This is the first Krishna Jayanthi that I am spending with my daughter, son in law and granddaughter whom I am visiting in the USA. I am not good at making sweets, let me confess. Perhaps because I haven’t tried them out much. In India, it is easy to get well made delicious sweets and savouries from the mithai shops or from stores like Shri Krishna Sweets or The Grand Sweets or my new favourite online store, Sweet Karam Coffee and anyway my mother used to send me the sweets for this festival, for may years, so there was no incentive to try making a reputedly difficult item. My daughter L has been painstakingly making all the appropriate sweets for each festival ever since she came here, but this time I wanted to be the one to make the uppu seedai and vella seedai, the traditional Tamilian Gokulashtami naivedyam delicacies. When I started checking out recipes, I found that almost all of them required the rice (and urad dhal) to be soaked and then ground/powdered into flour, which I didn’t want to do as I didn’t think the food processor would give me the consistency of flour required and it would anyway have taken up more time than I could afford today. I took L’s advice and made the uppu seedai from store bought flour, both for the rice flour and urad flour.
I am glad to say that the vella seedai and the uppu seedai from store bought flour have turned out really well! I am feeling very proud of myself, especially because though I referred a number of recipes starting with the one in the Samaythipar or Cook and See book as well as some popular blogs which I rely on, I finally set them all aside and planned ingredients in proportions that seemed workable. And of course, I used ready made packaged flour rather than home made.
One reason many of us (including me) are hesitant to try making uppu seedai is because of its unsavoury reputation of bursting when the dough balls are put into the hot oil. In this recipe I will tell you the steps I took to prevent them from bursting like little dough explosives!
Tips to keep Uppu Seedai from bursting:
- You have the advantage when you make uppu seedai from store bought flour, as the flour is usually finely powdered. The flour should be really fine. Coarse flour can cause the uppu seedai to burst.
- The ingredients need to be smoothly mixed into the dough and once this is done (with no dry flour showing through) stop mixing or moulding it.
- Once the dough has been mixed into a soft pliable lump, let it sit for 10 -15 minutes on a kitchen towel/ kitchen tissue to dry. Wet dough is more likely to explode during frying, than dry dough.
- When making dough balls, don’t make them smooth or spend too much time rolling them. Just pat them between the palms of your hands into rough little balls. They do not have to be perfectly round. In fact, the seedai is likely to explode when it doesn’t find cracks for the hot air to escape during frying.
- Roast the coconut before adding to the dough, to reduce moisture content.
Other kitchen hints to make uppu cheedai or uppu seedai from store bought flour:
- Dry roast the flours before using (i.e. roast in a pan without oil) without letting the flour brown or darken.
- Use only as much water as is needed for a pliable dough that is not sticky, from which you can easily roll the dough balls.
- Mix the sesame seeds nicely into the dough, otherwise they will separate from the dough and float into the oil while frying.
- When adding salt to the dough, add less than the volume in the recipe, then taste and add more if required. I found ½ tablespoon perfect for the volume of flour, but this would depend on the brand you are using. I did face a problem as I do not taste the ingredients or the final product when making anything for naivedyam, till it is offered to the Gods during pooja. But my daughter did the tasting and approved the salt quantity. Next year i won’t have to worry as I know exactly how much salt is required!
- Soak the asafoetida in water as in the instructions below, so that it spreads uniformly in the dough.