Monday, May 25, 2015

Anjaneyar Vadai | How to make Anjaneyar Kovil Vadai


For the second day of Temple Prasadams, we prepared Anjaneyar Kovil Vada Malai. The moment I sat down to write on this Prasadam, I knew this post will be a long one. I hadn't realized I had so many nostalgic memories associated nor so many events will be remembered when I actually write about Lord Hanuman or this prasadam.

We worship all Gods and while one prays and pays obeisance to all Gods and every festival is observed and celebrated with great reverence, its only natural each one has their favorite God as well. Anjaneyar or Lord Hanuman is my Brother's and Hubby dear's favorite Deity. This factor has influence me personal in many ways than I have realized.

Yesterday while I was talking about my parents religious influence on me, I didn't mention how it was on my brother. I have always seen him religiously praying twice a day and often visiting temples. He is your typical mamma's boy, not that I am not my mamma's girl, but then I did only for her and not because I wanted to do. Whereas my brother did for her as well for himself being so religious. He used to visit Nanganallur temple every Saturday. It takes about an hour's travel by bike, yet he always did week after week. Nanganallur is famous for the huge Hanuman Idol and attracts a huge beeline of devotees from all over the city and far off. The last time I passed through that area, I suddenly remembered that I have never been to that temple.

I then remembered that Amma used to plan for the Lord's favorite Vada Malai to be offered through by brother on his many visit. I am not sure if this Vadai is popular elsewhere. Having never lived outside Madras, my knowledge is quite limited. I have given up tracking as I remember vacation usually revolved around temples. As a kid I remember our tours being more pilgrimage with Amma planning to visit all temples in that place, irritating my father in the process. Most times he used to plan his official work during that time or if he is visiting, he will make it a historical visit than a religious one. Of course as kids we never protested or voiced differently to our parents. Kids this generation clearly tell that if a visit involves temple visit, they do not want to accompany us.


Apart from outstations, Amma often visits a nearby Sivan temple. The temple has a Ramar Sannidhi and its only natural you have a Anjaneyar there as well. Being a regular visitor since my early twenties, we have keen observed the many traditions followed in the temple. One among them is the Anjanar Vada Malai being very popular and most sought out kaanikai (offering). This Kannikai is offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays are famous for the Vennai Kannikai in the temple.

Then after marriage I realized that Hubby dear was an ardent devotee of Lord Hanuman. This could be possible because of the famous Kasapuram Anjaneya temple in Athamma's hometown and he was a frequent visitor there. His affection and devotion is so much that he even wanted to name his first born after Anjaneya. When it turned out to be a girl, he named her after His mother. So all of us naturally have a daily recital of His name. Before the twins, we hardly ever called her by her given name. She had some ten different pet names. After the twins, her name struck and yes we keep taking His name quite often during the day.

Above all this, I had my dose of our Mythology and have read the Adventures of Lord Hanuman so many times. Amar Chitra Katha spins such fascinating stories, leaving you spellbound and craving for more. I sadly miss reading them now and feel bad that kids these days are not so attached to those Comics. Given a chance, I won't mind settling down with those books right now! Wish I could.

Anyway when I was discussing this theme with Amma, we had lot of options. Other than Ambalapuzha Pal Payasam, we had decided on Azhagar Kovil dosai, Guruvayoor Paal Payasam, Pillayarpatti Kozhukattai and few more. Since Azhagar Kovil dosai was quite popular among the BM this edtion, I skipped to do it later. And since I decided to make from different states, Guruvayoor Paal Payasam was also skipped.

So it was Anjaneyar Temple Vadai. Amma got introduced to this Prasadam back during my college days. We lived in a colony that majorly had TamBrahms and religious gathering were more of a pastime and vacation oriented than anything else. Atleast it was for me. All the colony ladies used to meet every week for Bhajans, the weekly hosting is taken in turns and this used to happen in the evenings. Aunty hosting this will make Sundals and other Prasadams. I used to see these Vada Malais being prepared as well.

Gosh for all the detached attachment I seem to have had towards my religion, looking back I can only see my growing up years full of religious events. I am not an Atheist nor a regular temple goer. Hence growing up in a similar atmosphere as mine, I want my kids to make their own choices,. With their father being so religious and mother a non conformist on anything, I was shocked to hear my kids' take on religion. Konda says she is an atheist, Peddu says he will go to temple if it's required and Chinnu is right now taking a safe middle path. I leave it to their destiny.

And if you have been with me till now, I have got my job done.I sincerly thank you!

Now for the much loved Vadai, which Konda said was the best!



Anjaneyar Vadai

Ingredients Needed:

Urad dal - 1 Cup
Rice flour - 1 tsp
Pepper corns, coarsely powdered - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Oil for Frying

How to make the Vadai

Wash and soak the urad dal for an hour. We ended up soaking for 2 hrs, so drained and keep it aside for 10 mins.

Grind in small batches along with pepper corns.

Do not add water at all, remove and then add salt, rice flour, mix well.

Make small balls, on a greased plastic sheet, place the ball. Then with another greased sheet, gently press it down.

Heat a kadai with oil, deep fry in batches in low flame.

Remove and after offering the Vada Malai, store in air tight container.

Notes:

Getting the pressed vadai is quite tricky as urad dal is sticky.

So best method we arrived at, was pressing it down in between two greased plastic sheets.

Also cooking this in low flame works out best as the vadais have to be crispy.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ambalapuzha Pal Payasam

We are starting the final week of BM#52, this week I will be doing Temple Prasadams. This theme will feature three interesting temple prasadams from different parts of India. I tried not to repeat the state and gather as much as information as I could.

This theme is quite a challenge in many ways. One I am not a great temple goer, two I have given  company to people who think that temple visits are meant to be vacations. So you can imagine I have visited lot of temples all through my growing up years. And continuing now with Hubby dear. I know those are contradictory statements, however these are things that has made me what I am.

Growing up, I have seen two different beliefs, one that begins and ends with daily long hours of prayers and traditional customs. The other that says one does not have to go to temple to pray, or to be religious to be pious.


My parents have never really forced either of their beliefs on me. I have arrived at my own beliefs and stand. However I have been a willing company to all their beliefs and doings. Result is, I have visited lot of temples along with Amma and then with Hubby dear, while still holding on to my beliefs. That has resulted in me gathering much more than what I might otherwise achieved.

Well that's for another post, my beliefs and my spiritual hold can run for pages and this is not really the space to talk about it. Its just that I never do anything in half measures and it goes on to say, these posts were enlightening as much as I could expect.


First in the series is Ambalapuzha Pal Payasam, from the Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple. 

I am sure many would agree that replicating the same taste of a temple prasadam at home, is almost next to impossibility. Even though what we make will taste great, it still would not be the same.


 
Ambalappuzha is a small town in the Alappuzha district of Kerala state, south India. The town is noted for its Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, one of the three important Sri Krishna temples in the state of Kerala.

According to the legend, Lord Krishna, in disguise of a sage, won a game of chess against the king and the prize was every square would have double the number of grains. In the end, it meant even if the entire kingdom grains was poured, it wasn't enough. Seeing the king's dilemma, Lord Krishna appeared in his true form and told the King to pay off his debt by offering paal payasam made of rice and milk, in the temple freely to the pilgrims every day until the debt was paid off.

This sweet pudding is made of rice and milk and differs slightly from the regular Rice Kheer that we make. Traditionally Chemba Rice is used, however recent adaptation uses Basmati as well. I was all for getting Chemba rice, but couldn't get it in the last moment. So went ahead with Basmati rice for this pudding.



Ambalapuzha Pal Payasam

Ingredients Needed:

Chemba rice / Basmati Rice - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk - 1 1/2 cup
Cashew and raisins - handful each
Ghee - 4 tbsp
A pinch of cardamom powder

How to make Pal Payasam

Wash and soak the basmati rice for 30 mins.

Pressure cook the rice and keep aside.

Heat a non stick pan with ghee, fry the cashew and raisins till it turns golden brown. Keep it aside.

Next add 2 tsp of sugar and keep stirring continuously until the sugar melts and the colour of the ghee changes to brown. The sugar also caramelizes.

Add milk to it carefully and slowly from sideways and bring it to boil.

Once the milk starts boiling add the cooked rice to it and again allow it to boil. Now add the remaining sugar.

Continue to boil till the mixture becomes bit thick.

Now add the fried cashews and raisins and cardamom powder. Mix well and switch off.

Offer as prasadam to Lord Krishna before partaking.

Notes:

When you are trying to brown the sugar, don't wait for long as it will hard.

Simmer before adding the milk, else it might curdle. 

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