Friday, October 19, 2012

Pittu - Neivedhyam for Navrathri Vellikizhamai

Navrathri, the festival of nine nights (and days) started this Tuesday and I have arranged a 'Kolu' and my regular menu related to the festival is being cooked and enjoyed. Traditions differ from place to place. Though the arrangement of the dolls, inviting people and few of the offerings remain common, some people make few extra special dishes on particular days and celebrate the festival.
Today's recipe is a common tamilian dish cooked on no particular occasion. However, I was aware the people who arrange the 'kolu' in Madras specially prepare this on the Friday during the navrathi. It was not a practice in my parents' town nor in other parts of Tamil Nadu.

I am fond of dishes that are prepared using jaggery to sweeten the dish and i usually opt for payasam and kheer with jaggery. thus I wanted to make this dish for navrathri. I have two books from renowned authors detailing this recipe. However, the process seemed a bit intimidating. Then it struck me that my mother's sister used to make pittu for Shivrathri . It is believed that lord Shiva enlisted His services in construction of a dam across the Vaigai river when it was mandatory that one member from each family offer their services. There was an old widow who was a devotee and had none to enlist. The Lord offered to do her the favour and in return wanted pittu.

My aunt will always work difficult recipes around and use her tricks and shortcuts to make them as tasting good while easy on the labour. With an authenic source right at home, all I needed was to make a call and take notes as she dictated.
I am glad to have tried it today and happier sharing one success recipe. This is possibly one of the few times that I cooked a dish and am writing the post almost immediately. The flavour of roasted flour and the flavouring cardamom is lingering in my fingers as I type this.

200 ml raw rice
200 ml powdered jaggery
50 ml shredded fresh coconut
30 ml thuvar dhal
2 tablespoons ghee
15 pieces cashew nuts
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder

Wash the rice clean and soak in water for about two hours.
Drain the water and spread the rice on a clean sheet of cloth for a few minutes.
Powder the rice and sieve to a fine powder.
Soon after the entire rice has been made flour and whilst still moist, take the powder in a heavy bottom pan and roast until you are able to drop the roasted powder in a neat line.
Since you are roasting moist flour, you will find lumps forming as the flour cooks.
Allow the flour to cool and sift again. Transfer the lumps back to the jar of the grinder and powder again.
Add this to the already roasted lot and put the pan back on heat. Now roast the entire flour untli golden red.
This powder can be made ahead and stored to be used when required.
If you measure this powder again it will be somewhere equal in volume of the rice that you started initially. When soaked, drained and powdered the quantity will almost double in volume and when you roast it will reduce back to a lesser quantity.
When this powder has cooled to room temperature spread it on a flat dish.
Heat some water in which salt has been dissolved. Sprinkle the lukewarm water gradually to the flour and mix just as stiff that the flour holds in a lump inside your fist, but crumbles when loosened.
Tie this flour in a loose bundle in a cloth. Place the cloth inside a container and cover with a lid.
Place this utensil inside the pressure cooker and cook until three whistles, or for 8minutes on a uniform hiss of the cooker after the first whistle.
By the end of this process the flour mix would be quite soft but will hold the crumbling texture.
Pressure cook the dhal until soft and breaks when pinched between the fingers but holds shape. 
Meanwhile heat 1/2 a tablespoon ghee and fry the cashews and the coconut.
Dissolve the jaggery in some water and strain the impurities. Boil the solution down to a hard ball syrup. that is when you take a small portion og the syrup and drop in a small bowl with water, the syrup cools immediately and you can roll it in a hard ball that drops with a clang when dropped back into the water.
Spread the cooked rice flour on the flat plate. Add to it the dhal, coconut and the cashew nuts.Add the cardamom powder.
Add the syrup mixing it to incorporate. The mix will blend well and form a soft textured yet crumbling mix.The texture will be between soft and just about dry.
Add the ghee and mix well.

Enjoy this mildly sweetened pittu as it is.
Priya Vasu is hosting an event to mark this wonderful festival and is inviting us to share our Navrathri dishes. There is a giveaway also in her blog which is just a click away from here.


  1. sounds like thiruvathirai kali. Loved the bowl & plate..:) Nice recipe for navaratri :)

  2. My amma makes puttu on navaratri fridays and even my patti makes this whenever the coconut tree gives the first flower. Even i thought of making and posting the recipe, but totally tied with so many invites for haldi kummkum.
    Very nicely done and presented well too.

  3. Its worth all the hardwork.looks delicious

  4. Puttu is my favorite too and am awaiting to taste it on Sunday as my mom has promised to make it then. Yours looks awesome and very inviting! Cant wait until sunday I suppose! :-)

  5. Very traditional and delicious recipe.. looks tempting.. thanks for sharing :)
    Indian Cuisine

  6. Delicious lataji!!!! Amma too makes this for every navrathri!!! I make this on saraswathi aavaganam (moolam natchathram).

  7. Delicious pittu, adding toor dal in pittu in really new to me. My grandma makes without adding. it.

  8. Very nicely done.. Mum mum does it same way but for me she make the rice flour and pack for me whenever I visit her. This is one of my favourite.. nice

  9. My mom do the same way too, one of my most favourite pittu, btw love that super cute serving bowl.


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