Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Sadya

We all take trouble to learn how to manage with the inadequate fork, knife and spoon, to conform to the norm. The more adventurous, amongst us, even venture to balance strands of those un-obliging & slithery noodles between chopsticks, whilst carrying on a casual conversation, all the while wearing an indifferent look...... been there.....done that, sort of...
 Wonder though, how many of us Keralites, know the art of serving & relishing a “SADYA”. It is not just about putting it all there on the leaf.... and then polishing it off.
 There apparently is a science as to what is being served where... and when.
 Timing the consumption of each delicacy, some individually, and others in strict combinations, is another matter that merits serious attention and rigorous discipline.
So here’s the when, how & whys of the Sadya delight .

The grandiose saying “Naalum Kootty Unnuka” essentially implies that the 4,(repeat four)  accompaniments were all that was required to complete a  sumptuous sadya. Those were the modest Kaalan & Olan and the unassuming Erissery & Pulissery.
With time, came the changes we now know.
Even where vegetables are concerned, yam(chena), ash gourd (kumbalanga), colacassia (Chembu), red pumkin (Mathanga), snake gourd (Padavalam), long beans (achinga),bitter gourd (pavakka), drumstick, raw banana (pacha kaya) was all that we required to make a sadya. Now, the “English” vegetables have sneaked their way in. 

  First, let us learn to lay the leaf –tender banana leaves are picked for this. The narrow end of the leaf should be on your left.
Start serving the fried items like chips, sharkaravaratti, pappadum & a small banana on the left hand lower half of the leaf, closer to the diner.
Starting from the left on the upper part of the leaf, place the pickles, Puli inji, Inji thayir, Pachadi, Kichadi,Kaalan, Olan, Erissery, Aviyal, Mezhukkupuratti &Thoran in that order, from left to right.(There are local variations like the Vada curry in South, Potato stew(prounced ISHTU) in the Travancore region & Theeyal in North Kerala, which finds it space between the erissery & aviyal.)
Rice is served on the lower half of the leaf.
Now, the diner separates a little rice to be eaten with dhal, ghee & a small pappadum crushed into it.
Next, is the Sambar. A little more rice can be taken aside for this & a depression is made in the centre, so that the sambar doesn’t flow out of the leaf. With this course, the thoran, erissery & the other dishes can be tasted.
Munch on the chips & sharkaravaratti in between.
It’s the turn of the rasam now. Rasam is watery, so be careful when it’s being served. (Folding the lower end of the leaf inward will help restrain its flow.)
After this, the first prathaman is brought. Generally, a white & brown prathaman will be on the list.
First the brown jaggery based one-either ada/wheat/banana/jackfruit payasam is served. To enjoy this, crush a pappadum & a small banana into the payasam, mix & enjoy. After this, you are expected to eat a little Olan (which is bland) to get rid of the sweetness of the first payasam. A lick of the Puli inji also helps.
Next, the sugar based payasam is served. It can be anything from Ada,rice or vermicelli.
Now a days people prefer to drink the payasam from a cup, but then you don’t get the full satisfaction of licking your hand from the base of your wrist band  to the very ends of your  finger tip---in one loud, long, lingering slurp! ...please do look around though....., lest you might offend those that are less immune to culture shocks, the way we do.)

Burp ...  (a little  ... to express your satisfaction  ... and not so much as to elicit disgust!)

To finish the Sadya, a little more rice is served to be eaten with Moru (butter milk).  
 Finish whatever is left on the leaf & fold the leaf inward, before you leave the table. 
The Sadya is washed down with a glass of warm “ Karingali  or jeeraka wellam” which aides digestion.   

PS : Just in case, I’ve taken all the joy of polishing a sadya .... Just go ahead and do what your heart tells you to do. I’ll still justify you... Thats what ONAM is all about.
Eat while its harvest time !

Saturday, 24 August 2013


In olden days, in Tamil Nadu, when the bullock cart was the mode of transport & dhabbas were not in vogue, this chutney was what the travellers carried along with them, to be eaten with rice or idlis. Hence the name!

Courtesy: Seethalakshmi Mani  

Black gram dhal/urad dhal: 1 cup
Dry red chilli: 10
Tamarind: a small ball
Salt to taste

Heat a kadai & dry roast the dhal till brown.
Remove to cool & fry chillies.
Cool & powder with the tamarind & salt.

Serve with white rice or idlis. 

Friday, 7 June 2013


This is an eggless cake, very easy to prepare. The dark chocolate ganache gives it a rich royal taste.Use regular milk chocolate if you like it sweeter. 

Orange juice: 150 ml
Orange rind: 1 tsp
Plain flour: 225 g
Sugar: 150 g powdered
Curd: 250 g
Oil: ½ cup (measured in a 200 ml cup)
Vanilla essence/orange essence: 1/ 2 tsp
Baking powder: 1 ¼ tsp
Baking soda: ½ tsp


Pre heat oven to 1800C & grease & dust an 8” cake tin.
Sieve flour with baking powder & baking soda & keep aside.
Whisk curd, sugar, oil, orange juice, rind & essence.
Fold in flour & pour into prepared tin & bake at 1800 C for 40 minutes or till a tooth inserted in centre comes out clean.
Cool cake in the tin for 5 minutes & then on a wire rack.

For the ganache:

Fresh cream: 150 ml
Dark chocolate: 150 g grated
Butter: 1 tbsp

Heat cream & butter, pour it over grated chocolate.
Stir well till all the chocolate dissolves.
Cool it & pour over the cake.
Let it drip down on its own.  
Place a tray, under the wire rack with the cake, to collect the dripping.
Chill cake before serving.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

"Muthira Chaaru"/Horse gram gravy (Maami's corner)

Horse gram, a forgotten pulse, needs to be brought to the fore front because of its medicinal properties,its good to bring down high blood pressure & for renal problems.
Include this legume, at least once a week, in different recipes.

Horse gram: 1 cup
Shallots: 10
Garlic: 2 pods
Coconut: half (about 1cup)
Turmeric powder: ¼ tsp
Red chilli powder: 1 tsp
Cumin seeds: ½ tsp
Green chilli: 1
Curry leaves: a few
Mustard seeds: ½ tsp
Dry red chilli: 2
Coconut oil: 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Dry roast the horse gram till it starts to crackle. Wash & soak for 2 to 3 hours.
(You can dry roast at one go about a kilogram or so & store, it keeps well for a long time this way.) 
Pressure cook the gram with turmeric powder, chilli powder & 6 shallots, for 20 minutes.
Grind coconut grating with garlic pods, green chilli & cumin seeds.
Pour into cooked gram in cooker.
Add salt to taste.
Temper with coconut oil, mustard seeds, dry chilli &remaining shallots, sliced.
Serve with rice.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Brinjal Pickle (Maami's Corner)


Brinjals: 1 kg
Mustard sauce: 3 tbsps
Ginger –garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Green chilli: 10 slit
Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
Vinegar: 100 ml
Sugar: to taste
Salt: 1 tbsp
Oil: 200 ml 


 Cube brinjal, rub with turmeric & a little salt.
Heat oil in a pan & fry the brinjal brown. Keep aside.
In the remaining oil, fry the ginger-garlic paste & green chillies.
When fragrant, add mustard sauce & vinegar.
 Add a little sugar & remaining salt.
Stir in the fried brinjal.
Cool well & bottle.

Pineapple upside down cake (Just Bakes)


Pineapple: 6 slices remove stem in centre
Butter: 150 g unsalted
Sugar: 150 g + 5 tbsps
Maida/plain flour: 150 g
Eggs: 3
Vanilla essence/pineapple: 1 tsp
Milk: 2 tbsps if required
Baking powder: 1 ½ tsp
Salt: a pinch
Cherry: 3


Grease a 10” cake tin.Pre- heat oven to 1800C.
If using fresh pineapples, stew them (cook in half a cup of water & 2 tbsps sugar.)  
Cool & line the cake tin with it. Place a halved cherry (cut side up) in the centre of the pineapple slices.  
Burn 3 tbsps sugar in a pan till golden brown & add 2 tbsps water to make a caramel syrup. Cool & pour over arranged pineapple slices. Now, cake tin is ready.
In a bowl, cream butter & sugar till fluffy.
Add eggs one at a time & whisk again.
Fold in sieved flour & baking powder.
Add a pinch of salt & essence.
If the batter is too thick, mix in 2 tbsps of milk.
Pour batter over the pineapple very carefully, taking care not to upset the arrangement.
Bake for 45 minutes or till top is brown. 
Let it sit in the tin for 5 minutes, then, unmould when still hot.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Kappa Puzhukku/Tapioca

This is how tapioca is usually made in Kerala.
An important point to keep in mind when cooking tapioca:-
Cook tuber in boiling water for a minute.


Pour more water & cook the tapioca again till done. Strain again.
This is to remove the cyanide components in tapioca, which gives it a bitter taste.


 Tapioca/ kappa: 1 kg
Coconut: 1 cup
Cumin seeds: ¼ tsp
Green chilli: 6 /Kandari
Garlic: 2 pods
Shallots: 5
Curry leaves: a few
Turmeric powder: ½ tsp
Salt to taste

For tempering:

Mustard seeds: ½ tsp
Dry red chilli: 2
Curry leaves: a few
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp


Cook tapioca as mentioned above. Keep aside.
Coarsely grind coconut, cumin, green chilli, garlic, shallots, curry leaves& turmeric powder.
Make a well in the centre of the cooked tapioca, put in ground masala, salt & cover.
Let it steam till raw smell of the ground masala goes.
Mash with a spoon.
Heat oil in a frying pan & splutter mustard seeds, add dry red chilli cut in two & a few curry leaves. Pour over the mashed tapioca & serve with a spicy red fish curry.

Peanut Ladoos



Palm sugar/jaggery: 1 cup
Peanuts: 2 cups roasted & crushed
Cardamom: 1/2tsp
Ghee: 2 tsps


Melt the palm sugar/jaggery with 2 tbsps water, cool & strain to remove any grit.
Reheat the syrup, till it reaches a string consistency.
Add the nuts, cardamom powder & one teaspoon ghee.
Mix well, take off fire, cool a little & roll into small balls.
Grease your palm with a little ghee for easy handling.

Use almonds, cashew nuts, coconut or a mixture of different nuts to make yummy ladoos.