Navratri is celebrated for 9 days in Autumn and it marks the beginning of long festival season in India. This festival is celebrated across India in umpteen number of ways. The first 3 days of this festival is dedicated to Durga (Goddess of power), the next 3 days for Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) and the last 3 days for the Saraswathi (Goddess of Wisdom). In south India, most of the tamil brahmin families exhibit various dolls and figurines in odd (usually 5, 7, 9, or 11) numbered tiers ("padis"). They invite their relatives and friends on this occasion and offer prasadam, goodies, Turmeric and Kumkum. When it comes to prasadam sundals (legumes tempered with coconut) are the most offered dish during this season. A legume is chosen each day to prepare the Sundal.
I feel so excited when I think about this festival so for the second consecutive year, I planned to prepare prashad for all 9 days but even this year I wouldn't be able to implement it. But still I am excited that I will be attending the Durga pooja celebrations in Richmond, Virginia on 26th of September. Thanks to V for performing in the musical concert part of this event. Coming back to my plan, I had been thinking of preparing 9 dish with 9 different legumes. Though I wouldn't be able to post 9 recipes due to my travel plans, I will try to post as many as possible for the rest of the days of Navratri. To start with I decided to prepare Sundal in tamil brahmin style.
Ingredients from my pantry:
Chana dhal / Kadalai parupu / Dalia - 1/4 cup
Coconut / Thengai - 4-5 small pieces or 1 3/4 tbsp grated coconut
Green Chili / Pachai Milagai- 3
Curry leaves / Karuvaipilai - 2
Oil / Ennai - 1/2 tbsp
Mustard Seeds / Kadugu - 1/4 tsp
Cumin Seeds / Jeergam - 1/4 tsp
Broken Urad dhal / Ulutam parupu - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida / Hing (Sprinkle)
Lemon Juice - 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Cooking Instructions:Wash and Soak chana dhal in water for 4 hrs. It becomes easy to cook when we soak it longer.
In a small sauce pan add some water (the chana dhal should soak) and let it cook for 20 minutes on a low flame. Then run a small test to check if it is cooked properly. Remove one chana and try to mash it. If it easily mashes without applying any pressure then it is the right time to remove it from flame. At this stage 98% of water would have got evaporated. Please check in intervals to ensure that the water doesn't get evaporated completely. T o avoid all these hassles, you can put them in a pressure cooker and cook it up for 1 whistle with little water( just to soak the chana).
Meanwhile, grate the coconut coarsely in a blender for few seconds. Then add green chili and grind it for 5 seconds. At last add curry leaves and run it for 2-3 seconds. You should have a mix of grated coconut and chili.
In a pan, add oil. When it is hot add mustard seeds and let it splutter, then immediately add cumin seeds. Reduce the flame and add urad dhal and curry leaves. Reducing flame prevents the urad dhal from burning out. Fry for couple of seconds when the urad dhal starts changing color add cooked chana dhal and toss for 30-40 seconds. Then add grated coconut -chili mix, salt and toss it well for 1 minute so that the coconut blends nicely with each and every legume in the pan.
Add hing, lemon juice, toss it well and remove from flame immediately.
I offered this as prasadh to god and later served to V. He said he was "speechless" :-)
Why did I grind Chili?
Grinding chili along with coconut gives a glimpse of spice to the Sundal. You can always reduce the amount of chili according to your taste buds.
Can I use frozen coconut?