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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Thiruvadhirai Kali and Kootu

Kali is a sweet rice recipe paired with Savoury Kootu on Thirvadirai. This festival was on Jan 1st this year.

Thiruvadirai is one of the 27 stars or the "Nakshathirams" of Hindu astrological calender.One specialty about this day is the sighting of - Arudra or thiruvadirai star, considered auspicious by hindus. The festival, Thirvadirai, is celebrated in the month of Marghazi (November-December), on the day considered to be the ascent of thiruvadirai star. (Each day in the calender is associated to a specific star -one among the 27 stars in a hindu calender). People offer a rice based sweet dish to Lord Shiva - as he is associated with the Arudra star. Other star is sravanam or Thioruvonam is associated with Lord Vishnu.

As part of the ritual, I made Thiruvadirai Kali and Mixed veg kootu for the day.

Kali with roasted almonds and raisins

You need: Serves 4
Raw rice (I use brown) - 1cup
Moong dal (with the skin)- 1cup
Jaggery - 1/2cup (vary the quantity to suit your requirement)
Shredded coconut - 2tbsp
Elaichi powder - a pinch
raisins - 2tbsp
Roasted almonds - 2tbsp (coarse crushed)
Ghee - 1/2 tbsp

  • Dry roast the rice until it turns crisp and you sense a faint aroma..this would take a minute or so...make sure you do not roast for may turn the rice tasteless
  • Roast the moong dal for a minute or less.
  • Coarse grind rice and moong dal (helps in cooking faster)
  • Soak jaggery in a cup of water and strain it to remove sand and dirt
  • Pressure cook (two whistles) - the rice and moong dal with this jaggery water, 2 cups of water and pinch of salt (you may skip the salt), elaichi powder
  • Heat ghee in a kadai and add your raisins and almonds and mix it with the contents in the pressure cooker. Garnish with shredded coconut
Basic difference between kali and Chakkarai pongal is that we dry roast ingredients for kali and use raw rice and dal for pongal.

It is customary to cook a five or seven vegetable kootu for thirvadhirai. Odd numbers are considered auspicious in hinduism. This festive kootu calls for root vegetables ( I used roots vegetables and more!)

You need: Serves 4

Drum sticks - 2" pieces (say ten of them)
yellow pumpkin - cubed- 1/4 cup
Winter melon - cubed - 1/4 cup

Potato- cubed - 1/4cup
Yam (Suran)- cubed - 1/4 cup
Cucumber - cubed - 1/4 cup
Cluster beans - 1" pieces - 1/4 cup or less

Fresh Peas or pre soak dry peas - 2tbsp
Curry leaves - 8-9 
Hing/asafoetida - a pinch
Turmeric powder - a pinch

To Grind

Red chilliles/green chillies - 4-5
fresh coconut - shredded- 1/2cup
Cumin seeds -2 tsps
Corainder seeds - 1tsp
tamarind pulp - 3tsps
Chana dal - 1/2 tsp

Mustard seeds- 1/2tsp
Cumin - 1/4 tsp
curry leaves - 4-5
oil - 1/2tsp

  • Pressure cook all the vegetables with salt, turmeric powder and curry leaves
  • Roast corainder seeds, and chana dal grind them into a fine paste with fresh coconut, tamarind pulp, cumin, chillies 
  • Heat oil and temper mustard seeds, curry leaves and cumin  and your paste and vegetables and cook until all the ingredients blend evenly

Hindu Mythology associated with the festival

Ancient texts mention Arudra as being largest of the stars, even larger than the Sun. Tamil scholar Kandaswami Mudaliar said that Arudra star, if placed with in place of the Sun in our the solar system, would extend beyond the earth and touch Sevvai (Mars). The Aruda star is called Shiva Semporjyoti or Golden Red Flame due to its red brilliant appearance in the sky. Hindus believe that this radiant light denotes Lord Shiva's association to his function as one of the trinities (Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma). This day of marghazi,  Thiruvadirai star and new moon coincide, and that is when Lord shiva is said to perform his ecstatic dance, The Thandava. In Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, a magnificant abhishekam is performed for Lord Natarajar. Kali is offered to the Lord and distributed as prasadam.

Why Kali?
A devotee called Sendanar could offer only kali. He had the habit of eating only the left overs from what ever was offered to Lord Shiva and later distributed among devotees. It is believed that Lord shiva himself came down to eat the humble kali offered in Nataraja’s sanctorum. From the day of that miracle, kali is considered the special offering to Lord Nataraja on Marghazhi Thiruvadirai.

This day is also celebrated as the birth anniversary of  Saint Thiru Gnana Sambandar , in Seerkhazhi ,Tamil Nadu, India. Another Shiva bhakta, Saint Manickavachakar's birthday, also falls on this day.

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