Festivals are nothing without sweets and savouries! That too in India, a country with diverse cuisines, there are a lot of tasty goodies to explore. Welcome to the Kanyakumari kitchen! Let us step in to check what people prepare for Diwali, Christmas and Eid.
Kanyakumari has 50-50 population of Hindus and Christians with a small number of muslims. Christmas and Diwali are celebrated with equal josh and sweets are spread everywhere along with love. Sweets decorate the plate and dominate the spicy ones here. Kanyakumari food contains more coconut and jaggery as they are traditionally used since ages.
Kinnathappam is a unique dish from Kerala commonly made in Kanyakumari also. It is unknown to other parts of Tamil Nadu and hence this is one of Kanyakumari’s special delicacies. It is made by grinding soaked rice, sugar, coconut milk and eggs. The smooth batter is then strained and poured into a bowl. After steam cooking, an extremely soft pudding is formed. This is slightly similar to the Sri Lankan Vattilappam, but tastes different.
Then kuzhal is another sweet crunchy snack most commonly seen during festival seasons. It is made with rice and urad dal flour. A long chain of crunchy “kuzhal” is made by frying in oil. It is then dipped in sugar syrup made with honey and jaggery. This makes the kuzhal sweet, and hence the name “then kuzhal” which means “honey spirals”.
Though Nenthiram chips can be found in any place of Tamil Nadu, its birthplace is Kanyakumari and Kerala. Nenthiram is a variety of banana, and for this chips it must be be neither raw nor ripe. The fruit is soaked in salt, spice if required and fried in oil. It becomes extremely crunchy after frying.
Karuppatti halwa is a traditional sweet commonly made in many parts of southern Tamil Nadu. It is made from pure palm jaggery and coconut milk. Healthiest part of this sweet is palm jaggery and it gives a wonderful taste. Refined white sugar is not added. This halwa is made with coconut milk, palm jaggery, cardamom powder, ghee and raisins.
Mothagam is a unique snack of Kanyakumari specially made during festival seasons. Its alternative name is suzhiyam or susiyam, as known in other neighbouring districts. It is also called as “munthiri kothu” as it is fried in batches.
The outer part of mothagam is made with rice flour, maida and turmeric powder for colour. Stuffing is made from green gram, sesame and coconut. It is rolled into small balls and fried in oil. All ingredients of mothagam are healthy and this is also one of the traditional snack from any kanyakumari grand mother’s kitchen.
Senai idly literally means stuffed idly. Kanyakumari and other Tamil districts lying close to Kerala use a lot of coconut in their food. This senai idly also requires coconut and jaggery. Jaggery is first dissolved in water and made to a syrup. Shredded coconut is added and heated in low flame. After few minutes, the coconut and jaggery mixture becomes thicker. Cardamom powder is added for aroma.
This mixture can then be baked as stuffed idly by steam cooking. The idly batter (made by grinding soaked rice and urad dal) is poured on idly maker and then the stuffing is spread. Again batter is poured above and steam cooked. After few minutes, idly gets ready with sweet filling inside.
Apart from these, there are a lot more special gravies, rice varieties and crunchy foods prepared for wedding occasions and religious ceremonies. The objective of presenting food during joyful occasions is not just to fill tummies, but to nourish the body with natural and healthy ingredients.