Sunday, October 26, 2008

Unakka (Onakka) Chemmeen Chammanthi – A condiment with dried prawns…..

A steaming plate of fluffy rice with a drizzle of golden ghee ........the whiff of divinity sure enough to tickle anyone's that add a pinch of Unakka (Onakka) Chemmeen Chammanthi and then it is ready to delight your palate……


..... a hot bowl of thick and creamy plump rice soup, Kanji flavored with a dash of salt and a sprinkling of Unakka (Onakka) Chemmeen Chammanthi….scoop some with a plavila, jackfruit leaf………… get a whiff of that earthy smell of the fresh plavila, jackfruit leaf when it holds that hot rice soup coupled with the delightful taste of Unakka (Onakka) Chemmeen Chammanthi……hmm…..that sure can make me salivate!!!

Pungent dried prawns ground with freshly grated coconut, spiced up with dry red chillies and black peppercorns and fresh herbs like ginger, shallots and curry leaves and spruced up with a touch of is a mouthwatering condiment that has reigned my palate right from my childhood days. One of those dishes that is sure to transport you back home for few minutes………………either you love it or simply ignore it !

  • 1 cup fried dried prawns/Unakka Chemmeen
  • ½ cup fresh grated coconut
  • 8 dry red chillies ( depends on how hot you want)
  • 1 small red pearl onion/shallot, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • A very small piece of ginger
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • A small drop of tamarind paste or a very small piece
  • Salt to taste
  • In a shallow pan, warm up the fried dried prawns along with dry red chillies and thinly sliced onions without burning any of the ingredients, for 1-2 minutes, or until the fried dried prawns starts to shine and release its oil. Transfer this to the smallest jar of a mixer and add rest of the ingredients and swirl for 1-2 minutes until everything is ground coarsely and holds together.
  • Pour everything to a small serving bowl….or with your palms, shape the ground mixture into one big ball or as shape them into small individual balls as my grandma used to serve.
  • Serve with Kanji or Kutharai Choru


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  1. Yummyyy......kollallooo ithu.....

  2. Hi...
    This sounds to be a differnt recipe for me. In Chennai dried fish is very famous and my fav too. Never tried dried prawn. Unakka looks good. Nice presentation.

    Wish u a happy Diwali!!!

  3. Mish,we had a middle aged man coming on tuesdays and saturdays to sell all kinds of dried fish.I still remember his long face making some special annoncing his arrival.I think most of the village houses had his "unakkachemmeen" to relish them.His visits happd in the early mornings and we kids used to stand near him jus watching how he takes the stuff.He was so passionate about his fish especially unakkachemmeen that while he gather a handful of chemmeen,it was like he is handling diamonds..I loved his style..He was there till my teenage wearing the same "kallimundu" and a heavy "thalayilkkettu"..And then I dont know as i left the place..But the memories,they never die.
    Yummy chammanthi even i enjoy with kutharichoru..the mere mention make me drool..I think many of them will be.
    Thanks for again bringing back those mesmerising memories of childhood.

  4. I love the second option with Kanji...during my visits to the native I often looked forwarded to this combo...I have sort of bookmarked each house in my native where I get a particular fav dish..
    Like Iddiappam from a particular place...chakka kuru maanga curry from another...and so on...:-)

    I guess I can actually get some of this during my vacation home...would be good for the winter here..

  5. If it was not for the heading wud have thought this as Ladoo !!
    BTW do you happen to get Plavila in US ?

  6. ooooh chemmeen chammanthi! I love this with some rice and theeyal :)

  7. Hai,
    Chemmeen chammanthi looks too good;it's an altime favourite here....I make another version too with roasted coconut, can be kept for many weeks....athrayum eluppamalle......)))) ennum undakkendallo.....

  8. I make chammanthippodi like this, but no chemmeen.. :)
    pakshe ivide mattulla ellavarum unakkachemmeen fans aanu ketto.. :)
    nannayittundu.. :P

  9. This is new to me..Sounds delish..

  10. HI Mish..
    I love this chammathy ....pakshe evide vanne pinne ethu vare undakkiyittilla..but ee post kandappol thanne grocery il vilichu paranjittund ..!!ennu night chemmeen chamnthi yum kanji yum ..eppadi..amma undakkumbol puli cherkkarilla..i think i should try ur recipe .....eppola thanne vayil ninnum vellam varunnu ...:)
    thanks yaar ....


  11. my grandmother would make dried fish sometime, but I haven't had this in ages. Happy Diwali to you and your family!

  12. Looks like a unique and delicious recipe, Shn! Happy Deepavali! :)

  13. Recipe looks yum. You mentioned fried dried prawns. How do I fry the dried prawns (just pan roast or in oil)

    I am a regular follower of your blog. You really do justice to authentic kerala food.

    Keep it up!!

  14. I love chemmeen chammanthi especially with warm rice and a thoran. Here I bought dried chemmeen once and made chemmeen manga chammanthi. with all these yummy kerala recipes you are making me homesick

  15. :)
    mishy, Belated diwali wishes to u and CJJ :)

  16. Tina, thanks :)

    Sukanya, thank you :) In kerala this is quite a regular at home, especially during monsoon when it is difficult to get fresh fish....

    Ann, i like such door- to door salesman, selling such homely stuff.....even i was quite fascinated with the bhaandakettu :) i like how a myriad of stuff comes from that small sack.....:)

    Mathew, amma might know a dry version of this friend gave us once and it can be refrigerated for liz wrote, i guess instead of fresh coconut, either mildly roasted or dry ones are used to make it...but if u re getting the whole ones,make sure that u get it fried from home, else when u fry at ur apartment, it will drive away ur german neighbours :P got some sharp smell...

    Pramod, yes, my husband also thought it is some sweet stuff :D no plavila in US, atleast in the part where i was just a thpught from those good ole days :)

    Nags, :) thanks dear !

    Liz, yeah fried gave me that version u said it is easier...but somehow i prefer this slightly wet version...:)

    Seena, ho..chammanthippodi ennonnum paranju enne kothippikkalle kuttee :))

    Divya, try and see if u like :)

    Veena, puli is just to energise the whole thing..a bit to flavour the chammanthi...dont add had kanji and chammanthi? :)

    mandira, thanks sure u had real family fun with everyone around :)

    Kali, hey ve u been?

    Anon, just pan roast the dried ones, after you clean up its head and oil required. Thanks for the appreication :)

    Geena, yeah...i like manga chammathi too..yummm :)

    Sia, Thank you..:)

  17. hi..your blog is simply great.. i tried a lot of recipes from this also.egg biriyani,unakkakonju chammanthi(that remind me my school days),fish curry etc..once i planned to try out cutlets but dont have courage..;-)..thanks or posting such wonderful recipes..

  18. Hi

    Tried the chemmeen chammanthi and it turned out yum. I added some coconut oil to the mixture for additional flavour. We had it with plain rice though instead of kanji. (I relished it so much that I forgot i have an some allergy to dried fish - a recent phenomenon after my son was born).

    Love all the recipes you post.


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