This month also marks the beginning of Spring as well as the first month where the Sun transits through Mesha.

 

On this auspicious day, the tradition goes by making food which summarises the previous year with its taste, so here are some of its essential food items and their recipes.

 

1. Mango Pachadi

Ingredients needed 

  • Raw mangoes-1 1/4 cup (chopped or shaved)
  • Jaggery - 1 cup grated
  • Salt -a pinch 
  • Neem flowers -1 1/2 tsp
  • Ghee -1 tsp

For the seasoning

  • Oil -1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds -1/2 tsp 
  • Red Chillies -2-3
  • Hing - a pinch
  • Salt -a pinch

Method: Cook the mango pieces in a little water until soft. Alternatively, you can also pressure cook it for 2 whistles, if you want a jam consistency mango pachadi as shown in the first picture above. Boil the filtered jaggery water for a few minutes, then add the cooked mango, pinch of salt and boil on medium flame until it becomes slightly thick and gets blended well with the jaggery. Heat a tsp of oil, add mustard seeds, when it splutters, add red chillies, hing and pour it over the pachadi. Delicious mango pachadi can be served like this. Cook the mango pieces in a little water until soft. Alternatively, you can also pressure cook it for 2 whistles, if you want a jam consistency mango pachadi as shown in the first picture above. Boil the filtered jaggery water for a few minutes, then add the cooked mango, pinch of salt and boil on medium flame until it becomes slightly thick and gets blended well with the jaggery. Heat a tsp of oil, add mustard seeds, when it splutters, add red chillies, hing and pour it over the pachadi. Delicious mango pachadi can be served like this.

 

2. Moong Dal Payasam

Ingredients needed 

  • Milk - 2 1/4 cup
  • Pasi paruppu/Moong dal - 1/3 cup
  • Kadalai paruppu/channa dal  - 1 1/2 -2 tbsp (optional)
  • Jaggery - 3/4 cup
  • Grated coconut -1/4 cup
  • Rice flour - 2 tsp
  • Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Cashew nuts - 6

Method: Pressure cook dal with enough water, keeping the coconut + rice flour mixture in a cup for 3-4 whistles. Once the pressure subsides, open the cooker and mash the dal nicely with a potato masher. Now the mashed dal, coconut and the fried cashew nuts are ready. Now add the mashed up dal, coconut + rice flour mixture, cardamom powder to the jaggery and mix it well. Keep it in low flame and let it cook until everything gets blended well. In a heavy bottomed vessel or kadai, boil milk in medium flame until it reduces a little. Keep stirring now and then to prevent the milk from getting burnt. Both jaggery dal mixture and the milk is ready. Now is the most important step. When preparing any jaggery based payasam, keep in mind both the jaggery and the milk should not be hot as there are chances of the milk curdling. Either one should be at room temperature. Either you add milk (at room temperature) to hot jaggery syrup or hot milk to jaggery syrup(at room temperature). In this way, there are hardly any chances of the milk getting curdled. Now after adding the milk, add the fried cashew nuts, simmer for 2-3 minutes and switch off the flame. Delicious, healthy (no sugar, no coconut milk) and filling payasam is ready to be served.

 

3. Rava Kesri

Ingredients needed

  • Semolina/Rava/sooji – 1 cup
  • Ghee – 1 cup
  • Sugar – 2 cups
  • Water – 3 cups
  • Cashew nuts – 10
  • Raisins -10
  • Cardamom -3-4 powdered
  • Kesari Powder or Orange food colour –a pinch

Method: Dry roast Rava (semolina) for a few seconds till it gets slightly heated. (Do not roast more than that) Heat a little ghee, fry cashew nuts and raisins separately and keep it aside. Add the remaining ghee, add Rava and fry for a few minutes. Boil 3 cups of water, add a pinch of Kesari powder to it. Then add the boiling water to the rava, simmer and cook. After all the water evaporates, add sugar, mix well and cook on low flame until the Kesari starts to leave the sides of the pan. Add cardamom powder, cashew nuts, raisins and serve hot or warm.

 

4. Drumsticks and Brinjal Sambar

Ingredients needed

  • Drumstick - 15-20 (2-inch pieces)
  • Brinjal - 4
  • Onions - 2
  • Ginger-Garlic paste - 1 tsp
  • Tomato -2 big (ripe ones)
  • Sambar powder -2 tsp
  • Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder - a pinch

For the seasoning

  • Oil - 1 tbsp
  • Cumin/Jeera seeds - 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds -1 tsp
  • Curry leaves

Method: Heat oil, add mustard seeds, when it splutters add jeera after it sizzles, add onions and curry leaves. Saute till onions turn golden brown, then add ginger garlic paste. Sauté for a few more minutes. Add finely chopped tomatoes, sauté for another 3 minutes, then add brinjal and drumstick pieces. Add sambar powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt needed. Add little water, cover and cook on low flames till both brinjal and drumstick gets cooked well. Keep stirring now and then so that they will get cooked evenly. This curry should be semi-dry.

 

5. Potato Fry

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of cubed potatoes or large potatoes
  • 1 sprig curry leaves or mint leaves
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves chopped or crushed
  • ¼ tsp. mustard
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp urad dal
  • pinch of hing
  • generous pinch of turmeric
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • little garam masala or sambar powder
  • oil as needed
  • salt as needed

Method: Wash potatoes and peel. Cube to small bite sizes. Keep them in a bowl of water. Add oil to a hot pan or tawa. Add cumin, mustard and dals. Fry dal till golden. Add curry leaves and garlic. When the garlic is lightly fried, add potatoes and turmeric. Fry for about 3 minutes. Lower the flame, Cover and cook till the potatoes are done. Stir in between to prevent burning. If needed sprinkle some water in between. When the potatoes are roasted and cooked well, add chilli powder, salt and garam masala. Toss everything well and fry for a minute or two to blend well. Serve aloo fry with rice and rasam.

 

6. Medhu Vadai

Ingredients needed

  • Whole urad dal (without skin) - 1 cup
  • Green chillies -2
  • Raw rice -1/2 tsp
  • Fried gram- 1/2 tsp (pottu kadalai)
  • Salt -1 tsp flat (crystal salt) or as required. (If using table salt use less)
  • Plastic sheet or banana leaf for making vada's
  • Oil for deep frying.

Method: Soak urad dal along with 1/2 tsp rice and 1/2 tsp fried gram for half an hour and refrigerate it for another 1 hour. Drain the water completely and grind it along with green chillies and salt to a smooth and soft batter without adding water or sprinkling little water now and then. If needed you can sprinkle very little water and grind. It is better to use the wet grinder for grinding. Your batter is now ready. (tips- to find out if your batter is ready, wet your hands, take a small ball of batter - the batter should not stick to your hands.) Heat oil in a deep bottomed kadhai. Once the oil is heated, reduce the flame to medium. To check if the oil is hot, drop a little batter, if it comes to the surface immediately, the oil is hot enough to fry the vadas. Now take a bowl of water, wet your fingers and take a lemon sized vada batter, flatten it slightly with a plastic sheet or back of the banana leaf. Make a hole in the middle.and slowly transfer the shaped dough to your hands and slip it into the hot oil very gently. (be very careful while doing this) Fry until it turns golden brown on both sides. Remove it from oil and place it on a colander or paper towel to drain excess oil. Repeat the same process for the rest of the dough. You can fry 3-4 vada's at a time depending on the size of your kadhai and the quantity of oil used.

 

7. Paruppu Rasam

Ingredients needed

  • Tur dal - 1/4 cup
  • Tamarind - small gooseberry sized ball (10 grams)
  • Tomatoes -2 medium size
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Rasam powder or sambar powder -1 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
  • Curry leaves - little
  • Salt needed 

For the seasoning

  • Ghee -1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Jeera/cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Red chilli -1
  • Curry leaves -few

Method: Take tamarind extract, add chopped tomatoes, rasam powder, turmeric powder, asafoetida, curry leaves and salt needed. Boil on low flame until the raw flavour of the tamarind goes. It will take around 15-20 minutes. Add mashed tur dal along with needed water.(approximately 1- 1 ¼ cup of water). Switch off when froth starts forming on the surface. Do not boil rasam as it will not taste good. Heat a tsp of ghee, add mustard seeds, when it splutters, add cumin seeds, red chilli and curry leaves. When jeera sizzles, pour the seasoning over the rasam. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves.