Daily Archives: September 20, 2017

Pooti Aachi Vengaya Thuvayal – Great Grandmother’s Onion Chutney



This post is a tribute to the almost nonagenarian, my 89 year old grandmother-aachi, whose kitchen I peeped into as a kid. It has been a beautiful journey of love, love and love alone – millions of life’s lessons learnt from thousands of chatting sessions. The soft yet strong hands have produced en-numerous delicacies with tonnes of affection. I see those soft hands that have turned wrinkled and bony… and realize life’s harsh truths. The truth of aging, might not be as bad as I sound.. as we learn the art of aging graciously. But seeing our elders age is certainly one among the severest truths.



When I hold those hands now, I feel the same warmth among those pressing bones that protrude. How many nei urundais (lentils sweet) and pathirpeni (sugary crisps) and murukkus (savoury crisps) have these hands made and served, the taste still lingering in our minds…
When I see the glittering child like smile amidst those few clinging teeth and skinny cheeks, I long for the same energetic glee that has welcomed us home from school…
When I now listen to the never ending stories through the tired voice, I hope to hear the tamil songs sung to me and the gossips of the household with the same youthful tone…
When I look into those wrinkled sleepy eyes, I think of those youthful eyes that admired my every move…

But.. the joy of having aachis/grandmothers to tell you stories and admire your children is certainly a boon.

at work – great grandmother and great grand daughter


When I see my little daughter enjoy the company of Pooti Aachi/Great Grandmother and play several games, I am astonished by the connect of an almost ninety year old with a nine year old and also the other way round! The passion to connect can well be understood by today’s generation of social networks. This is a great connect, that needs no wi-fi. This is the generational link that passes through four generations of interdependent relationships. Quite amazing..truly no words to express.

This is yet another trademark Aachi’s recipe. This storable Onion Chutney is simply the best of chutneys and a great preserve. It can be stored for weeks without a refrigerator. But.. brush your teeth before meeting people.. these are onions and garlic.

The name normally associated with the thuvayal/chutney is vengaya thuvayal or onion chutney. But when it became my daughter’s most favorite chutney, she renamed it as ‘Pooti Aachi Vengaya Thuvayal’ – what else could suit the best of dishes – with the four generational connect. So each time we go home, this is packed on demand…

Due to old age, pooti aachi/great grand ma doesn’t make it anymore. It is made by her daugther-in-law – Amma who has been making this for decades now. But, aachi insists to stand behind to guide, so that nothing is missed. Such emphasis on perfection… certain traits of old age one can’t avoid, I suppose. Though Amma makes the same Great Grandmother’s Onion Chutney to perfection, but she needs to wait a few more decades to earn that name- ‘Pooti Aachi’ and the chutney to be named after her.

So, this post is completely in admiration of that Grand Lady of True Affection, whom I always long would stay with me forever.

Pooti Aachi Vengaya Thuvayal


The chutney is a very simple one, that involves patience and care… the same qualities that I respect my Aachi for.



To grind-

  • chinna vengayam/shallots – 4 cups (appr. 600 gms peeled)
  • poondu/garlic – 1 cup – (appr. 150 gms peeled)
  • milagai vatral/red chillies – 10 no.s

For Tempering-

  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 1/2 cup
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 2 tsp
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – 3 tbsp


  • salt – to taste
  • juice of 2 small lemons

Method of Preparation

1. Wash and peel shallots and garlic and cut into random pieces

2. Fry red chillies in droplets of oil, this helps the seeds to grind well with onion and garlic


3. First dry grind the roasted red chillies and then grind the shallots and garlic with chillies into a smooth paste


4. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 1/4 cup oil

5. Drop the mustard seeds and once they splutter, simmer stove and add curry leaves

6. Fry for a few seconds and pour the blended paste

7. Increase the flame and bring it to boil


8. Then, simmer again and let this mixture cook well – it would take at least 20 minutes to reach a thicker consistency.

9. Do not add salt till this stage. As the mixture thickens, we will need lesser salt

10. Add salt and tell it thicken more… say another 5 minutes

11. When the colour of the chutney reaches brown colour .. remember it was off-white in the beginning, add juice of 1 big lemon or 2 small lemons

from off-white


to brown


12. Once the lemon juice is incorporated, we can notice the colour change in the thuvayal from brown to black.

13. Do not overcook after adding lemon juice…as it will make the chutney bitter

14. After addition of lemon juice, the time needed would be approximately  3 minutes for the chutney to be ready


15. Enjoy with all kinds of Idlies and Dosais or even breads and rotis…why not!!


Maappillai Samba Dosai/Pancakes – Dosai with Native/Traditional Varieties of Tamilnadu – 5


maappillai samba arisi/rice


and ILAVATTAKKAL- the stone of the Youth

photo courtesy: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/village-life-for-real/article7521099.ece

Love and Valour have been the main sources of Life and Literature of the Tamils for more than 2000 years (Sangam Tamil Literature dates back to 3rd century BCE to 3rd century ACE).

‘Ilavattakkal’ -roughly translated as ‘the stone of the youngster’ – is an almost forgotten symbolic stone of the Bridegrooms among the Tamils Community. It is a huge stone which was used as a means to judge the physical and mental strength of the ‘Groom in Talk’ for their daughter. To lift the heavy, slippery, beautifully round stone needed great valour, fearlessness, manliness and tonnes of courage. This was an unambiguous assessment of the stamina of the Man, who was seeking the hands of their Daughter. The process was carried out in front of the village elders. The strong man gets the girl.

There are several stages in lifting the ‘Ilavattakkal’.

1. First, the man sits in squatting position

2. and tries to hug the (huge) stone closer to the chest

3. Slightly gets up and moves the stone down till his knees

4. Standing erect, lifts the stone slowly back to the chest

5. Then moves the stone gradually upward to shoulders

6. Holds the stone at shoulder position

7. Beyond holding the stone, taking a circumambulation of the temple or the village pond is another act to prove extra valour.

Translated from information provided from www.eegarai.net/t131596-topic

Generally, after lifting the stone on the shoulder, throwing it down behind makes the young man an eligible Groom.

View this video and know it yourself  –

Courtesy Link – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kog3LiZTp0

Now, what is the match between Ilavattakkal and Mappillai Samba Rice, the next native rice variety we are talking about?

The Tamils who have been cultivators of thousands of varieties of rice for the two or three millenia, the trail of mankind has been traced –  have classified different rice varieties for different purposes. A few are listed below.

Mappillai Samba Rice was supposed to be a strengthening rice for ‘Mappillai’ or the groom ready for marriage.

Kavuni Rice was a variety meant to be consumed after marriage.

Poonkar Rice was meant to be consumed by women during Pregnancy.

Paal kudavaarai was given to women after child birth, for sufficient milk production. (paal means milk in tamil).

Vaaran Samba was given to babies after sixth month.

Kaattuyaanam was given to cure Knee ailments

Translated from the information published in – www.dinakaran.com/News_Detail.asp?Nid=222139

Hence, the name ‘Mappillai Samba’ is derived from the person the rice is given to -The Groom to be – for strength and health . Maappillai or Mapillai means Bride-Groom in Tamil.

Additionally, this rice boosts immunity and helps tackling Diabetes, among several other health benefits.

Mappillai Samba Kanji or Porridge made from this rice is a sort after tasty simple dish. I tried making Dosai and here is how I made them.

Mappillai Samba Arisi Dosai/Pancakes



Ingredients (makes approximately 10-12 dosais)


• maappillai samba arisi/rice – 1 ½ cups
• karuppu ulundhu/black gram – ½ cup
• vendhayam/fenugreek seeds – ½ tsp
• kal uppu/rock salt – ½ tsp

Method of Preparation

Making batter-


1. Wash well maappillai samba arisi and black gram.
2. Add fenugreek seeds and soak overnight or minimum 6 hours in water
3. Grind well in a grinder or any blender
4. Once ground into a fine batter add rock salt and mix well or grind the rock salt in the end.
5. Leave the batter overnight or until fermented well.
6. Dosai batter is ready for use.

Making Dosai-

1. Heat dosaikal or the pancake pan on stove
2. Pour a ladle of batter and spread into perfect round pancakes – preferably thin
3. Pour droplets of gingelly oil on the sides of the Dosai for easy lift of pancake.


4. Turn the Dosai to the other side and let it cook
5. Take out once done- remember it would take just about 30-50 seconds to cook one side of thin Dosai. If one keeps it longer, the texture of pancake would be lost.

6. Maappillai Arisi Dosai comes out real crispy.