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Archive for the ‘Prasads’ Category

What a gratifying day I had. First, Lemme tell you how the day ended.

6 pm:- oil lamps are lit and the home smelt wonderful with the aroma of agarbathi. Sat in front of the shrine on a small mat and opened my Music notebook, sruthi box by my side. Started off  singing Saint Thiagaraja’s wonderful compositions. My daughter was sitting next to me.

1. “Nee Dayaradha” in Ragam Vasantha Bhairavi set to Rupaka talam.

2. “Maakelara Vicharamo” in Ravichandrika in Aadi tala.

3.  “Ethavunara” in Kalyani-my favorite raga, followed by

4. “Maamava Raghurama” in Saaranga set to Rupaka and kept going full on

5.  “Intha soukyamanine” in Kaapi set to Aadi tala

6. “Kaalaharana Mela” in Suddha Saveri/Rupaka

7. “Seethamma Maayamma” in Vasantha

8. “Brochevaarevare Raghupathe” in Sriranjani.

9. “Ramanuku mannan mudi”- a tamil composition by Arunachalakavi in Hindolam

Was not satisfied yet. 9 doesn’t seem to be a good number. My husband got super excited and wanted to do his share of promoting my singing. He played Pancharatna kritis from his ipod, which made me sing a couple of more Thayagaraja’s Gems 

10. Sadhinchane – Ragam Aarabhi

11. Jagadananda Karaka – Ragam Naatai

Now, is there a better way to end the day?- yes, by blogging about it !

Now, lemme tell you how the day started. After showering, Kept chanting “Ram” many times and started my “Neivedhya” preparations for the day.

Sri Ramanavami commemorates the birth of Lord Rama– incarnation of Lord Vishnu . Rama was a righteous king who took a human form and was born on earth to fight Evil. He underwent all the sufferings of mankind. Ayodhya- the birth place of Ram would be bustling with joy and festivity during this season. People observe fasts, perform pooja, chant slokas, read Ramayana, sing bhajans and kritis and make special offerings to Sri Ram.

In South India, Paanagam, neer moar and Kosumalli/kosambari is offered to the God, however in NorthIndia, Sabudana kheer and kichidi are done and can be eaten as fasting food.

Paanagam: A deliciously aromatic sweet punch!

 Ingredients:  

  •  Powdered Jaggery- 1/4 cup.
  • Dry ginger- Sukku- 1 tsp.
  • Cardamom-4.
  • Water- 4 tumblers.
  • Lemon juice- 1 tsp.

Method: Dissolve the jaggery in water and strain all the sediments.

Add powdered sukku, cardamom, lemon juice . Mix well, offer it to God and serve chilled!

Neer moar: Neer moar is an amazing thirst quencher and a must during the summer months in india. Just like how we see “Lemonade stands” by kids in the US, most of the street corners would have “Neer moar stands” in earthen pots to keep them chill. It’s a heavenly drink! 

Ingredients:

  • Curd/yogurt 4-5 tblsp.
  • Water- 3-4 glasses.
  • salt to taste.
  • Ginger scrapes- 1tsp.
  • asafoetida a pinch.
  • Green chilly cut into pieces-1
  • Curry leaves-few

Mix the above ingredients, churn well and serve chilled! a hint of lemon juice can be added.

Kosumalli/Kosambari: Kosumalli is a quick salad that is made with split green gram. It is very healthy and easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • Split green gram/pasiparupu- 1 cup
  • Salt- to taste.
  • lemon juice- 2tsp.
  • Cilantro- a fistful.
  • Coconut scrapes- 1tsp.
  • Cucumber-few slices-optional
  • Raw mango pieces-optional
  • For Tempering- oil-mustard seeds, urad dhal, asafoetida, green chilly- 2 slit, curry leaves-few.

Method:

  1. Soak the green gram for 1 hour after thoroughly washing it.
  2. Add all the above ingredients to the soaked gram.
  3. Heat oil- 1 tsp and add the ingredients mentioned in tempering. mix well, offer it to GOD and serve it in a plantain leaf.

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Banana-Rava Halwa

Banana-Rava Halwa

Semolina is the purified middlings of durum wheat used in making pasta; also, the coarse middlings are used for breakfast cereals and puddings. The term “Semolina” derives from the Italian word “Semola. Semolina, made from durum wheat, is known in North India as Sooji; in South India, Ravey in Kannada, Rava/Ravam/Ravai in Telugu/Tamil, In Tamilnadu, the Semolina is also made of rice. In Turkey, semolina is known as irmik. (Source-Wiki)

I happened to read “Sundara Gaandam from Valmiki Ramayana” for 5 days over the last month. My mom brought the book from India and was reading it. She suggested it’s very good to read Ramayana, especially Sundara Gaandam. Also my cousin Divya had  sent me a beautiful handmade painting of Ram and Sita, done by her, as a present. Lot of good vibes. So, read Sundara gaandam in 5 days( about 30-45 min each day), and finished it on the the 5th day by reading Ramar Pattabhishekam( taking the throne) and Neivedhyam. I offered Banana-Rava halwa, which is done during Satyanaraya pooja-vrath.

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There are several protocols on how to read them in  3 days, 5 days 9 days etc. It was such a beautiful feeling to read how Sri Hanuman flew to Lanka as a messenger of Rama, in search of Sita, who was abducted by Ravana. Sundara Gaandam describes, how Hanuman meets Sita and convinces her that Rama is on his way to rescue her and how he conveys the message and carries the souvenir from Rama to Sita and vice versa. I would read it in the morning and in the night tell the story to my daughter. She loves listening to Ramayana. It is believed, by listening or reading Sundara Gandam, one receives the blessings of Sri Ram and Hanuman.

Flowers in uruliRamayana is equivalent to Vedas. The word “Ra ma”is derived from the middle letter of “Om Namo Narayana” and “Namashivaya”, incorporating both Vishnu and Shiva to give Rama. While I was reading Ramayana, came across something interesting. After the pattabhishekam, Rama once asked Sita, if she liked him or his story(The Ramayana). Sita replied that she actually liked his story more than him, the reason being, Sita was leading a miserable life in Lanka after being abducted by Ravana and was starving, feeling weak, tired and had no clue why Rama did not rescue her so far. She even had suicidal thoughts and that is exactly when she heard Hanuman telling Rama’s story from a tree above. She immediately left her suicidal thoughts behind and felt happy that her husband Rama would save her. That is why she liked Rama’s story more than him.

Banana-Rava Halwa

Ingredients:Cooking 090

  • Banana-finely chopped-1 (medium size).
  • Rava or sooji- 1cup.
  • Milk-1cup.
  • Water-1/2cup.
  • Ghee- 2tblsp.
  • Sugar-1/2 cup.
  • Cardamom powder-little.
  • Yellow food color-a pinch-optional.
  • Raisins and nuts to decorate-optional.

Method:

  1. In a pan, fry rava in ghee until a nice aroma comes and rava starts to turn light brown.
  2. Add  warmwater, warm milk and chopped banana pieces to the pan and cook.
  3. When banana and rava are cooked, add sugar and ghee, cardomom and food color.
  4. When mixture leaves the sides, remove from fire.

Tip: Select a firm, ripe banana for this halwa preparation. Do not use under ripe, over ripe ones. Nendhram pazham can be used for the same.

Presentation Tip:Tried in a dark background. Felt like it was too busy. So tried photographing against a more neutral background and the dish looked much better and the attention went to the dish instead of the background.

Garnish: Since the halwa was of the play dough consistency, I was able to mould it to a well. Filled with ghee(obviously only for garnishing purpose) and decorated with almonds, cashews, pistachios, raisins and banana rounds.

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Banana sooji halwa

Banana sooji halwa

Sending this to Innovative Inlaws- Nithya and Pavithra http://innovativein-laws.blogspot.com/ , garnish the dish event.

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amma enrazhaika enna thavam seidhanai, Yashodha...

amma enrazhaika enna thavam seidhanai, Yashodha...

Vishnu, the preservative aspect of the universe and one of the Hindu Trinity, is said to take birth in this mortal world of our’s, whenever it is overburdened with evil-doers and sinners, who by their wicked actions upset the equilibrium of the earth. One such incarnation is the birth of “Krishna “as the son of king Vasudeva and his wife Devaki and his story is recorded in the famous work of the Hindus known as Bhagavatam. Born to rid the world of the wicked, he was secretly brought up by the chief of the Yadavas (cowherds) to whom he was taken as soon as he was born, since his uncle Kansa considered him an enemy and wanted to get rid of him as soon as he was born, by putting him to death.

Sri Krishna Jayanthi is the auspicious day Lord Krishna, (an avatar of  Lord Vishnu), was born in this world. It is also called Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanthi, Janmashtami, Dahi Handi. While the festival is celebrated in north India as Janmashtami, in the south, the festival is celebrated as Sri Krishnajayanthi, Janmashtami or Gokulashtami.

The idol of Lord Krishna is placed in a decorated Mantapa on which the Bhakshanam (snacks and sweets in Tamil) that are specially prepared for the festival are offered along with fruits considered the favourites of Lord Krishna. The pooja is performed late in the evening, because as Krishna was born at midnight. Generally, most of the sweets and savouries are prepared on that day. Normally, a kolam (rice flour drawings on ground) drawn specially for the occasion, called ezhaKolam decorates the front yard. Kolam in Tamil, also called Rangoli in the rest of India, is drawn using soaked rice ground to a fine paste and mixed with water. A white cloth is used to soak the paste and draw. Footprints representing those of Krishna are drawn from the front yard to the pooja room, representing the GOD entering the devotee’s home.

Kutti padams drawn using my hands with rice flour

Kutti padams drawn using my hands with rice flour

After the decorations are over, the pooja will be performed with Ganesha poojai as the start, followed by Krishna pooja, Ashtothram, Neivedhyam, Arthi and songs can be sung. 

Poojai

Poojai

I typically fast the whole day and would start making the bakshanams. Uppu seedai( deep fried rice flour marbles), Vella Seedai ( sweet version of the previous one), Appam( wheat and banana dumpling), Puli Avil( Poha), Dhal Paayasam, Thenguzhal or Mullu muruku, butter, Ghee and Curd can be offered.

Neivedhyam for Lord Krishna

Neivedhyamfor Lord Krishna

The little ones are thrilled about Janmaashtami, as it is a baby God’s Birthday. My husband and I had a hearty laughter, when our daughter at age 4 asked, “Where is the birthday cake for lord Krishna? ” On Janmaashtami day, I also dress up my little girl as Krishna or Radha and adore her. Krishna is also called “Makhan Chor” or “Butter stealer”, as Butter and Avil (Poha or beaten Rice)  are his favourites. king of avil, let me narrate you, quickly the story of Sudama( Kuchela) and Krishna.

Sudama (Kuchela) and Krishna were good childhood friends. Sudama was from a poor brahmin family and Krishna was from a Royal Family, but their social status never affected their friendship. As they grew up, both went their ways and Krishna became the Ruler of Dwaraka and Sudama lived a humble life of a poor brahmin in the village. Sudama was going through difficulty, that he did not even have money to feed his children. His wife reminded him of Krishna’s friendship and urged him to get some help. Initially reluctant, sudama finally agreed to meet Krishna for help.

Sudama wanted to give his friend some gift, when he sees him. There was nothing at home except a small amount of beaten rice (Poha in Hindi or Avil in Tamil). He remembered that it was Krishna’s favorite and took that in a small cloth, tied with a  knot. Overwhelmed with joy, the two friends, hug each other and talk all old stories and all the small mischievous deeds. Krishna treats Sudama royally with lot of Love and affection. Sudama hesitates to give the small gift he had brought, but Krishna actually grans it from his hands and starts eating the Poha with great relish. Sudama feels happy and returns home, forgetting the purpose of his visit to ask help. But to his surprise, he returns home to see his hut had been transformed into a Mansion and his wife greets him with silk clothes and fine jewelry. Krishna  had transformed the poor brahmin’s life to a royal life.

This story is told to illustrate that the Lord does not differentiate, people based on their social status and he will reward devotion always. Another moral is not to trade bhakti for anything in return. Sudama did not ask Krishna for anything. Despite being poor Sudama had given Krishna everything he had (poha) hence in return the Lord gave Sudama everything he needed.

A beautiful Sari of mine with Krishna

A beautiful Sari of mine with Krishna

Let me tell you, how to make a simple dish with Poha( Krishna’s most favorite Avil). Even if you cant do the elaborate neivedhyams, a simple Avil(Poha) offered, with a lot of Bhakthi and devotion, will be gracefully accepted by GOD.

Puli Avil: ( Poha Upma with tamarind and spices)

Puli Avil Upma

Puli Avil Upma

Ingredients:                                                                      Krishna

  • Avil(Poha)- 2cups.
  • Tamarind paste(Imli)- 3/4 tsp.
  • Curry powder-2tsp.
  • Salt- to taste.
  • Shredded coconuts- 3tsp.

For Seasoning:

  • Oil- 1tsp.
  • Mustard seeds- 1tsp.
  • Urad Dhal-1tsp.
  • Channa Dhal-1tsp.
  • Red chillies-2.
  • Curry leaves- 1arc.
  • Asafoetida- a pinch.
  • Turmeric powder- a pinch.

Curry Powder:

Dry roast Coriander seeds 1/2 cup, channa dhal -1 cup and  4 red chillies and powder them coarsely.

Method:

  1. Wash the poha and soak it in tamarind paste for 10 minutes.
  2. Take oil in kadai and add one by one, all the ingredients mentioned in the seasoning.
  3. Add salt, turmeric, curry powder and soaked Avil(Poha).
  4. Stir everything and let it cook in low heat for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add shredded coconuts for garnish.
Tulsi plant

Tulasi plant in my deck, (tulsi leaves can be used for pooja)

My Krishna Collections

My Krishna Collections

My Krishna collections has been growing like my Ganesha collections. I have close to 16 Krishna’s in the form of  Iskcon paintings, Silk fabric painting, kalamkari, Tanjore paintings, glass painting, idols, sculptures etc.

Sending this to Purva Daawat’s festive food event

http://purvasdaawat.blogspot.com/2009/08/announcing-krishna-and-ganesh-chaturthi.html

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Mushikavaahana modaka hastha,
Chaamara karna vilambitha sutra,
Vaamana rupa maheshwara putra,
Vighna vinaayaka paada namasthe”

Meaning of the above Sanskrit Sloka:

“O Lord Vinayaka! the remover of all obstacles, the son of Lord Shiva, with a form which is very short, with mouse as Thy vehicle, with sweet pudding in hand, with wide ears and long hanging trunk, I prostrate at Thy lotus-like Feet!”

“Ganesh Chaturthi” is one of the most popular Hindu festivals. It is also called “Vinayaka Chaturthi” or “Pillayar Chaturthi”. This is the birthday of Lord Ganesha. It is the day most sacred to Lord Ganesha. It falls on the 4th day of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapada (August-September). It is observed throughout India, as well as by devoted Hindus in all parts of the world. Clay figures of the Deity are made and after being worshipped for two days, or in some cases ten days, they are thrown into water. 

Lord Ganesha is the elephant-headed God. He is worshipped first in any prayers. His Names are chanted first before any auspicious work is begun. He is the Lord of power and wisdom. He is the eldest son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi, the elder brother of Skanda or Kartikeya.

My precious possessions

My precious possessions

 Once upon a time, the Goddess Gauri(consort of Lord Shiva), while bathing, created Ganesha as a pure white being out of the mud of Her Body and placed Him at the entrance of the house. She told Him not to allow anyone to enter while she went inside for a bath. Lord Shiva Himself was returning home quite thirsty and was stopped by Ganesha at the gate. Shiva became angry and cut off Ganesha’s head as He thought Ganesha was an outsider.

When Gauri came to know of this she was sorely grieved. To console her grief, Shiva ordered His servants to cut off and bring to Him the head of any creature that might be sleeping with its head facing north. The servants went on their mission and found only an elephant in that position. The sacrifice was thus made and the elephant’s head was brought before Shiva. The Lord then joined the elephant’s head onto the body of Ganesha.

Lord Shiva made His son worthy of worship at the beginning of all undertakings, marriages, expeditions, studies, etc. He ordained that the annual worship of Ganesha should take place on the 4th day of the bright half of Bhadrapada. He is the Lord who removes all obstacles on the path of the spiritual aspirant, and bestows upon him worldly as well as spiritual success. Hence He is called Vigna Vinayaka. Beautiful explanation of chaturthi by Sri Swami Sivananda.

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Ganesha imitating his father Lord Nataraja( Shiva)

The following are some of the common Names of Lord Ganesha: Pillayar, Sumukha, Ekadantha, Gajakarnaka, Lambodara, Vignaraja, Ganadhyaksha, Gajanana, Vinayaka, Vakratunda, Siddhivinayaka, Surpakarna, Heramba, Skandapurvaja, Kapila and Vigneshwara. He is also known by many as Maha-Ganapathi.

 It is good to chant Ganesha Gayatri Mantra, which  is as follows.

“Tat purushaaya vidmahe
Vakratundaaya dheemahi
Tanno dhanti prachodayaat.”

He is very fond of sweet pudding or balls of rice flour with a sweet core. Its called “Modhakas” or “Kozhakattais” in Tamil. While celebrated all over India, it is most elaborate in Maharashtra( Mumbai). Huge statues of Ganesha are made , decorated and worshipped for 10 days and finally given to the Ocean.

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Ganehshas in concert- with their favorite sweet Modhkas

Lord Ganesha is very intelligent. When Narada announced, he will give the Divine mango to whoever finishes a full turn of the world, Lord Muruga, his younger brother set out to take  a trip of the entire world in his peacock, while Lord Ganesha just took a complete turn of his parents Shiva And Parvati- and gave an explanation, that his parents meant the world to him.

As kids, I and my brother would go and collect Arakampul- a type of grass and erugam flower to make garlands for Ganesha. Our Dad would buy the Clay Ganesha from a mould and Mom would be busy with the Neivedhyam preparations, while I help with the flower collections and decorations. Dad would perform the poojai and since I was learning music, I would sing all the pillayar songs I know, starting from Geetham to keetanai. We would be waiting for the neivedhyam, to finish, so we can taste the vadai and modhakam and tell mom, if the salt is ok. Since all these offerings can’t be tasted beforehand,  mom would welcome our comments, to rectify the salt and spice levels for the further preparations for the humans. Poor GOD never says a word. But with practice, you will end up doing it right eventually.

Cooking

Offerings For Ganesha

     Well, I would say I go “Nuts for Ganesha”. There are more than 60 Ganesha’s in my home (in US), which I have collected over 9 years. The Collection started when 3-4 friends gifted Ganesha for my wedding. I cherish them till date. The Ganesha could be anything from a brass hanging lamp, a pendant in a necklace, Silver idols, Terracotta, Clay figure, Glass painting, Diwali Diya, Tanjore painting, a fabric art piece,  hand made-Cross stich  Ganesha, plastic ones, wooden puppet Ganesha’s, Coral Ganesha, Ganesha made in glass, wooden sculptures, Stone Ganesha’s, kumkum box, Spices Filled statue  etc………….. He is like my Good Luck Charm…..

As children, we use to hop house after house in the colony to win in the competition, “who sees the maximum number of Ganesha’s on Vinayaka Chaturthi Day”. That  was Fun!

Sweet Modhkas: (Kozhakattai)                             

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Modhka Mould

 

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Neivedhyam

Outer Dough:                               

Choppu with poornam

Choppu with poornam

    

  • Rice Flour- 1 cup.
  • Water-11/2 cups.
  • Salt- a teeny bit.
  • Sesame oil- 2 tsp.

For poornam-Filling:

  • Coconut scrapes-1 cup.
  • Jaggery-3/4cup.
  • Cardomom powder-1tsp.
  • Ghee-4 tsp.

Method:

  1.  Allow water to boil, add salt and add flour little by little, without forming lumps and cook well until it becomes soft. 
  2. Turn the heat off, when the dough becomes not sticky.
  3. Add coconut, jaggery, cardomom in a pan and mix well and cook until it gets thick and add ghee.
  4. Allow everything to cool.
  5. Make choppu or round cups with the dough, using oil and water to dip hands inbetween.
  6. Put a small amount of filling and close the cup.
  7. Steam it until the modhka becomes shiny.
  8. Offer it to God and Enjoy!

Note:

 The offerings for Ganesha are Vella Kozhakatai( Sweet modhkas), Ulundu kozhakattai (Salt n Spicy Modhkas), Vada, Dhal Payasam, Plain Rice, Cooked Thoor dhal, Pacharisi Idli, Ellu ( Sesame Kozhakattai), Ammini ( Mini)Kozhakattai, Sundal, Appam Etc. A drop is ghee is sprayed to cleanse( anna suddhi) before offering it to GOD. Typically,Rice is soaked, dried and ground to a powder. But I use the store bought fresh packet of rice flour and it works just fine.

Lovely Marigold Flowers in my garden, used For Pooja

Lovely Marigold Flowers in my garden, used For Pooja

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Masala Ganesha, done by me on a boring afternoon

Masala Ganesha, done by me on a boring afternoon

 

Submitted to Purva daawat’s “Festive Food Event”

http://purvasdaawat.blogspot.com/2009/08/announcing-krishna-and-ganesh-chaturthi.html

 

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Panchamirtham

Panchāmirtham/ Panchāmrutham means Five nectars. “Pancha”-five, “Amrutham”-Nectar. I guess, this is the closest to Amrutham- the divine nectar, consumed by devas. The devas and the asuras (gods and demons) united in their efforts to churn the celestial ocean of milk Ksheerasaagaram in quest of Amrita (the nectar of life and immortality). Must have been a humongous task. Our Panchāmirtham tastes as divine as Amrita, but the preparation is a snap.

Panchāmirtham is the holy prasad in palani Murugan( Subramanya Swamy) temple. It  is used for Abhishekam( Bathing the God). Palani Panchamirtham and Sabari mala’s, “Aravana Paayasam” are the most wonderful form of prasaads ( prasadham), that can take the place of  man made amritam.

Panchamirtham

Palani Panchāmirtham is the oldest form of jam or fruit mix and preserves very well, even for months. The secret lies as much in the art of preparing it as in the quality of the fruit that is used as the basic ingredient. It is the small sized viruppāchchi plantains which account for it, the reason being that they have very little water content. Incidentally, Viruppāchchi is the name of a village (in the Palani Hills) where this particular variety of plantain is grown and marketed. Crushed plantains apart, Panchāmirtham consists of kandasari sugar from Kangeyam area, dates, kismis, sugar candy (kalkandu), cardamom and ghee in proper proportions.( from Palani.org)

It was my daughter’s birthday last week. Had a small Sai Bhajan at home. Decided to make panchamirtham for the prasad. Holy goodness ! It’s the most delicious thing I have ever made. The aroma while making it gave me a feeling that I just had a darshan of Lord Muruga.

Ingredients:                                  Cooking 037

  • Banana- 1.
  • Raisins-1tsp.
  • Dry dates- 6.
  • Apple-1.
  • Jaggery- 3/4 cup.
  • Honey-1/4 cup.
  • Ghee-3 tsp.
  • Kalkandu or sugar candy- 1tsp.
  • Cardamom powder-1/2 tsp.
  • Almonds- 6( optional)-Indu’s touch.
  • Pomegranate seeds- 1tsp (optional)-Indu’s touch.

Method:

  1. Chop banana and apple into small pieces.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a clean dry bowl, with a ladle, adding honey and ghee at last.
  3. Mix them to a consistency shown in the above picture, until the jaggery kind of dissolves.
  4. Store in an airtight container and enjoy.

Note:

  • The five ingredients that go into making the panchamirtham is really debatable. There are versions that add Cow’s milk, Curd/yogurt, Cane Sugar, Coconut scrapes. However, adding milk and yogurt, would make the panchamirthamtoo pasty and panchamirtham can get spoilt quickly.But from my understanding, the five main ingredients that are needed to make panchamirtham are banana, honey, jaggery, kalkandu and ghee.
  • I added almonds to give some richness and crunch- and to lower LDL cholesterol-(LOL).
  • I also added Pomegranate seeds for a boost of antioxidants and Vit B5. Pom seeds are believed to cure cardiovascular diseases and breast cancer.
  • Other ingredients like fresh grapes, chopped jackfruit, Cashew nuts and even Tulsi leaves, edible camphor(pacha karpooram) can be added for that extra pizazz.
  • Use banana that is firm and not too soft.

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