Payasam and Uzhunnu Vada/ Sweet rice pudding and Urad dal fritters for Saraswathi Pooja

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Hope all my Indian friends got to celebrate Saraswathi Pooja today. We did a small pooja and I made Payasam and Uzhunnu Vada for Naiveydam (food offerings to God). Amma used to make these two dishes during Saraswathi Pooja/Vijayadashmi day. She loved Uzhunnu vada/Urad dal fritters a lot. I like it but if you gave me a choice between parippu vada and (channa and toor dal fritters) and Uzhunnu Vada I will go for the former. 
I still remember that on Vijayadashmi day, my poor mom had extra work to do, not only did she have to do day to day work, but also make this two dishes. She is not a fast person, takes her own time to make everything with ultra cleanliness. I got that gene, I am cleanliness freak, I want everything to clean immediately, and I don’t like anything in the sink during night. When I wake up in the morning I want a clean kitchen as much as possible. Now my little princess who curious to touch and taste everything spills whatever we give her to eat. 
Usually during Navaratri amma kept Golu in home, which is mainly an exhibition of various dolls and dolls of popular in odd numbered tiers. Read more about Golu and their custom from here.  As a part of custom, in the evening, married women and girl children from neighborhood are invited to see the golu and given vethalai paaku, ( Betal leaf, Aracanut, small gifts and kumkum, money etc) and prasadam (various type of sundals) . We were also very happy to visit all the houses in the neighborhood, but before hand we will roam around asking “aunty what type of sundal have you made for the offering today”. If they say sweet version sundal or sweets I was more than interested to visit their home, savory not that found of, still we visited them as with amma. I have lots of happy memories about that. Here I don’t know many families, so I didn’t keep any golu. If you keep golu you need to give prasadam and vethalai paaku to married women/Mami. Where I am I gig to find people who are knowledgeable of our customs and follow our traditions. So I decided only to do Pooja.
I made payasam similar to Attukal Pongala payasam except that I did not add any coconut. Attukal is a famous Devi temple in Thiruvanthapuram, South India. We Thiruvanthapuram people fondly call Attukala Ammachi (means mother). During the end of the 10 day festival in the Malayalam month of Kumbam (February-March) there will be Pongala an offering of boiled rice in earthen pot offered by women. Attukal Pongala is an annual congregation of more than three million women who gather to offer pongala to Attukal Amma (Devi, Mother Goddess) making it the largest gathering of women on earth. Only women are allowed to do the Pooja, and no men other than volunteers and poojari (Main Priest) are present during that day in and around the premises of the temple. See pictures of this year pongala at this blog Mom used to offer pongala every year. I remembered going to pongala with her and decided to make today’s payasam similar. However, I didn’t use any earthenpot and made it using pressure cooker and stove top to make it easy. I cooked rice and dal in pressure cooker and added jaggery and ghee made easy payasam.
For Uzhunnu vada I soaked whole urad dal/black gram for 5 hours in water and grind it into a fine paste with less water and then added chopped green chilies, ginger, salt and curry leaves. For Naivedyam, I made few without adding any onion, rest I added chopped onion. My hubby is fond of Uzhunu vada. He enjoyed his vada while watching the foot ball game between Viking (Minnesota) and Cowboys (Dallas). The Vikings won the game. The vada are crispy golden colored on the outer side and soft white inside. We enjoyed this vada with our evening coffee. Here goes the recipe.

 Print recipe from here

What you need

 Raw rice: 1/3 cup
Yellow split peas/Moong dal: 1 tablespoon
Jaggery: ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon
Ghee/Clarified butter: 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
Cardamom: 3 no
Cashew nuts: 6 no
Water: 1 1/ 2 cup

For Uzhunnu vada

Black gram/Urad dal/Uzhnnu: 1 ½ cup
Green chili: 2 no (chopped finely)
Curry leaves: 2 sprigs (chopped finely
Ginger: 2 inch piece (chopped finely)
Salt: 1 teaspoon or to taste
Water: 4 cup for soaking+ ½ cup for grinding
Oil: 4 cup( I used canola oil)

How I made

Wash both rice and moong dal and pressure cook up to 2 whistles for about 20 minutes with 1 cup of water. Set aside

In a medium sauce pot add ½ cup of water and jaggery and bring to it boil so that jaggery will dissolve completely. Remove from the fire and strain to remove any impurities and set aside.
In the same pan add jaggery water and cooked rice moong dal mixture and cook for about 6 minutes or until jaggery water gets absorbed completely by rice and add 1 tablespoon of ghee with stirring in between for another 3 minutes. Add crushed cardamom and stir well and switch off the flame.
In a small pot heat 1 teaspoon of Ghee/clarified butter and add cashew nuts and fry for 1 minute or until golden brown color. Add this to above Payasam.

Enjoy as much as you wish.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Yield: 3 serving
Verdict: Tasty
Will you make it again: Yes I will

Uzhnnu vada/Black gram fritters

Soak Uzhnnu/Urad dal/ Black gram for 5 hours in 4 cup of water. At end of soaking time, clean the urad dal with running water and set aside.
In the mean time chop green chilies, ginger, onion and curry leaves finely and set aside.
In a food processor/grinder/mixer grind the soaked urad dal into fine paste with ½ cup of water. Batter should be thick; you should able to make small balls with them. 

To the ground urad dal /black gram paste add salt, chopped green chilies, ginger , onion and curry leaves and mix everything so that all the ingredients gets combined well with the batter. Set aside
Heat 4 cups of oil in thick bottomed pan, when it reaches 350 F; slowly add donut shaped urad dal dough. (On your wet palm or Ziploc bag, place a round ball of dough, slightly flatten to form the thick disc and a use your finger to create hole in the center to form the shape of doughnut). Fry them by flipping them few times for about 8 minutes or until they reach golden brown color. You will be able to fry 3 at a time. 

Drain them using a slotted spoon into a kitchen towel to remove extra oil. 

Enjoy with hot tea. 

Preparation time: Soaking 5 hours: Grinding: 5 minutes: Frying: 40 minutes
Yield: 15 no
Verdict: Tasty
Will you make again: Yes I will.


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  1. says

    That is an awesome combination…My mom made this combo so often…I miss my mom…Swathi you brought back memories….Sweet pongal with medhu vada looks super yummy.

    Pushpa @

  2. says

    gorgeous posting, as usual! ANd the dishes- wow! I love your presentation for the Vadhas- it amazes me sometimes how Indian ladies do them with just one (right) hand and still get such nice, even shaped fritters- with a whole in them as well!