Karthika Deepam is a festival of lights that is observed by Hindus of Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, and Kerala. It falls between mid-November to mid-December it occurs on the day when the moon is in conjunction with the constellation Karthigai (Pleiades) and is also related to Karthik Purnima. It is celebrated with lighting clay lamps around the house. This festival is also celebrated to commemorate the bonding between brothers and sisters in South India(analogous to Bhaiya-Dhuj and Raakhi). Sisters pray for the prosperity and success of their brothers and light lamps to mark the occasion.
Like with all Indian festivals we have specific food offerings made on this occasion too. It is puffed rice(Nel Pori) and puffed poha (Aval Pori)coated in jaggery syrup and shaped into balls. Somewhat like our chikkis in a different shape.
Puffed Poha: 2 cups
Jaggery: ½ cup
Rock Salt: A pinch
Cardamom powder: from one pod
Dry ginger powder: ½ tsp
Coconut Bits: 1 tbsp
Peanuts: 1 tbsp
Rice flour: few tablespoons for dusting palms
Heat a pan and place jaggery with ¼ cup water and bring to boil.
Strain the jaggery syrup to remove any impurities.
Cut fresh coconut into tiny bits and dry roast on slow flame along with peanuts until brown.
If you find the puffed poha is not crisp, please dry roast them until crisp.
You can use either of the above.
Bring jaggery syrup to a boil to get a hard ball consistency. Which means the syrup will form a hard, sticky ball that holds its shape.
(To check that it has reached the right consistency, take a drop of boiling syrup and drop it in a shallow plate with water, it should not dissolve rather we should be able to make a ball out of it. Also when you drop it on a plate, it should make a tinkling sound while hitting the plate. This is the right consistency of jaggery syrup).
Turn off the flame once the syrup has reached desired consistency and add to it roasted peanuts, coconut bits, cardamom powder, dry ginger powder, salt, and puffed poha.
Stir well to coat the puffed poha with jaggery uniformly.
Dust your palms with rice flour and try to shape mix into ladoos/balls. Shape them into roughly shaped balls while still hot. And they can be rolled tight after all of it is divided into balls.
Shaping the hot mix into balls takes some skill and practice the dish can be enjoyed even without shaping them.
Stays good in an airtight container for weeks.
Dusting palms with rice flour helps to roll the mixture without sticking to your fingers.
Don’t worry if you cant handle the hot mixture just serve as such.
Food group: grains
Can be served as a snack or taken along as a travel snack.
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