April 17, 2009

Vengaya Pakoda - Onion in Besan Fritters

Vengaya pakoda is a very popular snack in Tamil Nadu. Its hard to find any bakery or tea stall with out selling these. These crispy pakodas is the most sought after accompaniment with a cup of hot tea/coffee. In Kerala, you will find the bajji version more popular. Pakodas are crunchy where as bajjis are crisp and soft. Though both are besan based, the batter consistency makes the difference. At my home, Amma used to make this on most of the Sundays. Post marriage, my husband's family love to have these pakodas/bajji as side for dinner. With the onset of monsoon, these will be made often in my home. This is a favorite with my hubby. There isn't any recipe for this. I usually follow eye ball measurement. without any exact measurement followed, each time it is made, it has a unique taste.

1 medium sized onion, chopped

handful of besan flour - 2 measures

handful of rice flour - 1 measure

salt to taste

a big pinch of chilli powder

few shakes of hing

chopped coriander & curry leaves (optional)

Water to prepare the batter

Oil to deep fry


Mix all the ingredients well. Add water little by little to get a thick batter. The batter should not be very stiff also. Adjust the salt and chilli powder to your taste.

Heat oil in a kadai. When hot, take some batter in your hand, crumble it into small pieces, directly into the oil. Be careful as you do this over the oil. Take care that your fingers do not go near oil. The idea is to get small pieces so that it will fry crisp else it will turn soft. This is a very forgiving recipe. Little more or less of any of the ingredients will not affect the taste but the crunchiness will vary. Too much of water or besan will give soft pakoras.

Drain on absorbent papers and when cool, you can store in airtight containers.

I am sending this to RFRU:Starters hosted by Sunshinemom, an event started by Ramki.

April 8, 2009

Porulvalangai Urundai - Healthy,fat free sweet balls

I have earlier blogged about the Sathumavu urundai. The steps are the same. That was inspired by the traditional Porulvalangai. Each family has a recipe for this sweet. The difference is what goes into the flour. Basically, healthy ingredients are added to prepare the flour. Once the flour is made, rest of the process is same as blogged earlier. Hop over to read Sunshinemom's post on the same. She shares some interesting facts about the sweet- the origin and what's in the name. And here is my recipe of the traditional sweet.

You need
Whole wheat - 3 cups
Boiled rice/Puzhungalarisi -1 cup
Whole moong - 1/2 cup
Powdered Ginger /Chukku - 1 tspn
Coconut sliced and chopped into bit sized pieces
Wash and drain whole wheat and boiled rice separately. Dry roast wheat,rice and moon till brown. Both wheat and rice will start spluttering when roasted for some time. You can stop when you find more grains start spluttering. Cool and powder the three ingredients together. I usually get it powdered from a flour mill. Mix in ginger powder.

This powder will keep good for more than a month. You can make balls as and when required.
Take 1 cup of jaggery and make a syrup of soft ball consistency. Stir in the coconut pieces. Remove the syrup from fire. With 1 cup of jaggery you can use two cups of flour. Take one cup of the flour in a bowl. Add a ladle of the syrup. Mix with a spoon. Be careful not to touch the hot syrup with your fingers, it will stick to the skin and skin might get burnt also. When the syrup is fully mixed with the flour, slowly roll into balls . Roll the finished the balls in the flour to get a coat over it. These balls harden on cooling. Enjoy these delicious, healthy sweet balls.

April 2, 2009

Thenkuzhal and Manoharam ~ 2-in-1 Crunchies

Thenkuzhal is a savory crunchy where as Manoharam are sweet crunchies. Both the dishes use the same basic ingredients and are deep fried in oil. Rice flour is the major ingredient. Traditionally, raw rice is soaked in water for half an hour. Its then drained, shadow dried and powdered. Shop bought rice flour can also be used, though you have to compromise a bit on the texture. I usually prepare the rice flour from scratch. But this time I followed a different method, told by my friend,S. She gets the raw rice and roasted urad dal, powdered together at the flour mill. The bonus is that the flour mix will stay good for many days. So with the mix ready at hand, you can enjoy thenkuzhal whenever you want.

For the flour mix

Raw rice (Pacharisi) - 8 cups

Urad dal - 1 cup

Clean the rice of any dust. Don't wash with water. Dry roast urad dal till it turns pink. Powder the rice and roasted dal together.

To make thenkuzhal


Crushed pepper and cumin seeds



Water to prepare the dough

Oil to fry

If you are using the hing bar, take a piece of the bar and soak in warm water for 10 minutes. Use the water to prepare the dough. Instead, hing powder can also be used.

Prepare dough in batches instead of mixing the full quantity of the flour. Else it will drink too much of oil when fried. Take 4 cups of the flour. Add 2 tablespoon of butter, salt, 1 tspn of coarsely crushed cumin and pepper, hing water. Make sure the coarse pepper is not big enough to block the openings in the mould. Mix well. Finally add water to make a soft dough.

For preparing thenkuzhal, you need the press which has three or more holes in it. Heat oil in a kadai. When hot, take a ball sized dough and press it directly in the oil. Start making the formation from outside to inside. After a minute, slowly turn it over and fry till it is light brown. The size can depend on the size of your kadai. Allow it to cool and store it in airtight containers.


The initial preparation is similar to thenkuzhal, except that the spices and hing is not added. Salt is also added very minimally. Take the flour mix, add butter and very little salt. Make a soft dough using water. Prepare the thenkuzal out of the dough. Break them into one inch long pieces. These pieces are to be coated in jaggery syrup.

For one measure of thenkuzhal pieces, use 1/2 cup of jaggery. If you want to be very sweet, you can use 3/4 cup of jaggery too.

For jaggery syrup

Jaggery - 1/2 cup

Water- 1/4 cup

Bite sized coconut pieces (optional)

Cardamom powder.

Melt jaggery in water. Strain to remove any impurities. Heat the syrup in a wide mouthed kadai. Add coconut pieces. Make a thick syrup. To test, add a drop of syrup in a glass of water. If it can be rolled and is firm, the syrup has reached the consistency. Switch off the stove. Add cardamom powder. Stir in the broken thenkuzhal to the syrup. Mix with a ladle so that all the pieces are well coated with jaggery, taking care not break the pieces further on mixing. At the same time, you need to be quick with the mixing, since jaggery will solidify on cooling. Before that it has to coat all the pieces.

If the syrup does not reach the right consistency, thenkuzhal will turn soggy. It should remain crisp even after adding to the syrup.

Enjoy the salt and sweet, melt in the mouth, crunchies.

I am sending these crunchies to Cooking for Kids:Rice event , guest hosted by Trupti, started by Sharmi.