Festivals are probably the best time to enjoy the wide variety of sweets. A time to let go and indulge yourself.
It’s festival time! Have you noticed that some Indian festivals call for fasting and feasting? Navarathri calls for participation of the women in the family. The bomma kollu is a special attraction, where all the dolls are taken down the lofts and get displayed according to themes and guests are invited to take manjal kumkum and snack with the family. Different kinds of usili and sundal are served by the girls and women of the family, beautifully dressed in traditional clothes. Rice kheer is taken to break the fast, and some of the Navarathri sweets are carrot halwa, boondi raitha and dal stuffed puris, to name a few. Seeyam is prepared for Saraswati puja which are coconut and jaggery balls dipped in a lentil batter and deep fried.
Diwali of course is one of our biggest festivals, and just the thought of it brings to mind new clothes, lighted diyas, crackers and the unending array of sweets. Mothers busy themselves with the making of sevvai payasam, coconut burfis, ladoos, and wheat halwas. Others make adhirasams — delicious palaharams made with rice flour cooked in jaggery syrup. Balls of this mixture are flattened into discs and deep fried to a golden brown. Athirasams can be stored indefinitely.
Preparing the festival sweets take its toll on the lady of the house who is up at dawn to get them prepared for the various occasions.
It is a boon that the sweet shops are loaded with festival sweets today, so much so, that women are saved the drudgery of preparing sweets at home, though nothing can really beat home made sweets.
Christmas is the single biggest festival for Christians, and as children who celebrated all festivals, we helped our mother make dhol dhol a special Xmas preparation made of black puttu rice and grated coconut. We stirred and stirred as the halwa bubbled furiously, knowing the reward waiting at the end of it.
Another must was kal kal, a cookie made of flour, eggs and sugar which many today still make at home. Twirled on to a fork with swirls of sugar syrup the kal kals are mouth watering. The Christmas cake is made a month or two in advance, and the fruit cleaned and stoned and soaked in rum or sherry. I know families who lock up the cake and take them out only on Christmas day to prevent little hands from digging up tasty morsels!
After the heavy feed of sweets, one really needs to go on a diet for the next one month to shake off those unwelcome extra calories!
1 cup boondi
2 cups thick curd
1/4 tsp pepper powder
1/4 tsp chilli powder
a pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp chat masala
Soak the boondi in three cups of
cold water for five minutes.
Add the pepper powder, chilli
powder, sugar and salt to the
curd and beat till smooth.
Remove the boondi from the
water and squeeze lightly to re
move all the water.
Add the boondi to the curds and
Sprinkle chat masala, and re
frigerate till ready to serve.