Any tourist visiting the magically beautiful state of Kerala should not go back without visiting a few of the tens of thousands of ‘teashops’ (chayakada) all 0ver the state. Teashops attract regular visitors not just because of the delicious ‘kadis‘ (snacks) they offer, but also because they are the temples of gossip of the local people. Mornings find perhaps 90% of the male population in teashops, particularly in rural areas. Some are to be seen quietly reading from the four or more popular dailies, many gossiping about the people of the neighborhood, others heatedly discussing the latest political scandals, and almost everyone enjoying the fresh hot snacks and glasses of scalding hot tea or coffee.
Each teashop has its own homely atmosphere and a collection of delightful snacks peculiar to that region. From sweet pazhampori (deep-fried ripe Nendran banana tempura), kayunda (a sweet cannonball-shaped snack), bread pori (bread slice fritters), unniyappam (a sweet bite-sized rice or wheat snack), neyyappam (a sweet deep-fried teatime snack), sukiyan (sweet mung bean tempura), to hot and spicy ulli vada (spicy deep-fried onion patties), uzhunnu vada (see masala curd vada recipe), parippu vada (deep-fried, spicy chickpea lentil patties), kizhangu pori (cassava tempura), kozhikkal (deep-fried, spicy cassava snack), bonda (spicy potato ball tempura), masala unda (a hot relative of bonda), kallummakkaya nirachathe (a deep-fried spicy rice and mussel snack), Kerala samosa (spicy triangular vegetable fritters), to savory pathals (deep-fried rice flatbread) and pathiris (roasted or fried rice flatbread), vellappams (rice pancake with a thickly risen center surrounded by a paper-thin crispy fringe), putte (steamed rice powder with coconut), porottas (famous Kerala fluffy wheat flatbread), and more, the teashops have them all!
Around six years ago, we used to drive up from our hometown of Thalassery to the hills of Wayanad every Sunday to check on the progress of our house in construction. As it was a three-hour drive through beautiful winding roads, we would often visit one or two quaint teashops en route to refresh ourselves. In most of the teashops in Wayanad, we found large red deep-fried discs in little glass shelves. When asked, we were told that they were biscuit poris (biscuit fritters). We tried some and found that they were indeed delicious, the savory heat of the tempura complimenting perfectly the sweetness of the biscuit. Later, I made them at home using different types of biscuits – sweet, salty, cream and cheese biscuits. All the biscuit fritters turned out to be quite delicious, each better than the other. I found that both children and adults love these alike. Here is a beautiful recipe for you with my own twist (mint leaves and ajwain seeds)! Enjoy!
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