Detours are at all times enjoyable. On a drive from Chettinad in Tamil Nadu to Pondicherry, I ended to shoot photos of an imposing Karuppasami on the outskirts of a village close to Pudukkotai. These larger-than-life statues are normally on the entrance of a village and are thought to be custodians of the village. It was additionally right here that I realized concerning the custom of the mapillai kal or the illavata kal. You may need heard about contests that encompass a Swayam Vara, however it’s unlikely you’ll learn about this contest from Tamil Nadu the place males needed to carry a spherical stone to win the hand of the bride.

Also learn: Madurai Kizhangu Pottalam: Try These Delicious Potato Parcels From Tamil Nadu

I did not even try to hold the stone when the village headman knowledgeable me that it is more likely to weigh about 110 kg. That’s actually heavier than what I’m used to lifting throughout weight coaching routines at my fitness center. The lifting of the Illavata Kal remains to be a sport that you will discover at just a few villages in Tamil Nadu throughout Pongal festivities in January. So, identical to Popeye wanted spinach for power what did the potential suitors have to ace their weightlifting recreation? The similar village headman advised me concerning the secret ingredient again then – a pink grain rice known as Mapillai (interprets to bridegroom) Samba. Many of those suitors spent weeks on a eating regimen of a particular kanji (porridge) made with this heritage rice varietal that’s wealthy in minerals and vitamins.

The Cauvery delta area has lengthy been thought-about Tamil Nadu’s rice bowl. This is considered one of oldest zones for rice cultivation wherever on the earth and is steeped in legends that remember Tamil Nadu’s staple. Rice is greater than only a crop right here; it is held in reverence and the state’s farmers proceed to be celebrated in in style tradition. A line in my father’s household was concerned in rice cultivation within the delta area in Umbalapadi close to Thanjavur. On my final go to to Thanjavur, I sat down with Satish the General Manager at Great Trails Resort, a riverside retreat situated on the banks of the Vennar River a distributary of the enduring Cauvery River. Our dialog drifted to the area’s wealthy rice cultivation heritage. He directed me to Nanban Farm Products which typifies Tamil Nadu’s rediscovery of conventional substances and rice varietals.

Nanban is considered one of many organisations throughout the state which have gone again to sustainable or natural farming. Many outfits like Chennai-based Sempulan (CIKS) work with native farmers to develop and course of conventional rice varietals that started to vanish from the state within the Nineteen Seventies and 80s. It was at Nanban that I picked up my final batch of Mapillai samba rice which has now turn into my favorite rice varietal. Mapillai interprets to bridegroom whereas the Samba suffix refers back to the samba season (usually harvested in January).

The legends across the stone lifting competitions spotlight the stamina ranges this rice is believed to offer. It’s excessive in fibre content material that aids digestion and can also be recognized to spice up immunity, a wellness attribute that we have all began taking critically in a post-pandemic world. Mapillai samba boasts of a decrease glycaemic index (usually 66-70) in comparison with polished white rice making it extra appropriate for diabetics. In phrases of minerals, it’s excessive in potassium, iron, magnesium and phosphorous.


Aside from its a number of well being advantages, this glutinous pink rice with chewy textures is a good substitute for white rice in idli or dosa batter. You may also use it in Appam batter as a substitute of white rice; the consequence: appams with a beautiful pink shade. You may also mix it with poha (aval in Tamil) for a nutritious aval appam. I substituted normal ponni white rice with mapillai samba for a calming curd rice – an amazing summer season possibility, and the textures of this rice added an amazing dimension. You can do this straightforward recipe at house

Mapillai Samba curd rice


  • Mapillai samba rice: 2 cups
  • Grated cucumber: half cup (non-compulsory)
  • Coriander leaves (garnish)
  • For seasoning/tempering:
  • A number of cashew nuts damaged into small items
  • 1-2 pink chillies
  • Mustard: half teaspoon
  • Urad dal: 1 teaspoon
  • A number of curry leaves
  • Finely minimize ginger (to style)


  1. Cook the rice (12 minutes on a low flame when you hear the primary whistle on the strain cooker). While some house cooks soak the rice for an hour or in a single day, I consider that it is best to not soak it to retain the vitamins.
  2. Temper the substances with a small teaspoon of ghee.
  3. Mix with the rice.
  4. Whisk the curd with salt (to style) and add to the rice.
  5. Mix effectively earlier than you add the coriander for garnish.
  6. You might mix within the grated cucumber for further crunch and further cooling for the summer season.

About Ashwin RajagopalanI’m the proverbial slashie – a content material architect, author, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch bins are normally the start of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s solely obtained stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, avenue meals and fantastic eating eating places internationally. I’ve found cultures and locations by way of culinary motifs. I’m equally captivated with writing on shopper tech and journey.

. .