It’s time to spring forward as daylight savings time begins! Not my favorite time of year especially when it comes to mornings. I feel like I’m always playing catch up until Fall arrives and it’s time to fall back:) I suppose that’s typical for someone like me who is more nocturnal, definitely not who you would call a “morning person”. As I write this, I can hear my 8 year old snoring as he cherishes his first day of Spring Break. Ahh, the joys of sleeping in and the joys of having a “break”.
I can’t complain though…I have had somewhat of a break since Amma and Appa have been here with me. Especially during special festive days like March 14, the day when we are supposed to observe Karadai Nombu, according to the Hindu calendar. Karadai Nombu is for the South Indian Hindus (read Tamil) what you would call “Karvaa Chauth” for North Indian Hindus (not literally, but the intent is similar)- a day when married ladies pray for the well being of their spouses. I’ve always wondered why there wasn’t a similar day for men to honor their wives…Hallmark, are you listening?
If you’re intrigued to know more about the story behind this tradition, go here.
For the first time since I have been married, I ventured to make the “adais”. Amma has been here for the last couple of years and she usually makes it, and then there are some years where I tie the yellow thread that is customary but haven’t really gone the whole nine yards, pun intended:) In case you didn’t get that pun, the traditional way is also to wear a nine yards saree while breaking the fast, which I don’t do as well. So this year I did go all out, sort of, minus the nine yards.
Amma and I also sought the help of Viji Varadarajan, the author of “Festival Samaiyal” who has a book made for the likes of me, a glossary of all the traditional South Indian festivals, with step by step instructions on how to make the required menu for each. The recipe that follows for the Vella Adai and Uppu Adai is adapted from this book.
A quick background on Karadai Nombu (pronounced Kaa-ra-dai NO-m-bu). Also known as Savithri Nombu, this festival is celebrated in the month of Maasi (Feb-March). Sathi Savithri, the courageous woman, argues with the God of death, Yama, to free her husband, Sathyavan from the clutches of death. She eventually wins him over and her husband is brought back to life. On this day, women usually fast until the auspicious time arrives (when the Maasi month begins), and chant prayers for the longevity of their husbands. The Vella Adai (sweet steamed doughnut) and Uppu Adai (salted or savory doughnut) is usually offered with a dollop of butter. A piece of flower is tied to a yellow (sacred) thread and worn around the necks of married women (sumangalis). The area of worship is cleaned, and patterns with rice powder are drawn (kolam). Fresh plantain leaves are placed and the adais are served on these. The women eat first and break their fast followed by the rest of the household.
Ingredients for Vella Adai:
2 cups rice flour
2 tbsp Black eyed peas
2 tbsp coconut, chopped or grated
2 1/4 cups jaggery powdered
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
1 banana (optional)
1. Soak the black eyed peas in hot water for 20 mins. Pressure cook for one whistle or cook in a microwave on high for 2 mins.
2. Dry roast the rice flour for 8-10 minutes on a medium flame till it looks a little golden.
3. Take the powdered jaggery in a saucepan and add the 4 cups water to it. Melt the jaggery over a low flame. Strain if needed. Place it back on the stove and add the cooked beans, coconut, rice flour and cardamom powder.
4. Take off the flame and mix well to avoid lumping.
6. Return the mixture and cook for 8-10 minutes or until it starts sticking to the ladle. Switch off the stove.
7. Take lemon sized balls of this mixture, pat them in your palm to about 1 1/2 inch thick patties. You may grease your hands with a little butter if needed. You may also take a banana leaf, wet it a little and make the patties on the leaf to avoid sticking. make a hole in the center of the patty.
8. Place small pieces of banana leaves in idli moulds or in a steamer and steam for about 10-15 minutes.
9. Serve with a dollop of unsalted butter.
Uppu Adai (Salted or Savory steamed rice doughnuts)
2 cups rice flour
1 tbsp black eyed peas soaked and boiled as in the step above
2 tbsp chopped coconut
3/4 tsp salt or to taste
1 large banana leaf, cut into 3″ squares
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
4-5 green chilies, chopped fine
1/2 tsp asafetida powder
a few curry leaves, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp oil
1. As in step above, soak and boil the black eyed peas.
2. In a heavy bottomed vessel, heat the oil, add mustard seeds until they pop. Saute the chopped green chilies, add the coconut, asafetida, curry leaves, salt and cook for a few minutes.
3. Add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and add the rice flour, stirring to avoid lumps.
4. Cover with a lid and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the flour is cooked. Now add the beans and stir until it blends well. Take this off the stove.
5. Make patties as in the step above and steam them in idli moulds or in a steamer.