the baby recovers from measles or other such illness.

Kathavarayan kozhukkattai or simply, sweet ammini kozhukkattais, are small kozhukkattais made with rice flour and jaggery, and is the right sweet for the calorie conscious. No fat, no deep frying, just a steamed healthy delicacy.

I told my son how to prepare them and he in turn had a kozhukkattai shower for the baby. I prepared the kozhukkattais and offered them to Kathavarayan Swamy, here in India.

Over to the recipe. The pictures are by my son.

I have made a small change to the original recipe followed by my mother (She is sure to ask me, "who taught you to roast the rice flour?") In the traditional recipe raw rice flour is used; I thought roasting the rice flour lightly would give a better texture to the dish.


Rice flour : 1 cup
Jaggery : 3/4 cup
Coconut pieces : 2 tsp.
Cardamom powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : a pinch


Roast the rice flour lightly. The color should not change. Melt the jaggery in 2 cups of water and strain. Boil the strained jaggery syrup. Add the coconut pieces, cardamom powder and salt. When the syrup starts to boil, add the roasted rice flour and cook until all the liquid evaporates. Cool, make into marble sized balls and steam for 10-15 minutes in a steamer. Sweet ammini kozhukkattai is ready.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Mambazha Pulisserry ( Sweet and Sour Mango Gravy)

This sweet and sour and mildly spicy curd based ripe mango gravy enriched with coconut paste is a unique Kerala dish, which is an all time favourite of all Keralites. Especially so in our family, where during the months of April, May and June this dish is prepared so very often and yet we never get tired of eating this mouth watering delicacy. In our family, we add a pinch of jaggery to almost all dishes. Thus a sweet dish is always savoured with great enthusiasm. (Our family is known as a Pulacode family, though we hail from Puthucode. Our grandfather's parents migrated to Puthucode from a village by name Pulacode, along with some cousins and hence the name. All Pulacodians like their everyday curries sweetened with little jaggery). Sometime ago our younger son visited a cousin of ours whose family had stayed back in Pulacode during the above said migration. When our son came back, my astute and blessed m-i-l, as was her practice, asked her grandson, "So what did Ammini Athai serve you for lunch?"

"Mambazha Pulissery", he answered and corrected, "no no, Mambazha Payasam"

Then the two had a hearty laugh.

Such is the affinity of Pulacodians towards sweet.

Not only Keralites, but everyone who has tasted my mambazha pulissery has admired the dish. Recently a young Kannadiga girl who tasted the dish said, "this is an all in one dish, it has all the flavours".

Coming to the recipe, this Pulisserry can be prepared with any type of mango, but the small sized mango, which is known as "Adakka manga"(Areca nut mangoes, so called because of their small size) is the right choice for this. During wedding feasts, hundreds of these ripe mangoes are boiled in huge urulis the previous night itself so that they would cool down by morning to be peeled and squeezed. I also pressure cook the mangoes the previous night last thing before going to bed, so that they would be easier to peel in the morning. Finishing part of the cooking the previous night is a system we adopted when I was working and we had to have the lunch and breakfast ready by 8 am in the morning. There were no breakfast cereals back then. Even today, I cook a full fledged breakfast, lunch and dinner every day.

Back to the recipe:


Ripe mangoes(big): 4
Small mangoes : 10
Grated coconut : 1½ cups
Green chillies : 4 or 5
Mildly sour thick curds : 2 cups
Jaggery(optional) : 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder : 1tsp.
Salt :to taste
Curry leaves : 1 sprig
Oil : 1 tbsp.
Mustard seeds: 2tsp.
Fenugreek seeds : 1/tsp
Red chillies : 2 nos.


Wash and cut the stem off the mangoes. Make a slit on either side of the mangoes, if you are using big mangoes. Pressure cook the mangoes in 2 cups of water. You can also microwave high for 7 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel the skin off. Squeeze the flesh off the mangoes. Keep the seeds. Use the water in which the mangoes were boiled to squeeze any flesh off the skin of the mangoes. Mix the mango pulp with a spoon to make a homogeneous mixture. Add the seeds to the mixture.

Beat the curds to a uniform consistency.

Grind the coconut with green chillies using a spoon of beaten curds to a thick consistency; not very smooth.

Boil the mango pulp for 5 minutes, stirring well. Add turmeric powder, salt and jaggery. Mix the ground coconut with the remaining beaten curds and add to the boiling mango pulp. Allow to boil once and remove from the stove. Garnish with curry leaves.

Heat the oil in pan. Add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, add the fenugreek seeds, broken red chillies and curry leaves.
When the red chillies start changing color, remove from the stove and pour over the prepared pulissery.


Mambazha pulissery tastes great with rice, dosa, idli, kozhukkattai or chapati.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Recipe: Cabbage Thoran

Thoran comprises stir fried vegetables garnished with coconut and green chillies. They are very easy and simple to prepare and delicious. Thorans are served as side dishes. Thorans can be prepared with a single vegetable like cabbage, carrot, beet root, beans, etc. or as a combination of 2 or 3 vegetables. Sometimes boiled toor dal is added to the thoran, which gives it added flavour.


Cabbage chopped very fine: 2 cups
oil : 1 tbsp.
mustard : 1 tsp.
urad dal : 1 tsp.
Red chillies :1 no.
Curry leaves : few
Grated coconut : 2 tbsp.
Green chillies : 1 no.
Ginger : 1 small piece
Turmeric powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : to taste
Hing powder : a pinch


Wash the chopped cabbage. Heat oil in a wide pan. When oil is hot, add the hing powder and mustard. When the mustard stops spluttering, add the urad dal and red chillies broken into small pieces. When the urad dal turns light pink in color add the curry leaves. Add the cabbage, mustard powder and salt. Stir well and cook closed, at low heat. Stir in between.

Grind the grated coconut, green chillies and ginger coarsely.

When the vegetable is cooked, add the ground coconut. Stir well and remove from stove.

Cabbage thoran is ready!

Cabbage thoran is good side dish for rice and sambar, rotis, chappathis, dosa, etc.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Recipe: Vendakkai Pachadi (lady's fingers (okra) in tamarind gravy)

Pachadi means different things in different south indian languages. In Telugu Pachadi refers to all pickles. In Tamil, pachadi means fresh grated/cut or stir fried vegetables in curds seasoned with salt and the spices(the name for the same dish in Kerala is thayir pachadi or kichadi and in Karnataka it is known as Masuru Bajji).The Kerala Pachadi is vegetables in tamarind gravy, except in the case of Manga pachadi, where tamarind is not used. This dish is unique to Kerala.

Pachadis are prepared with lady's fingers, kanivellarikka, red pumpkin, brinjal, mango(raw and ripe,) ripe jackfruits, etc. The vegetables are cooked in tamarind syrup and a ground mixture of coconut, green chillies and mustard is added to it. The ground mustard seeds give a special flavour to the dish. This dish is a requirement in all the feasts. The feast menus (Sadhya vattam) usually start with, pachadi, kichadi, kari,....

Pachadis are usually served as a side dish. At home, pachadi is served as a main dish with a stir fried vegetable (mezhukkuvaratti) as a side dish. Pachadi prepared with kanivellarikka is very popular with hubby dear.

On to the recipe.


Ladys fingers(okra): 250 gms
grated coconut: 1 cup
green chillies: 3 or 4
mustard: 1 tsp.
tamarind: size of a small lemon
turmeric powder: 1 tsp.
jaggery: 1 tbsp.(according to taste)
salt: according to taste

for tempering:
oil: 2tsp.
mustard : 1 tsp
red chillies: 1 or 2
curry leaves: 1 sprig


Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of warm water.Wash and cut the lady's fingers into 1"
long pieces. Squeeze the tamarind and strain the pulp. Boil the tamarind pulp with 2 cups of water.When the tamarind syrup starts boiling, add the cut vegetables. Add turmeric powder and salt, allow the vegetable to cook.

Grind the coconut,green chillies and mustard to a fine paste.

When the vegetables are cooked, add the jaggery and ground paste. Allow to boil. Switch off the stove.

Heat the oil in a pan. When the oil starts smoking, add the mustard and red chillies broken to small pieces. When the mustard stops spluttering, remove from heat, add curry leaves and pour over the pachadi.

If pachadi is used as side dish, the consistency should be thick (dropping consistency). If it is used as the main dish(for mixing with rice) then it should be of pouring consistency.

Pachadi is an excellent side dish for all types of molakoottals.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Recipe: Chakka Pradhaman

Pradhamans are unique sweet dishes of Kerala. Pradhaman means numero uno. Pradhaman basically is payasam prepared with coconut milk, excepting pradhamans like Palada Pradhaman which is made with dairy milk. Varieties of pradhamans are made in Kerala, like Chakka Pradhaman, Ada Pradhaman, Godambu (Wheat germs - dhalia) Pradhaman, Rice and dal Pradhaman, etc. In the olden days, 4 pradhamans, 4 chips and 4 pickle varieties were served in grand wedding feasts. The concept of serving payasams in cups were not known then. Payasam was served with a big ladle (measuring up to 1 cup) on the banana leaf and 2 to 3 ladles were served at one time and it was repeated for a second and third time. There was a payasa pattu (payasam song) also while payasam was being served. Singing a song during payasam course gave the diners a chance to wait for the payasam to settle down so that they could have another go at it. Chakka Pradhaman is a very important item in any grand feast.

Preparation of chakka pradhaman at home for a few people is very easy if one has chakka varatti (jack fruit jam) readily available. During weddings and other big functions, instant chakka varatti is made. This chakka varatti is not boiled to a very thick consistency as it is used instantly.

When one has chakka varatti at home chakka pradhaman can be prepared at any time. Depending on the sweetness of the jam, one can adjust the amount of jaggery used. My chakka varatti is very sweet and I did not add any jaggery at all.


Chakka varatti: 1 cup
Jaggery: depends on the sweetness of chakka varatti
Coconut milk: extracted from one small coconut
coconut pieces cut into very small bits: 1 tbsp.
dry ginger powder: 1 tsp.
jeera: 1tsp.
ghee: 1tbsp.


Keep a piece of coconut aside for cutting into small bits (this is for garnish). Extract coconut milk from the coconut as explained here. Heat the third milk in a wide mouthed heavy bottomed pan  and melt the jaggery in it. Strain the solution to remove fine sand particles and reheat the same. Add the chakka varatti and keep stirring to dissolve the chakka varatti. The chakka varatti will melt in the coconut milk. Boil until the mixture thickens. Add the second milk and boil again stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens. Finally add the first milk and turn off the stove. Keep stirring until the milk is incorporated. Add the dry ginger powder(chukku podi)

Heat the gheee in a pan and fry the coconut pieces to a golden brown color. Add the jeera.When the jeera crackles pour the ghee with coconut pieces and jeera into the Pradhaman.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recipe: Coffee Mocha Cake

Ugadi day also happened to be very important for us this year, as our handsome and charming son's birthday fell on the same day. As I have already said, we celebrate our children's birthdays twice every year, one by the Indian calendar (the star birthday) and the other by the western calendar. The Indian calendar birthday falls on a different date every year and it coincides with the actual date of birth every 19 years.

We had already celebrated the star birthday this year with Rice and dal pradhaman and 4th April was the actual date of birth. I usually bake a cake for my children's birthday and I was wondering what cake to bake. That is when my younger son suggested the Coffee Mocha cake as they had baked the cake for the monthly date of birth of my adorable and perfect grandson.

The original recipe is here. As I was baking an eggless cake and also because some of the ingredients are commercially not available here, I made some changes in the orginal recipe. The result, however, was awesome according to the tasters.

The recipe calls for sour cream and confectioner's sugar, both of which are not available here. Hence instead of confectioners sugar, I used home made powdered sugar and added 1 tsp. of corn flour to it.

I had a problem with sour cream. My son suggested I use buttermilk. However, I was not happy with the option because I thought buttermilk would be too thin. After scouring the web, I decided on making my own sour cream. I beat in 1 tbsp. of butter into 1 cup of fresh curds. I feel it would taste as good without beating in the butter. Just use plain fresh curds.

Let's get into the actual preparation of the cake.


For the cake:

Maida or refined flour: 2 cups (approximately 250 gms)
Sweetened condensed milk: 300ml.
Butter: 10 tbsp ( approximately 350 gms)+1 tbsp.(for sour cream)
curds : 1 cup
baking powder: 1tsp.
baking soda: ½ tsp
salt: ¼ tsp
vanilla essence: 2 tsp.
Chocolate chips: 2 tbsp.
Instant coffee: 2 tbsp.

For the Glaze:

Instant coffee: 1½ tsp
Strong coffee decoction: 2-3 tbsp.
powdered sugar: 3/4 cup


Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt twice.

Melt the chocolate chips in 2 tbsp. of warm water. Mix the instant coffee with 2 tbsp. of warm water.

Beat 1 tbsp. of butter with the curds until well combine (to make sour cream ).

Beat the remaining butter and condensed milk until well combined. Add vanilla essence and beat well. Add the flour mixture alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture and fold in lightly. Divide the mixture into 3 parts.

Add the chocolate mixture to the first part and stir well.

Add the coffee mixture to the second part and stir well.

Keep the third part as such.

Grease and dust an 8" square pan. Pour one half of the first part on to the greased tin followed by one half of the 3rd part and one half of the 2nd part. Repeat.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. Bake at the centre of the oven until the cake turns golden brown(approximately 50 minutes) or until a skewer inserted comes clean.

Remove and cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.


Stir together the instant coffee and strong coffee decoction until the coffee powder is well dissolved. Add the powdered sugar and stir until well combined. Pour glaze over the cake and allow to settle.


Monday, April 04, 2011

Sweet Tidings (Gulab Jamun recipe)

In India, it is traditional to break all happy news along with sweets. I understand that in North India the type of sweets distributed changes with the gender of the new born baby. Thus people will easily know it is a boy if laddus are distributed (I frankly do not know what sweet is distributed if it is a girl or perhaps they don't distribute any sweets at all if it is a girl). In the south, the saying, "Vayile sakkarai podanum," (put sugar in the mouth) was literally followed until couple of decades ago. So when a baby is born, it was customary to distribute a small packet of sugar and one banana along with one measure of paddy and a coin to all. The ritual is known as varadanam. The idea here was to request  the blessings of everyone for the well being and long life of the new born baby. (We children promptly exchanged the paddy for aval from "aval Krishnan"). With no fast communications systems like today's global network, the news of the new addition to the family was communicated to the paternal grandparents personally along with a tray of sugar and banana (sometimes it took 2 or 3 days as the news had to be communicated on an auspicious day only). This ritual is known as "Shobhanam Chollal." Varadanam was performed in the paternal grandparents' home as well. Also when the friends and relatives arrived to visit the new born, they brought along some sugar and put a pinch of sugar in the little one's mouth. These customs have become obsolete these days. Feeding the new borns with sugar is not allowed for more reasons than one.

When my own grandson arrived, I prepared Gulab jamuns, as it was also Deepavali in a few days. Deviating from the practice of using the readily available Gulab Jamun mix, I prepared it the traditional way, using khoya and the result was yummilicious!

Here is the recipe  for all of you to relish this yumy sweet.


Unsweetened Khoya : 200gms
Maida:                        1 tbsp.
Soda-bi-carb               1 pinch(strictly)
fresh curds: 1 tbsp.
Raisins/blanched almonds : 1 tbsp. (optional)
Oil for deep frying
Sugar                            : 500gms
Rose essence: 1 tsp.
Cardamom powder: 1 tsp.

Heat sugar and 500ml. water in a wide mouthed pan and boil until the syrup is thickened to a sticky consistency. Add cardamom powder and rose essence. Keep aside.

Crumble the khoya. Add maida and soda-bi-carb. Mix lightly with finger tips. Add curds if necessary and make a soft dough. Make small marble shaped balls of the dough and stuff a raisin or almond in each of them. Heat the oil in a pan. Dont allow it to smoke. When the oil is heated, lower the heat and fry the jamuns few at a time. When they swell and are fried to a deep brown color, remove, drain the oil and put in the hot sugar syrup. Allow the jamuns to soak for 10-12 hours.


Happy Ugadi

Wishing Every One a Happy Ugadi and prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Recipe: Chakka varatti (Jackfruit Jam)

I made elai adai today.

Having given the recipe for making elai adai long ago and having been requested by many friends to post the recipe for chakka varatti (jackfruit jam), the main ingredient in elai adai, I thought of writing it now, years after posting the elai adai recipe.

Preparing jackfruit jam is a laborious process. However, I prefer to prepare it at home as the store-bought jackfruit jam does not taste as good and also does not keep for long. When we were children many many tins of jackfruit jam were prepared at home and stored for the whole year and also for distributing to the extended family members who were living in far off places. We had jack fruit trees in our farm and huge jackfruits, some weighing up to 20kgs would get unloaded every day during the season. That was also the time when all the family members would get together for the summer vacations. It used to be great fun. With the jack fruit cut open and made into small pieces, all the children would sit around and remove the fruit-lets from the thick skin. The jam used to be prepared in huge urulis and the process took 2 or 3 days. It would get cooked on fire wood stoves and after it was boiled for 1 or 2 hours and the fire wood burnt out, it would be allowed to simmer in the heat of the stove.

These days I prepare in smaller quantities in 2 or 3 installments as stirring the thickening jam needs great arm strength.

While getting the jack fruit ready, one needs to oil one's palms before cutting the jack fruit otherwise the sticky resin in the fruit gets stuck in the palm. The fuit lets have to be removed and the white thick bracts on them also need to be removed and so also the seeds. The seeds can be used in many delicious curries.

On to the preparation:

We will go in 2 steps. First step is making jack fruit pulp.


Jackfruit:  1

Clean the jack fruit as said above. Cut the fruit lets into small pieces. Pressure cook the jack fruit pieces with enough water to submerge the cut fruit.

Drain the water, cool and run the cooked fruit in the mixie or food processor to get a smooth pulp. Reserve the water for making jaggery syrup.The jaggery for the jam is measured in proportion to the pulp obtained.

On to the 2nd step:-

Fruit pulp as per method above : 1 measure
Jaggery: 1 measure
Ghee : 3 - 4 tbsp.for about three cups.


Melt the jaggery in the water reserved as in the step 1. Strain and heat in a heavy bottomed pan. Use a thick spatula to mix the jam.Add the fruit pulp and keep stirring until the whole mass thickens. This would take about 3-4 hours. This can be done in various stages also. Once the jaggery and the fuit pulp starts thickening, the preparation can be stopped and continued next day. The end point is when the jam leaves the sides of the pan rolls around the spatula. Add 3 tbsp. ghee and mix well. Allow to cool. Store in a clean,air tight plastic/stainless steel container and pour 1 tbsp of ghee on top.It can also be stored in zip lock bags. It keeps good in room temperature if prepared strictly according to procedure. It can safely be refrigerated for  up to 2 years.

Enjoy preparing Elai Adai, Chakka Pradhman, Elai Kozhukkattai or have with Adai or Dosa.