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Karadaiyan Nombu Adais

Today is Karadaiyan Nombu, a Tamil observance by married women who pray for the long life of their husbands, and unmarried girls who pray for a good husband in the future. This festival is signified by the fight Sati Savitri had to put up with Lord Yaman, to get her husband back to life. How meaningful to attach the tag of the ideal wife to Sati Savitri! Her story has always inspired me ever since I had read about it in a hand-me-down comic when I was little. Very touching and very inspiring for anyone who gives up easily on anything, and not just with the husband! (OK, let me be good today b’cos this festival talks about being a good wife ;) ). It is believed that Sati Savitri made cakes out of sand and stones in the forest and offered them to Lord Yaman as thanksgiving for sparing her husband’s life. We now make our nombu adais with rice flour to represent the sand, and add karamani (a kind of brown legume with black eyes) or Kadalai paruppu (channa daal) to represent the stones. We offer the nombu adais as prasadam to the Gods and pray for a long life for our better half and then tie the sacred yellow thread or the ‘Nombu Sharadu’ around our neck and partake the prasadam. I love talking about how our traditions and customs have come to be, and I could go on forever, but right onto the Nombu Adais for now.

Vella Nombu Adais


Ingredients:

  • Rice flour – 3/4th measure (I used paav)
  • Jaggery – 3/4th measure, pounded to small pieces (use equal measures of rice flour and jaggery)
  • Water – 1 1/4 measures (jaggery and water are in 1:1 1/2 ratio)
  • Karamani/Channa Dal – a handful, pressure cooked till softly done (I used channa dal)
  • Elaichi powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – a pinch
  • Ghee – 1 tbsp (to smear on the idli stand)

Note: Both Amma and me use channa dal in place of karamani because, for some strange reason, we don’t like karamani in the nombu adais.

This proportion makes exactly 10 nombu adais. You could increase/decrease the proportion as per the quantity you desire.

Procedure:

  • Dry roast the rice flour on a medium flame till slightly brown and fragrant. Set aside. Be patient with the rice flour, do not set your flame to high and end up burning the flour! I roasted 1 1/2 paavs of rice flour in all and divided into 2 equal portions, one each for the vella adais and kara adais.
  • In the meanwhile, heat the water in a wok and add the jaggery pieces. Allow jaggery to melt completely.
  • Now, strain the jaggery syrup to ensure no dust particles are retained in the syrup.
  • Clean the wok, and put back the jaggery syrup in. Add the elaichi powder and salt. Stir well.
  • Add two pinches of the roasted rice flour and stir well (this is a trick to avoid getting lumps once you add the rest of the rice flour).
  • Add 3/4th paav of the roasted rice flour and stir well vigorously. Work quickly since the rice flour absorbs the jaggery syrup in just a few seconds. Within 30-40 seconds, you should have a lumpy mass.
  • Add the cooked karamani/channa dal and stir well to incorporate.
  • Cover the wok and allow to rest for 10 minutes (you could prepare the dough for the kara adais by then).
  • Once rested, take small portions (about the size of a large lime) and shape into balls. Since the mixture will still be pretty hot, dab your fingers with water to keep your fingers from scalding. It also makes working with the dough easier.
  • Grease the required number of plates from your idli stand with little ghee and not oil, for the vella adais, since it enhances the flavour.
  • Take each ball-shaped portion and flatten onto the depressions in the idli stand, using your index finger, middle finger and ring finger, and make a hole in the centre, right through the thickness of the adai, till your finger reaches the bottom of the idli plate depression.
  • Steam cook like you would your normal idlis, for about 15-20 minutes.

Kara Nombu Adais


Ingredients:

  • Rice flour – 3/4th measure (I used paav)
  • Water – 1 1/2 measures (1:1 1/2 ratio for rice flour:water)
  • Green Chillies – 2-3 nos, slit (alter to suit your taste)
  • Curry leaves – a sprig, finely chopped
  • Coriander/Cilantro – few sprigs, finely chopped
  • Salt – to taste
  • Grated coconut (optional) – 1/4 cup (I didn’t use any)

For the tempering:

  • Channa dal – 1 tsp
  • Urad dal – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida – a generous pinch
  • Oil – 2 tbsps

Note: This proportion makes exactly 10 nombu adais. You could increase/decrease the proportion as per the quantity you desire.

Procedure:

  • In a wok, heat the oil. Pop the mustard seeds and add the asafoetida.
  • Add the channa dal and urad dal. Fry till they turn golden brown.
  • Add the curry leaves and green chillies. Fry for another minute.
  • Add the water and allow to boil. Add salt.
  • Add two pinches of the roasted rice flour and stir well (this is a trick to avoid getting lumps once you add the rest of the rice flour).
  • Add the remaining roasted rice flour and stir well vigorously. Work quickly since the rice flour absorbs the water in just a few seconds. Within 30-40 seconds, you should have a lumpy mass.
  • Add the finely chopped coriander and grated coconut (if using) and stir well to incorporate. Cover the wok and allow to rest for 10 minutes (you could work on readying the vella adais on the idli plates during this time).
  • Once rested, take small portions (about the size of a large lime) and shape into balls. Since the mixture will still be pretty hot, dab your fingers with water to keep your fingers from scalding. It also makes working with the dough easier.
  • Grease the required number of plates from your idli stand with little oil.
  • Take each ball-shaped portion and flatten onto the depressions in the idli stand, using your index finger, middle finger and ring finger, and make a hole in the centre, right through the thickness of the adai, till your finger reaches the bottom of the idli plate depression.
  • Steam cook like you would your normal idlis, for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Once both the adais are done, remove from the idli plates, put a dollop of butter on top and offer them to the Gods, before you can devour them. I steamed both varieties of adais together since i made 10 of each, and my idli stand holds 20 in all…perfect eh?!!

Happy Karadaiyan Nombu to all the Tam Brahms out there.

Oh and by the way, is there any festival/ritual in the world where a man prepares an offering to the Lords and prays for the well-being and long life et al of the wife/mother/sister/daughter/daughter-in-law? To all the Tamil Maamis and Maamas who would flinch if they saw this: No hard feelings, but I really would love to know.