- Maida/All-purpose flour – 1 cup
- Curd/Yogurt – 2 tblsp
- Sugar – 1 cup
- Oil for deep frying
- Water – ½ cup
- Color – just a pinch
Thaen mittai (Then Mittai) – Honey Sugar Candy | தேன் மிட்டாய்
Hi Ya! I’m happily introducing Project “Pori Vandi” (Stress on the ‘r’ and ‘nd’) in this post. Does the project name look strange? Pori means puffed-rice (Mori) and Vandi means vehicle. Now to the story behind the project name:
We all know that power cuts in Tamilnadu are like a custom that is followed for spans and spans of years. Power-cuts are almost traditional, we should say. How about preparing a nice spicy, steaming hot lunch and waiting for the ‘Power’ – the electricity? Very horrible right? But being kids we never grumble on the power-cuts those days. We normally have our own pass-time games. The ‘thambola’ or the ‘dhaayam’ or the ‘hide-and-seek’ or the ‘thirudan-police/Raja-Rani’ or the serious moans for the gold-fish and the blue-tailed fish that died in the fish tank and constructing a mud cemetery for it in the sand heaped in the neighborhood. And when the power arrives…everybody shouts with joy in their highest pitch….”yayyyyy… currentu vandhuduchuu……….” and run into their respective houses for lunch, abandoning the games. This is how we used to enjoy our Annual-exam holidays at Trichy.
And sometimes, the power would not come for a long time and we had to eat the steaming lunch in that scorching summer with sweat running down all over our face. The whole family sits in the dining hall, down in the floor, making an oval shape, circulating a hand-fan from one person to another. Finishing lunch, when we all lay lazily like an over-eaten, fat cobra in the sofa and are about to fall asleep in the late silent afternoon, this bell of the puffed rice vendor will ring. He makes this bell sound with an iron ladle and iron wok in his hand-push vehicle. Only this ringing of the bell and no hawking. On hearing this bell ring, all these lazy cobras will now become lively . We get some coins from grandma or our aunt and get whatever we like from the snacks-car. The seller has a good collection of snacks in this snacks-car. The list of the snacks that he has in his vehicle is as long as the tail of an over-grown kangaroo Some of them from the long list here,
Thaen mittai (Sugar candy), Pori, Pori urundai (puffed-rice candy – something that tastes like crispy marshmallow), Kadalai urundai (peanut candy – rounded), Koka mittai (cocoa cakes/cocoa candy/ground peanut candy), Kadalai mittai (peanut candy – squared), Ellu urundai (semsame seeds candy), Panju mittai (sonpapdi), Varutha kadala (Roasted peanuts), Varutha pattani (Roasted beans), Rava laddu, Kalkona (a hard but tasty candy with coconut bits), Javvu mittai (Sticky toffee), Thengai burfi (Squared sweet made of coconut), Achchu muruku (crispy sweet rice fritters) <another favorite of mine>, Etcetera Etcetera Etcetera….
But I normally get this ‘then mittai’ from the list. I always get two ‘then mittai’. Two will be more than enough. It gives you a satisfaction, a happiness, a complete contentment which you might not get even after eating a full bar of Silky Cadbury chocolate <but yeah, I do not deny that I like Cadbury too ). At times we used to have a snacks transaction or snacks exchange after the buying of snacks from the seller. One ‘thean mittai’ for a pori urundai or little sonpapdi for a little roasted groundnut etc. But I normally swallow the ‘thaen mittai’ even before everybody realizes what others have got from the seller or even before the transaction starts amongst my cousins
Now, what is this ‘thaen mittai’? ‘Then mittai’ or ‘thaen mittai’ is a sugary candy, normally pink in color with visible sugar crystals outside and thick, juicy sugar syrup filling inside. The outer surface is little hard but soft enough to bite. They look something like an unpolished pink opal stone. No, they resemble a rough pink sapphire. No no, they actually look like a pink quartz pebble . Yeah they truly are a kind of sweet pebble of jewels to possess. I normally do not pop them inside and eat. I hold them in front of me with my left and right hand fingers, examining its color and texture like an experienced merchant of precious-stones, then break them into half. When you break them half, you’ll see this nice pink and thick oasis standing still. Now you should be careful here, since the honey might drop down if you do not hold the candy at the right angle: not right-angle but the ‘right’ angle. You can now drink it or lick it, and then pop the candy inside your mouth, munch it slowly and enjoy.
I was searching for this “then mittai – thaen mittai” recipe in the web for almost an hour and google did not yield any results . Very sad. Or maybe, I did not give google the right terms to search for the recipe. Then I called Amma and asked if she ever knew how to make “thaen mittai” or at least know the ingredients to add in making “then mittai”. Immediately she said, “I know that it is made only of maida and sugar but do not know the exact procedure”. Given the clue, I added up my own ingredients and here it is… the ‘then mittai’ recipe . I never say mittai as mittai but muttai. So you can also read ‘mittai’ as ‘muttai’ like me. I used single or double quotes around the recipe name every time just to give a heads-up for the reader because I myself read ‘then’ as ‘then’ and not ‘thaen’-‘தேன்’ (but the candy sure deserves the quotes for its taste and for the memories it locked inside its thick honey syrup).
Did you check the ingredients list? Don’t they resemble the ingredients for making Badhusha? I know you’ll be wondering if I forgot to add “thean” (honey) in the ingredient list. But no, I did not forget. ‘Thaen’ has nothing to with the preparation of ‘thaen mittai’. They added the word “thaen” to this candy just to bring some excitement about the candy and for the false look of the sugar syrup resembling thick honey.
Procedure on how to make Thaen Mittai:
Mix the color in yogurt. Now add this yogurt into the flour little by little so that it gets nicely mixed with the flour. Make a thick dough and close it with a lid. Let this dough rest for few hours. I kept it for an hour. See to it that the yogurt is not too sour.
After few hours, make pebble-like rounds with the dough. We need not be too perfect in making the shapes. The beauty of ‘thean muttai’ is its irregular oval shape.
Heat oil in a wok. When the oil is heated enough, drop the dumplings into it and fry them really nice, turning the dumplings down and up at intervals.
Meanwhile make the sugar syrup. In a vessel take water and let it boil in medium heat. Add the sugar into the boiling water and stir it until it dissolves fully. The syrup must be little thick in consistency but just thick enough so that they can be absorbed by the dumplings. Switch off the stove.
Once the dumplings are cooked (takes around 3 minutes), take them out from the oil and let them sit in the paper towel for few seconds.
I was quite excited about this candy and I check the softness of the dumpling after frying.
Now, put the fried dumplings into the sugar syrup. The dumplings should absorb the sugar syrup nicely (I kept them for 2 hrs). When the dumplings sit in the sugar syrup, gently stir them so that the sugar coats evenly over the dumplings. I added a little (very very little) color to the sugar syrup too.
Remove them from syrup and cool them completely, or if you are greedy and could not control yourself, pop some into your mouth and get your tongue hurt. mmmm…..fresh honey… the sweetness reached my brain and made a ‘tinnngggg’ sound when the juice reached my deep throat . O please don’t let the honey drop down.. don’t let the honey drop down… for they are priceless than the gold liquid in the goldsmith’s room. So how do you feel? Honey isn’t it? Yeah, Honey’s in it!
I said google did not retrieve any results for this ‘thaen mittai’ recipe. But finding ‘then mittai’ in cities like Madurai is not tough. They are still hung in transparent plastic bags in petty shops – normally in front of the petti kadai. These plastic bags, holding these sweet treasures, gently move in the evening breeze, silently beckoning the school children to stop by the shop and pop at least two ‘then mittai’ when they are back to home. ‘Then mittai’ are in various colors: Brown, orange and pink. Mostly the shops have this pink version.
So the moral of the post is Power-cuts are almost traditional in Tamilnadu and that the electricity board is getting curses after curses, from generation after generation and that you can get a thorough contentment on eating just two little pinky dumplings called the ‘then mittai’ rather spending $s and ₹s in a hi-fi cafe.
I thought only I became mad of such eatables that I started writing mad essays on them. Thank God! Google acted like a psychiatrist to me. I told you that google did not return any results for ‘thaen mittai recipe’. But it did return lotsa similar topics where there were crazy people discussing crazy topics (okay, here ‘crazy’ means ‘lovely’) like this and I became thrilled and excited after visiting those pages.
This is just 5% of the description of what I had in my mind when I decided to post a thread on such memorable eatables. The remaining 95% would be posted one by one in this ‘Pori-vandi’ project, at least in few years’ time. Better one or two years late than never.
This is a special thread created “out-and-out” for my whole maternal family, the childhood friends, the streets we played in, the house we stayed in, and for all those who have similar memories and interests on these snacks which recall the memories of our childhood.
Long live ‘then mittai’!
<evvvv… I shook the camera. Will take a perfect picture next time when I make it. Sorry guys. Picture taken right after soaking the dumplings in the sugar syrup. The candy should be cooled and dried like in the picture above>
Mangala from cooking.jingalala.org