This is exactly a week late so let’s say this is more of a post Navarathri round up. But you could use these recipes for most festivals so I am classifying these as Tambrahm (Tamil Brahmin) festival recipes:).
Between the green smoothie frenzy, golu (dolls) exhibits and a real Navarathri schedule, things weren’t just busy – they were chaotic. This was my first year actually celebrating Navarathri traditionally and to be perfectly honest I didn’t know where to begin.
For the uninitiated, Navaratri literally means nine nights and represents a celebration of the Goddess Amba, (the Power). Over the nine days and nights, nine forms of Shakti (the sublime, ultimate, absolute creative energy) are worshipped.
In South India, prayers are offered for the 10 days in honor of the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. There is also the tradition of keeping a “golu” – an exhibition of various dolls and figurines predominantly of Gods and Goddesses in Indian mythology, placed on odd (usually 3,5, 7, 9, or 11) steps (padis). Girls and married women are usually invited to homes to view the exhibits, and are given vermillion and gifts and a token of the offerings made during the 10 days. This festival symbolizes what I would call a true expression of “girl/woman” power in the Hindu tradition.
As you can tell, a celebration for 9 days and nights needs quite a bit of organization and planning to make it a stress free festival. This year, I was also starting a new job the same week so you can see why I was beginning to obsess about it weeks before it began:)
One phone call to my mother-in law was the antidote. She is by far the most resourceful person I know when it comes to planning for festivals and events. She has always been the “cook it and leave (the kitchen)” type of person and her secret has been her inimitable way of organizing and planning her schedule. I say “inimitable” as there is no exact science to it – it’s all in her head and still quite well planned:) She has a simple rule –
- Start the day before – make a few easy desserts that will last you the 10 days.
- Keep these desserts for those rushed mornings when you don’t have the time to make neivedyam (offering) from scratch
- Create a schedule of payasams and quick desserts for the slightly relaxed mornings.
I felt so much better when I spoke to her. But I realized this was going to be an annual routine and I needed to record these somewhere to actually remember the tips. So I created a time table or menu of sorts for Navarathri. Again, this is probably too late but am sharing it for posterity and for referring back to this next year. Plus these recipes are pretty standard Tamil festival fare, use them for Diwali, Varalakshmi puja,you get the gist:)
Day before Navarathri :
I made these simple rava and Maa laddos. Recipe courtesy – Indra V, my mother-in-law:).
Simple, ghee laden delicacies.The best part, they don’t need any cooking really and last through the 10 days, well refrigerated of course.
Rava and Maa Ladoos:
For Rava Laadoos:
- 1 cup semolina or rava
- 3/4 cup sugar (I used raw sugar which may make the laadoos light brownish)
- 1/4 cup ghee or clarified butter
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/4 cup broken cashews
- In a pan add 1 tsp ghee and roast the cashews till golden brown.
- Remove the cashews and in the same pan, add the rava and roast till you get a nice aroma. Do not let it change color so ensure you keep stirring for about 5 minutes or so.
- Let this cool completely.
- Grind the rava to a fine powder.
- Grind the sugar to a fine powder.
- Mix the two in a bowl and add the cardamom powder. Mix well.
- Transfer this mixture to a wide bowl. Add the remaining melted ghee slowly to this and mix well.
- The mixture will begin to get a bit sticky like when you add water to sand. Take fistfuls of this mixture and make round balls. If there is enough ghee you will find it easy to make the balls. If not you may add a bit of milk to the mixture to ensure the balls hold together.
- Allow the ladoos to cool and store in air tight containers.
For Maa Ladoos: (the exact same procedure only the ingredients are slightly different)
- Roasted gram dal or pottu kadalai – 1 cup
- Raw sugar – 1 cup
- Ghee – 1/4 cup to 1 cup
- Cardamom powder – 1.2 tsp
- Cashews, broken – 1/4 cup
Day 2 and Day 5:
Cous Cous Payasam
I had never made payasam with cous cous before though the method was the same as any other jaggery based payasam recipes. This one is adapted from Biny’s recipes. Result was a creamy payasam with the right texture and just the right amount of sweetness. You may substitute the cous cous with broken wheat as well to make on another of the days.
- Coconut milk-1cup
- Hot boiling water11/2cup
- Cumin seeds1/2tsp,roasted and crushed
- Cardamom pods-3,crushed
- Nuts and raisins-3tbsps
- 1. Heat about 1 tbsp ghee in a small kadai and when hot add the broken nuts and raisins. Fry till golden brown and keep aside.
- 2. Take the cous cous in a bowl. Pour some boiling water (1- 1 1/2 cup) on the couscous and close the lid.
- 3. Take the jaggery in another bowl, add some boiling water (2 tbsp) and heat it on a low flame till the jaggery melts,
- 4. Add the jaggery to the cous cous. Also add the cardamom powder.
- 5. Heat this mixture on a medium flame. until the cous cous and the jaggery are well mixed and the mixture becomes thick.
- 6. Turn off the heat. Slowly mix in the coconut milk and mix well.
- 7. Add the nuts and raisins.
You can serve warm or chill in the refrigerator before serving.
Sweet Corn Sundal Recipe
- Sweet corn kernels- 1 cup
- Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
- Salt to taste
For the seasoning
- Oil – 1 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Urad dal -1/2 tsp
- Red chilli – 2-3
- Hing – a pinch
- Green chilli – 3
- Curry leaves – a sprig
- 1. Microwave or steam the corn with some salt till it is cooked.
- 2. Heat some oil in a heavy bottom vessel, add mustard seeds. When it begins to splutter, add the urad dal, red chili and asafetida.
- 3. Now add slit or crushed green chilies and curry leaves.
- 4. Add the corn and season with salt. Mix well. Garnish with grated coconut, cilantro chopped and some lemon juice if needed.
- 1 cup Grated Coconut
- 3-4 thai green chilies
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 2 sprigs curry leaves.
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1/2 tsp Urad Dhal
- 2 Dry Red Chilly
- Curry Leaves – a sprig
- Asafetida – a pinch
- Oil – 1 tsp
- Pressure cook the nuts with some salt.
- Grind the coconut, green chili, cilantro, ginger and curry leaves in a blender to a coarse powder.
- Heat the oil and add the mustard seeds, urad dhal and asafetida.
- Add the curry leaves, red chili and stir for a minute.
- Mix in the boiled peanuts and salt and stir well for a few minutes.
- Add the ground chili coconut powder/paste and mix well. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
You can also make black bean sundal the same way as above (use either the corn recipe or the peanut sundal recipe, just substitute the corn with the black beans.