Wednesday, January 12, 2011

#63 Kappa/ Kachil Puzhukku

I have been feeling under the weather lately- may be coming down with something. On the other hand, my allergies may be acting up again and what could be better than “Kanji” and “Puzhukku” for some comfort food. Kanji is rice soup and Puzhukku is mostly some kind of starchy vegetable cooked in spices and mashed up with coconut and curry leaves . A puzhukku may or may not have beans added to it. I like it as  a soothing treat for a cold, but R loves it for a regular light supper. Yuca and Malanga are widely grown in Kerala and used to make many authentic dishes. One of my favorites Puzhukku is made of Yuca, but this time, I added some Malanga root to the Yuca. I remember the popular variety of Thiruvathira Puzhukku made with a mix of many root vegetables that my Amma used to serve on the festival - "Thiruvathira".

For those of you who are unfamiliar with these unusual root vegetables--..Malanga(Katchil) is a tuber of a plant originally from parts of Central and South America, Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean, Malanga is a rich and starchy tuber, has an outer coating (brown and white striped) which must be removed and the flesh is cream to pinkish. It has a strong slightly earthy and nutty flavor, very rich in starch and a good source of fiber.  Yuca/ Cassava is called Kappa or Tapioca in Kerala and is a woody shrub also found in South America, Africa and East and South Asia.

Malanga- 1 large as big as a coconut
Grated coconut- 1 cup
Cumin seeds- 1 Tblspn
Garlic-3 pods
Curry Leaves- 2 sprigs
Green Chillies- 3
Haldi powder/turmeric- ½ tspn
Salt to taste, Oil
  1. Remove the skins from both the Yuca and Malanga. Wash well and start cubing them.
  2. Keep the cubed tubers in separate bowls since they have different cooking times.
  3. Grind the Coconut along with the Cumin seeds, green chillies and garlic to a coarse paste.
  4. Take a large pot and add about 1 liter of water and let it boil.
  5. Add the Yuca cubes to the water and let it cook halfway. When done, turn off the fire.
  6. Drain most of the water and keep aside. Save about 1 cup of cooking liquid for use in making the curry.
  7. Add the same amount of water to the same pot and cook the Malanga and keep aside. The Malanga cooks much faster
  8. Make sure Malanga is just half cooked. It is easy to overcook it. Drain well and keep aside.
  9. Take the Yuca and toss it back into the same pot over a slow fire, add 1 cup cooking liquid, haldi, salt and the coconut paste.
  10.  When the yucca and ground paste have exchanged their flavors, add malanga cubes and a little water if needed.
  11. When all the flavors have blended into each other, turn the fire off add cut curry leaves and 1 tspn oil.
  12. Mix well and serve with rice soup or spicy fish curry and crispy pappadams.

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