Porulvalanga Urundai - What is in this?

One two three - roll!

What did the title tell you?

This isn't about a treasure hunt! It is a rather ancient - my mom said, "yenga pati kaalat lendu irukku" (Its been around since my Grandmum's time) - sweet preparation from the Southern part of India, rather Tamilnadu.

[I had earlier given a wrong interpretation of the name. The same has been now rectified as per the correct etymology given by my mother. I apologize for the inconvenience caused - Sunshinemom]

What's with the name?(Updated) - 'Porul' - Ingredients, 'Valanga' - that which cannot be seen. This is a laddoo or ball made with a lot of ingredients, and from the outside, one cannot guess what is within. It is said that health is wealth, and the 'porulvalanga urundai' personifies this. It is a nutritious and healthy blend of roasted whole grains (wheat and parboiled rice), and legumes (Bengal gram dal and dehusked mung beans) bound by a thick syrup of jaggery. This does not require any fats in the form of ghee or butter, nor does it contain refined sugar! Ah!! Caught your attention, didn't it?:).

Origin - In the olden days when mechanical transport such as trains, buses and flights were not available, distances stretched far. Pilgrims from far off places too, traveled on foot to Varanasi, Gaya and Rishikesh etc. in large groups and abstained from food cooked by others. It was considered that during pilgrimage, meals had to be cooked in a simple manner without addition of oil, ghee and other rich ingredients. You might have experienced it at your native place too! Elders would not accept food before a bath and prayer. On certain days, food had to be cooked without onions or garlic, and served only by the lady of the house. Porulvalanga urundai is probably the result of such restrictions which led the more imaginative cooks to come up with the best possible alternative..... and, what a fantastic alternative it was!! These tasty rocks would not only provide instant energy but remain fresh under any climate for long periods.

Beware though - you have to have healthy teeth to bite into these laddoos! They are rock hard as they were made to last! If you have a decay or two, I would advice you to break the laddoos with a pestle before you sink your teeth. You can't sink them, of course, all you can do is bang your enamel:). Just take a small piece and savor it as it slowly melts down in your mouth and bite of little bits as it softens. Believe me, you are missing something delish if you do not want this one!! When we were kids it was our regular way to show off our strong white teeth by biting into one urundai and act as though it was a child's play - when it really wasn't!

This laddoo happens to be my favourite and my Mother always makes a generous batch when I visit her. The last month was a very happy one for me as I rested at my maternal home, and enjoyed all the delicacies my Mom prepared! The kids happened to have vacations, so it was a good break at Bangalore for them too. I read a lot of books, lazed whole day long, saw movies and took photographs of some of Mum's dishes. It is the first time that Mother has seen her blogger daughter in action, and she was so proud - she is learning to surf the internet and checks my blog too. Like all mums (I know quite a few of her contemporaries) she put on first an air of disinterest, and then she stayed around as I showed her the blog, and then.....started the criticism - "Do you only think about food and eating all the time?" she asked. I thought the note was negative - until she donned her apron and set out to show me in detail "the making of a porulvilangai urundai", and set up the ingredients so I could get some great snaps:). That's how she is - not the kind to make an explicit show of her love, nor will she hug and tell, in fact - a little reserved - but the kind who would be around when you need her most!! There was a time when I was the 'unruly' kid amongst my sisters who would always argue with Mum and hope I wouldn't become like her, and now when people tell me I am turning out a lot like her [Oh! they don't forget to mention how my 'unruly' corners seem to have knocked down - hehe, they think they know it all;)] - it just puts me on top of the world! It makes me feel proud to turn into my Mom! I realised too that this is nature's way of humbling the 'temple of youth'.


Dry Ginger Powder (Sonth or chukku), Cardamom powder (Elaichi or yelakkai). I haven't put in the ratio as it up to you to increase or decrease the quantity of spices. You may also add Cashew chopped into little bits or chopped coconuts like my Mom.

The ingredients

Chana Dal, Moong Dal and whole wheat grains - 1 cup each
Boiled rice - 1 cup (a variety of thick rice shown below)
Bhuja hua chana or pottukadalai - a fistful (Optional)

Image Courtesy - http://shril.net/products/allprods.php

Roast the grains separately to brown as shown in the image above and set aside a day before to cool completely. Roast separately as the time taken for each ingredient to brown is not the same. Also roast in reduced fire as the browning should be uniform. Mix the roasted and cooled grains together along with the spices and pound it to a fine powder at home or a mill. This is the basic powder. When you are free you may proceed with the syrup.

Note: If you do not want to make the laddoos you could use the powder by itself as 'Sattumaavu podi'. Dissolve a tsp. of the powder in a glass of milk and cook a thin porridge, adding a little sugar or jaggery to taste. The porridge is excellent for recuperating patients, old people and for growing children.

Jaggery - 3 cups (You may add half a cup more if you like it really sweet but this is perfect)
Water - About a cup

Method to make the syrup:
Heat water and add the powdered jaggery. Let it melt completely and strain to get rid of impurities. Boil again till it passes the soft ball consistency test.

Soft ball consistency - Take a little tap water in a bowl. Add a drop of the jaggery syrup and shake the bowl slightly. If the jaggery disintegrates into strands, you need to boil it further. If it comes together and settles the syrup is ready to use. If the settled jaggery is hard that indicates an overcooked syrup. Add a tbsp. of water and loosen the syrup in that case. Please see below:

The syrup

Method to form the balls or laddoos:

In a large bowl take about 2 cups of ground powder. Add a ladle of syrup and mix with a ladle quickly to just bring them loosely together. While it is still warm form the balls and set aside. It is best to do in small batches as the syrup tends to get hard with time. If you wait for the syrup to cool you will not be able to form the laddoos.

My mother makes the syrup for the about 40 laddoos, and turns off the stove. Then she forms 10 or 12 laddoos with a ladle of syrup. If the remaining syrup gets hard add a tbsp. of water and heat again till just soft (do not boil) and proceed as before.

Preparing the laddoos


My teeth are strong!!! Yay!! I made a crater of a dent - did I not?

A bite or a crater?

He he - that would have loosened my cap - I just broke it with a pestle like I told you guys to do it:)

Another favourite laddoo of mine is the 'Vella Cheedai'. Do try this - it is just so yummmm! If you like my Mum, check up this one - my failed macaroons and a lesson in love:). I said Motherhood is a cycle - check this if you have read the failed macroon post! Goes to show that it is love that makes the world go around!!

Just recalled Susan's brainchild - My Legume Love Affair! The guest host for November is Simona of Briciole!

This also gives me the oppurtunity to tell you all about the quaint cooking accessory I received as random winner of the third helping hosted by Lucy of 'Nourish Me' for my 'Puzhukku'. The book contains all kinds of trivia about cooking and eating - the historic facts associated with certain foods, and my son especially enjoyed it a lot:). Thanks, Susan! She was so thoughtful that she actually sent a book bound in imitation leather in keeping with my sensitivities - isn't that just great? BTW - I am the host for July 2009 of MLLA!!

Suganya, the wonderful cook and photographer of Tasty Palettes is hosting the second edition of vegan ventures - Vegan Ventures, Round 2 as November is the National Vegan Month! Sending the porulvalanga urundais to her too:)

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