Friday, August 25, 2006

Aval Vellam

Phew! At around 6:00 PM I was done with the other items and it was time to draw the "Krishnar Kaal" and prepare Aval vellam, wear saree and get ready so that by 6:30 we could do the "Krishnarai Azhaikkaradhu" - inviting Lord Krishna into our house! Drawing "Krishnar kaal" (tiny little feet of Baby Krishna) was the easiest part as there is very little space where I can actually draw, unlike our home back in India where the kolam exercise would consume about 30 mins! So before venturing into Kolam I made preparations for Aval Vellam!

Aval Vellam

Beaten rice flakes/Poha/Aval - 2 cups
Powdered Jaggery - 1 cup
Crystal sugar - 2-3 tbsp
Cashews, badams, raisins - 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - a pinch

1) Soak poha in a little water for abt 5 mins. Soak Almonds in a bowl of warm water.

2) Peel off skin from almonds after a while and cut into flakes. Mix in all other ingredients thats it. My mom adds tutty fruity (that is available in India). Add a dollop of butter.

Did I miss telling - the butter in all these recipes must be UNSALTED only!!!

Hmmm....don't we all love festivals for their colour, food, prayers and the fun! Enjoy and do send along your experiences!

Nei Appam

Nei Appam is standard for Krishna Jayanthi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Kaarthigai Deepam, Saraswathi pooja (in some households) and of course, Sabarimala! The tastiest Nei appams that I have had are the ones people have got from Sabarimala.


Rice flour - 1 cup
Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Ripe banana - 3/4
cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Ghee - For frying

1) Slightly melt jaggery in a tbsp of water. Add rice flour and mix well, mashed ripe banana, cardamom powder and make a slightly watery dough. It should be like dosa batter

2) Pour 2 tsp of ghee into a aapa chatti (or a round iron ladle) and wait till it heats up. Add a small ladle of batter wait till it fries on one side. Turn the appam and let it fry on other side. Take out when it is brown like gulab jamoon on one side and nice caramel brown on the other.

3) If you are using an iron ladle be very very careful as the oil/ghee can spill on the stove and catch flames!!! An aapa chatti is better accompanied by the koda kambi :-), but I had to make do without one! So, every time I had to turn the nei appam, I had to take the ladle off the stove so that the nei wouldn't spill and catch flames. The taste is too heavenly and wonderful for the care taken. It takes approximately 3 mins to fry one side so patience is needed!

Vella thengozhal

This vella is different from vellam. This means literally "White Thengozhal". So, what to do with the extra urad flour left over from "Uppu cheedais" - make thengozhal!


Roasted urad flour - 1/4 cup
Rice flour - 2 cups
Salt - to taste
Butter - 1 tbsp
Jeera - 1.5 tsp
Asafoetida - A pinch
Oil - For frying

1) This has no problem of bursting so mix the ingredients into a pliable dough. Take care to remove lumps.

2) Heat oil. Put a lump into the chakli maker (or the "press" as it is called sometimes). Directly pop into oil, fry till crisp and remove. Note, this will not need to be golden or deep brown. It will become crisp and retain its sort of white colour and hence the name vella thengozhal!

Vella Cheedai

Vellam is jaggery in Tamil. So, vella cheedai is the sweet cheedai.

Rice Flour - 1 cup
Powdered Jaggery - 3/4 cup
Coconut pieces - a handful (dimensions of 3 mm X 3 mm X 1 cm) - Thenga pallu - pallu is teeth - so coconut should be cut in shape of human teeth!
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp

1) Slightly melt jaggery adding a tbsp of water. Add coconut pieces to it

2) Add the rice flour and cardamom powder and mix well to make a stiff dough adding a tbsp of butter and no more.

3) Roll out into balls of gumball size ( about 2.5 cm in diameter). Rolling out into perfect Gulab jamoon rounds is difficult with the thenga pallu (coconut pieces), so a more-or-less round shape should do!

4) Heat oil and fry till golden brown. If the cheedais become powdery and do not retain shape it is because of too much of jaggery (it actually depends on type of jaggery too). If the cheedais are too hard to bite it is because of extra frying or extra rice flour so add a little jaggery powder and mix well. Enjoy the vella
cheedai once naivedyam is done!

Uppu cheedai

Literally Salt Cheedai.

Roasted Urad Flour - 1 tbs
Rice Flour - 16 tbs (The ratio is 1:16 for urad : rice flours)
Asafoetida - 1 tsp (soaked in a little water)
Salt to taste
Sesame seeds - 1/2 tsp (soaked in a little water)
Butter - 1 tbs (at room temperature)
Oil - For frying (Generally coconut oil or peanut oil is preferred)

1) Rice flour is traditionally washed, dried and ground in a mill for this. It is put in a sieve so that there are no lumps and the flour is smooth and even. However there is no sieve with me and no scope in my mixer to make a very fine powder. So I used the store bought Rice flour and just roasted it mildly over low flame for 3-4 mins.

2) Urad dal needs to be roasted to a nice coffee brown and ground finely - you can use a sieve again to get an even powder. The baking sieve that I have did not help as the particles are smaller so I used a clean towel with slightly larger holes. It is extremely difficult to grind small quantities so better to grind larger quantity. It can be used for a variety of dishes.

3) Mix the rice and urad flour with butter, asafoetida, salt and sesame seeds and make a stiff dough. Do not add more butter as the cheedais will become powdery.

4) Role out small round balls - the diameter of 1cm or so. Spread these balls on a towel or newspaper and let dry completely. The cheedais have a nasty reputation of bursting when put in oil so the drying must be complete - no drop of water or lumps.

5) Heat the oil till it smokes a little (not too much), pop in one cheedai and see if it bursts. If not, you are doing good fry till golden brown. Take aside on tissue. Wait till naivedyam to enjoy!!! :-) The results are worth the effort!

Krishna Jayanthi Special

I meant to post this long back, but was recovering from the aftereffects of making the various items for Krishna Jayanthi/Gokulaashtami. Lord Krishna is welcomed in all our houses on the Ashtami (8th day) of Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in the month of Shravana. In Tamil we say - Avani Rohini Ashtami

In order to welcome the cutie little mischevous kid, we make cheedai, murukku, aval vellam (Poha), appam, and also keep his favourites namely, the milk, butter and curd! I drew the cute little Krishnar Kaal in some tiny space in my completely carpeted apartment near the front door and the one in the pic. Go ahead, take a guess on what I have drawn it on in the pic!

And here is the only (blurred sigh!) photo of my spread -

Recipes in the next subsequent posts! :-)