Makka Cholam (Corn) and a wine slushy

 THE Story of MAKKA CHOLAM

Makka Cholam basically means corn in the Chennai city slang. All my life I kept saying Makka Cholam whenever I referred to this specific corn sold on the beaches of Chennai. But the funny and interesting part when I dug up its etymology was, Makka and Cholam both mean Corn. So I have no idea why the 2 words were always stated together while referring to the same thing!? It is like saying Corn Corn! :)

Makka Cholam is corn that is grilled on Chennai beaches by vendors who used a special equipment to grill them - with fire sparks flying all over the place (especially when the beach was more windy than usual!). Here is is a minute and a half video showing this. How these vendors grill the corn with no gloves or any protection is still a conundrum to me!

After all the fireworks the corn is grilled to perfection, then the next step is to apply a layer of salt, chilli power using a slice of lemon and squeeze the remaining lemon juice on it. Every bite is a crunchy, yummy and delicious!

So, with being memorial day weekend and a wonderful sunny day, I decided to grill my Makka Cholam with my own small grill.

The WINE paired with the Makka Cholam

I decided to get a little innovative and cheap (?) with this particular wine pairing.

Makka Cholam is the epitome of a simple, cheap street food when you decide to spend a nice day on a beach in Chennai without too much damage to your wallet. 

If I can take the same approach with its wine pairing, that would be a made-for-each-other deal, right?

And not to forget, a slushy would be nice and chill to pair with the crunchy, spicy corn on a hot sunny day! 

So, I decided to do just that. And hence was born the idea of a wine slushy.

For my wine slushy I used a Moscato d'Asti I had in the fridge - that I was not too fond of sipping as-is. So, this is the added advantage of making wine slushies; you can save the delicious wines you like to sip on and utilize wines that are not your favorite 'sip-ons' to make these.

I used this recipe I found online for my wine slushy. I froze them overnight in an ice tray, so they would be ready to be sipped on after I grilled my Makka Cholam.

Tasting notes

When I was ready enjoy to my corn, I took my slushy ice tray, out of the freezer and put them in blender for a quick blend. 

I used about 4 cubes for one glass. A quick blend and the slushies were ready to be enjoyed!

It was very interesting, how the Moscato tasted so interesting in this semi-solid form. I could still taste the peach, apricots and some honey suckle flavor - but all in a slushy form!

The verdict

I went out to the patio, finished grilling my corn and applied the salt, chilli powder, lemon juice concoction. Then I took a HUGE bite in to the corn, and made a nice big dent on it.

Next, I took a spoonful of my slushy (yes, I needed a spoon - it was too thick for a sip!). Hmmm, the bright sunshine, occasional wind, crunchy bites of spicy corn, finished off with a spoonful of Moscato slushy. Let me just say, life can change from good to absolutely wonderful with moments like these!

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It was a very memorable Memorial Day indeed!

Nothing to complain with a long weekend, lots of sunshine, nostalgic street food in one hand and a wine slushy in another!

 

+Kavitha

Masala vada, mousetrap and wine

mwwc_wine_stain

This blog post  is written for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #9 (MWWC#9).  April's topic  - FEAR was chosen by  last month's winner The Drunken Cyclist. To learn more about this contest, or if you like to vote for my post please click here.

MWWC9

Fear…

Fear is a very strange feeling. Personally, I am very intrigued by fear.

Come to think of it, just the right amount of fear can actually translate in to a good thing – It can cause complacency to be thrown out the window and it can give inertia a run for its money.

But, with a little too much fear, it can dominate everything else and can be quite detrimental.

 

The Story of Masala Vada

The first Indian street food that popped in to my head when I started thinking about fear is: Masala Vada, aka Masal Vadai – that’s how Chennai-ites (residents of the Chennai city in India) like to call it.

Masal Vadais are basically lentil fritters, sold in every teashop and road side stalls in every nook and corner of Tamil Nadu (South India). Many south Indians, from all walks of life would start their day with a Masal Vadai and spiced Indian Chai.

The ritual would go something like this: One bite of the Vada, then sip on some tea; take a another bite and another sip and so on.

There is something about the lentils (Bengal gram) mixed with green chillies, ginger, onions and curry leaves when fried together, tastes so delicious and the aroma… is to die for!

Trivia: For those who have never had the good fortune of biting in to one of these vadas, here’s something to help relate to its taste: This snack and its ingredients are very similar to another famous snack from the Greek cuisine. Yes! The Masal Vadai tastes and smells a lot like the Greek Falafel.

So what about this dish do I associate with fear?

Well, remember my above-mentioned ‘to-die-for’ aroma? That is not just from human standards, but for rats too!

Yes, Masala Vadas were famously used in mousetraps to attract the rats running around the garages in homes and other places in south India. The idea was to use the amazing aroma of the Vadas as bait and once the rats are in, BOOM! the trap door would close.

I remember so clearly, as a child I would wait and watch patiently (sometimes for hours) for these mousetraps with Masala Vadas to catch its prey. Can you imagine, how these rats were willing to risk their precious lives for these delicious Vadas? Well I get it, and anyone who has devoured these Vadas will too!

Such is the power of the taste and aroma of these Vadas.

All these thoughts were sufficient motivation for me to soak the lentils, grind and make my own Masal Vadais.

masalvadai

 What wine to pair with this fearful Indian street snack?

A rosé is a rosé is a rosé (think wine, not the flower)…

I have heard and read a lot about how difficult it is to pair Falafels with wine. But as far as these Masala Vadas go, I had a strong intuition for what wine would pair well with them. And, coincidentally (?) this choice of wine has a strong association with the kind of wines I fear the most too!

My wine of choice…a Rosé! The crisp acidity, the light and refreshing red fruits and the mild spices that come through a Rosé seemed like a perfect match for the Masala Vada. Wait, but what has fear got to with a Rosé?

Somehow, I always tread cautiously while choosing a Rosé. I cannot put a finger to why that is? It could be because of the psyche associated with a Rosé. At one point, the rosés were treated like a taboo wine, then they turned in to a trendy ‘summer wine’ (especially here in the USA). Now, I think it has finally been given credit for what it is…like Gertrude Stein proclaimed so wisely many eons ago: A rosé is a rosé is a rosé!

So, I went with my gut and bought home the Domaine de Fontsainte Rosé (2013) from the Corbieres appellation.

rose

Tasting notes

 This rosé was amazing! It was mind boggling how many flavor profiles there were - all in one wine! There was sour cherries and strawberries, a vague hint of vanilla, a light kiss of cinnamon and even some mint! This wine is from the Boutenac commune under the Corbières appellation (in southern France); I made a mental note to self to remember this region while pairing wines for Falafel-like dishes in the future.

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The verdict

The crispiness in the Vadas just hugged the crisp acidity of the wine. There was ginger, green chillies and onion pieces in every bite of the Masala Vada which paired so beautifully like music and lyrics, with all the different flavors of the rosé.

So, I was happily gobbling up the Masala Vadas with so many thoughts about fear racing through my mind. Thankfully, the rose had a huge calming effect. But, at the end I thought, you got to give it to those rats. In spite of the risk of death, they always followed their heart (and stomach!?) and walked on a thin line every time they spotted or smelled something akin a Masala Vada. The outcome could be treacherous, it could be a delicious meal or…. death! It could be a masala vada or a mousetrap. But, how would we know, unless fear was overcome and we dared to try?

 After all, is it not true that: "Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it"?

+Kavitha