I don’t know if any other cultures in South India have this sweet snack as part of their culinary tradition, but in Telugu it’s a juxtaposing of two words: Paal (milk) and pinidi (flour). And I’m referring to the Karnataka-resident Andhra cuisine! I figure it has its origins in the villages dotting the Karnataka-Andhra border where ragi is harvested, worshipped and celebrated.
During school-going days, I wondered what the fuss was about; this was neither a rich, creamy dessert, nor a sweet delicacy that you’d eagerly await at meal times. Just something that takes hardly two minutes to whip up, quite unattractive and terribly boring to eat. So paalpindi was royally snubbed and ignored.
But age does these things to you. I recently carried a small boxful of this to office, and while snacking on it I realized it was so simple, healthy and extremely satisfying. Especially if you have that sweet tooth that craves a treat after every meal. The trick was the time I spent in unwrapping and unraveling the flavors in my mouth. It is sweet, then suddenly warm, a little crunchy and by the end, extremely comforting.
Take a small cup-full of roasted ragi flour (ragi hurrittu in Kannada), a small glass of hot milk, a lump of jaggery, cardamom powder, a fistful of freshly grated coconut. Mix the flour adding milk bit by bit, so that the flour soaks up the milk and results in a crumbly, moist texture. Throw in the coconut, grate the jaggery lump into shavings and sprinkle the cardamom powder. Mix deftly. Serve warm. I would even recommend adding some fried cashew and raisins too.
It is one-of-a-kind and extremely comforting.