Recipe for Diwali Okkarai

Recipe for Okkarai

This is a jaggery-based, low-fat sweet made from chana dal / kadalai paruppu, does not require much ghee - perfect for health conscious folks.

1 cup chana dal
1 cup jaggery

5-6 cardamoms
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
2 tbsp gingelly oil / you can use ghee if you dont have this oil
1-2 tbsp ghee for frying cashews
10-12 cashews, halved
2-3 tbsp of raisins

Chana Dal
Dry roast the chana dal till golden brown and aromatic. This will take 7-8 minutes on medium heat. Soak this roasted dal in lots of water for 3 hours or so.
Dry roast the coconut flakes till golden and aromatic. This will take around 5 minutes on low flame. Keep aside.
Remove the skin, grind the seeds along with a tsp of coarsely granulated sugar in mortar-pestle till you get a fairly fine powder. Keep aside.
Cashews and raisins
Heat 1-2 tbsp ghee and fry them till cashews are golden. Keep aside.

  1. Grind the soaked chana dal to a fine paste, adding as little water as possible, to get a fairly thick doughy paste.
  2. Place 3 cups of water in a big pressure cooker (5L+) / steamer. Make loose dumplings of the ground dal and place in a deep, big vessel that fits in the cooker.
  3. Close the lid of the cooker MINUS the weight- so you use it as a steamer.
  4. Steam the ground dal for 20-25 minutes on medium flame. Open the cooker after a few minutes and let these steamed dumplings cool.
  5. Now, you can either grate these cooled dumplings or crumble them with your fingers. The former gives a more uniform look to the sweet.
  6. In a large wok, hear 2-3 tbsp of gingelly oil (Nalla yennai) and fry the crumbled / grated dal mix on a low flame for 5-7 minutes. Keep aside.
  7. Instructions for the Vella-paagu (Jaggery-pak)
Place 1/2 cup water in a heavy bottom pan.
Add 1 cup of crushed jaggery to this and let it melt on a high flame, with constant stirring.
Once the jaggery has melted thoroughly, lower flame and keep stirring.
In 7-8 minutes the mixture will get a deep colour and start thickening.
Keep a small plate handy, and pour a drop or so of this onto it, every 2-3 minutes.
Try rolling this drop between your thumb and index finger. If it turns into a ball and makes a sound when you drop it on the plate, your jaggery-pak (vella-paagu) is ready for the okkarai.
  1. As soon as your paagu reaches this stage, turn off the flame. Remove the wok from the stove and start adding the ready dal crumble in batches, giving it a good mix to coat evenly. Once the crumble is all evenly mixed with the jaggery paagu - it will be soft, sweet and not sticky, but like perfectly cooked basmati rice - fluffy, dry and separate.
  2. To this, add the roasted coconut, cardamom powder and fried cashews and raisins and mix gently.

Your Okkarai is ready for Diwali. If you like a richer taste, you can use more ghee to fry the cashews, but 1 tbsp is more than enough.

It is a labourious recipe, but with just two main ingredients - to get such a flavoursome and healthy festival sweet, it is totally worth it.

The recipe has been given to me by my maternal grandmother, who has been making this for every Diwali as far as I can remember.
I am so glad I made it this year and it is going to part of my Diwali cooking every year, now on. 

Hope you find this recipe useful to recreate your family tradition :)


Blogeswari said...

Yumm!! Happy Deepavali!

Anushruti said...

Sounds wonderful and so traditional. How I love our traditions!

Srimathi said...

Happy Deepavali to you. I just made okkarai too.

Sanjeeta kk said...

Perfect sweet for a healthy Diwali!
Festive greetings to you and your family.

Priya Sreeram said...


sending sparkling diwali wishes to u n family!

Madhu said...

Happy Diwali ... a very nice and traditional recipe. I like it because doesnt need white sugar and uses very little ghee. I will surely try it out.

Apu said...

Looks really yummy!! Diwali wishes to you and your family!!

Priya said...

Wishing u a happy and prosperous diwali. Delicious ukkarai.

Soma said...

Happy Diwali to you and your near ones Nandita.

best wishes.

Akila said...

looks superb...

wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous Deepawali

evolvingtastes said...

I have never had this sweet, but it sounds delicious. Wish you a very Happy Diwali!


What a coicidence! My mother has posted a recipe of okkarai on her blog post for Diwali. Want to check it out?

Divya Shankar said...

Thanks for providing this recipe. This one is my mom-in-laws' favorite and a tradition in their house to make it for Diwali. May be I can surprise her with this the next time. Million thanks to you :)

Rani acharyulu said...

It looks very tasty and yummy. I will try definetly,thank you. Happy deepavali.

Divya Vikram said...

Pretty looking dish. Those cashews look pretty on them.

Miri said...

I have never had this dish before...looks like it would taste a lot like the kada parshad the Punjabis make - understated and elegant

Sandhya Hariharan said...

A very Happy Diwali.. though quite belated :)

A very new dish to me.. Love the pot in which u have served it !!!

First time sneeking in.. Do peep at my space when time permits.

Sandhya#s Kitchen


Sayantani said...

Hi Nanditha, thats a delectable dessert you prepared for Diwali. hope you had a great time.
just thought of informing you that we have again started the Arusuvai Friendship chain. you were a part of this last time if you are still interested in taking part please see this

Divya Shankar said...

I am back to your blogpost after making Okkarai :) Thanks for the recipe :) Have made a mention of your post on my blog as well - please feel free to access -

Hope you had a great and joyous Diwali :)

laavanya said...

I tried and loved this recipe! Thanks for the detailed instructions.

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