Today is Varalakshmi Vrat or Varalakshmi Nombu, being celebrated across many households in the Southern part of India. This festival falls on the second Friday of the Hindu month Sraavan. It is widely believed that praying for Goddess Mahalakshmi and all Her 8 avatars bring in prosperity, happiness, health, fertility, wisdom.
While festive celebrations mark various sacred rituals, a delicious spread will be offered to the Goddess Lakshmi as an offering or naivedya. On this occasion, we bring you two popular and easy-to-make South Indian dishes that are made at this festival.
A traditional lentil-based crunchy snack, Keerai Vadai is also prepared on the mornings of religious occasions but without adding any onions. In Tamil, “Keerai” means spinach while “Vadai” means a type of savory doughnut.
½ cup urad dal
1 tsp fried gram (pottukadalai)
1 tsp raw rice
½ cup finely chopped spinach
¼ cup cut coriander leaves
2 small green chilies
½ cup sesame oil
Salt, to taste
Soak urad dal, fried gram and rice in water, for two hours at room temperature.
Drain all of the water and grind the dal, gram and rice mixture, along with green chilies and salt, in a blender, to obtain a smooth batter-like consistency.
To this batter, thoroughly mix the chopped spinach and coriander leaves.
Take fist-sized, even amounts of the batter and flatten it to form a circle with a small hole in the center.
Heat the oil in a kadhai on high flame. Once it begins to boil, reduce it to a medium setting and transfer the batter into it gently.
Shallow fry batter on both sides, until it turns golden brown.
Serve the crisp vadais, piping hot, with any tangy or spicy chutney of your choice.
Urad dal and fried gram are densely packed with proteins, thus making you feel full and prevent cravings for junk food. Sesame oil is a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats, that provide energy. Spinach is a powerhouse of iron for healthy blood cells, and dietary fibers to aid in digestion. Coriander is an aromatic herb that is loaded with B vitamins for enhanced metabolic and nerve function, as well as the bone-fortifying minerals – calcium, magnesium and phosphorous.
Godhumai Rava Halwa
This is a delectable, customary sweet made with broken wheat (godhumai rava in Tamil), which is first offered to the Almighty, and then served with lunch after concluding prayer ceremonies.
1/2 cup broken wheat (godhumai rava)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup ghee
2 cups of water
1 tsp cardamom powder
8 – 10 cashews
Raisins, as needed
In a pan, heat a quarter cup of ghee, gently fry the raisins and cashews, until the latter turns light brown in colour and then place it aside.
Next, add the wheat rava to the pan with a little more ghee and keep stirring on medium flame, to make it obtain a prominent brown colour.
Add 2 cups of water to the pan with the remainder of the ghee, cover with a lid and cook on low flame until the wheat becomes soft.
Then, still maintaining the low flame, add the sugar and cardamom powder, mix thoroughly, and finally top it off with the fried cashews and raisins.
Switch off the stove and store the godhumai rava halwa in a container. It can be consumed hot or refrigerated and eaten cold.
Godhumai rava is a wholesome food, abounding in all the essential nutrients, namely proteins, carbohydrates and fibers as well as providing instant calories for energy. Cardamom is a staple condiment in many Indian sweets, high in vitamin C content for improved immunity, and low in cholesterol, unhealthy saturated fats and sodium. Cashews are stuffed with proteins and iron, for fit muscles and regulated blood flow respectively. Raisins provide antioxidant benefits, to scavenge harmful free radicals from the body.