Karadaiyan Nombu Adai (Sweet and Savory Steamed Rice cakes)

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I love to stick to some tradition and custom  which my mom taught me while  growing  up and love to celebrate the festivals  and birthday on that rather than that week or month. That is me; I don’t want to judge anybody. Last Friday that is on March 14th 2014 we had a religious festival called Savithri Nombu or Karadaiyan Nombu for that I made this Karadaiyan nombu adai, there is sweet and salt version for this steamed flat rice cakes.

Karadaiyan Nombu or Karadayan Nonbu is a major Tamil brahmin festival   which is celebrated at the time on Meena Sankranti or Sankramana usually comes in the month of March. It is celebrated at the moment when Tamil month Maasi  ends and month Panguni starts. Karadai is the name of a unique Nivedyam prepared on this day and Nombu means Vratham or Upavasam.

Legend is that Savitri beautiful princess got her husband Satyavan who died on that day brought back from Yama, the Lord of Death on the very same day. Due to this legend Karadaiyan Nombu is also known as Savithri Vratam. Read more about  Satyavan and Savitri from here .   On Karadayan Nonbu day women worship Goddess Gowri and offer her Karadiyan Nombu Nivedyam. After Puja women tie the sacred yellow cotton thread known as Manjal Saradu or Nonbu Charadu for well-being of their husband.

Married women observe it for long lives of their husband while unmarried girls observe it to get ideal person as their husband. On this day married women and young girls wear yellow robes and pray to Hindu Goddesses for long life for their husband or to get ideal person as their husband in the future.

The fast for Karadayan Vritham is observed from sunrise on the transition day when God Surya moves from Kumbha Rashi (Aquarius)  to Meena Rashi( Pisces) . Fast breaking time for Savitri Nombu might fall any time between current day Sunrise to next day Sunrise depending on time of Meena Sankramana. I have seen amma used to wait until sometime late night or early morning to do these pooja rituals. Both I and sister will also join as we are unmarried girls. This time I was joined with my little princess, did exactly what my mom used to do it on that day.
According to legend savitri was staying in forest and making the goodies so it is really simple  and made with daily used ingredients, like rice powder, jaggery( sarakarai), coconut, karamani( black eyed peas) for sweet version. And savory version is made with rice powder, karamani, coconut, salt, green chili, mustard seeds and curry leaves asafeotida( hing) . However only sweet version is offered to god and you only serve one sweet  adai.  While praying we have to chant like this

Urukkatha vennayum Oradayum notren
Orukalum en kanavan piriyathirukkanam

which can be translated as “I offer butter and one adai, bless that me and  my husband will stay together always.”

Savory version is eaten after the sweet version.

For this recipe you need to make fresh rice flour from the soaked rice, rice should soaked for 1 hour and then drained and dried for 1o minutes and then ground into powder. Sift so that you will get only very fine powder. Then fry this rice powder for 7-8 minutes until it releases aroma.  

Then add this to jaggery (raw brown sugar) , coconut, cooked black eyed peas mixture and make dough then make it into thick flat cake or disc with a hole in the center. Later it is steamed for 10 minutes or until it has shiny surface. Then it is  served with piece of butter.

For savory version, first make seasoning with mustard, urad dal,  red and green chili, curry leaves and hing( asafetodia) . Then add water and when water starts boiling add roasted rice flour, cooked black eyed peas, coconut pieces and salt. Then make dough and later flatten the dough into thick disc with hole in the center and steam it and serve it with butter.

It takes ½ day work, so make sure to prepare ahead. Here comes the recipe.

karadaiyan nombu adai(Sweet and Savory Steamed Rice Cakes)

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Serves: 10 sweet rice cake and 9 savory rice cake

For Making Rice Flour
  • 1½ cup Raw rice ( I used long grain rice)
For Sweet adai/Sweet rice cake
  • 1 cup Roasted Rice flour
  • ¼ cup cooked Black eyed peas/Karamani
  • 1 cup Jaggery
  • ¼ cup Coconut chopped into small pieces
  • 2¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Cardamom powder (3nos)
  • 2 tablespoon Ghee
For Salt adai( Savory rice cake)
  • 1 cup roasted rice flour
  • ¼ cup coconut chopped in small pieces
  • ⅓ cup cooked blackeyed peas/karamani
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ⅛ teaspoon Asafeotida/Hing
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 red chili
  • 1 inch piece of ginger chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoon oil
First make rice flour
  1. Soak the raw rice for 1 hour then wash and drain and allow to dry for 15 minutes in kitchen tissue or cloth.
  2. Then grind it into fine powder, sieve well so that we get only fine powder.
  3. In a non stick pan roast the rice flour for 7-8 minutes or until it release aroma. After roasting there will lot of small pieces of rice flour will be there so pulse it in a blender/grinder or food processor to make it fine again. If you were able to make straight line with rice flour, then it is roasted well.
Cooking Black eyed peas/Karamani
  1. First roast ½ cup for 6-7 minutes or until it changes the color and reduce a bit.
  2. Then wash and cook with 2 cup water for 30-35 minutes or until it become soft but not mushy and set aside.
For making Sweet Adai
  1. Melt jaggery with ¼ cup water and strain for impurities and set aside.
  2. In a thick bottomed pan add strained jaggery,2 cups of water, ¼ cup cooked black eyed peas, ¼ cup chopped coconuts pieces,and bring to boil.
  3. when it starts boil add roasted flour, cardamom and mix well and reduce the flame and cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. set aside for cool when it is cool enough to touch add 2 tablespoon ghee and mix everything and knead well to form a smooth dough.
  5. Make balls out these sweet dough. Then place it in banana leaves and slightly press it form a 3 inch disc. with finger dipping water make a hole in the center.
  6. Then steam this rice disc for 15 minutes or until it has shiny surface.
  7. Serve with dollop of butter.
For savory adai
  1. In a pan heat oil and add mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and green and red chili mix. When mustard seeds starts spluttering add chopped ginger,cooked black eyed peas, coconut pieces and hing then add water.
  2. When it starts boiling add roasted flour and mix well then reduce the flame and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Set aside for cool when it is cool enough to touch mix everything and knead well to form a smooth dough.
  4. Make balls out these sweet dough. Then place it in banana leaves and slightly press it form a 3 inch disc. with finger dipping water make a hole in the center.
  5. Then steam this rice disc for 15 minutes or until it has shiny surface.
Copyright ©2014 Zesty South Indian Kitchen by Swathi( Ambujom Saraswathy) All Rights Reserved

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  1. Eliza Lincy says

    Sweet and savoury versions of Adai looks so inviting in banana leaf. Tasty traditional dishes.

  2. says

    Wow! Swathi awesome documentation. I appreciate all the step by step photos that most bloggers post, its a lot of planning and hard work. Love the karadai.

  3. says

    very nice to know the traditions of Tamil Brahmins…and lovely story behind the vratha..(as called in Kannada)..intersting …a complete new recipe for me ……tasty and healthy …steamed adai both the versions ..(sweet and savoury)…nice to know …Swathi Iyer