In Europe and America, the macaroon is a confectionery which falls somewhere between the cake and the cookie. It is generally circular, brightly coloured and packed with almonds. The macaroons made in Tuticorin are a relic of the colonial rule, when the port city was ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British, in turn, before Independence.
Though inspired heavily by their European counterpart, the macaroons made here are however different in shape and taste, having married Indian sensibilities with European pastry-making techniques. The macaroon’s air of mystery comes unravelling when you discover that merely three ingredients go into the mix- sugar, eggs and cashewnuts. Egg whites are separated and repetitively beaten and whisked into stiff peaks, while sugar is sifted in gradually. Pulverized cashew granules are then stirred into the mixture which is spooned into paper cones. These are piped onto greased trays and baked in old-fashioned brick ovens, fed by firewood.
The macaroon that pops out is quintessentially a sugary, eggy web woven around cashews. But it is a mouthful of happiness at its delicate best. That’s perhaps why over the years, the macaroons have become the special boast of this small city by the sea. Bakeries here are highly revered for their treasures stored in air-tight jars. Which is why you should never dare to daydream with a macaroon in your hand for it will suck up all the moisture in the air and go limp; this goodie is meant to be eaten straight out of the box or stored carefully for a later treat!
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