andi unda (roasted cashew and rice sweet balls)

Today tea time seems to be either a long forgotten luxury or a quick sip of something scalding to get you going through the rest of the day.
In my grandmother's home in Kerala, however, tea time is a languid, happy part of every day. It is when the men folk are back from town, the women including my mom and aunts are done with most of the day's chores  and us city kids home for the summer holidays, were tired out after a day spent running loose.

We would arrive panting, an internal alarm having magically alerted us while climbing trees,  splashing in the river, feeding and petting my grandmother's collection of critters including a flock of white geese that followed her around everywhere, and three cows, or while simply flopping down with our books, reading away the summer holidays.

Everyone would gather at the kitchen table, including very often neighbours and aunts who lived closeby, always unannounced, walking in through the kitchen door that was always open, sometimes with a freshly baked pound cake or some other palaharam (Malayalam for sweet snacks) to share. How I miss those cozy, informal tea times in today's hurried days!

There would be boxes of laddoos or jaelabis that the uncles brought home from town, cookies or tea cakes or warm pazham pori (banana fritters).
We kids were allowed into the dark store-moori ( room) to choose among the treasures within and bring out tins of typicak Kerala snacks like banana chips, sharkaravartty ( jaggery coated crunchy fried bananas), crisp kozhalappams, achappapams ( made with rosette moulds) , uniappam and other goodies that my grandmother, mom, aunts and the cheduthi's painstakingly made together sharing stories,  along with the various tasks involved with the cooking.

My eyes would light up when I spotted the glass jar containing these smooth brown rounds.
But there was a catch. They could either be the dreaded avalose undas ( which I hated as a child) or these cashew andi undas which I loved. They both looked quite similar to me so every time I picked one up I would wiiisssshhh so hard before taking a bite, that it was an andi unda and not avalose unda! Of course today now that  they are both much harder to come by, I would happily eat either!

The flavour of andi unda of roasted cashews, jaggery and roasted rice is truly wonderful. It is a simple snack involving only 4 ingredients. Some people add spices like cardamom and cumin, however my Amma doesn't since she feels that they may take away from the wonderful flavor of the roasted rice and cashews. Here is her recipe, more of a rough guide since she doesn't measure anything mostly going on colour, smell and taste as do all grandmothers in India! So if it doesn't taste sweet enough for you, simply add more powdered jaggery, if its too dry, add more coconut. Taste away and adjust as necessary.
In the old days the rice was roasted and then pound into a fine powder on a giant sized version of the counter top mortar and pestle called Urall um Olakka, a heavy stick that was pounded into the hollow in the stone urall to grind rice and other grains Usually this hard work was shared between two women and they would sing songs, passing the stick between each other in a fluid dance like motion as they pounded small amounts of rice at a time.

Nowadays most people including my Ammama use their mixies, grinders or grain mills. Apparently people are also using coffee grinders after checking the rice for any possible stones that may break your grinder. Here is a recipe I found using store bought rice flour. I have not tried it but plan to soon, from Kitchen Corner

Andi unda ( Roasted Rice and Cashew Sweet)

Recipe Source: My darling Ammama

Prep time: 30 min Cook time: 1 hour Total time: 1 hour 30 min  


  • Raw unsalted cashews: 1 cup  ( Traditionally cashews are used, but I plan on trying peanuts and almonds and other nuts soon!) 
  • Kerala red or rosematta rice: 1/2 cup ( you can find this in most Indian grocery stores, if not other varieties may be substituted)
  • Jaggery cut into small chunks: 1 cup  ( Brown sugar might be a substitute, but you may have to use less) 
  • Coconut shredded :1 cup ( fresh is best, if using frozen make sure it is well thawed to room temperature, you may also have to wring it gently in a paper towel to take away excess moisture.)

  • The first step is to roast the rice. 
  • An Indian style kadai (a bowl shaped metal dish) In Malayalam such a dish is called Cheena-chatti meaning Chinese pot, indicating it might have been inspired by the Chinese style woks and indeed you could use one or any other metal pan if you don't have one. 
  •  Do not use any non-stick cookware as the grains could scratch and ruin the coating.
  •  Heat it on medium low, add the rice and stir often until it turns very slightly reddish or a tinge darker. Don't wait for it to turn brown! You can stop when you start to hear a splitting sound. Keep stirring so that all the rice gets uniformly roasted. 
  • The rice will shrink a little as it is roasted. Pour out the rice into another dish to cool
  • In the Kadai, roast the cashews on medium-low heat stirring often until golden brown.
  • Grind the rice in your mixee or grinder until fine and powdery and put it back in the dish
  • Now grind the chunks of jaggery until powdery
  • Add the coconut and cashews and pulse a few times until the nuts are coarse, a texture between chopped and not quite powdery. Do not grind too much, you do not want a fine cashew powder or worse, cashew butter. No, not this time!
  • Add the rice powder and pulse a few times just to combine everything.
  • Now tip out the mixture and shape into balls in you  palm.
  • If you find the mix too hard and crumbly to form balls, you can add more powdered coconut or a little ghee to help bind. 
  • You could also serve the delicious powder as is, you'll get no complaints from me :) Tho your Ammama may disapprove! 
Storing: Unlike the avalose unda which lasts practically for ever, the andi unda tastes best within the first 2-3 days. Store it in the fridge for a few more days, but try and finish them soon or they will go rancid from all that coconut. I tried hiding away a few to photograph and eat secretly later, and they had already started turning dry :( Learn from my mistakes and enjoy them fresh!

This is going to my Sugar High Friday round up coming soon! We have some delicious rice sweets as part of this months theme of Rice that I chose as host. The event was created by Jennifer and is a monthly sweet extravaganza! 

tag dessert, snack, kerala, sweet, rice, coconut, jaggery, indian sweet, syrian christian, malayali, cashew, nuts, south indian, no bake


  1. Lovely post Rose:-) njoyed reading it!! Took me back to my grandmothers home where we all cousings gather during the summer vacations:-)
    Ariyunda was my ammummas master recipe as well!!

  2. Hi Rose, like your photos..they look stunning! How do you do the complete black background? would love to learn from you if you don't mind sharing the tips!

  3. Thanks so much! Glad you enjoyed them virtually Ramya! Now go make them and lets compare your ammummas and my ammama's recipes :)

    Jehanne, I cannot believe anyone is asking me for photo advice! I am quite proud of this pic tho :) The undas are on my dark wood table and I took the picture on a very low exposure. I furthur heightened the contrast and shadows on the free photo editing tool Picasa. Currently loving shooting on low exposure and dark bgs. I didn't use a tripod though :( which is why the pic is not as sharp.

  4. thank you rose for the tip! I've always been trying on white background, but now after seeing your pics i'm kinda hooked on the rustic dark stunning..u do have a talent, really.

  5. Wonderful roundup! andi unda is a favourite in our house. The last time I had it was when my cousin Sneha's mom brought some for us. though ive never ever tried to make them on my own... the pics look lovely... and so tempting!

  6. Wedding Photographers in Kerala | Wedding Photographers in Trivandrum

    I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I'll bookmark your blog and test again here frequently. I'm rather certain I'll learn plenty of new stuff proper right here! Best of luck for the next!


Your comments make me smile and encourage me to keep blogging! Thanks for visiting and taking time to leave me a message :)