I wonder how many of you remember Nutrine's Koka-Naka, a coconut and chocolate candy. Ideally used in conjunction with Ravlagaon's assorted lemon, orange and pink candies during birthday's and other festivities. Honestly,the only thing i remembered about koka-naka was the intense dislike for it, owing to the strong coconut flavour and the annoying advert. with a stuffed bunny.
The other day, i was at Nilgiris( Super market) looking to buy Kovilpatti Kadalai mittai or in other words, Peanut-jaggery balls(giggle, lets just call it chiki from now on) from kovilpatti which comes in rectangular pieces. They(Nilgiris) have a rack for assorted sweets,snacks and savories from kovilpatti and amongst the chiki, i found what my family calls " Many a childhood days spent sucking on-Candy: i.e Kamarkat".
K...K..K..K.. no no not Kiran(Reference to SRK :P ). I was going for either Kamarkat or Kovilpatti. Ok i will start with Kamarkat.
After much deliberation i decided to buy Kamarkat mainly to satisfy my curiosity and to reassure my family that their childhood memories were not as awesome as they claim. Anyway, the moment i popped a kamarkat piece into my mouth, i thought and i quote " Oi oi!! This is koka naka". but surprisingly i liked kamarkat. Score 1 to my family. Kamrkat as you might have guessed is a chewable candy made of coconut, jaggery and thats it. Yummier than koka naka i have to say. I got a packet of these chewy delights and finished it before the day was over. I endured my family's smirk and went back to Nilgiris to buy another packet of these delightful brown goodness. While i was out, i thought, Hy, why not give koka naka another try. But alas, i searched high, i searched low,But could not find a store that sold the candy. Oh well. Koka naka did not get a second chance, as after much googling i found that the candy has been off the shelf for quite a while. hmm. Why the factory-produced candy when you can make it at home silly! Here be the recipe:
Cardamon or other spices to your requirement.
Mix water and jaggery and allow it to boil, until the jaggery caramelizes( becomes sticky). Add freshly grated coconut to the mixture and stir for 2-3 minutes until the coconut mixes well with the jaggery paste. Grease your hand with a bit of oil and spoon a small part of the mixture and make it into balls.
Viola! Kamarkat is done. Eat while hot for a chewy feel or wait until cold for a more lasting experience.
I did some research on Kovilpatti and found that kamarkat is not their speciality but as i mentioned previously kadalai mittai is. But for some reason the kamarkat in nilgiris is from kovilpatti. Interesting. This now brings us to another of grandma's favourite snack, Kadalai mittai, aka. Chikki. I remember many a childhood days spent, sitting with my grandma in her kitchen, popping the chikki in my mouth as she balled them up, burning my tongue in the process but enjoying the way the chikki melted in my mouth nevertheless. YUM. The Ball up-Pop in routine, the tango continued until either i was stuffed full and turning green or my grandma chasing me out with her rolling pin. Either way the chikki was the winner. Chikki of course can be brought in stores and kovilpatti chikki is available in Nilgiris in chennai(don't know about rest of TN). One point to remember though, if you have tried this sweet before then you might find that the chikki from kovilpatti is bit a bit different in its taste. In fact, i can guarantee that it tastes better than any other you might have tried. Why? Its elementary silly, they make it Better.
But if you want to try making it at home, here be the recipe.
Safron, cardamon so whatever spice is your fancy.
Boil water and jaggery until sticky and caramelized, add a pinch of salt. Ensure that the peanuts are spilt and skin removed. Add the peanuts to the jaggery and stir for a while. Grease your hand with oil and spoon the mixture and ball them, square them, cone them.Whatever you fancy. Eat hot and go to heaven. Snickers bow down to the original peanut candy.
Simple isn't it? Thats cause its home made silly.
Kovilpatti is a town near Tuticoirn,TN. Famous for its matchsticks, fireworks (second only to sivakasi) and of course Kadali Mittai.
Nilgiris is a supermarket chain in chennai existing since 1906, as their hoardings suggest.
Kamarkat and chikki are sweets that will take you to heaven.
With time, i hope to write about other sweets exclusive to Tamil Nadu and India.