Recipe of 'Thirumaalai Chamba' - a bhoga offering made with rice, tamarind, black pepper, vada and vegetables, every night before putting the deities to rest at the 'Thirukoshtiyur' Soumya Narayana temple.
A small note about the temple:
Thirukoshtiyur was the meeting place of Brahma, Siva and other devatas to discuss the atrocities of Hiranyaksha. They then approached Narayana and implored Him to take the form of Varaha and finish him. This temple is closely linked with the life of Sri Ramanuja who established the Visishtadvaida philosophy. Sitting in the third tier of the tower Sri Ramanuja preached the 8 lettered Om Namo Narayanaya Mantra to the common people. The temple is built in 3 levels. In the Ground floor as Krishna in dancing posture, in the next level He is in sayana thirukolam, a sleeping posture resting on Adisesha. At the top most level He is in standing posture as Sri Sowmya Narayana Perumal.
Dancing Krishna in the first level at the temple
Recipe of 'Thirumalai Chamba' (Vaguely translates to the sacred evening rice offering)- It is a kind of 'molagu kuzhambu saadam'(pepper flavored tamarind rice, but less spices)
1/2 cup raw rice
1 lemon sized ball of fresh tamarind
2-3 tbsp pepper (you can adjust depending on the spice level you can take)
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
2 tsp oil for cooking +1 tsp ghee
¼ tsp turmeric
4-5 dashes of hing
Salt to taste
1 small bitter gourd, thinly sliced
1 Raw banana-plantain, small
4 small Indian eggplants (brinjal)
4-5 little urad vadas
To make the urad vada:
Soak a handful of urad dal in water for about 3 hours. Grind it to a smooth batter. Add salt and then deep fry little balls of the batter in medium flame till golden brown. Generally no other spice or seasoning is added to it. You should be able to get about 4-5 vadas. Keep them aside.
To cook rice:
For ½ cup rice you can pressure cook it with 1 ¼ cups water (This is for small grain rice like Ponni, Sona Masoori etc). If using Basmati, cook the rice in a rice cooker. Very slightly mash it with a spoon. It should not be too mashed up however.
Slice the bitter gourd into thin slices and chop the eggplants and raw plantain into 1 inch chunks
Add oil and ghee in the pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves and wait for it to crackle.
Add the veggies and sauté them for a while till soft
Next extract the juice of the tamarind and add it to the pan. Let it boil well. At this stage you could add turmeric, hing and salt. Let it continue to boil and wait till the raw smell of tamarind fades off.
Add the fried vadas next.
Dry roast the black pepper in another pan for a few minutes and then grind it to a powder in a mixie/blender.
Add the fresh pepper powder to the mixture in the pan and allow it to blend well and boil for another minute. Do not let it over boil as the pepper could render a strong after taste if over-boiled with tamarind.
Add the cooked rice and mix well. You could add more salt if required.
Thirumalai Chamba is now ready to be offered :)
Recipe Courtesy: Smt. Bhumalaxmi
Thanks to my uncle Sriram and his parents Shantha, Chellu.
I got this recipe from a couple whose parents served the deities at the Thirukoshtiyur temple. I tried it today and it turned out great!