Clad in white and gold sari, the ladies served up mouth-watering delicacies at Sree Thyagaraja Hall
In Kerala, the evening air can be as thick as dal or as springy as idli. The recipes from down under are at once simple, fresh and magical — the proof of which was in the eating, with every helping, at the Kerala Food Festival: Fun & Fete on Saturday.
Around 1,000 Malayalees and non-Malayalees queued up at the 19 food stalls put up at Sree Thyagaraja Hall to celebrate the 61st anniversary of The Calcutta Malayalee Samajam.
From spicy to spongy and steamed to fried, the spread at the festival was fit for a gala wedding reception.
t2 picks six favourites…
Payasam Ada Pradhaman
Ada Pradhaman is a payasam (dessert). Ada refers to pieces of semi-solidified rice batter and pradhaman is the sweet coconut milk preparation into which it is dipped. Homemade ada is deliciously soft. Lime-sized portions of rice batter are first spread on the underside of a plantain leaf and then dropped into a large vessel containing boiling water. Once the ada is cooked partially, it floats. It’s immediately cut into pieces and cooked with coconut milk, cardamom, deep-fried coconut wedges, raisins and a dollop of ghee. And so you have the payasam.
Idiyappam and Stew
Idiyappam is traditional Kerala fare and a sought-after dish in Sri Lanka. First a mixture of rice flour, salt and water is steamed and then it is pressed to take the shape of “noodles”. It is served at breakfast or dinner with curry (potato, egg, fish or meat) and coconut chutney. It’s also served with sweetened coconut milk in the Malabar region.
Malabar Parotta with chicken curry
Lachha paratha made in a Kerala kitchen is called Malabar Parotta. Very soft and layered, the parotta goes well with chicken curry or vegetable stew.
Vattayappam and Unniyappam
Primarily a rice cake, Vattayappam is a sweet dish made during Christmas and Easter. Unniyappams are deep-fried balls made with rice flour, jaggery, coconut and spices.
Tapioca (kappa) and fish curry
Tapioca roots (called kappa in Malayalam) are widely consumed as snacks at breakfast and teatime. After skinning and dicing into chunks or small cubes, the tapioca is boiled in water. Once cooked, it’s first tossed with grated coconut, green chilli, salt, turmeric... and then steamed or mashed to form a dry pudding. It can also be cooked in oil with mustard seeds, onion, curry leaves. Tapioca pudding tastes good with fish curry and it becomes a delicacy when had with surmai fish curry. By the way, yam or kochu is quite similar to tapioca.
Palappam and chicken curry
Palappams are melt-in-the-mouth pancakes made with rice batter and coconut milk, fermented using yeast. This staple diet is made in an appachatti (a deep non-stick kadai). All you have to do is pour a ladle of batter and then swirl until beautiful crispy laces are formed. The chicken curry is spread on the appam.
Text: Sibendu Das
Pictures: Bhubaneswarananda Halder