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.
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.
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.
The Vella Kozhukattais or the sweet modhakas is an all time favourite of mine since I was a little girl. When I was a little girl, we lived in a big joint family so any festival was celebrated with lots of fun and fanfare. Every year for Vinayaka Chathurthi, Madurai amma would make us the outer dough for us to work on and my sister D and me would make little cups out of the dough, fill it with the “Poornam” and arrange it neatly in little idli plates for steaming. Although we would be longing to eat the neivedhyam, we would have to wait until the entire pooja was over and we would get only 3 or 4.Mum would always promise me that she would make it for us on another day so we could have it to our heart`s content. Of course, that day would never come until the next Vinayaka Chathurthi the next year…
Now, my daughter S loves them so much that I decided to make it whenever possible, as often as I can. For instance every month for Sankatahara Chathurthi to offer it as Neivedhyam to the Lord. Sankatahara Chathurthi is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Ganesha in a traditional Hindu lunar month. It falls during the waning phase of the moon – fourth day after the full moon. Staunch Ganesha devotees observe a fast on the day.Fasting on Sankatahara Chaturthi begins at sunrise and ends after evening puja or after sighting the moon. Ganesh Temples conduct special pujas on the day.It is widely believed by Ganesha devotees that observing Sankashta Chaturthi will bring material progress, happiness and fulfillment of desires.
3/4 – 1 cup of grated jaggery (Depending on brand, degree of sweetness etc)
1 tsp of powdered cardamom.
1 tbsp of milk.( If needed)
2-3 tbsp of water.
Always prepare the poornams or filling ahead as the outer dough has to be made last just before consolidating the Kozhukattais.
In a kadai add the jaggery and very little water about 2 Tbsp and 1 tbsp milk and allow to melt.
When the jaggery is well melted add the fresh grated coconut and mix well.
Also put in the powdered cardamom and stir in well until the mixture leaves the sides.
I prefer to make my poornam a little thicker by keeping it on the stove for a longer time to enable me to make them in to balls.
Cool the poornam filling and it will be easier for you roll them in to little balls.
Keep the Kozhukattai outer dough prepared and ready as per instructions here . Keep it covered under a moist cloth and over that a lid to preserve the moisture and the warmth.
Create an assembly line with the Poornam balls, outer dough, greased idli plates and a small cup having 2-3 spoons of coconut oil.
Keep everything ready before you start as the outer dough should never dry out.
Grease your palms with coconut oil and then take a ball of the outer dough and smoothen it between your palms.
Make a little depression with your thumb and make it in to the shape of a diya with smooth sides.
Fill the depression with the coconut jaggery poornam, and close the edges and seal it with your fingers.
Continue until you finish the poornam filling.
If you have the outer dough left over, you can add a little more salt and make delicious Ammini Kozhukattais.
Arrange all the prepared modhakams for steaming on the greased idli plate.
Steam it in the pressure cooker for 10 – 12 minutes just as you would do with idlis.
Remove from steam, transfer to a casserole or container and enjoy after offering it to Lord Ganesha.
Wishing all my readers a very Happy Vinayaka Chathurthi.
If your sweet poornam/filling is not as thick as you would like it to be, dont fret. Allow it to sit on the stove for a couple of minutes more and add 1 spoon or two of wheat flour. This will bind them together.
Another option is to make rough balls and pop them in to the refrigerator for a few minutes. This will automatically firm them up.
Before steaming the prepared Modhakas, keep them covered as if they exposed to the air etc, they get dry and crack up. This might render the poornam to seep out during steaming.
The festival of Sri Rama Navami marks the birthday celebrations of Lord Rama, an incarnate of Lord Vishnu. The main significance behind the celebration of this festival is that the character of Lord Rama signifies an ideal son, an upright husband, a righteous King, and a loving brother and even an ideal man, someone who follow the right path against all odds in life. He was also the true embodiment of humanity. So celebration of Sri Rama Navami is a special reminder of all the noble deeds or ideals for which Lord Rama symbolizes. So if we see it in true sense it is not only a festival to enjoy and have fun there are lot more things to be learnt. It is a celebration of goodness and its victory against all evils. Sacred places associated with Lord Rama, like Ayodhya, Ujjain and Rameshwaram, draw tens of thousands of devotees. In Rameshwaram, thousands take a ritual bath in the sea before worshipping at the Ramanathaswamy temple. There are also lots of Parayanams and satsangs where devotees get together to hear the story of Lord Rama and to sing bhajans in his praise.
One of the most popular offering to the Lord, on this day is the “Panagam”. I remember my amma making Panagam and offering it to the Lord and then all of us having it and enjoying the sweet from the jaggery and the spice from the ginger…
2 1/2 cups of water.
1/4 cups of jaggery.
1 tsp Grated Ginger.(Originally use “Chukku” or Dried Ginger)
1 tsp powdered cardamom powder.
Dash of Ground Black Pepper.
In a vessel, dissolve the jaggery in the measured water and set on the stove on medium low.
Slowly add the chukku after mashing it with a mortar and pestle or simply use fresh zested ginger.
Add powdered cardamom powder and a dash of ground black pepper.
Stir in well and switch off.
Offer Naivedhyam to the Lord and sip sweet Panagam.
In my previous post on the lovely greek pastry Baklava, I had filled with the mixture of nuts. butter and honey and filled it in sheets of phyllo dough, plastered to each other with melted butter. The end result of course was golden colured baklavas, fragrant from the oven with the whole aroma of fresh nuts and honey. I still had the phyllo sheets and I did not want to waste them. They are extremely delicate and I wanted to try out the hybrid of steamed modhaka filling inside the baklava…This effort of mine did just that…took my experiences to a whole new level…Coconut and Jaggery, isnt that a winning combination???
6 sheets of phyllo dough
1/4 cup of dessicated coconut.
1/4 cup of jaggery
A pinch of cardamom powder.
2 spoons of melted butter.
In a kadai, add the coconut and jaggery together and stir well. As the jaggery melts, it forms a homogenous mass. This should approximately take around 5-6 minutes.
Make sure that it doesnt to get too solidified as this would spoil the chewiness of the end product. Cover and set aside.
Melt around 2 tsp of butter. Take the phyllo dough very carefully as they are extremely thin.Use a dry working surface and spread out one sheet of the dough. Slowly brush this sheet with butter and place the second sheet on the face of the first and lightly press it so they stick together.
Repeat with brushing the melted butter on the second phyllo dough and slowly place the third sheet on the second. Care should be taken while working with phyllo dough as they tear very easily. Continue until all the 6 sheets are pressed and stacked firmly on one another.
Alternatively, you could use Pam Butter Spray, to spray on the sheets so that each of the sheet sticks to the one below it.
Cut the sheets in to 16 equal rectangles. Take one rectangle and place a spoon of the coconut jaggery filling, and close it, like you would do a veggie puff. Make sure to seal the edges also with melted butter or butter spray. Make sure that the filling does not creep out as this would burn easily in the oven and the final taste would not be one that you had bargained for.
Preheat the oven to 350 F and place the filled baklava pastries on to the cookie sheet.
Bake for 13-15 mins depepnding on the power of the oven until they are a lovely golden colour
Serve warm with drizzled honey. This would typically make 16 baklavas!!!