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A Dutch Delicacy

The New Year staple Kokis, never to be missed on the festive table, has an interesting history and an enduring flavour.

A Dutch Delicacy
A Dutch Delicacy
A Dutch Delicacy

Where does the unusual name of ‘kokis’, with a thin brittle crack heard in its two syllables: come from? The closest relative, linguistically, is ‘cookies’ but nothing can be more different than the flat, crispy and yellow treat, that once placed between your teeth makes a ‘katas’ sound.

The linguistic mystery can be sorted out easily. We seem to have derived the name from ‘koekjes’, a word the Dutch use for their version of cookies. Kokis stand out amidst the variety of Avurudhu sweetmeats, which have roots in a diverse local culinary tradition. Many Avurudhu sweetmeats are sticky as they are prepared with lots of treacle. Making them is an art.

The recipe for Kokis is simple. Mix rice flour and coconut milk, and add a bit of turmeric and salt. An ‘achchu’ or mould is an important utencil. The achchu is dipped in the yellow flour batter, then immersed in a pan of hot oil that gives out a strong hissing sound. As it cooks, the golden yellow kokis would slip off the mould with ease.

The achchu are ornate, which add a variety of kokis designs to the festive table: stars, flowers, paisleys, butterflies, and even birds and beasts. You can opt for maverick flavours, by adding, 
to the basic batter, chilli or pepper or karapincha (curry leaves). A sugary version is also possible. Boil sugar in water and dip each kokis gently into the sugar while it is still hot.

Remember, however, that some diehards tend to frown upon these miris or curry leaf kokis as distortions. It is thought to ruin the sweetish, rich coconut milk infused flavour. Indeed, the savoury and sweet versions are considered by some as an injustice to the delightful Avurudhu snack. Kokis is special in that it is the only new year sweetmeat that doesn’t lose its taste. There is no such thing as having too much kokis, unlike the other heavily sugared or treacled offerings that decorate our tables in April. Try kokis this Avurudhu season. It will surely be an addictive treat. And you will indulge in more...