When I named my blog Cooking for all Seasons, I never really had more than a minute to decide on it. But I guess, it came from within. Because that's what life is all about right, we cook for all seasons. Seasons change our needs changes. But the essence that goes into making great cooking never does! Amma's food is always loved and sought by anybody who gets to taste it. I feel that's because she takes so much care in preparing them.
Let it be for whatever occasion or for whomever, it always comes out perfect! Yet I have never heard her saying that she knows everything, she is always ready to learn a new thing that she can cook for her family! I am privileged that I had the opportunity to learn cooking from her, apart from many things in life. The unconditional love that comes, in being a mother, yes that's the extra spice that she always adds in her cooking, and in everything else she does.
Apart from my parents, there have been few others, who have left lasting impressions on my mind. One such person was Ammamma. In the spring of my life, I met Ammama, who was in her autumn. Actually, I don't remember her name! I call her Ammama because her grandchildren called her so. And she never treated me any different from them. I must've been about 11 when they moved into our flats. Aunty was Dad's colleague and Uncle was a lecturer. They had two children, very adorable ones. The girl must be about 3 or 4 years younger than me and the boy was much younger. I used to call them Appe and Shok. Since Aunty was always busy, Ammama took care of everything and she did it wonderfully. Just thinking back on those many summers, spent happily at their home, lapping on Tintin, Asterisk besides other things, makes me ache for those lovely days.
Garralu, Boorallu, Poorillu, and what not, were some of the yummy things, we used to get treated during that time. Even now when I eat vada with Avaakkai, I remember them. Ammama had a lot of tricks and tips on making soft Chappatis and she used to tell me about them. I guess even then, she knew I am going to be one cranky foodie! With so much interaction every moment, it felt we were all one big family.
As Shok was not old enough to climb up to our house, I used to carry him often and we used to play at our home. Those were the fun part. Amma used to make so many goodies for us. Then we used to go down and again feast on the things Ammama would've made for us. Of all the wonderful things, Ammama used to make, most loved were her instant Athirasallu or Ariselu. They were simply out of the world. She always had a ready stock of the dough and used to make them on demand.
Traditionally Athirasallu is supposed to be difficult and tedious progress but she used to make them appear so simple and easy. Amma also makes the regular ones, but these were different I guess, in that you don't have to bother about the pakam or the consistency of jaggery syrup.
Ah, those five years were the best of my childhood. Aunty, for all the busy schedule she had, still used to find time to make lovely frocks for Appe, with all beautiful embroidery. How I wish I had got one made for myself, I was too shy to ask, but I still have the scalpel she gave me. Few tokens of a wonderful childhood!
When I read about Jhiva and the theme for this month, is dedicated to Pedatha, I knew I had to write about Ammama. I felt this post was long pending, but this is the most apt time to pay tribute. I feel sad that I have lost contact with them, as they have since relocated. But recently I came to know that my cousin is now in the college where Aunty teaches, I thought of calling her, but time just flew! But luck is on my side, I was able to get Ammama picture and also managed to make these late last night. Though until this morning, I wasn't sure if I will be able to make this post. But I am very happy that I did manage finally.
Finally, here it is, Athirasallu as Ammama used to make. These have coloured my childhood with golden syrup of love.
For those who don't know what these are, Athirasallu or Ariselu are traditional south Indian sweet, prepared during Festivals like Sankranthi, Deepavali. They are made with Rice flour and Jaggery syrup.
I made a very small quantity, as this is the first time I am making it. I could've asked Amma to make these, but I was very particular that I make them myself. And I was so very happy once I was done.
Normally for Athirasallu, rice is soaked, shade dried, and ground. I remember my parental and maternal grannies making these, in large quantities in a big stone grinder. I have seen Amma making these and grinding them in mixie. But I wasn't able to follow any of it. I made these with the rice flour we have ground and store.
I am writing both the recipes as given by Amma and what I finally made for the record.
Amma's recipe for regular Athirasam
Amma's recipe is with 1 Kg of rice. So you can adjust as per your requirement. With 1 kg, you get about 30 to 40 Athrasams of normal puri size. You got to use paku or pagu bellam or jaggary.
Rice - 1 kg
paku jaggary - 750 gms
Sesame Seeds - 2 tsp
Gasa gasa or Poppy Seeds - 1 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1 tsp
Method to prepare.
Soak rice for 6 hrs and then shade dry it. Meaning it should not become dry but should still have some wetness in the rice. You can either grind this to a fine powder using your mixie or give it to the mill. The rice flour should have that texture of soft and wet feeling when you take a handful and also it should kind of retain your fist shape. Hope you understand what I am saying. This is very important because if the flour is very dry it wouldn't turn out well.
Have all the things ready when you put the jaggary for cooking.
Take water that is enough to dilute the jaggery. Cook it so that the jaggery is also dissolved. Remove any impurities that may be present. Then again cook till the pakam is ready. The consistency here is also very important. Hope you know that pakam is calculated as threads. So after 3 thread, when the jaggary is really cooked well, it becomes thick. When you take a bit and put it in water, you should be able to make a ball of it. This is when you know the pakkam is ready.
Remove from fire, and add poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and cardamom. Mix well. Then slowly add the rice flour and keep mixing well. The consistency is very important, so you need to add the flour little by little so that you have enough jaggary. Some flour might remain, so problem Important factor is you should get the consistency of Chappatis dough.
Divide into lemon size balls and a greased top roll out the balls with hands smeared with oil.
Heat oil for frying and slowly drop these circles into the hot oil. You can simmer for a while until you know the inside is cooked. Turn to the other side and cook till it's golden in colour. If you are cooking alone, you can roll out one by one and cook. Else it might get burnt. Once done, remove and drain on a Kitchen towel.
My method: As Ammama used to make
I got about 8 as shown in the picture!
Rice Flour - 1 glass (standard measurement)
Jaggary - 1/2 glass
Coconut grated - 2 tsp
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Water - 1/2 glass
Sesame seeds - 1 tbsp
Oil for deep frying.
Method to prepare:
I had the Achu vellam, so grated and added water just enough to cover them. Cooked on high and removed the scum. Then added the cardamom powder. Once it starts boiling, add the grated coconut. You will see a lot of bubbles coming out.
At this stage, add the Rice flour slowly and stir it together well. You will know when the consistency is correct, so till then you got to keep adding the flour, but I used up the entire glass of flour.
The beauty of this dough is, you can store and use it whenever you want. If it becomes too hard, just add about 2 tsp of water along with 2 tsp of sugar. Get it to boil, while you keep stirring it. The mix should become soft again. When you handle it, it should come together as a soft dough. Divide it into equal balls.
Heat a Kadai with oil to deep fry these. In a greased plastic sheet, pat them down to equal-sized circles. Press down the sesame seeds over the top. Once the oil is hot, gently drop these into them. Fry on both sides. Since the sesame seeds are just pressed over the top, they will get into the oil. If you want to avoid this, try adding to the dough.
Once they are golden brown, remove and drain them on a kitchen towel. They will be soft when you remove them, will become crunchy once they are cooled.
The regular ones are normally soft and oily, but these were crunchy and no oil at all!
Konda was absolutely thrilled that I made these, as she loves them a lot! So will be making these again!