Y for Yatra (Journey)
The loss of his mother broke Kannan in more ways than one. He was a compulsive loner and hardly had a handful of people whom he could count as friends. Work became monotonous, in tandem he fell ill. It started with some spots of blood when brushing his teeth. Slowly it turned into a recurring complaint with him spitting blood multiple times every day. Visits to the pulmonologist proved inconclusive. Even the chest CT scan seemed fine. The next step would be to meet an ENT and then an oncologist to rule out cancer. Kannan quit his job and visited his sister who lived in another city. They met an ENT specialist there who conducted a laryngoscopy, again this turned inconclusive and no one was able to diagnose the actual issue.
Kannan returned to Chennai. There seemed to be no end to his health problems and seeing spots of red blood in the white wash basin every day added to his growing psychological trauma that perhaps his time had come and that very soon he would be reunited with his mother.
Kannan consulted with a doctor who was a friend through a Facebook group of book-lovers and she guided him to visit a senior ENT specialist. Kannan made an appointment and visited the doctor. The doctor was an elderly gentleman who studied his existing reports and then recommended an endoscopy to find the issue. Finally the problem was discovered – “nasal polyps” that were causing bleeding at regular intervals. The polyps had grown in size and would have to be surgically removed. The tryst with hospitals and doctors started all over again. But this time Kannan was the patient. Kannan’s friend Jagadeesh accompanied him to the hospital and the surgery was performed successfully. It would take a substantial period of time for Kannan to recover. This yatra or journey called Life still had some destinations and pages left to be filled before the book of life would come to an end. Kannan’s journey continued.
Y for Yam Cutlets
Yam is a fascinating root vegetable. Known as sooran in Hindi and sennai kizhangu in Tamil; it is packed with nutrients. But cooking it involves a lot of time and effort; hence it is not something that is cooked in houses on a regular basis. Plus sometimes the yam creates an itching sensation in the throat after consumption and this deters a lot of people from buying and cooking the vegetable. It is quite popular in Kerala along with other tubers like tapioca. We all love cutlets right? Deep-fried goodies stuffed with a filling of potatoes, beetroot, green peas, onions, and spices. Cutlets are quite popular in Calcutta and also known as chops and served with a special spicy mustard sauce in roadside eateries.
Today, we will look at a recipe that substitutes potatoes and beetroots with yam and make a cutlet/chop with it.
Cleaned, peeled, and sliced yam.
A batter of besan (chickpea flour), salt, rice flour, maida (all-purpose flour), and red chili powder.
Oil or ghee for cooking the chops/cutlets/tikkis.
What we will attempt is something that is closer to a tikki rather than a deep-fried cutlet.
Clean the yam well and slice it into one-inch cubes. Use a bit of oil and coat your hands with the oil to avoid the itching sensation.
Once the yam slices are ready, soak them well in a mixture of luke-warm water and salt. While slicing the yam you will be able to figure out if it is likely to induce itching of the throat. One trick is to use diluted buttermilk and some turmeric powder and soak the yam cubes in them for about 30 minutes to ensure that there is not itching of the throat after consumption.
Now take the yam cubes and pressure cook them to ensure that you get a soft and mushy consistency. Once the pressure cooked yam cools down. Take the batter mix that you have prepared. Ensure that it is thick and not watery. You are not making bajjis but tikkis so the batter should be proportionately thick. The pressure cooked yam should be mixed with the batter and squished by hand and kneaded along with the batter. The end result will be a mixture that is similar in consistency with poornam that is used to make kozhkattais or modaks.
Now take the Marie biscuits (arrowroot biscuits) and powder them by hand or run once in a mixer to make a fine powder. Mix this powder into the mixture of yam and batter that you have and prepare tikkis by gently layering them in your hands.
On a tava add ghee or cooking oil and gently cook the tikkis by flipping them with a spatula. As the tikkis turn golden brown in colour and you get the fragrance of cooked yam and besan, please transfer them to a plate or container.
Note you can combine yam with some potatoes as well and other vegetables of your choice if you do not like the flavour of just yam alone. Please try this recipe and let me know how it turned out. Serve with a dip/sauce/chutney of your liking.