Drinks, Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Panakam

panakamPanakam is a simple sweet drink prepared during festivals like Rama Navami. In my village, Thekkegramam, this drink is served to people pulling the temple chariot on Rama Navami day. Some households would keep a huge vessel full of Panakam and serve it to every thirsty passerby. It is a good thirst quencher and natural body coolant. It is healthy since jaggery is used instead of sugar. Dry ginger powder and cardamom powder used for flavoring gives it special aroma and taste. There is no specific recipe for this drink as it is very simple and can be made as per personal preference.

Ingredients:
Jaggery – 1/2 cup
Water – 2 cups
Cardamom powder – a pinch
Dry ginger powder/chukku, soonth – 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice (optional) – 2 tsps or to taste

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Makes 2 glasses

Method: Add water to the jaggery and let it melt. Add cardamom, dry ginger powder, and lemon juice. Mix well. Use a strainer to filter it out. Chill and serve.

Tips: You may add few Tulasi (basil) leaves for garnish. You can also add a pinch of pepper powder to jazz it up.
You may omit lemon juice. Just the cardamom and dry ginger gives a wonderful flavor and taste.
This is a default item that we make at home after we have finished making jaggery coated banana chips. A lot of jaggery, dry ginger powder, and elaichi remains in the vessel in which the chips are made. So just add water to the vessel and make a drink.

Drinks, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Chukku Kaapi (Dry Ginger Coffee)

Sitting snuggled up in your sofa, warm and cozy, watching the drizzle with a steaming cup of coffee in your hand; something all of us wanna do during monsoons. Imagine the coffee had a very interesting twist! Chukku kaapi (dry ginger coffee) is the perfect example of a spicy coffee that can tickle all the taste buds in your tongue.

Ingredients:
Dry ginger (crushed): 1 piece
Jaggery: 1 rectangular piece (as needed)
Tulsi leaves – 4-5
Peppercorns (crushed) – 1/2 tsp
Elaichi (crushed) – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1 glass
Coffee powder: 1/2 tsp (optional)

Method:

Boil the glass of water and melt jaggery in it. Add the dry ginger, tulsi leaves, peppercorns, coffee powder, and elaichi and let it boil for 2 minutes. Strain and serve piping hot.

This concoction tastes as good or better even without the coffee powder. So those of you who are conscious of caffeine intake can do away with the coffee powder.

Gently sip in and the sweetness hits you first. As you gulp it down the throat, the heat and spiciness hits you! Thats why it’s a coffee with an interesting twist. Gives you good relief if you have a sore throat and blocked nose. Do give it a try before the monsoons fade away.

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Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Sharkara Varattti (Jaggery-coated Banana Chips)

Mildly spiced sweet chips synonymous with Onam, an indispensable item in sadya (feast).

Ingredients:
Raw plantains (large) – 5 Nos
Jaggery (Sharkkara/achu vellam) – 10 Nos (2 pieces of jaggery per plantain)
Cardamom (Elakkai, elaichi) – 5 nos
Dry ginger powder (soonth, chukku) – 1 tbsp
Coconut oil – 250 gm
Sugar – 2-3 tbsp
Water – enough to immerse the plantains

Preparation Time: 30 mins.
Cooking Time: 30 mins.

Method:
Peel the skin of the plantains and put them in water. Peeling will become easier if you make 3 or 4 vertical cuts on the plantain peel. Keep the plantains immersed in water for around half an hour. Drain the water and pat dry the plantains. While holding the plantain vertically, cut the middle splitting the plantain into two long pieces and then cut into quarter inch sized pieces.

Heat oil in a wide pan (preferably uruli, brass vessel). Bring it to boil. Put the plantain pieces into the boiling oil. You need to stir them continuously the first minute to keep them from sticking to each other. Cook in medium to low fire until the pieces start turning brown. If the pieces are not properly cooked/crisp, the chips will be soggy. So have patience to cook the pieces until they are crisp. Remove the pieces from the oil using a strainer and spread them on tissue paper to absorb excess oil. Keep aside.

Dissolve jaggery in water and bring this to a boil. When the boil settles down and the mixture becomes thick (one-string consistency), add the fried plantain pieces and keep stirring. You can be sure that the consistency is right if you see thin jaggery threads forming while you stir the fried plantain pieces. Add powdered cardamom and dry ginger powder and mix well. After a minute or so, sprinkle the sugar and stir well. Like magic, you will see the wet and sticky jaggery syrup turning dry and the pieces separating. Voila, it’s ready!

Trivia:
This is preparation unique to Kerala. Sharkara varatti is a must for wedding feasts and all types of feasts. I have noticed that it is very popular even among non-keralites. Try it and you will know why.

To those of you who are wondering how different a plantain is from a banana, click here.

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