Friday, April 18, 2014

Pesaha Appam / INRI Appam / Indriyappam & Kalthappam with Peseha Paalu (Maundy Thursday Special)

I know I am late, pretty very late to post this recipe!! But you know, INRI appam is not something you make on any other day, so had to wait till Thursday afternoon when I finished the long process of making appam, and then it was the church time - another 2 hrs in church, came back tired! Then came Good Friday, almost full day in church, came back tired!
Thats my excuse for posting this Maundy Thursday special on the Holy Saturday.

I think I should be frank - I never looked forward to Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. They weren't fun-filled, yeah, you should be mourning - I know. But I don't think its anything any kid looked forwarded to. 2-3 days, almost completely in church, that too in the sweltering April heat (I was a late-goer to church those days, so most days will end up standing outside the church since the church will be full with those lucky early birds who reserve their seats under the fan :) ). Our services were mostly 4 hrs long these days, and even that I couldn't stand. Hmm...God had other plans - God made sure I marry an Orthodox Christian, whose services were almost a day long!! I think I almost fainted the first Good Friday post marriage.

Coming to the Pesaha Appam - I was never a big fan of it either. At my home, there is always chaos associated with Maundy Thursday - my grandmom would be running like a headless chicken. The appam and paalu is made on a large scale, mainly because it need to be shared with almost every house in the street. One side, one maid will be grating the coconut, another will be soaking, drying, grinding, roasting the rice (she does it the traditional way always - no readymade rice powder). In between, my grandmom made sure we had our regular 3 meals as well. There is another unwritten rule as well - the maids are there to help only, they are not allowed to touch the ingredients after roasting the rice or grinding the coconut (yeah, untouchability still prevails in some cases). I still remember her squeezing the coconut milk with her 80-year old shivering hand. I was asked to keep out of kitchen these days - may be she couldn't handle one more female in the kitchen. Once the appams & paalu is made (which will be late evening), I would be called in - to take the packed appam/paalu to nearby houses and also to mourning houses (where there has been a death recently). Every house will serve you appam & paalu, and you have to have them! By now, chaos in the kitchen would have reached its peak!!

Since we kids never like the traditional appam (steamed version), my grandmom would fry the batter on tawa which is preferred over the steamed version. (I have explained this version as well below)

By then its time for us to go for our parish's appam murickal (cutting the appam by a priest). It will be organised in one the houses in the family unit (every parish is divided into clusters of 30-40 houses, called family units). Again having appam - paalu. Then we cousins would gang-up and visit our relatives' houses to taste their appam-paalu (after all pesaha is all about sharing and caring). By the end of the day, you have too much of this steamed/fried cakes and coconut milk in your tummy.

I think kids are a major reason for your change in attitude. Actually they teach us much more than what we teach them..I feel so. Somehow, after my son was born, I suddenly had this urge to re-create traditionals items at home. Pesaha Appam would have been the last thing I would have wanted to make. But yeah...I have been making it for the past 4 years. The first year was a flop, even though I had an hour long conversation with my mom & grandmom on how it need to be made. Second year was also not too good. Third was ok. And the 4th (this year's) was loved! Nirvana!!

INRI Appam - Indriyappam - Pesaha Appam - Pulippillatha Appam

Ingredients (Yield - 1 small steamed + 1 small kalthappam)

White rice - 1 cup (I have made it the traditional way by soaking, grinding, sieving. You can always use a cup of pathiri podi instead of this long process)
Urid dal - a handful
Grated coconut - a handful
Small onion - 6
Garlic - 2 cloves
Salt - as needed
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Water - as needed


1. Soak rice in enough water for 3-4 hours. Drain water, spread the rice on a thin tea-towel / plate and keep it in sun till the moisture dries up. Care should be taken not to dry it up completely.
2. Once its almost dried, grind it in mixer to fine powder. Sieve it well so that you get only the fine powder. Grind the residual grainy pieces once again and sieve the to get the fine powder. Discard the grain.
3. Heat a cheenachatti/heavy pan or kadai and add the fine rice powder into it. Keep stirring on low heat till the rice powder is (very) hot. Donot allow it to become brown. Switch off the flame and remove from stove, keep it aside.

4. Soak the urid dal for atleast 2 hours. Grind it into a smooth paste. Keep aside. After grinding, it should not be kept for a long time, as then the fermentation process will start. So you need to be little fast from now on.
5. Grind together coconut, small onion, garlic & cumin seeds and keep aside.
6. Mix together the roasted rice powder, coconut mixture and dal paste along with enough salt. The batter should be the consistency of vattayappam - not too thin, not too thick.
7. Heat appachembu / idli thattu with enough water in it. Take a steel plate and grease it with some oil. Pour the batter in this plate, until its half full (you do not need your appam to be too thick). Place a cross (made from palm received on palm sunday) on the appam.
8. Once steam starts coming from the appachembu, place the batter in it and cook for 12-15 minutes.
9. After specified time, check if its cooked by inserting a toothpick. If the batter/crumbs do not stick to the toothpick, your appam is done. Remove it from the steamer and allow to cool.

Kalthappam / Tawa fried appam


Pesaha appam batter - 1 cup
Coconut pieces - 1 tbsp
Small onion, thinly sliced - 2 tbsp
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp


1. Heat a small pan and add coconut oil. Once its hot, add the thinly chopped coconut pieces in it and roast till they are brown. Drain oil and add this to the batter.
2. In remaining oil, add the thinly sliced onion pieces and let them become brown and crisp. Add them as well to the batter.
3. Now heat a tawa (iron tawa works the best), and grease with some coconut oil. Once the tawa is really hot, place the batter mixture on the tawa. You can spread it using a ladle or spatula (then they cook faster). Drizzle some coconut oil on the top as well as on the sides. Now cover with a lid and cook till the down side becomes brown. Once its browned, turn it upside down and cook this side too (covered). Once both sides are cooked, remove from tawa.

Pesaha Paalu


Jaggery - 1 block (as shown)
Thick coconut milk (thani paal, onnam pal, from the first press of grated coconut) - 1/2 cup
Thin coconut milk - 1 cup (randam paal, from the second press)
Very thin coconut milk - 2 cups (moonnam paal, from the third press)
Dried ginger powder - 1 tsp
Cumin powder - 1 tsp
Very fine rice powder  - 1 tsp (I used pathiri podi, this is used to thicken the pesaha paalu. If you like your paalu to be thicker, add more rice powder mixed with coconut milk. Do not add rice powder directly to the boiling milk, as it would form lumps immediately and will not serve the purpose. So always mix it with cold milk and to the boiling mixture).
Water - as needed


1. Heat a kadai, add grated jaggery with 2 tbsp of water. Stir occasionally till jaggery melts. Switch off the stove, allow to cool a bit, then sieve it to remove the impuririties.
2. Heat the same kadai, add the sieved jaggery syrup along with moonnam paal (very thin coconut milk) and let it come to boil, stirring occasionally.
3. Once it boils and starts to reduce in volume, add half of the randam paal (from second press) and let it boil.
4. Meanwhile mix the remaining half cup of randam paal with the rice powder and add to the boiling mixture. Now the paalu will start to thicken. Keep stirring in between. Once it has reached your required consistency (I wanted it more on the thinner side, while my grandmom makes it somewhat thick) add the very thick coconut milk. Do not allow to boil again. Once steam starts to come, switch off the stove immediately. Keep stirring for a minute more (so that the coconut milk will not curdle). Sprinkle cumin & dried ginger powder, stir well

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