Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chana Salad

Last weekend we had a hearty breakfast with my friend V. She had made great sabudana kichidi and this chana salad as a side dish. The tomatoes used in this salad are from their own kitchen garden. They also grow jalapeno and many other herbs like mint and coriander in their garden. My husband loved this salad and it has become a regular at my place. It is very simple to prepare and yet very nutritious.

1/2 cup chana
1 medium onion
1 tomato
lemon juice for taste
salt for taste
2 green chilies

Wash and soak the chana overnight or for around 8 hours in plenty of water. Pressure cook the soaked chana till it is soft but also remains firm. Let it cool down. Chop onion and tomatoes into small pieces. Chop the green chilies finely. Mix the chana with chopped onion, tomato and green chillies. Add salt for taste. Mix in lemon juice just before serving.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Panchkadai / Panchkadayi

Panchkadayi is the the sweet made with 5 items. It is very tasty sweet dish to satisfy any sweet cravings and filling at the same time. It is usually make it as an offering during puja to Lord Krishna, Lord Ganesha, Goddess Tulsi and Goddess Gowri and also during Dushera. Panch means 5; in short it is made with 5 or more items.

1 cup brown chana
1 cup shredded coconut
2 cups jaggery or gur
8-10 cardamom pods
1 1/2 cup thin pova (beaten rice-thin ) or lai (puffed paddy)
black sesame seeds or til

Toast the chana in a kadai or pan on a low-medium flame for around 15-20 minutes till it is crisp. Take care not to burn it. Toast the sesame seeds for 3-5 minutes or till crisp. Cool the chana and coarsely powder it. Melt jaggery in a thick bottomed pan with around 1 cup water. The melted jaggery should not be very sticky like when making ladoo's or chiki's. Heat it to make a thin paank or mixture. Powder the cardamom seeds and add to the jaggery along with the coconut. When the jaggery mixture cools down completely, add chana powder, sesame seeds and pova or lai to the jaggery mixture and mix well. It keeps good at room temperature for 1-2 days or around a week in the refrigerator.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Choodi Puja / Chudi Puja / Tulsi Puja

I planned and planted a tulasi early in May this year(2009) with the intention of doing tulasi puja in July. I got a plant from out local farmer's market called Thai Basil as I did not find the Indian Tulsi plant around here.

Every year in the month of Shravan Gowd Saraswat Brahmins have Tulsi puja at home.
In 2010, Shravan Month begins on August 11 and ends on September 8. Married ladies perform this puja and worship both Tulsi Goddess and Sun God on Friday's and Sunday's of the Shravan month. Choodi's or specific flowers tied with dibrankolo or druva grass are offered to tulsi. Nine or more choodi's are prepared for the puja and after offering to the Tulsi Goddess. My mother uses Ratnagandhi or May flower along with Mitka Flower (it has a lovely fragrance and grows in color of yellow or white), Shanka Pushpa (which we grew in our home) and periwrinkle or sadapushpa (which means that it grows everyday). She also clean our doorstep with water and make design with white chalk on the doorstep and offer 2 choodi's to the doorstep.

7-9 Druva grass are tied with 3-5 flowers to make choodi. I did not find any druva grass near my house here in US, so I used the grass available in my lawn. I also used lily flower to make the choodi's. After doing the puja for 2 weeks, I took a photo of my tulsi plant which has grown to 4 times the size than when I had bought it. My mother saw the photo and told me that it is not the tulsi we worship nomally in India. Thai basil is called kamakasturi in India and not considered strictly to be tulsi--thats why the name Thai basil. In such cases, I always remember my Grandmom's saying-- she would always say "something is better than nothing". It is the thought of doing the puja counts rather than having correct flower, grass or plant :).

The remaining choodi's are offered with haldi and kumkum to elder women who give their blessings to younger women. I offer the remaining chudis to my home temple God's or I offer them to the Sunnyvale temple. My mom also posts the choodis and kumkum to many relatives who live in other cities.
My mother would prepare
panchkadayi as prashad to Tulsi Goddess. If there is no time to prepare panchkadai, you can also offer sugar or jaggery as offering to the Goddess.

In the photo: Pova Panchkadayi

There are no mantra's or shlokas to do the puja, just show aarti to Tulsi goddess. Apply haldi kumkum to Tulsi and sprinkle rice grains around her.Then finally offer her a little prashad and water and a choodi. Distribute the remaining prashad to your family and the remaining water as "teerth". Also pray to the Sun God after performing the Tulsi puja.

Update 2010: I found Tulsi at Coconut Hil, an Indian store near my home. Here is my tulsi: