April 7, 2013
A large variety of grain dishes, breads, milk based dishes, fried food, soups, vegetable and meat dishes, beverages and sweets are described in Bhojanakuthuhalam. Effect of every type food on the human body is also included in these descriptions. Rice being the staple of south India Raghunatha Suri begins with recipes of rice dishes. The ruler of Thanjavur at this time was a Maratha king and the food served at the palace included both rice and flat breads. Breads were made with wheat as well as flours made form urad, mung and chana dals. There is also an entire section on vadas (spiced and deep-fried legume batters). Various grain and dal (legumes) based dishes are included in this section. Raghunatha Suri begins with the following statement- “properties of various ingredients described by meritorious men should be learned first. This will help one understand the properties of food prepared with these ingredients. When food is cooked change in properties result from the way it is processed. For example old rice when boiled is light, but when it is flattened (poha) it becomes heavy. Combining different ingredients may result in a new property. The example given is – ripe plantain is heavy, but when it is mixed with ghee it is easily digested”.
Rice grains must be washed thoroughly and cooked in five measures of water and excess water should be filtered off. When rice is cooked in this way it possesses excellent properties. It stimulates digestive fire, imparts taste, it is wholesome and light. Unwashed rice and unfiltered water is cold and heavy and does not impart taste. Cold rice weakens digestive fire. Boiled rice mixed with meat soup is strengthening. Rice cooked with mung beans is sweet, promotes digestion stimulates digestive fire and imparts taste and nourishment. Unpolished rice (with husk intact) cooked in water along with ginger and asafoetida is called krsara. It is heavy, difficult to digest, but, imparts strength.
Six types of cooked Rice
Rice cooked in thrice its measure of milk along with jaggery melted in milk is called Paramanna.
When four measures of rice is mixed with churned cow’s yogurt, turmeric, cumin seeds and black pepper and cooked, it is called haridranna.
Cooked rice mixed with twice the quantity of sour yogurt, powdered black pepper, salt and ginger is called dadhyadana.
One measure of rice cooked along with two measures of split mung beans in water and garnished with powdered black pepper and sesame seeds is called krsaranna.
Three parts of rice cooked with one part of split mung beans is called mudaganna.
Rice cooked with milk, jaggery, ripe plantains and ghee is called gudodanna.
Wheat Based Dishes:
Wheat should be washed, pounded, dried and converted into flour. After softening the flour with water make it into a dough and knead well. Various dishes can be prepared from it. Shape the kneaded dough into small balls and flatten them into flat thin cakes. Cook them on the external surface of an upturned pot kept over low flame. It is called mandaka and should be enjoyed with milk, candied sugar and ghee or with cooked meat or vada soaked in buttermilk. Mandaka is strengthening, light and sweet in taste and alleviates all doshas.
Vedanika is a flat bread made with wheat flour and stuffed with urad dal or mung dal ground into a paste. Those who savor this type of bread along with sesame oil and ghee will be endowed with great strength. When this preparation is deep fried instead of roasting over an upturned pot, it is called vadori. It is lighter than vedanika.
Make thin long threads from polished wheat flour and dry them in the sun. Cook in milk and add ghee. It is called sevika. It is nourishing and strengthening but heavy. One should not eat this in excess.
Prepare dough with wheat flour ghee and water and roll into oblong pieces. Fill them with cloves, long pepper, edible camphor and sugar. Seal well and deep fry in ghee. It is called karpuranalika. Wheat flour dough is kneaded with ghee, flattened and filled with sugar and the tips sealed with a mixture of rice flour ghee and water called shakata. Then they are deep fried in ghee. This preparation is called sarkarodari.
Make dough with a mix of wheat flour and chana dal flour. Add cumin seeds, black pepper and asafoetida to the dough and knead again along with ghee. Roll the dough into flat circles and deep fry in ghee. It is called purika. When fried in ghee purika promotes growth; but when fried in oil it is heavy.
Breads made with flours of dals
Flour made from dry black urad dal is called camasi. Flat bread made from it is called balabhadrika. It is strengthening and hot in potency and recommended for those with strong digestive fire. When black urad dal is soaked, skin removed and sun-dried and pounded into flour, it is called dimasi. Flat bread made from this is called jharjharika. Flat bread made from chana dal flour is dry and heavy.
Pappadam is prepared by kneading the dough made of dimasi along with salt, asafoetida, cumin seeds and svarjika (nitrate of potash). Pappadum cooked over embers stimulates digestive fire and imparts taste to a meal. Pappadam fried in oil is not as healthy. It is dry and heavy. Pappadams made with mung dal or rice flour are light. Pappadam made with chana dal is sweet and dry and imparts taste.
Pappadam made with wheat flour and ghee is well fried in oil and powdered. Mix it with purified sugar and powders of cardamom, cloves, edible camphor, coconut and charoli (tiny almond-flavored dried seeds of a bush called Buchanania lanzan (they are commonly used in sweets). Make dough of wheat flour and ghee for flat bread. Roll out the dough and fill will this prepared powder. Seal and flatten again. Cook in heated pan along with ghee. It is called samyava.
Batter of urad dal is mixed with salt, wet ginger and asafoetida and shaped into vada and fried slowly in oil. Add powdered and fried asafoetida, cumin seeds and salt to buttermilk and soak vadas in it. Instead of just spicing the butter milk thicken it by adding flour, black pepper and coriander leaves and cook until it is reduced to half the quantity. Soak vadas in this liquid and it will be soft and very tasty.
Extract the juice of tamarind by soaking, pressing, straining and cooking. Season this extract with salt and asafoetida and soak vadas in this. Adding jaggery to the tamarind extract enhances it taste. To treat weak digestive fire, add powdered mustard seeds to the tamarind extract. Vadas soaked in rice gruel impart good taste.
Vada called alikamaccha is made by smearing the front of a betel leaf with urad dal batter and placing the smeared side on a hot iron skillet for a minute. Remove it and deep fry it in hot oil. Drain, and remove the vada from the betel leaf. It may be eaten dry or immersed in boiled buttermilk preparation called kvathika. This type of vada cleanses the intestinal tract.Kvathika is prepared by first heating ghee or oil in a pan and fry asafoetida and turmeric in it. Then pour in slated buttermilk and add powdered black pepper and cook over low flame. This dish is light and promotes digestion.
Vada can be made with mung and chana dal. When vada is made with mung, it is wholesome and lighter than vada made with urad batter. Vada made with chana dal is tasty and nourishing. Vadas made with urad, mung and chana dals are immersed in this healthy liquid kvathika and served.
Vada with vegetables mixed in the dal batter
Vadas are also made by mixing various vegetables and herbs with the batter. Pumpkin vada is made by mixing urad dal batter with marrow of pumpkin, wet ginger, black pepper, cumin seeds, fenugreek and rock salt. This preparation alleviates pitta dosha. When vada is made by mixing urad dal batter with neem flowers, sesame seeds and salt it helps alleviate kapha dosha. Another way of making vada is to mix urad dal batter with pieces of elephant foot yam (amorphophallus paeoniifolius) salt, black pepper and asafoetida, shape into vada and deep fry.
Vada with rice and wheat flour
Vada is also made with a batter of pan-fried rice grains, mashed Indian gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica), sesame seeds, asafoetida and salt. It is light, healthy and easy to digest. Vadas are also made with finely chopped plantain flower mixed with urad dal batter, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, powdered black pepper and salt. Another way of preparing vada is to use a batter of rice flour, yogurt and candied sugar. It is fried and then floated in yogurt.
Achaya, K.T. Indian Food: A Historical Companion. Oxford University Press 1994
Pillai Suranad Kunjan (Ed/Pub) Bhojanakuthuhala of Raghunatha Suri, Part One, University Manuscript Library, Trivandrum, Sanskrit Series No: 178. University of Travancore 1956.