Sunday, November 8, 2009

An attempt to make Kannur style Kinnathappam – Has it come close to the real deal? Kannur’ians , pls help…..

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter…” How eloquently Keats captured the power of imagination in those beautiful lines!!!! And I must admit , when it comes to food, never tasted or seen, my imagination has no bounds, especially if the food in discussion is painted with a heightened magical image through someone else’s words……

…..that was the case with Kinnathappam (Kannur Style) ever since Revathy left that message three months ago. Till yesterday, it was a taste unknown with not even a picture to refer to…..something that was enchanting and charming from the old cultural town of kannur …….something I wanted to taste on my next visit to this place, from one of the bakeries in those crowded streets …and in my imagination, I saw it wrapped in a clear plastic, arranged in the glass shelves of that tiny bakery…some were white and some, in a light brown hue……

…but now, I associate the word Kinnathappam with a white, soft , dense pudding cake that is cooked with ground rice ,in the delightful richness of cream of coconut and divine ghee, sweetened with sugar and flavored with cardamom and the pleasant surprise bites of cooked split gram!! Now if I walk into one of those bakeries in that old town, it is definitely not like a blind struggling to point his choice in complete darkness.

My puzzle board is still incomplete with lots of missing pieces and they range from the socio-cultural background of this snack, existing variations, the right texture, the colour – sugar or jaggery …the list goes on. At this point some of the connecting links on my puzzle board is woven with a handful of comments and messages left by my readers and blog buddies and the recipe my aunt shared.

Revathy’s messages often described Kinnathappam like this “ Kinnathampam is nnormally made in large quantites for housewarming or weddings at home, nowadays we get it from bakery shops so no one bother taking the hardwork to prepare it.I saw ppl making it in big uruli at my home for big functions when I was a kid but dont really remeber the ingredients.I will ask my mom about the recipe and let you know. Revs

The cheerful young blogger , Ria from Kannur wrote : “I am from Kannur as well and I must say kinnathappam & kalathappam is a very yumm snack! Revathy, thanks for sharing the recipe with Shn! Shn, please try it out soon and post it! It's usually made in Hindu homes we don't have a recipe for it :)

A reader named Deepthy left this message on my Orappam post : “It looks like kinnathappam.My amma used to prepare it with rice flour,jaggery.We also add dried mango seeds powder in it.Deepthy

In pursuit of finding out more about this snack, I asked my mother to approach my aunt, S from Kannur and she was gracious enough to share her recipe over the phone and my mother jotted down the gist in her own language : “ 1 glass ari…1 tbsp kadala-parippu…kadala parippu uppittu vevikkuka…..thenga ara-muriyude paal ozhichu panchasaara ettu elakkuka…..onnu kattiyakumbol ¼ glass nei ozhichu elakkuka….pakuthi aakumbol kadala-parippu eduka…urundu varumbol, paathrathil ozhikkuka…

Well….well….these are two women who belong to the “ a glass of this, a handful of that and a pinch of this- generation” and trying to comprehend their language by someone who belongs to “ a cup of this and a tbsp of that – generation” is like…..well , let me not get into that aspect. I was totally confused!

I went back to Revathy and she promptly replied : “Hi Shn, I asked my mom about the kinnathappam recipe.She never tried at home in small quantities.She said it takes hrs to to make it,and we should keep stirring the batter until it become thick halwa like consistency.The main ingredients are coconut milk ,rice powder ,jaggery ,cardomom,split dal cooked.Mix all ingredients like watery consistency except ghee and in a Uruli keep strring until it become thick and then add ghee cardomom.,this is the vague idea about the recipe amma knows.She had seen it done in large quantites during house warming or weeding at our family. Take care, Revathy.

Now the question was whether to add sugar or jaggery and Ria, my local consultant and subject expert in this case, mailed me :” As far as Kinnathappam goes I have always seen them in blurry white colour.It is not as white as vattayappam, but more or less like kanjivellam colour . So it is definately made using sugar as sweetener. Even I have heard that the process is like halwa-making...2-3 hours of continuous stirring. But the end product is yum!

And here’s how we tried to put together the pieces of the puzzle, with the help of my mother :

Recipe Source: My aunt S from Kannur

What we took:
  • 1 cup jeerakasaala /kaima rice, soaked for 4 hours in water
  • 4 tsp Kadala-parippu/split gram/chana dal, soaked in water
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cup sugar ( adjust as per sweetness)
  • ¼ cup + 2tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 10 pods of cardamom, powdered- adjust as pert your taste and strength of the seeds ( Added based on Revathy’s mail)
  • Salt
What we did:
  • Grind soaked rice into a fine paste, adding required water to operate the Indian mixer.
  • Cook soaked Kadala-parippu/split gram/chana dal with a pinch of salt until soft ( either in a pressure cooker or sauce pot) and once cooked and warm, gently press with your fingers and make it soft yet retaining the shape.
  • Mix ground rice , coconut milk and sugar with a pinch of salt; pour this to a heavy bottom large sauce pot/wok and start stirring on a low-medium heat. Stir continuously. When it starts to thicken and show some resistance to easy stirring, pour the entire ghee and stir continuously. When it thickens more, add cooked Kadala-parippu/split gram/chana dal and resume stirring incessantly. When you see the dough starting to come together in the centre as one mass, take a small amount and try to roll and make it into a ball with your thumb and index fingers and if it shapes up beautifully without sticking to your fingers, then it is time to turn off the stove and add the powdered cardamom; immediately transfer it to a 6 *2 round cake pan/or a “Kinnam”/any round old fashioned plate with borders – smeared with some ghee; Fill the cooked dough in the pan and flatten smoothly. Let it rest in the room temperature for 1-2 hours and when it is completely cool, cut into small squares and serve. This whole process of cooking one cup ground rice with other ingredients took us about 50 minutes of stirring continuously.
Taste verdict: Tasty, no doubt ! Richness of coconut milk, sugar and ghee is very prominent. The occasional bite into split gram offers a pleasant surprise. Texture we got was that of a dense yet soft pudding cake.

Wonder if we got the texture, colour and thickness right! Would love to hear the feedback, suggestions and recommendations from the Kannur’ians out there. I would also love to learn more about this snack…..your stories, memories and socio- cultural significance of this snack. Please help !

My sincere thanks to My aunt S , Revathy, Ria and my mother for all their help and guidance in bringing out this post.

Related Posts:
Ottada Orappam Orappam


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