This is a very traditional sweet dish and is prepared for an auspicious occasion among the TamBrams called "Thirvathirai" for Lord Nataraja. The sweet dish is paired with "Ezhu kari Kootu" or in other words a spicy seven vegetable kootu which includes a lot of root vegetables like Kavathu kizhangu, Senaikizhangu, Maravalli kizhangu, Pushanikkai, Parangikkai, Avarakkai and Mochai Payiru.
People, please pardon me.The english names for the above veggies will soon follow!! The combination may sound a bit weird, but trust me people it tastes unbelievable!! Now having made the kali and kootu last week for Thiruvadhirai,the recipe is fresh in my mind and i would like to put it down before i forget!! Here goes the recipe:
Ingredients for the Kali:
Raw Rice-1 cup
Jaggery-1 cup or 1 and half depending on the sweetness of the jaggery and individual's taste
Moong Dhall/Paasi Paruppu- a handful
Cashews-few to garnish
Crushed Cardamom pods-3 to 4 to garnish
Coconut scrapings-5 Tbsp
1.Dry roast the raw rice and moong dhal until brown and aromatic and powder it coarsely in the blender without adding water.
2.Boil water in a thick bottomed vessel or cooker and add the jaggery cubes or powder and let it melt.
3.Now washing the rice needs a little extra care as it is in the powdered form and slip off along with the water.
4.After washing,add the rice dhal powder to the jaggery mixture and let it boil till the rice and the dhal is cooked or if using the cooker, let it cook for two or three whistles.
5.I usually don't measure the water and go by eyeballing, but if it has to be measured we can roughly use 1:2 ratio. i.e 2 cups water for 1 cup rice.
6.It is very important that the Kali's texture has to be separate and not too mushy ,so care should be taken while adding water for cooking.
7.The final step is the garnishing.Fry the cashews in ghee until golden brown and pour it over the Kali along with the coconut scrapings and the crushed cardamoms and let it sit for a few minutes with the lid closed before serving.
Now there are lots of ways to prepare this kootu and i am sharing the one which my mother usually makes.
Ingredients for Kootu:
Thovaram Paruppu/Thoor Dhall - 1/2 cup
Root Vegetables-Kavaththu Kizhangu,Maravalli kizhangu and Senai kizhangu/Yam - washed and peeled -2 Cups
Mochhai Payiru/Val Dhal/Hyacinth Bean or field bean-peeled-1/2 Cup
Avarakkai/Sem/Broad Beans-washed and chopped into 1 inch pieces-1/2 Cup
Pooshanikkai/Kaddu/White pumpkin-chopped into big pieces-1 Cup
Parangikkai/Yellow Kaddu/Yellow Pumpkin-chopped into big pieces-1 Cup
Tamarind juice-1 Cup diluted from 1 tsp of tamarind paste
Turmeric - A pinch
Salt to taste
To dry roast and coarsely grind:
Kadalai Paruppu/Channa dhall -3 Tbsp
Red Chillies (Bedege/Kashmiri) -4 Nos.
Red Chillies (Anand/Salem) -4 Nos. or more depending on spice levels
Coriander seeds/Kothamalli verai -1Tbsp
Asafoetida/Peringayam/Hing -1 Tsp
Cinnamon-a small piece (optnl)
Poppy seeds-1 Tbsp
Grated Dry Coconut/Kopparai-2 Tbsp
Mustard seeds-1 Tsp
Curry leaves-1 Sprig
1.Wash and cook the above vegetables along with the thoor dhall adding a pinch of turmeric not making it too mushy.
2.In a skillet,add the ingredients for tempering and once the mustard seeds start bursting,add the tamarind juice and let it boil for a few minutes.
3.Then add the cooked veggies and let it boil till the veggies absorb the tamarind essence,approxiamtely 5-8 minutes.
4.Now add the dry roasted and coarsely ground spice powder and boil for a few more minutes until the kootu starts to thicken.
5.Do not overcook as the vegetables are already boiled and they may get mushy.
6.The Kali has to be eaten hot with a dollop of ghee and the Kootu to go by the side.
Note: The vegetables can also be substituted with carrots,beans,chayote squash,etc in case of non-availability of the above root vegetables without having to compromise much on the taste. Infact,i used the same as i did not get the root veggies!
The above spice powder could also be stored in air tight containers and freezed for upto 6 mnths.