With festivals coming up we normally end up making so many sweets. And Payasam being such a common one we end up making different combination in making it. This payasam was another special treat that Amma makes. The addition of carrot makes it attractive for the kids and makes it very healthy also.

I always remember Amma making some kind of payasam for Saturday Pooja. Infact I started loving semiya payasam only after eating it so often every Saturday. To ease the monotony, Amma twists the recipe frequently. I remember her using Sago on many occasions. That silky texture that renders when you chew a sago gives you a distinct taste. With flavoursome carrots this payasam was one I can always remember.


Ingredients Needed:


Sago - 2 tsp
Vermicelli / Semiya - 50 gms
Milk - 1/2 litre
Carrot, grated - 50 gms
Sugar - 50 gms
Cardamon - a pinch
Clarified Butter / Ghee - 3 tsp
Cashew Nuts, Raisins - handful

Method to prepare:

Soak Sago for 1/2 hr prepare cook with water just enough to cover it. Cook till it is tender. Keep it aside.

Heat a pan with ghee, roast the nuts and keep it aside.

Grate the carrots and roast it in ghee followed by Vermicelli.

Meanwhile boil milk in a pan, once it thickens, Slowly add Sago along with water, roasted semiya and carrot to the milk, simmer till everything gets done to partial.

Add sugar and simmer for 10 mins for the sugar to dissolve.

Finally add the roasted nuts. Bring to boil and switch.


The mix of all three ingredients makes it unique and at the same time very healthy. If required, you can reduce the sugar if the carrots used are sweet.

Semiya Payasam gets done on most Festival days. Do share what special dishes you are planning to make for the Diwali. 

Here's wishing you all a great week ahead!


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We celebrate Diwali with lots of sweets and crackers. To smoothen our stomach and to avoid indigestion, we prepare this marundhu – proper English translation is Medicine. Our ancestors used to add many ingredients in this which cannot be ground in our modern mixie. But in this fast world, everything is simple – we get ready made powder called – Diwali Marundhu powder in shops. Just you have to add jaggery and prepare it. That’s all. Some may not trust the ingredients (like me?). So they make it simple and prepare this with fewer ingredients at home. Here is a simple recipe which can be prepared at any time as the ingredients are easily available everywhere.



Ingredients:

Coriander powder 1 small cup
Jeera powder ½ cup
Fresh ginger paste or Chukku/dried ginger powder ¼ cup (I used ¼ cup ginger juice and ¼ cup chukku powder for extra hotness)
Dates Syrup 1 cup or Vellam/Jaggery 1 ¼ cups
Elaichi powder ½ tsp
Ghee ¼  cup

If you use fresh ginger – peel and grind it nicely in the mixie. Or else to avoid the fiber, you can extract juice through juicer and add it. Or else use dried ginger powder alone. Either way you can follow.

In a MW vessel, add everything and cook on high for 5 minutes, stirring in between. Cook few more minutes till you reach the consistency.

Or else, take a bottom thick vessel, dissolve jaggery with ½ cup of water. Strain for impurities and boil the syrup. After few minutes add all other ingredients and stir it continuously by adding ghee in installments. When it starts thickening remove. It will harden while cooling. This process might need more ghee.



Instead of jaggery, I added dates syrup (store bought one). The taste is very nice.

Normally it is prepared during Diwali times. But it can be prepared at any time and kept handy which is good for indigestion. Select tender ginger for this. 


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This one is our traditional sweet and normally prepared during Diwali. As usual each one has got their own method of preparing it. I prefer the following way, as it gives soft granules. By this way you need less ghee also.


Ingredients:

Channa dhal ½ cup
Tur dhal ¼ cup
Moong dhal ¼ cup (Or you can use only channa dhal also)
Grated fresh coconut ¾ cup

Vellam/Jaggery 1 cup (as per your taste)
Elaichi powder ¼ tsp
Fried Cashews
Ghee 3 tbsp





Preparation:

Dry roast the dhals and wash and soak in water for 2 -3 hours. Drain the water and leave it in colander for at least 30 minutes. Grind it in the grinder without adding water. Need not be too smooth but not too grainy too. When you touch the batter it will not stick to your hand. It will be like this

Remove it and steam cook this batter in the idli plates for about 12-15 minutes. Let it cool. Break it into granules. It will look like this.




In 1 tsp ghee, roast the cashews first then roast the grated coconut till golden brown.

Now take a thick bottom vessel and boil the jaggery with ½ cup of water. Strain for impurities. Leave it to boil again till you reach soft ball consistency.  When you leave ¼ tsp syrup in 1 tsp water, you must be able to form a soft ball. At this stage, add the elaichi powder, coconut and the steamed batter. Mix well adding ghee in installments. As the batter is already steam cooked, it may not take more than 3-4 minutes. By this way, you can reduce the ghee also. I added only 2 tbsp. Garnish with cashews. A grainy ukkarai is ready. Very tasty with the mixture of dhals.


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Verakadalai Chundal
Verakadalakai chundal ~ Peanut sauté

It is Navratri in India. A time to dance, to rejoice over the peace brought on earth by Goddess Durga according to Indian Mythology and an excuse for getting in touch with near and dear ones! If you look more closely, you will find that it is a celebration of women power (Goddess Durga being a manifestation of Shakti in various forms). Each day of Navratri is characterized by offering prayers to the Goddess Durga and other female deities. Gujarat and Bengal bring in the festival with vibrancy. Gujaratis play garba (a folk dance) in colourful outfits while bengalis play with kumkum. South has a more subdued form of celebrating the festival. We set up a 'golu', steps filled with statuettes of Gods and Godesses, figurines depicting the life and culture of people and sometimes a small garden by the side of the golu. Setting up the 'golu' was fun as kids. It is something similar to decorating a Christmas tree requiring imagination, energy and joy!

No festival however goes without its share of sweets and savouries and in India these are made in abundance! All nine days of Navratri we make different types of sundals (chundal / sautes) to offer as 'prasadam' towards the end of each prayer session.

What is the point of making so many sweets, you might wonder! Well, it is all about sharing. During the nine nights of Navratri, we have a gathering of women friends and we offer them the prasad along with a momento and an assembly of betel leaves, turmeric packet, kumkum (vermilion tilak powder) and betel nuts. [picture below]

Some of these ideas have already been shared by Viji earlier in Beyond Curries. Today I am presenting yet another sundal. This time it is made of peanuts (ground nuts), a legume belonging to the family fabaceae. Sundals hardly take any time and can be used as a side dish with gravy and rice as well as a tea time snack by themselves. They are so versatile!



Recipe: Kadalai sundal ~ peanut sauté
Preparation Time : 10 minutes excluding soaking time
Serves : 2 persons
Recipe Level: Easy
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom


Ingredients:

Raw peanuts - 1 cup (Soaked overnight or for 4 to 5 hrs.)
Green chilli - 1
Coconut, grated freshly - 2 tbsp.
Curry leaves - 1 sprig, leaves trimmed
Asafoetida - A pinch
Oil (any neutral oil, preferably coconut oil) - 1 tsp.
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp.
Split, husked, blackgram - 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste

Verakadalai Chundal
Verakadalakai chundal ~ Peanut sauté

Method:

Steam, pressure cook or boil and strain the soaked peanuts with a little salt till cooked. Drain and set aside.

Heat a wok or kadhai with the oil. When hot, splutter mustard seeds followed by the blackgram. When they turn light golden add the curry leaves, hing and peanuts in the same order.

Adjust salt if needed.

In a mortar crush a tsp. of coconut with the green chilli well.

Add the crushed mix and the rest of the coconut to the wok and saute till the ingredients are uniformly distributed.

Makes a good tea time snack!

I always add a tablespoon of finely chopped raw mango as well. It brings a nice surprise while eating, but is optional.


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Sounds like classic combination? Yes it is. I have tried before cashew, coconut and milk which is my favorite. Very rich and creamy. With the use of Microwave (MW), with less fat, it came out very well and topped with chopped almond nuts (raw) it was a real treat.

When you try make sure, you keep the sugar level right which is the binding agent in all sweets. If you reduce it, you won’t get the consistency. And the timings here I have given will also vary as per the vessel, oven, and the ingredients quality. If you are trying for the first time and not sure about the consistency level, try in small quantity to avoid wastage. If you have taken before the time and it is halwa consistency, add some milk powder and adjust it but not any flour. These are only remedies when you go wrong.


 
Ingredients:
Almond meal/flour 1.5 cups
Gram/besan flour 1 cup
Milk 1 cup
Sugar 3 cups
Ghee 5 +1 tbsp for greasing (fresh home made)
Elaichi powder 1 tsp
Broken raw almonds 2 tbsp for garnishing

One big MW proof vessel.



Preparation

Dry fry the besan flour for 2 minutes. Leave it cool.

In a MW vessel take sugar and milk together. MW high for 2-3 minutes. Add the almond meal and besan flour and mix well. Since it is fried a little bit before, it is will not form lumps. Add 1 tbsp ghee and cook on high for 2-3 minutes again. Add the remaining ghee in installments. When you can form a soft ball out of the mass stop cooking. It took me 13-15 minutes totally. I used to keep stirring, after taking it out from the oven for a while before spreading. If you want soft ones, spread it immediately.

Spread this on a greased plate (1 tbsp ghee) and smooth the top. I have used a small flat bottom steel vessel greased with ghee to even the top. Press the chopped almond on top. Slice it with sharp knife. Let it cool.  


Normally we get ready made almond meal (flour). If not available soak 10-12 badams, peel the skin and grind it with little milk into fine paste and use it. I find this almond meal is a handy one for my baking.


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