'Theluvu', that's the other name for padhaneer or atleast that's how I am familiar with this drink right from my childhood. Back in Salem, some three decades ago, a lady carrying this drink in an earthen pot on her head, would visit our home every weekend, measuring out a sombu full of padhneer to each of us and I would be the over excited character asking for more. I still remember the lady and the slight bitter, yet sweet taste of the drink has never left my memory till now. Even after years of moving from Salem, during our road trips, we would stop immediately if we happened to spot someone selling padhaneer. But mostly they were adulterated drinks and never were they as good as the ones sold by the lady who called it 'Theluvu' which I guess is nothing but Thelindha neer, a delicious and a healthy drink, which with a little endorsement would have been popular than the bottled drinks.
Padhaneer with palm fruit is something new to me which I happened to taste in one of the southern districts during my recent road trip. The fruits are eaten with the skin on, apparently the bitter taste from the young palmfruits does more good than just eating the fruits without the skin. Old men in my family would actually devour palmfruit whole with skin and all. With skin or not both the drink and the fruit were such an energising early morning drink, that I drank to my heart's content after a very long time!
Palm products are not to missed when visiting the southern district. Buying a whole lot of Palm jaggery which tastes like chocolate will not be a bad idea. Buying palm products from the place where it is made makes a lot of difference in taste and quality to the products that we get in our local market. So splurge on them without hesitation.
Halwa is not the only delicacy from the southern district that it is popular for. There are so many other food that many may not know. Andi paruppu or the roasted cashew with the skin is yet another popular snack not to be missed. It tastes a little sweet and delicious with a nutty flavour and not like the regular cashews that you get in the market. It's hard to stop eating once you have started, I used to gorge on them when young and nothing would stop me even now. It was actually sold only in one particular place earlier, the only spot that my father used to buy for a long time which is vadaseri in Nagercoil, but recently I have seen almost all tourist spots in the south selling these cashews which are usually of awful quality. This picture of the lady selling roasted cashews was shot in Nagercoil.
Few other foods that you must carry back are Kaimurukku, Mundrikothu, Appam which is actually adhirasam with a hole and off course chips. I don't know if these are available in the markets, because mostly these are made at home by some families and are made only on order( A relative of mine in Nagercoil gets us these everytime they visit and this time I had the chance to meet the charming lady who makes these at her home and happily shared the recipe for the Mundrikothu and Kaimurukku ) and the last not to be missed is the 'Matti pazham' the speciality fruit of Nellai, next to Sevvazhai and Nendrapazham. As I had mentioned earlier in one of my posts, people when visiting from Nellai don't come empty handed, they will at least make sure to bring one of these fruits with them and they will urge the elders to give it to kids. They are such highly nutritious fruits.