Archive for the ‘Festivals’ Category

Gulab(less) Jamun

Every Diwali, Paati would make khova from 4 litres of milk and divide it into three equal parts – 2 parts for jamun and 1 part for ice cream cake. I don’t remember a Diwali without Jamuns or Ice cream cake at Paati’s place.

The ice cream cake that she would make was of course spectacular, and the jamuns were so gorgeous and delicious – perfectly round sweet clouds that dissolved in your mouth – absolute bliss!


Makes: around 25 jamuns


  • Khova – 11/2 cups/ 1 recipe
  • Maida – 1 cup
  • Sugar – 3 cups (if you want excess syrup i.e floating jamuns increase by a cup)
  • Water – 1 cup (increase if you’re increasing sugar)
  • Cooking Soda – 3 pinches
  • Cardamom – 4 pods
  • Saffron leaves – a few
  • Oil – 1 cup (for deep frying)


  1. Combine sugar and water in a flat bottomed broad pan and simmer on a low heat until sugar dissolves. Add cardamom powder and saffron leaves and remove from fire.
  2. Knead khova, maida and soda and quickly shape into balls.
  3. Heat oil on a meidum flame. Fry the jamuns till golden brown over a low to medium flame, keeping oil temperature uniform. Oil should not smoke.
  4. Drain the jamuns and soak in the warm sugar syrup.

Serve the jamuns after half an hour.


  • You will achieve correct consistency for jamun syrup when 3 cups of sugar dissolves 1 cup water over low heat.
  • Only when the syrup is ready, mix the jamun dough. Since the dough has soda, if its kept aside the jamuns will disperse while frying and will not hold well.
  • Right temperature of oil of utmost importance to get soft jamuns.
  • Never refridgerate jamuns. Jamuns when refrigerated will shrink and become hard. Jamuns will stay fresh for 4 days when stored in air tight containers.
  • If you like you can add two drops of rose essence to the syrup to make it Gulab jamun

Gulab(less) Jamun – for the Recipe Marathon

Fellow recipe marathoners:

DKSiriSrivalliRanjiPJCurry LeafMedhaPriyaBhawnaRaajiRuchii
AnuKamalaRoopaDivya KuduaRekhaDivya MRaagaLakshmi VenkateshSripriyaViji, , Kamalika,Pavani, RoochiKaruna


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Srirama navami – 30th April

Tamizh Varuda Pirappu –14th April

Chithra pournami – 6th May

Aadi Pandigai – 16th July

Aadi Velli Kizhamai – 20th,27th  July,3rd and 10th August

Andal Thiruaadipuram- 23rd July

Pathinettam Perukku-2nd August

Avani Avittam/ Upakarma-1st August

Janmashtami/Gokulashtami-9th August

Vinayaka Chaturthi/Ganesh Chaturthi-19th September

Varalakshmi Viratham-27th July

Kovil Kannapiran Srijayanthi-8th September (For Iyengars)

Puratasi Sanikizhamai – 22nd, 29th September and 6th and 13th October

Navarathri Pujai Arambam-16th October

Saraswathi Puja ( Mahanavami)-October 23rd

Vijaya Dasami (Aayuda Puja) -October 24th

Deepavali (Naraka Chaturdasi) -November 13th

Thiru Karthigai-13thDecember

Boghi Pandigai -13th January 2013

Pongal/Sankaranthi-14th January 2013

Mattu Pongal-15th January 2013

Karadaiyan Nonbu-13th March 2013

Tamizh Puthandu-14th April 2013

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This year Varamahalakshmi puja is on 15th August. I’ve received many requests to detail the exact puja procedures. I am just a beginner when it comes to performing the pujas on my own. I have already published some details in my last years post along with the recipes for the viratham.

The exact puja procedures are available in CDs and also in the internet. For the Indians staying abroad, I would suggest that during your next trip to India make sure to buy books that explain the puja details very well.

For any puja devotion is most important. Our relationship with God should be one of faith and not fear or guilt. So just go ahead and do the puja with whatever knowledge you have.

May Goddess Lakshmi bestow upon all of us Happiness and Peace! 🙂

I will update with pictures of the Kalasam when I decorate for the puja tomorrow.
varalakshmi kalasam01

Preparing the Kalasam

Fill a pot ( Silver, copper or mud) with water. Put some coins, jewellery, tulsi, saffron and some flowers into the water. Place 5 mango leaves and coconut smeared with turmeric over the pot. You can also use leaves of 5 different flowering plants instead of mango leaves. Tie the Mugam of Ambal on the coconut. Now your kalasam is ready for the puja.  You can further decorate the Kalasam with kumkum(Haridra Soornam), Sandal paste ( Kandham) Flowers ( Pushpam) etc.

During the Puja we invoke the presence of 7 holy rivers( Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswathi,Narmada,  Sindu, Kaveri) in this order. Later we invoke the Devi and perform the Aaradanai and Archanai.

On the next day after punar puja the water in the kalasam is distributed to all family members(Theertham) and some water is sprinkled all over the house. Rest of the water is poured into Tulsi plant. The coins can be deposited in Hundi of any temple we visit.


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A big thanks to all my blogger friends who unfailingly leave their comments, though I am unable to visit any of your blogs these days. I will be back blog hopping only after the second week of February. 🙂

Pongal is the harvest festival. Farmers celebrate the festival to thank nature for the rich harvest. The festival is celebrated on the first day of Thai month (Thai Maasa pirappu). Pongal as a festival is celebrated widely with Tamils irrespective of religion. People gather in big grounds. They build large stoves with bricks and use fire wood to light the flame. Pongal is prepared in large decorated earthen pots. At home we prepare pongal in Vengalapanai (bronze pot)

Decorating the panai

A turmeric pod, a small banana and a small piece of sugarcane are tied to the neck of the pot. Shaivaites and Vaishnavaites decorate the pot with Thiruneer( Vibhudi) and Thiruman, Shree Swarnam respectively.


The next day banana and sugarcane are offered to the cow along with some sarkkarai pongal. The turmeric pod is used by the ladies to make a paste for applying on their face.


  • Rice – 1 and 1/2 cup
  • Moong dal – 1/2 cup
  • Milk – 1 and 1/2 litre
  • Jaggery – 3 cups
  • Cardamom – 6nos
  • Saffron leaves – a few
  • Ghee – 4 tablespoons
  • Cashew – 2 table spoons
  • Dry grapes – 2 table spoons


  1. Wash the rice and moong dal, drain well and keep aside.
  2. Boil milk in the decorated vengalapanai. When the milk boils and reaches the rim of the panai and slightly over flows, add the washed rice.
  3. Allow to cook over medium to low flame till the rice is soft. This takes around an hour. Add hot water or milk if required.
  4. Add grated jaggery, mix well and cook for another 15 minutes.
  5. Add powdered cardamom. Mix the saffron leaves in warm milk and add to the pongal.
  6. Garnish with cashews and dry grapes fried in ghee.

My previous post with the Vengala Panai has attracted a lot of queries on why there’s a banana, why is a sugarcane piece tied, where the turmeric is and so on. I’ll write a separate post on about why banana, sugarcane, turmeric and so on are used during festivals.

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Pongalo Pongal :)

Poongapaanai – vessel used for making Pongal

Milk for Pongal beginning to boil

Pongalo Pongal – milk boils over

ricedaladdedtopongalRice and Dal being added to make Pongal

Happy Pongal!

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All festivals celebrated anywhere in the world are for giving us respite from the routine. Just to stop for a while and enjoy the beauty of life. A few months back a friend of mine said that she hated festivals as it meant following some rituals like having a head bath, waking up early in the morning, cleaning the house a few days in advance, elaborate cooking etc, etc. She felt frustrated as she was always forced by her MIL and could never see any joy in festivals! Anything thrust upon us forcefully becomes a burden.

Thankfully I had no such bitter experiences. Though I too follow all the rituals, I do it on my own accord and that makes the huge difference! Festival means holiday for hubby and children! Cooking at a leisurely pace, dressing up kids with lovingly designed clothes, visiting friends , inviting some for lunch or dinner, exchanging pleasantries with all your loved ones atleast over phone, and so many more lovely things to look forward to on a festival day!

Some times I am not able to follow all the rituals associated with a festival. I still enjoy without any feeling of guilt! After all we are humans! My suggestion to one and all is, just let your hair down and relax and enjoy! That’s what festivals are all about! 🙂

I prepared a simple feast for Thiru Karthigai and this is my entry for Traditional feast hosted by Meeta of What’s For Lunch Honey! Thanks Meeta for hosting this wonderful event! 🙂 Though a proper traditional meal has more items in the menu, I cooked only a few. With only three of us, I had to limit the no of items.


Traditional Feast Menu

  1. Mysore rasam
  2. Avial
  3. Urad dal bhonda
  4. Suyian (Recipe below)
  5. Arbi curry ( Recipe below)
  6. Cabbage poriyal
  7. Gooseberry chutney( Recipe below)
  8. Tomato pachadi

In older days food was served in plantain leaves as it was available in plenty and also people had to find some use for these leaves, instead of letting them go waste. The tip of the leaf should be to the left hand side of the diner. On festival days a teaspoon of sugar and a banana is served in the left corner of the leaf. Rice is always accompanied by plain dal.

Urad dal bhonda

This is a slight variation to the urad dal vadas. Prepare the batter as you do for vadas. Add a few flakes of coconut, roughly crushed peppercorns and chopped curry leaves. Shape them to small balls and fry in hot oil.



  • Grated coconut – 1 cup
  • Grated jaggery – 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom – 1 no
  • Maida – 2 tablespoons
  • Oil – 100ml


  • In a heavy bottomed pan, mix jaggery, coconut and 2 tablespoons water and cook on a medium flame, stirring continously.
  • Take off the flame once the jaggery melts and blends with the coconut. Add cardamom powder and allow to cool. This is the poornam.
  • Mix maida with some water to a thick paste. Make balls out of the poornam, coat with maida paste and fry in hot oil.
  • As the poornam is already cooked only the outer covering needs to be cooked. The balls will be white when hot. As it cools the suyian will turn brown as the outer covering will soak the jaggery syrup from the poornam. This is the main reason for making the outer coating with a soft flour.

Arbi or Taro or Colacasia curry


  • Colacasia – 1/2 kg
  • Hing – 1/4 teaspoon
  • turmeric – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Thick tamarind paste – 2 table spoons ( made from lemon sized ball of tamarind)
  • Salt – 3/4 teaspoon
  • Chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Urad dal – 1 teaspoon
  • Channa dal – 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oil – 2 table spoons.


  1. Wash the colacasia well and pressure cook. Allow to cool and peel the skin.
  2. Cut into small pieces. Mix tamarind paste, salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder and hing in a bowl and coat the colacassia with this paste.
  3. Heat oil in a kadai on a medium flame. Add mustard seeds, when it crackles add urad dal and channa dal.
  4. Fry till golden. Add the colacasia and stir fry on a low flame to get crispy curry.

Gooseberry chutney


  • Gooseberries – 4 nos
  • Urad dal – 2 tablespoons
  • Mustardseeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Red chillies – 2 nos
  • Hing – a small piece
  • Turmeric powder- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Oil – 1 table spoon
  • Salt to taste


  1. Remove the seeds from gooseberries and cut into small pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a small kadai, fry the mustard, urad dal, hing and redchillies till golden. Add the gooseberries and turmeric and saute for two minutes.
  3. Allow to cool, add salt and grind to a chutney.

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