Saturday, August 30, 2014

Happy Ganesh Chathurthi! and Recipe for Ganesha's Favorite Modhagam

Happy Ganesh Chathurthi to all of you! He is the god who clears all our obstacles and hence his birthday is celebrated pompously. 

We had a simple decoration this year and we got clay Ganesha's for our kids to do their pooja. I remembered how I enjoyed those days.....going to the market, buying a clay Ganesha, an umbrella for him, a special garland made with his favorite flower, "erukam poo malai" (in Tamil) or Calotropis gigantea, and some Arugampul or bermuda grass (Cyanodon dactylon). The kids went to the market with grandpa this year to get their Ganesha. They came back with extra happiness, just like the way we were when we were kids. Time just flies and when we see our kids doing all these what we did when we were young, kinda  makes you smile and enjoy. I consider these as precious moments. Nothing can equal to the happiness and smile on their cute faces. We all had a good time.


Myself and MIL cooked all Ganesha's favorites. The kids decorated and did pooja for their Ganesha with grand parents. Ganesha loves aval (flattened rice), pori (puffed rice), kadalai (peanut), modhagam, kozhukattai, sundal, vadai and payasam. This year we made savory veggie kozhukatai and sweet choconut kozhukattai. They were very tasty and quite different from the usual sweet coconut and savory urad dhal ones. It was worth the try as my daughter was gobbling them up like Ganesha himself. We made all these with regular festive meal and it was a great feast. When it was time to offer for Ganesha, our kids enjoyed offering all the dishes to their Ganesha, especially they tried to hand feed mothagam and kozhukattais to their Ganesha.






Mothagam (or mothakam), a type of kozhakattai or steamed rice balls, is the most favorite of Lord Ganesha.



Here is a very famous and well known verse on Ganesha:

Mooshika vahana modaka hastha
Syamara karna vilambitha suthra
Vamana roopa maheswara puthra
Vigna vinayaka padha namasthe!

He is decribed as modhaka hastha that means, one holding the mothagam or steamed rice balls in his hands. Vignam means obstacles in our  path and he is the deity to whom we pray everyday to remove all the obtacles and hindrances in our paths and help with all our projects in this worldly life. Here is the traditional recipe of modhakam which is Lord Ganesha's favorite. They are mildly sweet and tasty. 




Ingredients:

Raw rice - 1/2 cup
Split moong dhal - 1 tbsp
Shredded coconut - 1 tbsp
Jaggery - 1/3 cup
Cardamom - 1, crushed
Water - 11/2 cups

Method:

Dry roast the rice and dhal. Cool and coarse grind it. In a pan, add water and jaggery and heat it. Once all the jaggery has dissoled, filter it to remove the impurities. Heat the pure jaggery water in a pan and add the crushed cardamom and coarse ground mixture.


Cook till it absorbs all the water. Add the coconut and a spoon of ghee, mix thoroughly and cook for 2 more minutes. Take it off the flame and when it is cool enough to handle make medium sized balls out it. I was able to make 10 balls out of this mixture. Steam them for about 5-7 minutes and tasty mothakams are ready for your prayer and then for your family.






 Please try to make this special favorite of Ganesha's for your next pooja and let me know how you liked it!



Friday, August 29, 2014

Soothing Herbal Tea / Kashayam

I know I didn't blog for quite sometime as I am still recovering from chikungunya. Whenever we got cold and cough when young, my mom used to brew herbal tea and give us. It is a great home remedy without any side effects. I have seen many adults as well as kids run away if you say the names of these herbal teas. I know sometimes they can be  bitter. Some people a few decades back, used to have a strict regime - a cleansing routine on every Saturdays or Sundays when different herbal teas would be given after a soothing oil massage followed by hair wash. I have experienced those too. I am not the running away type. Always I like my mom's "Kashayams" or herbal teas of different kinds for various ailments. I respect her for her knowledge about these simple home remedies and they also help in getting better.

This time she made a different one. This herbal concoction gives some relief and boosts up your immunity.
In this herbal tea, there are lots of fresh leafy ingredients, each one unique and the effect of all these is very vital when your health is down. She says mudakathan or balloon vine leaves is a must in this brew (She has RA and OA - with these arthritis she regularly takes mudakathan for its benefits) as I have severe joint pains.



Here is a picture of the fresh leaves, their names and some their special properties.

Chitharathai (Galangal) leaves - helps in cold, cough.
Sacred basil - helps fight fever, cold, infection and also to combat stress.
Omavalli (Pratharchur in hindi ) called Plectranthus ambonicus - helps in cold and cough.
Mudakathan leaves (Balloon vine) or Cardiospermum helicababum - reduces joint pain.
Siriyanangai or Nilavembu (Andrographis paniculata) - anti-biotic, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and hepatoprotective).
Betel leaves - digestive aid (not pictured here).





Dry roast these dry ingredients for 3- 4 min. Cool and coarse grind.




















Athimadhuram (Liquorice) stick - 1 in.
Sukku or dried ginger - 1 in.
Kanda thippili (Piper longum stem) - 4 pieces
Arisi Thipili (Piper longum fruit) - 4 pieces
Cumin - 1 tsp
Ajwain or omum (carom seeds) - 1 tsp
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Whole coriander seeds - 1/4 tsp






Method:

Wash all the leaves. Take a big bowl, add all coarse ground powder, fresh leaves and 3 cups of water. Simmer for 10 - 15 min or till the mixture reduces to half. Filter, add palm sugar or honey and drink warm. Cheers to good health and enjoy your warm cup of herbal tea.





You can add some more water to the mixture after filtering and make the tea again a couple of times before throwing it out.

Tips:
  • If you do not have the fresh leaves, sometimes if you get these in powdered form, you can include it.
  • If you are pregnant, please do not include nilavembu or Andrographis paniculata.
  • Nilavembu or siriyanangai (Andrographis paniculata) is very very bitter. Please check on how much bitterness you can tolerate. For adding three leaves, I could taste the bitterness for an hour. So if you are adding in powdered form, go easy on it, especially if you are giving to kids.
  • Also the color and taste depends on the leafy ingredients that you have at hand and also you can alter the quantities of these according to your preference.