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Sunday, June 13, 2010

A Piece of Kerala on My Plate



I visited Kerala to attend a house warming ceremony. The house was located in a remote village. Most of the family members did not speak English. So, they could not talk to me much but they communicated their love for me through food. This is something, I, as an Indian, am very proud of: the hospitality of village people. Atithi (guest) is deva/Narayana (god). For me, as an atithi, it was a very nice food experience worth sharing.
I arrived in the morning. The first thing they made me do was to have this sumptuous breakfast.

I had acchappam, unniappam, idiyappam, and kadala curry, everything cooked in the fragrant coconut oil.
God! Can anybody eat so much?!
‘Unni’ means ‘tiny/small’ in Malayalam, and ‘appam’ rice cake. This sweet round rice cake is made of rice flour, jaggery, plantain, coconut, cardamom and ghee and a very popular snack in Kerala.
It looks similar to aebleskiver of Denmark.

Idiyappam is called string hoppers in English. Nice name. Isn’t it?
It is made of rice flour , salt and water. Idiappams soaked in the gravy of kadala curry or coconut chicken are an experience for the taste buds.
This time I had it with kadala curry which is curry of chick peas. Grated coconut is another main ingredient.

As the English name suggests, a rose cookie or Achchappam resembles a flower. The first morpheme “achch-” in the Malayalam name comes from ‘achu’, a flower shaped iron mould which gives the cookie both its unique name and shape. Achchappams are usually made of very fine rice powder, coconut milk, sugar, gingerly, sesame seeds, and eggs(white only), schallotte juice (option). It is deep fried in coconut oil. It is sweet and very crunchy. It is my personal favourite and more than anywhere else, it tastes better when made by a mom at home in Kerala.

When I left next day, my friend’s mom packed a small heap of achchappam for me.
I am going to make achchapam and idiyappam at home very soon, since my friend has shared the recipes with me. So, more posts on them in near future.

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