Saturday, July 11, 2009
akkaaravadisal (rice and bengal dal dessert)
now this may be a tonguetwister for those who are not familiar with the tamil language.but for those who are,it is the sweetest delicacy on earth.a close sibling of chakkarapongal(sakkarai pongal),only experts can tell you the difference.a friend of mine referred to akkaaravadisal as the vaishnavite chakkarapongal.he was probably close to the truth.it is a typical iyengar(vaishnavite) sweet dish.last month when i was in chennai,i visited my cousin sis j's home and what awesome food she had prepared! and to top it all it was akkaaravadisal that took the cake.
my mom used to make fantastic akkaaravadisal.hence, i was not surprised that her niece and my cousin sis even excelled her.i did some research on this supersweet from the south. i googled to know more about it,read some blogs on it,referred to books by authorities on south indian veg cooking- viji varadarajan,chitra padmanabhan and andal rangaswamy for the right combination of ingredients that make a perfect pudding.i consulted my wife,sis,co-brother's wife and even my cousin-sis who had prepared this sweet specially for me with her own hands, to understand the finer points of difference and the best way of preparing this wonderful dessert in the authentic iyengar way.
having armed myself with all the theoretical knowledge required to cook this lord vishnu's favourite sweet,i ventured into our kitchen to soil my hands and try it out myself.i have cooked sakkaraipongal before,so it was not, therefore, going to be some very difficult job.and i also decided to offer this as naivedyam before the family consumed it. the mystic srivaishnavite saint andal who was in love with lord krishna had vowed to offer him 1000 vessels of akkaaravadisal with tons of clarified butter if only he would appear before her:
"naru narum pozhil maalirumsolai nambikku
naan nooru tadavil vennai vaay nehzhndu paraavi vaitthen
nooru tada nirainda akkaaravadisal shonnen,yeru tiruvudaiyan
ivai vandu kollumgolo?"
this is what she sang to lord vishnu at the kalazhagar temple in srivilliputtur.and many hundred years later sri ramanujacharya fulfilled that vow at the same temple.andal moved by ramnujacharya's fulfilment of her vow came out of her garbhagriha and addressed him as "anna"(elder brother).in a tamilian wedding the "seer" (offering from the girl's side) is made by the bride's elder brother.because ramanujacharyar did it by offering 1000 vessels of akkaravadisal, andal the would be bride of lord krishna addressed him as elder brother.
and for those who would like to try it out ,here we go:
take 1 cup of rice,4 cups of whole milk,1/4 cup of chana dal,2 cups of jaggery,i tbsp of grated coconut,ghee 1/2 cup, cashewnut -100 gms,raisins- 50 gms ,saffron strings -10 nos and cardamom powder-1 tsp.
lightly wash chana dal and rice and drain the water.add saffron strings to this.place the above in a cooker for pressure cooking after adding about 5 cups of milk.no water.remove from cooker and mash it up nicely(in the form of a soft pulp). add jaggery and keep on adding ghee. stir continuously until the mixture solidifies.add cardamom powder and mix well. fry cashewnuts and raisins in ghee and also fry the grated coconut till golden brown. add to the soft pulp.serve it really hot with oodles of ghee.and don't forget to offer it to your lord krishna and seek his blessings.
so how does it differ from sakkarai pongal? only some difference in the ingredients.instead of chana dal you use moong dal. and skip the grated coconut.don't make it into a pulp.cook it a little more thicker.you have now learnt to cook both chakkara pongal(sakkarai pongal) and akkaaravadisal. what a melange of taste, flavour and fragrance!
forget the weight that you will be adding to your waist. you can knock it off next morning on your treadmill.
gb who helped me to translate my theoretical inputs into practical reality was herself very thrilled with the endproduct."cchaan hai",she said in marathi. which when translated into english means "super". and that was what it turned out to be.three cheers!