Going to weddings in Kerala is about enjoying the grandeur celebrations, reuniting with loved ones and of course the grand feast that follows. Religious weddings not only differ in the format of rituals but also the food that’s served. For example, a traditional Hindu wedding is often followed by the Sadhya, which is a Kerala Thali served in banana leaf. Similarly Muslim weddings often have Biriyani to treat its guests. Christian weddings often start with Cutlet and wine, Appam and stew and there will be rice, and some specific set of sides we usually see at these weddings. While these are not set in stone, and the choices are changing, a traditional wedding mostly sticks by the set of dishes as above, which has become so familiarized among the local people.
Speaking of Christian weddings and the sides that’s served with the Kerala double boiled rice, in a bowl is kept, ‘Chemmeen podi’ or what it translates to as Dried prawn chutney powder, which adds a lot of flavour to the entire meal. If you're a fan of seafood, particularly shrimp, and you appreciate the complex flavours of Indian cuisine, then Chemmeen Podi is a powder that deserves a special place in your kitchen. Some call it, Chemmeen chammanthi podi, or dried shrimp chutney powder, the essence of this dish is definitely the sun-dried small prawns/shrimp.
Origin of Chemmeen podi and its influence in Christian families
Chemmeen Podi hails from the southern Indian state of Kerala, known for its rich culinary heritage and vibrant flavors. Kerala is renowned for its abundant seafood, and this spice mix is a perfect example of how regional spices and ingredients are used to enhance the natural taste of the prawns. Although in weddings, this is a usual sight, it’s not just during then, chemmeen podi is often seen in the kitchens of Christian families in Kerala, especially being made at home.
Kerala's Christian community, which includes both Catholics and various Protestant denominations, has a rich culinary heritage that reflects a fusion of local flavors and global influences. Especially those in coastal regions, they often have a strong emphasis on seafood in their diet. Shrimp and prawns are readily available and have become a staple protein source in many Christian households. Chemmeen Podi is a convenient and flavorful way to enhance these seafood dishes. It's important to note that while Chemmeen Podi may be more commonly found in Christian homes in Kerala, it is not exclusive to this community. It is appreciated by people of various backgrounds and culinary preferences, thanks to its unique and delicious flavor profile.
Preparing Chemmeen podi at home
Chemmeen podi can be very easily prepared at home. The key ingredient of the chutney powder is the dried prawns, and the rest of the ingredients are commonly seen in the kitchen - grated coconut, dried red chillies, shallots, ginger, curry leaves and tamarind. All the products are dry roasted one by one and mixed to blend into a powdered form. The key is to dry roast the ingredients without letting them to burn. Each ingredient in the recipe has its own unique flavour and when blended, brings an aromatic side to your dishes. In every household, people may improvise it by changing the quantity of the ingredients used or adding a few additional steps to this process.
If you don’t prefer to make this at home and instead look for options to buy online or in store, there are many choices including homemade Chemmeen podi too.
Accompaniment to your Meals
The best combination of Chemmeen podi is when it’s served with rice. You may also choose to have it with Rotis, or snacks. It can be an ingredient to some of your preparations if you want to bring a variety of flavour to your dish.
Healthy Eating Practices
Dried shrimp are a good source of protein. Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair, and it provides a feeling of fullness, which can help control appetite and support weight management. Some of the spices in Chemmeen Podi, like red chilies, can temporarily boost metabolism due to their capsaicin content. This may lead to increased calorie expenditure, which can be beneficial for weight management. As the preparation involves dry roasting, it will be generally low in oil, hence a better dietary choice.
It's important to note that the health benefits of Chemmeen Podi are primarily associated with the ingredients it contains, and not only attributed to dried shrimp itself. The quantity of Chemmeen Podi typically used in consumption is relatively small, so it may not provide significant health benefits, however, replacing an unhealthy side with a homemade shrimp powder can be beneficial for healthier eating. As with all spices and seasonings, moderation is key. While Chemmeen Podi can enhance the flavor of your dishes and offer potential health benefits, it should be used as part of a balanced diet to fully appreciate its culinary and potential health advantages.
Chemmeen Podi is a must-try for seafood enthusiasts and those who appreciate the nuances of Indian spices. This versatile spice mix is a gateway to the rich and diverse flavors of Kerala's cuisine. So, next time you're craving shrimp, consider giving prawn chutney powder a try to embark on a flavorful journey through the coastal delicacies of India.