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Indian Diaspora

By Maria Wirth


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Murukku coils made from rice flour

Be it Deepavali or Christmas, in southern cities, late at night, a savoury aroma wafts into the streets. This is usually from the hot oil in which rice flour is dipped into. Out come golden, crunchy snacks, and the whole neighbourhood knows about it.

Originating from the Tamil tradition, 'murukku' is a staple. Even if it is not a festive occasion, it is always welcome on the table. The word murukku comes from the Tamil word that means 'twisted'. It derives its name from the coils and twists it is shaped into while frying.

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A clean banana leaf after the meal

Eating is often associated with the banana leaf in South India. The pleasant green leaf peeping out of steamers, wrapped under paper in a food parcel, or used as a substitute for a plate is always a welcome sight.

Ordinarily, banana leaves are used in regular meals, but today's city culture has promoted the use of utensils. To eat on a banana leaf, one must either go to a hotel or attend a feast. On festivals too, to eat out of the large green leaf is a luxury.

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Pal payasam is usually made with red rice

Every Indian has eaten it at least once in their lifetime, and many times during festivals, weddings, or after a sumptuous meal. Payasam is the bedrock of Indian dessert cuisine and the lingering flavour of every single festival.

Made with milk and sugar, or jaggery in the south, payasam takes on a multitude of core ingredients. Some cultures prefer adding rice into the mix, some add vermicelli, still others use broken wheat. The milk is boiled with sugar and the core ingredient is added. Saffron, cardamom, or nutmeg is added to elicit a spicy balance to the sweetness. The mixture is stirred until all the ingredients together begin to emit an aromatic fragrance. It is garnished with nuts like almond and cashew.

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