Nag panchami is a festival observed by Hindus all over India and in Nepal. There are many legends revolving around the origins of this festival as per Hindu mythology. The basic is that it is a traditional worship of snakes (naga/ cobra) on the fifth day of Lunar month of Shravana according to the Hindu calendar. On the day of this festival, idols of nagas are worshipped with milk, sweets, flowers. The deities of nagas are first bathed with milk and water and then worshipped by reciting mantras.
What is traditionally made in most homes in South Kanara (Karnataka) on Nag panchami are sweet dishes like halbai, pal payasam, poha payasam, irraddya (rice batter filled with sweetened coconut filling, wrapped in turmeric leaf and steamed), panchkajjaya and savoury items such as moode, kadubu.
Halbai is either made from rice or rava (semolina). The common ingredients would be coconut and then jaggery to sweeten.
- 1 pav rice (approx 1.5 cups)
- 1/2 coconut
- 1/2 pav jaggery or to taste (approx 3/4 cup)
- 1/2 cup ghee+for greasing plate
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 cups hot water (approx)
- 1/4 tsp cardamom powder (optional)
- few raisins (optional)
- Grate coconut.
- Soak rice for 30 to 45 mins. Drain.
- Grind soaked rice with coconut with water as needed. When the mixture starts to turn fine add the jaggery, salt. Grind to mix well and is smooth.
- Transfer mixture to thick bottom pan. Add cardamom powder and raisins if adding. Add the hot water and ghee bit by bit and stir constantly till done. The dish is done when the mixture starts leaving sides, looks shiny and does not stick to the spatula. This takes about 30 to 45 mins.
- Transfer to greased plate. Let cool. Then cut into squares and serve.
Quantity of jaggery can be varied as per sweetness desired. Taste the batter and add more if necessary.
Hot water is added for ease of mixing. You can reduce the quantity too if you feel you dont need up to 2 cups.
Both ghee and hot water is added bit by bit (in stages) and not all at once. Keep stirring and then add in between at regular intervals when the mixture starts turning dry and is difficult to mix.
You may decorate with cashew halves before cutting into squares.
Traditionally the mixture once cooked is transferred onto greased plantain leaf or a plate lined with the leaf.