Drinks, Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Panakam

panakamPanakam is a simple sweet drink prepared during festivals like Rama Navami. In my village, Thekkegramam, this drink is served to people pulling the temple chariot on Rama Navami day. Some households would keep a huge vessel full of Panakam and serve it to every thirsty passerby. It is a good thirst quencher and natural body coolant. It is healthy since jaggery is used instead of sugar. Dry ginger powder and cardamom powder used for flavoring gives it special aroma and taste. There is no specific recipe for this drink as it is very simple and can be made as per personal preference.

Ingredients:
Jaggery – 1/2 cup
Water – 2 cups
Cardamom powder – a pinch
Dry ginger powder/chukku, soonth – 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice (optional) – 2 tsps or to taste

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Makes 2 glasses

Method: Add water to the jaggery and let it melt. Add cardamom, dry ginger powder, and lemon juice. Mix well. Use a strainer to filter it out. Chill and serve.

Tips: You may add few Tulasi (basil) leaves for garnish. You can also add a pinch of pepper powder to jazz it up.
You may omit lemon juice. Just the cardamom and dry ginger gives a wonderful flavor and taste.
This is a default item that we make at home after we have finished making jaggery coated banana chips. A lot of jaggery, dry ginger powder, and elaichi remains in the vessel in which the chips are made. So just add water to the vessel and make a drink.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Tiffin

Kesari Bath/Sooji Halwa

Kesari bath/sooji halwa is one of my favorite sweets. It is a common neivedyam (food offering made to God) and a sweet served along with breakfast at Palakkad Iyer weddings. It is made even when there is no special occasion but just to satisfy sweet craving or when you have unexpected guests. It can be made easily, does not consume time, and most people love it. The best kesari bath that I have had is at Iyer weddings and at the Juhu ISCKON temple. Mani’s Cafe (next to Palakkad Jn railway station) serves melt in the mouth kesari bath. Palakkad Iyers add a little bit of pacha karpooram (Borneo-Camphor/Kacha Karpoor) and this gives a nice smell and taste to the kesari bath. Yellow or red food color is also added to this recipe but I do not prefer this.

The traditional kesari is warm, greasy, soft, and has a melt in the mouth texture. It has oodles of ghee that adds to its taste yet it doesnt drip ghee. Many a times the amount of ghee is cut down in homemade variations of kesari bath. Water, ghee, and sugar proportions are critical to make the perfect kesari. Too much water, sugar, or ghee can spoil the taste and consistency of the kesari. Although I have seen my mother make this dish very often, I always get confused about the quantity of water to be used for this dish and for upma. I referred to this blog to make this recipe and my kesari came out just right.

Ingredients:
Rava (sooji/semolina) – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 cup (depending on your taste)
Ghee – 3/4 cup
Water – 2-1/2 cups (you can opt to add milk to this)
Saffron (Kesar) – 3-4 strands
Cashew/raisins/almond pieces – A few
Cardamom powder (elaichi) – 1/4 tsp
Pacha karpooram (borneo-camphor/kacha karpoor) – very little (optional)
Food color – optional

Method:
Add the saffron strands to a small cup of warm milk/water and keep aside. Add half a cup of ghee to a thick bottomed wok and let it melt in medium heat. Turn down the heat to minimum and add the cashews/raisins/almond pieces and roast until golden brown. Remove them from the ghee and keep it aside.

sooji halwaTo this ghee, add rawa and keep stirring until the rawa turns color to golden brown. This will take about 5-7 minutes. I like to roast the rawa to golden brown although it is sufficient to roast just until the rawa starts to change color. While roasting the rawa, boil water in a pan. If you are adding milk, ensure that you use 1 cup milk and 1-1/2 cups of water. Ensure that that amount of water and milk put together is not more than 3 cups. Turn down the heat and add this boiling water/milk to the rawa cautiously. Make sure that you stand a little away from the stove while doing this as it might splutter. Stir this and make sure there are no lumps. Cook this for about 2-3 minutes. When the rawa is cooked and the water/milk content reduced, add sugar and mix well. The sugar starts to melt and the mixture once again becomes a little watery. Cook until the mixture thickens and water content reduces. Add the remaining ghee and stir. Add cardamom powder, cashew/raisins/almond pieces, and saffron dissolved in milk/water.

I prefer to have kesari bath warm although you can refrigerate this and serve it cold also.

jaggery kesariP.S. (added July 14th) – I tried making kesari bath with jaggery instead of sugar and it turned out to be really nice. So had to share it with all of you. The method remains almost the same. Measuring jaggery can be slightly tricky and if you use blocks of jaggery, you will need to make a wild guess. One thing you can do is pound the jaggery blocks and measure it using the same cup you used to measure the rava. Water should be three times the quantity of rava used.

Ingredients:
Rava – 1 cup
Ghee – 3/4 cup
Jaggery – 1 cup
Water – 3 cups
Saffron (Kesar) – 3-4 strands
Cashew/raisins/almond pieces – A fistful
Cardamom powder (elaichi) – 1/4 tsp

Method:
Soak saffron in a tablespoon of warm water. Keep aside. Dissolve jaggery in three cups of water. Using a strainer, strain this mixture to remove any dirt. Keep this water-jaggery mixture on the stove on low fire. Meanwhile, pour ghee into a thick bottomed pan. Keep fire on low. Put the cashew, rasins and almond pieces into ghee and roast the dry fruits. Remove the dry fruits from ghee when they turn golden brown and keep aside. Note that if you are using almonds, you will need to either soak them in water for 3-4 hours or blanch them and then peel and cut into smaller pieces.

In the same thick bottomed pan, to the melted ghee, add rava and roast on low fire for 4-5 minutes until rava changes color to light brown. When the rava has lost its raw smell and you start getting a finely roasted smell, add the jaggery water mixture which is kept on low fire in the next stove. Stir and add the hot jaggery-water mixture. The mixture starts to bubble and thicken. Add the soaked saffron. Keep stirring until moisture content reduces and the mixture starts to leave the sides. At this stage, you could add one more tablespoon of ghee. This is entirely optional and adds more sin, glaze, and taste to the kesari bath. Add cardamom powder and roasted dry fruits. Mix well. Jaggery kesari bath is ready. This is slightly more healthier as compared to the sugar version.

Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Ari Unda (Rice Laddoo)

Kerala’s very own sweet. Quintessential Kerala ingredients; rice, coconut, and jaggery; are used to make this unassuming sweet.

Ari unda

Popping an ari unda into your mouth after a meal can be an utterly satisfying experience and the best part is that you can do so without feeling sinful or guilty. It is a very healthy sweet since it is devoid of oil, ghee, or sugar. It is a very good gifting option also as it has good shelf life and can be enjoyed by all age groups.

Ingredients:
Parboiled rice – 1 cup
Whole wheat grain – 1/2 cup (optional)
Whole green mung beans – 1/2 cup (optional)
Jaggery – 2 cups (Same amount as the grains used)
Grated coconut – ½ cup
Dry ginger – ½ tsp/half inch
Elaichi/cardamom – 2-3 pods

Method:
In a thick iron wok, dry roast the grains (rice, wheat, and mung beans) separately until they change color and start giving out a wonderful aroma. In case of rice and wheat, they will start to pop. Green mung turns brown. Rice and wheat takes roughly 10-15 minutes of roasting time each in medium fire. Remove from fire and allow the rice to cool.

Parboiled rice before and after roasting

Grate coconut and powder the jaggery. In a mixer, grind the rice into a powder, not too fine but not very coarse either. If you are using whole dry ginger, powder it along with the grains. Add the elaichi pods along with the rice while grinding. Keep two tablespoonfuls of powdered rice aside.

Mix well

After you finish powdering the rice, add jaggery, grated coconut and some powdered rice into the mixer jar and blend well. Remove from the mixer jar and mix the powdered rice, jaggery, and grated coconut well. The moisture from jaggery and grated coconut moistens the rice. If you are using dry ginger powder, add it now. Using dry ginger adds a nice flavor and aids digestion.

 

Make balls out of this mixer and use the powdered rice that you kept aside to coat the moist balls.

rice laddooThis stays good (in normal temperature) only for 4-5 days because of the presence of fresh coconut. However, you can refrigerate this for up to 15-20 days. Another version that is made traditionally in my house involves mixing the powdered rice with jaggery syrup. This version uses copra instead of grated coconut and hence has a good shelf life of 2-3 weeks. The only downside to this version is that due to the use of jaggery syrup, depending on the consistency of the syrup the laddus harden and breaking them with your teeth can be quite a task!

Some jaggery varieties are not moist enough to hold together and firm up the laddus. In such cases, you will need to use jaggery syrup instead of powdered jaggery for the laddus. Make jaggery syrup by adding a cup of water to the jaggery and heating it. When the jaggery is diluted, strain it to remove impurities. Then, boil the strained jaggery syrup to a string consistency. Turn off the heat. Add small quantities of this syrup to the mixture of powdered grains and coconut/roasted copra. Add enough to moisten the powder and then use your palm to shape into laddus. You can roll the shaped laddu on some dry powder to firm it up a little bit. Make sure that the jaggery syrup that you add to the powder is warm enough. For this, you may have to reheat the syrup depending on the time you take to shape the laddus. But you cant keep the syrup on flame all the while that you are making the laddu because that will make it too thick and sticky.

 

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

Enna Pothi/Sweet Pouches

A fitting follower to Ela Ada, my previous post. The ingredients are the same as ela ada. Just that the proportions are different and they are mixed differently. These are little steamed pouches of a mixture of rice, jaggery, jackfruit jam, and coconut. Steamed and oil-free, one can truly indulge in them without guilt!

DSC03674

In my household this dish is called Enna Pothi, which literally means Oil Pouches, though I cant figure out why it might be called so since no oil is used in this dish. Enna could also mean Numbered. Any of you can crack the name puzzle, please write to me.

It is intriguing to think how our ancestors came up with different recipes using the same ingredients and how different and unique they taste! Ela ada are very sweet while these sweet pouches are only mildly sweet. Different households have different styles of making it. Some use banana leaves to make the pouch, some use cinammon leaves. Since I could not find a suitable leaf, I chose to steam them in the idli mold. It is a regional variant you see!

Ingredients:

Raw rice (Rice flour) – 1 cup
Jaggery – 50 gm
Jackfruit jam – 5 tbsp
Grated coconut/Coconut cut into 1 cm pieces – 2 tbsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
Elaichi powder – 1/4 tsp
Water – As needed

The amount of jaggery and jackfruit jam are more of personal choices. You can add as much as you like and it would turn out just fine.

Method: Grind the raw rice into a smooth paste. Add the jackfruit jam and jaggery pieces and blend it in the mixer to make a smooth and evenly mixed paste. You could make jaggery syrup and then add it to the rice flour and jackfruit jam and blend it well using a spoon. But using the mixer to blend these three ingredients ensures a smooth consistency and gives good results. Keep the batter aside.

Heat ghee in a pan and add the grated/cut coconut to the ghee and roast till the coconut turns golden brown. Turn off fire and add the roasted coconut to the batter. Add elaichi powder. Mix well.

Note that if you are using an idli mold, the batter needs to be of idli batter consistency. But if you are using a leaf, you will need a thicker consistency for the batter.

If you are using banana leaf, tear out square or rectangle portions of banana leaf. Pour one ladle full of batter into a piece of banana leaf and close it neatly from all sides and tie with a thread. Cinnamon leaves are small and it is a challenge to stuff the batter in them. Hence if you are using cinnamon leaves, the batter consistency should be thick so that it does not ooze out. You need to be able to stuff the batter in between the leaf and pin the ends of the leaf together.

If you choose to use an idli mold, lightly grease the idli molds with ghee. Pour one ladle full batter into each idli mold. Steam in a pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Turn off fire, take out the idli mold from the pressure cooker, and let it cool.

After they cool down a little bit, the sweet pouches start separating from the edge. Use a spoon to lift the pouches off the mold and place on a serving plate.

Soft and spongy sweet pouches (in this case, idlis) are ready!

Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Sweets

Sharkara Payasam (Sweet Pongal)

People in different parts of India celebrate each festival in their own unique ways. In South, Makara Sankranti is a harvest festival. One of the items made with the newly harvested rice is Sharkara Payasam or Sweet Pongal. Back home we do not have any festivities for makara sankranti. My memories of sharkara payasam are associated with the last day of Navaratri (Vijaya Dashami). My cousin, who was the main pujari for this puja, would make sharkara payasam on that day. He did not resort to any measurements, but each time it turned out to be a delicious treat and we were left asking for more!

Ingredients:
Raw rice – 1 cup
Jaggery – 2 cups
Water – 2 cups
Ghee (Clarified butter) – 3-4 tbsp
Coconut pieces – 2 tbsp
Elaichi – 1/2 tsp
Cashew – 1 tbsp
Crystalized sugar – 1 tsbp (optional)

Method:
Clean the rice and cook it well. Make sure that you drain the extra water from the rice. Dissolve the jaggery in water and strain it to remove any impurities. Pour the melted jaggery into a thick bottomed pan (preferably uruli) and bring to boil. Add the cooked rice to the jaggery. The jaggery should not be too watery when adding the cooked rice. If it is, then by the time it thickens, the rice will harden. Stir occasionally. When it thickens and water reduces add elaichi powder. Roast the coconut pieces and cashews in ghee. Add this to the cooked payasam and its ready! My cousin would sprinkle generous amounts of kalkandam (crystalized sugar) to the payasam along with ghee. This makes it a truly heavenly treat.

If you add moong dal to this payasam, it becomes sweet pongal. You can check out the recipe here.

Note: The jaggery should not be too watery when adding the cooked rice. If it is, then by the time it thickens, the rice will harden.

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Sweets

Thiruvathira Kali (Rice Halwa)

KaliThiruvathira Kali, a festival special, the sweet rice halwa, also a kind of dance that women in Kerala perform during the Thiruvathira festival and during Onam. I still remember the kali that my ashalaathu mami (neighbor) used to make. Mami is a sweet person and a terrific cook! My amma learned the recipe from her. Since amma and I love sweets, specially the ones made with jaggery, this recipe has been a favorite for both of us and we do not wait for Thiruvathira to satisfy craving.

Ingredients

Ingredients:
Raw rice (dry roasted and coarsely powdered) – 3/4 cup
Green mung dal (dry roasted and coarsely powdered) – 1/4 cup (optional)
Jaggery – 1 cup
Water – 3 cups
Cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Grated coconut – 1/4 cup

Thiruvathira KaliMethod:
Wash, dry, and then dry roast the raw rice and green mung dal separately until golden brown. Cool and grind coarsely using a mixer. Dissolve the jaggery in water. Strain to remove any impurities. The proportion of rice, jaggery, and water are 1:1:3. So if you are taking 1 cup of rice powder (+the optional roasted green mung dal powder), dissolve 1 cup of jaggery in 3 cups of water. An easy way of cooking kali is to mix the rice powder (+the optional roasted green mung dal powder) in the jaggery water, add cardamom powder and then pressure cook to a whistle. Turn off and then wait for the steam pressure to reduce. Open the cooker and you will see that the mixture is well cooked and thick with no trace of water. Add the ghee and grated coconut to the rice powder cooked in jaggery. Mix well.

You can cook this in a kadai also. Place the melted jaggery water on the stove and when it boils, add the powdered rice and mung dal and keep stirring. When the mixture thickens, add the ghee, cardamom powder, and grated coconut and mix well.

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Dosas, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets

Sweet Dosa

Samagni is back again after a long slumber! Times have changed. Monsoons are here. The summer treats like mangoes and jackfruit are not so easily found in the market. There are some but are not as tasty as they used to be in summer. When monsoons start, ripe jackfruits get soaked in the rain, and water seeps in through their thick skin making the fruit less sweet. That does not discourage jackfruit enthusiasts like me from sniffing out for them in the market and bringing them home. Only when you open the fruit, clean them out, and taste them do you realize they lack sweetness. But yet people like me need not lose hope. It can still be used to make mouthwatering stuff. One of which I had posted last year and another one that you can see below.

Sweet Jackfruit Dosa

Making a sweet jackfruit dosa is really simple. Grind a few jackfruit pieces along with soaked raw rice and jaggery. Make dosas crisp at the edges by sprinkling some ghee and they are yummilicious! so here we go:

Ingredients:
For grinding:
Jackfruit pieces: 1 cup
Raw rice soaked in water for 2 hours: 2 cups
Jaggery: 1 cup
Elaichi: 2 pods

While making dosa:
Ghee – 1 tbsp

Method:
Grind the jackfruit pieces along with raw rice, jaggery, and elaichi into a fine paste. Add sufficient water to get a normal dosa consistency.

Heat a dosa tawa in medium flame. A non-stick tawa would be ideal. When the tawa is adequately hot, lower the flame and spread half a teaspoon ghee on the tawa. Pour a ladle full of sweet dosa batter on to the tawa. Do not spread because the thinner the dosa, the more the chances of it sticking to the tawa. Cook in low flame. The sweetness of the dosa might cause it to stick to the tawa. Cook in low flame to avoid this. After a minute or so when you see the sides getting brown, pour some ghee on the dosa, and gently flip the dosa using a spatula. Cook for a minute. Remove from tawa and serve.

I feel that Keralites have the most varieties of recipes using jackfruit, both sweet and unripe. Do write to me if any of you know some unique jackfruit recipes. You know i am a die-hard jackfruit lover.