Sunday, October 12, 2008

Can someone from Kerala help me find the name of this snack?

A conversation between mother and her bloggie daughter….

Daughter: Mummyy….I was thinking of posting that kutti unda in coconut milk…you know, the one you used to make for our evening snack time…..

Mother: Which one……? I don’t remember…

Daughter: Mummyyy …the one I like a lot…that small rice flour balls…and you used to soak that in sweetened coconut milk….remember?

Mother: aah…. I remember now….yeah , that’s a good one can write about it…

Daughter: But I don’t know its name….is there any traditional name for it?

Mother: hmm….I am not aware……

Daughter: ….but how can I post it without a name….? It is somewhat similar to Kozhukkatta…I mean look-wise….so….. shall I say…… Kutti-kozhukkatta in thenga-paal or undayum paalum?

Mother: yeah….write something like that……we don’t have any specific name for it…..
Well, this has been a recurring situation in many of my casual conversations with my mother whenever I approach her for some recipe which is my childhood favorite and have no clue on the actual name of the dish. Sometimes my father comes up with the name he is familiar with but in this particular case, he couldn’t be of any help either. This is one of my favorite Palahaaram/snack which my mother always prepared for our after school snack and naturally, I wanted to record this recipe in my blog but I was in a dilemma as I did not want to do the blasphemy of baptizing a snack that has been around for almost a century…….!!!!

These tiny rounds made of softly cooked rice flour is steamed first and then immediately soaked in sweetened rice flour, is a classic example of harmony between coconut milk and rice flour. The subtle and delicate flavor of the sweetened coconut milk embraces the warm steamed dumplings which absorbs the liquid like a sponge, making it more soft and sweet. Here’s how we make this at home:

  • 1 cup rice flour,lightly roasted
  • Salt to taste
  • Around 1 cup hot boiling water or enough to make a smooth dough
  • 1 ½ cups freshly squeezed coconut milk
  • 6 tbsp sugar or to taste
  • Start with mixing rice flour and salt; to this add the boiling hot water, just enough to make a soft and smooth dough; use a spoon to blend everything well and when it is warm enough to touch, knead gently and make tiny balls. The balls should not be pressed too much to round them (Note: the dough should be looser than the chappathi/roti dough but as soft as the Idiyappam/string-hoppers dough)
  • Place these tiny rice flour balls, in a steamer or Idly –steamer or on a plate, in a pressure cooker without keeping the weight, filled with enough water, and steam for 12 minutes, or till it is fully cooked, in medium heat.
  • Sweeten the coconut milk with sugar; transfer the steamed dumplings and soak them in coconut milk when they are still warm/hot. Let the dumplings rest in the sweetened coconut milk for 10-15 minutes before serving.
I would really appreciate if someone from Kerala could help me find the household name or traditional name, if any, of this snack. Some of you might ask me, “what’s in a name as long as it is tasty?”. Well, it matters to me! :) This is one of those traditional snacks - the ‘prepared-at-homes-only’ category - which you cannot find in a small town tea shop or restaurant or bakery and if someone wants to recreate these dishes decades later, they should be able to locate and retrieve the recipe with a simple Google search and I believe, blogs have the reach as well as responsibility towards the same. We can preserve these recipes before it goes extinct and hence, finding out the actual name or the regional name or household name is very significant, atleast to me.

So, my regular readers, blogger friends, new visitors, subject experts and dear ghost readers….do you make this at home? What do you call it? Is there a regional name ? It means a lot to me if you can take a minute to drop a line and throw some light into identifying the name of this snack.

Am I asking too much? :)

Related Posts:
Kanji pidi Ela Ada Kozhukkatta

Updated on Oct 14, 2008:

Thank YOU all for responding to my request and helping me find an answer or atleast help me come close to an answer. Based on your comments and an email I got from my cousin as well as discussion with my parents, I have come to conclusion that this snack which I have featured here is the quick and easy version of Mani-puttu, Thengapaal Kozhukkatta and Allipidi. My conclusion was based on these articles and blogs given below:

Allipidi: Many of you had commented that it is allipidi and it was the first time I was hearing that name! Hence, when Swapna commented that she had read an article in a Kerala Magazine, Vanitha , I requested her to scan that article and share with me. Swapna went out of her way and photographed the entire article for me; here I am sharing those pictures with you all.

Based on that piece of article, I learnt that Allipidi is an elaborate version of what I have blogged; as per the magazine recipe, the small balls made of softly cooked rice flour dough is cooked in coconut milk and sweetened with sugar and finally flavored with powdered spices like cumin, dry ginger and cardamom.

Thengapaal Kozhukkatta/Paal Kozhukkatta: Based on your comment, I took a virtual trip and landed on Archana’s blog where she has featured this dish. According to her, “Thengappal kozhukatta is a simpler, soupy presentation of these dumplings made by cooking rice dough balls in coconut milk. Served in coconut milk thickened with some rice flour, this recipe is all about flour, flour and more flour.” So, there also the main point of difference is cooking the dumplings in coconut milk.

Mani-puttu: There were many readers who commented that it is Mani-puttu and the same day itself I had a mail from my cousin stating that it is Mani-Puttu. So I was almost ready to zero down on that one but Veenajan commented that she has blogged a similar recipe and it is Maniputtu. On checking out her page, again I noticed the mild variation of cooking the dumplings in coconut milk. And at this point, my mother has expressed a doubt that mani-puttu is steamed in Puttu kutti with a sprinkling of grated coconut and eaten plain and I guess my reader, Jisha is also taking about the same thing.

As much as I am confused, I am beginning to believe that the recipe I have featured is a very simplified version of all these three snacks as the major point of difference is the boiling part of coconut milk and hence I guess I can safely call this, Quick & Easy Mani-puttu, Allipidi, Thengapaal Kozhukkatta! Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong and do drop a message here if someone knows the exact name :)

Thanks a ton to all readers and blog buddies who helped me with this :)

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