Sunday, August 29, 2010

Uzhunnappam - A local specialty from the scenic village of Kodanadu

A guest post by Soja Suresh, from the Readers Corner...

I might be repeating myself but I can’t help emphasising this point that it is always the people behind food and the taste memories associated with the same that gives most dishes a character and uniqueness of its own. As we try to replicate those dishes, either to savour a comforting memory or to connect to one’s roots, whatever be the drive, the whole experience of recreating those flavours and taste is deeper and meaningful, especially when you cook such dishes for people very close to your heart and such recipes get a substance of its own.

Here is one such example shared by my reader, Soja Suresh who has been trying to perfect her skills in recreating a traditional special from her mother-in-law’s kitchen and to be on par with her husband’s taste memories. According to her, Uzhunnappam is a very popular palaharam/snack in her husband’s place Kodanadu, a picturesque place in central Kerala. This can be described as a roasted flat bread, traditionally made in an Uruli, a wide bell metal vessel over burning embers and she also mentions that there are some people who put coal on top of the lid as well which sort of creates an atmosphere of baking. Read on :

Hello Shn,

I am Soja now residing at Kodanad . a village near Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district. This is my husband’s place. I had made a comment about your kinnathappam and had enquired you about mailing recipe of uzhunnappam which is a traditional food item of this area. So now I’m on that mission. I came to know about this “palaharam” only after reaching this place after marriage. This is a special dish made by my mother in law on special occasions. Everyone here are fans of this appam and also anything made by my mother in law. She is no more ;but we have inherited the methodology of this great dish from her (though each time I try out this thing there would be the same comment from my husband “ammayude pole ayittilla!”) Nowadays comments have become a bit weak ; I think “ente prathikaranam bhayannittakam” or “ammayude pole ayittundakam!” This is usually made in an uruli over kanal aduppu but my co-sister makes it on non stick pan over the gas stove. Since I’m always longing for my husband’s good comments I still make it in uruli.


  1. 3 cups roasted rice powder(raw rice powdered and roasted)
  2. 1cup black gram dal(whole uzhunnuparippu)
  3. ¾ cup grated coconut
  4. 5 to 6 shallots for grinding
  5. 2 pinchCumin seeds (jeerakam)
  6. 2cloves garlic
  7. 20 to 25 shallots for slicing
  8. About5 to 6 tablespoons of thinly sliced thengakothu
  9. 3 stems of curry leaves
  10. Salt as required
  11. ½ glass of coconut oil for roasting the appam

Roast the black gram dal in a frying pan (oil not necessary) till red in colour.. Powder it in a grinder.(Otherwise you can soak the fried dal in water and grind to a paste). Grind together the above mentioned ingredients from 3 to 6.Fry the shallots till golden brown . Also fry sliced coconuts, and curry leaves. In a large vessel mix together rice powder, powdered or ground dal, ground coconut paste, fried shallots, thengakothu, curry leaves and salt . Add water to the above mixture to make a batter of the consistency similar to unniappam or thick dosamavu.

Leave the batter to get soaked for 2hrs since we are using roasted rice powder. [ I occasionally use raw rice powder; ie.before roasting.The powder should be coarse{puttupodiyude pakam}. ] When poured it should be thick like unniappam batter. After 2hrs. place the uruli on the kanal aduppu with a small firewood burning in the aduppu. Pour about 2 ladles of coconut oil to the uruli and when it becomes medium hot you have to pour about 3 ladles of the batter to the oil. Spread it in circular shape like that of dosa but should be very thick; about 1cm. thick in the middle and then tapered to 1/2cm along the edges. Now you have to cover this appam with a lid and to leave it for some time on slow fire until it’s inside gets done ; take care not to get it burned. After some time toss it upside down so that the other side also gets done . You can toss it three or four times till it gets done and also both sides must get “moriyanam” a bit. Some people here use red hot charcoal on top of the lid (similar to baking). After it is done it’ll be reddish brown in colour and when it is cool slice it in radial direction from the center .It’ll look like plum cake pieces. Tastes best along with “nadan” chicken curry. Very delicious.

Note:For trial it is better to take coconut oil and batter in small quantities and after practicing to spread the batter and to toss it you can make bigger appams in size. The thing is that if only the appam is bigger in diameter then only you can make it thick and then only will it be tastier. Cooking process is similar to frying a thick egg omelette.

Soja gave me a detailed recipe and promptly replied to mails to clear even the silliest doubts of mine. My mother, during her stay here in US , brought Soja’s recipe to life in my kitchen, giving it the smell and taste , sans Uruli and coals. She made this in a non-stick pan and we used split and skinned black grams/Uzhunnuparippu. We enjoyed it with some spicy chicken curry as she suggested. Based on our experience, one thing I can say confidently is that slow cooking is the key here and you need to be cautious with the consistency of the batter too.

Soja, my heartfelt thanks for being so generous in sharing such a local specialty and getting this village beauty its well deserved attention.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Straight from the heart....though a bit late......

Wanted to wish you all in advance......yet I believe there 're a couple more days left before you forget the beauty,togetherness and deliciousness of the season Onam brought.....Hope all of you had a fabulous time and we wish all our dear readers, friends and families the prosperity of the season!

Little King, Shn & CJJ
No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I crave Parippu Vada & Chaaya!

Friday evening….more specifically, one of those days I had that I-want-to-feel-good itch. And I had made plans. I wanted to go to the riverside , show Little King his favorite duckies, stroll by the yacht club and sit somewhere, relax and drench in the beauty of the blue canvas dotted with fleet of yachts and watch the hawking seagulls flying on that clear blue sky…….

I was playing with Little King and as plans danced in my head, to that imaginary balmy weather at the riverside, I heard a heavy yet rhythmic tapping on my windows….the pitter patter of rains!!! I grabbed Little King off the floor and rushed to the balcony and it was pouring …. ….winds were blowing furiously yet I felt the swaying trees still retained a grandeur of their own…..I saw powerful streaks of flashing light followed by loud thunderbolts. And as I stood there marveling at the charm of rains, I saw the little guy, from the corner of my eye, all agape with eyes wide open…his iris moved swiftly as roaring thunderbolts and furious winds fought for dominance and then suddenly he noticed the heavy water-fall cascading down from the corner of the roof and I saw him waving his hands up and down and blabbering with excitement…..he smiled as the winds sprayed sprinkles on his face. And as I watched the twinkle in his eyes and the glow on his face, the overcast skies up there and the balmy weather I dreamt was already a distant memory!

As three of us sat there soaking in the beauty of rains, I saw Little King’s attention falling on the wooden planks of the balcony had uneven surfaces and the tiny splashes the rain drops created on those small water pools seemed to be amusing him. At that moment, the carousel of my memories stopped at the endearing sight of me and my brother making paper boats tearing that day’s newspaper and letting them float in the fresh pool of water the rains created in our front yard and in vain, I wondered if I would ever be able to create such memories for our little guy or if he would really enjoy paper boats in the first place!!!

As I was caught in thoughts quietly, I heard CJJ thinking aloud ,”…….ho…nalla vadayum chammantheem…..oru choodan chaayem kittiyirunnegil…..” ( I wish I had some deep fried savory fritters with a cup of tea….) Honestly, I wished for some deep fried goodness too, specifically for some Parippu Vada/lentil fritters and Chaaya/Tea but it was Friday evening and the only chore I could think of doing was eating out from some take-out box! And I did the next best thing, I opened the folder of Parippu Vada from my yet-to-post folder and feasted my eyes on those beautiful fritters and the glass of hot tea my mother made on a wintry evening while I was carrying our precious pea!!!!!

This is how my mother made ‘em :

  • 1 cup Thuvara parippu/Toor Dal/Yellow lentils, soaked for an hour
  • ¾ cup chopped small red pearl onions
  • 1/8 cup minced ginger – Around 2 tbsp
  • 1/8 cup minced green chillies (As per tolerance)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying
  • In a wet grinder, grind Parippu/lentils with salt into a coarse paste, without adding water. To this, mix chopped onion, minced ginger and garlic and pulse one or two times to combine everything well. Transfer it to a wide bowl; tear off some curry leaves and mix well.
  • Heat oil over medium heat in a deep frying pan and check if oil is hot - by dropping a tiny bit of the dough into the oil and if it comes to the top sizzling with bubbles around, then oil is ready for frying. Scoop out a small amount of dough and roll into a gooseberry size ball with your fingers and flatten it gently on your palm or on a banana leaf or wax paper, whichever is convenient to you. Drop them gently into the hot oil, one or two at a time , depending on the size of your pan as well as your expertise, fry till it’s cooked both outside as well as inside. Please keep flipping each side as you fry the. Serve with tea or coffee of your choice.
Notes: If you don’t get to grinding the soaked lentils immediately, drain and store them in refrigerator which also eases grinding to an extent as it stops the mixer/grinder from heating up fast. Also while grinding , if the ground lentils goes beyond the coarse paste texture, stay away from pulsing onions and other herbs to mix well, instead gently combine with a spoon.

Hope it’s pleasant weather and weekend ahead for us. I think I should stop making plans and check the weather forecast for a change !! Wish you all a lovely weekend …am sure it is going to be a memorable one with Onam around the corner! :)


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jaathikka Chammanthi - The fruity cover of Nutmeg with grated coconut.

They may not have a velvety skin as those blushing apricots……..yet that mellowed shade of yellow makes them handsome right at the time they ripen and mature….

….and unlike apricots, they have a beautiful heart that’s laced with natural red designs woven by Mother Nature herself….

…….and put them in the company of feathery light freshly grated coconut, rosy pearl onions and slender green chillies with a generous sprinkling of salt…

…..and there we have this tongue tickler that wakes up your taste buds and leaves a tangy and mild acidic note at the back of your palate……

This is one of the tasty creations from my mother-in-law’s kitchen and the first time I had it, it had me swept away! I always make sure that I savor it atleast once every time we visit her. It is one of those jazz up items she makes at the last minute, to bring life to an otherwise ordinary meal or as a condiment for Kanji-Payar.

It is very easy to put together. Select tender/young ones with a green hue; you may start by splitting the whole nutmeg fruit into two, remove the kernels, peel off the skins and cut the flesh into small pieces. Grind the fruity pieces either in a wet grinder or on an Ammikkallu, an old fashioned flat grinding stone with an elongated rolling pin. Add freshly scraped coconut , red pearl onions, green chillies and sprinkle salt to taste and grind till you get a coarse paste. Last time when my MIL prepared this, she plucked 4 whole nutmeg fruits and made her maid grate about half of a cracked open coconut and added some green chillies to elevate the heat to suit our palates. As I took notes from her, she also mentioned that the peeled off skins can be pickled separately , for which one can use both raw as well as ripe skin of the nutmeg fruit. Though I have tasted spicy pickles made with nutmeg fruit, I have never had the opportunity to taste the one with peeled off skins. May be on our next vacation!

Updated on 17th Auh 2010: Thought of updating the post and title , to clarify certain doubts raised in the comment section. This comes under the category of 'sides & condiments' just like pickles or Manga Chammanthi, Chutta Pappada Chammanthi or Unakka Chemmeen Chammanthi . And as I had written in one of my earlier posts, "This is not to be misinterpreted with the ever popular Chutney. For Keralites, both are two different things; Chammanthi is a dry coarse paste where as Chutney is a liquid-y dip/sauce". Sorry, I cannot think of an equivalent name in English.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kerala Pork Fry/Olathiyathu

Almost a fortnight ago, on one of my routine calls to home, my mother filled me in on the gathering they had at her brother’s place earlier that day. They were meeting my uncle’s family after several years and my mother was quite delighted to see her nephews and niece after such a long gap. With bursts of excitement, she went on talking about them and how all three of them have blossomed into well seasoned teenagers. Food being the pulse and heart of any such family gatherings, they had prepared a grand feast, to celebrate the family reunion. My mother enumerated an array of dishes that gave serious cravings to my already starved stomach . One of the items in menu was a pork curry and quoting my aunt’s words, my mother happily told me that they bought and prepared that dish knowing well that she loves it! I was touched. I was moved by the fact that they remembered such a tiny detail about my mother’s food preferences, even after such a long span of time. The more and more I thought about my aunt’s remark, I felt it was a beautiful testament to my mother’s porky love!

Yes, she just loves that fatty meaty 'artery clogging' goodness. Growing up, Sunday was the day dedicated for cooking chicken at home but there was some exceptions too. Very rarely, pork would be presented at the table, on days when my mother’s cravings became loud and clear. As a picky fussy teenager, I could never embrace myself to eat the special of the day as the curry always contained lots of fatty chunks and since that was the only wet curry on the table to smear my rice with, I had no option but to ladle some gravy and dig out some pieces without thick slabs of fat. But Mummy would be sitting just across the table devouring each and every slab of fat, “nei-kashanam” in her words, she could lay her hands on and I found it gross those days…I never understood the whole funda behind her fervor but now I have the gastronomic wisdom to know that she has been true pork aficionado.

During her stay here, she feasted her eyes on the beautifully arranged, hunger stimulating display of various cuts of pork meat, sliced and unsliced slabs of bacon, huge loaves of ham, smoked pork shanks and shoulders , sausage links and so on at the supermarkets. Her visits to the Farmers Market and Oktoberfest were never complete with a charred or grilled brat sandwich. I clearly remember that sheepish yet content smile on her face while enjoying slices of ham and sausage links for breakfast at a local breakfast joint here. As I write this , another incident that pops up in my mind is that of my mother forking chunks and chunks of ham into her plate, while prepping her plate ready for cooking, at the Mongolian Barbeque restaurant. Oh, there comes another one, she enjoying ham from the Thanks Giving platter my hospital canteen served. Oh, how can I forget her love for pizza or should I say love for pizza with a double topping of Italian sausage, bacon and pepperoni, considering the fact she despised the chicken tikka pizza we got her from a shopping mall food court near my home in Kerala!!!!

Well, not only does she enjoys pork meat but also good at concocting pork curries and fries or I should say, she knows the right techniques to cook up a pork curry or fry. For instance, the taste maker and flavour enhancer in today’s featured recipe is the pork fat that accumulates on top after pressure cooking. She uses this pork fat to saute onions, instead of regular cooking oil, which explodes the flavours and adds one more tasty layer along with the medley of spices used. Mummy made this pork fry during the last week of their stay here and here’s how she made it.


To Dry Roast & Marinate:
  • Around ¾ kg fatty pork, cubed and washed well
  • 1/3 cup Coriander powder
  • 3 tsp Chilly powder ( As per tolerance)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 small pod of garlic ( or around 8 big ones) , crushed (Adjust as per your liking for garlic)
  • 3-4 inch piece of ginger, crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • ¾ cup water
To Sauté :
  • 3 cups thinly sliced big onion
  • 5-6 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 3-4 tsp black pepper powder ( Adjust as per the strength of spice and your tolerance level)
  • 1 + 1 + 1 tsp Homemade Masala powder/Garam Masala
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • Pork fat or 2 -3 tbsp coconut oil for sautéing
  • Heat a small pan over low heat and dry roast coriander powder till brown and remove. Lower heat again and in the same pan, dry roast chilly powder and when the colour darkens a bit, add turmeric powder and stir for a while and remove. Keep stirring while dry roasting ground spices without burning them.
  • Marinate cubed meat with roasted spices, crushed ginger, garlic and salt for about 30 minutes; Add around ¾ cup water and pressure cook until done.
  • Heat a wide pan or mann-chatti/earthenware; pour some of the fat and juice extracted on top after pressure cooking; sauté thinly sliced onions until transparent; you may add some cooking oil if onion is getting dried up and sticking to the pan. At this stage , throw in green chillies and continue to cook until onions are golden brown. Now sprinkle black pepper powder and stir for few seconds and then add 1 tsp Masala powder/Garam Masala and sauté for a minute or two or until a nice aroma comes; now tear off the curry leaves , crush them in your palms and add to masala. Transfer cooked meat from the pressure cooker and add to the masala and let it cook over medium heat for a while, until everything comes together and flavours blend well; towards the middle of cooking add 1 more teaspoon Masala powder/Garam Masala. Let the it simmer, roast slowly dry up in low heat (this process may take about 20-30 minutes depending on the amount of gravy that needs to be dried up) and towards the end of cooking, add 1 more tsp Masala powder/Garam Masala and some more crushed curry leaves, stir well and turn off the stove after 5-6 minutes.
  • Serve with rice or any flat breads of your choice,
Notes: Though optional, adding some potato sticks/cubes fried in oil, towards the end of the cooking , i.e., when meat is almost roasted and gelled well all spices and herbs, add one more layer to the taste. Please make sure that , these fried potato sticks/cubes are in the pan, along with the meat, for about 10-20 minutes, to marry the flavours of meat, spices and herbs.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ari Vada – Donut shaped savoury fritters with rice flour

Once again, I felt like that little girl who walked into the classroom , after a long leave of absence, fearing if friends would welcome her back into their group ,share same level of closeness or feel some sort of disconnect and to her surprise, she was delighted to notice that warm smile on her friends’ faces. That’s exactly what I experienced, a note of reassurance and support, while surfing through your comments on my last post. I was elated, to say the least! The knowledge that someone really kept checking this blog regulary for an update and was finally happy to see some activity here, made me feel really tickled. Thank you for letting me know that I was missed and for making me feel special :)

As I sit here listening to the crickets chirping outside and clock ticking fast way into midnight, my brain calls out to go for a quick post and a quick recipe; so here we go!

On those days when I blogged regularly, leap-frogging from one dish to another, following winding trails of faded memories, leading to another forgotten taste, my cousin-M Chechi who has been a constant support and follower of this blog, mailed me with a list of various tea-time snacks I could think of blogging and suggested that Usha aunty might be able to help me with the original names of many snacks as her mother was an expert in variety snacks. I replied saying ,” ….. and also y'day i thought about usha aunty's amma...i was not aware that she was a snack expert........but I remember,.she had taught mummy to make a deep fried snack....something with arippodi and ulli, mulaku and inji ....but i dont remember if she adds thairu to it...anyway....see ...this is how my thought path leads me to stuff i havent thought about in a while.....:) “. She reverted with a quick response correcting me , “Hey that deep fried snack of usha aunty's amma --- it is not curd but grated coconut. I sometimes try that. If you put a pinch of sodapodi, it becomes very soft.

Yes, it has always been “Usha Aunty’s Amma’s palaharam/snack” for our entire family for more than a decade . This deep fried savory snack made with rice flour, spiced up with the heat from green chillies and ginger was introduced to all the women in our family by Usha Aunty’s Amma, as “Easy Uzhunnu Vada” that can be made in a jiffy, when we have some impromptu guests. For its ease and use of readily available ingredients , I remember my mother serving it as our after school snack many a time ……that bite of onions, mild heat from the chillies and finally washing it down with a hot glass of tea …..aaahh…..that was heights of tea-time pleasure for a teenager like me!

Then why the name “Ari Vada” for my post? As you can see from the mail chat with my cousin, we always referred to this one as Usha Aunty’s Amma’s palaharam/snack, until the day I heard a more convincing name in a cooking segment telecast by a Malayalam TV Channel, while collecting info on Kalathappam. In this particular episode, the snack under discussion is featured as an old world favorite among the Muslim community from Balaramapuram, a place at the southern region of Kerala, especially at the time of breaking fast /Nombu Thura during the month of Ramadan. The only difference here is that egg and baking powder is not part of the featured recipe and the only explanation I can think of is that, the introduction of these two ingredients lately shares the same logic of some adding eggs and baking powder in making Pazhampori , mainly for more fluffiness and texture…. a perfect example of how recipes evolve over time!

During her stay here, my mother made this snack once to satisfy my pregnancy cravings as well as to feature it on blog. She suggested putting a hole in the middle to add to its overall aesthetic appeal. Also she was of the opinion that the similarity in appearance with Uzhunnu Vada, justifies the name ,” Easy Uzhunnu Vada”. Putting a hole in the middle is a personal choice, though technically it helps in cooking the dough evenly. Here’s how my mother prepared it:

  • 2 cups rice flour, roasted
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1 cup big onion minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 10 green chillies, minced ( adjust to your tolerance)
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • Salt to taste
  • Around ¾ cup water ( varies depending on the rice flour)
  • Oil for deep frying
  • In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients , except water and start mixing. Minced onion and grated coconut release some amount of water content and hence, be careful and start adding water little by little and mix until dough is soft and moist enough to roll on your palm. If you have time, let the dough rest for about 30 minutes before shaping them.
  • Heat oil over medium heat , in a deep frying pan and when oil is hot - check by dropping a tiny bit of the dough into the oil and if it comes to the top sizzling with bubbles around, then oil is ready for frying - start shaping the dough. You can do this either on your palm or on a plantain/banana leaf or on a parchment paper. Smear some oil or water on your chosen canvas; take a small amount of dough and roll them into a gooseberry size ball and then gently flatten it by pressing with your fingers ( Note: Dipping you fingers in water is a neat idea to avoid sticking at this stage; it also makes the transferring (to the frying pan) easier) and put a hole in the middle. Transfer it carefully to the hot oil and fry till it turns golden brown. Serve with hot tea/coffee.
Those who do not like to take the extra effort of putting the hole in the middle, may just stop with flattening the dough and shape and fry like Parippu Vada, another variety of lentil fritters.

While following a trail from the comments section, I discovered Fathima’s blog and came across this same snack dressed little differently, with a very sweet name, Mutta Surka. Her recipe looks more or less the same and what I loved about hers is the use of ableskiver pans/Unniappam Chatti to make it more healthy with less oil . Thank You, Fathima!


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.