Nombu Adai

Steamed Sweet and Savory rice and black-eyed peas cakes, served with butter

Karadaian Nombu (Karadai literally means savory adai, cannot imagine anywhere else a festival would be named after food) is celebrated widely in Tamil Nadu, in honor of a mythical character called Savitri, who brought back her husband to life. So the women fast for the entire day, praying for their husband’s long and healthy life, and ending the fast by eating these tasty and healthy adais. You don’t have to fast or pray, but these adais are mighty good for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

There are two versions, the sweet one, made with rice flour, jaggery, black-eyed pea (dry beans, has nothing to do with the hip-hop band), and coconut. The savory one, ginger & green chilis replace jaggery. Usually they are served with fresh, unsalted butter.

Coconut and black-eyed peas
Sweet Adai

Ingredients:

Rice flour – 1 cup
Jaggery – 1 cup (or 3/4 cup if you don’t like it very sweet)
Water 1 1/4 cup
Cardamom (powdered) – one pinch
Fresh grated coconut – 3 tablespoons
Black eyed peas – 1/4 cup
Roasted cashew nuts – 5 – 6 (optional)
Ghee to grease the pans (or butter)

Method:

1. Dry roast the rice flour for a few minutes. Don’t let it change color, this is just to remove moisture if any.

2. Dry roast the black eyed peas, and pressure cook (or boil in water) for about 10 minutes, till cooked but not mushy.

3. Dissolve jaggery in water, and filter it twice (sometimes jaggery may have impurities)

4. Bring the jaggery water to a boil, add cardamom, and then the rice flour and stir without lumps.

5. Mix in peas, coconut and cashews (if using).

6. Once the mixture has cooled a bit, flatten it into patties. (this dough makes about 12 – 15 adais)

7. Steam the adais in a idli cooker or a bamboo steamer (or your favorite steaming method).

8. Serve it hot with butter.
Savory rice and black-eyed peas cake - ready to be steamed

Savory Adais

Ingredients:

Rice flour – 1 cup
Water 1 1/4 cup
Fresh grated coconut – 3 tablespoons
Black-eyed peas – 1/4 cup
Green chili – 1 (chopped finely)
Ginger (chopped fine) – 1 teaspoon
Salt – to taste
For tempering – oil (1 tsp), mustard seeds (1/2 teaspoon) and curry leaves (a few)

Method:

1. Dry roast the rice flour for a few minutes. Don’t let it change color, this is just to remove moisture if any.

2. Dry roast the black eyed peas, and pressure cook (or boil in water) for about 10 minutes, till cooked but not mushy.

3. Heat oil in a pan, and temper the mustard seeds, and curry leaves. Add the ginger and chili and fry for a minute.

4. Add water and bring it to a boil, then the rice flour and stir without lumps.

5. Mix in peas, and coconut and salt to taste.

6. Once the mixture has cooled a bit, flatten it into patties. (this dough makes about 12 – 15 adais)

7. Steam the adais as before.

8. Serve it hot with butter.

Tips:

1. Prep the rice flour and black eyed peas for both the recipes at one go. It’s much easier that way.

2. Try serving the savory adais as an appetizer with mint chutney!

3. Jaggery is usually available in Indian stores, but if you don’t find it, use dark brown sugar. It won’t taste the same, but it will definitely taste good.

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