Skip to main content

Tortellini a la Travancore


  The term 'Kerala' to most South Indians, brings to mind a verdant pristine land lush with Coconut, Cashew, Banana & Jackfruit trees, an image of prosperity combined with a certain sense of inner calm. To the rest of the world, it is the land of spices, that indispensable cornucopia of Natures bounty that makes food palatable.
Traditional Kerala Cuisine makes use of jaggery / 'gud'( unrefined sugar before the molasses have been removed) which has a certain 'winey' depth of flavor. This adds an extra dimension to the taste profile of any dish its added to. Other staple ingredients are Coconut, Plantains, Mangoes & Jackfruit.
Today's dessert presentation is dedicated to all those of you with roots in Kerala. It consists of fried tortellinis stuffed with 'Chakka Varatti' (A jam like sweet primarily made with jackfruit & jaggery) to be served with a 'Vella payasam' made with toasted mung & coconut milk, sweetened with jaggery.
A piece of candied ginger rounds off the presentation by adding a touch of piquant spiciness.
(& the dill is just eye-candy)
Ambrosia from Gods own land!

Chakka Varatti
You need:
1 can Jackfruit,drained
1 cup Jaggery, loosely packed
5-6 pods cardamom, powdered,
1 Tsp powdered Ginger,
1 Tbsp Grated coconut (optional)
2 tbsp Ghee
In a food processor, mince the Jackfruit pieces as per taste.
Microwave the Jaggery with 2-3 tbsp water for 2 minutes, till the lumps have dissolved completely. Strain to remove any residual grit and set aside.
Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed skillet and add the Jackfruit and Jaggery syrup. Mix well and let cook on a low flame till the fruit is soft and all the water has evaporated.
Add the grated coconut, Powdered ginger and cardamom. Stir well, remove from flame and cool.
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight jar.




Vella payasam
½ cup Jaggery loosely packed.
2 tbsp yellow mung dal, toasted golden
½ cup coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
½ tsp Cardamom powder
1-2 tbsp water
1 tbsp ghee
Raisins & Cashew pieces to taste.
Pressure cook the toasted mung dal till soft
Add water to the Jaggery and microwave for 2 minutes till the lumps have dissolved. Strain and set aside
In a Saucepan, combine the cooked dal and the Jaggery syrup and heat till well combined
Add the Cardamom, milk and coconut milk. Heat on a low flame till it begins to boil. Reduce the flame to a simmer for another 5 minutes.
In a separate saucepan, heat ghee and toast the Cashews & Raisins till golden.
Stir in the Cashews and raisins to the Payasam . Serve chilled.


Chakka Tortellini.
For the Dough,
1 cup all purpose flour, + additional flour for dusting
¼ cup water
1-2 tsps Sugar.
Chakka varatti, cooled.
Large Pan of boiling water, or Oil for frying.
Using a spoon and oiled palms, apportion marble sized pieces of the Varatti. Set aside
Dissolve the Sugar in the Water. Knead the flour stiff dough using the Sugar water.
Divide dough into 6 balls, Dust the rolling surface with flour and roll into a thin sheet. Using a biscuit cutter, cut out 2” circles.


Place a ball of the varatti on each circle,


fold over as shown (make sure you squeeze out any air)

to make the tortellini.


If you choose to boil the tortellini, heat water to boiling point, gently place the tortellini in the water and cook till they float up. Remove & Set aside
If deep frying, heat oil & fry till golden brown. The sugar in the dough helps caramelize the pasta.


To Serve
Place 4-6 tortellini in a serving dish alongside a small bowl of chilled vella payasam. And serve with a pair of chopsticks for dipping.



Alternatively, place the tortellini in a shallow bowl and pour Payasam over (This works especially for the deep fried version).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Memories of School and Canteen food (the St. Anthony's Sandwich Chutney)!

September 5th.. every year..
The day is celebrated as Teacher's Day in India where I grew up and went to school. The day, we girls  (My Alma Mater, St. Anthony's Girls High School in Chembur, a suburb of Mumbai,  was an all girls convent run by the sisters of St. Joseph's Convent) would trip over ourselves to give our class teachers bouquets of flowers that we'd all bought from the lone florist 'Bhaiyya' who had a little set up of planks set up over the storm drain outside the compound walls of Saroj Hotel in Chembur Market. I vaguely remember he had 2 selections, a 5 rs. and a 10 Rs. A watchful eye ensured that the two rose buds in the bouquet were fresh and the there was a respectable amount of asters and chrysanthemums. And the cheaper goldenrods were kept to an optimum low!


Resolutions, part deux.

Some of us get to make resolutions not once, but twice every year. The first of course, on January 1st along with the rest of the world and the second time around, the last day of  the Indian festival of Navaratri, The 10th day that marks the end of the festival is known as Vijaya Dashami - the day when scores of kids , willing or not,  are marched off to commence music, dance classes or start learning to play an instrument.

Navratri, once you strip it of its patriarchal trappings, is an empowering festival celebrating the Mother Goddess. Each day, her various attributes (a daughter, a mother, a wife, a warrior, an intellectual,  as an unfettered free spirit etc.) are explored and worshiped. and thefood offering invariably is a protein rich Sundal made with various lentils - a meat substitute, a nod to a pre-Buddhist era when meat was an accepted part of Hinduism.



Back to the resolutions.. you'd have to have been living in a cave this past year not to have been made aware of how …

Aug 9 - Cauliflower Kolhapuri

I have a dear friend from school who lives in the City of Kolhapur in Maharashtra. When I visited her  at the gorgeous heritage resort she owns there en route to a holiday in Goa, she gifted me with a spice blend that I treasured to the last speck. It sat  at the bottom of my freezer and was doled out for special dishes just like Saffron is rationed out in many Indian homes. Its a lip smacking flaming  hot blend of onions, garlic and the famed Kolhapuri Mirch (red chili).

I marinaded cauliflower florets in a paste of this spice blend , salt and oil, and roasted it in a 450 F oven. Finished with a handful of green coriander berries, this was a fabulous treat paired with roomali roti.