Monday, October 19, 2009

Adhirasam - Traditional and totally yumm!!

Adhirasam is a deep fried traditional south Indian sweet made from rice flour. It is a must at our home for Diwali and I've always loved it. I grew up seeing my mom and grandma working together to get the jaggery syrup to the right consistency and then, mixing in the rice flour using a long special ore shaped spoon ('Thuduppu' in Tamil), every year before Diwali day. On Diwali day, grandma would make the dough balls and flatten it over a banana leaf, mom would deep fry it and I would squeeze the oil out using a special wooden press. After all this hard work, we will have to wait until the pooja is done to get the first bite!!!

I made adhirasam by myself, for the first time, this Diwali. I was a little scared (as it is one of the difficult and tedious sweets), but it turned out great.

: (makes about 30 adhirasams)

Uncooked raw rice - 3 cups (about 1/2 kg)
Jaggery broken into small pieces- about 1 1/4 cups (200 gms)
Sugar - 1/3 cup
My mom uses just Jaggery or just sugar, and never mixes both. By combining both, I could get the taste from jaggery and the crispiness from sugar. If you would like to use only jaggery, use about 400 - 500 gms depending on your sweet tooth.
Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
Dry ginger (sukku) powder - 1/4 tsp
Oil for deep frying

My mom always prepares adhirasam from home-prepared rice flour and she says it does not come out good with store-bought flour. So I went ahead and prepared it at home.

To prepare rice flour, wash and soak uncooked raw rice for about 2-3 hours in water. Drain all the water and spread rice over a clean towel and let it dry. When rice is about 3/4th dried, powder it very fine. In India, we would take it to a mill for powdering. But, here in the US, I just used my dry grind attachment in my blender. Cool and then sieve the flour through a fine sieve. It can be stored in an airtight container for about a week. This preparation is common for all the traditional deep fried sweets and snacks that use rice flour.

The next crucial step is to get the syrup to the right consistency. In a heavy bottomed pan, combine 50 ml (1 2/3 oz) of water, jaggery pieces and sugar. When the jaggery dissolves, strain to remove any dirt. Wash the pan and transfer the syrup back into it and bring to boil on low heat and keep stirring. When you put a drop of the syrup into a small bowl of water and gather using your fingers, it should make a soft ball and should not dissolve. This is the right consistency of syrup. Now remove the syrup from heat, add cardamom powder, dry ginger powder and add the prepared rice flour little by little and mix well without lumps. The resulting dough should be in the consistency of chappati dough. flatten the top of the dough in the pan using the spoon and smear some oil on top (to prevent drying) and leave covered at room temperature overnight (about 6-8 hours). The dough can be frozen up to 3 months.

The sugar syrup consistency is the actual make or break of this dish. If it is not boiled long enough to get to the soft ball consistency, the adhirasam will break when dropped into oil. If boiled too much, the adhirasam will be too hard.

Heat oil for deep frying in a pan. Oil your palm and a plastic bag (like ziplock). In India we use banana leaf. Make a lime-size dough ball and flatten (to about 1/4 inch thick) over the plastic bag. If the dough is too hard, mix few drops of milk or soy milk. Start with just a few drops. You need a lot less than you think you do. Flip flattened dough into your palm and drop into the oil. Fry both sides until it becomes dark brown. Remove using a slotted spoon and squeeze the oil out after about 10 seconds. At home, we have a special wooden press to squeeze out oil from adhirasam. Since I did not have it here in US, I made my own make-shift press. I placed a large plate at the bottom. On top, I placed a smaller inverted plate. I placed the hot adhirasam on top of the smaller plate. I placed another small plate on top of the adhirasam and pressed using potato masher (as shown in the figure). Cool and store in a air tight container lined with paper towel.

This time too, I had to wait until we finished pooja on Diwali day to taste my adhirasam. When I took the first bite, a little smile embraced my lips and I felt a wonderful sense of satisfaction :)

This is my entry for 'A Sweet Celebration' hosted by 'Fun & Food Cafe'.


  1. So nice , you tried your tradional recipe, and it came out perfect. :) And you narrated the recipe also so well, very well presented...
    Happy diwali..

  2. Thanks Neha. Happy Diwali to you too!