Palmyrah Root Snack

One of our neighbours brought us some boiled palmyrah roots from their recent trip to Jaffna. My mother decided to make a snack that her grandmother used to make her during her childhood. So, today’s recipe is a palmyrah root snack or ‘panang kilangu urundai’. I am bringing this snack together with some music to Angie‘s Fiesta Friday #117, co-hosted by Mollie and Scarlett.
IMG_0118Today’s music feature is on the Carnatic progressive rock band, Agam, which is based in Bangalore. While the band has been around for a decade or so, I only heard their music when they played at the MTV Coke Studio. ‘Malhar Jam’ is the clip that introduced me to their music.

The second music clip is called ‘over the horizon’. I came across this Malayala song, which I liked, while listening to some of Agam’s music on their youtube channel.

Hope you enjoy both the snack and the music!
panag kilangu

Palmyrah root snack

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • Palmyrah root (panang kilangu), boiled – 1 cup, chopped
  • Grated/ scraped coconut, fresh – ¼ cup
  • Green chillies – 1 or 2
  • Onion – ½
  • Pepper – pinch
  • Salt, to taste

Method

  1. Boil the palmyrah roots. Trim the edges and chop it up.
  2. Add chopped boiled palmyrah root pieces to a dry grinder together with the freshly grated coconut, chopped green chillies and onion.
  3. Grind the mix and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Form little balls of the mixture or in a mold and serve as a snack, to be eaten immediately.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Pulukodiyal Candy

Wishing you all a happy New Year! (the Sri Lankan New Year, or more precisely the Sri Lankan Buddhist and Hindu New Year)

For today’s recipe, I decided to share a non-traditional New Year recipe. Something simple and tasty to make. My mother sometimes makes this candy when she receives too much of ‘pulukodiyal’ (sun-dried palmyrah root) from visiting relatives from the north. I would like to share this with you today. Palmyrah root is full of calcium and therefore considered nutritious in the north of Sri Lanka where it is harvested regularly.

DSC01287

Sliced sun-dried palmyrah root

Today, I would like to feature songs from two music groups that I have enjoyed listening to occasionally during the past decade. I was introduced to Il Divo’s music in a surreal setting in early December 2004. I was travelling on work to the north of the country and as the vehicle sped across dusty, remote roads, the radio belted out pop songs of the year. Suddenly, the powerful operatic voice of the four broke through the stifling heat surrounding the landscape we passed through. It was a special experience. The first song that I share here is the song that I listened to that hot afternoon over a decade ago.

The second is by Celtic Woman. Not sure how I came across their music but I did somewhere along the past decade. I liked their songs to the extent that I went for their concert when they performed at Theatre Royal Drury Lane in November last year. It was a fun experience.

Hope you enjoy the two songs and do try out the candy, if you happen upon some dried palmyrah root!
DSC01300
Wish you the best for the New Year!

Pulukodiyal Candy

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • Sliced ‘pulukodiyal’ – 1 cup
  • Roasted gram – 2 tbsp
  • Sugar – ¼ cup
  • Water

Method:

  1. Let the water and sugar simmer till it thickens into a syrup.
  2. Add the roasted gram and pulukodiyal and stir well, before removing from heat.
  3. Let it cool and the candied pulukodiyal is ready for eating.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan

Odiyal Kool

Today is my mother’s birthday and I felt like re-sharing one of my mother’s favourite recipes. Odiyal Kool is a traditional dish from north Sri Lanka and can be made as a vegetarian or non-vegetarian version. Today’s recipe is a vegetarian dish. OK1 For today’s music feature, I wish to share some song clips from youTube from the official vevo site of one of my favourite singers – Andrea Bocelli. The first is a music video of the song ‘Canto Della Terra’. The second song ‘Con Te Partiro’ is from a 2011 concert. I liked more an earlier version, where he sings with Sarah Brightman, but could not find it on the official site. The last clip is the music video of the song with Laura Pausini ‘Dare to Live’. Hope you enjoy the music and the recipe! Ok2

Odiyal Kool

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: average
  • Print
Ingredients

  • Odiyal Flour – 1 cup
  • Chopped mixed vegetables (brinjal/ katharikkai, jackfruit seeds/ palakottai, yardlong beans/ paithangai, small green leaves/ pasali keerai or murungai ilai, manioc, ash plantain) – 100g each
  • Boiled rice – ½ cup
  • Dried red chillies – 5- 10, according to your taste
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Pepper powder – 1tbsp
  • Tamarind extract – ½ cup
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Water – 1 1/2 litres

Method:

  1. Dry grind the cumin seeds, red chillies and pepper and keep aside.
  2. Boil the vegetables in a pot with half litre water.
  3. Add another litre of water, along with the tamarind extract.
  4. As the water comes to a boil, slowly stir in the odiyal flour, avoiding lumps.
  5. Add the boiled rice to the pot.
  6. Add the ground spice mixture and the turmeric powder to the pot and salt to taste. Let it come to a boil.
  7. You can add a little water to adjust the consistency to your liking, e.g. if the water has dried up or you prefer a watery Kool.
  8. Serve hot in medium-sized bowls.

Recipe Source: Raji Thillainathan.

Kurakkan Pittu

Kurakkan, also known as ragi, is a type of millet that is gluten-free and diabetic friendly. At home, the most common and popular form of pittu is the rice flour pittu. Occasionally, my mother makes the atta flour pittu or the kurakkan flour pittu.

Below is the simple recipe for making kurakkan flour pittu. The rice flour pittu and atta flour pittu easily blend with any curries and is a convenient meal to prepare. Kurakkan, however, has a distinctive taste that I find does not easily merge with just any curry. As such, I prefer to eat kurakkan pittu simply sprinkled with coconut and jaggery.

Kurakkan Pittu

Time taken: 25 mins

Serves 2

Kurakkan pittuIngredients:

  • Kurakkan flour/ ragi – 1 cup
  • Coconut – ¼ cup, freshly scraped
  • Jaggery – 2 or 3 tbsp, finely chopped
  • Salt – pinch

Method:

  1. Add a pinch or two of salt to the kurakkan flour.
  2. Stir in boiled and slightly cooled water until the flour mixtures becomes coarse and grainy.
  3. Steam the kurakkan pittu for 10 mins.
  4. Mix the freshly scraped coconut and chopped jaggery into the steamed pittu and serve hot.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Odiyal Kool

Decided to take a break this week and re-post a few recipes from the initial days of this blog.

This is a traditional recipe from the North of Sri Lanka made from a palmyrah product. My mother tells me her grandmother used to make this for them on special occasions. While this is typically a spicy sea-food dish, it can be a vegan dish if one omits the seafood.

So, I am sharing my great-grandmother’s odiyal kool recipe, as remembered by my mother.

The base for this kool is ‘Odiyal’, a healthy and nutritious root that is dried before making into a flour. One can purchase the ‘odiyal flour’ from Katpaham marketing outlets around Sri Lanka, run by the Palmyrah Development Board, and might be found at Sri Lankan stores outside of Sri Lanka. However, if ‘odiyal flour’ cannot be obtained, corn flour can be tried out as a substitute.

Odiyal Kool

Cooking time – 45 minutes

Serves: 8 – 10

Ingredients

  • Odiyal or Odiyal Flour – 1 cup
  • Chopped mixed vegetables (brinjal/ katharikkai, jackfruit seeds/ palakottai, yardlong beans/ paithangai, small green leaves/ pasali keerai or murungai ilai, manioc, ash plantain) – 100g each
  • Chopped mixed seafood (prawns, crab meat, squids etc.) – 100g each, omit if vegetarian
  • Boiled rice – ½ cup
  • Dried red chillies – 5- 10, depending on your desired level of hot spicy
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp, can add another tablespoon if you like it really spicy
  • Pepper powder – 1tbsp, can add another tablespoon if you like it really spicy
  • Tamarind extract – ½ cup
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Water – 2 litres

Method:

  1. Grind the odiyal into flour or use the ready-made odiyal flour.
  2. Dry grind the cumin seeds, red chillies and pepper and keep aside.
  3. Boil the vegetables in a pot with half litre water.
  4. Boil the seafood in a separate pot with half litre water.
  5. Then, mix the boiled vegetables and seafood and add another litre of water, along with the tamarind extract.
  6. As the water comes to a boil, slowly stir in the odiyal flour, avoiding lumps.
  7. Add the boiled rice to the pot.
  8. Add the ground spice mixture and the turmeric powder to the pot and salt to taste. Let it come to a boil.
  9. You can add a little water to adjust the consistency to your liking, e.g. if the water has dried up or you prefer a watery Kool.
  10. Serve hot in medium-sized bowls.

Recipe Source: Raji Thillainathan.

Panangkatti

I wanted to share one more palmyrah product this week. I will wrap up the palmyrah recipe series with ‘panangkatti’ or palmyrah sugar. During my great-grandmother’s time, ‘panangkatti’ was considered the regular sweetener for cooking and beverages and not the processed sugar of today. My mother recollects her grandmother serving her tea with a piece of panangkatti.

Very rich in nutrients and a good source of vitamin B12, ‘panangkatti’ is considered particularly good for diabetic patients as well as those seeking to reduce their weight. Whenever I travel to Jaffna, I always try to bring my parents some good ‘panangkatti’ as the best in the country is available only there and both my parents are diabetic.

While there are some people like my parents who prefer ‘panangkatti’ to regular sugar, its usage in the country has been on the decline over the last couple of decades. Therefore, its production has also reduced while the prices have gone up and it is now much more expensive than the regular sugar one can buy in any store.

This is what my mother remembers of her grandmother’s recipe for making panangkatti, for those interested in knowing how it is made. The accompanying photo is of some ‘panangkatti’ that my mother had bought last week from Katpaham.

PanangkattiPanangkatti

Ingredients:

  • Palmyrah sap – ½ cup
  • Rice flour – 1 tbsp

Method:

  1. Stir the palmyrah sap (palm water) continuously in the pot over medium heat, till it thickens beyond the consistency required for ‘paani‘.
  2. Add a tbsp of rice flour and continue stirring till its consistency becomes denser and it is no longer watery.
  3. Scoop a tbsp of the ‘panangkatti’ mixture into the woven palmyrah leaf thimbles and let it cool and set.
  4. Store the ‘panangkatti’ thimbles in an air-tight container.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Panaattu

‘Panaattu’ is considered to have high levels of vitamins A and E. As far as my mother is concerned, it is something she has been fond of ever since she was a toddler. She bought a slab of ‘panaattu’ from the Katpaham outlet here so that I could take a photograph but she finds that it does not have the colour or consistency that her grandmother’s used to have. It is the first time that I have tasted ‘panaattu’ so I can’t compare.

PanaattuHere’s the method my great-grandmother used to make panaattu, as remembered by my mother from her childhood days. I am sharing it for those who are interested in knowing what or how ‘panaattu’ is made and for those who happen to have some palmyrah fruit and wish to try making some panaattu. For more ways that the palmyrah is used in the north of Sri Lanka, check out my earlier post on its background.

Ingredients:

Palmyrah fruit – 6, very ripe

Coconut oil, for coating the ‘panaattu’ layer.

Method:

  1. Peel the very ripe palmyrah fruit and then mix repeatedly with just enough water to be able to make the fruit pulp. Strain the pulp through a clean cloth.
  2. Spread the collected pulp as a thin layer over a woven palm mat and let it dry under the sun.
  3. Cover the mat during night.
  4. The next day, add another thin layer of palmyrah fruit pulp extract over the dried layer and continue to sun-dry. Repeat this process for 10 days, adding new thin layers each day till the thickness of the ‘panaattu’ is around ½ inch.
  5. Let the ‘panaattu’ dry under the sun till it reaches a maroonish-orange colour and can be cut through with a knife without it sticking to the knife.
  6. Slice the long panaattu roll into manageable pieces. Apply a little coconut oil and fold the cut pieces.
  7. Taking a woven palmyrah leaf container/ box, stock up the cut and oiled panaattu pieces.
  8. This can be then stored for a long time. My great-grandmother used to store the box of panaattu on a shelf above her cooking stove.
  9. Serve a piece of panaattu with tea or make some paani panaattu from it.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Paani Panaattu

Two of my mother’s favourite snacks from her childhood days are ‘panaattu‘ and ‘paani panaattu’. She remembers her grandmother making them for their home consumption and storing them in little jars or earthen pots. When my mother and her sisters visited her, she would serve them these treats with tea or after a main meal.

It is much easier today to buy a jar of ‘paani panaattu’, from the Katpaham outlets around the country, as my mother did this weekend. However, as palmyrah used to be and is still considered an intrinsic part of the north Sri Lankan culture and cuisine, I do like to know and share the recipes of how these traditional delicacies are made.

My mother felt that the ‘paani panaattu’ that she had bought didn’t quite taste the way she liked so she revamped it with the spices she remembers her grandmother had used. It was the first time that I tried ‘paani panaattu’ and I think this is another dish that is an acquired taste. It has quite a strong taste and is both spicy and sweet at the same time. My mother was delighted to go back to her childhood memories and favourite snacks while I enjoyed recording both recipes, as she remembered from her observations of my great-grandmother.

Paani Panaattu

The palmyrah sap is collected by tying a pot to the stem of the palm flower stump after it has been cut or gashed to allow the sweet water of the palm to be collected. To prevent fermentation, a little lime is added to the pot. This water that is collected is non-alcoholic, due to not being fermented, and it is considered nutritious particularly for the elderly.

The collected palm water is then heated and continuously stirred till it thickens into a brown treacle like substance called ‘paani’ . ‘Paani’ is usually stored in an earthen pot and it can be stored for a long time.

Paani panaattu

Time taken: 10 mins

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • Paani – ½ cup
  • Panaattu – 1 cup
  • Coconut chips – 2 tbsp, roasted
  • Roasted rice – 1 tbsp
  • Crushed chillies – 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder – ½ tsp

Method:

  1. Chop up the panaattu into small pieces.
  2. Heat the paani in a saucepan over low heat for about 3 mins.
  3. Add the crushed chillies and cumin powder and stir well for about 2 mins.
  4. Add the coconut chips and roasted rice to the saucepan for about 1 min.
  5. Then, add the panaattu pieces and stir for about 2 mins.
  6. Stir well until it thickens and remove from stove, to allow the ‘paani panaattu’ to cool before serving. When making in larger quantities, transfer to an earthen pot or air-tight jar.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Panangai Paniyaaram

My aunt sent us some ‘panangai paniyaaram’ that she had made, after a visit to her home in Jaffna. So, I asked her to share the recipe for this Jaffna delicacy. I have also shared an introduction to the different ways the palmyrah is used in the north, at my mother’s request, and I hope I have covered the key aspects in my previous post.

Panangai Paniyaaram

Time taken: 45 mins – 1 hour

Makes 20 – 25 paniyaaram

Panangai Paniyaaram

Ingredients:

  • Very ripe Palm fruit (Panangai) – 1
  • Coconut milk – ¼ to ½ cup
  • Sugar – ¼ cup
  • Steamed wheat flour – 1 ½ cups
  • Oil, as required for deep frying

Method:

  1. Remove the skin of the palm fruit. If it is difficult, it can be held over a fire for a few minutes before the black outer skin is peeled off with a knife. This leaves the fibrous orange fruit and the three seeds.
  2. The fruit can be divided into three portions along with each of the three seeds. Mix each portion of the fruit and seed with a little water, in a basin, to make it pulpy.
  3. Strain the pulpy juice using a clean cloth and extract 1 cup of palm fruit juice.
  4. Boil the extracted palm juice, together with the coconut milk and sugar. Cook for 10 mins and then remove from heat.
  5. After the boiled mixture has cooled enough that you can put your finger in it without getting burnt or scalded, stir in the wheat flour slowly till the batter reaches a consistency that you can pick by hand. Not all the wheat flour needs to be used but just enough to reach this consistency. If the batter is still watery, add a little more steamed wheat flour.
  6. Heat some oil in a pan on low heat.
  7. Drop small balls of batter in batches of 5 to 6 and deep fry till they are orange/ golden throughout. Remove before they brown.
  8. Enjoy this Jaffna delicacy with some hot Sri Lankan plain tea and a piece of palm jaggery.

Recipe source: Vijayalakshmi Yogeswaran.

A little background on the Jaffna palmyrah

The Sri Lankan palmyrah (Borassus fabelliformis) is a variety of palm that grows extremely tall but the roots don’t look very strong. They are thin but inter-twined web-like which supports the palm tree.

For the people of the North, particularly Jaffna, the palmyrah tree traditionally has been the most important tree in their lives. Everything about a palmyrah tree is used.

The bunch of palm fruit is used in many ways in food. When the tops of tender palm fruit is cut off, one can see the three seeds inside which are like natural jelly in its early stages. This jelly-like substance is called ‘nungu.’ I remember during visits to my grandmother in my childhood, it was a treat to sample the ‘nungu’ she gave us. The fibrous part of the tender fruit is given to goats and cows. The ripened fruit on the other hand is used to make ‘panangai paniyaaram’ and ‘panaattu,’ both special delicacies of Jaffna. Palm jaggery made from the sap of the palm tree, is considered healthy and a better natural sugar substitute for people with diabetes.

The seed, when planted, sprouts roots which are highly nutritious particularly in Calcium. Only a few of the roots that are planted at a certain distance from each other are left untouched to grow into a tree. The rest of the roots (panangkilangu) are pulled out and boiled. They are either eaten boiled or sun-dried after boiling to make ‘Pulukodiyal.’ The ‘pulukodiyal’ is eaten as it is, with chips of coconut, or it is ground to make flour for a snack. When the roots are dried without boiling first and made into a flour, it is called ‘odiyal flour,’ the basic ingredient for making odiyal kool, another delicacy of Jaffna – the recipe of which I shared in my first few posts on this blog.

The palm leaf stalk called the ‘panai mattai’ is used for firewood and some of the palm leaves are periodically chopped off and used for roofing for huts and fencing. In ancient times, before paper came into use, dried and pressed palm leaves (panai olai) were used as writing material. The trunks of the palm are used in the construction of houses.

Nearly 95% of the palm trees in Sri Lanka grow in Jaffna, Killinochchi and Mannar in the north of the country with the remaining palm trees growing in parts of the eastern province, north central and north west and southern province. The potential of palm trees has not been realized in the rest of the country and even in the north where it has played a very significant role in the day to day lives of people, people have gradually reduced using it in the last few decades. The Palmyrah research institute and Palmyrah development board are currently trying to revive and promote this cottage industry.