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

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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Vinayaka Chavithi

Preparing to do Vinayaka Puja today on Vinayaka Chavithi.
Cooking up Undrallu, a sweet, tradition on Vinayaka Chavithi.

Ganesh Chaturdi Puja

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Wednesday September 7, 2005 at 8:58 am- permalink)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Capsicum with Pappula Podi

Green Bell Peppers with Spicy Chickpea Powder:

Green Bell Peppers (Capsicum or Bangalore Mirchi)

My favorite way to cook green bell peppers is this very easy, 15 minutes from start to finish capsicum curry. The special ingredient which makes it the absolute favorite of people who tried this curry is the spicy roasted chickpea powder. Mildly sweet and spicy chickpea powder and hot bell peppers compliment each other, and the prepared curry is a tasty delight.


3 bell peppers, sliced thinly lengthwise, then halved crosswise
3 tablespoons of pappula podi (spicy chickpea powder)
¼ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
For popu or tadka:
1 tablespoon of peanut oil
¼ teaspoon each - curry leaves, chopped garlic, cumin and mustard seeds

Bell Peppers


Place a wide skillet on stove top. Add and heat peanut oil. When oil is hot, add the curry leaves, garlic toast to pale gold. Then add the cumin and mustard seeds. When seeds start to pop, add the bell peppers.

On high heat, cook for few minutes, until the excessive moisture evaporates from them. Then reduce the heat, cover the pan partially, and cook for another five minutes.

When bell peppers are tender to touch, add the seasoning. Sprinkle the spicy chickpea powder, turmeric and salt. Mix and cook for about five more minutes. Turn off the heat. Serve the curry hot, over steamed rice and dal, or with chapatis.

Capsicum Curry with Rice and Spinach Dal Capsicum curry with rice, spinach dal and yogurt - our meal today.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Bell Pepper, Peppers (Tuesday September 6, 2005 at 2:25 pm- permalink)
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Masala Turnips (Masala Shalgam)

Turnips (Shalgam)

Turnips (shalgam) are little bit smelly, but when cooked they almost taste like potatoes. While searching through the Internet about turnips, I learned that they are available in India, mainly in cold, North Indian regions. I didn’t know that before, I thought they are available only here. I came across a new Kashmiri recipe called Masala Shalgam, and I tried it today for lunch. I also made rotis with recently milled, fresh sorghum flour (Jonna Pindi) that I brought from India.

Very much enjoyed the combination.

Sauteed Turnips


4 small to medium sized turnips, washed, pared thinly and cubed.
4 ripe juicy tomatoes, cut or pureed.
1 onion, finely chopped lengthwise

First, saute the cubed turnips, till they leave the smell and brown a little, for about ten to fifteen minutes on low heat. Meanwhile prepare the masala.

Make a paste of ginger, garlic, cilantro, dried red chillies, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fenugreek, coconut and salt. Measurements of these ingredients are up to you.

In a pan on medium heat, take 1 tsp of oil, when it is hot, add the onions, saute them to soft, and then add the tomatoes, the prepared masala and browned turnips. Add pinch of turmeric and salt. Mix them once and cook them all covered for about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve the curry hot with chapati or roti.

Turnips Kurma with Sorghum Roti ( Shalgam Curry with Jonna Roti)
Masala Turnips with Sorghum Roti ~ Meal Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Turnips (Friday September 2, 2005 at 3:54 pm- permalink)
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Katrina - Failed Leadership

What an avoidable tragedy, my heart goes out for all the people who are suffering. Bush’s apathy towards his own people is mind boggling. Really how difficult it is to supply water and food to these displaced people?

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Zen (Personal) (Thursday September 1, 2005 at 3:41 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Yogi Diet With Blackeye Beans (Alasanda Guggulu)

Back to our life here, sort of “The Truman Show“. Like Truman character in the movie, we do realize we are never going to be satisfied here in this picture-perfect world, unlike we thought before. Few more years, that’s what we planned and that’s what we are going to do with patience. And the in-between visits to India are like pilgrimage and therapy to our souls.

For India trip - we just don’t shop, pack and leave. Like any pilgrimage, we follow a 3-month ritual preparing for our trip to India. At least 3 months before, we finalize the dates and purchase tickets (the only way, we can obtain tickets at a discount price $1300 to 1600 roundtrip). Then we would focus our total concentration on health and fitness. Our motherland is not for fainthearted and weak bellies, she tests the strength and stamina, and so we always go prepared. At first we start slowly stop eating all kinds of junk available here, try to reduce the food portions, increase our daily exercise routine and expose our body to the elements (walk daily in a park trail, from 4 miles a day gradually increasing to 8 miles). We struggle a lot during this month. Then in second month, our bodies adjust to this new routine, we do feel more energetic, lean and with positive energy. And the last month we go into yogi diet, all nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables, of course yogurt and lots of water. There is no pain or cravings anymore. Mind is in total control of the body, immune system awake and a happy heart. This is our India trip preparation.

Example of our yogi diet is this recipe with blackeye beans. Back home, during fasting and after long pujas at temples they are prepared and served as Guggullu.

I did Americanize it a bit by adding the fresh sweet corn.

Soaked Blackeye Beans(Alasandalu), Onion, Tomato and Corn

(serves two)

1 cup of black eye beans, soaked in water overnight, drained
1 fresh corn, kernels sliced
1 red onion and tomato, diced
2 green chillies, finely chopped
Salt to taste and pinch of turmeric
Juice of half lime

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the beans, water and one teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan and let the beans simmer until tender and drain. Or simply pressure-cook them (they cook in less time in this way, but you have to watch them closely. Turn off the heat immediately after the first whistle, otherwise they are more likely to overcook and break apart. We don’t want that).

In a saute pan, heat half teaspoon of peanut oil over medium heat. Add the corn, onions, tomato and green chilli, saute until corn is tender crisp for about five minutes. Add the black eye beans (Alasandalu) to the corn mixture along with 1/4 tsp of salt, turmeric and lime juice. Toss to mix and serve immediately.

Blackeye beans and sweet corn salsa (Alasanda Guggullu)

We had guggullu and a cup of tomato rasam plus yogurt on the side for our meal today. It was a good yogi diet.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Blackeye Beans (Thursday September 1, 2005 at 9:01 am- permalink)
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