Saturday, June 9, 2012


‘Janmashtami’ / ‘Gokulashtami’ celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Any festival is an excuse for exotic delicacies in the Indian household. The Palakkad people prepare ‘murukku’, ‘cheedai’ and ‘vella cheedai’ on this occasion and offer ‘neivedhyam’ in the late evening – closer to night – though strictly speaking it has to be done at midnight when Krishna is supposed to be born! I remember my sons issuing me strict orders that my puja should be over by 5.30 pm – when they’d land up after school – the aroma pervading the home would be too tempting to the starved boys to wait any longer. So ‘Krishna’ would ‘arrive’ at our house much earlier!

I have to admit that I have modified my offerings – my mom would make wonderful ‘murukku’ – twisting the rice dough between her fingers to make the cute creation. It was my sister or me who’d fry them carefully in oil till golden brown. In spite of my mom repeatedly insisting that we try out making ‘murukku’, we never resorted to it – and so we make ‘thengozhal’ instead – the ingredients are the same (not really - we need freshly-made rice flour from still-a-bit-moist rice & fine, dry urad dal powder - in a different proportion) – and more importantly, easier to make – requiring no special skills!

When we feel like eating 'murukku', we buy from the reputed Grand Sweets / Ananda Bhavan!

I also love the yummy ‘vella cheedai’ my mom and grandma used to make – I was also aware of their nervousness every time – wondering whether they would turn out well or disintegrate or ‘burst’. So I’ve chosen not to take the risk – I make ‘neyyappam’ instead. I wonder how many of us still make 'vella cheedai'!
Some ladies make ‘vella aval’ (Krishna’s favorite– remember – Krishna’s ‘poor’ friend Kuchela brought a little bagful of aval when he comes to meet him?) ) and ‘paal payasam’ as well.

For the recipe on ‘Neiyyappam’ / ‘Appam’, please refer to the recipes of ‘Karthigai’ festival.


‘Thengozhal is one of the ‘murukku’ (chakli) varieties popular among Tam Brahms. It is made out of rice flour and urad dal powder. In earlier days, rice flour would be made fresh at home as also urad dal powder. Raw rice would be soaked in water for a couple of hours, drained and then powdered in a mixer after an hour or so and sieved. This fresh powder can be used while still damp for making thengozhal but it would be equivalent to half the quantity of dried rice flour. Urad dal powder can be made by dry roasting urad dal to a light brown and powdering in a dry grinder and sieving well so that you get fine urad dal powder. My mom would do that. And she'd always make with 2 1/2  cups (her cup was 250 ml). If she wanted to make more, she'd make a second batch of dough - she'd say that if the dough stood for long, the 'thengozhal' would absorb more oil. I have reduced the labor and use the powder I get ground at the flour mill; and I do make  2 1/2 cups alright but my cup size is 200 ml! In the modern day, we can use the dry rice flour and urad dal powder available in the stores in India and abroad. The recipe given below uses the powders available in the market. You can try by making with half the quantity mentioned in the recipe!

Makes 10-12 nos.

Preparation time - 15 minutes
Cooking time - 50 minutes

Ingredients –
Rice flour – 2 ½ cups
Urad dal powder – ¼ cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
White sesame seeds – 1 tsp
Asafetida – nearly ¼ tsp
Butter – about 2 -3 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Method –
Mix the rice flour & urad dal powder, adding salt, cumin seeds, white sesame seeds and asafetida. Add butter and mix well without any lumps.
Next add water to it and make soft dough. (Test for the consistency by putting a tablespoon of it in the chakli-maker and try pressing it down – if it requires you to put too much pressure, sprinkle a little more water and make the dough softer.)
Heat oil in a frying pan, squeeze the ‘thengozhal’ in circles in the oil and fry to a golden brown.
Drain off the oil and place them on tissue paper and store in a dry jar when cool.

I usually store my 'thengozhal powder' - it lasts for 3-4 months. You too can prepare this powder if you are in India. Dry roast 1 cup of urad dal (without oil) on medium heat till very light brown. Mix this with 4 glasses of raw rice. Get it finely ground from a flour mill – mentioning specifically that it should not get mixed with wheat flour. Sieve and store this powder and use whenever you want to make 'thengozhal'. Convenient if you are ready to take a little bit of initial trouble!


The same 'Thengozhal'powder / rice flour & urad dal powder in the same proportion as mentioned above (5:1) can be used for 'cheedai'.

Thengozhal powder - 1 1/2 cups
Coconut (grated) - 2 tbsps
Black pepper - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
White sesame seeds - 1 tsp
Butter - 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil for frying

Grind the coconut, jeera and pepper together with a little water.
Mix the flour well with butter, salt, and sesame seeds.
Add the ground coconut mixture and mix well.
Add water little by little to form a still dough.
Roll the dough gently and lightly into small marble-sized balls (making surethere are no cracks in the balls).
Heat oil in a kadhai and fry them in batches till golden brown.
Drain off onto a tissue paper.
Store in an airtight container on cooling.

Be careful when you roll out the marbles - don't roll tightly - they might'burst' while being fried!
Make sure the flour is sieved well - a coarse grain can also trigger off the 'cheedai burst'!
So ladies who have had a bitter experience with 'cheedai' are hesitant to try it out again! Remember - you have been warned!


Aval (puffed rice) (thick variety) – 2 glasses
Jaggery – ¾ glass
Grated coconut – 2-3 tbsp
Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
Cashew nuts – 8
Pottu kadalai (chutney dal) – 1 tbsp
Ghee – 2 tsps

Wash the aval and squeeze out the water gently and leave in a colander for 10 minutes.
Heat ¼ glass water in a kadhai, add the jaggery and stir.
Make a thick syrup after straining impurities if any.
Add the poha and mix well till dry. Remove from stove.
Heat 2 tsp of ghee in a small pan and fry the cashews till golden brown and remove.
In the same ghee, fry the pottukadalai till golden brown.
Add these fried stuff along with the ghee to the aval. Also add grated coconut and cardamom powder and mix well.
This dish is ready for ‘neivedhyam’ for Lord Krishna.

This is also a quick tea-time snack – nutritious and tasty.

This is prepared in some households.For the recipe, click on 'PAAL PAAYASAM' above for the link.

© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.


  1. Hello Brinda,

    Great to see a blog dedicated to Palakkad...I blog at Palakkad Chamayal, a blog which I started with the intention of preserving our traditional recipes. I do post recipes from other cuisines as well.