My fate as a potential geek was sealed the instant I was born into a South Indian orthodox Tamil family. If Indians in general are stereotypically regarded by the world as studious nerds, Its the quintessential South Indian that fits the bill even within the home country.
Growing up in Mumbai, we had our tradition of celebrating the Festival of lights, Diwali. When the rest of the population was living it up at all night Diwali parties, we'd wake up @ 4.30 a.m, dutifully have the traditional oil bath, wear new clothes & march off to the temple as the first rays of the sun hit!. And upon returning with the Lords blessing, (or if you were a borderline heretic like me, 'scope out' & 'roll eyes' @ the prevailing sartorial trend amongst the faithful), tuck into a cornucopia of indulgent, decadent treats, made at home. (the store bought stuff was for those who did not have the 'culinary skills'!).
You see, there was really no limit to overindulging oneself because of this magic potion that Amma (mommy) always made. The 'LEHIYAM'. This had the power to nullify any digestion related upsets .. real or imagined!
A couple of decades later, my culinary capers, via my blog, has in many ways tried to 'upset' the proverbial apple cart of South Indian cuisine. I've made waffles out of their beloved 'medu vadai' (a savory deep fried lentil doughnut), cupcakes out of 'idlies' ( a revered breakfast steamed rice cake) and sushi rolls out of Thayir saadham, (yogurt rice), to name a few.
While light heartedly bantering with my other half about what to make for Diwali last November, I ended up meddling with the ultimate cure all..and (at least to the immediate family), the 'Lehiyam' was never the same again!!
The 'Lehiyam' is an Incredibly addictive, jam like, sweet & spicy tonic made with a number of spices (every family has its own recipe). Yes, there are commercial brands available dime a dozen, but for Diwali, nothing else but a home made version is good enough.
Well, If there is anything I'd like to be remembered for at the end of one year of culinary creativity (I effectively began serious food blogging around this time last year), it would be converting the hallowed elixir that has withstood centuries of tradition into a sinful chocolate confection...
the 'lehiyam' truffle. - Panfusine
Test Kitchen Notes
The Lehiyam truffle packs a mighty experience of bold and luscious flavor within its small footprint. Panfusine has enrobed little balls of a traditional Indian spice paste (renowned for healthy digestive properties), in a silken coating of rich, creamy chocolate. This recipes makes for a cutting edge, artisanal chocolate experience, with coriander, cumin, pepper, and fresh ginger bursting out from the lush, velvety chocolate truffle. For the sake of expediency, I substituted pink and white peppercorns for the long pepper, dark brown sugar for the jaggery, and melted butter for the ghee. A single truffle makes a great little breakfast-on-the-run! The bright bold flavors awaken the palate while the chocolate offers a cushion of comfort. - AppleAnnie —AppleAnnie
long pepper (piper longum)
tender fresh ginger root, ground to a fine paste
1. Since long pepper may not be such a well known spice, here's a link to the image http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_pepper. This spice tends to leave a 'zinging' sensation on the tongue, somewhat similar , but a much milder version of schezuan pepper.
2. Its worth using the tender ginger root especially since the lehiyam will be enrobed in chocolate and needs to be as smooth as possible.
Using a coffee grinder, make a fine powder of the coriander, cumin & the 2 varieties of pepper. Sift using a fine strainer to remove any gritty pieces of spice.
Add to the fresh ginger root paste & combine well.
Crush the Jaggery into a powder, or into really tiny bits. (if the jaggery is soft enough, you could even grate it using a box grater).
In a skillet, heat the jaggery or sugar over medium heat till it melts and forms a brown color syrup. Alternatively place in a pyrex measuring cup & 'nuke' in the microwave for ~ 30 s and then transfer into a pan.
Add the spice paste & the ghee. mix well.
Cook over low to medium heat till the moisture has evaporated & the mixture resembles a thick paste. ( the ghee begins to start oozing out of the paste). Just take care to ensure that the sugar or jaggery does not start caramelizing, which results in a toffee like consistency. Remove from stove & set aside to cool completely. Refrigerate till ready to use. (Of course ,you could just eat it all up at this point!). The 'lehiyam' keeps well for upto a month in a covered container.
Using a 1/2 tsp measuring spoon, scoop out the lehiyam and roll into little marbles. Freeze to harden these.
Melt the chocolate & heavy cream in a double boiler till it forms a smooth mixture.
Keeping the chocolate mixture warm & flowing, dip the 'lehiyam' spheres into the chocolate to coat them evenly.
Remove with a dry fork, making sure any excess chocolate drips out & place a sheet of parchment paper. Cover & leave in a cool dry place to set (preferably in the refrigerator.
Once the chocolate coating has hardened,Pick each truffle and toss into the cocoa powder, lift out and place into paper cups. Top with a pinch of flavored finishing salts. (I used my own blend of buddhas hand citrus, and two varieties from provisions, the aleppo pepper and the sumac pepper salts).