Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Tiffin

Sweet Beaten Rice Flakes (Aval Vilayichathu)

Most South Indian households stock up on beaten rice. When an unexpected guest arrives, beaten rice flakes come to your rescue. You can make delicious items out of this inexpensive item, like upma, cutlet, a sweet, or even payasam (kheer). Kanda (onion) poha and batata (potato) poha are favorite Maharashtrian breakfast items made using beaten rice flakes. Kanda poha is moistened poha cooked in a tadka of sauteed onion sprinkled with coriander leaves, some lemon juice, and a few peanuts – definitely a wholesome breakfast.

aval vilayichathu

When my friend came to visit, she brought along with her some organic beaten rice flakes. My mother makes sweet beaten rice flakes often and it is a favorite in our household. It is a common neivedyam (offering to God) and a favorite of Lord Krishna. I suggested to my friend that we use the organic variety to make the sweet beaten rice. I shared with her my mother’s method of making aval nanachathu. Though Kerala is a small state as compared to other states in India, you will find difference in taste of food every 100 kms or so. Right from the chutney, sambar, and the type of rice served, to the kind of items served in a sadya, recipes and tastes differ across the length and breadth of this blessed little state. My friend’s sweetened beaten rice recipe differed from my mother’s. I told her to teach me her version which is called Aval Vilayichathu. Does anyone know the difference between aval vilayichathu and aval nanachathu? Here is the recipe to her version.

Ingredients:

Beaten rice (brown/white) flakes – 3 cups
Jaggery – 1 cup (you can alter this quantity to suit your taste)
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp
Chana dal/split chick peas/kadala paruppu – 2 tbsp
Ghee/clarified butter – 2 tsp
Water – 1 cup

Method:

Put the jaggery pieces in water and melt it on low flame. Strain the solution into a wide pan. Keep this pan on medium fire and let the jaggery solution thicken. When the jaggery solution thickens to a syrup. Check for one-thread consistency (take a drop of the jaggery solution in a spoon. Let it cool a bit and then touch it with a clean forefinger and then touch your forefinger and your thumb together and pull them apart gently. If the solution forms a thread between your two fingers, then it has reached thread consistency). Add grated coconut and stir. Add the beaten rice flakes, mix, and cook over a low flame, stirring constantly to coat the beaten rice with jaggery and coconut. Add cardamom powder. When the mixture thickens, turn off the fire.

In a small pan, heat ghee. When it is hot, add chana dal and roast them golden brown. Remove the chana dal from ghee and add to the sweetened beaten rice flakes mixture. Add sesame seeds to the hot ghee and roast lightly. Be careful not to burn the seeds. Pour the ghee and sesame seeds on to the sweetened beaten rice flakes mixture. Mix well.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for a month. You can take out required quantities and steam or warm in a microwave and use.

Below is my mother’s version, which is simpler. This one stays good only for a day.

Ingredients:

Beaten rice (brown/white) flakes – 3 cups
Jaggery – 1 cup
Grated coconut – 1 cup
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Ghee (optional) – 1 tsp
Water – 1-1/2 cup

Method:

Sprinkle small quantities of water on the beaten rice and use your hand to mix well and moisten the beaten rice. Close with a lid and keep aside. Put the jaggery pieces in water and melt it on low flame. Strain the solution into a wide pan. Keep this solution in the pan on medium fire and let the jaggery solution thicken. When the jaggery solution thickens to a syrup. Check for one-thread consistency (as mentioned earlier). When the jaggery solution reaches thread consistency, add the moistened beaten rice flakes and stir well to coat the beaten rice flakes with the jaggery syrup. Add grated coconut and cardamom powder and mix well. You can add ghee if you choose to as this tastes good even without the ghee.

Yet another method of making sweet beaten rice is to just scrape/powder the jaggery pieces and mix it well with the poha. Use some amount of warm milk or water to moisten this mixture. Add grated coconut and a quick and yummy snack is ready.

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Indian, Sweets

Carrot Halwa – a seasonal delight

carrots stacked in the marketIndian cooking highly emphasizes eating right for the season and using seasonal produces. We have festivals based on change of season and harvests; and dishes based on the ingredients available in a season. Winter is the season for undhiyu, thiruvathira puzhukku (similar to undhiyu), gond (gum resin) laddu, carrot halwa, and the likes. It’s the season for red carrots (usually only orange carrots are available during other seasons). The red carrots stacked in the subzi mandi (vegetable market) invariably tempt me to make carrot halwa.

carrot halwa

Ingredients:
Carrots – 250 gms
Milk – 1 cup
Sugar – 100 gms
Ghee – 100 gms
Almonds/raisins/cashewnuts – 8-10 pieces
Elaichi powder – 1/4 tsp

Method:
Soak the almonds in water for half an hour and peel and cut to small pieces. Cut the cashewnuts into smaller pieces. Wash, peel, and grate the carrots. Place a thick wok on fire and pour a teaspoon of ghee. Roast the almonds, cashews and raisins in this ghee. When the nuts and raisins turn golden brown, remove from fire and keep aside.

Pour milk into the thick wok. Empty the grated carrot into milk and cook in medium fire. Stir occasionally. You can use water instead of milk or use a mix of milk and water. The advantage of using milk is that you can cut down on the usage of ghee.

When the milk is fully absorbed and the grated carrot is tender and cooked, lower the flame and add sugar. At this stage, the mixture becomes a little loose. Stir occasionally and cook until all the water is fully absorbed. You can modify the quantity of sugar depending on your taste.
Add ghee in small quantities, mix, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add elaichi powder and the roasted nuts and raisins. Mix well. Remove from fire. You can serve carrot halwa hot or cold. Try it with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

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