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Showing posts with label KERALA IYERS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label KERALA IYERS. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Kanu festival

The festival of Kanu is celebrated one day after the Pongal festival in Tamilnadu.
Kanu Pongal is widely celebrated in Brahmin households by ladies for the well-being of their Brothers, it’s like the South Indian version of Raksha Bandhan.
Other communities, especially farmers celebrate this day as Mattu Pongal.
Kanu day is not considered an auspicious day. In tamil, we call it as “Kari Naal” or “Kanu Peedai“.
Kanu is celebrated in temples as well by the priests who offer it on behalf of the Goddesses. 
Every year, on the next day of Pongal, at Sri Aaravamudhan Sannidhi, Sri Komalavalli Thayar "Kanu Utsavam" will be celebrated. On that day, along with Sri Komalavalli Thayar, the consort of Sri Chakkarathazhvar Sri Vijayavalli Thayar, the consort of Sri Ramaswami Sri Seetha pirati and Sri Rukmini Thayar of Thopputheru Sri Rajagopala Swami celebrate the Kanu Utsavam in Potramarai Thirukkulam
Kanu is a celebration of sibling bonds. Every festival in India has a significance and further instils the bonds between families.
On Kanu festival, a lot of varieties of rice are prepared with the freshly harvested rice. 

These dishes are then packed and taken by the women to their parental house/visit their brother’s to be shared with the family. 
During this ritual, women and girls sing and pray for the well-being of their siblings by
 offering rice balls to the birds, especially crows, who represent the ancestors.
“Kanni” Pongal is celebrated coinciding “Kaanum” Pongal for the wellbeing of unmarried women and for the fertility.

How to Pray on Kanu day?
Women must do the Kanu rituals, first thing in the morning before sunrise and before taking a bath.
All the ladies of the household, including small girls must celebrate this festival.
Yesterday’s left over white rice is used, it is mixed with Kumkum(to make red colour balls), Turmeric(to make yellow colour balls), curd rice balls and sweet pongal(leftover) balls. Sugarcane pieces are kept on top of each balls as done in my house by my mother.
Raw turmeric is sliced at the bottom and is used rub it on the foreheads of the women/girls after which namaskaram is done and the Kanu is offered to the birds.
How to keep the kanu ?
Make a Ma-kolam on the terrace or an open back/front yard where birds can visit
Keep Aarati ready to take Aarati post kanu. Keep Pooja items like camphor, vilaku(lamp), betel leaf, banana, pancha patra udrani etc ready for the poojai.
Turmeric plant leaves should be kept ready, this is usually available as we all would have bought this for pongal the previous day. Make balls of the rice as mentioned above and keep in an orderly manner over the turmeric leaves. Offer the Balls by chanting the prayer below.

Sprinkle water over them as well as around them, ring the religious bell, show camphor and pray as follows:-

Kaaka Pidi vechen, Kanu Pidi vechen,
Kaakai kku yellam Kalyanam,
Kaakkai kootam pirinthalum ,
Namma / Yen kootam piriyatha irukkanam
Kuruvi kki seemandham,
Poondhaam Pongi Vaazhattum,
Pirandhaam Thazhaithu Vaazhattum.
The verse loosely translated would mean:
One ball of rice for the crow,
One ball of food for the Kanu festival
It’s the marriage day for all crows,
Even if the group (family) of crows separate,
Our / My family should not get separated,
Sparrow’s baby shower (Seemantham)
Let the in-laws house overflow with goodies,
Let the house that we were born in, be forever prosperous

Then do poojai and finally take Aarati. The eldest lady in the family must rub turmeric on every other ladies forehead (raw manjal kizhangu)

Make sure to shower(head bath) Immediately, and wash the clothes that you were wearing.
Then all of them visit older Sumangali women for their blessings (Some references say that this is done after offering Kakai pidi and taking bath).
There’s an auspicious song/blessing that is usually sung,
Thayodum, thanthayodum,
Cheerodum chirappodum,
Perodum pugazhodum,
Perumaiyodum, keerthiyodum,
Chiruvayathil thaali ketti,
Periyavalaaki, pillaikal pethru
Kondavan manam magizha,
Thayyal naagi poala,
Thonga thonga thaali ketti ,
Thottilum pilaayumaage ,
Maamiyaar maamanaar mecha,
Nathiyum mamiyum pothra,
Piranthagathor perumai vilanga ,
Pethra pillaigal aayul onga ,
Uthraar uravinarodu ,
Puthaadai puthu malar choodi
Puthu maapillai marumagalodu ,
Puthu puthu santhosham perugi ,
Aal poal thazhaithu Aruge pal yer odi,
Yendrendrum vaazhanam,
Yeppothum chiritha mugathudan irukkanam
(தாயோடும், தந்தையோடும- ,
சீரோடும். , சிறப்போடும- ,
பேரோடும், புகழோடும்,
பெருமையோடு- ம், கீர்த்தியோ- டும
சிறுவயதில்- , தாலிகட்டி
பெரியவளாகி- பிள்ளைகள் பெற்று
கொண்டவன், மனம் , மகிழத்
தையல்நாயகி- போலத்
தொங்கத்தொங- ்க த்தாலிகட்ட- ித்
தொட்டிலும்- , பிள்ளையுமா- ,
மாமியார் மாமனார் மெச்ச,
நாத்தியும்- மாமியும் போற்ற
பிறந்தகத்த- ோர், பெருமை விளங்க,ப்,
பெற்ற பிள்ளைகள் , ஆயுள். ஓங்க,
உற்றார் உறவினரோடு
புத்தாடை. புது மலர். சூடி
புது மாப்பிள்ளை- , மருமகளோடு,
புது. புது சந்தோஷம் பெருகி,
ஆல்- ோல். தழைத்து. அருகே போல். ஏரோடி
என்றென்றும- , வாழணும்
எப்- போதும் சிரித்த முகத்தோடு, இருக்கணும்- .)
Which loosely translated means :
“Along with mother and father,
With wealth and prosperity,
With great name and fame ,
Getting married at a young age,
After maturing giving birth to children,
Making the husband happy,
Like the goddess Thayyal Nayagi,
With mangalsutra hanging always(indicating mangalyam),
Along with cradle and children,
Being appreciated by the father in law and mother in law ,
Taken care of well by the mother-in-law and sister-in-law,
Earning a great name for your parents family,
With your own children living very long,
Along with friends and relatives,
Wearing new clothes and adorning fresh flowers,
Along with son-in-law and daughter-in-law ,
With new joys ebbing out,
Spreading like a banyan tree,
Developing deep roots like Arugam grass,
You should live forever,
And be bestowed with a smile on your face always.”

On Kanu day a variety of mixed rice(Kalantha Chaadam).
Coconut rice, Lemon rice, Tamarind rice and curd rice. They are offered to God and later the family have a great picnic lunch in their homes only.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020


GOKULASHTAMI / KRISHNASHTAMI /JANMASHTAMI /KRISHNA JAYANTI, the Birthday of Lord Krishna is round the corner and one of his favourites is Seedai/Cheedai, a savoury crispy crunchy rice lentil balls.
Every year during Gokulashtami Amma used to make Seedais and we used to absolutely love them. We as kids used to toss Seedais into our mouth or each other’s mouth to see if we can aim right, we used to enjoy this challenge although, we used to get scolded for it.
Making seedais was a family ritual, with all of us involved in the rolling the dough balls. 
Ah!!! Missing those days of family bonding so much, especially in making seedai, the more the people the merrier it would be. 
Appa (the major general of our little army) would trick us into competing on who would roll out more seedai balls quickly, we would immediately take on the challenge, so we can win. We would await this ritual every year eagerly until one year, Amma had kept everything ready but as she popped the seedais into the oil, the seedais burst and the oil splattered and she got burnt badly, she had very bad burn marks on her stomach and hand.
My Appa got so angry that he threw all the dough into the bin and told Amma that henceforth she should not make any Bakshanam(Savouries) that would have the potential to burst and that was that. Appa used to buy all the Bakshanams from our dear Madras Stores(Readymade). 
Amma used to prepare Appam, Vadai etc for neivedyam but no more savouries.
The fear continued and I never attempted making seedai to as the incident had scared me. Anyways, Grand Sweets (Chennai) available in our Abdul Rahim stores, Upper dickson road, Singapore was always there for my rescue, Jai Ho!!!
But looking at so many people attempting this savoury, I got tempted to try too.
Just to be honest with you, I’m a "quick gun Murugan" chef and like quick recipes I don’t like to do too many laborious preparations. So in my recipe I have used the store-bought Rice flour and Udad flour (readymade flours), I have used dessicated coconut as well. 
Here’s my recipe of the Seedai, My recipe can make about ½ a kilo (500 gms) of Seedais

Ingredients (Makes about ½ kg of Seedai)
Rice Flour – ¾ cup
Split white lentil (Udad Dal /Urad dal/ Ulutham parippu) Flour – 1 tbsp
Split Bengal Gram lentil (Chana Dal/Kadalaparuppu) - 1 tbsp
Grated Coconut – 2 tbsp
Asafoetida (Hing / Perungayam) - ½ tsp
Butter – 1 tbsp
Salt as per Taste
Oil for Deep Frying
A muslin cloth or towel

Soak the Chana dal in water for about 15 minutes.
Dry roast the flours in a non-stick pan for about 2-3 minutes in a low flame, ensuring to stand and monitor the roasting and not letting it change colour or catch the bottom. Let it cool down.
Now, Sieve the Flours, this is very important. Do not use the flour which has not passed through the sieve. This ensures that you get a smooth flour with no lumps.
Now, in a deep Mixing ball, Add the flours as per the measure above, add in the grated coconut, asafoetida, butter, the soaked and drained Chana dal and salt as per taste. Mix well, the butter should get one with the flour, so that when you hold it in your hand, it forms the shape of your hand. Then add water little by little and knead well to make a smooth dough. The best part about rice flour is it’s easily manageable with people who are not much experienced as well.
The dough should be stiff and not sticky to your hands. Add water slowly, sprinkle little by little if not confident.
Now, grease your fingers with some oil, take a small quantity of dough and roll it into a tiny ball.
While rolling, we need to roll it gently into a pliable ball, if too hard the seedai may burst.
Do not make big balls, the smaller the balls, the crunchier they turn out. Continue making the balls.
If you do not have people helping you making the balls while you are frying then you need to wet a muslin cloth, squeeze the excess water, the cloth must be moist and throw the balls onto the moist cloth, this is to ensure that the flour doesn’t get dry. Rice flour gets dry very fast.
As you keep making the balls then just cover it with the cloth gently.
Once finished rolling all the balls check, if you feel the balls are moist, allow them to dry out a bit before you start frying
Now comes the frying part, this by far is the most crucial part of making the Seedai.
Before you start, frying we need to ensure that the oil is nice and hot, but not fuming hot. Put a tiny pinch of dough to check first, if you see that the dough comes rising to the top, means your oil is ready.
I usually out one as a test run to see how it reacts (Because of my fear factor), once done, and all ok I add batches of about 15-20 balls at a time. Once you put in a batch of seedais in oil, keep the strainer ladle on top just in case and do not turn them immediately. Increase the flame a bit as when you drop a batch the temperature goes down, after about a minute, lower the flame and slowly turn the seedais to the other side. Let them fry on one side. If we keep the flame high to speed up the process, the seedai will turn brown and instead of being crunchy will be cooked on the outside and chewy on the inside.
The right temperature and being alert during the frying process is a must to ensure perfect seedais. Deep fry the balls until golden in color and you can feel them sound like little marbles on your ladle. Remove and drain excess oil on a paper towel. Allow it to cool down, then store the seedais in an airtight box.
I made this is as a neivedhyam Bakshanam for Gokulashtami. It gave me immense pleasure to serve my Lord, the Home made seedais made with love.
Enjoy these little crunchy balls on the go or as a snack with your tea/coffee. 

Statutory Warning !!!
Do not pop into your mouth, the hot seedai balls once out of the oil you may burn your tongue. Let it cool down first.  The crunch comes only once cool down.


· Follow the ratio exactly as given in my website. We need to use the right ratio otherwise the seedai will not turn out good. Adding more udad dal flour, makes the seedai burst open as well and you will see that the color would become dark, similarly adding less udad dal flour makes the color very light.

· You can sieve the flours twice to ensure that the flour is butter smooth, this ensures that the seedais won’t burst when frying. Better to be safe than sorry since we are using the store-bought readymade flours. Anil Rice flour/Kuzhakattai flour/Idiyappam flour are all good to make this recipe.

In my recipe I have used dessicated coconut. Incase, you are using fresh coconut roast them to a pink colour. After roasting, let it cool before adding to your flour mix.

· Adding more butter will make the seedai too brittle.

· To make more just double the measurements given 


· Vegans can replace butter with 1 tablespoon of Coconut oil, if adding oil, slightly warm up the oil     before adding.

· For those who want to make it the traditional way using the home made rice flour, which is considered by the elders and experienced as the best due to its smooth texture and also because you know what rice goes into the making.

Thursday, July 9, 2020


For all you banana lovers like me, I would like to share this wonderful recipe of the Pazha varatti.
Pazham means banana in Tamil/Malayalam and Varatti means cook until dry.
Usually Pazha varathi is made with Nendram pazham (the Bigger sized Bananas mostly eaten by Keralaites). Banana is an integral part of any Kerala meal and it is said to aid in digestion. No Banana leaf meal is complete without the humble banana.
In my recipe, I used the regular banana. I had 3 big size bananas which had become over ripe
I had 3 over ripe bananas lying. I would have had to throw them so decided to make this beautiful banana Halwa known as Pazhavarathi in Kerala.

Bananas - 3
Cardamom powder - a pinch
Jaggery - 2 cubes if grated about 1/4 cup
Ghee - 1- 2 tsps
and cashews for garnish/decoration.

Peel and mash the bananas and puree it in a mixer/blender. The bananas in my recipe were over ripe so I could skip this step.
Melt the jaggery, once melted, add the mashed ripe/overripe bananas, mix well,
Add a teaspoon of ghee and keep stirring until there's no more water and the Halwa leaves the sides of the pan.
Once done, add a teaspoon of ghee for the glaze and then stir once and serve. Garnish with cashew for decoration.
Tastes yum👌

Serving Instructions
· Pour into a greased cake tin and allow it to set and cut to desired shape and serve

· You can serve it in a bowl.

· It’s best to make this halwa in a non-stick pan as the banana sticks to the bottom of the pan a lot.

· If using Nendram pazham you need to steam cook the banana before Mashing/ Pureeing it.

· You can either mash or Puree the banana.

· I like a bit of natural banana feel to it hence I don’t puree in the mixie.


  • You can add a 1 tablespoon of shredded coconut 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


Raw Banana is widely used in Kerala Cuisine. Every part of the banana is packed with nutrition and health benefits. This humble plant, with its flower, stem, fruit and leaf, can be consumed in different ways for overall wellness.
I think no one can cook the Vazhakkai Mezhukkuvarathi (Mezhukkupuratti) like my Grandmother Kaveri, we used to fondly call her “Amma”. Her recipe had the authentic Parawoor (Kerala) touch; that only one of her daughter’s could manage to get close too. Sadly, both are no more. But thankfully, since I was interested in cooking and watched them make this simple recipe very closely, I can share it with all my viewers today.
Amma (My grand mom) moved from Parawoor post marriage in her teens or early 20’s to Bombay (Now Mumbai, but I will refer to as Bombay here) and as most Tamil-Brahmins, Palakkad Iyers (referred henceforth as Tam brams) settled in Matunga. Matunga has a special place in the lives of the Tam brams as it was the land of opportunities and people came to make their fortune here and Bombay being Bombay; full of industrious people, it made available everything that the migrants needed. The coffee powders, the vegetables that would be popular etc. Those days, the vegetable vendors would bring the vegetables straight from the farms in double cane baskets loaded on either side of a pole balanced on their shoulders. They would walk through the lanes and by lanes and market their vegetables by shouting out. Amma used to patronize a vendor as she felt his vegetables were fresh and economical. This guy used to come from Vasai (He was fondly addressed as “Vashaiwalla” by Amma). The guy a Maharashtrian used to speak Hindi in a slang and understood some Tamil words and our enterprising star, Amma who picked up Hindi but with her south Indian slang would bargain with him while buying and also place requests, “Agli baar aaya toh Vazhakkai laana, dhoda jyaada laana, accha kaccha hona mangta, payam nahi laana”
It meant, get more raw bananas next time, it must be nice and green and raw don’t bring it when it has started to ripen.
And the industrious “Vashaiwalla” would say, “It’s very hot and by the time he brings it in the sun, it starts to ripen…ha ha ha.

I’m surely going to cover Amma and her experiences in Bombay in another post of mine.

As a child, we have been in awe of our Grand mom's intelligence and quick wittedness and burst into laughter listening to her hindi at the same time. But no matter what her don't give up attitude is what is the strongest memory we have of her.

The reason Amma’s cooking tasted so good was because the whole process was quality centric. Amma would choose the green, hard and long bananas to the Mondangai’s that would be used in her home town, she said the Bananas in Bombay were delicate and cooked faster and had more taste provided the Vashaiwalla got it as soon as he plucked them and delivered it fresh.

The Vazhakkai Mezhukkuvarathi cooked by the Kerala Iyers (Brahmin style) is very simple. It does not need any other ingredients as used in the regular Kerala Vazhakkai Mezhukkupuratti which has onion, garlic, curry leaves, coconut etc.

But there is one ingredient that cannot be missed and that is “Coconut Oil”.

Some recipes are simple, yet not all can do justice in making it; I wonder why?

There’s so much emotion attached to this simple recipe that every time I wanted to share it, I would get emotional and wouldn’t be able to proceed.
Raw bananas are very nutritious and you must try this simple recipe. Add lots of love too. 

Ingredients (Serves 4)
Raw bananas - 3-4
Virgin Coconut Oil – 3 - 4 tbsps
Mustard seeds - ½ tsp
White lentil split (Urad Dal) - ½ tsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Red chilly powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida (Hing) – ¼ tsp
Dry red chillies – 2, broken in half
Salt as per taste 

Wash the bananas, de-stem and cut the end as well. Peel the banana and cut in square chunks. Once diced, put in the water otherwise it will get discoloured. Keep aside.
In an Iron Wok/Pan, Add the coconut oil, once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, Urad dal and red chillies, when the mustard seeds start to splutter. Add the diced raw bananas. Add turmeric, Asafetida, salt and red chilly powder. Mix well. Add a 4-5 tablespoons of water.
Cover and cook in a low flame, stirring occasionally, until done.
The important thing is the banana has to get cooked well but not become mushy, then add a tablespoon of hot coconut oil and let the raw banana cook until its gets crisp on one side and soft inside.
Serve the vazhakkai Mezhukkuvarathi hot with hot rice, a dollop of ghee, some hot dal (Paruppu) and rasam.


· Use coconut oil only for the authentic taste

· Apply coconut oil before you start peeling and chopping raw banana as it tends to leave a stain on your hands.


· Vazhakkai Mezhukkupuratti can be made by adding onion, garlic, curry leaves & grated coconut as well to the existing recipe.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Navarathri Festival then & now...changing times and patterns

Navarathri in the 70's- 2000 & Now....

I had the privilege of living & being brought up in Mumbai. A place where people from all over the country (India) live. Where each festival is celebrated with gaeity. A place where there's a frenzy to catch a train/bus/rickshaw/taxi. Where a day passes only to go to work & be back. Where even 24 hours in a day is less.

The power it takes to board the train, squeezing through the robust melee of people in a mad frenzy to catch the train & the same frenzy to get off the train, literally jumping onto the platform, squeezing back through the crowd and daring all odds to reach home and yet come back with energy for the family & household chores waiting for them. 

Yet, when festivals come, the ladies undauntingly celebrate it with ardour & warmth.

Our Tambrahm community has always been known to be a practical & intelligent lot. Our pragmatic approach to changing times has helped retain our age-old traditions & rich culture & heritage.

Then.....(In the yesteryears)

Working ladies would invite for Vettala Paaku(Thamboolam) over the weekends & housewives over the week. Inspite of living in a fast paced city with such a flinty pace. People still managed to make the time to celebrate festivals with zest. And all the practical difficulties of living in the buzzing metro city made us pragmatic in our approach towards everything.

Back then, I used to enjoy dressing up in my pattu pavadais(silk petticoats), adorning jasmines in my hair and wearing Amma's gold necklace and jhimki(long gold earring with precious stones). I used to feel so dolled up as I used to accompany my Amma(mother) for vettala paaku.

The girl kids were an integral part of the celebrations and were "invited". I used to feel so privileged to be "invited"😀

Nowadays the kids do not want to accompany nor do they like to dress up in our beautiful traditional gear.

In our community, being born as a girl itself was a celebration.

My brother wasn't officially "invited"😜 for the vettala paaku.

Once we reached in our silks & fineries, mind you it's the onset of winters and just comfortable to be attired in our ensemble.

When we visited the people, we used to admire the golus(arrangement of dolls), ask questions about the theme of arrangement, new Additions (It's a tradition to have a new addition of a doll every year). We used to chant shlokas, sing bhajans, appreciate any new things in the hostess's house.

We usually used to be offered sundal & some sweet and beverages(coffee, tea, juice)

Sometimes we used to visit a few houses in a row, so the sundals & sweets used to be packed in little small packets of banana leaves covered with a newspaper made into little take away packs. These packets were made & readily kept if we refused to have anything offered at the hostess's home. These items were not mandatorily given. It depended upon the convenience of the person. 

But, now....

Calling for Vettala paaku has become an elaborate affair.

Every person is competing with another. The humble sundal & sweet are replaced with a huge array of food items. It's like a buffet arrangement with a varieties of snacks & sweets. People are slogging in the kitchen to outdo each other in the quest of making an impression on the invitees. Some even ordering food from restaurants. Eventually a lot of ladies who cannot manage all this will jump off this bandwagon and succumb to the temptation of "not" celebrating this beautiful festival.

There's also competition in dressing up, presenting the house, displaying your riches, Offering expensive gifts and comparing who's gift is better than the other.

There's even pressure in dressing up in certain colors as well. 

There are yet, a group of people who pack the thamboolam in gift pouches and send it over to their friends through their maids😂.Totally hassle-free but completely kills the idea of offering thamboolam.

The manjal(Haldi) kumkumam (Kumkum)which was offered from little brass/silver boxes have transformed into plastic pouches or boxes holding colored powders.

The paaku(betel nuts) is packed in plastic pouches.

We are using so many non biodegradable things now in the name of convenience which is harming the environment.

I'm glad I kept re-inventing myself over the period of years. This year I purchased cloth bags to give my vettala paaku, i do not give blouse pieces which are going to be further passed on😜.

I love the idea of gifts, Gifts are an integral part of the thamboolam, so i take a lot of effort, go to many shops, buy gifts which can be used in the pooja room or house. Gifts that will be useful.
I keep the cost economical as I give a lot of people (80-100 ladies). 
My mom used to say, "The more ladies you give, the more punyam (Blessings) you get".
The idea is not the cost but the thought behind it.

Haldi-kumkum packets i still give....maybe eventually it should (will) change. Betel nut(Paaku) packets too....although some of my friends love them (Roja Paaku with little melon seeds).

No bangles, combs, pottu packets, mirrors😂🤣....they definitely get recycled.

Traditional gifts were an integral part of the Haldi kumkum, so these items got replaced with a small cursory gift given out of love to replace the various things that had "significance" in the past (items worn/used by women to groom themselves meant for married women only 
or single girls (barring widows as they were not a part of these festivities...which was sad)) 
As the society evolved, a woman is no longer identified by the presence of her husband but an embodiment of Shakti (So happy about the status change though)

Gifts!!! Phew!!! 
The cursory gift given in replacement of the traditional items (meant for married women only) has become the focal point.
The focus shouldn't be in the joy of recieving the gifts and judging the person's status based on what's given. 
People these days don't even remove the price tag, so the guests know the value of the gift given (As if it matters the most!!!🙍)
I remember a few years ago, a friend made a comment upon the cost of gifts given during the Navarathri festival. 
Suddenly the whole spirit of Navaratri has changed and now people are taking so much efforts to outdo each other, impress the guests by showing off that their gift is superior, this unfortunately is not the spirit of Navarathri at all. 

I usually buy my gifts from small vendors, which helps uplift them. I give many ladies which includes our building security guards, cleaners etc., hence i buy in lots. I give everyone the same gift immaterial of their class or staus.

The spirit of Navarathri is not in the gifts or the "giving".
The joy is in meeting, and praying/singing bhajans in the glory of the Goddess together and, I ensure that whoever comes to my home blesses me for the warmth and love I give them when they come home and the great time that we spend together that build memories; like the memories I have now, of my past as a child. I don't even remember who gave what in those days.  
As a child even if it was a piece of a coconut barfi (Since many coconuts were given as an item in the Thamboolam / Vettala Paaku, It was commonly prepared in many houses during the time and offered as well. Everything was put to good use and nothing was wasted ever)
Let's turn back the clock to times that were uncomplicated and simple and just rejoice in the glory of the Goddess. 
Let's celebrate and invoke the Goddess within each one of us.
Invoking the inner Goddess according to me is awakening oneself at various levels and then working towards elevating oneself . 
Connecting with my inner Goddess, is also a reminder that we are a part of the Source(The Supreme), knowing our potential and the powers within that can be unleashed for the Emancipation of Women and the betterment of the society is Imperative.
It's a chance to tap into the deepest source of Empowerment, creativity and happiness and that exactly is why these festivals were designed and not for the petty things that it has come to. 

We must adapt to the changing times and not rigidly keep doing rituals in the name of tradition. We must take into account the present day situation and act accordingly when it comes to caring for the environment but at the same time keep in mind the spirit of such beautiful festivals for the women, of the women and by the women. 
Let's find out ways to improve our lives and in the process help Mother Nature conserve her beauty and radiance. 
So let's spread joy and keep up the festive cheer. 
What we do now is what will influence the future generations and if we don't do it right, it probably is going to be redundant soon.

"Happy Navarathri to All"

© Sukanya's Musings


DisclaimerThis article is based purely on the author's personal knowledge, experiences, views and opinions. 

Friday, July 18, 2014


The biological name of Cluster beans is Cyamopsis tetragonoloba. It is an annual legume and the source of guar gum. It is also known as Gavar, Gawar Phali, Guwar or Guvar bean.

This is yet another weekend special from my kitchen. The reason it’s cooked over the weekends is simply because the process to cook this dish is quite lengthy and time consuming. But it’s one of my absolute favorites. There are some dishes which amma (my mom) knows; that can make me happy any day and this is one of it.

Now, cluster beans is called Cheenivarikkai at my place. I guess it must be a kerala iyer (Tam brahms from Kerala) name.  I don’t know how many people call it as that. I didn’t know for very long that it is also known as Kothavarangai.

Paruppu usili is made in different houses differently but I absolutely adore my mom’s recipe and follow it to the T.
I even heard that many people use Bengal Gram (Chana dal) to make paruppu usili, but my mom uses Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas).
Apparently many people don’t like Cluster beans and it seems in yesteryears when old people would go for Pilgrimage to Kashi (Explanation below) they would usually give up on Cluster beans.

Kashi Vishwanath temple  - A visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganges is one of many methods believed to lead one on a path to Moksha (salvation) hence people from all over the nation try to visit the place at least once in their lifetime. There is also a tradition that one should give up at least one desire after a pilgrimage at the temple.

When I asked my Grandma why they would give up on such a lovely vegetable, my grandma would say, because Cluster Beans is usually very gassy and as you age your digestive systems would become weak so it would be best to avoid it.

Thank god we are not in those times and I probably may not have to give up on this lovely vegetable. There are some people who steam the paruppu (Dal), but I don’t, here is the recipe for all of you to enjoy.

For the Kothavarangai Mezhukkuvaratti (Poriyal)
Cheenivarikkai / Kothavarangai (Cluster Beans) – 750 gms chopped
Oil – 2 tsps
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Udad seeds – 1 tsp
Red Chilly – 1 broken in halves
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt as per taste
Shredded Coconut – 2 tbsps

For the Paruppu Usili
To grind to a coarse paste:
Toor Dal - 1 cup
Dried Red Chillies – 1
Green Chilly – 1
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt as per taste
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Udad seeds – 1 tsp
Rinse & soak 1 cup Toor dal for about 1-2 hours.
Trim the edges and chop cluster beans finely. Rinse it well. In a Kadhai (wok), Add 1 tsp of oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal and the dried chilly broken in half. When the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the chopped cluster beans, mix well, ½ tsp of Turmeric powder, a pinch of Asafetida, Salt as per taste,  stir and close with lid and cook on low flame till it is cooked. Once it’s cooked, Transfer to a plate.
Drain the Soaked toor dal and grind it coarse in a blender with 1 dried red chilly and 1 green chilly, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of asafetida and salt as
per taste. Keep aside

In the same Kadhai (wok), Add 1 tsp of oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the  coarsely blended dal mixture. Keep sautéing until the mixture separates and become golden brown. Once that is done, add the cooked cluster beans and mix well. Now, finally, add in the shredded coconut and mix well. Check for salt at this point as well. Incase there is salt you can add some at this point as well. Cook for 2-3 minutes on sim.

The Cheenivarikkai / Kothavarangai Paruppu usili is ready. Enjoy with Rasam and rice.

Variation to the above method
Steam method – After you coarse grind the dal paste. Boil water in an idli pan, spread the coarse mixture on the steamer plate and steam it for 5-7mins, once it cools down, crumble it with your hands and set aside.
Now heat oil in a wok,  Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the add the dal mixture & sauté till golden brown, then follow as above.

  • Ensure that the dal mixture is blended coarse, if it becomes a fine paste then you will not get the perfect texture. To ensure that it doesn’t get ground fine, make sure to drain the water completely.
  • If you are using the steaming method then follow as above. Please ensure to spread the mixture and then steam it as it crumbles easily.
  • This recipe can be used to make French beans, flat beans (Avarakkai), Long beans, Banana flower (Vazhapoo) etc.

Monday, August 16, 2004


Parippu Pradhaman is one of the special payasams made during festivals/ weddings etc. This is yet another Kerala special dessert.
This Payasam is also known as Cherupayar Payasam. Cherupayar is yellow moong dal or  Split Yellow moong lentil.
Parippu means Dal and Pradhaman means the first one. In South India we serve the dessert first. It marks sweet beginnings. 
This can be made with Moong dal(Split Yellow moong lentils) or Chana Dal /Kadala Parippu (Bengal gram dal) 
But my amma, uses the Yellow split lentil (yellow moong dal/ paitham paruppu/cheru payaru). This lentil is usually considered as lighter to digest than other lentils. 
It is given to young children and old people and doesn’t cause much gas. It is considered very good for health. Even when people are recovering from sicknesses Doctors advise the usage of this lentil. We can easily say that here is nutritious dessert, good for health and very tasty.

Split Yellow lentil (yellow moong dal/ paitham paruppu/cheru payaru) – ¾ th Cup
Soft Jaggery (Vellam/sarkkara) – 1 Cup
Fresh coconut grated without brown skin - 4 cups (for coconut milk as per note)
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Cardamom – 1 tsp
Cashew nuts – 1 tbsp
Coconut pieces sliced into thin slivers and roasted in ghee– 1 tbsp
Ginger powder (Chukku Podi) – A pinch (optional), use if you like the taste.

Take Three-fourth cup of the yellow split dal (moong dal). And roast it on a slow fire, until it turns a little pink in color (mind u it mustn’t get burnt)
Wash and clean as you do usually.
Pressure cook it for one whistle until the dal becomes soft (don’t over cook it otherwise the dal will get terribly mashed. 
(If not confident about the pressure cooker u can cook it in a vessel separately)
Now, take one cup of soft Jaggery (vellam/sarkkara) in an Urali. Add water and bring the jaggery to boil. Boil mixture to one thread consistency.
Now add the cooked dal to the jaggery-mix. The cooked dal will have some water, be sure to pour it with the water as the dal water has a lot of nutritive value.
Add some more water if required and allow the mixture to simmer, so that the dal gets sweet.
Now add the coconut milk. 
Add one cup of coconut milk, in this case, add the third milk of the coconut first, allow it to boil, 
then add the second milk, again allow it to boil, and then lastly the first milk (which is the thickest milk) and boil for sometime. Remove from fire.
In a small pan. take some ghee, fry the Coconut pieces sliced into thin slivers, cashewnuts, and cardamom powder and pour on top of the Payasam.
You can also add a pinch of Ginger powder (chukku podi) for the added taste.

Serving Instructions

Enjoy this hot before or after a meal. 

  • Either you can use Ready made coconut milk or make it fresh.
  • If using the fresh coconut milk 
  • To make fresh Coconut milk, you have to soak 4 cups scrapped coconut (do not use the brown skin), in 2 cups boiling hot water, keep aside, covered, for 2-3 hours.
  • Strain, but save water. Grind coconut to a very fine paste, add back drained water and blend again till a milky texture is got. Drain and keep this milk aside. This is the rich coconut milk or 1st milk.
  • Grind the residual coconut again with 3 cups warm water, drain, and keep milk aside. This is the medium or coconut milk or 2nd milk.
  • Add 2 cups warm water to the residual coconut, grind again and strain milk. Now the residue does not have much strength. This extract is the thin coconut milk or 3rd milk.
  • The above procedure will produce a total of approximately 7 cups of coconut milk, of three different grades. If differently graded milk is not asked for in recipe, one may combine all the three extracts and get just one medium consistency coconut milk.
  • Refrigerated it will last for 2 days, or freeze into cubes and store in freezer bags, using as required.
  • If using ready made Coconut milk / coconut milk powder
  • Use it as it is at the time of adding the coconut milk in the recipe. It does save you the strain of grinding, squeezing, straining the coconut pulp to get the coconut milk, which saves a lot of work, but one things' for sure nothing can beat the taste of the payasams made in the traditional manner.

  • You can use Brown Sugar or Palm sugar(Karupetti) instead of jaggery

Monday, March 10, 2003


The language spoken by the Tamil Iyers settled in Kerala, is something which is a mix of Tamil and Malayalam, we can call it Talayalam as many people call it.
Identity Crisis
Am I a Talayalee? ….almost so….because while I was growing up and even now. I don’t fall in either category i.e. Tamil or Malayalam speaking. That definitely qualifies me to be in this genre.
Born to a mother from a Talayalam lineage (my maternal grandfather hails from Tirunelveli and my maternal grandmother from Vadakkan Paravoor (North Paravoor). My grandma knew only to read and write Malayalam and she definitely didn’t know much Tamil, and as the mother’s influence at home is very strong on her kids, all the 3 daughter’s speak Talayalam, cook Keralaiyer style and 2 out of the 3 are married to Keralaiyers,(Tiruchur and Trivandrum respectively).
My mother got married to my father who hails from Coimbatore and has more of a Tamilnadu influence. But both of them are brought up in Mumbai and I grew up hearing different words for the same thing.
When Appa used to go to the market Amma will ask him to buy Matthan (Orange Pumpkin) and Elavan (Ash gourd) and when he comes back he will say Pushnikkaiyum Parangyakaiyum vaindhu vandurken.
In Tamilnadu  Ash Gourd is Pushnikkai and Orange Pumpkin is Parangyakai.
Amma used to get quite irritated. Then Appa used to call Amma “Ara Palakkad”(means half-Palakkad). We used to be quite entertained by the Great Tamil-Talayalam squabbles and grew up to learn nothing perfectly.
It was always a royal confusion at home growing up and learning a language. I don’t think what we talk could be classified as Tamil in any sense of the word, hence the last time I started a thread of Bombay Palakkad tamil Iyers, in our Palakkad Iyers forum. I called it an entirely different genre and I named this genre BBC- PTI  (Bombay born confused Palakkad Tamil Iyers).
(Sorry folks I still can’t get myself to say Mumbai.)

BBC-PTI ke baarein mein (About BBC-PTI’s)
I am a Bombay born confused Palakkad Tamil Iyer, but I can still call myself as Tamil speaking, Malayalam was a bit far off from what we spoke at home. It was already challenging to speak our mother tongue, as vallam (water) transformed into tanni(water) at my home and when grandma came she used to ask “ konjam thanuttha jalam venum enakku”(I want some cold water?) and I used to tell my mother, “ Fridge lenthu konjam cold vallam venam ammavukku?”
Now what was that…..That is Talayalam mixed with English and sometimes there was a mix of other languages as well Hindi and English with the Talayalam.

Let’s see some Tamil and Talayalam words (courtesy- our Palakkad Iyer Members which includes me)

Ende Guruvayorappa – O my Lord Guruvayoorappan (Talayalam)

Eeshwaro Rakhshathi – Lord save us.

Allah – No in Talayalam
Illay (Tamil)
(Appa teases my mother, "Allah Allah Misbillah" for using the word Allah)

We use a lot of “O” in reply to questions

Neku – for me in Talayalam
Ennakku in Tamil

Noku – for you in Talayalam
Onnakku in Tamil

Evolo – Tamil how much
Ethara – Talayalam

Enna pannare- Tamil
Ennavakkum Pannaraai-Talayalam

Manasilaacha  - Talayam (did u understand)- this word is nearer to Malayalam
Purinjacha -Tamil

Verummane –Talayalam (Simply)
Chumma – Tamil

Kaalambra – Talayalam (Morning)
Kaarthala – Tamil

Uchaikki – Talayalam (Afternoon)
Madhyaanam – Tamil

Aaharam kazhichacha--talayalam

Evlo neram aachu -Tamil
Ethara neram aachu –Talayalam

Ethra prashiyam – how many times -Talayalam
Evolo vaati – how many times – Tamil

Velai – Work in Tamil
Joli – Talayalam

Dhirudhi – Talayalam (Rush)

Nagaru/ Navuru – Moove out of my way in Tamil
And in Talayalam Neengiko

We call our little girls Kunju ponnu and little boys Kuttan
Kutty – small in tamil and  Kunju – Talayalam

Naai – Dog in Tamil And Patti in Talayalam

Tamilians say Veetu ku vaango
We say, Aathuku .vaangol

Talayalam -"cheruppa azhichutu vaa"  In Tamil"seruppa kazhatyutu vaa"(Remove your slippers and come)

Tamil - Kizha poithu valayadyutu verthukotindhu vandirkan (he went down, played and has come back sweating)
Talayalam - Kizha poithu kalichuthu vesharthukothindhu vandirkan

Saadikyalai – Talayalam (couldn’t do)
Mudiyalai - Tamil

Madiyan – Talayalam (Lazy)
Somberi - in Tamil

Medukkan (boy)/ medukkathi(girl) – clever boy or girl in Talayalam
Buddhishaali in Tamil

Varthamanam- Talayalam (news)
Samaajaaram - Tamil

Molla – Talayalam (slowly)
Medhuva – Tamil

Cheekaram – Talayalam (quickly)
Vegam – Tamil

Ormai – Talayalam (Do u remember)
Nyaboham - Tamil

Ammanji – Mama’s son
Ammanga – Mama’s daughter

Attan – Attai’s son
Attangaar – Attai’s daughter

Konthai – Talayalam –  (baby)
Kozhandai - Tamil

Therakku – Talayalam (crowd)
Kootam -Tamil

Pani – Talayalam (Fever)
Joram – Tamil

Mookuchali in Talayalam (cold)
Jaladosham in Tamil

Vayaru seriya illai – Tamil (Stomach is not good)
Vayaru kedu vandirku – Talayalam

Kushumbu – Talayalam (mischief)
Kurumbu – Tamil

Budhimuttu – Talayalam (Trouble)
Kashtam - Tamil

Ubadhravikkarathu – Talayalam (to trouble)
Kashtapaditharthu - Tamil

Torthu / Torthumundu– Talayalam (Towel)
Tundu – Tamil

Virutthikedu - Talayalam (untidy)
Asingyam - Tamil

Praandhu – Talayalam (Mad)
Paithiyam- Tamil

Vashal la – Talayalam (Outside)
Veli la – Tamil

Chamachacha - Talayalam
samayal aacha - Tamil

Adukkulai is kitchen in Talayalam and in Tamil they say Aduppu arai

Vellicha Ennai – Talayalam (Coconut Oil)
Tenga Ennai

Appam in Talayalam
Paniyaaram in Tamil

Appakaarai in Talayalam
Kuzhi Paniyaaram in Tamil

Pansaarai / Panjaarai– Talayalam (Sugar)
Chakkarai – Tamil

Chakara Pongal in Talayalam
Sakkarai Pongal

Karandi in Tamil for a ladle is Aapai in Talayalam.
Kanaapai (Spoon with holes)

Cheena Chatty – Talayalam(wok)
Vaanali / Iluppu chutty in Tamil

Chattuvam for the rice spoon

Kashnam –Talayalam (Pieces )
Tundu - Tamil

Mundhu – Talayalam (Sarong for men-Dhoti)
Veshti – Tamil

In tamil Kootu (mix vegetables in coconut and lentil gravy) Becomes molaghutal in talayalam.

Curry / Poriyal becomes Mezhukkuvarati if just sautéed, if coconut is added it becomes Thovaran and we call everything podutuval at home. It was easier for us. Some call it upperi too. But for us Upperi was always Banana chips.
Also thengapodi became sambaarapodi and the thuvayals became Chammanthi and then there are typical PI dishes like molagushayam and idi chakka thuvaran.

Morkozhambu(Tamil) becomes Morkootan(Talayalam) 

and then there are dishes like Olan, Kaalan, Pulinkari, Puli-Inji which also form an integral part of the PI wedding lunch along with Nendram Upperi, Sarkaritta Upperi(the sweet banana chips) and a Banana which usually don't form a part of Tamil iyer wedding menu.

I always say doshai. Never was it dosa or dosai or as they say in Singapore Thosai.
Idly was always Idaly.

Harmless Abuses
We do use a lot of Mannangatti…..the Malayalees say Mannangatta…(a form of abuse…meaningless as far as I know)

My uncle used to get angry and say, “Cheppe la oru adi kittum” (you will get one beating on your butt)

Ennathu idu kaatumbraandi maadri nadakkarai (walking like a savage)

My mother always threatened me by saying,“choota kaachi ezhuten na paaru” (I will burn you with the iron rod)

Chooral aala vechchu kachuven (Cane you)

Moonjiyem Morakattai yem paaru (see the face)

Atchipitchu (Idiot)

Muttal (Fool)

Abhishtu (Stupid)

But there are certain words which mean entirely different in tamil and Malayalam This is seriously funny.
Valakku Kathanam – Talayalam ( I have to light the lamp )
Valakku Ethanam – Tamil
Kathardhu in tamil means shouting

Thalla lai enakku (Iam not feeling well) in Talayalam
Enakku odambu mudiyalai in Tamil
Actually Thallarthu means pushing someone in Tamil

Thooral - Drizzling in tamil and Vayathaala porathu in Malayalam
I read somewhere in blogosphere that when the movie 'Thooral ninnu pochu' came to kerala they had to change it to Saaral ninnu pochu and release it

Kazhichacha- have u eaten? in Talayalam is saptacha in tamil, but kazhichacha actually means subtracting

Veedu in Tamil(home) is Aathu in Talayalam but
Aathu in talayalam actually means river in Tamil

I have never understood the Tamil news read on Singapore local channel Vasantham Central or on / Sun TV / Vijay TV / Jaya TV nor have I understood the Asianet news. It all sounds like a foreign language to me.
Then there are words like thair oravathardhu(setting the yogurt from milk), moru Kadayardhu(making buttermilk), chaana churnai(rag to wipe the floor), modai (kitchen platform), sambadam(vessel), eriyardhu/ kaaram aa irukku- I don’t know which one is Talayalam and which one is Tamil…
I like my chaya (tea) as in Malayalam and Talayalam but we call it Chai (Mumbai isshtyle) and don’t like Kapi (Coffee) at all like the Tamilians
So does that qualify me to be a Talayalee……?
I love dhoklas, samosas and pav bhaji. Vada pao is my absolute favorite and I speak fluent Marathi and extremely fluent Hindi and my hindi peeks into my Talayalam as well…. Ezhadhardhu khatam(finished in hindi) panniyaachu? I have finished writing.
so does that qualify me to be a BBC-PTI ?
Confused and not accepted but what the heck I get the best of all worlds don’t I?


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