Monday, February 20, 2012

Hesaru Bele Payasa (Moong dal kheer) for Maha Shivaratri

When we were kids, Shivaratri was a festival we looked forward to especially to the night long fun with friends in the name of Jagarane. One of my elementary school friends lived in a street that used to get very active during Shivaratri. Hearing her brag about it every time, I had convinced my parents to let me go there once. Lot of kids of different ages congregated in the evening and after dutifully saying some prayers, we all  split into different age groups and played games. The night started with very active games but as everyone became tired and sleepy, it mellowed down. There was a collective snack area with cucumber slices, puri/puffed rice, sweets, savories etc from different houses available to all of us. We ate, played and slept by 1 or 2am returning home after sun rise.

As kids, we were not keen on the Upavasa or fasting part of Shivaratri, at home nammamma kept fast the whole day breaking it by eating only a sample of prasada in the night after pooja.

Shivaratri is celebrated when India is already into Summer and as befits the Lord, the offerings are very simple unlike most other Indian festivals where food takes the center stage. Typical fare on Shivaratri day would consist of gojjavalakki (tamarind poha), payasa (kheer), kosambari (salad) and tambittu (sweet made with rice powder, jaggery). I made only hesaru bele (moong dal) payasa and kosambari (salad with cucumber) for the naivedya (offering to God) today.

Moong dal is known for its cooling effect on the body, boiled to tender in milk and mixed with jaggery, it is one of the easy to make and delicious sweets and happens to be my daughter's favorite. Kosambari is a very popular salad and can be made in many different variations. The kannadiga kosambaris usually have raw soaked lentils (either moong dal or chana dal) with either finely chopped cucumbers or grated carrots along with fresh grated coconuts and a seasoning to bring out the flavors.
What do you need to make Hesaru Bele Payasa? 
1 cup hesaru bele/moong dal
3 cups milk (I used whole milk)
1/2 cup water
1.5 cups of grated jaggery or brown sugar
1 small piece of cinnamon
1 Tsp cardamom powder

Seasoning: 
1 Tsp ghee/clarified butter
1 Tblsp raisins
1 Tblsp broken cashew nuts

How do you make Hesaru bele payasa? 
  • Wash the dal in running water, bring it to boil in 1/2 cup water and 1 cup milk on medium heat.
  • Boil the dal  along with the cinnamon piece until it is tender and just starts to open up.
  • Add the remaining milk and jaggery, let the mixture boil for about 15-20 minutes until the milk thickens and a uniform consistency is formed.
  • Add the cardamom powder and switch off. 
  • Prepare seasoning - heat the ghee, add raisins and cashew pieces and fry till raisins plump up and cashew turns light brown. 
  • Mix the seasoning in to the payasa, it should of pouring consistency.
  • Serve hot or cold, it tastes great both ways. 
We had ours with the cucumber kosambari after the naivedya this evening. 

Here is a beautiful description of Shivaratri by Swamy Chinmayananda:  
“Have you observed nature? She specializes in destroying, but her destructions are always constructive destructions; the bud is destroyed when the flower blooms, the flower fades when the fruit emerges, the fruit decays when the seeds are scattered and the seeds decay when the plants sprout! The process of constructive destruction IS ‘SIVA’. Thus Sivarathri means the EGO is destroyed in the discovery of the Divine!


Sattvaa wishes every one a very Happy Maha Shivaratri

4 comments:

NamsVeni Pothas said...

very good description by Swamy Chinmayananda. the soft and sweet payasa is very nice. hesarabela cools your stomach. nice sweet.
Sivarathri wishes to Sattva.

Jay said...

hey this is absolutely awesome..;)
thanks for the lovely post..
Tasty Appetite

kitchen queen said...

lovely kheer,thanks for visiting my blog and giving a nice comment.you too have a lovely blog.

RAKS KITCHEN said...

Easy to make yet flavourful kheer ever, love it a lot!