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An Offbeat Paniyar Delicacy Called Nunji

Updated: Mar 17, 2021

Paniyars call the snails found in the river beds “Nunji”. They are a kind of mollusc that is longish in built. Members of the Paniyar tribe cook them in a delicious curry which is a favourite of many. Nunjis are also eaten for their medicinal properties.

Sembam from Gudalur is an expert on catching molluscs and cooking them

Sembam from Gudalur teaches us how to make a delicious snail curry. But first he gives us a few lessons on the snails. “We come out to the river once a month and catch these river snails. These snails swell in number during the rainy season. They attach themselves to the rocks found on the banks of the river. When we cook these snails in a delicious curry, they help reduce body heat,” he says.


Snail curry recipe: The people of the Paniyar tribe usually cook and consume these snails. When they are first collected, their tails are cut off. Then the snails are washed thoroughly 2-3 times to remove dirt and impurities.

  • Once the snails have been cleaned properly, keep them aside. Now chop onions, green chillies, tomatoes and coriander finely.

  • Place a pan on the stove, pour oil in it. When it is heated, add the chopped onions and green chillies and fry well.

  • Once the onion is fried well, add ginger garlic paste and stir. When the raw smell of the ginger-garlic paste is gone, add tomatoes and fry well till soft.

  • Next, add turmeric powder, garam masala and chilli powder and stir well.

  • Add the snails and water, and bring the curry to a boil. Add enough water for the dish and let the curry boil well.

When you smell the fragrant snail curry, turn off the stove, lower the vessel from the stove and garnish with chopped coriander leaves. The snail curry delicacy is ready to serve with steamed rice.


About the author: Naveen P. belongs to the Paniyar tribe of Gudalur in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. He represents Adivasi Muneetra Sangham (AMS) that fights for Adivasi rights especially Human Rights and Land Rights.


This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.



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