During our school and college years, we used to motor from Kollam to Ernakulam to visit our grandparents.The smell,sound and sight of every milestone is so strongly etched in my memory slate that even now as we go down the road, we await those familiar landmarks in anticipation. Here is Neendakara Palam below which the rolling waves of the Arabian Sea meet the placid backwaters of Ashtamudi Kayal – the gateway to the backwaters of Kerala. Here you see the cheenavala fishing nets , the boats hustling to get the early catch, the strong smell of fish and the calls of bidders. The car passes over the wooden planks of the bridge (now concrete) making a funny clickety-clack noise. Here is Oachira temple, where we pray to goddess Bhagavathi and settle in to the journey most familiar.
And then the Venice of the East – Alapuzha where we savour the delightful, famed Allepey fish curry in the traveller’s bungalow. Here is the oldest film production studio in Kerala – Udaya Studios – with its dear familiar rooster in an ever cock-a-doodle-doo pose down the silky stretch of road. Here are the white sands of Cherthala stretching on either side of the road, shimmering in the rays of the summer sun. And then the Palluruthy palam, the Venduruthy palam and we pass into the loving embrace of our Tharavadu veedu in Ernakulam.
Summer has arrived, the heat and humidity has arrived, but so has the luscious mangoes and the honey – sweet jackfruit / varikka chakka. I can see in my mind’s eye heaps of mangoes of different varieties. My grandmother allowed us to feast on them anytime; especially after a sumptuous lunch, we used to rush there to get our dessert – the small and juicy chandrakaaran mambazham. Mango chutney is a side dish that goes well with anything and everything, especially curd rice.
Mango Chammanthi – Mango Chutney
- Raw Green Mango -1 small
- Grated Fresh Coconut -1cup
- Small Onions -3, cut small
- Red Chillies – 2 or Chilly Powder -1/2 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Curry leaves – 3
- Coconut Oil -1 tsp
- Peel off the skin of the mango. Slice and cut the flesh of the mango into small pieces. Discard the seed.
- Grate coconut.
- Grind red chillies first, add mango pieces, coconut scrapings and grind. Again add small onions, curry leaves and salt. Grind it coarsely.
- Lastly transfer it into a bowl. Add coconut oil to it. Mix well and mango chutney is now ready.
- Red chilly can be increased or decreased as per your liking.
Quick tip –Small onions can be skinned easily if they are soaked in water for an hour or two.
Quick snack – Groundnut salad
- Roast 1 cup groundnuts, take the skin off and keep aside.
- Cut 1 onion, half to 1 green chilly, 1 sprig coriander leaf, fine and small. Mix them in a bowl.
- Wash, peel and grate half a carrot. Add it to the onion mixture. Sprinkle the juice of half a lime and salt over the mixture.
- Add the peanuts to the mixture and mix well. Transfer it into a serving bowl. Now there is a colorful, anytime snack ready. Try it!