The desi version of a healthy soup
How do you go about making a healthy soup from red rice? Devi of Bio Basics wrote a piece for The Hindu: ‘The desi version of a healthy soup’.
Now that the rains are making their reluctant appearance, I long for kanji (rice gruel). It evokes memories of our annual childhood holiday in a small village on the banks of the Periyar river in Kerala. We were 18 grandchildren and, almost every year, at least a dozen would gather to spend time with our grandparents. So kanji for dinner was the only feasible option.
At 7.30 pm, we would line up on a mat on the floor. The steel plates and spoons fashioned out of jackfruit leaves would be laid out. We were served two ladles of hot red rice kanji, a blob of coconut chutney and green gram poriyal on a small strip of the banana leaf set beside the plate. While the jar of salt mixed with water went around, we would try to get a bite of each other’s pappadam. After dinner, my aunt would pour water into the leftover kanji, if any, and keep it in an earthen pot. This, along with some pickle or leftover gravy stored in a kalchatti, was next morning’s breakfast for the adults.
My aunt reminisced, “The kanji would be of Chitteni, Onattan, Vatton, Navara or Erumakkari red rice — grown, parboiled and milled, bran mostly intact. Everything, except the pappadam made by a neighbouring family, was cultivated and processed by us. I don’t think many farmers grow these paddy varieties now.”