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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Ever tasted Rasam prepared in Eeya Chembu " ஈயச் செம்பு ரசம் " ? -

In this mystic land of Thiruvallikkeni (Triplicane) – there is so much.  The International Tin Council (ITC) was an organisation which acted on behalf of major tin producers and consumers to control the International tin market. It is no longer active.  An International Tin Study Group, which was established in 1947 to survey world supply of and demand for tin, led to the treaty, the International Tin Agreement, signed in 1954, and the formation of the ITC in 1956.

எனது சின்ன வயது நாட்களில் தெருக்களில் ரொம்ப கரகர குரலுடன் ஒருவர்  சைக்கிள் தள்ளிக்கொண்டு ' பழைய ஈயசெம்பு  பித்தளை பாத்திரங்களுக்கு பேரிச்சம் பழம்' என கூவுவார்.  கரகாட்டக்காரனில் இதே டயலாக்  - குள்ளமணி, ராமராஜனின் கார் அருகே வந்து கூவ கௌண்டமணி டென்ஷன் ஆக, செந்தில் உதை வாங்குவது சரி காமெடி.  திருவிழா நாட்களில் (திருவல்லிக்கேணியில் தெப்பம்) ஒரு தள்ளு வண்டியில் அம்பாரமாய் பேரிச்சம் பழம் குவிந்து இருக்கும் ~ இன்றைய சூழ்நிலையில், நாம் அழகாக பேக்கிங் செய்து இருந்தால் மட்டுமே வாங்க விழைவோம்....  இதை தவிர, பழைய பாத்திரங்களுக்கு, நெருப்பு மூட்டி, ஒரு புரியாத செயல்பாட்டில் ஈயம் பூசுவோரும் உண்டு.  அடுப்புக்கரி போட்டு, ஒரு உபகரணத்தை அழுத்தி, அழுத்தி, கற்று மூலம் ஜ்வாலை, கொழுந்துவிட்டு எரிய, பாத்திரங்களில் உள்பக்கம் ஈயம் பூசப்படும். 

A google search on ‘Eeyam (ஈயம்) led me to reading the following :  ஈயம் (Lead) ஒரு வேதியியல் உலோகம் ஆகும். இதன் தனிம அட்டவணைக் குறியீடு Pb. இதன் அணுவெண் 82. இது ஒரு மென்மையான உலோகம் அகும். இது தட்டாக்கக்கூடிய பார உலோகமாகும். இது வளியுடன் இலகுவில் தாக்கமடைவதால் இதன் மீது காணப்படும் ஒக்சைட்டுப் படை இதனை அழகற்ற சாம்பல் நிறப்பொருளாகக் காட்டும். எனினும் வெட்டியவுடன் வெள்ளி போல பளபளக்கும். இதுவே மிகவும் அதிக திணிவுடைய கருவுள்ள நிலைப்புத்தன்மையுடைய (கதிர்த்தொழிற்பாற்ற) தனிமமாகும்.

Of the many things that I do not know :  Lead & Tin metal are different. (ஈயம் வேறு காரீயம் வேறு).. .. ..  .. ..   Though the above article shows  Eeyam as Lead, there is world of difference.  Lead is a chemical element with symbol Pb (from the Latin plumbum) and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials.  Before you read anything further,  contrary to popular belief, pencil leads in wooden pencils have never been made from lead. When the pencil originated as a wrapped graphite writing tool, the particular type of graphite used was named plumbago (literally, act for lead or lead mockup).

Tin, on the other hand,  is a natural element in the earth's crust. It is a soft,  an almost silver-white, ductile, malleable, lustrous solid silvery metal that does not dissolve in water. It is present in brass, bronze, pewter, and some soldering materials. Tin metal is used to line cans for food, beverages, and aerosols. Tin can combine with other chemicals to form compounds. Combinations with chemicals like chlorine, sulfur, or oxygen are called inorganic tin compounds (i. e. , stannous chloride, stannous sulfide, stannic oxide). These are used in toothpaste, perfumes, soaps, food additives and dyes.    Tin is a chemical element with symbol Sn (from Latin: stannum) and atomic number 50. It is a post-transition metal in group 14 of the periodic table. It is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, which contains tin dioxide, SnO2.

Metallic tin is not easily oxidized in air. The first alloy used on a large scale was bronze, made of tin and copper, from very old days, later came the usage of  pure metallic tin.  Pewter, which is an alloy of 85–90% tin with the remainder commonly consisting of copper, antimony, and lead, was used for flatware from the Bronze Age until the 20th century. In modern times, tin is used in many alloys, most notably tin/lead soft solders, which are typically 60% or more tin and in the manufacture of transparent, electrically conducting films of indium tin oxide in optoelectronic applications. Another large application for tin is corrosion-resistant tin plating of steel.  Web info reveals that the patent for canning in sheet tin was secured in 1810 in England, legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier experimented with a solution for provisioning the French army while in the field by adapting the tin lining techniques used for his cookware to more robust steel containers (then only lately introduced for canning) which protected the cans from corrosion and soldiers from lead solder and botulism poisoning.

Tin linings sufficiently robust for cooking are wiped onto copper by hand, producing a .25–45-mm-thick lining.  For a period following the Second World War, pure nickel was electroplated as a lining to copper cookware.  Till a few decades ago, most households would have ‘eeya chembu (vessel made of tin metal’ – especially for making ‘rasam’ and for curdling.  South Indian meals is not complete without ‘Rasam’ – the liquid made of tamarind, coriander seed, pepper, cumin seeds, red chilie, salt, thoor dal water, asafetida, and smashed tomato.   There are fine variants like – ‘tomato rasam’, ‘inji (ginger)  rasam’  ‘pine-apple rasam’ – ‘lime rasam’, ‘milagu rasam’, ‘paruppu rasam’, ‘veppampoo rasam (neem flower), ‘poondu rasam’ – [besides all these there is always the famous rasam of home, which you always appreciate irrespective of its flavor !]

Have you tasted ‘rasam in eeya utensil’ – or have you seen one recently .. here are some photos of ‘tin metal in billet’ and the utensils made of this tin metal.  Triplicane, [more specifically the area around the erstwhile Sri Parthasarathi Swami sabha in Venkat Rangam Street]  housed some industries – engaged in eversilver ware and tin-ware too.  Slowly most of them have winded down.  Nearer my house, still stands a small shop engaged in making tin-utensils used for cooking, supplying to all shops in Chennai – most of which are made to order and according to its owner, they are still fast moving.  The raw-material is mostly imported from Malaysia and is reportedly around Rs.2600/- per kg – the making is hard and requires strenuous labour.

If you get excited reading this and plan to venture into making rasam on a eeya-paathiram,  beware, it is not easy – it  requires care while using the vessel, - the utensil could melt very easily and if left on hot oven, in a few minutes one may end up seeing a blob of silvery-white metal. 

                      In making rasam, the liquid content should not be too low in quantity and gas stove should not be on high – keep it just simmering, and you are sure to experience a great taste in the rasam at home. Happy cooking !!  ~  sadly, like many other things that have vanished, these may not be available for the next generation – the Karagattakkaran comedy of Sentil – Goundamani on ‘ Pazhaya eeya pathirathukku perichampazham’ may not be understood as the relevance may not be understood.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Feb 2018.

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