Aren’t there meals that we crave for, even though as children we may have hated it? Then that is what kanjiyum chammanthiyum is for me! Whenever the feeling of illness creeps in, a Keralite soul would yearn only for a big bowl of salted kanji and the spicy chammanthi to go along with it.
When we were kids, we used to hate kanji. Whenever D would go for work late evenings after office hours, we would get irritated that he was not taking us out. His standard comment would be, “Kanji kudikkande?” (Don’t we need to have kanji?) It literally means that he has to earn so that we can have our food. Hehe… And we so nastily would just reply back, “Kanji venda, biriyani mathi.” (We don’t want kanji, we want biriyani!) 😀 Such is the fixation with kanji in our side.
Kanji is basically rice porridge, had thick or thin the way you like it. It is normally prepared with broken rice cooked in lots of water till done and seasoned with salt. Some people, like me, add some coconut milk at the end for extra flavor. It is basically wholesome food, more prominently served when you are down with fever or any type of illness and your body needs a fluid diet more than anything else.
The kanji is had as it is or with any stir fried vegetables, but the most common side is the thenga chammanthi, a coconut ground mash with some spices. When eaten along with the kanji, it gives a lovely dimension to the meal, making it so soul enriching! Most of the time, kanji happens to be our lazy meal – on Saturday afternoons, when it is just me and the kids for lunch, I make kanji since the kids also love it and there is no hassle of washing so many dishes or even eating it! It is a perfect lazy meal at its best! 😉
- For the kanji:
- ¾ cup broken rice, washed well and drained
- 4 cups water
- ¼ cup coconut, soaked in ½ cup boiled water
- A pinch of salt
- For the chammanthi:
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 1 dry red chilli
- 2 shallots
- 1 small pc ginger
- 2-4 curry leaves
- ¼ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp vinegar
- Salt to taste
- For preparing the kanji, combine the broken rice, water and salt in a pressure cooker and cook on high flame for 5-6 whistles. Switch off and allow to cool completely.
- Grind the coconut along with the water till smooth. Pass through the seive and press well to extract as much as coconut milk. Discard the residue.
- Open the lid and add the coconut milk. Simmer on low flame for a few minutes. Adjust salt. If the kanji is thick, add more water as per required consistency.
- For the chammanthi, grind all ingredients in a grinder till coarse. Serve along with the kanji.