Aadhik is an extra month in the Hindu lunar calendar that arrives every three years to synchronise the lunar months with the solar years. It is considered to be an auspicious period particularly for dana, or donations and gift-giving. In Maharashtra, a gift of 33 sweet treats called the anarase is bestowed upon daughters and their spouses during this month. Read on for a simple recipe for making the delicious crispy sweets.
The arrival of monsoon in India heralds the coming of Sawan, or Shravan, an auspicious month filled with many small rituals and festivals which celebrate nature, family and conjugality. Sawan is the fifth month of the Hindu calendar but every three years, an extra month is inserted into the calculations to synchronise the lunar calendar with the solar years. This means, every three years, there is a long period of the Shravan month beginning with the Aadhik Sawan, followed by the Neeja Sawan.
The extra month, or the Aadhik Maas has much cultural and ritualistic significance. While fasts are observed on several week days in Shravan like Mondays for Lord Shiva and Tuesdays, for his consort Goddess Parvati, the Aadhik month is also filled with small customs to mark the longevity of a conjugal couple. Additionally, aadhik is the month of giving generously and one tradition observed in Maharashtra is the bestowing of gifts upon the jawai, or the son-in-law. This custom is followed at least for the first few years of marriage in every Aadhik month and involves giving a small gift of a diya or lamp and 33 anarase, a sweet treat to daughters and their partners.
Made using rice, jaggery and poppy seeds, anarase are made in Diwali too but are specially made in Aadhik for gift-giving. There are many stories associated with the significance of gifting 33 anarse. One of them is that the first 30 sweets with the honeycomb-like texture, mark the days of the Aadhik month, while the remaining three are given to ward off ill omens and purify the house in which austerities are performed for dead relatives.
Anarase can be enjoyed simply as a dessert or a side dish in a meal but also pair well with tangy pickle which nicely balances their sweetness. The indulgent, round goodies which look like hard, crunchy puris are fried in ghee or oil and require a little bit of practice to get the technique just right. Read on below for a simple recipe of the anarase made using few ingredients but requiring much culinary expertise.
1 cup broken Basmati rice
2 tablespoon rava/suji (optional)
2 cups water
½ cup grated jaggery
Poppy seeds for coating
Oil/Ghee for frying
1. Wash the rice well and soak it in water for 2-3 days changing the water daily.
2. After 2-3 days, drain the water from the rice and spread it on a piece of cloth to dry completely.
3. Put the dried rice in a grinder and blend it into a smooth powder. Sieve the flour to get rid of any small granules.
4. Add jaggery and knead the mixture into a semi-soft dough without using water. If the dough feels dry, add 2-3 tablespoons of milk.
5. Cover the dough and keep overnight for fermentation.
6. On the next day, grease palms with oil and roll the dough into small, rounds balls.
1. Heat oil in a frying pan.
2. Flatten the anarase into round circles resembling a flat vada.
3. In a plate, pour the poppy seeds and rava (optional).
4. Place the anarasa on this plate and coat it completely with poppy seeds.
5. Put anarase one after the other in hot oil for deep frying. Do not roll out all anarase at once. Instead, roll an anarasa while another is frying in the pan.
6. Fry until nicely brown and remove from the pan. Anarase are now ready to be enjoyed!