Sunday, January 11, 2009

Manga Chammanthi- A tongue tickler with raw mango & coconut…

A couple of raw mangoes the neighbor woman gifted while she folded the dried clothes hanging from the clothes line ……that slender Kaanthari-mulaku she plucked from that chilly plant growing happily at the corner of the compound wall and the young sprig of leaves from the curry-leaf plant swaying in the evening breeze, …….a small pile of coconut flakes, as white as Thumba poo, grated from a freshly cracked coconut…….she arranges everything on a round stainless steel plate which begins to look like an artist’s palette ……..she slowly walks to the corner of the work-area and starts to grind everything with a sprinkle of salt on a flat grinding stone, Ammikkallu with an elongated rolling pin made of stone, listening to the rustic yet rhythmic music from the rubbing of stones, as she moves the rolling pin back and forth ……then she gently scrapes with the edge of her palm to bring all the ground coarse paste to the middle of the grinding stone, to roll it into a round shape…………that coarse paste with a pale green hue is the most simple treat a Kerala woman could whip up with the simplest of ingredients available from her own backyard, to jazz up a boring meal or to kick- up a bowl of rice soup, Kanji…………..!!!!

The taste of this raw mango and coconut Chammanthi , ground on a flat grinding stone is incomparable. Yet, you can re-create a similar taste using a small wet grinder ……with a handful of frozen grated coconut and that raw mango with identity crisis, sold at your local Indian store. With the variety of raw mangoes I get here, I usually take equal amounts of grated coconut and sliced mangoes (with skin removed) and a couple of Indian green chillies. Firstly, grind the mango slices and green chillies and then add grated coconut with a sprinkle of salt and grind till it becomes a coarse paste. Add 4-5 curry leaves towards the end and pulse 3-4 times till the leaves are mixed thoroughly with the paste.

The proportion of mango and grated coconut depend on the sourness of mangoes. If you re lucky to get some good raw sour mangoes, then add more coconut and less mango to get your required level of sourness. Hold yourself back from that strong temptation to sneak in a shallot or a small piece of ginger. Keep it simple and it tastes awesome!

Though I usually try to anglicize the name of a dish to help my fellow Indians and non-Indian readers comprehend the dish properly, let me not try to do the same this time as I can’t think of an equivalent name or comparison for this one. This is not to be misinterpreted with the ever popular Chutney. For Keralites, both are two different things; Chammanthi is a dry coarse paste where as Chutney is a liquid-y dip/sauce. Try making it at home; it sure can invigorate your senses :)


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