Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Vegan

Sweetened Cow Peas (Vellappayar Sharkarayil Vilayichathu)

Navarathri is incomplete without this sweet prasad. It is a very important item for the Devi. I make this often to satisfy my sweet cravings. This easy-to-make sweet is a healthy alternative to store-bought sweets that contain preservatives and other harmful chemicals.

Ingredients:
Black-eyed cow peas/Vellappayar – 1 cup
Jaggery – 3/4 cup
Water – 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder – 2 pods
Grated coconut: 2 tbsp

Preparation Time (Soaking time): 8 hours
Cooking Time: 20 mins to pressure cook, 10-15 mins to prepare the sweetened cow peas
Makes 2 cups

Method:
Wash the cow peas thoroughly and soak it overnight in enough water. Drain the water.

Add fresh water just enough to immerse the cow peas and pressure cook the peas (2 whistles should be enough). The peas should be cooked very soft. Otherwise they tend to become hard when cooked in the jaggery syrup.

Melt jaggery in half cup of water. Strain to remove impurities.
Pour the strained jaggery solution into a thick bottomed pan and heat to make a soft and thick syrup. When the syrup starts to thicken and bubble vigorously, add the cooked peas and cardamom powder. Stir occasionally and cook until all water content is absorbed and the jaggery coats all the cow peas thoroughly. Turn off the fire and garnish with grated coconut.

Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Dates and Peanuts Laddoo

Dates and Peanuts LaddooDoubt if there can be a simpler, healthier, and tastier laddoo than this one. It is protein-rich and sugar free. I learnt this recipe from a Gujarati friend who is a very big mungphali/singdana/peanuts fan. Natural sweetness of dates, flavor and crunchiness of peanuts with a hint of salt, made with just two ingredients.

Ingredients:
Roasted peanuts – 400 gm
Sesame seeds (white or black) – 50-70 gm
Seedless Dates – 400 gm

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 5-10 mins
Yield: 30 laddoos

Dates and Peanuts Laddoo

Method:
Lightly roast the roasted peanuts. You may add ghee if you prefer but it is enough to just dry roast the peanuts because the oil from the peanut is sufficient to make the laddoos. Although the peanuts are roasted, it is good to roast them again just before making the laddoo. When the peanuts cool down, remove the skin, put in a mixer jar, and grind to a coarse powder. Keep aside. Dry roast the sesame seeds until they start leaving an aroma and popping up (roughly 5 mins on medium fire).
Check the seedless dates carefully to ensure that there are no hard parts or seeds present. Add the seedless dates into the mixer jar and grind to a smooth paste. Add some part of the coarsely ground peanuts into the mixer and grind a little along with the dates mixture to blend both the ingredients. Remove this mixture from the jar and mix well with the remaining coarsely powdered peanuts. Add the roasted sesame seeds to this mixture. I do not prefer to pulse the sesame seeds in the mixer as I like to the taste of biting into the roasted sesame seeds. Mix all the ingredients well and break lumps, if any. Taste a little of the mixture and blend and add more dates if you prefer more sweetness. Take handful of the mixture and shape into laddoos. Store in an airtight container. Will stay good up to 10 days. They taste very similar to Snickers yet totally sin-free. Even a “dates-hater” like me is unable to stay away from snacking frequently on these.

Notes: I used 200 gms salted peanuts and 200 gms unsalted peanuts. So there was a hint of salt in the laddoo just to balance the sweetness.

Recipe courtesy: Srushti Desai

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.

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.

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.

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.

This 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!

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!