Navarathri is a celebration of the Goddesses that protect us and are the very epitome of power and knowledge. I have already a detailed postexplaning the significance of this beautiful festival. Celebrating Navarathri also brings with it beautiful visions about Golu Dolls, celebrations, rustle of silk sarees, little girls decked in beautiful silk pavadais, excitement of visiting friends and families, singing songs in praise of Devi, and of course Sundal! When we were in college, it was even more exciting as we got to visit our friends every evening, for “vethalai paaku”. For the uninitiated, this is the customary practice of calling married women and unmarried girls to their homes for Golu – the festival of dolls. These women are offered the daily “prasadam” , and along with that “thamboolam” consisting of betel leaves, betel nuts, kumkum, sandalwood powder, turmeric, and many times a small gift.
As kids , it was always interesting to get all decked up and visit our friend and families for Golu. One of my aunts always made it a point to gift me glass bangles for Navarathri. She is not with us anymore, but I can never forget the little things that she would do for me on these special days. Of all the sundals that we make at home, TH and my kids love Nilakadalai sundal hands down. I love the fact that its so easy to make with no prior soaking and no fuss at all.
`1 Cup Raw Peanuts.
1 Tsp Salt.
1 1/2 Tsp Idli Molagaipodi.
2 Tsp Coconut Oil.
1 Tsp Mustard Seeds.
1 Tsp Urad Dhal.
Hing as needed.
Wash the raw peanuts and transfer to a cooker vessel. Add just enough water to cover the peanuts, add salt and steam cook it for about 2-3 whistles. It should be soft and well cooked, but not mushy.
Drain the excess water but save it as you could use it in rasam, sambar etc.
Take a shallow kadai and add the coconut oil.
Add seasonings when hot and allow to fry in oil.
Once the mustard seeds have crackled. add the cooked peanuts.
Swirl for a couple minutes until the peanuts are coated well with the oil and the seasonings.
Finally add the 1 1/2 – 2 Tsp of Idli Molagappodi and mix well.
Crunchy Peanut Sundal packed with protein and nutrition is a very tasty snack and an easy Neivedhyam for Navarathri as it involves no prior soaking.
On days when your green vegetable is less, add Peanut Sundal as an extra protein source.
Traditional Arisi Puttu is a very special offering for Devi during Navarathri. It`s also an auspicious dish, which requires a lot of care and patience. Elders of the family say that to make “puttu” is almost like bringing up a daughter – it requires patience, care and nurturing!!! I learnt this dish from my husband`s mother this summer and I had been wanting to make it at our home for Navarathri. I have also had multiple requests from a couple of my readers, so go ahead and try this out folks. Its a little time consuming, but very tasty and wholesome.
1 Cup Raw Rice.
3/4 Cup – 1 Cup Jaggery.
1/4 Cup Grated Coconut .
1 Tsp Cardamom.
A pinch of turmeric powder.
1/2 Cup Water.
Handful of cashew broken.
1 Tsp Ghee.
Soak the raw rice for about an hour and rinse and drain all the water. Spread it on a large dry towel and allow it to dry for about an hour or so. If you are trying this in cold climates, the trick is for the towel to be dry and so should all the rice particles.
Gather the rice and powder it in the mixie until smooth. In India my Mother in law had ground it in the mill. I did not have that luxury and had to make do with the Prestige Mixer.
At this point, the flour should look like this:
Now transfer the ground rice flour to a dry kadai and roast it on a medium flame until the flour becomes a dull reddish brown color.
Let the flour cool.
Meanwhile boil about 3/4 cup of water with a pinch of turmeric. Allow to cool slightly.
Sprinkle the boiled water little by little on to the roasted flour and mix to moisten the flour, Do not make the flour wet, It should still be moist yet not clumpy.
To aerate the flour and remove lumps, we pass it through a fine seive and use your fingers or a ladle to push the flour through.
Collect in a newspaper.
Now steam the moist flour in idli plates for about 7 mins of high steam. No need of greasing the plates.
When done scoop out the flour, crumble and allow to cool in a plate.
Dissolve 3/4 cup of jaggery in about 3 tbsp of water and keep stirring for about 7-10 minutes, This is an approximate time, as my stove is an electric glass top. A regular LPG stove could take a lot less time.
The jaggery has to get to a “ball” consistency – i.e add a drop of the boiling jaggery in to a bowl of water, and try to make a ball of that jaggery. If you are able to do this, switch off the flame , add cardamom , mix and pour out the jaggery on to the roasted and steamed flour.
Add the roasted cashews and slowly mix in the jaggery in to the rice flour.
You will see sandy smooth sweet light airy Arisi Puttu. Garnish with the grated coconut which is either fresh, or lightly roasted.
This is a very traditional preparation and is also very delicate, so it takes some patience to get it right. The idea to get grainy sandy “puttu” which is light and not heavy and clumpy.
There are certain important aspects that contribute to the texture – slow roasting of the flour, moistening the flour just right, and of course the jaggery!
I have NOT tried this with the store bought rice flour, but that is an experiment for another day.
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.