Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · No Need of Onions!!! · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Navarathri Neivedhyam – Saraswathy Pooja – Ulundhu Vadai.(Crispy Savoury Snack made from Black Gram Dhal)

Crisp Fried Vadas.
Crisp Fried Vadas.

Crispy Black Gram Dhal Vadas were always my favourite from when I was a little girl. Madurai amma used to make them at home for all important festivals and I used to love to bite in to their crispy exterior and spongy insides!!!   I have two maternal uncles living in the north and whenever they would visit us in Chennai, they would go to Balajee Bhavan or Geetha Cafe in Pondy Bazzar in T.Nagar and order for Pongal and Vada for breakfast!!! Steaming hot Venn Pongal, shaped in to a ball, coupled with two crispy vadas on the sides, loftily served with piping hot sambar and thick coconut chutney on the side….YUM….I would give anything to be there right now!!!

When I wanted to make it, at home for Avani Avittam one year, I used my Premier Mixer and tried my hand at the batter. I had to say, I did soak the urad dhal for just 3 hours, and it did come out fried, but it was never crispy and in the shape I wanted it to be. I wanted golden vadas, which were crisp and yet spongy, and not dripping with oil in which it was fried. I tried various methods, adding rice flour, adding rava, fermenting the batter for a bit, adding very less water, using ziploc bags to get the desired shape….and then I hit upon the home truth – GRINDING THE BATTER IN A WET GRINDER!!!  Yes, thats really it. And the last few times, I have been enjoying wonderful, crisp, terrific, delicious vadas, way better than the ones in the hotels, as we make at home with the freshest of oils and the best of efforts and devotion. This does not in any way mean that people with mixers cant try this out. The secret is to increase the fluffiness of the urad dhal without adding much water. This end result is best achieved with stone grinder, rather than with a electric mixer, loaded with urad dhal, and little water.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole Urad Dhal soaked for 3-4 hours.

8-9 Green Chillies.

Less than 1/4 cup of Water.

1 spoon Salt.

Hing.

Torn Curry Leaves.

Oil to fry.

Wet Grinder.(Optional)

Ice Cream Scoop (Optional)

PREPARATION:

  • Take  the wet grinder/mixer, wash it and keep it ready for use. Clean the soaked Urad Dhal and remove all the water it was soaked in.
  • Switch on the grinder, add the green chillies and 1/8 cp of water and then slowly add the soaked and cleaned urad dhal.
  • Add all the urad and let the grinder run for at least 40 minutes.
  • In the middle, if you feel that it requires some water, go ahead and sprinkle a few drops. Add salt.
  • The secret is to allow it to run for the 40 minutes with as much less as water as needed.
  • By now the urad is very softly ground. Remove and store in a container. Add hing, freshly torn curry leaves and mix well. The consistency should look like this.
Vadai Batter - Thick and fluffy.
Vadai Batter - Thick and fluffy.
  • Keep sufficient oil in a kadai and allow it to heat. Do not overheat lest the oil should smoke. Keep the flame on medium to medium high.
  • If you have an  ice cream scoop, put that in a small cup filled with water.
  • Wet your left hand, scoop out some batter in the ice cream scoop with your right and pop it in your left hand.
  • Wet your right hand and slightly flatten the batter, make a hole in the middle, and drop it slowly in to the oil.
  • This is easily achieved ONLY if  your batter has minimal water AND your hands are sufficiently wet. The scoop is also made wet, as this aids in easily slipping out the batter on to your hands.
Vadais frying in Oil.
Vadais frying in Oil.
  • The scoop is only used to get uniformly shaped vadas. Feel free to scoop with your  bare right hand and drop it on your left, if you are comfortable with this.
  • The vadas, when they hit the oil, will hiss and start cooking on one side. When its done, turn over to the other.
  • When fried to a golden colour, remove from oil and allow to drain on kitchen tissue lining a colander/bowl.
  • Repeat and continue until the batter is completed.
  • Crispy fried Ulundhu /Urad Dhal Vadas are ready to taste!!!
Ulundhu Vadai
Ulundhu Vadai

HINTS:

  • The only difference with using the mixer, is that the batter never comes out as fluffy and thick as the ones that go through the grinder. Here you would need to use a spoon of rice flour to thicken it out.
  • Ulundhu Vadais/Urad Dhal Vadas  can be soaked in Rasam and served as Rasa Vadas.
  • Served with hot sambar and garnished with cilantro, it becomes Sambar Vadas.
  • Soaked in thick curd/dahi, garnished with a little bit of sweet tamarind chutney, chat masala and boondhi, it becomes yummy Dahi Vadas.

This is my entry for EC’s WYF – Festive Treats event going on at her blogsite.

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Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · No Need of Onions!!! · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Navarathri Neivedhyam Day 8 – Black Channa Sundal garnished with sliced coconut pieces.

Black Channa Sundal
Black Channa Sundal

On this Ashtami of Navarathri I wanted to make an all time favourite – Black Channa Sundal garnished with sliced coconut pieces. Black Channa is very common among our homes as a classic Neivedhyam for Navarathri. It is in fact made on Saraswathy Pooja day as the “traditional” offering to Sarswathy, in my home. Just like any other legume, the black channa variety is high in cholestrol lowering fibre and has a lot of protien content which is very useful for people on diets and for a healthy snack.

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Black Channa.

Water to cook

Salt

Oil

Mustard

Curry Leaves

4 Red Chillies Dry.

1/4 cup of finely slit coconut pieces.

PREPARATION:

  • Soak the black channa for at least 6 hours prior to cooking.
  • Put in a wide mouthed container, add salt, turmeric and add just enough water to cover the channa.
  • Put in the pressure cooker and when the steam comes, put on the whistle.
  • Wait for one whistle and then reduce the flame to “SIM” and keep for ten minutes and then switch off.
  • Drain in a collander, but save the water to mix chappathi, make rasam, sambar etc.
  • Take a kadai, add 2 spoons of coconut oil. When the oil is hot add mustard, curry leaves, hing, dry red chillies and then the cooked channa.
  • Mix well and wait until the seasoning ingredients are mixed well in to the legumes.
  • Garnish with finely sliced coconuts and serve HOT after offering as Neivedhyam.
Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Snacks & Tiffin Items · Sweets

Navarathri Neivedhyam Day 7 – Sweet Black Eyed Beans Sundal. (Vellai Karamani Vella Sundal)

Sweet Black Eye Beans Sundal.
Sweet Black Eye Beans Sundal.

Today being friday, my daughter wanted a repetition of the Sweet Sundal so we made the Black Eyed Beans cooked in jaggery. This is made very similar to the Sweet Green Gram Dal Sundal that I had previously posted.

HINTS:

Soak the Black Eyed Beans in water for at least 4-5 hours prior to preparation of Sundal.

Cook in the pressure cooker until you get one whistle and then reduce the heat and cook in LOW for ten minutes and then switch off.

Drain in the colander to remove any excess water and keep ready.

Follow the same procedure as in the Green Gram Dal Sundal.

Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Navarathri Neivedhyam Day 6 – Sweet Green Gram Sundal & Pidi Kozhakattai.

Sweet Sundal.
Sweet Sundal.

I remember when we were little kids, amma always used to make at least two days of Sweet Sundal during the Navarathri festival for all our sweet cravings!!! What a great idea, to incorporate the best of two worlds – legumes and jaggery!!! My sister D loves this version and in fact would pester her to make it as an evening snack or whenever she feels like eating anything sweet!!! Since we use brown sugar/jaggery, which is  a rich source of iron , it is definitely more wholesome sugar and, unlike refined sugar, it retains more mineral salts.

Green Gram Dal on the other hand is one of the most wholesome among all the pulses and it forms very nutritious diet.Try this version  and you`ll find that the kids instantly love them. It`s actually a great evening snack full of protien and nutrients, made with jaggery, so the benefits are multiplied.

Today`s Neivedhaym for Navarathri was

Navarathri Neivedhyam

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup Green Gram Dal.

3/4 cup grated Jaggery or soft brown sugar.

Water to cook.

1 tsp of Cardamom Powder.

1 spoon of ghee.

PREPARATION:

  • Take the cup of  green gram dal and roast it dry in the kadai for a few minutes. You will slowly get the aroma of the roasted green gram dal. This should suffice. Its not required to soak the green gram dhal. We do this so the green gram dhal cooks easily.
  • Always roast on a medium flame. Set aside.
  • When the dhal cools considerably, put in a vessel and pour water to cover the beans. Do not add salt.
  • Allow the steam to come on full throttle and put whistle. When the first whistle comes, reduce the flame to LOW and keep for ten minutes.
  • Switch off after ten minutes, and set aside.
  • In a kadai, add  spoon of ghee, and the cooked green gram dhal.
  • Now add the 3/4 cup of jaggery and mix well. The jaggery will melt and coat the cooked green gram dhal.
  • Immediately switch off the stove and add the crushed cardamom.
  • Stir in immediately and mix well.
  • Offer Neivedhyam to Devi and enjoy sweet sundal.

HINT:

IT IS NOT REQUIRED TO SOAK THE GREEN GRAM DHAL. THIS CAN BE WHIPPED UP IN A JIFFY. THIS IS WHY WE LIGHTLY ROAST IT SO IT COOKS WELL WITHOUT GETTING TOO MUSHY.

This variation can also be tried with Black Kidney Beans, white beans etc.

Kids also love this as an evening snack.

Packing off this delicious Sundal to My Legume Love Affair – Serving 15 hosted by Sia of Monsoon Spice, brainchild of Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook.

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Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Sweets

Navarathri Neivedhyam Day 5 – Sweet & Succulent Gulab Jamuns.

Today was Sri Chakra Pooja at the local temple and I had been wanting to witness one for some time now. Today also happens to be my mother`s birthday. So I wanted to make some thing sweet for her, as well as offer some thing to Devi. I am not sure if this is very apt as a Neivedhyam for Goddess Parvathy, but this is what I made nevertheless.

The posting for Gulab Jamuns can be found here in my earlier posting.

Navarathri Neivedhyam Day 5 - Sweet Gulab Jamuns.
Navarathri Neivedhyam Day 5 - Sweet Gulab Jamuns.
Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Navarathri Neivedhyam Day 4 – Yellow Peas Sundal.

Today being the fourth day of the nine day celebration of Navarathri, the offering to the Devi was Yellow Vatana Peas Sundal. This has already been posted here previously and its also one of my favorite of the sundal preparations. Here is the pic…

Yellow Peas Sundal.
Yellow Peas Sundal.
Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Navarathri Neivedhyam Day 3 – Arachu Vitta Sundal. ( Garbanzo Beans cooked with ground spices)

Arachu Vitta Sundal.
Arachu Vitta Sundal.

Today is the third day of Navarathri and we thought we should make a neivedhyam with the white channa or the garbanzo beans. This is probably the most used and most under-valued in the legumes family.Garbanzos (also called chickpeas) are a good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber, as are most other beans. In addition to lowering cholesterol, garbanzos’ high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making these beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance or hypoglycemia. When combined with whole grains such as rice, garbanzos provide virtually fat-free high quality protein. It is also a very rich source of dietary fibre, iron and magnesium.

This variation of Arachu Vitta Sundal is also made by Amma with Mochai ( Field Beans) and its a favourite at home.

INGREDIENTS:

White Channa – 2 cups.

Water just enough to cover and cook.

Salt

Hing

Roast:

4 spoons Channa Dal.

2 spoons Dhania.

8 red chillies

1 spoon of urad dhal.

1/3 cup of coconut.

Mustard, Curry Leaves, Oil & Hing for seasoning.

PREPARATION:

  • Soak the white channa for at least 6-8 hours prior to preparation of neivedhyam. Cook in the pressure cooking adding water,  salt and turmeric for 3 whistles.
  • Drain all the cooked channa in a collander and allow to stay.
  • Use the water for cooking rasam, sambar etc and also for grinding the “masala” for the sundal.
Roast in oil and grind with coconut...
Roast in oil and grind with coconut...
  • In a kadai, add a spoon of oil and when it is hot, add all the ingredients specified for roasting. Roast on a medium flame until the dals get brown and you get a gentle aroma.
  • Pop in the mini mixer jar, add fresh grated coconut and using a alittle of the cooked channa water, grind to a very smooth paste.
  • Take your kadai/wok and add 2 spoons of oil. Season with mustard, curry leaves and hing and add the cooked white channa beans.
  • Stir them gently and now add the ground masala from the mixer jar.
  • Mix well and allow to cook for a couple of minutes until all the water is absorbed.
  • Delicious Arachu Vitta Sundal is ready for Neivedhyam.

HINTS:

  • Moderate the number of red chillies as these were a tad spicy for people like me. People who want the heat from the red chillies are most welcome!
  • Follow the same method for sundal made out of Mochai or Field Beans. Very YUM !!!

Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Snacks & Tiffin Items

Navarathri Neivedhyam Day 2 – Moong Dal Sundal.

Tamboolam Plate.
Tamboolam Plate.

Today being the second day of Navarathri and a weekend, I thought Moong Dal Sundal would be a good choice. Moong Dal is a good source of high levels of protien and contributes only a very low percent of fat calories to the diet. Moong Dal Sundal would be an excellent choice as an evening snack for kids as well as a mid day snack for pregnant women and people on diets. It cooks very easily unlike the other varieties of protien/lentils.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of Moong Dal.

Water to cook the dal.

Salt

Hing.

Pinch of red chilli powder.

1/3 cup of fresh grated coconut.

5-6 green chillies or according to taste.

Seasoning: Mustard, Curry Leaves.

Oil.

PREPARATION:

  • Moong Dal cooks very easily so there is no need to soak ahead.
  • Take a vessel and put in the moong dal. Then add water to just cover the moong, salt and a pinch of red chilli powder.
  • Allow it to cook on medium flame for about 6-7 minutes. You will see that the moong with absorb the water and slightly grow in size.
  • It is important that you do not overcook the moong as it tends to get mushy.
  • Drain out the water with the help of a collander and set aside to cool down for 10 minutes or so. If needed, spread it out on a plate so it dries out the water a little.
  • Meanwhile pulse the coconut and green chillies in a mixer to a rough mix.
  • Take a kadai, add 2 spoons of gingely/coconut oil and allow to heat.
  • Season with mustard, hing, curry leaves and then add the cooked moong dal.
  • Immediately add the pulsed coconut-chilli mix and give it a slow mix.
  • Use your ladle to carefully mix in the ingredients and flavouring. Too much handling could again break the moong and make it mushy.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Offer Neivedhyam to Goddess Devi and partake of the prasadam.
Naivedhyams/ Festival Offerings. · Poriyals / Kootu Varieties.

Navarathri Day 1 – Kadalai Sundal(PeanutsSpiced with coconuts and chillies) & Venn Pongal.

Today being the very first day of Navarathri and also the first saturday of the tamil month of “Purattasi”, it was an auspicious day completely. Today`s Neivedhyam was:

Venn Pongal.

Kadalai Sundal.

Kadalai Sundal.
Kadalai Sundal.

KADALAI SUNDAL:

This variety of Sundal made of raw peanuts does  not need any soaking and can be prepared with little or no notice.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of Raw Peanuts.

Salt

Hing

1/3 cup of fresh coconut grated.

4 Green Chillies.

Curry Leaves.

Hing

A few drops of coconut oil.

PREPARATION:

  • Place the peanuts in a cooking vessel, inside the pressure cooker and add sufficient salt. Keep enough water to just come to the level of the peanuts.
  • Cook for at least 2-3 whistles.
  • When cooled, drain all the water and save it for making sambar or rasams.
  • Take a kadai or wok and add a spoon of coconut oil.
  • When the oil is hot, add mustard, curry leaves, hing and immediately the cooked peanuts.
  • Allow to saute for a few minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pulse the coconut and green chillies without adding any water, in the mixer for a few seconds. Set aside.
  • When the contents of the kadai are well mixed and sauted, add the pulsed coconut mix.
  • Add a little more salt only if needed.
  • Offer Neivedhayam to the Goddess.
Lord Ganesha.
Lord Ganesha.

This is my entry for My Legume Love Affair – 15 going on at Sia`s Monsoon Spice, brainchild of Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook.

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Festivals & Significance

Navarathri – Significance & Manifestation- Festival of Dolls.

Golu Dolls - Navarathri
Golu Dolls – Navarathri

Navarathri – The name itself conjures to me years and years of tradition locked safely in trunks and cardboard boxes and handed down  from generations. My earliest memory of Navarathri was in Madurai in my grandmother`s home near the Perumal Temple. They had this lovely red oxide floor that I oh so love. Madurai amma used to store her lovely dolls in a heavy trunk in the loft.

Every year Madurai amma and appa would lovingly bring down all the dolls, wrapped  up completely in clean cotton clothes, wipe them down and then set them up on the floor ready to adorn the steps of the “Golu”.  We would then “construct” the shelves of the Golu with various things in the home – Singer Merit Sewing machine table would be the central table. Ovaltine Tins preserved from the earlier years on which a plank would support on, would form the highest shelf. The third one would be constructed from two aluminum biscuit tins one on each side, on which would run a heavy wodden plank.The fourth would be from smaller Tang Tins and of course the lowest would be constructed with a brick and some books. Madurai amma would have a clean bleached and starched white bedspread from Co-optex ready and we would drape it around the 5 shelves and I would , help her secure the sides with little pins. Madurai amma would place the Lakshmi and Saraswathy dolls on the top shelf and then slowly arrange the other dolls in a specific order.The red oxide floors would be resplendant with “maakolams” all the way from the foyer to the altar.

13.Hayagrivar & Ramar Lakshman Sita

When we moved to Madras, to an apartment, the tradition continued unflinchingly. Only this time. Madurai amma and me alone would do everything that needed to be done. My sisters S and D would stand a few feet away, helping us with cleaning the dolls and the like. as I grew older I would go out and buy some craft paper to make little paper decorations on the sides. When I started earning, I bought little lights for Madurai amma`s Golu. Of course, dolls were slowly added over the years, bought from Mylapore , Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan etc. Although the new dolls were bright and lovely, we still  loved the old clay dolls treasured over the years and stood them side by side. We also re-painted some of the old dolls in the local market.

There were the traditional Lakshmi, Saraswathy and Durga. Then there was the Dashavatharam set consisting of the ten dolls of the avatarams of Lord Vishnu.  Lord Rama, Sita , Lakshmana and Lord Hanuman were of course a favourite. The other dolls were Lord Shiva and Godess Parvathi, Sage Agasthya, Lord Buddha, Lord Krishna, Lord Muruga, and of course the traditional “Marapachi Dolls”. They were always in a pair. These dolls are decked up in silk and adorn the golu shelves.

Flowers in the Terracota Uruli.
Flowers in the Terracota Uruli.

What is the significance of this wonderful festival???

Navarathri means nine nights. Darkness is associated with night. What is this darkness? It is the darkness of ignorance. The purpose of the Navarathri celebration is to enable man to get rid of the nine types of darkness which have taken hold of him. When a reference is made to Devi, it signifies the unified form of Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. The three together represent Shakthi. Shakthi is the energy that accounts for all the phenomena of Prakruthi (Nature). Nature
is energy and the controller of that energy is the Lord.

The Navarathri has been divided into three parts the first three days being dedicated to the worship of Durga, the next three days to the worship of Lakshmi and the last three days to the worship of Saraswathi.

Outwardly Navarathri signifies truimph of good over evil.Dussera can also be interpreted as “Dasa-Hara”, which means the cutting of the ten heads of Ravana. So,it`s a resolve to cut the ten heads–passion, pride, anger, greed, infatuation, lust, hatred, jealousy, selfishness and crookedness–of the demon, Ego, and thus justify the celebration of Dussera.

Lovely colourful rangolis
Lovely colourful rangolis

Various Neivedyams are prepared every day of the nine days and offered to Devi. Devotees chant the following:

Lalitha Sahasranamam,

Mahishasura Mardhini,

Ashtalakshmi Stothram,

Devi Mahatmiyam,

Soundarya Lahiri,

Meenakshi Pancharatnam etc.

Colourful Rangolis / Maakolams are drawn in the homes and in front of the Golu Dolls. Little girls dress up in all their festive clothes, and sing songs in praise of Devi. It is very auspicious to offer Tamboolam in the form of Betel Leaves, supari, Kumkum, turmeric, flowers, coconuts, bangles, mirrors etc to little kanya girls and to women. Many homes perform Kanya Poojas.Temples have special poojas for Devi and chant shlokas for general welfare. The final day is the Saraswathi Pooja, devoted to the worship of Godess Saraswathy – to enrich us with knowledge as the greatest wealth.

Maakolam.
Maakolam.

When I got married, I started my own little tradition.  My mother added to my collection of dolls and my daughter enjoyed the festivities of the season. Now, here in the U.S, I miss many of the dolls, but it`s a tradition I do not want to miss at all. I do have a little of my own dolls, but the rest are from the stores here and its hardly as grand as the one that we have had in India. Nevertheless, the spirit is there, to spread goodness, cheer and righteousness in all our actions.

Golu-09
Golu-09