Monday, September 3, 2007

Varalakshmi Nombu-- Nei Appam

Last month we celebrated Varalakshmi pooja at home. I love the alangaram that goes in to setting up the Ambal.

I read an interesting description of the vratham in the article, 'Dawn of Prosperity', from The Hindu:

"Literally translated, Varalakshmi means boon granting goddess of wealth. Married women, called Sumangalis visit each other's homes and gathering together, they sing bhajans while little girls may dance with their friends, or simply chat.
The puja, performed annually is for the well being of the entire family. Married women in the household pray for their family's health, wealth, happiness and knowledge."
The article also explains some of the legends of how the pooja originated.

My mom was given the ambal muham by her mother in law and the pooja has been passed down through generations. She called over some lovely ladies to give them vethala paaku (and some gifts) and prasadam (yay yummy food!). The highlights included nei appam, vadai, arisi kozhakatai and kootu. My favourite was the nei appam which I asked my mom to write out the recipe for.

Here it is!
-----Original Message-----
From: padma sastri
Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2007 8:59 AM
To: Sastri, Savithri;
Subject: Nei appam
Dear Savithri,
The pictures you took were amazing. The way the nei appam flew with the group of invitees seems to suggest it was popular item. Here is the recipe.

1 cup patna rice
3/4 of a cup jaggery (gud )
1 ripe banana ( over ripe is better )
1 spoon elakka powder ( cardamom )
1 cup ghee (nei)

This quantity will make up to twenty five medium size appams.

Soak patna rice one cup for an hour and grind it finely with in the blender.

Mix in the jaggery and ripe banana and blend well. It should be consistency of dosai batter (pouring consistency )

Add the cardamom and keep aside for five or six hours.

Heat up the vengala appakaaral and pour in one spoon of ghee into each appa kuzhi - fill the depression about quarter way . Wait for it to heat up well. When batter is dropped in it should sizzle like boondi. Now pour the batter with a karandi or a dapara to fill the depression just till the lower rim, do not let it over flow.

A ring of bubbles will appear around each depression. In a minute the appams will be ready to flip over as the inner gooey part pours over to form the lower part of the appam. Each person has their own technique of using a sharp knitting needle to flip the appam, I use a butter knife and fork to push and simultaneously hold it down with the knife. Each appam should look like a mini golf ball .

Cook each side till golden and pull it out and let it cool aside. The ghee will get absorbed. Top the appa kuzhi depressions with more ghee if necessary and continue the process.

I find it is possible to make three batches of appams for each spoon of ghee. It varies depending on the size of the appa kuzhi and batter.

Nei appams keep well for a week , but usually in this part of the world it vanishes in a day or two due to it's popularity! If you are making for just two people I would suggest soaking only a quarter cup of rice and this way you are not giving in to temptation of consuming the delicious appams.

Monday is Gokulashtami and nei appams are one of Sri Krishna's favourite neivaydayams. Enjoy. Happy Gokulastami!

My favourite crunchy vadai! The recipe is on my sister's site Married to a Desi here.

Delicious kootu is also a very healthy option as it contains no oil.

Below are the lovely sumangalis from our community who came to celebrate Varalakshmi Nombu with us.

I made up the vethalai paaku bag for the kids. The adorable Sruthi posed for photographs (we actually played America's Next Top Model and I was the photographer). I filled a bag my mom stitched with lots of fun Kraft products:) I thought the snacks would be just in time for back to school, though I was told they would be consumed before school even started.

Happy Varalakshmi! Wishing you and your family health, wealth, happiness and knowledge!
Here are some more delicious recipes to try:

Easy Homemade Rasmalai
Badam Kheer
Karamani Sundal


Latha said...

a very nice compilation, Savithri. The pooja alangaram looks divine and your mom is lovely in madisar. Thanks for the recipe too! said...

I miss the great food Amma makes at the pooja! Glad you documented this with great pictures.


Suganya said...

How I wish I was with my mom celebrating this pooja. Yr post brought back some sweet memories Savithri!

Raaga said...

Lovely pics and nice recipe. We don't celebrate this festival though.

Nags said...

lovely post! its amazing how u guys celebrate all of this so well even though you are in the US. i am surprised to see your mom in madisaru :) niiiice!!

Vcuisine said...

A nice post to share with friends in this virtual world Savithri. Viji

Jyothsna said...

Nice pictures and post! Am heading straight to the kitchen to make appams, incidentally even my mom and grandama make appams the same way. :)

Laavanya said...

Very nice post Savithri - it reminds me of the good times at home. Love the nei appam and pls thank your mom for the recipe. Will try it soon and let you know.

TBC said...

Nice pics of the pooja.
The nei appam pic is grrrrreat. I love nei appams . It's been so long since I had one.:-(

timepass said...

Hi Savithri, I came here thru ur sister Kanchana's blog. The Nei appam looks very tempting. Read ur previous posts too, the cake decoration pics are simply superb.

Sharmi said...

Thanks for dropping by with your lovely comments. I have never tried making nei appams. looks delicious. have to get the pan first. you seem to have celebrated varalakshmi vratam in a great way!

Roopa said...

thanks for dropping by Savitri! a very nice writeup and loved the nei appams looks delicious.:)

Shella said...

Very sweet pics Savithri. The appams remind me of mom, who doesnt make them anymore. Not that I cant be making them, but nothing like mom's!!

Anonymous said...

I am sorry I am not familiar with patna rice. Is it Idli rice or regular long grain rice?


Gayu said...

Hi Savithri

I came here through Kanchana's blog. I think I recognize my Jaya Chithi as one of the sumangalis in your photos -- the one in the blue and pink pattu sari... Is that Jaya Balu ? with two daughters -- Priya and Ramya ? They live in Mississauga. I love your blog BTW :-)

-- Gayathri

Savithri said...

Hi Gayathri,
You are correct! That is Jaya Aunty! What a small world.

Thank you for coming to my blog and for your lovely comments:)


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Dear Savithri:
I meant to add as postscript the following information , better late than never.
If your appam batter is too runny don't fret. Just add a small handfull , or two teaspoon full of flour( the maavu used for rotti -goodumai maavu) . The batter will thicken and also help the appams to be very soft and tasty inside.
There is the quick version, when people just use only the rotti maavu and jaggery and make the appam , which is also popular, and instead of using appakkaral they just pour karandi full of batter into oil in a wok and fry it like fat poori.
If you do not have bananas, just add a small amount like two spoonful of urad dhal-ulutham paruppu to the rice and grind which will also make the appam soft.
What is around in your kitchen , availability of blender or time will dictate the ingredients you are using.
The grinding with rice kind of batter will keep well in the frig for a week .The rotti maavu batter is at it's best when used right away.
I have seen my northindian friends at Vaishnavi mandir make a similar dish called "gullay" for ambaal.

Manasi said...

I LOVE nei appams and have bookmarked this recipe! Will wait for the banana to ripen and make this.
I do have a question... can brown basmati rice be used as a subsitute? I don't know abt patna rice..

Savithri said...


I asked my mom about the rice substitution. Here is her response:

"Generally any long grain rice will work. Basmati is also okay as it gives a very smooth fragrant dough. It is a little stiffer so I would add some dry atta flour to soften the dough. Basmati rice also makes very very smooth and soft kozhakattai maavu when made by soaking and grinding method."

Good luck!

Harish H M said...

he really i like this much yar nice snaps and nice family

Urmi said...

Hi Savithri

A huge thank you to your mom for the nei appam recipe. I tried it this year on Janmashtami and I was delighted with the result. Please convey my gratitude to her :)

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