Monday, January 9, 2012

Thiruvathira Special

Thiruvathira is a festival celebrated by the women of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It celebrates the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva and the meeting of Goddess Parvati with Lord Shiva. Thiruvathira falls in the Malayalam month of Dhanu/ Tamil month of Margazhi (December – January) and was on the 8th of January this year. One fact I did not know is that Thiruvathira is the commemoration of the death of Kamadevan, who is supposed to have been a victim to Lord Shiva’s powerful third eye.
In Tamilnadu, people prepare Kali and Kali kootu as offerings to god. Both these dishes are easy and very tasty. And the Kootu is super healthy too!!! There are a whole lot of vegetables and very little oil. 

Rice – 1 cup
Jaggery – 1 cup (You can also add more if you prefer more sweetness in the Kali)
Cashews – 2 tbsps
Grated coconut – 2 tbsps
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
Ghee – 3 -4 tbsps
Water – 2 ½ cups
Roast the rice in a pan until it turns slightly red. Grind to make a coarse powder. Boil in water in a vessel. Add the jaggery and allow it to melt. Add a spoon of the ghee. Once the jaggery starts to boil, add the ground rice and remove from the stove. Mix well. Add another spoon of ghee and pressure cook the rice for three whistles.
In a pan, heat the rest of the ghee and roast the cashews. Once the rice is nicely cooked, add the grated coconut, cardamom powder and roasted cashews and mix well. Serve with hot and spicy kootu or enjoy it as a dessert.

Kali Kootu
Diced potatoes – 1 cup
Diced winter melon – 1 cup
Diced pumpkin – 1 cup
Diced brinjal – 1 cup
Chopped beans – 1 cup
Green peas – 1 cup
Diced raw banana – 1 cup
Diced sweet potato – 1 cup
Diced carrot – 1 cup
Tamarind juice – 2 cups
Cooked toor dal – 2 tbsps
Sambar powder – 2 tbsps (optional)
Dhania seeds – 3 tbsps
Channa dal – 2 tbsps
Red chillies – 10
Grated coconut – 5 tbsps
Oil – 2 tbsps
Jaggery – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
In a cooker, pour the tamarind juice, sambar powder and all the vegetables. Pressure cook for three or four whistles. For the masala, heat a tbsp of oil. Add dhania seeds, channa dal, red chillies and grated coconut. Sauté nicely and allow it to cool. Grind the above sautéed masala into a fine powder. In a big vessel, heat a tbsp of oil. Add mustard seeds and allow it to splutter. Add urad dal, curry leaves and one red chilli. Add the cooked vegetables, salt, ground masala powder and the cooked toor dal and boil for 5 – 10 minutes. Add jaggery, simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, and remove from the stove.
This kootu is a great accompaniment for Kali, dosa, idly and rice.

In Kerala, Thiruvathira is a fun filled day for all women, regardless of age. The day’s festivities usually go on throughout the night with the women gathering around to perform the ‘Kai Kotti Kali’, a traditional dance form of Kerala.
No festival is complete without food. Women do not eat rice or rice related items on this day and of course, like any other auspicious day, onion and garlic are also avoided. So the day’s menu would be made with ingredients like whole wheat, semolina and for modern times, cous cous and oats.
My favourite Thiruvathira dish is the arrowroot pudding ‘Koova’. Many people make it with sugar but I love the way my mother makes it with jaggery. Jaggery gives it a distinct flavour and the addition of cardamom makes this a delectable dessert.
Arrowroot powder – ¼ cup
Water – 2 ½-2 ¾ cups
Jaggery to taste
Cardamom powder – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – 2 tbsps
Mix the arrowroot powder into the water and bring to a boil. The mixture will start thickening as it boils, so keep stirring continuously. Once it thickens to a sauce like consistency, add the jaggery and mix well. Lower the heat and let it cook for about 10 minutes and you will be left with a jelly like substance. Meanwhile, check to see if it is sweet enough.
Remove from the heat, add the cardamom powder and garnish with coconut. This can be served warm or cold. I personally prefer it cold. Bon Appétit.


  1. I love this..Thanks for the recipe..This looks mouthwatering


  2. Interesting stories and food relations with festivals. Happy festivities to you.
    Love Ash.

  3. Very yummy n delicious!!
    Congrats on your awards n Thanx a lot for sharing this with me..

    Erivum Puliyum

  4. Thank you Faseela, Aarthi, Ash and Julie :-)