Tuesday, July 31, 2012


The ‘nine-day ‘Navaratri’ festival is celebrated in October all over India. It is also known as 'Dussera' / 'Durga Puja' in North India - celebrating the killing of 'Mahishaasura', the demon by Goddess Durga. The 9th day is celebrated as 'Mahanavami' / 'Aayudha Puja' or 'Saraswati Puja' when books and musical instruments placed in front of Goddess Saraswati and puja is performed. As kids we'd love this day as we had to keep away from books! Next day, on 'Vijaya Dashami', toddlers are inducted to learning by the senior-most family member - by making them write 'Hari Sri Ganapathaye Namaha' on a tray of rice. Of course, after puja, every member begins with this writing and then takes out the books and starts reading. And singing too. 'Saraswati Puja' and 'Vijaya Dashami' are special days - with mini feasts at home - with vada & payasam.

'Navaratri' is enthusiastically celebrated by the Tam Brahm ladies and girls with ‘golu’ – decoration of dolls on an odd number of steps (5, 7 or even 9) in a room, with parks, hills, and village scenes artistically arranged on the sides.Every day, puja and ‘neivedhyam’ are offered. Ladies and girls (read children) are invited for ‘manjal-kungumam’ (‘haldi-kumkum’). Music-lovers grab this opportunity to sing at the 'golu'. The fair sex are honoured with ‘vethala-paakku’ (betel leaves & betel nuts), pazham (banana) and some variety of ‘chundal’ (or 'neivedhyam' (offering) of the day). Married ladies are given a coconut and blouse piece (or some fancy item) in addition.



Kadalai (kala chana/ black chick peas) – 1 glass (soaked overnight in water)
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Grated coconut – 3-4 tbsp
Green chilli – 2
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Whole red chilli – 2
Asafetida – ¼ tsp
Curry leaves – 8
Coriander leaves – chopped fine (2 tbsp)
Oil – 4 tsp
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon (optional)

Wash and soak the chana for 10 hours (or overnight)
Pressure cook it with turmeric powder and ½ tsp of oil for 5-6 whistles.
On cooling, drain off the water and add required salt and mix well.
Heat 3-4 tsp of oil in a pan.
Add mustard seeds, urad dal, red chilli pieces and asafetida, followed by curry leaves.
Then add the chana and mix well.
Add grated coconut and mix well.
Add lemon juice and coriander leaves and mix well.

This can be prepared as a healthy tea-time snack.
While pressure-cooking the chana, you may lower the flame after two whistles and cook for 25 minutes and turn off the gas.


A similar chundal can be prepared with 'kabuli chana' (chick peas) with the same recipe.


The same recipe holds good for this chundal using dry white peas or dry green peas - soaking them overnight and pressure-cooking them for 3-4 whistles.


This chundal is made using peanuts. I use peanut with shells which are available at this time of the year. They have to be washed thoroughly to get rid of the mud. They have to be pressure-cooked (with the shells) with water and required salt for 3 whistles. Shell them on cooling and make chundal as mentioned in the earlier recipes - use 500 gms of peanut shells.

If it is too cumbersome, you can use 1 cup of regular peanuts - soak them in water for 3-4 hours and pressure-cook them for 3-4 whistles and prepare the chundal.


This chundal is made with boiled chana dal (pressure-cooked for 3-4 whistles) instead of black chana.



Vella payaru (lobhia) – 1 glass
Jaggery – 1 glass
Grated coconut – 3-4 tbsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Salt – a pinch
Oil – ½ tsp
Ghee – 1 tsp
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp

Wash and soak the vella payaru in water for a couple of hours.
Pressure-cook it with turmeric powder and ½ tsp of oil and a pinch of salt for 3-4 whistles.
Drain off the water and use it for making jaggery syrup.
Dissolve jaggery in minimum water and boil.
Add the boiled ‘payaru’ and stir well.
Continue to heat till excess water has evaporated.
Add grated coconut and cardamom powder and a tsp of ghee and mix well.
Serve hot or cold.
The same recipe can be used for ‘pachha payaru’ (green moong) – first lightly roast the whole green moong before soaking in water and pressure-cooking.

VELLAPAYARU CHUNDAL (salty) can be prepared just like the rest of the chundals after pressure-cooking it with turmeric and salt.

Vada can be prepared as 'neivedhyam' on one of the days.

© Copyright 2011. Brinda Balasubramonian.

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