Let this new year bring new dreams and new hopes to each of you... Iniya Puthandu Vazhthukkal...!!
Tamil New year's day is celebrated on April 13th or 14th every year. Its called "Varusha Pirappu" in tamil. Its a festivity time for all Tamilians. The main focus on this day, like any other festival day, is given to food. The tradition is to prepare a variety of dishes that can taste sweet, sour, salt and bitter to depict the different colors of life from success to failure. Mango Pachadi is a common dish that's prepared to represent sour and sweet taste. Veppampoo Rasam is another special dish made to represent bitterness. New Year day is a feast day with sambar, rasam, a variety of vegetables with the highlights of Vadai and Payasam! Meat is strictly prohibited on this day.
Growing up, my family followed some rituals to ensure well-being and prosperity. We start the day by a early morning bath, wearing fresh clothes and having pooja before food. The pooja is carried out by offering betel leaves, nuts, fruits, flowers, coconuts and raw rice mixed with turmeric. After moving to the US, I try to maintain the same rituals as in India and do have a pooja before lunch. I have also been preparing an elaborate lunch so far to make it a special day. Our menu today was: Keerai Sambar, Lemon Rasam, Chow-Chow koottu, Poosanikkai Pachadi, Vadai and Javvarisi-Aval Payasam. A typical Indian meal is an excellent example of the correct combination for a nutritionally balanced meal, which is why Indian food provides such an attractive option for vegetarians.
The payasam that I made today is an excellent sweet and an ideal item for a festival day. Though it requires a few extra steps, its all worth for the taste it offers, and definitely looks distinct on the table. Its made of a very unique combination of Tapioca (Javvarisi/Sabudana) and Rice Flakes(Aval/Poha) powdered and simmered in sweet milk and coconut milk.
- Tapioca (Javvarisi/Sabudhana) - 1/2 cup
- Rice Flakes (Aval / Poha) - 1 cup
- Shredded Coconut - 1/2 cup
- Coconut milk - 1/2 cup
- Milk - 1 cup
- Sugar - 2.5 cups
- Water - 3 cups
- Cashews - 20
- Raisins - 10
- Cardamom pods - 4
- Ghee - 2 tbsp
- Heat 1 tsp of ghee in a pan and roast the tapioca for a few mins. The color won't change but you'll feel the change in flavor, Cool and grind into a coarse powder (shouldn't be fine) and set aside.
- Dry Roast the rice flakes for a few mins until it changes to light brown, Cool and grind into a coarse powder (shouldn't be fine) and set aside.
- Crush the cardamom pods and set aside.
- Boil 3 cups of water in a pan, add the tapioca powder and cook it for 5 mins in medium heat stirring frequently. Then add the rice flakes powder and boil it for 2-3 mins.
- Meanwhile, grind the shredded coconut with the coconut milk and half of the cashews into a paste.
- To the boiling mixture, add the above paste, sugar & milk. Stir and cook for a few mins. The mixture would thicken as it boils. So if required, you can add more water.
- Heat the remaining ghee , roast the remaining cashews and raisins. Add this to the payasam.
- Finally add the crushed cardamom pods and boil it for 2-3 mins.