Bicycling in the streets of phnom penh, one can sense so much similarity to southern indian places. Being a foodie, my eyes and interest obviously stick to those things I value primary. Like the vegetable market especially… loaded with tropical stuff, even some of those rare fruits amd vegetables that have been our childhood nibblers!
I have tried to capture some… let us enjoy it together!
I gave the title ‘The Cambodia Connections’ and also suffixed with ‘I’. There is an ocean of many more things that would follow in future posts, that could be categorised under the same title.
Kothumalli/Coriander is available in plenty. But more than the green, fresh coriander, what attracts the most is the way it has been clipped beautifully with the cut palm leaf or something else I am yet to find out! We call it Kothumalli Kattu is Tamil – it means tied coriander bunch.
the beautiful bunch
Nellikkai/Gooseberry is one of those summer delights which is a sour fruit and when one has a glass of water after, it sweetens ones taste buds.
The health benefits of gooseberry -
enhances food absorption, balances stomach acid, fortifies the liver, nourishes the brain and mental functioning, supports the heart, strengthens the lungs, regulates elimination, enhances fertility, helps the urinary system, is good for the skin, promotes healthier hair, acts as a body coolant, flushes out toxins, increases vitality, strengthens the eyes, improves muscle tone and it acts as an antioxidant.
While Nellikkai is available in the markets and vendors in bicycles – the packet of salt and red chilli powder that comes with the pack made me feel at home truly….. that’s the way we have our raw fruits like mangoes, guavas and gooseberries.
nellikkai with salt and chilli
also known as – Guamachil, Manila Tamarind, Kodukkai Puli/Kodi-kai puli, Sweet Tamarind, Thai-Sweet Tamarind, Madras Thorn, Monkey Pod, Jungle Jilebi, Bilayati Imli, Seema Chintakayalu (Foreign Tamarind), Kona Puliyankai (Twisted Tamarind)
Now, I had been searching this for a long time… in Chennai whenever I go on a holiday. But not been able to find it. This used to be one of our childhood nibblers (if I could call them so) sold out of the school in Thoothukudi. Myself and my cousin who used to come out of school would buy kodukkappalli and nellikkai and munch back home! It is called Kodukkapuli in Tamil and we used to call it kodukkappalli colloquially.
The sweet soury taste still lingers in my tongue.. with some sweet memories too!
the twisted tamarind
Kodukka puli came from the word Kodi-Kai puli which means Vined Tamarind
* peel the black seeds to reveal a brown coating (not the white ‘main’seed inside) and then string them into bracelets
* The pod/pulp is widely used in the tanning industry. Camachile bark used almost exclusively by Filipino tanners
* Used as good timber
* Mucilaginous gum
* Used for preparing yellow dye
The Manila tamarind fruit is low in calories, and including it in your diet can help you meet your daily fiber, vitamin C, iron, calcium and potassium needs.
It promotes normal bowel movements, controls hunger and lowers your risk of heart disease.
It is also an important antioxidant, protecting your cells from free radicals, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
The south of India uses more coconut in cooking. Buying coconut and grating in not a problem anymore. In the market, you choose your coconut and the vendor grates it in front of you. It looks like an indigenous coconut grating machine made from local items.. very interesting!
Karumbu Chaaru/Sugarcane Juice
On a humid, sunny, sweaty day, a glass of sugarcane juice can provide instant energy. Karumbu Chaaru in Tamil. Karumbu is sugarcane and Chaaru means juice. In the streets of Phnom Penh, one can find these small carts/machines and the juice is sold in disposable glasses… covered in a small plastic bag – easy to be hung in cycle handlebars or be placed in water bottle holders in bags. There are also halves of lemon squeezed between the canes while they are being pressed… I think in India, it is also a bit of ginger added while the juice is pressed…if I am right.
The only problem is the glass would first be filled with icecubes it can fully hold and the other approximately 3 or 4 ladles of juice would fill the glass… great chiller ofcourse but solely due to ice. Pay double or triple and you get the same glass full of juice… but my sugarcane lady is very friendly though.. she insists I take ice in the outer bag and she places the closed full juice glass in the ice bag and we reach home with undiluted ice cold karumbu chaaru/sugarcane juice!
stored sugarcanes and the juice
It is truly a warm feeling of being at home! An exploration of more cultural and cuisinical similarities between the Tamils and the Khmers! I shall try my best!
It is Tamil Puthaandu/Tamil New Year on April the 14th. The Khmer New Year called Chaul Chnam Thmey (means Enter New Year) is celebrated for 3 days starting April 13 to April 15.
Puthaandu Vazhthukkal! Happy New Year!
Suo Sdey Chnam Thmey!!
Varutha Meen, Varutha Kathirikkai with Thaalicha Paruppu/ Pan Fried Fish and Pan Fried EggPlant with Seasoned Lentil
Why not try this for a simple sunday meal or even a relaxed saturday meal? Steamed Rice – Thaalicha Paruppu with varutha meen – pan fried small fish and varutha kathirikkai – pan fried spicy eggplant!
Here we get small river fish – which my daughter loves when pan fried… but when cooked in gravy, it is a tedious affair to remove bones. Especially with an inexperienced, recently converted non-vegetarian mother like me.
Cambodia’s inland fisheries are the fourth most productive in the world given the combined capacities of the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and the Mekong River, where more than one million people depend on the fisheries sector for employment, income and food security. Thailand is the largest importer of freshwater fish from Cambodia.
The fish is very quick to make and so is the eggplant – ofcourse the eggplant needs some cutting but the fish – might have been moulded the right size straight from heaven!
Coming to the platter – I just made Steamed Rice and Thaalicha Paruppu (quick-and-easy-thaalicha-paruppuseasoned-lentil) for the main course. As south indians, we always mix up the rice with the lentil or any gravied curry. And compulsorily need a side dish – be it semi gravy kootu(stew of vegetables) or a dry vegetable to have with the mixed lentil and rice.
Now enters the fish and eggplant as side dishes or accompaniment to the main course or the only course on a lazy weekend – lentil and rice. The marination can be an insult to true marination – as in the true sense, we sprinkle the spices and fry – but – a lazy day’s true treat – without doubt!
I. Varutha Meen – Pan Fried Fish
- chiriya Meen/small fish – 1/4 kg (has appr. 25 fishes)
- cooking oil - 5 tbsp (for frying)
- gingelly oil - 2 tsp and curry leaves – a few for seasoning
- turmeric – 1/4 tsp
- pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
- salt – 1/2 tsp or as per taste
Method of Preparation
- Clean the fish and apply salt and turmeric and leave it for 15 minutes. This is believed to help in effective cleaning of any fish before cooking
- Wash well again and then mix in the marinade
- To check salt, mix turmeric, pepper and salt separately and taste for salt and spice and then mix the fish in the spice mixture
- Set aside for a minimum 1 hour in fridge
- Heat oil in pan and place the marinated fish
- Fry till the fish gets the brownish glow and is crispy
- Remove in absorbent paper
- Heat 1 tsp gingelly oil in a pan – might be the same pan
- Add the washed curry leaves and fry
- Place the pan fried fish in a serving bowl
- Garnish with the fried curry leaves.
in the pan
II. Varutha Kathirikkai - Pan Fried EggPlant
Eggplant is very low in calories and fats but rich in soluble fiber content. The peel or skin (deep blue/purple varieties) of aubergine has significant amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins.Scientific studies have shown that these anti-oxidants have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.
It contains good amounts of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3).Further, this vegetable is an also good source of minerals like manganese, copper, iron and potassium.
- kathirikkai/Eggplant – 2 no.s (I used the long ones)
- cooking oil - 5 tbsp or a little more
- turmeric – 1/4 tsp
- salt – as needed
- red chilly powder – 1 tsp
- coriander powder – 1 tsp
Method of Preparation
- Wash eggplant and cut into 1 inch thick pieces
- Keep the pieces in water or the eggplant tends to darken
- When you are ready to marinate it, take out of water and mix the spices and leave for 15 minutes
- As usual heat oil in a pan and fry till done on both sides.
- The quantity of spices can be altered as per taste of the family
- Fish can be used with the head or without. I use them without the head
- A dash of lemon juice while marinating gives a wonderful flavour in both; or just add after the fish is crisply done.
- Lemon juice after the eggplant doesn’t suit much though.
- For marination of eggplant, sambar powder can also be used for even more lazier ladies (I do it sometimes)!
Call it a Simple Sunday Meal and why two dishes? Do some of you feel this way – just opt one per week! Sometimes I feel guilty when my daughter asks why is there a lot of empty space in her plate….. in search of more side dishes! Now, with fish and eggplant her plate was not empty!!
Unpacking still continues.. Unpacking, Arranging and Setting up a new house in a new country is supposedly a never ending task – atleast feels so for now. But Kitchen cannot stop running… but Posting has taken a slow motion twist. But let me tell you, life looks like an action packed thriller – not at all an Exaggeration Please… never under estimate the life of a Home-maker!
Hats Off to my fellow bloggers who don’t let their packing, unpacking and settling down bother blogging and sharing!
That is why I decided for this Quickie Post. This is a thirst quencher, that goes down so cool and comfortable and certainly is a digestive soother.
Even in these busy times, we have been able to travel to the best attraction of Cambodia – Angkor Wat. This travel not only took us to the past but also develop an interest in the connections Indian Kings, especially the Tamil Kings had with Cambodia and South East Asia, very many centuries ago. I think after some serious research, I shall try to deliver in words the beauty and ethnicity of this historic country.
Back to the thirst quencher. Here, the temperature varies between 30 to 35 degrees C in the daytime and might be 25 to 27 degrees C at night. It is important to keep drinking water and provide necessary fluid supply to the system, especially for kids who have their PE (Physical Education) classes at nearly eleven in the morning till 12 before lunch. Also for mothers like me who take a trip to school to drop the lunch box, packed with fresh lunch for our children. (There is always a doubt whether the food would remain fresh if sent by hand, the children leave home by seven as the school starts at 7.30 am).
This drink is truly a chiller! I had it in a restaurant in Chennai during my recent visit. Couldn’t stop with a single glass of the drink… it gave an instant soothing feeling in the scorching chennai humidity. Why not call it Minute Cooler instead of Mint Cooler?! It is not only an instant cooler of the body but is made in a jiffy too.
I named it Pudhina Kulir Chaaru – Pudhina is mint; Kulir is cool or cold and Chaaru is juice.
Good Luck struck me when I came to know my cousin makes it regularly at home. Got the recipe from her and it is a regular at my home (made it twice already).
Though it seems to be more of a summer chiller, this is for all seasons. A drink is a drink isn’t it? Meant for all seasons!
- fresh mint leaves – 3 1/2cups
- water – 500 ml (appr.. 3 cups)
- sugar – 250 mg (appr. 2 cups)
- grated ginger – 3 tsp
- lemon juice – 1/4 cup
lemon and ginger
Method of Preparation
- Clean and wash mint leaves
- Peel, wash and mash ginger coarsely
- Heat water and sugar in a wide bowl and bring it to boil and switch off the stove
- Immedietely add the mint leaves and ginger
- Mix well and close with lid
- Let this cool for atleast 3 hours
- After a minimum of three hours, the mint leaves would have released a pleasing flavour and mild colour to the concentrate
- Ginger would have left a very slight spicy taste
- Let the mixture cool well to add lemon juice
- Squeeze juice of approximately 3 lemons depending upon the size of lemon
- Add the lemon juice to the sugar mint concentrate
- Strain in a small holed strainer and store in fridge
- Mint concentrate is ready and stays for a week in fridge.
Preparation of Mint Cooler
- Take any preferable glass
- Add crushed ice or just ice cubes
- Fill 1/3 portion of the glass with concentrate and the rest with water
- Ready to be served!
- Quantity of Mint leaves can be increased for a more minty flavour
- The same holds good for sugar, ginger and juice of lemon according to one’s taste buds
- Always add lemon juice only after syrup cools well as lemon juice would turn bitter if added in hot syrup
- Green food colour can be added for an exact colour to the Mint Cooler (I have not used green food colour as I prefer not using additional colours)
- To store the concentrate longer, citric acid can be added. Here, I have added only lemon juice and avoided citric acid.
- This concentrate can be stored in fridge for a week. Take my words, it will be done before the time frame!
- Cousin ‘S’ also mentioned, for a more tangy north indian flavour, chat masala can be added while serving.
my pongal platter
- In the plate: Cooked Rice, left bowl – Mangai Sambar (Raw Mango Sambar) , next bowl – Thoothuvalai Rasam (SOLANYMTRILOBATUM Soup) , right corner – Sarkkarai Pongal (Jaggery Rice) ;
- three of the side dishes – up left corner – Pappalikkai Poriyal (Raw Papaya Dry Vegetable Curry), middle – Keerai Kootu (Spinach Stew) and next – Avial (Mixed Vegetables in coconut and curd gravy)
Wishing you all a very happy and success filled NEW YEAR 2013! Thankyou for being such wonderful readers. For me.. each one of you have made this world a delightful arena to share my thoughts.
For those who would have wondered why there has been no news for quite some time.. I was busy planning, listing, shopping and packing my groceries, clothes and other necessary and unnecessary stuff to carry to my next destination!
is was Pongal time! Sankaranthi to other states and Thai Pongal to Tamilnadu!! (
In this new new new life, number one – I mis-calculated the date of Pongal and thought it was on the 15th of January. When I called home to ask for the vegetables for AVIAL – a special down south vegetable dish to make on Pongal day, I had a shock that it was actually the festival Pongal the same day!! Number two – With some other programmes to attend, I decided I would celebrate Pongal on 15th… not to stop the rice boiling ritual that is exclusive part of Pongal celebration. The word ‘Pongal’ itself means ‘to boil’. Paal Pongiyaacha? means has the milk boiled? Here, the sweet jaggery rice made on the day of the festival Pongal is called Sarkkarai Pongal meaning sweet pongal.
There would be two Paanais/vessels. One with plain white rice and water and the other with plain white rice and when it boils, jaggery is added to make Sarkkarai Pongal – the sweet jaggery rice – the delicacy associated with the festival. When the new rice boils and spills over the paanai, women of the house say – ‘Pongalo Pongal’ in chorus.
steel paanai and jaggery in the adjacent bowl
15th of January is the third day of the four day Pongal celebration. First day being Bhogi – cleaning of house and shedding away old unwanted things; the second day is the harvest festival or the thanksgiving to farmers – this Pongal day is the first day of the month of Thai; the third day is Maatu Pongal – thanksgiving to cattle that help in harvest; the fourth day is Kaanum Pongal – the Picnic Pongal!!
As such, when we were young, my mama (maternal uncle) would always ring us up early in the morning on Maatu Pongal day, to wish us Happy Maatu Pongal – a teaser for kids. So Mama, this time I go by your words… I truly celebrate Pongal on Maatu Pongal Day!
So now, in the capital of Cambodia – Phnom Penh, when I saw those sugarcane juice shops which extract fresh juice like those in chennai, I felt delighted… Now, i was in a country where I could buy sugarcane, which is an inseparable ingredient for the true taste of pongal festival. I bought two to keep on either sides of my house entrance.
and later, the transformation till it reached everyone’s taste buds…..
the way aachi cuts
Next, I had to hunt for those harvest vegetables … The traditional, indigenous ones grown inland! My grand plan was to make AVIAL – the humble yet classy dish of Tamilnadu and Kerala.
Avial is a sumptuous combination of all indigenous (ofcourse carrots and beans have become part of it) non-watery vegetables, harvested during the season… made to a semi gravy consistency with the addition of curds and coconut-chilli-cumin paste. Vegetables like ash guard, bottle guard are not used as they shed water while cooking and would hinder the consistency of the dish.
I went to the big kaaikari chandhai – vegetable market in Tamil.. which we had explored couple of days ago and got lost while searching a way to come out. Where all vegetables, fruits, unknown varieties of meat and fish (remember I am still a beginner especially a recently converted non-vegetarian!), freshly grated coconut and many small eateries serving various other unknown food varieties, which I need to explore in the near future!
the ones I could get
I found a few of those I needed … I could not get yam … wasn’t available. Even if they were, I have not yet learnt the differentiation! Others that I missed but can be added in Avial are Avarakkai – Hyacinth Beans, Murungaikkai-Drum sticks, Pudalangai-Snake Guard.
I was so happy to also find more and more of the tropical fruits that I used to love in Tamilnadu…
(bananas, guavas, sugarcane, papaya, tender coconut and jackfruit… and Oh!! I missed those beautiful yellow mangoes kept in the fridge).
Now, before coming to the recipe of Avial… festive sweet of the day – my Sarkkarai Pongal- this time the authentic pacharisi (raw rice) and vellam (jaggery) in the pongal paanai, without the addition of split green gram.
on the way
the special festive food - mangai sambar and thoothuvalai rasam
Though delayed by a day, I tried making a simple feast meal with mangai -raw mango sambar (
) and thoothuvalai rasam ( SOLANYMTRILOBATUM) a herb found in many kitchen gardens.. I got the dry powder from my naatu marundhu kadai- traditional tamil medicine shop. (Rasam is a thin soup not used as an appetiser as popularized outside the south of India and abroad, but is a digestive soup.
). For the side dishes, Keerai/Spinach Kootu (a stew of vegetables) and pappali kai/raw papaya poriyal (dry vegetable curry) and AVIAL.
- mixed vegetables – carrots, beans, egg plant, chow chow\chayote squash, pumpkin, raw banana and potato – 2 to 2 1/2 cups – cut into long pieces
- shallots – 6 no.s
- yoghurt – 1 cup
- grated coconut – 1 cup
- green chillies – 3 no.s
- cumin seeds – 2 tsp
- oil (preferably gingelly oil) – 2 tsp
- mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- dehusked black gram - 1 tsp
- curry leaves – a few
- turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- salt – to taste
vegetables cut long
Method of Preparation
- Wash and cut the vegetables into long pieces
- Steam the vegetables till done. I do it in a microwave steamer for about 8 minutes. Vegetables should not be mushy, but just right to stir well with the gravy
- Make a paste of grated coconut, cumin seeds and green chillies and keep aside
- Heat oil in a wide bottomed vessel; Let mustard seeds splutter, then add dehusked black gram and curry leaves
- Add the shallots and stir fry for a minute till they become opaque
- Now add the steamed vegetables and turmeric powder
- Usually turmeric powder can be added while the vegetables are cooked in pressure cooker. This helps the raw smell of turmeric powder go away faster. Since I steamed in microwave, I added the turmeric powder while stirring in the vegetables
- Stir for a while and add yoghurt and stir
- When yoghurt has blended well with the vegetable, add the ground paste and salt
- Let this cook till the vegetables are cooked well and absorbed in the coconut and yoghurt gravy
- When a semi thick consistency is reached and the raw smell of turmeric and coconut has gone off, Avial is ready.
- Vegetables like egg plant or pumpkin might become mushy very quickly. It is better to cook them just right. When they cook again in the gravy, soft texture would arrive.
- Cooking the vegetables in coconut paste and yoghurt gravy and adding thaalippu/thadka/seasoning in the end can also be done. By this method, mustard seeds and oil would glow on top of Avial and the dish is better presented.
- Vadagam – sun dried onion balls (which contain mustard seeds, curry leaves and other seasoning imgredients) is added in the end instead of seasoning which gives Avial a remarkable flavour. In the absence of vadagam, coarsely chopped shallots are fried dark brown in oil and added for nearly the same flavour.
Isnt it a wonderful feeling to go to your birth place!
My train journey started in Muthunagar Express, also called or nowadays often called Pearl City Express, taking us to Thoothukudi, which is believed the Portuguese converted to Tuticorin for easier tongue twisting(?!).
A short detail on the city -
History of Port
In Literature, the earliest mention has been made in 88 AD in Greek work “Periuplus of the Erythrean Sea”. In AD 124, the earliest reference was made by Ptolemy who has observed – “Country of Kareoi, in the Kolkhic Gulf, where there is a pearl fishery, Sosikourai and Kolkhoi, and emporium at the mouth of the river Solan”. There is little doubt that Ptolemy’s Sosikuorai is no other place than Tuticorin. From AD 200 to AD 1000, no records pertaining to Tuticorin are available.
Rulers in various centuries
The 7th to 9th Century AD were ruled by Pandya Kings and 10 to 12 Century AD it was ruled by Chola Kings. There is a mention that there was a well guarded and natural Harbour where ships could anchor in safety in Tuticorin. Portuguese, Dutch and British ruled India in different time frame. Portuguese sailed into Tuticorin in 1532. In 1649, Dutch captured Tuticorin. Many European visitors particularly English travelers have meticulously recorded their impression of Tuticorin in 17th Century. The impression recorded by Philip Baldaeus, an English missionary, who visited Tuticorin in 1675 are graphic and valuable. The lucrative pearl fishery that flourished under the Dutch is vouchsafed by Jean De Lacome. The English East India Company took over the administration of Tuticorin and its other dependent cities like Kayalpattinam, Punnakayal, Manapad etc. on the 1st June 1825.
the temple Tiruchendur
The Name - Thoothukudi
Originally denominated as ‘Thirumandhira Nagar’, the name of this city was transformed to Tuticorin by the Portuguese who could not pronounce the actual name. Tuticorin is called ‘Thoothukudi’ in Tamil. This term finds its origin from two Tamil words, Thoothu and Kudi. Thoothu means to dig and Kudi means to drink. As this interurban doesn’t have rivers, the people living there have to dig wells and fetch their drinking water. As the other interpretation goes, Thoortha means ‘the land recovered from the sea’ and Kudi stands for a colony or a human settlement. So, the combination of these two terms means a colony that is established on the land which is recovered from the sea.
thoothukudi macaroons made of cashews, egg whites and sugar!
and the french macarons
and the various options
This is the city where I started my early schooling, later after we shifted to Mainland Madras aka Chennai, Thoothukudi was our most favourite holiday destination. The reason was purely, solely one… Thaatha Veedu- grandfather’s house.
Nostalgia! I truly relish!
As kids, we would wait for the last day of the school academic year. Not to just enjoy the start of the vacation, but to catch the train on the same evening to ‘thaatha veedu.’ Wasting even a day in Chennai was not accepted!
Today, when the train crossed Madurai, started my count of speciality foodies and goodies, exclusive to those towns.
- Madurai Malli – jasmine flowers and idlies (rice cakes) as soft and white as jasmine;
- Kadambur poli -sweet rotis;
- Maniyaachi murukku – savory;
- Kovilpatti kadalai mittaai – groundnut chikki and inji maraappa – sweetened ginger cubes;
Not in the train route, but closer to Thoothukudi,
- Srivilliputhur paalkova – sweet milk khoya;
and the very special -
- Tirunelveli halwa – sweet made of wheat flour and lots of nei – clarified butter;
and many more I have missed..
The salient features of the district include its lengthy,curvy and scenic sea coast which was an international cynosure in the days of yore for its pearl fishery; beautiful coastel villages with their sacred temples, churches and mosques like Tiruchendur, Manappadu and Kayalpattinam respectively, Adhichanallur, one of the cradles of the ancient civilizations, Korkai, an ancient port of the Sangam Pandyas,Kayal, the confluence of the river Tamiraparani with the Bay of Bengal,one of the five illustrious rivers of Tamilnadu,
Panchalamkurichi, the capital of Veerapandiya Kattabomman, an early martyr, for the cause of freedom,
Ettayapuram, the birth place of the great poet Subramanya Bharathi,
Ottapidaram the home town of V.O.Chidambaram Pillai,who dared to sail ships as a measure to combat British imperialism;
Maniyachi, where Vanchinathan assassinated Ashe, the British Collector for this high –handedness against the leaders during Swadeshi Movement;
Great missionaries like G.U.Pope, Veeramamunivar, Caldwell and others who, besides their missionary work,contributed a lot for the development of Tamil language and literature and above all the enterprising and hard working people who now constitute a major trading community in the State.
Coming to the goodies corner, Thoothukudi is known for its exclusive sweets – Macaroons, Mundhiri Halwa – Cashewnut Halwa; savouries like Omapodi, Karasevu, Mixture; and those very special bakery products – Plum Cake and various other biscuits!
My memory seems to drive me backwards.. At least some twenty years back!
There we arrive in Thoothukudi, to meet all of nearly ten cousins, nine aunts, minimum of four uncles and aachi and thatha (grand mother and grand father). The palatial house is filled with laughter and giggle, chit chats and continuous cooking, eating and munching special goodies like halwa, macaroons, mixture, omapodi, Kara sevu and many more specialities of Thoothukudi.
The day starts with fresh milk milked from our own thatha veetu maadu .. Cows that belong to grandpa’s house! On Grandpa’s own cows read –
Ground floor, in the kitchen, all the ladies are cooking for almost thirty people per meal, amidst laughter and crazy gossips; we the youngsters climb up the stairs for some secret teenage talk…
Upstairs is a long house, in which some of the rooms are meant to store raw mangoes and guavas. The mangoes are kept in thick patches of straw to ripen faster.
The chat session starts after breakfast, then it continues with the search of ripe mangoes… as a munchy snack! We bend down to search for some ripe mangoes… Successfully pick a few.
Then it is time to wash, squeeze well with hands and make a hole on top and voala! Mangoes are ready. We enjoy those juicy, fruity, tasty mangoes (never count how many). We chat again till lunch…
There is a call from downstairs. We are asked to bring some (more) ripe mangoes for Thayir saadham (
) or as lunch dessert… The search is on again in the big room. We pick the mangoes and proceed downstairs for lunch.
The same search holds good for guavas too! A few of us who would like guavas raw and the few others like me who would prefer ripe… The same straw patch – same search – same enthusiasm.. the fruits are different.
We were young enough for the search.. young enough for the munch and young enough for the non-stop munch to digest too!
I am brought back to reality, not by the train that stopped at Thoothukudi station, but by the voice of vendors in Kovilpatti Station, who sell Kadalai Mittaai and Inji Maraappa, which is exclusive to Indian trains.
A short travel and we reached Thoothukudi. We entered Thatha Veedu - Grandpa’s House! I become a kid whenever I step into that house where i spent most of my vacation time as a little girl.
A trip to Tirunelveli, place of my paternal grandparents and Tiruchendur – the famous Hindu Shore Temple of Lord Murugan used to always be part of the holiday agenda.
I did not want to miss that this time too. We visited Tiruchendhur - the sacred Temple of the Tamil God Murugan-
where he defeated the demon Sooran…
Where Kanda Sashti is celebrated at its best… (
the temple premises
and the trademark elephant
Thiruchendur is one of the very few places one can get ‘cheppu chaamaan’ – wooden toys for kids… Easy to play, less hazardous than plastic, has authentic south indian household utensils, wrapped in exclusive palm leaf baskets.
I was disappointed to find the cheppu chaamaan – wooden toys packed in plastic bags;
Another disappointment was that the number of utensils had drastically reduced.
But, thankfully the traditional puja basket, which has the offerings to Lord Murugan came in the same panai olai petti – palm basket!!
traditional puja basket
Got a wonderful dharshan at the temple and returned back to Thoothukudi. Got to the train station with innumerable thoughts and nostalgic emotions… And got to the next destination to meet more near and dear ones!
Our travel continues…
Good Bye Holland!
So… now, it is bye bye time.
Saying bye to near and dear ones is never easy…
Shifting one’s home can be tremendously pain staking, loaded with the stress of packing things right and holding emotions tight.
I start writing this post from New Delhi Airport Lounge where we wait to board the flight.
The last few weeks have been very busy, not able to communicate with friends through dosaikal and telephone too. So busy that recording emotions and memories of holland in words also did not work out well.
Navratri passed by – no recipes on sundals!
Many special occasions to share and many more new trials on cooking went on and on but no recipes added!
A special post on Wassenaar- the elite city that we live(d) in for more than three years was planned – could not materialize..
Now, I sit in the Airport in India, with the feel of really having shifted, presently homeless, yet to settle in a new place, might be after a month’s break!
Holland has been a wonderful country to live in!
A wonderful country why? A few of them -
a. The beautiful dutch houses;
b. A definite distinction between footpath, cycle path and the motor path that makes commutation so systematic;
c. When one walks on the foot path of the city, whoever comes across, known or unknown would wish a good morgan (good morning) with a friendly smile;
d. Be it the super market or any shop, anyone would start with Dutch, the language of the country, but…. when one mentions that he or she does not know the language, the person would immediately shift to English;
e. Most of them who immediately shift to English would be well versed in many of the European languages;
f. If the forecast says it is a sunny day, they immediately plan to enjoy in the beach or any nearest destination to spend with family and friends;
g. Different kinds of multi geared bicycles and the passion not only to ride it but take to their holiday destination too;
h. The fascinating caravan – the different kinds of caravans one sees on the road in and around the country and around Europe;
i. The different varieties of milk, cheese, yoghurt and various other milk products;
j. The Dutch Blue Pottery;
k. The exclusive flowers in different seasons;
l. Sinterklaas and tulips;
m. The windmills and wind and especially the sky ever ready to rain
the list would go on and on – but…
We have been mesmerised by the Dutch Water Management Skill. They say
“God created Earth and the Dutch created Holland”.
Certainly, this phrase is true. The Dutch have reclaimed many of their cities and towns and they are the world leaders in Land Reclamation!
Today, approximately 27 percent of the Netherlands is actually below sea level. This area is home to over 60 percent of the country’s population of 15.8 million people. The Netherlands, which is approximately the size of the U.S. states Connecticut and Massachusetts combined, has an approximate average elevation of 11 meters (36 feet). The Netherlands ties Lemmefjord, Denmark for claim to the lowest point in Western Europe – Prince Alexander Polder lies at 23 feet (7 meters) below sea level.
The Dutch and their struggle against the sea has made them the true conquerors of their Land from Sea! Actually, there needs to be a special post on the Delta Works and Afsluitdijk - both considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world. For more details see -
The Afsluitdijk is a 32kilometer long dike, which connects the province of North Holland with the province of Friesland. It was constructed between 1927 and 1933 as a fundamental part in a larger plan called the Zuiderzee Works. With the completion of the Afsluitdijk the Zuiderzee (‘Southern Sea’) became the fresh water lake of IJsselmeer.
I shall not stop my Dutch Diary until I have shared my captivated memories on Holland!
So, here I am, ready for the relentless travel that is in front of me… Visiting family and friends in the south of India, learning more authentic dishes from amma and aachi and not to mention the big and small list of shopping for the new place!
For now, it is bye bye Holland and bye bye friends… Thankyou for all those sweet memories and wonderful moments that made our life in this beautiful country a marvellous and an incredible journey to cherish.
Meet you all with my new post from India!