I am very fond of adhirasam. When we were young our grandmother and mother used to make every festival special, cooking as per tradition. Patti goes a step ahead and makes the sweetmeats separately so that she can feed us even before offering and also the servants may get to eat.
During our school vacations at our maternal grandparents place, my grandmother used to make huge quantities with amazing ease, whenever one of us is going back after the vacation. She would advise her maid to come with someone to help pounding rice. Then, the room in the hind quarters, the viragu -ul (room where they store firewood) will be mopped clean and the iron stove with the firewood would be used. She used to pack lot of savoury and sweets for us. The workload that entailed and the ease with which they got things done with lesser technological facilties is beyond my comprehension.
However, as a young adult I have watched people do the adhirasam. Our Velammal was very good at making the correct texture required and used to be amma's guide after patti's demise.
There was one occasion when I saw a maami, as old as patti make seer-size adhirasams. Till date I can drool thinking of that. Once, in Chennai, my periamma came to visit us and stayed a couple of days. She made me pound small quantity of rice in my mixie and taught me to make adhirasam. Ever since, I have made these for karthigai every year.
Recipe for Adhirasam:
(The measures are in volume and you may use any size cup. I had used a 180 ml stainless-steel-coffee tumbler and got 21 pieces)
Raw rice 2 cups (heaped)
Powdered jaggery 2 cups (level, slightly lesser than this also is fine, but not more)
Cardamom powder 2 tablespoons
Ghee 1/4 th of a cup for pouring on the dough
Ghee/oil for deep frying ( You may keep small quantity as you will be frying only one at a time. Also that we shall drain excess ghee from cooked adhirasam and add it back to this)
Wash the rice until water runs clear. Soak for a few hours. Powder to a fine texture in a mixie. Seive and repeat to achieve the fine powder. Add the cardamom powder and set aside.
It is best to mix the moist flour with the jaggery syrup. I have never tried with the flour that has been allowed to dry.
Choose the jaggery which will yield good syrup, what is called paagu vellam in Tamilian stores, the round big ball variety.
Dissolve the powdered jaggery in 1/2 cup of water. Pass through a strainer to remove scum.
In a pan, boil this dissolved jaggery.
Check for the consistency of syrup by pouring little amount in water. At the point when the jaggery is boiling forming big bubbles, test the consistency.
The syrup will not mix in the water, if you try to hold it with finger tips, it will feel like pulp, not forming a firm texture. Since it will feel like touching the inside of tomatoes, in Tamil this is called thakkali pazha padham . A soft ball texture. (the next stage will be that it holds proper shape in water and you are able to make a ball of the syrup called urunadai paagu, take care not to boil till then).
Once the syrup is ready, add it to the prepared flour. Mix very well. Transfer to a vessel and pour some ghee on the top.
Now, you may proceed immediately or rest the dough even for two days. Only note that the syrup should be added to the moist flour.
To make the adhirasams, pinch small portions of the dough. The ghee you had added may form a layer on top. Using this to grease a tiny banana leaf or a plastic sheet, flatten the small portions to discs.
Heat ghee/oil in a pan and when it reaches smoking point, bring heat to medium and drop the prepared disc in it.
With the help of the ladle toss some of the hot ghee/oil over the adhirasam. It will puff like puris.
Cook on both sides until slightly brown. Drain and place in a colander with a plate under it.
With the help of a flat bottomed cup press the adhirasam in the colander slightly, the excess ghee/oil will collect in the plate placed underneath.
This oil can be returned to the ghee in the pan at intervals. It will not be much, yet can be recycled.
Remove adhirasam from colander and place on a plate. Allow to cool.
Repeat till all dough is used. Place the adhirasams separately until they cool down. If hot adhirasams are packed in a pile they may stick and tear while removing.
Adhirasams are easy to make if the syrup texture is mastered. They are such delicious sweetmeats, especially when you get to make them once annually.Hope all of you had a safe and wonderful Karthigai pandigai.
We had heavy breeze that I had to keep lamps indoors. We did have a very happy festival though.