Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Adhirasam

                              There was a time, when I used to wake up to the continuous sound of crackers bursting as early as 4 in the morning, to celebrate the day of lights, waiting to lay my hands on the array of sweets and savouries that my mother and grandmother had laboured hard, for over a week to prepare the feast. Big and wide stainless steel plates filled with Adhirasam, murukku, Thattuvadai, Rava laddu, Ribbon pakoda, Coconut burfi, Omapodi, Somas, would be spread across the table and large stainless steel dabbas filled with these sweets and savouries will be lined against the wall waiting to be distributed to relatives and neighbours. Inspite of all the fun that is associated with deepavali like new clothes and crackers, it was the food, especially the variety of sweets and savouries, that made the day really special and we were always hungry for the next few days, till we faced the empty containers. That was thirty years back.


                                Moving to chennai, the passing years have changed everything and the long list of sweets and savouries were reduced to just one or two.  For us Deepavali is synonymous to Adhirasam and it has never been an option. My mother would wait for us to go to sleep before she starts making adhirasam without disturbance, late in the silent hours of the night, a habit that still continues with her. She is someone who loves to make things in large sizes and large quantity. Her adhirasams and poories will be very large compared to palm sized adhirasams and poories that I make. Her ulundu kali balls will be as big as an apple, while mine would never exceed the size of a small lemon. She can never cook anything in few grams like I do, it has always been in kilos and what is truly amazing is that I have never seen any of it go waste.


                             The sudden trend of gifting shop bought sweets made me abruptly stop making sweets and savouries a few years back. The sight of boxes  and boxes of sweets lying around the house always made me sick and lose the desire to make sweets of my own. This year I wanted to make these adhirasams before we were bombarded with gift boxes of sweets and decided to disappear and appear only after the festival was over and it worked.  I also crossed my limit in making small quantities and prepared double the amount of adhirasam that I usually make, for the only reason that I wanted to share with more people than our small family and as I am typing this, I am happy that its all been devoured without a trace. It's a bit surprising that I have never come across a person who dislikes adhirasam!



                   Making flawless adhirasam is not a rocket science but you need to follow every single instruction it demands for, if you do not want to fail. I follow the same rules that has worked for me the first I learnt to make them fifteen years back. I usually don't measure, just eyeball while mixing the flour, but here I have given the measured quantity. To the recipe now;



Ingredients
Jaggery           1 k
Raw rice         1 1/2 k
Ghee               2 tbsp
Cardamom     8
Water              1 cup
Oil                    1 litre


Method
Rinse and soak the rice for about 3-4 hours.
Drain the rice completely and spread it on a cloth and leave it to dry in room temperature for about 30minutes ( not under fan or sun)
The rice will still have the moisture.
Grind the rice in portions in a mixie jar or get it ground in a mill.( I do it in my mixie jar)
(If the rice is too dry ( depends upon the room temperature) sprinkle a little water before grinding)
Sieve the rice flour and keep it aside.


Combine the jaggery and water, stir to dissolve on low heat.
Strain the dissolved jaggery and take the jaggery syrup in a heavy bottomed vessel.
Bring this syrup to a boil. Continue to boil on high heat and check for ball consistency ( Take a tsp of jaggery syrup and pour in a bowl of water, try to collect the syrup in your fingers and make a ball and throw against a plate, if it makes a noise then the right consistency has reached. If the jaggery syrup dissolves in the water or if it slides between your fingers then continue to boil more till the right consistency has reached)
You will reach this consistency in 5minutes from the time the syrup starts to boil, with the measurement given. ( Everytime you check for the consistency keep the heat down and when done raise the heat, because by the time you are doing the consistency check, the syrup would have reached the next stage)
Turn of the heat, immediately add the split cardamoms and the rice flour and start stirring until everything is mixed well. When the rice flour is completely mixed well in the hot jaggery syrup, pour the ghee on the dough, around the edges and do not stir. When it is cool, close and leave it overnight or for 24 hours before you start making adhirasam. This mixture can be stored in a refrigerator for a week and used to make adhirasam as and when necessary.
The next day, grease your fingers with oil, pinch a large lemon sized dough and place it on a greased plastic sheet and flatten it to a 1/4 inch thick circular rounds. Slide the circles in medium hot oil and fry on both  sides until golden brown on low - medium heat ( If the adhirasam turns dark too soon then reduce the heat a little more, which you will know when making the second or the third adhirasam)
Transfer the fried adhirasams to the ahdirasam press placed in a plate and after a few seconds press to extract the excess oil and transfer to a plate. Repeat the same until all the dough is used up.



Note:
Always use good quality rice for tasty adhirasams. I use silky raw rice.
Do not try to store the wet rice flour for later use, it will develop fungus. Once the flour is ready start making the syrup.
Always use paagu vellum and never the yellow jaggery.
I always use cardamom by slightly splitting it open and throwing it in my sweets as the flavour remains subtle and never overpowers the taste of the actual dish.
While removing the fried adhirasams using a perforated ladle( ladle with holes - jallikarandi), I usually press the adhirasams with another flat ladle  (as shown in the picture) to drain the excess oil into the oil pan itself and then transfer it to the wooden press. This way oil will not get wasted. But try this only when you are little experienced because while trying to change positions in holding the ladle, adhirasam may fall into the hot oil and might scald you if you are not careful.


Instead of the wooded adhirasam press you can use any flat bottomed vessel to press and extract the oil.
First timers try using a small quantity till you learn the nuances.
what can happen ifthe syrup consistency went wrong -
If you have added the flour before the soft ball consistency stage, the adhirasam will split and dissolve in the oil while frying
If you have added the flour in a hard ball consistency stage the fried adhirasams will be slightly hard and crisp.
But if the consistency is right and the flour added is excess then the adhirasam will taste less sweet.
If you have missed the soft ball consistency and the syrup is very thick then add a little water and boil again until you attain the right consistency. (This suggestion is only before adding the flour and not after)



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Hiya all,
Finally on this day of october the 1st, 2012, I have decided to include the comment form, after a long gap of two years. But, I am going to be a bit selfish here and keep all those nice and lovely things that is said for me and only me to cherish and will be sharing any queries that requires clarifications and your experience about the food if you have tried my recipes. So, drop in a word if you have anything to say and thanks a lot for stopping by.
"Have a nice day"

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