Varalakshmi Vratham Poojai is celebrated on a friday before the full moon day, in the Tamil Month Sravana (July-August). Worshiping Goddess Varalakshmi this day, is equivalent to worshiping Ashtalaksmi – the eight goddesses of all riches, prosperity, agriculural wealth, learning, love and peace, fame and power, Strength, victory and success.
Goddess of wealth and bestower of boons (Varams) – Wow! I sure love to welcome her! “Varalakshmi Ra Ve Ma Intiki“!
On the pooja day, Neivedhyam | Food offerings – Thengai Poornam Kozhukattai – sweet rice flour dumplings made with coconut fillings, Ulundu Vadai -savoury crispy fried doughnuts, Kondakadalai Sundal – tempered grabanzo beans and Pacharisi Idli – idlis made with raw rice are some of the main items prepared. At the end of the pooja, married women and young girls in the house tie the turmeric anointed, yellow sacred thread ‘Nombu sharadu’. These lovely delicacies make all in the family want to welcome her even more!
THENGAI POORANAM KOZHUKATTAI
Prep time : 15 mins; Cooking time : 1 hr; Serves : 4 – 6
Ingredients for the Thengai pooranam :
- One big fresh Cococnut
- 200 gms powdered Jaggery
- 9 green cardamoms
Method for preparing the Thengai pooranam :
- Grate the coconut. Peel and powder the cardamoms in a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
- Powder the jaggery. Heat it in a vessel along with about 2-3 tbsp water. Let the jaggery dissolve in the water, come to a boil, froth up and thicken to form a syrup with a divinely sweet aroma. Add the grated coconut and stir over low flame. Cook till all the water is absorbed and the fillings become sticky. Add the powdered cardamom, cool and keep covered.
Ingredients for the Kozhukkattai covering :
- 2 cups rice flour
- 2 cups of water
- 1- 2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp sesame oil
Method for preparing the Kozhukattai covering :
- In a wide bottom vessel, bring the water with salt and oil, to a rolling boil. Now add the flour in installments and simultaneously turn it with the handle of a long spoon for about 5 mins making sure no lumps are formed. Switch off heat. Keep covered till it cools down a bit and is bearable to touch. Knead well to a smooth dough.
Method for preparing the Kozhukakattai :
- Dip your fingers in little amount of sesame oil, grease your palms with it. Take a lump of the flour (arecanut size) and shape it into a cup with your hand and fill it with the coconut filling | thengai pooranam and seal it on all sides forming a conical shape. Make similar kozhukkattais with all of the flour and the filling.
- Place a few of them on Idli plates and steam cook them in batches, in a pressure cooker without the whistle for about 10 – 15 mins. Repeat the procedure till all the kozhukattais are cooked.
- Ready for neiveidhyam.
Children can be involved in the last step activity of preparing the Kozhukakattai and make them feel a part of the ceremony. They love to prepare the kozhukakkattais and do a great job of it. Help from any quarter is welcome on a busy day of festivity!
ULUNDU VADAI | BLACK GRAM DHAL VADAI
Prep time : 2 – 3 hours; Cooking time : 30 mins; Serves : 4 – 6
- 2 cups Black gram lentils
- 7 – 9 green chilies
- 1 inch ginger
- 10 – 15 curry leaves
- 2 tsp salt
- OIl for frying
- Soak the black gram lentils for 2 – 3 hours (soaking for a longer time results in crispy vadais). Drain and grind it well to a smooth dough with only salt in a wet grinder. In the meantime finely chop the green chilies and curry leaves, grate the ginger and add it to the dough. Mix well.
- Heat oil in a wok | bandli. Take little dough and flatten it out into a circle shape, on a wet piece of plaintain leaf or your wet palm. Make a hole in the centre using the finger. Gently slide it out and slide it into the hot oil. Cook well on both sides, till reddish brown on both sides. Remove it out with a slotted spoon, to drain off excess oil and place it on an absorbent paper. It is now ready for neiveidhyam.
Prep time : 9 hrs; Cooking time 15 mins; Serves : 4 – 6
- 500 gms kondakadalai | chick peas | kabuli channa
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp udad dal | black gram lentil
- 3 – 4 broken whole red chilies
- 3 stems of curry leaves
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- salt to taste
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 th of a fresh coconut
- Wash and soak the chick peas overnight. Next morning drain, wash and pressure cook the chick peas with turmeric powder and 1/4 cup of water, till 3 – 4 whistles.
- Grate the coconut. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a bandli | skillet and add mustard seeds, once they splutter add the udad dal. red chilies, curry leaves in that order. Then add the pressure cooked chick peas, red chilli powder and salt. Toss and mix well till the chick peas are dry and well coated with the seasonings.
- Garnish with grated coconut and it is ready for neiveidhyam.