September 24, 2010

Pins n needles

Last night I made the unfortunate choice of making my mom's famous "pudhu vidha kozhambu" with chenai fry. The unfortunate part was not the kozhambu which turned out delicious, the recipe of which will follow sometime down the line in the blog. However the problem was more the chenai. Chenai or Suran or elephant yam is a popular vegetable in India and manifests itself in south Indian cooking as a "fry" of sorts where you simply toss the well-washed finely cut pieces in a bit of oil and roast/fry it or as a masiyal, a mash which is pressure cooked. Having found it at the Indian store last week, I was rather excited and picked it up. And so I opted for the "fry" version last night and patiently spent quite sometime cleaning the mud off and peeling away the thick skin and what not. And appearances-wise it looked pretty good and the couple of spoonfuls I did for the taste test passed too. 

So imagine my surprise when during dinner my throat started hurting. I kept clearing my throat and gulping down water only for intense pain to shoot out, akin to what I imagine a few 100 pins stuck down your throat would feel like. I looked at S to see if he was showing any symptoms. However he was calmly munching and watching some Vadivel comedy. By now with the intense discomfort, I was half-sure that I had managed to somehow exclusively poison myself. With my panic getting more evident, S glances at me and states calmly that throat discomfort and a "cut" feeling of the tongue are common side-effects to chenai eating - something I was grossly unaware of in all those times I've had chenai in India. How could it be? I was pretty certain there was no such thing and after soothing my battered throat with some yogurt, proceeded to read about it on the Internet. Turns out he was right! Apparently though it may irritate your digestive tract a bit, it's very good for your stomach. Yeah right. I sure am in no hurry to buy/make/eat chenai anytime soon. Not after last night. No, thanks.


Gayathri Krish said...

Looking forward to your recipe for "Pudhu Vidha Kozhambu"

Saumya said...

Hey, karthik is also allergic to chenai and gets a severe reaction similar to urs..:)

Jaya said...

Gayathri-> Coming soon.. watch this space :)

Babli-> Yeah I know that Karthik's allergic. But actually I am not! I've relished it many a time back at home. From what I discussed with the folks back home, they say some "pieces" don't suit some people.If I remember correctly, chenai fry is one of your favourites, isn't it?

PrivateMartin said...

not sure what chenai is never had it. However once i went for a little picnic with friends and found a cactus tree with some sort of fruit on it. This was in hyderabad, air force academy.

my local mates said that you can eat the fruit but i was suspicious. it had a thick green skin and bright red inside. So i just waited for my mates to take a bite first.

all of a sudden they started screaming in pain. There were very tiny spikes inside the pulp which dug into their tounges and throat.

Luckily i never tried it so i was all good and had a great laugh.

NOTE: The effects faded away soon enough no one was seriously hurt.

Jaya said...

PrivateMartin-> Chenai is Suran in Hindi. Its tha thick-skinned ground vegetable that looks like potato once its cooked. Its yam. Apparently it is irritable to a lot of people. BTW, your experience sounds scary. We should never try the stuff growing around somewhere as they may be poisonous plants planted to ward off weeds or insects or something. Thankfully nothing happened to your friends though!

Thanks for the comment n keep visiting!

PrivateMartin said...

ahhhh i get it now. we call it arbi. its usually made with brinjal(baingan). ohhh i love it but never had any problems with it.

i think we first cut it and fry it and then make the sabji with it.

Jaya said...

PrivateMartin I am pretty sure arbi is the more harmless cousin of suran. Though both are tuber veggies, arbi is a smaller potato-like looking substance with hairy dark brown skin while suran is large (one quarter is as big as a very small watermelon) and has an even darker skin with muddy outsides. Arbi is delicious too. But suran if well prepared can be a real treat as well. Look up "suran" in Google images to see what veggie I mean. :)

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