Food

Here’s your guide to ordering traditional Deepavali food in Chennai

It has been a busy week for the city’s cooks, many of who have been working 12 hours a day to ensure your halwa, laddoos and legiyam are ready in time for Deepavali

The countdown to Deepavali has begun, and there is a sense of urgency in the air, mingling with the festive scent of ghee, saffron and cardamom. At his expansive, centralised kitchen, wedding caterer Subham Ganesan and his team are making large batches of traditional sweets such as jangri, Mysore pak, laddoo, maaladdoo, badusha and halwa with clockwork precision. As each batch emerges, it is quickly packed and distributed for pre-orders. Meanwhile, another set of containers is being packed for Ganesan’s popular seasonal sales counter at St Mary’s Road.

Ganesan likes tradition, and this is an annual tradition he has been meticulously following for 20 years. A computer programmer-turned-caterer, Ganesan set up a small shop in East Mada street in Mylapore to sell sweets and savouries in 1988. A few years later, he launched Subham Ganesan Marriage Catering Services. “The inspiration was my father who was into the catering business in Kanchipuram. Our customers started demanding seer bakshanam for thala Deepavali. That is how we started large-scale preparation of sweets and savouries exclusively for this festival,” he says. He adds that while sweets are made in the central kitchen in Jeth Nagar in Mylapore, all the savouries are made in Kanchipuram. His Kanchipuram facility, built on one acre of land, is where all the savouries are manufactured and raw materials are processed and readied.

Inside the kitchen, Ganesan supervises jaggery syrup being made. It is added slowly to rice flour, then mixed into a soft dough. Lemon-sized spheres are created, dipped in ghee and flattened by hand, before being fried in oil. The shimmering brownish-gold fried discs of adhirasams are finally placed on a wooden plank, where they are gently pressed to expel excess oil. Similarly, fermented urad dal batter is poured into a cloth and held over hot oil in a kadai, then quickly rotated in a circular motion, to make interlocked orange jangris, which are then drenched in sugar syrup. In a corner of the kitchen, two cooks slice Mysore pak into perfect rectangles.

Ganesan has 100 permanent staff who are involved in the wedding catering. They cater to about 150 weddings or more in a year, and during Deepavali all of them are deployed in the sweets and savouries department. “We also take up wedding catering during the festival season as that is our main area of operation,” says Ganesan. Ten cooks supervise the operation. During the Deepavali season, 50 temporary staff are hired in addition to the 100 permanent staff, and they are involved in packing, loading products, unloading raw materials and delivery.

Procuring of raw materials and processing of rice flour and besan flour begins one month ahead of the festival. “A lot of effort goes into sourcing good quality rice, gram, dal, oil, spices and ghee, and preparing the items in a hygienic environment,” says Ganesan. This year, he says, two tonnes of Bengal gram, three tonnes of jaggery, six tonnes of sugar, three tonnes of rice, 500 tins of oil (each 15 kilograms), and 100 tins of ghee were used.

Cooks arrive by 7 am and begin their work by 8 am; they work well past 8 pm. “We have started making karupatti (palm jaggery) Mysore pak this year, and also introduced carrot and beetroot flavours. However, it is the adhirasam that is ruling during Deepavali, closely followed by laddoo, saffron jangri and Horlicks Mysore pak. In savouries, we are best known for our special mixture, thattai and ribbon pakoda.”

Subham Ganesan’s sweets and savouries are available at his outlets in Mandaveli and Pallikaranai and also at all outlets of Giri Trading Agencies. The sale of sweets ends by October 26.

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Home cooks unite

Here’s your guide to ordering traditional Deepavali food in Chennai

Chennai-based online store, www.sweetkaaramcoffee.com, which collaborates with home cooks in and around the city, has combo offers that come packed in eco-friendly jute bags. N Venkatesan, head, operations and branding, says, “Our sweets and savouries combos come with a kilogram of assorted traditional dishes. Both come with a bottle of Gangajal and Deepavali legiyam, which is a traditional herb-based medicinal preparation made during Deepavali mainly to aid in digestion of sweets and savouries. We courier it all over India and overseas as well within three days.” The website is popular for special Madras mixture that is rich with almonds and cashews. They have over 25 home cooks supplying a wide range of sweets, snacks, pickles, podis and even coffee powder. “Our mission is to popularise home-style traditional food, as a tribute to grandmothers. The popularity of our products is because our home chefs do not use preservatives and their recipes are handed down from generation to generation,” says Venkatesan.

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Here comes Pattappa

Here’s your guide to ordering traditional Deepavali food in Chennai

Pattappa Caterer’s Deepavali Bakshanam camp is a joyous chaos of steaming filter coffee, large families and busy sales. Customers throng his counters at Hemamalini Kalyana Mandapam (Lloyds road) that are set up five days before the festival. They even have representatives from courier companies on hand, to handle overseas and local couriers.

Caterer LV Pattappa himself oversees the preparations, while also making time to serve coffee to loyal customers who drop by to greet him. The process is organised: the staff hands over a list with items made at the venue. You have to tick the item and write the quantity required. A token number is then given and as you wait for your turn to pay, they serve a light, complimentary breakfast, lunch or tiffin. “We are making more jaggery-based sweets such as vella laddoo, special maa laddoo and manoharam,” he says, adding, “This Deepavali, we are making cashew cake with palm sugar. Other popular items are saffron jangri, badam halwa and gulab jamoon. In savouries, it is kara boondi, mixture, ribbon peda and omapodi that move fast.”

Pattappa’s goodies are available at the venue till October 26, 10 am to 9 pm.

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Thank Mother Earth

Chennai-based Terra Earth Food Store produces snacks, sweets, cookies, mixes and more using organically grown, unrefined, unprocessed and unpolished ingredients. Their products are gluten-free and over 90% of the items are vegan as well.

For Deepavali, the store has launched three collections — Mother Earth, Go Green and Sunshine. The Mother Earth collection includes goodies like kavuni arisi black ribbon, ragi fruit and seed laddoo, and filter coffee Mysore pak. All items in the collection are made with palm sugar, ethnic rices and millets, cold-pressed organic coconut oil, Himalayan salt and so on. Ingredients common to the Go Green Collection are spinach, wheatgrass, green chillies and green beans, along with millets, palm sugar and coconut oil. The items here include beans Mysore pak, green mixture with spinach and karpooravalli, and arakeerai kaju katli. Sunshine collection focusses on treats made with ethnic rice and millets and has turmeric cardamom raisin laddoo, carrot and dates Mysore pak, and more.

All three categories come in decorative unbleached gift boxes, at all Terra Earth Food Store outlets. 9551395522

Decades of Deepavali

This 76-year-old store Mylapore Ganapathy’s Butter & Ghee in, well, Mylapore, has 15 types of sweets and 12 types of savouries specially made for the festival of lights. The store is best known for its adhirasam, made with sugar and jaggery, as well as paasiparuppu (green moong) maaladdoo or nei urundai. Most of their items are sourced from home cooks in and around the Mylapore area.

Ganapathy’s Mylapore, 10 am to 9 pm, 24640292

Say it with Karupatti

M. Murali of Sri Krishna Sweets says that their Deepavali treat in a tin box is popular. It is filled with an assortment of Mysurpa, Sonpapdi, Laddu, Badusha, Halwa, Athirasam, Mixture, Kara Pori, Seedai, Kadala Mittai and Kamarkattu. Customers who buy the Deepavali Special box, get a complimentary box consisting of Gangaajal, legiyam, Vasanai Podi (a harbal powder used to wash hair) and Mooligai Oil (herb infused hair oil). These boxes are available for sale at all outlets from October 25 to 27. (Rs. 625 inclusive of taxes.)

The Karuppatti range of products does not use of any chemical agents and preservatives, says Murali. Sugar is completely replaced with this unrefined plam jaggery, making it healthy.There is a steady increase of sales in Karuppatti Katli and Karuppatti Badam Halwa due to popular demand he adds. The Karuppatti range includes Karupatti Cake, Karupatti Kalakand, Karupatti Wheat Halwa, Karupatti Mahamettai and Karuppatti Laddu. Their latest initiative, Celebrating India, is a collection of 29 sweets from different states of India, in a gift box.

For details, call, Toll free number 1800 102 2343.

Something special

With 31 branches across the city, Ganga Sweets is gearing up for the festival with combo boxes of sweets and snacks, nuts and sweets, dry fruits and sweets. “The gift boxes have sweets such as rasmalai, gulab jamun and sonpapdi along with a portion of Chennai mixture, which is an evergreen hit in our list,” says Senthil Kumar, managing partner of Ganga Sweets. The mixture is generous about mixing in almonds and cashew nuts, which could be the reason for its popularity.

Apart from adhirasam, Mysore pak and badusha, the shop specialises in cashew sweets. Their kaju cake is designed with a base shaped like a cashew shell, and has a topping made by combining almonds, cashew nuts, pistachios and honey. “This is a Ganga Sweets exclusive, not made by anyone else in the city,” he declares.

Ganga Sweets, all outlets, 1800 425 3300, 8 am to 10 pm.

Aaha Aavin

The Tamil Nadu Cooperative Milk Producers Federation’s brand Aavin, has a tradition of selling sweets manufactured with their own products during Deepavali. According to officials at Aavin, Special Nuts Halwa, Badam Halwa, Cashew Cake, Milk Cake, Dates Khoa and Badusha will be made available exclusively for Deepavali. Apart from this, they stock khoa, mysurpa and gulab jamun through the year.

Available at all Aavin outlets across the city. Toll Free Number 1800 425 3300

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 7:08:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/where-to-order-traditional-deepavali-food-in-chennai/article29777976.ece

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