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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Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Sharkara Varattti (Jaggery-coated Banana Chips)

Mildly spiced sweet chips synonymous with Onam, an indispensable item in sadya (feast).

Sweet and salted banana chips

IngredientsIngredients:
Raw plantains (large) – 5 Nos
Jaggery (Sharkkara/achu vellam) – 10 Nos (2 pieces of jaggery per plantain)
Cardamom (Elakkai, elaichi) – 5 nos
Dry ginger powder (soonth, chukku) – 1 tbsp
Coconut oil – 250 gm
Sugar – 2-3 tbsp
Water – enough to immerse the plantains

Raw plantains

Preparation Time: 30 mins.
Cooking Time: 30 mins.

Sliced raw plantainMethod:
Peel the skin of the plantains and put them in water. Peeling will become easier if you make 3 or 4 vertical cuts on the plantain peel. Keep the plantains immersed in water for around half an hour. Drain the water and pat dry the plantains. While holding the plantain vertically, cut the middle splitting the plantain into two long pieces and then cut into quarter inch sized pieces.

Deep fried raw plantain piecesHeat oil in a wide pan (preferably uruli, brass vessel). Bring it to boil. Put the plantain pieces into the boiling oil. You need to stir them continuously the first minute to keep them from sticking to each other. Cook in medium to low fire until the pieces start turning brown. If the pieces are not properly cooked/crisp, the chips will be soggy. So have patience to cook the pieces until they are crisp. Remove the pieces from the oil using a strainer and spread them on tissue paper to absorb excess oil. Keep aside.

Dissolve jaggery in water and bring this to a boil. When the boil settles down and the mixture becomes thick (one-string consistency), add the fried plantain pieces and keep stirring. You can be sure that the consistency is right if you see thin jaggery threads forming while you stir the fried plantain pieces. Add powdered cardamom and dry ginger powder and mix well. After a minute or so, sprinkle the sugar and stir well. Like magic, you will see the wet and sticky jaggery syrup turning dry and the pieces separating. Voila, it’s ready!

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Trivia:
This is preparation unique to Kerala. Sharkara varatti is a must for wedding feasts and all types of feasts. I have noticed that it is very popular even among non-keralites. Try it and you will know why.

To those of you who are wondering how different a plantain is from a banana, click here.

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