Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Vijaya Dasami - Dasara - Dussehra: However you call it, its a festival that marks the victory of Good over Evil. A very special festival for the Hindus in India. Dasara and Deepavali are usually spaced 3 weeks apart with Ramzan somewhere in between, before or after. So, all in all, 3 festivals to be celebrated in a short period of 1-1.5 months. The retail stores cash in on this, and put up lighting, sales banners, what not, to attract customers. Ah! Love the festive look on the market streets back in my hometown. Visakhapatnam.

While living in India, I used to look forward to these festivals since mom would feed us all those yummy delicacies. Sadly here, I got away with the Dasara celebration making just one sweet - Chandrakanthalu. Its a sweet popular in the north coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh. Kind of tastes like burelu without the crust. Looks something like this:

Oh! no.. they are not meat balls :) Made it for the first time, wasn't as good as what my aunt (who's an expert at this sweet) makes looks-wise, but taste-wise they were okay.

  1. Moong dal - x units
  2. Sugar - x units
  3. Elachi/cardamom - as required
  4. Fresh Coconut - like 2 spoons for 1 cup dal
  5. Oil for deep frying
  1. Soak the moong dal for atleast 3 hours
  2. Remove all the water and grind the dal to a coarse paste in a mixer. Add water in small quantities while grinding. You don't really need a smooth paste. The mistake I did was adding lot of water while grinding.
  3. Take a thick bottom vessel and add the required quantity of sugar. Pour just sufficient water so as to cover the sugar and boil to make a sugar syrup. Again, be careful with the amount of water used in this step too.
  4. Once the sugar has all melted, add the moong dal paste and cook on low flame with constant stirring. Essentially, moong dal should cook in the sugar syrup. even if you stop stirring for a moment, the dal would burn. Takes about 5 minutes for 1 cup dal to cook completely. Since its already crushed into smaller particles, the dal shouldn't take long to cook.
  5. Once cooked, add grated coconut and elachi powder.
  6. Assuming all went well, that is, you got the amount of water right, the cooked dal should have a halwa-like consistency. Pour it on a greased flat plate and cut it into small squares just like you cut mysore pak or other such sweets. The squares shouldn't be thicker than half-an-inch else when you fry, the interiors would remain raw.
  7. Give it some time to cool.
  8. Meanwhile heat sufficient oil in a kadai. Take out each square that you just cut and drop it in the oil. Fry until it turns golden brown and flip sides. They can burn quite quickly, so remove as and when they turn golden-to-deep brown.
  9. Serve hot and crispy chandrakanthalu! This sweet is a perfect example for "no one can eat just one". Try it yourself, and you'll have to agree with me.
Because my moong dal paste was slightly watery, I could not cut out the cakes. So took spoonfuls of the paste and fried.

After snacking endlessly on chandrakanthalu, we decided to visit the temple. And guess what, there was this amazing "bommala koluvu" put up for public viewing. I always loved the idea of kolu but never saw one directly, since none of my friends and relatives follow this tradition. And here, in a land far far away, I got a chance to appreciate an Indian tradition. Strange, huh? Actually, even in India, if bommala koluvu is kept in temples like here, more and more people will be able to look at it. I just couldn't take my eyes off all those little dolls, they were all so cute and pretty. Mostly the kondapalli wooden toys sold in Handicrafts showrooms like Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh. Some pictures from the Shiva-Vishnu temple, San Diego:

Signing off, looking forward to Diwali!



My mother used to place the batter on idly plates steam them and then just add sugar and coconut...Isnt that a lot easier?


@ Swati,

That's the way I make burelu.. May be a simpler way, will try chandrakanthalu with this idea next time.

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