“There is a delicacy called puttu that’s made with palm jaggery. And this is made only in a place called Kayalpattinam in the Thoothukudi district. Puttu is a seasonal sweet and is prepared during the summer season. Only a few families in Kayalpattinam make this palm-based sweet. Apart from puttu, they also make paavu and sell in their villages. Only people living in Kayalpattinam and nearby villages are aware of these delicacies. I wanted people from other regions to know about it and along with a few youngsters, I am documenting families who make palm jaggery desserts,” says Jariya Azeez who runs a store called Abati that sells handmade products.
Puttu is a type of palm sugar made from palmyra trees which are prevalent in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu. “Palm sap is collected by tying an earthen pot laced with lime (to prevent fermentation) to the flowers. The collecting sap is boiled to a syrup. The translucent syrup s poured into moulds which solidifies in its current colour. Other ingredients are added to give the required flavour. We usually add raw mango, dry ginger or sesame. This is generally used in sweet meals of breakfast or dinner,” she adds.
The same method is followed to make paavu. “Required vegetables or fruits and coconut are mixed together in the syrup and further reduced to a thick compote. It is generally eaten as a dessert or as a jam with the main food,” shares Jariya.