For the second day of Temple Prasadams, we prepared Anjaneyar Kovil Vada Malai. The moment I sat down to write on this Prasadam, I knew this post will be a long one. I hadn't realized I had so many nostalgic memories associated nor so many events will be remembered when I actually write about Lord Hanuman or this prasadam. We worship all Gods and while one prays and pays obeisance to all Gods and every festival is observed and celebrated with great reverence, it's only natural each one has their favorite God as well. Anjaneyar or Lord Hanuman is my Brother's and Hubby dear's favorite Deity. This factor has influenced me personally in many ways than I have realized.
Yesterday while I was talking about my parents' religious influence on me, I didn't mention how it was on my brother. I have always seen him religiously praying twice a day and often visiting temples. He is your typical mamma's boy, not that I am not my mamma's girl, but then I did only for her and not because I wanted to do. Whereas my brother did for her as well for himself being so religious. He used to visit the Nanganallur temple every Saturday. It takes about an hour's travel by bike, yet he always did week after week. Nanganallur is famous for the huge Hanuman Idol and attracts a huge beeline of devotees from all over the city and far off. The last time I passed through that area, I suddenly remembered that I have never been to that temple.
I then remembered that Amma used to plan for the Lord's favorite Vada Malai to be offered through my brother on his many visits. I am not sure if this Vadai is popular elsewhere. Having never lived outside Madras, my knowledge is quite limited. I have given up tracking as I remember vacation usually revolved around temples. As a kid I remember our tours being more pilgrimage with Amma planning to visit all temples in that place, irritating my father in the process. Most times he used to plan his official work during that time or if he is visiting, he will make it a historical visit than a religious one. Of course, as kids, we never protested or voiced differently to our parents. Kids this generation clearly tell that if a visit involves temple visits, they do not want to accompany us.
Apart from outstations, Amma often visits a nearby Sivan temple. The temple has a Ramar Sannidhi and it's only natural you have an Anjaneyar there as well. Being a regular visitor since my early twenties, we have keenly observed the many traditions followed in the temple. One among them is the Anjanar Vada Malai being very popular and most sought out kaanikai (offering). This Kannikai is offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays are famous for the Vennai Kannikai in the temple. Then after marriage, I realized that Hubby dear was an ardent devotee of Lord Hanuman. This could be possible because of the famous Kasapuram Anjaneya temple in Athamma's hometown and he was a frequent visitor there. His affection and devotion are so much that he even wanted to name his firstborn after Anjaneya. When it turned out to be a girl, he named her after His mother. So all of us naturally have a daily recital of His name. Before the twins, we hardly ever called her by her given name. She had ten different pet names. After the twins, her name struck, and yes we keep taking His name quite often during the day.
Above all this, I had my dose of our Mythology and have read the Adventures of Lord Hanuman so many times. Amar Chitra Katha spins such fascinating stories, leaving you spellbound and craving for more. I sadly miss reading them now and feel bad that kids these days are not so attached to those Comics. Given a chance, I won't mind settling down with those books right now! Wish I could.
Anyway, when I was discussing this theme with Amma, we had a lot of options. Other than Ambalapuzha Pal Payasam, we had decided on Azhagar Kovil dosai, Guruvayoor Paal Payasam, Pillayarpatti Kozhukattai, and a few more. Since Azhagar Kovil dosai was quite popular among the BM this edition, I skipped to do it later. And since I decided to make from different states, Guruvayoor Paal Payasam was also skipped. So it was Anjaneyar Temple Vadai. Amma got introduced to this Prasadam back during my college days. We lived in a colony that majorly had TamBrahms and religious gatherings were more of a pastime and vacation oriented than anything else. At least it was for me. All the colony ladies used to meet every week for Bhajans, the weekly hosting is taken in turns and this used to happen in the evenings. Aunty hosting this will make Sundals and other Prasadams. I used to see these Vada Malais being prepared as well.Gosh for all the detached attachment I seem to have had towards my religion, looking back I can only see my growing up years full of religious events. I am not an Atheist nor a regular temple goer. Hence growing up in a similar atmosphere as mine, I want my kids to make their own choices,. With their father being so religious and mother a non-conformist on anything, I was shocked to hear my kids' take on religion. Konda says she is an atheist, Peddu says he will go to the temple if it's required and Chinnu is right now taking a safe middle path. I leave it to their destiny.
And if you have been with me till now, I have got my job done. I sincerely thank you!
Now for the much loved Vadai, which Konda said was the best!
Urad dal - 1 Cup
Rice flour - 1 tsp
Peppercorns, coarsely powdered - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Oil for Frying
How to make the Vadai
Wash and soak the urad dal for an hour. We ended up soaking for 2 hrs, so drained and keep it aside for 10 mins.
Grind in small batches along with peppercorns.
Do not add water at all, remove and then add salt, rice flour, mix well.
Make small balls, on a greased plastic sheet, place the ball. Then with another greased sheet, gently press it down.
Heat a Kadai with oil, deep fry in batches in low flame.
Remove and after offering the Vada Malai, store in an airtight container.
Getting the pressed vadai is quite tricky as urad dal is sticky.
So the best method we arrived at, was pressing it down in between two greased plastic sheets.
Also cooking this in low flame works out best as the vadais have to be crispy.
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