Pala Munjalu ~ Traditional Indian sweets for Diwali
It’s Diwali and time for indulgence, festive food and fun. Don’t we all have a special place in our hearts for all the tradtional dishes that our grandmothers lovingly made for us? It was fascinating to watch my ammamma (maternal grandmother) cook Andhra vantalu (cooking) with effortless ease especially those recipes that required expertise and I relished Boorelu prepared by her. I have a soft spot for Boorelu (also called as Poornalu), a culinary gem from Andhra. A close cousin to this classic sweet dumpling is Pala Munjalu. Similar in looks to Boorelu, it differs in terms of flavor and texture of the outer covering.
Pala Munjalu is a deep fried sweet which has the same poornam (filling) that goes into Boorelu, a sweetened bengal gram mixture that is flavored with cardamom powder. Instead of coating the poornam in a batter made with black gram dal and rice for Boorelu, we enclose it in a rice flour dough that has been cooked in milk. An absolutely soft and melt in the mouth sweet recipe that you can serve your family as part of your Diwali festival food spread.
Pala Munjalu Recipe
- Rice flour - 2 cups (if store bought)
- Milk - 1 cup
- Sugar - 1 1/2 tbsps
- Salt - 1/4 tsp
- Ghee - for greasing while preparing the balls
- Oil for deep frying
- For filling:
- Chana dal - 1 cup
- Sugar - 1 cup OR Jaggery - 1 cup, grated
- Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
- Salt - pinch
- Boil the milk. Add salt and sugar and allow the sugar to dissolve. Now slowly add the rice flour and keep mixing till it forms a lump. Mix thoroughly and turn off flame. Place and lid and keep aside.
- Pressure bengal gram with a cup of water upto 3 whistles. Once the pressure eases, remove the dal, strain any left over water and transfer the chana dal to a heavy bottomed vessel.
- Heat the vessel which has the cooked chana dal, add sugar or jaggery and mix. The sugar will dissolve, keep mixing till the liquid evaporates and it appears like a thick paste. Use a masher to mash the mixture. Keep mixing continuously as the dal tends to stick to the vessel. Add cardamom powder and salt and mix well. Turn off flame and allow to cool.
- Shape the sweetened dal mixture into small bite sized balls like shown in the picture above.
- Pinch off lemon sized balls off the rice flour dough. Grease your palm with ghee and flatten the dough. Place the dal filling/poornalu in the middle fo the flattened rice flour dough and enclose on all sides and shape into a round ball. Prepare balls with rest of the dough and dal filling.
- Heat enough oil in a wide heavy bottomed vessel for deep frying the balls. Once hot, reduce flame to medium and gently place 4 to 5 balls in the oil and deep fry till golden brown and crunchy. You can deep fry a batch of four to five balls depending on the size of the vessel.
- They taste best while still warm. Once cool, store in an air tight container as they last for two to three days.
- Jaggery can also be used in place of sugar.
- Semolina or Upma sooji can be used in place of rice flour. If using 1 cup semolina, use 2 cups milk. Boil milk, simmer and slowly add the semolina and keep mixing till it forms a thick lump. Mix well and turn off flame. Cool and proceed with rest of the procedure.
- If using home made rice flour powder (which is recommended), the proportions are 1 cup rice flour and 1 cup milk.
- How to prepare rice flour at thome - Soak 2 cups raw rice overnight. Drain the water and keep aside for 30-60 minutes. (spread it on a cloth or newspaper to dry). Grind this rice to a fine powder. Sieve the ground rice flour and use the sieved soft rice flour. Grind the left over coarse rice flour again to make a smooth powder.
Traditional Indian sweets like Pala Munjalu recipe that are easy to make & tasty are apt to be part of the Diwali Andhra vantalu sweets and snacks specials.