Friday, 14 September 2018

Korukattas for Ganesh Chathurthi

Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated on Thursday.
We are not religious but festivals are a good time to make food associated with a particular festival.
In Tamil Nadu where my husband hails from, for Ganesh Chaturthi, Sundal and Korukattas are made. We decided to make korukattas and masala vadas instead of sundal.
Korukattas are simple to make. The rice flour is readily available in the store. One needs to make a soft dough with hot water and take small portions of the dough and flatten it out as thin as possible on ones palm.
The filling grated coconut and jaggery with a little bit of powdered cardamom for flavour.
A tablespoon of the filling goes into each flattened disc of rice dough. 
I used Tupperware dumpling moulds so it was quick work.Perfect half moon korukattas with a decorative edge. Smeared a smidgen of oil on the inside of the mould to keep the rice dough from sticking to the mould. Did the same with the steamer containers.
Ten minutes in the steamer and the korukattas were ready to eat. Don't you love my bright red steamer? Also a Tupperware product. I got to steam sixteen korukattas in the two trays of the steamer.
 Made a total of forty eight korukattas I think. Shared with friends who enjoyed them.
Menu for lunch was Sambar with shallots,steamed rice, ghee, potato fry, masala vada, korukattas, papadam and brinjal pickle.
Starting from Ganesh Chathurthi this year I'm going to try out a traditional recipe for each festival and try and see how many Tupperware products I get to use in the process.
So Tupperware products used in the preparation of Korukattas were
1. Tupperware steamer 2. Tupperware dumpling mould 3.Magic flow - oil dispenser 
4.MM Round #1 - small air tight container in which I store spices 4.Hot case to keep the korukattas hot.
Another thing to discover are the stories and folklore related to the dishes and ingredients used. Indian mythology is entwined with everyday living and especially when it's a festival.  There are times those stories or reasons have been forgotten or have morphed into something different. Then are regional differences. Should make some interesting discoveries.
My reading into the coconut filling is that elephants like coconut and therefore for Ganesh, the elephant headed god, korukattas are made. Another interesting thing is that korukattas are made only in the peninsula part of India, because coconut is a staple in the cuisine of the southern states. In fact a  lady from the north who has travelled extensively hadn't tasted or heard of korukattas before yesterday. 
Here's what I found.Please leave a comment if you know any other stories why korukattas and sundal are prepared for Ganesh Chathurthi. I'd like to know.  

Friday, 24 August 2018

The Backwaters of Kerala

Kerala has been in the news this month for the battering and devastation wrought by the South West monsoon.
I spent a week visiting family in Kochi, two weeks before the full force of the monsoon was unleashed on the state.
We spent a most memorable day on the backwaters.  Overcast  monsoon skies, pleasant weather with a gentle breeze. Some flooding had already been experienced in Alleppey already but it was business as usual that day out on the backwaters. 
Heading down a canal to the enormous Vembanad freshwater lake.
Hundreds of houseboats line the banks of the canals. There's an Indian Oil petrol bunk if you please where the boats can fuel up. We got a bottle of toddy from Block 13. 
We were lucky to witness a snake boat team practise. Would be a spectacular sight to see the actual race. Wonder if there will be one this year.
The Vembanad lake itself is enormous.

Kerala is trying to get back on its feet. Please do your bit to help.
From what I have heard food and basic essentials have reached the affected but now going forward people with no insurance or savings who earned a daily wage have lost their homes and businesses. It must be a struggle.
We can make a difference if we buy from small businesses. Plants from the nurseries which line the highway close to Palghat and Trichur, stop to drink tea at a small tea stall or buy fruit which is in season from people who set up make shift stalls.The help is going to be required for sometime to come.
If you haven't taken a trip on a houseboat then I would highly recommend it and if you find yourself in Alleppey then go to John's umbrella shop. They make excellent umbrellas, I came away with four.

Friday, 16 March 2018

Utsha Foundation, Bhubaneshwar

I was in Bhubaneshwar at the beginning of March for a meeting. Stayed another day to visit the Jagannath temple in Puri.
A young designer, a former student of mine took me to the Utsha Foundation to see some ceramic work he had done. 

 A delightful place tucked away in a quiet green neighbourhood. Quirky bits of art in unexpected places.These coconut fiber and yarn forms descend from the ceiling.
 A plug attached to a short length of wire, part of that wire is simulated with paint. Can you spot the point? 
 Doorways which lead to so many possibilities.
   Palm leaf puppets.A traditional craft of Odisha.
The library where we spent an hour in fruitful discussion. 
A portion of the garden used for performances.

Sunday, 11 March 2018


 At around 7.30 every morning a man calls out 'Iddiappoo' and at two minute intervals you hear him call out again 'Iddiappooo'.
He makes the rounds of Kilpauk Garden Road, Kilpauk Garden Road 1st Street and Mandapam Road morning and at around 8 in the evening selling soft lacy Idiappams.

 I'd heard heard the call Iddiappoo most mornings and evenings while visiting my parents and was curious to see this enterprising person and sample the idiappams which neighbours said were good.
On a recent trip home I decided the idiappams had to be sampled when we were trying to decide what to have for breakfast. 
I chatted with Azhagar Swamy while my mother got a bowl for the idiappams. He's up at two every morning making idiappams. He makes about 300 to 400 idiappams and sets out to sell them around 7 in the morning. he wears a plastic glove on his right hand so he can take out the idiappams from a large stainless steel container  tied to the back of his bicycle. From the handlebar of his bicyle hangs a  woven plastic basket in which is a small device which repeatedly calls out 'Iddiappoo'. Azhagar Swamy switched it off while conducting transacting business. Three idiappams for ten rupees.   

Breakfast at your doorstep.Delicious and inexpensive. Eat it with leftover fish or egg curry. If there are no leftovers and you have neither the inclination or the time to make fresh coconut milk and the last tetra pack of coconut milk was used up to make the fish curry, put the idiappams in a shallow bowl, pour some warm milk over it,sprinkle sugar and relish.  
Got more string hoppers the next day and ate them for lunch with chicken stew. There must be a number of people eating Idiappams for dinner because Azhagar Swamy is back doing the rounds at dinner time.
I was curious to know what Azhagar Swamy did with the leftovers. He dries them out in the sun and makes them into vathal or vadam . Vathal are fried in hot oil and are crisp and crunchy and is one of many accompaniments to a South Indian meal.

I'm posting in Take Diversion after a year I think but I'm going to be posting more regularly going forward. Cheers!