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PANKAJA SRINIVASAN
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Eating out In a corner of Adyar Ananda Bhavan, two women cook incredible kozhakattais

Hot, soft ones Kozhakattais at Adayar Ananda Bhavan in Gandhipuram Photo:K.Ananthan
Hot, soft ones Kozhakattais at Adayar Ananda Bhavan in Gandhipuram Photo:K.Ananthan

I t is too soon to be talking about food again. Most of us are reeling after the Deepavali onslaught. But here is a fresh, light, perfectly made and most importantly ‘not sweet' tiffin that you can actually put away without protest – the uppu kozhakattai.

The kozhakattai crumbles the minute the spoon touches it. Flakes of coconut scatter prettily around the plate, a wisp of steam drifts out and there is a party in my mouth. Green chillies, ginger, coconut, asafoetida and chana dal in the rice preparation is enough to make you sigh, every time.

There are many branches of the Adyar Ananda Bhavan. But this one, outside the Gandhipuram bus stand, is special. That's because two women, Rajam and Sita, make the best kozhakattais, ever. Buy your coupons and go round to where the two knead, stir, spice and steam their speciality. It is lovely how the two smile widely in welcome. But they wonder what all the fuss is about when we ask them about their kozhakattais and themselves. Rajam is around 50 years old, she thinks, and Sita is 36. They have been doing this for years. Obviously, Rajam has never been asked about her cooking skills before and she only manages a shy smile and a muttered, “I like cooking,” while the younger Sita is more forthcoming. She once cooked for a zamindaar family. She always enjoyed catering, she says. Now the two come to work at noon and by four in the afternoon they start belting out the beautiful, plump white, fluffy, soft-as-a-petal snack.

While at home, it is usually ‘kai alavu', here the ingredients are carefully measured out. The key ingredients are the ravaa made out of boiled rice, chana dal, and zesty ginger, green chillies and asafoetida. Then there is the coconut, some of it grated and the rest of it cut into bit-size, that give you the surprise crunch.

Rajam and Sita say that they are encouraged to make traditional fare. There are goodies from Rajapalayam that you may not see much of in eateries. It is nice that there are still places in Coimbatore that have not been entirely run over by manchurians and mushrooms. Adyar Ananda Bhavan has other hot favourites too. They have a chat corner that has lip smacking bhelpuri, their range of sweets is well known. But the hero is undoubtedly the kozhakattais.

PANKAJA SRINIVASAN

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