I am off into the Palm groves in Mudaliyar Patti near Papanasam in Tirunelveli to learn how to make Palm Jaggery or Karuppatti as it is known in tamil. I get talking to Manikutty, an ace palm tree climber who collects Padani or juice from palm tree, everyday to make Karuppatti (palm jaggery). Palm jaggery making is a small scale industry and is found in plenty in the Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts in Tamilnadu.
The collected Palm juice or padani from the palm trees is filtered and boiled in a huge vessel for more than 2 hours. The syrup gets thicker and viscous. Under the peak sun, in a hut made of palm leaves, Muppidaathi who happens to be Manikutty’s wife spends hours stirring this syrup constantly. She removes the boiling syrup at a point where the syrup when cooled in water becomes a firm caramel ball. The syrup is then poured into coconut shells to set. What amazed me was the colour. Its was almost a pale yellow as opposed to the black ones you get in the market. When asked, she says the darker ones are those with additives like colour, flour and sugar that you find in the market.
She then pours water over the leftover syrup in the vessel that was used to boil the syrup, along with some tea leaves and serves what they call Karupatti Tea or tea made with palm jaggery. I kid you not, this was probably the best tasting, unique beverage I’d had in a very longtime.
Using palm jaggery, you can make these fabulous sweets native to Tuticorin. Check them out:
Here’s a video clip of me learning to make Palm jaggery – right from extraction to finish.
Cheers to more such good times!