COVID-19: The return of the tea time snack

It is 3.30 pm. Shreya N assembles rice flour, grated coconut and cumin, then places water to boil. As she mixes the components, she thinks about her grandmother, and the way she too would undergo the similar routine placing collectively her piece de resistance, the ‘star appam’. “It was indeed the star at the tea table whenever it was made,” she says. Decades later, it’s again on the eating desk.

The present lockdown to deal with COVID-19 has introduced the resurgence of the four o’clock tea, a ritual misplaced over the previous few a long time. Kitchens now stir to life in the afternoon, as individuals name their grandmothers, moms and aunts for previous household recipes. The eating desk is the coronary heart of the home as soon as extra.

While teatime has been hijacked over the years by cappuccinos and cookies, until a couple of a long time in the past, residence cooks experimented with native, and infrequently home-grown, components to whip up creative snacks.


In Kerala for instance, apart from the ubiquitous pazhampori (banana fritters), unniappam and parippu (lentil) vada, most households have their very own snack recipes. Rahul Prasad, from Kozhikode, says the ‘muttayappam’ (a savoury pancake) his mom makes is a singular mixture of rice flour, eggs, coconut, shallots and inexperienced chillies, which he hasn’t eaten wherever else.

Love letter (Elanji)

  • Ingredients
  • Sugar — 1/2 cup
  • Coconut — 1 cup
  • Maida — 1 1/2 cup
  • Water — as required
  • Method
  • Mix the maida with water to make a batter (skinny dosa batter consistency). Pour it simply as you’d a dosa on a heated pan. As it will get cooked, unfold coconut and sugar combine and intead of flipping the dosa, roll it. Take off pan and serve scorching.

The constructing blocks are sometimes related. A Malayali snack price its salt should have coconut, jaggery and banana or jackfruit, says Sunitha Menon from Kanjiramattom. She’s making unnakkaya for tea, a scrumptious fusion of banana, coconut, sugar and ghee. The ‘love letter’ (also referred to as elanji) has additionally resurfaced: this can be a wrap crammed with candy, grated coconut. Then there are the ‘madhura puffs’ (also referred to as pugada), a fried snack crammed with grated coconut and sugar, standard in North Kerala in the 90s.

Ribbon pakoda

Meanwhile, Shobhana Subramanian from Chennai experimented with the very conventional, but much-loved ‘ribbon pakoda’. She sought assist from her mother-in-law, who’s an skilled in the dish. “She made the dough and I pressed it in the mould. The pakodas turned out really well — crispy and delicious,” says Shobhana. To get nice outcomes, she says, the combine of besan, rice flour and roasted and powdered urad dal ought to be good. “It is then seasoned with salt, chilli powder and asafoetida, and kneaded with a generous quantity of butter and heated oil.” Ideally had with a cup of filter espresso, this pakoda is an ever-green snack.

Ragini Kumar from Bihar is rediscovering two of the State’s favorite teatime snacks, spongy rosogullas and samosas filled with a spicy potato mash. Over the telephone, from her residence in Patna, she talks about how night tea was a ceremony in Bihari households. Stating that whereas the rosogullas and samosas had been staples, on a regular basis, “There was all the time an extra namkeen, (a savoury preparation) or a sweetmeat comparable to ‘thekua’, a deep-fried biscuit made of flour, with flower motifs impressed on it, and ‘khaja’, a deep-fried flaky pastry.” The namkeens could possibly be ‘ghugni’, stir-fried inexperienced gram or ‘nimki‘, deep-fried diamond-shaped quick eats.

Hara channa fritters

Hara channa fritters

Winter evenings had been for ‘hara channa’ fritters, made with dried inexperienced chick peas, rice flour batter and onions; the deep-fried snack continues to be a preferred favorite. “The water chestnut halwa, no longer common, used to be made until a few decades ago. Nowadays it is had during a fast,” says Ragini.

The tea can be vital, she provides, saying that “the flavour, colour and body of tea is an important conversation point.” Tea time was additionally when households dropped in to go to, therefore a big unfold was all the time prepared. Ragini says the lockdown has given her ample time to debate these recipes with relations. “One thing we all plan to have post lockdown when we meet is the puffed rice-peanut mix, at least in memory of the lockdown.”

At Sweena Karnani’s residence in Visakhapatnam, teatime has grow to be all about scarfing down conventional Marwari snacks. Food actually comforts, she says, including that her menu for the day is the Marwari conventional ‘ajwain pakoda chaat’, ‘pyaaz ki kachori’ and ‘gudd ki papdi’. Plucking contemporary ajwain leaves from her kitchen backyard, Sweena combines it with spinach to coat it with a batter of gram flour and spices. “This is then deep fried and served with yoghurt and tamarind chutney. This ajwain pakoda is a well-known snack of Varanasi,” she provides.

Late afternoons are crammed with the sizzle of ‘punugulus’ wobbling in the frying pan at Jhansi Tripuraneni’s kitchen. This Telugu quick eat is served with crimson ginger chutney for that spicy twist. “Piping scorching punugulus make for an ideal chai-time snack,” provides Jhansi. Traditionally made with a batter of rice flour and black gram, Jhansi says these could be tried with leftover dosa batter too.

Gunta punugulu

Gunta punugulu  

Among all the snacks Instagrammer Radhika Raja has tried out throughout the lockdown, the ‘gunta punugulu’ — “made with less oil, and so healthier” — is her favorite. “These are made with less oil and are therefore healthier. The lockdown has given me plenty of time to make different versions of this traditional snack,” says Radhika. She prepares it by mixing boiled candy corn, grated carrot, inexperienced chillies in dosa batter, sprinkled with jeera (cumin), salt and pepper. The batter is poured in the iron solid skillet to be cooked over a small flame until the punugulus flip golden brown.

Sreeparna Sarkar relives her childhood in Kolkata via the Bengali snacks she has been attempting out each day. The spotlight of her experiments has been the ‘korai sutir kochuri’, a deep-fried kachori, filled with mildly spiced, asafoetida-infused inexperienced peas. “Nobody can make this as good as mom,” she sighs, however is fast so as to add: “but thankfully there is FaceTime!”

Eggplant coated with gram flour and deep fried.

Eggplant coated with gram flour and deep fried.
| Photo Credit:

The Bengali in her loves all issues deep-fried, which she has been making together with her mom’s assist via video calls from Bolepur. Her lockdown teatime snack checklist contains aloo chop — mashed potato with spices, coated with egg and bread crumbs and deep fried in oil, fried ‘begunis’ (batter fried eggplant) and ‘peyaji’ (onion fritters).

Tekeli Pitha

  • Ingredients
  • Rice — 2 cups
  • Coconut — 2 cups, freshly grated
  • Sugar — Half cup
  • Salt — a pinch
  • Water as required
  • Method
  • Soak the rice for an hour. Wash and drain extra water and let it go semi dry. Grind to a tremendous powder. Keep the powder in a bowl coated with a moist fabric. Mix rice flour, freshly grated coconut, sugar and salt. Fill half a kettle with water and produce to boil. Place the rice flour combination on the kettle lid and press gently. Cover it with a moist muslin fabric. Tie the ends and fold again to the head of the lid securing the combination for steaming. Place the lid again on the kettle and let it steam on medium flame for 6-7 minutes. Remove the muslin fabric and take out the pithas and place it in a plate gently. Serve scorching with tea.

Certain meals transcend their scope; they kindle fond recollections of residence and relationships, says Jisha M R, a Malayali married to an Assamese, dwelling in Delhi. When she first got here throughout the ‘tekeli pitha’, she knew she had discovered love. “It seemed like idli and tasted like puttu and since then, it has been my favorite,” she says. Pithas are primarily constructed from a batter of rice flour or wheat flour, which is formed right into a pouch and crammed with candy or savoury components.

Tekeli Pitha

Tekeli Pitha  

Tekeli pithas are basically rice muffins steamed in a kettle or an earthen pot, from which it derives its identify. Jisha goals to grasp the dish with assist from her sister-in-law Malavika Goswami and mother-in-law Renu Goswami throughout the lockdown. “For me, food is about one’s family, emotions and experience,” she says.

(With inputs from Nivedita Ganguly and Priyadershini S)

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