Rose cookies (rosette cookies) are traditional Christmas cookies prepared in Scandinavian & a few European countries and also in most of the Southeast Asian countries. In India rose cookies are prepared for Christmas and also for Diwali, and they are known as achu murukku in Tamilnadu, achappam in Kerala, gulabi puvvulu in Andhra Pradesh, and Rose De Coque in Goa. Traditionally rose cookies are dusted with icing sugar and served with tea or coffee.
It is the peak of the festive season here, Diwali is in the air, young girls & boys are on a shopping spree buying clothes, accessories, electronic gadgets, fireworks, etc. to celebrate this Diwali grander than the previous years. Men are looking forward to spend this weekend with his near & dear. Women are toiling away in the kitchen to treat her family & guests with scrumptious goodies. We usually prepare coconut burfi a couple of days before Deepavali as it is made using fresh coconut meat that won’t stay fresh longer.
Sneha is the Sanskrit word for oils extracted from plants & animals, and it also means “friendly” in Tamil, Hindi, and other Indian languages. Apparently oil is viewed as a friendly substance and it plays a vital role in Ayurveda as it purifies, calms, and nourishes our mind & body. It is no wonder that we follow the tradition of taking oil bath (ennai kuliyal) using sesame oil & heating up an oil pot (ennai chatti kaya vaipathu) with peanut oil for frying sweet/ savory stuffs on the day of Deepavali as it signifies purification, peace & prosperity. My mother usually makes deep-fried mundhri kothu/ suseeyam (sweet) and vadai / bajji (savory) on Deepavali.
“Can you crunch murukku?” is one of the commonly asked questions when oldies meet each other during the festival of Deepavali. It is regarded as a blessing (or as a sign of good health) if one could relish crunchy murukku even at an old age. There is an old saying in Tamil “norunga thindral nooru vayathu vazhalam” (meaning crunching ensures longevity), it is considered healthy to take crunchy snack than soft snack as it takes longer time to chew, makes us feel full, and hence greater satiety.
Dumplings are not only traditional but also universal preparations, they are ubiquitous in almost every cultural cuisine in various forms be it boiled, baked, steamed or fried. Chinese dim sum, Italian ravioli, Nepalese yomari, Jamaican fried dumplings, Polish potato plum dumplings, British herb dumplings, American apple dumplings, etc. are some of the old-fashioned adorable dumplings that delight the gourmets across the globe.
Neivilangai has always been featured in our family’s Deepavali menu every year. These melt-in-mouth lentil flour laddu are popular among Indians & Sri Lankans. North Indians use Bengal gram flour or wheat flour, whereas south Indians use green gram flour or black gram flour for making delicious laddu.
Thattai (meaning flat disc) are inexorably delicious crackers prepared in our family for Deepavali. It is so astonishing to find numerous varieties of thattai made all over India using various spices, lentils & grains. Thattai found in every state, every district and even every family has its own distinct taste, flavour, texture or colour. Also it has been given different names like thattu vadai, thattai murukku in Tamilnadu, nippattu in Karnataka, chekkalu in Andhra Pradesh, papdi in North India. Now the recipe for thattai prepared in our family for generations:
Nei kadalai is one of my favorite snacks popular in Tirunelveli, Madurai and other surrounding places. It brings me back fond memories associated with this delicious savory during my childhood days. I still cherish those happy days with my father who used to bring nei kadalai and Tirunelveli halwa whenever he visited me as our family get-together is incomplete without crunchy spicy nei kadalai and gelatinous sweet halwa.
Ulundha vadai (medhu vadai) is a gluten-free South Indian savoury doughnut prepared using black lentils (urad dal). Any feast or festival in our family is incomplete without making soft ulundha vadai with crispy golden skin. Vadai is a commonly prepared evening snacks in our family particularly during monsoon, and it is usually served with hot sambar/ rasam, spicy chutney, or creamy curd.
Ginger jam is a digestive jam usually prepared during Deepavali. A teaspoon of ginger jam taken in the morning in an empty stomach helps improve the digestion mainly when we enjoyed a sumptuous feast in the previous day. It is also beneficial to children to increase their appetite.