Having spent most of my career in the kitchen both as a chef as well as a trainer in some leading institutes, my hobby is reinventing the forgotten recipes and innovating new dishes. Presently I am working as the General Manager in The Brook Resorts and Spa, a beautiful nature-friendly resort. I was thinking of sharing some of the food which had been forgotten by us to the readers of ChefBharath.com
Imagine Yercaud 500 years back, a small tourist place in Tamil Nadu, which had numerous availability of natural resources and very few human being. People use to walk from one place to another place through the forest to exchange food products. With no shops around, when they walk crossing the vegetables and masala plants will be grown around them. Whatever they require, they use it to collect it and use it for lateral use. Later, they crushed all the ingredients and make fresh tribal masala and marinate with the hunted meat or vegetables, then they will wrap it in banana leaves and then with wet clay and spit-roast it. With heat, the clay will become an earthen pot and the food inside will be cooked in its own steam. Imagine the flavour of the freshly made tribal masala, country meat or vegetables, banana leaves which is a meditational plant and clay which gives its unique flavour and taste. The same way the food will be stuffed inside the green bamboo, sealed and spit-roasted when the heat applies, the moisture present in the bamboo will convert to steam and allow the food to get cooked. During this process, the sourness will be imparted in the food and it enhances its taste and flavour.
Nadoodi Munkil Biryani
Either bamboo rice or wild rice available in the forest is used in this tribal delicacy. Once Again common masala prepared using the availability in the forest are used, the socked bamboo rice or wild rice is mixed with the above masala and then, it is stuffed inside the green bamboo stem and sealed, then it is placed on top of the live charcoal and allowed the bamboo to burnt. The rice inside will be cooked with the help of the steam produced by green bamboo and masala, the same is responsible for its unique taste and aroma.
It is prepared using the sprouted green gram mixed with lime juice or curd based on their availability. It is very rich ion protein and a good accompaniment for Nadoodi Munkil Biryani and Kalimsn Koli Varuval.
Avicha Urulai Kilanku
Potatoes are commonly available in the hills and forest, the tribes usually knows where the potatoes will be available, whenever they require, they take it and prick it with some sharp sticks and place it on top of the live charcoal or fire. The potatoes will be roasted and outside burnt, then the burnt outside will be peeled off and eaten with salt. Its flavour and taste are amazing and unique and it is because of the spit roasting on top of the live charcoal.
It is a famous drink prepared by tribes to improve digestion or indigestion and cold problems. It is prepared using beetle leaves, Honey, Milk, and Rose Petals. Its taste varies from other drink and it is something different and once you taste it, you will come back to taste several times.
Another tribal delicacy prepared using the mixture of grains. Sometimes it is flattened and wrapped in banana leaves and covered with sand and topped with fire, latter the roti wrapped in banana leaves will be taken out from the sand cleaned and removed safely from banana leaves and served.
Then Adai or Urundai, Thenai Urundai, Avicha Solaikathir, Barbecued Meats, Suul, Rajasthani fry, Tribal fish Fry and root tubular vegetables are some of their other delicacies. There are several food items in tribal cuisine, but we have selected the best one and practically possible items in our menu. Now we are serving this tribal delicacy with the star hotel standard and hygiene and at the same time, we maintain its authentic preparation, taste, and aroma. These dishes will be prepared and served to customers based on their advance booking and request.
Whenever the food gets sour, the taste increases, for example idly and dosa batter, immediately after grinding, if you cook it, you won’t find any taste, when it ferments, the taste increases. Like we add modern-day chemicals, in bamboo, the process happens naturally. In olden days, when someone consumes poisonous mushrooms or old meat, it will affect the stomach and often results in mouth ulcer. To treat it, they use to eat beetle leaves with honey and rose petals. We converted the same to a drink and it’s called Vana Banam. It’s a drink for digestion and cure for stomach and mouth ulcer. Shevaroyan hill is mother grounds for some of the tribes who still exist in this part of the state.
Kaliman Kozhi Varuval
It is a very interesting dish prepared using hunted Chicken or Bird available in the forest, the bird is cleaned and marinated with the crushed masala made using the common spicy ingredients available in the forest like chilies, scallions, Herbs, ginger, garlic and other masala ingredients. Then the marinated chicken will be wrapped in the banana leaves and then covered with the wet clay. Then it is placed on top of the live charcoal or fire and allowed the clay to become earthen pot, the chicken will be cooked in its own steam. Once it is ready the earthen pot clay mixture is broken and then the chicken inside will be eaten. The crushed masala used, Banana leaves and clay gives it’s distinguish aroma and taste.
(The author is a hotel management graduate, presently pursuing P.hD in Tourism management with 23 years experience, 13 years in teaching field, including 6 years as principal of the hotel management college. He is available in email@example.com. Views are own)