As were taking a stroll after sunset yesterday, we were mesmerized by this extraordinary sight, a smiling moon. It was as though the heavens wanted to tell the terror battered Indians, “Cheer Up! There is still Hope!”

Come on Indians, We shall overcome!

Neyvedyams for Kartikai

Neyvedayams for Karthikai

As I have mentioned the neyvedyam for Karthikai are Pori , Neyyappam and Adai. Pori is puffed rice and there are 2 kinds of Pori, nelpori (made by frying paddy seeds) and avil pori(made by frying flattened rice or avil). The preparation of both these poris for neyvedyam is same. Here, is the recipe.

I am mentioning the ratio of ingredients for 5 measures since that is the easiest way to measure out the required quantity of jaggery. You can use any container to measure the pori.

Sweet Pori

Ingredients:

Pori : 5 measures
Jaggery: 1 measure
coconut pieces : 2 tbsps.
Cardomom powder : 1 tsp.

The pori need to be cleaned first. It will have husks sticking to it and also some stones at times.Measure the pori and accordingly measure the required quantity of jaggery. Melt the jaggery in just enough water to cover the jaggery. Strain to remove sand and other impurities. Boil the jaggery syrup to get a thick consistency. This is very important as otherwise the pori would sink in the syrup and become soggy. When the jaggery syrup is of right consistency the pori would get coated with the syrup and will remain crisp.

Here is how to get the right consistency. As you are boiling the jaggery syrup, keep a bowl of water near your working surface. As the jaggery thickens drop a few drops into the water. Remove the jaggery drops from the water with your fingers. Initially it will form a soft ball. This is known as jelly consistency or more commonly as tomato consistency(as it would be soft as tomato). This is the consistency for Neyyappam.

Boil the syrup some more and drop a few drops into the water. Collect the dropped jaggery with finger tips. It would form into a hard ball. If you throw the ball on a hard surface it should make a “thud”. This is the right consistency for Pori and is known as “Kallu pakam” or stone consistency. Now you need to be very quick. Remove the syrup from the stove.

Add the coconut pieces and cardomom powder and the pori and mix continuously so that the pori gets coated with the jaggery evenly. Allow to cool a little and make small balls of pori.

Avil Pori is prepared the same way. Avil pori will have fine sand particles so it need to passed through a sieve to remove the sand.Follow the same method as for nelpori.

Neyyappam

Neyyappams literally mean ghee cakes.

Neyyappam is a unique sweet of Kerala and is made in a special utensil known as “Appakaral” with depressions in them. In the olden days appakarals were made of bronze. Now a days appakarals made of iron and other metals and also non-stick karals are available. The traditional appakarals had 3 depressions and now a days karals with 7 and 9 depressions are available

photos of different appakarals

Neyyappam thinnal rendundu karyam is a famous malayalam saying which literally means you gain twin benefits when you eat neyyappam. What are they? “Appavum thinnam, meniyum minukkam” which means you can enjoy the appam and also shine your body. This is because as neyyappams are fried in ghee the appam would be dripping with ghee and after one eats neyyappam there is so much grease in ones hands that one can apply it on ones body.

Now for the recipe. Though different people make the dough for neyyappams differently, below is the recipe followed by our family and it gives the softest neyyappams.

Ingredients:

Raw rice: 1 cup
jaggery: 1cup
coconut pieces: 1 tbsp.
cardomom powder: 1tsp.
Ghee for frying the neyyappams
gingelly oil 3 tsp.

Soak the rice for 2 – 3 hours and strain through a colander to remove all the water. Grind to a fine powder in a mixer. Sieve to remove any larger particles. Grind once again until all the rice is ground to a fine powder.

Make a syrup of jaggery to jelly consistency. Switch off the stove. Add cardomom powder and coconut pieces and add the ground rice flour while mixing the dough continuously. Keep the dough covered for a day. (This dough will keep good for upto a week).

The next day mix the dough well adding little water to get a pouring consistncy( as thick as idly dough). Heat the appakaral and add tsp of gingelly oil( ghee tends to stick to the bottom of the karal ) and top with ghee. When the ghee is very hot ladle out spoonfuls of dough into each depression. When the neyyappams are cooked on oneside(appams would start turning on its own) turn them with skewer. When they are done(the skewer should come clean when inserted) remove them using the skewer. Repeat.

Offer neyvedyams to Lord Shiva and enjoy the prasadams with family and friends

Recipe: Keera Masiyal

As promised, I am starting my Kanu spread with the recipe for Keerai Masiyal. Sometime back, Jennifer had asked what the difference was between Keerai molakoottal and Keerai Masiyal. Basically, Keerai molakoottal and Keerai Masiyal both are prepared with pureed Spinach or Amaranth. Whereas Keerai molakoottal is a richer curry with dal and coconut in it, Keerai masiyal is just pureed spinach with minimum spices and garnishing. Also Keerai molakoottal is used as a gravy curry to mix with rice with a side dish like Pachadi or thogayal. Keerai Masiyal is used as a side dish for sambar or morukoottan etc.

At home, we are especially partial to greens and would like to have a green in our menu as often as can be managed. The flip side is the time taken to clean and wash the greens. Now that I have a small patch of kitchen garden in Hyderabad, I manage to have greens more often.

Sometime back we had an arrangement with a hawker to supply one type of greens daily at our doorsteps. It so happened that my beloved parents spent couple of weeks with us at that time and my father enjoyed the daily greens. So when he was leaving, he told my husband,”my special thanks for the daily keerai”. The next time my parents were expected, my husband said, “so, I will stop the greens from tomorrow”. I asked, “but why?”. He said, “your father apparently did not like the daily keerai, that’s why he made a dig at me jokingly.” I blurted out laughing and said, “Actually he loves Keerai and as it is difficult to get keerai everyday at home in Kerala, he really enjoyed the keerai and he was complimenting you!”

Now for the recipe.

I like to use either amaranth or spinach for keerai masiyal. Thandu keerai is for poriyal only. I like to use coconut oil for garnish as it imparts a special flavour.

Ingredients:

Spinach: 1 bunch
turmeric powder: 1 tsp.
Salt to taste.

For garnish

Coconut oil: 2 tsp.
mustard: 1tsp
urad dal: 1 tsp.
Rice: 1 tsp. (uncooked)
Red chillies: 2 nos.
Curry leaves: few

Method:

Clean and wash the spinach to remove all the dirt and soil. Boil in minimum water with salt and turmeric powder for 5-10 mnts. Cool and blend in a blender.

Heat a pan and add the coconut oil. When the oil is hot add, the mustard, urad dal, rice, broken red chillies and curry leaves, in that order. When the urad dal and rice turn pinkish red in color add the blended spinach and saute for 5 mnts. Your tasty keerai masiyal is ready. Quite quick, isn’t it?

The much awaited title:)

VISHU SADHYA was my 300th post.

When I posted that, I did not realize that I had completed 300 posts. This 300th  mark should have come quite some time ago, but for my health condition which prevented me from using my hands for a long time. What started as a mild pain at the base of my thumb in my left hand soon became very acute and I thought I may have strained my hands while doing a particularly difficult knitting pattern. We were planning a visit to our elder son at Jallandhar so I postponed any doctor’s visit till then. As soon as we arrived in Jallandhar and I explained my problem to my son, he arranged for an MRI scan and diagnosed the condition as Tenosynovitis.

I was asked to restrict the use of my hands and hence my long absence from the blog. Though I started to write in between, I had to discontinue due to the pain. I am much better now and my son says I can use my hands for short periods.  There are a few posts which I started last year, which I thought I must complete. Since  I am continuing from where I left off,  I had difficulty in bringing back my thought process of that time. The following post is from February 2012.

Back in Jalandhar and am still settling down and getting acclimatised. It is still quite chill here and  temperatures are quite low even during the day. Added to that is the advice of my son to restrict the use of my hands by wearing splints. Easier said than done. What all activities can I restrict? Even though hubby dear takes care of all the kitchen work, still there are so many activities in my day to day life, where I have to necessarily use my hands. Anyway, I am trying to restrict as much as possible.

Good opportunity to reflect on all the years gone by, actually they zoom past me fast. Well why this sudden looking back? Not without reason. For it is only recently that I became a certified senior citizen, which gives me a lot of privileges officially and otherwise.

For the starters I became a real patti in the last year and all these years in our house patti denoted my children’s patti and now when my son tells his son, “look at patti”, I am naturally turning back to see where the patti is and only later do I realise that he is referring to me. There are other privileges or the long awaited privileges as per hubby dear. In the last few years he had been telling our children very often, “another couple of years and amma can travel at 50% concession in the Indian Railways”. And as I was nearing the magic date, here comes our hon. rly minister with an announcement that women are eligible for senior citizen concession from age 58. All the years of eagerness put to rest.

The year is very special in our family because, it is not only me, but 3 of my cousins are also attaining the magical age. I am trying to visualise 4 children all under the age of 1 year in our ancestral home 60 years ago, yours truly being the senior most among them. It must have been a lovely year back home with the bawling of 4 children and the young mothers  tending them and comparing their activities. Mind you, 3 of us grew up in the same house till the age of 10 and two of us till age 15, until I went to college. When I say this to the youngsters today, they just cannot believe that 4 sets of parents with children could live in the same house for so long. Well that is history now. Today,  the youngest of my cousins has come to live in the same city as I live and we meet quite often reminiscing.

                                                 

What is special about attaining the age of 60? It is special because  the Hindu Calendar consists of  a cycle of 60 calendar years, each having a different name starting with Prabhava. When person attains the age of 60, it means he or she has completed one full cycle of the 60 years. In the days gone by, with limited availability of healthcare and nutrition, very few people completed one full cycle of 60 years. Hence there was a big celebration, which was actually a big thanksgiving for having been blessed with long life. The celebration with vedic rituals is known as “Shashtiabdapoorthi Shanthi“, during which again, the person asks for forgiveness for any sin committed knowingly or unknowingly during this long journey of life. He actually retires from active life and spends time in spiritual activities. This was also the time to hand over the responsibilities of running the household to the next heir. Symbolically, the children celebrated the shashtiabdapoorthy of the parents, thus commencing on their taking over.

However with better healthcare and other facilities, these days the average life expectancy has increased, and many people live to much older age and their responsibilities never end. In fact on attaining the age of 60 and taking retirement from one’s services, today’s senior citizens have to be more active taking care of the grandchildren and the households. The children are just waiting for their parents to retire from their professional fields so that they can have them to come over and share their responsibilities of taking care of their children and running the household.

VISHU SADHYA 2013

Our Vishu Sadhya this year was simple but very enjoyable,  especially because we are with our elder son and more so because, being Sunday, we could have our lunch at the right time.

We had mambazha pulissery, chakka curry, mixed vegetable thoran,badam payasam,pappadam and karuvadam.

We also had elai adai in the evening.

Happy Vishu once again!