Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kaaradai and Uppu-adai for nonbu

The advent of the Hindu calender month of Panguni falls on the 14th or the 15th of March, when the Sun transits from Kumbha rasi to Meena rasi. (This is slightly different from thr Roman calender). At the instant of this transition, it is a traditionin tambrahm households that women observe what is 'kaaradaiyan nonbu', a ritual offering prayers for the longevity of the husband and hence their marriage.

There goes the story of Princess Savithri, who despite being foretold that her beloved, Prince Satyavan living in exile, would soon meet his death, married him. Sage Narada had even predicted the exact day of death for Satyavan. She served him devotedly and pleased by her devotion the God of Death, Yamadharma, revealed his presence. She argued with him for the life of Satyavan and tricked him to grant her three boons. Through one of them she brought Satyavan back to life.

The story unfolds thus: Savithri requested that she is permitted to follow Satyavan to the woods on the day she knew was his last. She offered prayers while in the forest and cooked the 'Adai' for the offering. Hence preparing the kaaradai and uppu adai came into practice while observing the customs and offering prayers.

The exact time of the Sun's transit varies year to year. The pooja is observed somewhere near about the time of transition.
Usually women observe a fast until such time and offer prayers. The adai is offered as neivedhyam and is consumed.

To the recipe:
Clean and wash 3 cups of raw rice. Soak for about two hours,drain and pound to a nearly fine powder.
Transfer the pounded rice to a heavy pan and dry roast the flour until you are able to draw a line holding the same between your fingers.
It will have lumps. Transfer the lumps to the blender and pound further and repeat the roasting.
This is the basic flour to prepare the sweet 'kaaradai' and the savoury 'uppu adai'.

Measure the flour in cups and keep separated for both the sweet and savoury versions.
Other ingredients common for both versions are thattai payaru/kaaramani/ red chowli beans/ black eye peas, and coconut cut in thin strips.
Wash, soak and cook the beans until soft.


2 cups measure of the roasted flour
1/4 cup cooked red chowli beans
1/4 of a medium size coconut sliced in thin scrapes
2 cups of powdered jaggery
4-5 cups water
2 teaspoons cardamom powder

Heat water in a wide pan. Add the powdered jaggery and once it has melted strain the impurities.
Place the pan back on the stove with the strained liquid and allow it to boil well.
Add the coconut scrapes and the cooked beans.
Gradually add the measured flour while stirring the mix with the other hand thus not allowing lumps to form.
Let this cook a bit until a slightly sticky lump is formed.
Remove from the stove. Transfer to a dish and allow to cool until you are able to handle the dough.
Add the cardamom powder and mix well.
Knead with hand and break the lumps, if any.
Pinch out small portions of the dough. Flatten them to a slightly thick circular discs in your palms. Make a small finger dent in the centre of the discs.
Arrange the discs on a idli plate or a flat plate. You may prepare any number of such plates to accomodate the entire dough flattened in this manner. Or steam them in batches.
Place a steamer on the stove with water. When the water is warm, place the plate in it and cover with the lid.
Steam for about 8 minutes until cooked. The adai is cooked if it gains a shiny glow on the surface.
Transfer to the serving dish.

Uppu adai:

2 cups of roasted flour
1/4 cup cooked red chowli beans
3 green chillis sliced
1/4 of a medium coconut, sliced finely
Salt to taste
1/2" piece ginger sliced
Few curry leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 teaspoons split black gram/split urad dhal
2 teaspoons split Bengal gram/channa dhal
A generous pinch of asafoetida
3 &1/2 cups water (may increase to 4 cups, if required, or 1/4 cup of beaten curds can be added)
Oil for tempering

Method to prepare:
Place a heavy pan on the stove. Add the oil and once it is hot, drop the mustard seeds.
Allow the mustard seeds to splutter.
Add the urad dhal,chillis, curry leaves and the ginger.
Saute' for a few minutes and add the coconut scrapes along with the asafoetida and salt.
Pout the water in. bring the water to a boil and as it is rolling hot, reduce the heat to moderate.
Add the flour while stirring it in the water.
Cook until it forms a lump just short of well cooked.
Remove from the fire and transfer to a flat dish.
Allow to cool to be able to handle the dough.
Pinch out small portions and as done for the kaaradai, prepare discs off the dough and steam them until cooked.
Transfer to serving dishes.

These are prepared for the offering along with the regular payasam and fruits and such.

If, after the dough has been formed and while making the discs,the dough develops cracks, you may sprinkle warm water and knead the dough, then proceed.
The water requirement depends on the age of the rice. Similarly, usually two cups of quality rice will yield double the volume when pounded. This will reduce back when roasted.

It is believed that Savithri had carried a picnic basket with stuff to prepare these adais for offering during her prayers. Thus, these adais are made as neivedhyams.

These are usually served with a small serving of butter, even offered with the butter.
This year the Sun transits at around 4:33 A.M. IST on the 15th of March. The ritual is observed while the Sun is still in Kumbham. Hence the pooja will be performed sometime in the night of the 14th of March.


  1. Lathaji,

    Thanks for posting nombu adai recipe, This year what time nombu coming? I have seen in a hindu blog it is on 15th march 8-9 A.M. If you know can you let me. I will appreciate that.

  2. Both adais looks simply fabulous...

  3. Hello Latha Aunty,
    I visit your blog often and love all your recipes.
    In fact I was just thinking of posting the recipes for the adais as karadaiyam nombu is nearing.Good to see your adais. I'm drooling!

  4. Good post and informative. I am planning to repost my old entry as usual before the pandigai.

  5. Looks delicious. Thanks for sharing at the right time :-)

  6. Looks really to hv it now..

  7. Wonderful recipe.. looks really good .. thanks for sharing !!

    Indian Cuisine

  8. Thank you everyone!
    @ Swathi,the Vaasan panchangam says that the meena ravi starts at 4:33 A.M on 15th. Usually the nonbu is observed while the Sun is still in Kumbham. According to a small guide book from the Kanchi Mutt, you can do the poojai on 14th night around 9:00 PM.
    @ Shanthi, Please repost yours, it will be a good guide for many. Also confirm the above timings while posting!

  9. DElicious Adai's Lataji!!!! amma called me yesterday to confirm the timing, it comes @ midnight this time!!!!

  10. very useful post and i am also planning to post this tomorrow.

  11. Lovely & timely post. Acc. to srirangam panchangam, its betwn 8:00 ppm and 9:00 pm, 14th Mar

  12. HI Lataji,

    It has been many year since I fasted for Karaidaiyan Nonbu. Seeing ur post remembered it resolved to hold fasting on that day. thanks for sharing.

  13. lovely it looks , thx for sharing !!

  14. Thanks for the wonderful and informative post..Much needed now..


  15. This is one of my favourite recipes,love the sweet adai with butter a lot.Happy nonbu,nice write up

  16. nice nombu adais and very useful post.I too make vella adai to have with butter.

  17. My mom used to do this and I still remember sandwiching both the sweet and savory adais and eating in one bite :D MIL side dont celebrate this,so am craving for this adai now ;) We roast and soak the beans and cook it along while steaming the kozhukattai..

  18. Nice making it right now. But You`ve posted kaara Adai and Uppu Adai? You dont call it Vella Adai?


  19. @Shoba, the vella adai is the 'Karadai' that is made for neivedhyam and the savoury version is only an addition to go along with the sweet dish.


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