Like many regions around India where Lord Ganesha is welcomed with seasonal delicacies, homes in the state of Tamil Nadu also participate in the preparation of various offerings to the elephant god. Here are seven traditional delicacies that are prepared each year in homes for Ganesh Chaturthi.
As the auspicious festival of Ganesh Chaturthi approaches, kitchens in Tamil Nadu smell of toasted sesame, sounds of pounding rice to make flour and the warmth of oil heating up on a stove; all of which would go towards making snacks and sweets to welcome Lord Ganesha. Like the states of Goa and Maharashtra, where the festival is celebrated with great aplomb, Tamil Nadu also witnesses a grand but smaller scale celebration of the festival that also has feasting on delicacies at the core of these festivities. Here are seven addictive regional preparations that are made each year to commemorate the arrival of Ganesha.
A savoury snack that resembles marble-sized balls made with a mixture of rice flour, black gram flour, spices and butter, the crunchy snack is also a regional specialty made for other often celebrated festive occasions such as Krishna Jayanti. This technique-oriented snack, although made with only a handful of ingredients, must be fried on a low heat with a watchful eye, to avoid them from exploding in the hot oil. The sweet version of this snack, known as the vellam seedai, sees the addition of jaggery into the dough.
This Tirunelvelli specialty, the manoharam is what would one essentially classify as a sweet variation of the murukku but dipped in a golden-brown jaggery syrup flavoured with dry ginger powder. Also known as ‘manavalam’ colloquially, it is made as a sweet snack during the Karthikai Deepam festival during the later part of the year, this rich, deep-fried snack has a crunchy-sticky texture.
Deriving its name from the Tamil word for twisted, the thenkuzhal is similar in appearance to a murukku but resembling a clump of crunchy spaghetti. Typically flavoured with ajwain seeds or toasted sesame seeds, the thenkuzhal is an off-white colour due to a significantly large ratio of rice flour used in the dough. Compared to the murukku, the thenkuzhal also does not have jagged edges and is almost hollow, when bitten into.
A sundal typically refers to any kind of tempered pulses that are flavoured with mustard seeds, curry leaves and finished with coconut. One of the most popular variations of sundal is made with chickpeas, whereas other protein-rich pulses like kala chana, green moong and cowpeas are also used to make healthier, fibre-dense variants.
Due to its flat appearance that resembles a plate, the thattai – named after the Tamil word for plate (thattu), is a crunchy snack also made with rice flour and studded with horsegram and bits of curry leaves. These flat, crispy, disc-shaped snacks are also known as nippattu in Karnataka and chekkalu in Andhra Pradesh, but made with different proportions of flour and spices.
Think of a denser, thicker version of a malpua made with rice flour, jaggery, sesame seeds and dry ginger or cardamom powder. The sweet snack with historic origins dating back to as far as the 16th century, was first prepared in temple kitchens to offer to the presiding deities. Traditional methods of making the adhirasam involved soaking raw rice days in advance and shade-drying them before it was hand-pounded and sifted to use as the foundation for the batter.
A flaky pastry-like sweet snack made with all-purpose flour and deep-fried before soaking in a saffron-flavoured sugar syrup. The mildly sweet badusha is then studded with dry fruits like almonds and pistachios and enjoyed as a snack that is distributed once the offering is complete, along with other offerings like sundal, mysore pak, sweet pongal and kozhukattai.