Sunday, November 9, 2008

Ariyunda – A humble & rustic snack from a Kerala home….

Ariyunda is one of my favourite snacks my grandma made and packed for us whenever she visited us or we returned home after a long stay at her place. It was an ideal snack for munching that made us take a quick peep into the Palahaara-paathram aka snack boxes whenever we wandered lazily through the kitchen after watching television for long or reading a book. Traditionally it is made by roasting the rice which then hand pounded and ground into a fine powder, using ‘Ural & Ulakka’, the bigger versions of modern tabletop mortar and pestle, which is going extinct from most of the Kerala kitchens these days. The powdered roasted rice was them pounded with grated coconut and jaggery and then shaped into small balls. Though it was a physically challenging work to manually pound rice until it transforms into superfine granules, hand pounding made a world of difference. Both my maternal grandma and women at the paternal side resorted to preparing these humble snacks, on a breezy afternoon pounding rhythmically and chit-chatting with each other. It was music to ears when they pounded it with so much of rhythm and fireworks for palate when they were done!

It may take only less than 30 minutes for me to recreate this dish in my small kitchen, but the taste is not as superior as the ones grandma made. One of the key ingredients is grated coconut and it has to be fresh and moist and hand pounding enables the juice and oil components of the freshly grated coconut to ooze out, helping all the ingredients hold together and brings out even the subtle flavours that cannot be achieved with an electric grinder. Since it is one of those snacks embossed with the homemade element, I have seen many families serving this snack for guests visiting on the previous days of marriage. If you are a lucky traveler visiting Kerala, you may find them stacked in glass jars at small roadside shops, Pettikkada as most of the time women of the house prepare these humble snacks with inexpensive and readily available ingredients at home and the next day men folks take it to shop for selling.

Let me share with all of you a recipe for Ariyunda from my grandma’s kitchen for temporarily satisfying your curiosity and palate, until you make a visit to Kerala :)

Recipe for Ariyunda:

  • ¾ cup Kerala rosematta rice
  • ½ cup grated jaggery
  • ½ to ¾ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 3 tbsp cashew nuts
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 cardamom pods crushed
  • Heat a Kadai/Cheenachatti or a stainless steel pan, and roast the rice, in medium heat, until the rice starts splitting and changes its colour. Reduce the heat to low if required and keep stirring, especially when you hear the splitting sound and continue to roast until the full batch of rice is uniform in colour and shrink a bit from its original size. Remove this to a grinder/mixer/blender
  • In the same pan, heat ghee and roast cashew nuts until they reach golden brown and keep this aside.
  • Grind the roasted rice into a fine powder and transfer it to a bowl.
  • In the same grinder bowl, add cashew nuts and powder it. To this add freshly grated coconut and jaggery and grind for less than a minute or till everything is blended together. Now add the crushed cardamom seeds, finely ground roasted rice powder and leftover ghee, if any, after roasting cashew nuts and whirl everything together until it is thoroughly combined. Transfer the entire mixture to a bowl. Take a fistful of the mixture and shape into a small ball, making the surface as smooth as you can. This yields around 10-11 Ariyunda and you can store it in an airtight container for up to a week and do refrigerate if you want to store it for more than that.
Note: You may notice some white specks on my Ariyunda and that is because I added some more grated coconut towards the end and did not get blended well. Though it is a negligible part, refrain from making the mistake I made :) It is tastier when fresh as it would be moist and has a crumbling texture but as the days go by, it tends to harden.

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