Sweet Somas – Aadi Pooram/Seemandham special

While other bloggers are gearing up with their Orange, white, green colour coded post for Independence day, I am posting this Aadi Pooram special. Aadi Pooram was last week. Yeah, I am slow like that. So this sweet somas was a revelation to me and is far better than the store bought ones. No, really. This is not a standard blogger phrase (“better than store-bought”) that I am using here although I’ve been guilty of using it too before. This somas really, truly is better and I’ll never be buying them from stores again. What I really love about this somas is the filling. The filling is a very un-assuming combination of roasted coconut, poppy seeds, cashew nuts and sugar. Poppy seeds! I thought. I’ve never been too fond of the store-bought somas, so last week, when we were making these somas for Aadi Pooram, I really didn’t expect much out of it. I was so wrong. I loved these somas. The poppy seeds took the somas to another level adding crunch and a wonderful nutty flavour to the somas. I made these somas alongside my Maamiyaar and I learnt real-time the somas-making process. I am really happy at these times for the joint-family setup. You’ll need patience however to make these somas, especially if you’re making large batches like we did that day. We slogged the previous night making these sweet somas, Murrukku, Coconut burfi, Boondi Laddu and variety rices for Aadi Pooram. It was heady, cooking up all these dishes and I was really excited. I get a great kick out of large scale cooking. This wasn’t large scale at all actually. But it was larger than usual. There are a few things to keep in mind to get those lovely crisp, puffed up somas. The dough has to be really soft and well kneaded. So knead like crazy.  Use only a small lemon sized ball of dough for a somas. Roll it out really thin, so thin that you’re able to see your hand if placed beneath the rolled out disc. To do this, you’ll need to flour your rolling surface generously. These somas are traditionally done for Seemandham (baby showers). Aadi Pooram is when we celebrate Amman’s Seemandham. We offer these sweets and variety rices (the traditional Seemandham Menu) to Amman. Amman is adorned with coloured glass bangles and Temples distribute coloured glass bangles to devotees...

Aadi Maasam/Aadi Thizhuvizha – Part 1

Yesterday was the huge Aadi Thizhuvizha at Nagathamman temple, the culmination of 10 days of festivity and processions starting with Paal Kudam and ending yesterday with Koozhu in the morning and the final grand procession at night. I am tired, exhausted and totally beat but with a camera load of not magazine quality but really good Aadi-smacking pictures. Aadi signifies everything Tamil to me – Tamil music (Urumi), Tamil cuisine (Koozhu, Kazhuvattu Kuzhambu) and Tamil customs and having been ignorant of all of this for most of my life, I am finally waking up to these traditions. I finally sat down to write this long-pending piece on Aadi. At home, Aadi Maasam is THE most hectic, activity packed month of the year. Before marriage I had no clue about Aadi other than the Aadi thallupadi (Aadi discount sales) that happens at this time of the year. But Aadi is huge in my in-laws place. It’s the most important occasion of the year even more than Diwali. Aadi for other clueless folks like me is the fourth month of the Tamil Calendar and is usually considered in-auspicious for weddings. Newly married girls are sent off to their mother’s places during this month. Why? Thank Bhagyaraj who famously busted this Aadi-myth in one of his movies. It has nothing to do with Aadi, there’s a very practical though embarrassing reason for this. If women get pregnant during the month of Aadi, they’ll give birth during peak summer which is a very tough time for small babies (maybe not so relevant in this age).  Aadi is generally very special for women and for farmers. Amman (Goddess Durga, Shakti) temples are the centre of action during this month, apart from Lifestyle and Chennai Silks. Picture this: Huge speakers outside the temples blare L.R.Easwari songs, massive lighted Amman cut-outs flank the road leading to the temple, women march to the temple with turmeric smeared, neem-leaves wreathed milk pots (paal kudam) for abishegam, evenings the Amman idol is decorated and taken around the streets of the temple in procession, and then the culmination of all the Aadi festivities in the Aadi thizhuvzha, where Koozhu (Ragi porridge is traditional poor man’s food) is served along with Drumstick leaves poriyal and Kazhuvattu Kuzhambu. In cities, you’ll see the urumi only during the Aadi month. This is a traditional hour-glass shaped drum that is played at Amman temples when...
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