Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Vadapappu (వడపప్పు)

Ethereal Vadapappu

With only one ingredient, this has to be the easiest neivedyam one could prepare on a festival day. A Sri Rama Navami original classic, rehydrated yellow moong dal is a delight and goes by a special name Vadapappu.

The surprising good taste comes from the simplicity of the preparation. No cooking involved. No spices, no oil and not even salt or sugar. Just soak the moong dal in water overnight. Half cup would be enough for two people. Drain. Rinse once, and consume. The taste will be extra good when prepared with split moong dal. Follow the same principle. Soak overnight, rinse the dal in several changes of water to remove the green coverings. Like mini yellow roses peeking from a rose bush, the revealed moong dal in pale yellow color will take the breath away with simple beauty.

Vadapappu may look innocent and inconspicuous but it’s a protein powerhouse, easily digestible, and nourishing to human body.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Moong Dal (Split), Moong Dal (Washed), Traditions (Tuesday April 15, 2008 at 7:48 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Semiya Payasam

Photo Purchase Keyword: Semiya, Payasam
(Please don’t photosteal. Make a photo purchase to digital download and to print.)

From hearing the Purandaradasa’s spiritual keerthana “Rama nama payasakke“, we will know that the semiya payasam we prepare at home has at least 500+ years of history. The recipe ingredients and the method have remained unchanged all these years. That is the greatness and as well as the simplicity of this recipe. What has changed is our attitude and regard towards such honest and soulful food. But that is a topic for another time. For now, continuing the 500 plus year old tradition, here is how I prepared the semiya payasam at my home for Neivedyam.

Semiya, Sugar, Ghee, Milk, Cashews and Draksha ~ Ingredients for Payasam


4 cups whole milk
½ cup cane sugar, ( or to taste)
Fine semiya, one bunch, about the size that fits baby’s fist (10″ long)
2 tablespoon of ghee, melted
16 cashews and 16 golden raisins
4 cardamom pods, seeds powdered

Heat ghee in a wide pot. Add and toast golden raisins to pink balloons first, and then cashews to pale gold color. Remove them in to a plate.

In the same pot, add and toast the semiya for one to two minutes. (This is to remove the raw wheat smell of semiya and I usually do it, but this is optional.) Take the toasted semiya to a plate and keep aside.

In the same pot, add the milk and stir in sugar. Bring the milk to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat and add the semiya. Also the cashews, golden raisins and cardamom powder. Simmer on slow heat for ten minutes. The fine semiya floats like water lily stems in a pond of sweetened milk. That is the consistency we want in semiya payasam.

Serve warm or cold, and enjoy this fine, honest dessert in the name of tradition.

A Sweet 500+ year old tradition ~ Semiya Payasam

Semiya, the fine wheat noodles are a speciality of India. They are prepared with durum wheat flour and water. Semiya is egg free, and that is the major difference between western egg-laden vermicelli and Indian semiya. (Semiya is available at Indian grocery shops).


Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sugar, Milk, Indian Sweets 101, Traditions, Semiya (Tuesday January 15, 2008 at 7:13 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

A special Recipe for the Ultimate Bliss ~ Semiya Payasam

Bhukthi means nourishment. While nutritious food is needed to sustain us for everyday activities and the maintenance of this physical body, a different kind of Bhukthi is necessary to satisfy our cravings to realize the true happiness in ourselves. Constant indulgence in the name of God (Bhakthi) provides the nourishment to realize the bliss of boundless divinity in the ego-limited humans.

This relation between Bhakthi and Bhukthi thus goes deep and this concept is brought to the people in beautiful poetry and song by many saint musicians of India.

Saint Purandara Dasa, the father of Carnatic music has created song and music the way to achieve the happiness which we all seek. He has composed innumerable songs called keerthana’s, full of wisdom and devotion eternalized in the hearts of people. His message of morals is handed out in easily understandable form, woven together with stories from the epics, along with beautiful expressions and analogies. No wonder his songs have pleased, inspired and guided people since more than four hundred years.

Stamp Commemorating Sri Purandara Dasa
Stamp Commemorating Sri Purandara Dasa

God is the source for infinite happiness and he has infinite names, infinite forms and is ubiquitous. For Purandara Dasa, God is Purandara Vittala in whose form he saw all other manifestations or avatars of God like Rama, Krishna, Shiva and Hanuma.

The spiritual song “Rama nama payasakke” is quite popular and sung by many in their own versions. It was written in the beautiful south Indian language of Kannada which is said to be as enchanting as the fragrance of kasturi. Saint Purandara Dasa elicits the great bliss in chanting the name of the God Vittala in “Rama Nama Payasakke“.

The keerthana explains with an easy analogy on how to obtain the spiritual bliss or Ananda with a recipe to make payasam.

The keerthana goes like this:

Pallavi: rAma nAma pAyasakke krSNa nAma sakkare viTTala nAma tuppava kalasi bAya capparisiro
Charana1: ommAna gOdiya tandu vairAgya kallali bIsi summane sajjige tegadu kammana shAvige hosedu
Charana2: hrdayavembo maDikeyalli bhAvavembo esaraniTTu buddhiyinda pAka mADi harivANake baDisikoNDu
Charana3: Ananda Anandavembo tEgu bandidu kaNIrO Ananda mUruti namma purandara viTTalana neneyiro

Purandara Dasa sings, “O people, indulge in the lip-smacking-good payasam called Rama nama, which is made sweet with the sugar called Krishna nama and is richly folded with the ghee called Vittala nama”.

Then he describes the meticulous details needed to make this special payasam from the scratch.

First obtain wheat flour of honor. Grind it in the mill of detachment. Make the dough called simplicity and draw thin semiya noodles from it.

In the pot called your heart, boil the noodles with the milk of feelings. Cook it then with the wisdom of worship.

Add the sweetness of Krishna’s name as sugar, and the nourishing richness of Vittala’s name as the ghee and lo you have your lip-smacking-delicious payasam.

Purandara Dasa even describes the proper method to enjoy the delicious payasam. He beckons us to serve it on a large platter and enjoy it. When burps emanate out of fulfillment, he asks us to remember the name of God Vittala who is the embodiment of immeasurable happiness and ecstasy.

Through this keerthana, purandara dasa gave us a recipe to live an ideal life. To live our life with honor, come through the grinds of materialistic attachments with austerity, and obtain the raw material for happiness using the simple method of devotion. Allow the feelings of joy and love boil in our heart wisely, and celebrate every moment of our life bit by bit contemplating God’s grace with gratitude. That is the ultimate sweet bliss!

Makara Sankranthi Shubhakankshalu!

Semiya, Sugar, Ghee, Milk, Cashews and Draksha ~ Ingredients for Payasam

Rakthi Raga for Bhukthi ~ Semiya Payasam

Article Contributed by Madhuri Akkenepalli (Friend of Mahanandi)
Photos by Indira Singari
Previously on Rakthi Raga for Bhukthi:
Of Being and Becoming ~ Ragi Idlies by Janani Srinivasan

Saint Purandara Dasa on Wiki.
Audio Links to “Rama Nama Payasakke”:
by Sreemathi Sudha Raghunathan and Vijayalakshmi Subrahmaniam

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sugar, Bhakthi~Bhukthi, Semiya, Madhuri Akkenepalli (Monday January 14, 2008 at 1:11 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:


On Krishnatashtami, we celebrate the Bhagavan Krishna’s birthday. The scriptures portray bala (baby) Krishna as a happy and mischievous child with boundless energy and great fondness for all things milk. Milk, yogurt, buttermilk, cream, ghee, venna, and milk based sweets are lovingly offered to bala Krishna during this festival time. In our family, for pooja neivedyam we prepare venna (the cream layer from yogurt) and pala kova or kalakand.

Kalakand, an exquisite milk-based sweet preparation is an interesting process. Concentrated milk called khoya and fresh paneer called chhana are mixed and simmered together with sugar to a luxurious thick, firmness. The mixture is cooled, then cut to squares and garnished with pistachios. That is kalakand of my hometown Nandyala. As you can imagine, the kalakand has a rich taste.

Depending on the khoya-chhana ratio and sugar variety, kalakand is 2 types.
Milky-white kalakand: Three parts chhana and one part khoya together simmered slowly with white sugar for hours. Continuous stirring and low heat cooking result in a pure-white kalakand. It’s a labor intensive process and usually you will find this milky-white kalakand at Indian sweet shops.
Coral-pink kalakand. Chhana and Khoya are in 1:1 or 1:3 ratio and unprocessed, old-world style red sugar (turbinado) sweetens and colors the kalakand. This is the type we prepare at our home. Both varieties taste equally delicious, but I prefer the Coral-pink colored kalakand. Here is how I made it for Krishnashtami prasadam.

(takes about 2-3 hours. Makes about 18 to 20 2×2x1 square shaped Kalakand)

½ gallon whole milk and juice from one lime - to prepare chhana
½ gallon whole milk - to prepare Khoya
2 to 2½ cups - unprocessed cane sugar (turbinado)
1 cup, shelled and unsalted pistachios - coarsely crushed for garnish
Silver or gold foil to decorate the kalakand

2 big, sturdy, wide based pots
Lots of patience. Family or friends on the side definitely will help and make the process more enjoyable.

Chhana for Kalakand

1. Milk: Place the pots on stove-top and add half gallon milk to each pot to prepare chhana and khoya simultaneously.

Chhana: In one pot, once the milk starts to boil, reduce the heat. Add the limejuice (lemon juice) and stir. Within minutes, you will see small clouds like white curds floating on top. Wait till they get bigger (if they don’t, add some more limejuice and stir) and the whey below gets less milky. This process takes few minutes, so wait at least five minutes. Switch off the heat and let it stand for few more minutes. Then pour the whole thing immediately into a clean muslin or cheese-cloth in a colander, over a sink. Gather the curds by twisting the cloth into a firm lump. The fresh paneer called chhana is ready.

Milk simmering thickened milk after 1 hour on the stove
Simmering Milk ………….. Thickened milk (khoya) after 2 Simmering Hours

Khoya: In another pot, once the milk starts to boil and lower the heat and simmer, until the milk gets thick and is reduced to about one fourths of the original quantity. This is khoya. (While thickening, stir frequently. Care must be taken that milk does not stick to the bottom of the pot and burn/black.)

2. Add Sugar: To the khoya, add the freshly prepared chhana (paneer) and sugar. On low heat, cook, continuously mixing, until the khoya-chhana mixture thickens to a waterless-firm lump. This process takes about 45 minutes to one hour.

3. Decorate: Pour the firm mixture onto a plate. Level it evenly and allow to cool completely. The mixture thickens and firms up even more on cooling. With a knife, cut the cooled kalakand to squares or diamonds. Place the gold or silver foil on kalakand and sprinkle pistachios. Offer the jewel like decorated kalakand neivedyam to Bhagavan Krishna and enjoy the prasadam pieces with family and friends.

Kalakand stays fresh up to a week when refrigerated.

Kalakand Cooling

Kalakand Cut to Squares

Kalakand Jeweled with Pistachios ~ for Indian Sweets 101

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Paneer, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Pistachios, Milk, Indian Sweets 101 (Wednesday September 5, 2007 at 3:42 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Naivedyam and Thambulam


Naivedyam for Lakshmi Devi (Peace and Prosperity) and
Thambulam for You, My Dear Family and Friends

Thambulam (Vayanam)
వరలక్ష్మి పూజ శుభాకాంక్షలు!
Have a Lovely Weekend Everyone!

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets) (Friday August 24, 2007 at 3:20 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Jaggery Rice Pudding)

Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Jaggery Rice)
Sankranthi Prasadam ~ Bellam Paramannam (Sweet Jaggery Rice)

Bellam Paramannam or jaggery sweet rice pudding is a creamy rice dessert with a difference, being sweetened by old world sugar - “jaggery” and subtly flavored with cardamom. It is wonderful warm or cold and usually served as puja prasadam on festivals like Sankranthi (the harvest festival).


1 cup Sona Masuri rice
2 cups milk + 2 cups water
2 cups jaggery + 1 cup water
½ cup each - cashews and golden raisins
¼ cup - ghee
4 cardamom pods - seed powdered

This is how I prepare this traditional sweet:

Cook rice in milk and water to very tender, falling apart stage.

Melt jaggery in water and simmer to plain syrup stage.

Add cooked rice to jaggery syrup. Mix and cook on medium-low heat.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat ghee on medium heat. First fry cashews and then golden raisins to light gold color. Add the whole thing - ghee along with fried cashews and golden raisins to the rice-jaggery mixture.

Simmer on medium-low heat stirring in-between, until the whole thing thickens a bit and comes together to moist, firm mass.

Just before turning off the heat, stir in cardamom powder and mix thoroughly. Serve warm or cold.

Milk, Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Golden Raisins and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Bellam Paramannam
Milk, Rice, Ghee, Jaggery, Golden Raisins and Cashews ~ Ingredients for Bellam Paramannam

Adding the cooked rice to Jaggery Syrup
Adding the cooked rice to Jaggery Syrup

Bellam Paramannam
Bellam Paramannam to celebrate Sankranthi

Kitchen notes:
When directly added, jaggery sometimes could separate milk avaialble here, into curds and whey. Preparing rice with milk first and then adding it to jaggery syrup is my way for fail proof bellam paramannam prasadam.
Paramannam with sugar ~ Recipe
Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali) ~ Recipe
From Telugu to English: Bellam = jaggery, Paramannam = Sweet rice

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sona Masuri Rice, Ghee, Indian Sweets 101 (Monday January 15, 2007 at 3:52 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Coconut (Kobbari, Nariyal, Kopra or Thenga)

Coconut - Young and Mature
Young coconut removed from its hard outer green shell and
Mature Coconut

Young Coconut and Coconut Water
The top of the young coconut is cut using a sharp knife for sweet coconut water and to remove tender coconut pieces. Pure and fulfilling food!

Fresh Coconut Water and Fresh, Young Coconut
Divine Coconut Water and Delicious Coconut Pieces
Sacred and Nourishing Treat ~ to Toast the New Year: 2007
My Entry to Jihva for January, hosted by Ashwini of Food for Thought.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in The Essentials, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Indian Ingredients, Indian Kitchen, Coconut (Fresh), Jihva For Ingredients (Monday January 1, 2007 at 1:21 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Paramannam (Sweet Rice)

Paramannam Prasadam for Indian Sweets 101


6 cups of milk
2 cups of cooked rice
1 cup of sugar/powdered jaggery or to taste
¼ cup of - golden raisins and cashews together, roasted in ghee
4 cardamom pods - seeds powdered
1 tablespoon of ghee

In a large, thick-bottomed saucepan, combine milk and sugar (or jaggery). Cook until sugar melts and milk thickens (just a little bit). Add cooked rice, cashews, golden raisins, cardamom powder and ghee. Mix thoroughly and cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring in-between, until the whole thing comes together. Turn off the heat. Keep it covered for few minutes. Paramannam further thickens on cooling. Serve warm or for a cool refreshing taste, refrigerate for about one hour.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice), Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Milk, Sona Masuri Rice, Golden Raisins, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday August 4, 2006 at 2:55 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Moong Dal Payasam (Pesara Pappu Payasam)

A Cup of Moong dal Payasam
A Cup of Moong dal Payasam for Indian Sweets~101

If I have to choose between a cup of payasam and a slice of cake, I’d always go for the cup. Here, mothers prepare cakes lovingly; back in India, payasams are the norm. Every Saturday my mother would prepare payasam for puja naivedyam. I believe she prepared payasam mainly because of us, four little darlings:), who would come home from school hungry for something sweet. We had half-day school on Saturdays and afternoon meals at my mother’s home always included a type of payasam. Creamy rich with full of cashews and golden raisins, it was like spoonful of heaven on a warm afternoon.

Together between my mom and mother-in-law, there are recipes for at least a dozen different payasams. Who would really need a cook book when you have this type of rich resource right a phone call away? Because they all follow a basic method, it’s not that difficult to remember the procedure. Moong dal payasam is one such easy recipe I picked up from the family.

Moong dal is cooked in sweetened and thickened, rich poppy seed milk. Light golden hue, incredible, inviting aroma and delight to the senses - this is how I would describe this payasam.

Roasted in Ghee - Yellow Moong Dal


Moong dal, yellow (pesara pappu) - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk - 5 cups
Poppy seeds (Khus-khus, gasa gasalu) - ¼ cup
(Soaked in ½ cup of warm water for at least half an hour, to soften them)
Cashews and Golden Raisins, each - ¼ cup
Cardamom (Elachi, aluka) - 6
Ghee (neyyi) - 2 tablespoons

Prep Work:

1 In an iron skillet or tava, heat a teaspoon of ghee on medium heat. Add and roast, yellow moong dal until the color changes from yellow to light red and releases the wonderful fragrance. Remove them to a plate. Aromatherapy starts with this first step.

2 In the same iron skillet or tava, heat a tablespoon of ghee on medium heat. When it is hot, add and toast first golden raisins and then cashews. Golden Raisins puff up like little gold balloons and cashews turn from creamy white to light gold. Take care not to burn. Remove them to a plate.

3 Powder cardamom seeds to smooth powder in a mortar using the pestle or in a spice grinder.

Toasted in Ghee - Cashews and Golden Raisins
Toasted in Ghee - Cashews and Golden Raisins

In a pressure cooker, take roasted moong dal, sugar, milk and soaked poppy seeds along with the water it’s soaked in. Mix and close the lid. Pressure cook until two whistles. Once all the valve pressure is released, remove the lid and with a wood-masher or immersion blender lightly mash the dal. Pressure-cooking is my method; I follow it mainly for the convenience of not stirring and for the speed. In actual recipe, they would take all the ingredients in a wide, thick-bottomed vessel and cook until the dal reaches fall-apart stage. If you don’t have a pressure cooker at home, then follow the second method. It may take little bit more time, but the end result will be worth the trouble, I promise.

Add the toasted cashews and golden raisins along with the ghee they toasted in. Also stir in the cardamom powder to the cooked payasam. Have a taste and add sugar and milk, if needed. Simmer the payasam on medium-low heat about 20 to 30 minutes, until it reaches thick, creamy consistency. Serve warm or cold.

A Cup of Moong Dal Payasam with Poppy Seeds, Cashews and Golden Raisins

Poppy seeds can block the cooker nozzle and that may create a mess, if they not soaked in warm water beforehand. Soak poppy seeds in water first, if you are to cook this in a pressure cooker.
Chana Dal Payasam - Link

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Sugar, Milk, Moong Dal (Washed), Indian Sweets 101, Poppy Seeds (Friday June 9, 2006 at 8:31 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

13. Chana Dal Payasam (Sanaga Pappu Payasam)

Yesterday, on Ugadi, the weather was perfect with temperatures around 70 F. It felt like spring and Andhra weather. To celebrate this perfect day on Ugadi, I prepared chana dal payasam (sanaga pappu payasam) for puja.

Payasam is the most common type of dessert served in homes across south India. Prepared with basic ingredients and following a simple method, Payasam- the liquidy dessert, is a people pleaser. Usually the base is a thickened milk and sugar or jaggery syrup. The solid component varies - protein in the form of chana dal or moong dal are added. Or by adding carbos like rice, vermicelli, sabudana and nuts like almonds; different types of payasams are prepared. Real easy and the outcome is always sweet mouthfuls, it is a favorite among children and adults all alike. Here is the recipe for one of my favorite payasams:

(For two)

1 cup chana dal
¼ cup sabudana (Sago, Saggu Biyyam)
separately, soak them in water for at least two hours. Presoaking both chana dal and sabudana (sago) reduces the cooking time, considerably.
For sweet syrup
1 cup of powdered jaggery or sugar
3 cups of milk
1 tablespoon of ghee
¼ cup of cashews and golden raisins
4 cardamom pods - seeds finely powdered

Chana dal, Sabudana (Sago), Milk and Jaggery - Ingredients for Payasam

1. Take chana dal and one cup each of milk and water in a pressure-cooker. Pressure-cook the dal until one whistle, just to soften the chana dal. Do not disintegrate the dal; take care not to over cook.

2. Meanwhile in a thick bottomed, big vessel, take half cup of water. Add sugar or powdered jaggery. Stir and cook, until the sugar/jaggery melts. When the syrup starts to thicken, add the soaked sabudana, and 2 cups of milk. Cook them on medium heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring in between. To this milk-sugar-sabudana syrup, add the contents of the pressure cooker - chana dal and the milky liquid it is cooked. Stir and check the sweetness level, add sugar if needed. Simmer on medium heat, Uncovered, stirring occasionally for another 15 minutes or until it reaches consistency/thickness, you desire. Keep in mind payasam further thickens on cooling.

3. When all this is happening, heat a spoonful of ghee in a small pan. Add and toast - first cashews, then golden raisins until light brown. Add these toasted things along with ghee, to the simmering payasam.

4. Finally stir in powdered cardamom, simmer another 5 minutes. Switch off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let it sit for at least half an hour. Serve warm or cold.

Golden Raisins fried in ghee, Cashews, Soaked Chana dal, Payasam (Sanaga pappu Payasam)
Chana dal payasam (Sanaga Pappu Payasam) ~ For this week’s Indian sweets 101

I also prepare the same payasam with chana dal(bengal gram) without adding the sabudana(sago).
Sometimes, I also add fine semolina instead of sabudana to chana dal payasam.
Toasted fresh coconut gratings are also added along with cashews and golden raisins for that rich nutty sweetness.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Chana Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Milk, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday March 31, 2006 at 1:15 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Indian Sweets 101 ~ (a series by Indira)

As much as we, Indians are famous for our spicy food, we also love and prepare lots of sweets for every occasion. You wouldn’t notice this if your Indian culinary knowledge were gained from reading Indian cookbooks or eating out at Indian restaurants. Even the seasoned chefs, cookbook authors of Indian descent also shy away from detailing the Indian sweets recipes.

For preparing Indian sweets, though some are very easy, you really need to know the technique and must have experience. The levels can be novice, good and expert…. I can say I’m ‘good’ - both in the number of sweets I know to prepare and the method I follow. This series is my E-notebook of 101 Indian sweets, in a nutshell a 101 on Indian sweets; My attempt to chronicle (explain and learn) the Indian sweets, following the traditional way, both in preparation and in ingredients.

Link to the page and recipes of Indian Sweets that I blogged sofar: Here

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Mitai, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets) (Tuesday March 14, 2006 at 10:47 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sweet Pongal, The Sankranthi Sweet


Harvest festival Sankranthi is all about celebrating rice in our part of world. Particularly in South India, rice plays an important role as the main cultivated grain and as nourishing food that people subsist on every day of their life. It’s no wonder that there is a festival dedicated to the almighty rice. Equally worshipped are the man’s best partner, the kind-hearted cow, and the elements - sun, earth and water. They make rice cultivation a success, and also add a magic touch to the rice, making the rice a cherished, beloved food of the people.

Sona Masuri Rice - Grown and Imported from Andhra, India
Sona Masuri Rice - Grown and Imported from Andhra Pradesh, India

Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali):

This famous south Indian, Sankranthi sweet is traditionally made with freshly harvested rice. Very simple to make but spectacular in taste, the ordinary rice becomes mouthwateringly extraordinary in sweet pongal. The rice soaks up the milk, absorbs the jaggery, picks up the cardamom scent and takes up the generously added moong dal, cashews and golden raisins. And in this new avatar, becomes an offering to the Gods (naivedyam, we call it), and also simply irresistible to all who try it.

Some Tips:


I follow the classic recipe and don’t do or like shortcuts. Method is neat and easy and the end result is always like the prasadam offering of temples. Jaggery is the traditional sweetener of sweet pongal and my choice too, simply because sweet pongal tastes better when made with jaggery and not sugar.


The rice that I prefer is Sona Masuri. Because this variety is grown and imported from my home state Andhra Pradesh, and is the variety that I grew up on. Grain is thin, medium sized and very lightweight. Available in almost all Indian grocery shops here in US. Little bit pricey, but the taste is worth the money and farmers in my state really can use the money. Support farmers and buy this rice.


Sweet pongal is like a rice-dal porridge, consistency must be gooey thick and sticky. That means, the amount of liquid I usually add for sweet pongal recipe is more than the amount that I normally add to cook plain rice of equal measurements. Also, I always use equal amounts of water and milk for this recipe. Variations are - you can cook the rice-dal entirely in milk or in coconut milk, or if you are lactose intolerant and diet conscious, then in just plain water. Just add more liquid compared to the regular rice preparation.

Rice, Yellow Moong Dal, Cashews, Golden Raisins, Cardamom and Jaggery
Rice, Yellow Moong Dal, Cashews, Golden Raisins, Cardamom and Jaggery

For two people

1 cup - Sona Masuri rice
½ cup - yellow moong dal (pesara Pappu)
1 - 1½ cups - jaggery, crushed to fine
¼ cup each - cashews and golden raisins
¼ cup - ghee, melted
4 cardamom pods - skins removed and seeds powdered finely
3 cups each - milk and water (or 2 cups each, if you like a halwa like pongali)

Here is the 3-step method I follow to prepare sweet pongali at our home.

1.Toast and Roast:

Yellow moong dal:
Heat one teaspoon of ghee in an iron skillet. Add and roast yellow moong dal, on medium heat, until the color changes from yellow to pink. Take care not to brown. Slow-roasting freshens up and imparts a sweet smell to yellow moong dal. Remove them to a plate and keep aside.

Cashews and Golden raisins:
In the same skillet, add and heat two teaspoons of ghee. Add and fry the cashews and golden raisins till they turn to light gold. Remove and keep them aside.

Jaggery Syrup Cooked Rice-Dal Mixture is added to Jaggery Syrup
Jaggery syrup simmering…………Cooked Rice-Dal Mixture is added to Jaggery Syrup

2.Cook and melt:

Rice, moong dal and milk:

Take rice and roasted moong dal in a pot. Add water and milk. Mix well. Partially cover the pot and cook the rice and dal to tender soft. I use a pressure cooker but an electric rice cooker also works fine. Stove-top slow simmering also produces best tasting pongali.

Jaggery and water:

While the rice is cooking, in another pot, melt jaggery. Add the powdered jaggery and one cup of water. Stir and cook till jaggery melts. Bring the solution to a rolling boil. and reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes. Turn off the heat. Let the jaggery syrup cool a bit.(Jaggery has to be cooked separately and you can’t add it directly to uncooked rice and milk. Because it prevents the rice from cooking properly and also splits the milk. Please keep this in mind.)

3. Stir and Simmer:

Adding the cooked rice: Add the cooked rice-dal pongal to jaggery syrup. Keep the heat on medium. Stir in the ghee, cashews, golden raisins and cardamom powder. With a strong laddle, stir well to combine all. Cover and simmer until the whole mixture comes together into a sticky, gooey mass. Turn off the heat. Cover and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Sweet pongal thickens further on cooling.

First offer to Gods as naivedyam (if you have this tradition), then serve it your loved ones, near and dear. Don’t forget to drizzle some ghee just before serving.

Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali) - The Traditional Sweet of Sankranthi
Heavenly Sweet Pongal

For people hungering for a traditional, naivedyam kind of recipe but don’t have time or energy to make puran poli (bhakshalu), sweet pongal is The one. Speaking from experience, my suggestion is, keep your reservations aside and try it. You’ll be glad and can be proud of yourself for finally making one decent kind of naivedyam. I promise! Follow the recipe and this ancient classic delivers every time. People would ask for a second serving, diet or no diet.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Milk, Sona Masuri Rice, Moong Dal (Washed), Ghee, Golden Raisins, Indian Sweets 101 (Monday January 16, 2006 at 3:08 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Chocolate Covered Sweet Sesame Spheres (Nuvvula Mudda)

Sweet sesame spheres or Nuvvula mudda as we call them in Telugu, are powerhouse of sweets, full of body building nutrients. Prepared with love and lot of manual work, they are especially made for pregnant women, children and people who are convalescing. We also prepare them traditionally for a festival called Naagula Chavithi. These kinds of sweets are very difficult to prepare without a stone mortar. That’s why from my recent trip to India, I brought a medium sized stone mortar and pestle from my hometown, Nandyala. I wanted it more than anything and I felt that it is more valuable and needed than the usual stuff that I bring from India, like dresses, sarees etc., Of 120 pounds of luggage that we are allowed to bring to this country, 30 pounds went to this thing. Changed priorities.:-)

Nuvvula Mudda:

5 cups -sesame seeds, powdered
2 cups - jaggery, powdered
1 cup -dry coconut, powdered
1/2 cup- lightly roasted cashews, finely chopped

Sesame seeds made into powder, cashews, dry coconut powder, jaggery

Traditionally, in our home in India, above ingredients are powdered manually, using a stone mortar and pestle. What I did here was, I used a food processor to coarsely powder the sesame seeds and dry coconut. And used a hammer for jaggery.

Then, I pounded these i.e. coarsely powdered sesame seeds, dry coconut and jaggery together for about 30 minutes using the stone mortar and pestle. This pounding process brings out the oils and real tastes of sesame seeds, coconut and jaggery, which is not possible if this was done in a food processor. Also a good strength workout for upper body.

Pounding the ingredients together in stone mortar at my house

I removed this finely pounded mix from the mortar onto a plate and sprinkled the cashews, mixed them all together. Shaped this mixture tightly with hands into medium sized spheres.

Making of Sweet Sesame spheres (Nuvvula Mudda)

Viola.. first time making the nuvvala muddalu on my own is a sweet success. I am so happy for finally making these at my home, here in US.

Sweet Sesame Spheres (Nuvvula Mudda)

The thing that prompted me do all this is this month’s SHF. For one year anniversary celebration of SHF event, the lovely Kelli of Lovescool chose dark chocolate. She also challenged us to come up with something new and interesting with dark chocolate. So I envisioned the idea of dark chocolate covered sweet sesame spheres. Traditional Indian sweet meets this South American & Western treasure, resulting in wonderful, very delicious and healthy dessert. I think these are very original and are not already created by chocolatiers. Please correct me if my assumption is wrong.

Dark chocolate coating is very easy. I used Lindt’s brand dark chocolate bar. Melted the bar and some ghee in microwave oven and dipped the sweet sesame spheres in melted chocolate. Then refrigerated them for about one hour.

Dark Chocolate Covered Sweet Sesame Spheres (Nuvvula Muddalu)
Something new - Dark chocolate covered sweet sesame spheres (Nuvvula Mudda).

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Sesame Seeds, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Cashews, Chocolate, Indian Sweets 101 (Friday October 21, 2005 at 6:44 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Bhakshalu (Bobbatlu, Puran Poli)

Chana Dal (Sanaga pappu), Jaggery, Ghee, Gasa Gasaalu (Poppy Seeds, Kash Kash), and Cardamom


For Purnam
One cup chana dal(sanaga pappu)
One to one and half cups of jaggery- powdered
One tablespoon of poppy seeds(gasa gasaalu)
Two cardamom pods, seeds powdered
Purnam Wrap
One cup all purpose flour (maida)
Quarter cup of ghee
Half cup of water

Dough made with All purpose flour(Maida) and ghee Cooked Chanadal on a towel


Step 1:(Two hours before)

Prepare soft, pliable dough with all purpose flour, water and ghee(1 or 2 tablespoons).

Pressure cook chana dal in plenty of water until one whistle. Do not Overcook the dal. The cooked dal must be rigidly soft and not broken. Drain using a colander. (We make a tasty rasam with this dal water called bhakshala rasam.) Spread out the cooked chana dal on a clean cotton cloth or on paper towels, for atleast one hour, so that all the moisture is absorbed from them.

Purnam - Chanadal, Jaggery, Cardamom paste Purnam on maida wrap on a aluminium sheet

Step 2:(one hour before)

Purnam: Using a food processor/blender make a paste of cooked and now completely dried chana dal and powdered jaggery, cardamom powder. Do not add water. The purnam should come out as firm ball. In case if it is more on the runny side or soggy, cook it on stove top on medium-low heat for about 5 to 10 minutes, continuously stirring and let it cool. This will definitely make the purnam firmer and that is what we want consistency-wise for this recipe.

Take the dough on a flat surface, add ghee and knead it for few minutes then punch with your fist few times. Pour ghee knead and punch, do these steps for at least 5 to 10 minutes. All this is to make the dough more pliable and when pulled, it should stretch without breaking.

Making Bobbatlu/Puran Poli Making Bobbatlu/PuranPoli on Iron griddle

Step 3:(Show time)

Divide the dough into marble sized balls.

On aluminum foil or on the back of a steel plate (traditionally banana leaf is used), apply liberal amounts ghee and roll out each ball into a small round using a rolling pin or with your hand. Keep a lime sized Purnam in the middle and cover it by bringing the edges together. Dip your fingers in oil and using them, flatten the ball, starting at the edges, gradually pressing towards the center, into a thin, flat, circular shape.

Lay the foil on the griddle and carefully using a spatula, separate the bhaksham from the foil onto the warm(not hot) iron griddle. Fry or cook it on medium-low heat, applying liberal amounts of ghee, till golden (14 carat gold), on both sides. Sprinkle some poppy seeds on each side, keep on the griddle for few more minutes and remove.

Naivedyam is ready.

Bhakshalu / Bobbatlu / Puran Poli / Holige

Serve them with ghee, chitrannam and some bajjis. Festival Feast is ready!

Recipe Source: Family - Amma & Attamma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Chana Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Indian Sweets 101 (Thursday October 13, 2005 at 4:58 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Undrallu & Kudumulu

During festival times, the sugar of choice at our home for Naivedyam is jaggery.

Jaggery - the pure, wholesome and traditional sweetener of India is made out of raw sugarcane juice by slowly simmering it in big pans until all the water is evaporated. The final solid product is then poured into moulds. The complete process is 100% chemical-free, prepared in natural way and no animal parts (bones) are used or added at any stage. This process is unlike the commercial sugar manufacturing, where cane juice is subjected to a potpourri of chemicals as sulfur dioxide, lime, phosphoric acid, bleaching agents & viscosity reducers.

How do I know all this? Well, some of our relatives cultivate sugarcane and produce jaggery in small scale. They do that in the fields after harvesting the sugarcane. It is quite an event with all the relatives and friends come to help and taste. The thing I always remember is the smell. The sweet smell of boiling sugarcane follows you forever.

It is the ancient wisdom and is now scientifically proven that jaggery is known for its many medicinal benefits. One thing I know is jaggery is rich in Iron. In India, people who know, even doctors advise anaemics and pregnant women to take jaggery daily to increase their hemoglobin levels.

What can I say about the taste of jaggery- there is always the sweet taste but there is something more. The taste is not a mind numbing sweetness but more subtle, much more flavorful and makes us want more. Its sweetness is quite different from that of commercial sugar, brown sugar or even molasses. Because it contains the minerals and vitamins inherently present in sugarcane juice.

In addition to using it for traditional sweets of festival times, like Undrallu, Jaggery is my sweetener of choice always, for ragi malt, vegetable curries, rasam, occasionally for tea & coffee. Compare to commercial sugar, it is not that expensive. You can buy a 10-pound block of jaggery for about 5 to 8 dollars in an Indian grocery shop, here in US.

Jaggery I brought from India
Jaggery from India

Vinayaka Chavati Festival Sweet - Undrallu

Undrallu is a sweet, especially prepared on Vinayaka Chavithi festival. They are made with jaggery and chana dal then wrapped in dough and deep-fried in oil or ghee. The tradition is we have to prepare 9 varieties of undrallu with different fillings for this festival. My mother prepares 9 varieties for puja whenever we girls visit home. She has a saint like patience and great time management. You see we have to prepare all varities on the day of festival, by afternoon while on fasting. At least the person who does the puja and cooking must be on fasting till the puja is done. Family members would taste the festival specials only after the puja and naivedyam are done. Our customs dictate that the first offerings on festivals and special occasions must be to God, a sign of respect.

(For two)

For Purnam:

One cup - chana dal
One cup jaggery (pounded into tiny pieces)
6 cardamom pods, seeds separated and powdered

Wash chana dal and take them in a pressure cooker. Add the cardamom and about one cup water. Mix and pressure cook to 3 whistles, till the chana dal is firmly-soft. There should be no water left in pressure cooker. and we want a tight cooked chana dal. If there is excessive water, drain the dal using a colander and then spread the cooked dal on paper towels or on a cotton cloth to remove the moisture and to make them firm.

In a food processor (mixer), or in a stone mortar, take the cooked chana dal. Add jaggery and grind to smooth. The end product must be solid and it has to hold the shape. Make baby’s fist sized small rounds. My mother also dips the rounds in coconut gratings.

This is Purnam.

Chana dal, Jaggery, Cardamom. Cooked and combined into a paste called purnam or puran.
Chana Dal, Jaggery and Cardamom ~ Pressure-cooked, Mashed and Made to Small Rounds called Purnam

Preparing the Dough:

There are two kinds of wraps for the Purnam.

1. Urad dal and rice flour wrap called chovi. For it, take quarter cup of urad dal and soak them in water overnight. First thing in the morning, drain water and grind the dal in a blender to smooth adding very little water. Remove to a cup and half cup of rice flour. Mix them together thoroughly. Keep it covered for about 2 to 3 hours. This is called chovi. Purnam balls are dipped in this batter and fried in oil or ghee. Tasty and good.

2. Maida (all purpose flour) wrap: My mother’s method and I prefer this wrap.
Take one cup all-purpose flour (maida) in a bowl. Make a well in the center and add about half cup water. Mix and make a firm dough. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons ghee and gently knead the dough, until it becomes very soft and pliable. Keep it covered for about 2 to 3 hours. Preparing the maida dough is the first thing I do in the kitchen on festival day morning.

Preparing Undrallu step1 Preparing Undrallu step2

When you are ready with purnam:
Take out and knead the dough again adding ghee for about 5 minutes.
Divide the dough into marble sized rounds.
Roll out each one into a small round using a rolling pin or with hand, thin at the edges and thick in the middle.
Place a lemon sized Purnam in the middle and cover it by bringing the edges together. Place them on a plate and cover with a wet cloth, to prevent drying out.
Repeat the procedure for all the dough rounds with the purnam.

Once you are done, place a kadai on stove-top. Add and heat the oil or ghee for deep-frying.
Gently drop the rounds and deep fry them to pale gold. Offer them to God first, then enjoy.

I prepared them in two shapes, the round ones are called undrallu, and the other two are called Kudumulu in Telugu.

Undrallu or Boorelu(Round Ones), Kudumulu (The Other Two)

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in All-Purpose Flour(Maida), Chana Dal, Amma & Authentic Andhra, Jaggery, Naivedyam(Festival Sweets), Indian Sweets 101 (Thursday September 8, 2005 at 1:30 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: