Chef SpecialCity Sunday

Varamahalakshmi festival yummies!

Varamahalakshmi or Varalakshmi festival is a much-awaited festival after the month of Aashaada or Adimasam in South India. Most of the South Indian households celebrate the first big festival of Shraavana by performing Pooja to the idol made with husked or dehusked coconut, or with precious metals like silver and gold. Varamahalakshmi festival symbolizes worship for wealth, similar to Diwali in North India.

The day of Varamahalakshmi starts with Pooja preparation and cooking rush before the rising sun and the lasts beyond sunset. With a little preparation ahead of time, one can celebrate the festival more peacefully and joyfully.

Here are a few recipes from the choicest of the South Indian Recipes that make a complete meal this Varamahalakshmi festival. Plan in advance, be it cleaning and decorating house or the veggies and the required pre-preparation for various recipes to be cooked, and you are all set to perfectly balance worship, celebration and cooking!

Thengai Poli (Tengina Kaai Obattu)



  • 3 cup wheat flour
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsps ghee
  • Water, as needed, for kneading

Coconut filling

  • 250 grams grated coconut
  • 160 grams powdered palm jaggery
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp ghee


  1. To begin making the Thengai Poli Recipe first sieve the wheat flour and salt together. Transfer the flour to a mixing bowl and adding a little water at a time, knead it to a very soft dough. Adding enough water is critical, so the dough is soft and pliable. Add ghee and knead again. Knead the dough into a smooth ball, cover the bowl and keep aside for 2 hours.
  2. In the meanwhile, prepare the sweet coconut filling. To do this, first heat a pan and add 1 tsp ghee. Next add the grated coconut, cardamom powder and palm jaggery to it.
  3. Stir well on a low flame for 5-8 mins till all the moisture is absorbed and the coconut mix comes together with the jaggery. Once the poli filling mixture has come together, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
  4. When it has cooled, divide it into equal sized portions and form balls the size of medium lemons.
  5. Now, take the dough that’s been resting and divide it into equal sized portions.
  6. Keeping a little flour for dusting handy on a plate; roll out the dough into 3 inch diameter circles. Place a portion of the filling (puran) mixture into the center of the circle. Bring edges of the circle towards the center and fold over to cover the entire filling; making sure the edges are all sealed well by pinching them together if there is any opening.
  7. Flatten the stuffed poli; dust the dough over a little flour and roll gently into a 5 to 6 inch diameter circle taking care not to put too much pressure as the filling can come out of the dough. The Thengai Poli should be thin and not thick. Once done, we will proceed to cook the poli.
  8. Preheat an iron skillet on medium high; place the rolled poli’s onto the skillet to cook until golden brown on both sides. You can cook the poli’s with ghee to give it a richer taste and flavor.
  9. Repeat the above process for all the remaining dough and puran portions and serve hot.
  10. You may store the Thengai Poli in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, once they have cooled. They will keep well for a week at least. However, if you are serving them on the same day, allow them to remain at room temperature.

Uddina Bele Southekayi Kosambari


  • 1 big cucumber
  • 1/4 cup urad dal
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh coconut, grated
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 pinch asafoetida
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • Curry leaves


  1. To begin with Uddina Bele Southekayi Kosambari, soak the dal for an hour and then drain the water.
  2. Finely chop the cucumber and add it to the dal in a mixing bowl.
  3. Add freshly grated coconut, coriander leaves, salt and lemon juice and mix it well.
  4. The next step is tempering. For tempering, heat the oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
  5. Once it crackles, add asafoetida and curry leaves and let it crisp up.
  6. Add it to the kosambari and mix everything properly and serve.

Nellikai Chitranna


  • 2 cups of cooked rice, grainy in texture
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil 
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp whole urad dal
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsps roasted peanuts
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp methi powder (roast the methi seeds and dry grind into powder)

Grind into a paste

  • 10 big Nellikai (Amla / Gooseberry)
  • 4 dry Red chillies 


  1. Wash the nellikai, dry them well with a towel. Cut into 2 inch pieces removing the seeds along the way.
  2. Note: Methi powder can be prepared by dry roasting 2 tbsps of methi seeds and then grinding it into a fine powder.  This powder can be stored in an airtight container for a few days.
  3. Blend the dry red chillies along with the chopped nellikai (gooseberries) until it forms a paste without adding any water.
  4. In a wide heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. After it crackles, add the urad dal and roast until light brown. Add in the curry leaves and the turmeric powder and saute for a few seconds. Then add the peanuts and roast them for a couple of minutes.
  5. Now, add the nellikai red chilli mixture. Stir to combined all the ingredients well. Turn the heat to low and stir well for another 10 minutes until the rawness from the nellikai goes away.
  6. Finally, add the roasted methi powder, rice, salt to taste and combine all the ingredients well. Cover the pan and simmer on low heat for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Optionally top it with a tbsp of sesame oil and serve.



  • 2 cups rice flour
  • 1/2 cup all purporse flour / maida
  • 1/2 cup roasted channa dal flour / pottu kadalai maavu
  • 3/4 cup dry desiccated coconut
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/4 cup butter or ghee
  • oil for deep frying


  1. To begin making the Kodubale, combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and knead to make a smooth firm dough. Add just a little water only if required to make the dough
  2. Divide and shape the dough into lemon size balls. Using the palm of your hands rub and roll to make a half inch thick and yet thin long roll. Cut the roll in 1.5 inch strips and join the ends to form a circle. Repeat the process for the rest of the dough.
  3. Prepare the oil for deep frying; drop the circles one by one slowly so that it does not break and deep fry on medium heat until it is browned and cooked. Keep the heat on low to medium to it get cooked from the inside as well. Drain from the oil and store in air tight containers after it is cooled.

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