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Winter vegetables and more

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by Anandchitra, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. Anandchitra

    Anandchitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Winter was definitely on the mild side in Chennai and Madurai where we grew up. We can really narrow the winter months to December and January at the most. Other months like November and February can be considered as Fall if so.
    Winter was marked by the vegetable we used to get then. One of the famous, at least famous in my family was Koorkan Kizhangu.
    This is a root vegetable similar to potatoes and its size was small more like baby potatoes even smaller. Would be dark in color and caked in mud and soil when we opened our gunny bag parceled from a town in Kerala for my FIL.
    It was without doubt one of the favorites with my dh and FIL. So our relatives were kind enough to send it back then.
    I was the only one who dreaded the arrival of this kizhangu as it used to fall on me to scrub and clean it under water. Trust me these Kizhangus strictly adhered to the dirt and soil so a lot of scrubbing underwent on the cold mornings of December.
    Once scrubbed and cleaned it could be prepared so very tasty that there would never be any leftovers. Here’s how my MIL used to cook it.
    The Koorkan Kizhangu would be pressure cooked and then in a kadai warm coconut oil and put the cut cooked pieces and fry with salt added.
    If I were to cook today, I would still use Coconut oil for its flavor on this “Mezhukku Peratti” is unmistakable.
    The other significant vegetable for me during winter was Kavathu. It was a must for “kali” and Kavathu for Thiruvadhiri.
    My late MIL without any doubts made the best Kalee and Kavathu kootu I have ever tasted. I can boldly say so as my mother a really good cook is not going to read this.
    These days I get excellent Pumpkins and Squashes.
    The other event that marks winter is the Margazhi month bhajans and kolams.
    I can not say I went along with the Bhajans or to the temples early mornings but I remember my grandmother did and brought back tasty sweets back from the temple.
    I do however took part in all the kolams that went on early mornings. This I felt was more prevalent in Madurai than Madras.
    We used to get ready the previous night cleaning the area to put the kolam in and mornings would be a race among same age girls.
    Not the least that this month marks is the Music season in Madras. I have to say that we should be grateful to famous singers who grace the local temples for free concerts.
    So does anyone else remember anything else with the onset of Winter?
     
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  2. chrisju

    chrisju New IL'ite

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    hi reading ur blog took me to malgudi days. i mean it was funny & reminded me of swami & his cohorts.
     
  3. vaidehi

    vaidehi Silver IL'ite

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    Dear AC Mam,

    U made me remind of my days in Kerala, ooh how i miss eating koorkai, its my eternal favourite too, We too used to get bags full of this vege to bangalore and since it usually stays for mths would make mezhku perati with chakkai kottai and koorkai.

    I did find these koorkai in the freezer section, in US under the name of Chinese potatoes, but it didn't taste what we get in india Minus their Mud flavour and taste. i guess thats the kick of this particular veggie.

    U made me Drool Chitra Mam,

    Vaidehi
     
  4. Anandchitra

    Anandchitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Vaidehi I am so glad that there is one other person like us out there.. I will give this chinese potato a try.. but from what you say my dh will not like it.
    We used to make it in iron pans... and adding jack fruit seeds incredible flavor.
    I hope you agree with me that only coconut oil can be used!
    Thanks for stepping in:)
     
  5. Paulina

    Paulina Moderator Staff Member Platinum IL'ite

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    Hi AC,
    Your title made me believe that this would be a blog on your gardening skills .....I know you have a green thumb and are adept at gardening and have an enviable garden at home especially the vegetables.
    Lovely reading about your tryst with the koorkan kizhangu and the final product the 'Mezhukku Perrati' with the coconut oil ofcourse!
    Reading about the exotic Koorkai took me back to the late eighties when we used to live in Berlin, Germany.
    The one and only Indian store called 'SITARA STORES' used to get the load of Koorkai to the delight of the Southies....once in a while .And when Koorkai landed we used to get the call and what a mad rush it used to be .
    The shop owner used to keep our share safely tucked away thanks to DH and his station there and we used to pick it up stealthily ! I must confess that I'm not much of a Koorkai fan ...I think I got put off because of the hard work involved !! Dh is a great worshipper of this root veggie and so I kind of accepted it as he enjoyed it so much.
    Yes, Chennai's winter is here now and the city is gearing up for all the melodious music sabhas etc.,
    Enjoyed your nostalgic trip of your Chennai winters .
     
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  6. Amywos

    Amywos Bronze IL'ite

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    AC Mam, I can really feel the refreshing winter reading your blog. Not to forget the Maargazhi kolams and bhajans. It was lots of fun..Unforgettable moments :) Nice reading your blog..as usual :)

    Love,
    Amy
     
  7. Anandchitra

    Anandchitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Koorkan Kizhangu if done well tastes EXCELLENT. And with that flavor brought in by coconut oil.. hmm yummy! Thanks Paulina.
    Like you I was not all that enthralled by this kookan kizhangu as much as my late FIL used to be.
    We had an old iron pan that had seen too many days and years rather.
    The koorkai used to be sitr fried in it. Needless to say the other one here to add such flavor to Mulakootal was jackfruit seeds.
    Those days when you used to get these rare veg must have been fun. I can only imagine the call coming thru and all rushing to get their rationed stock.
    These small events are what make our memory so special:)
     
  8. Anandchitra

    Anandchitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Amy glad you liked the kolams or rangoli some that were more special during the Markazhi months. thanks much dear for stepping in:)
     
  9. ANK

    ANK Bronze IL'ite

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    AC!!!

    U made me salivate, reading about Koorka Mezhukuperatti! I just luv it! The moment I reach my mum's place, thats what I go looking for! She knows that I luv it, and makes sure she has made it! I AM IN LUV WITH KOORKA, AND MISS IT ALL THE TIME!
     
  10. cheerful

    cheerful Bronze IL'ite

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    Dear AC, that's our favorite too, my Dad likes it very much. Last time when I visited india(Dec), I remember there was Koorka for everyday and finally i remember i asked my Dad 'are you buying this daily because no other vegitables available nowadays'. Do you know AC, nowadays in order for keralites to eat any vegetable it has to come from Tamilnadu. So i really thought there is a problem with the availability f other vegetables.
    But i never thought Koorka was a winter vegetable. Jut like you we like it a lot with 'Chakka kuru', specially my sister.She is a Coorka and Chakka kuru fanbatic. She does not mind going on strike if my mother did not cook though she bought it for next day.
    It was so good to read it , and it remembered me many koorka stories in our family while growing up.
    Cheerful
     

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