Share Buttons

Showing posts with label KERALA IYERS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label KERALA IYERS. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 23, 2020


Raw Banana is widely used in Kerala Cuisine. Every part of the banana is packed with nutrition and health benefits. This humble plant, with its flower, stem, fruit and leaf, can be consumed in different ways for overall wellness.
I think no one can cook the Vazhakkai Mezhukkuvarathi (Mezhukkupuratti) like my Grandmother Kaveri, we used to fondly call her “Amma”. Her recipe had the authentic Parawoor (Kerala) touch; that only one of her daughter’s could manage to get close too. Sadly, both are no more. But thankfully, since I was interested in cooking and watched them make this simple recipe very closely, I can share it with all my viewers today.
Amma (My grand mom) moved from Parawoor post marriage in her teens or early 20’s to Bombay (Now Mumbai, but I will refer to as Bombay here) and as most Tamil-Brahmins, Palakkad Iyers (referred henceforth as Tam brams) settled in Matunga. Matunga has a special place in the lives of the Tam brams as it was the land of opportunities and people came to make their fortune here and Bombay being Bombay; full of industrious people, it made available everything that the migrants needed. The coffee powders, the vegetables that would be popular etc. Those days, the vegetable vendors would bring the vegetables straight from the farms in double cane baskets loaded on either side of a pole balanced on their shoulders. They would walk through the lanes and by lanes and market their vegetables by shouting out. Amma used to patronize a vendor as she felt his vegetables were fresh and economical. This guy used to come from Vasai (He was fondly addressed as “Vashaiwalla” by Amma). The guy a Maharashtrian used to speak Hindi in a slang and understood some Tamil words and our enterprising star, Amma who picked up Hindi but with her south Indian slang would bargain with him while buying and also place requests, “Agli baar aaya toh Vazhakkai laana, dhoda jyaada laana, accha kaccha hona mangta, payam nahi laana”
It meant, get more raw bananas next time, it must be nice and green and raw don’t bring it when it has started to ripen.
And the industrious “Vashaiwalla” would say, “It’s very hot and by the time he brings it in the sun, it starts to ripen…ha ha ha.

I’m surely going to cover Amma and her experiences in Bombay in another post of mine.

As a child, we have been in awe of our Grand mom's intelligence and quick wittedness and burst into laughter listening to her hindi at the same time. But no matter what her don't give up attitude is what is the strongest memory we have of her.

The reason Amma’s cooking tasted so good was because the whole process was quality centric. Amma would choose the green, hard and long bananas to the Mondangai’s that would be used in her home town, she said the Bananas in Bombay were delicate and cooked faster and had more taste provided the Vashaiwalla got it as soon as he plucked them and delivered it fresh.

The Vazhakkai Mezhukkuvarathi cooked by the Kerala Iyers (Brahmin style) is very simple. It does not need any other ingredients as used in the regular Kerala Vazhakkai Mezhukkupuratti which has onion, garlic, curry leaves, coconut etc.

But there is one ingredient that cannot be missed and that is “Coconut Oil”.

Some recipes are simple, yet not all can do justice in making it; I wonder why?

There’s so much emotion attached to this simple recipe that every time I wanted to share it, I would get emotional and wouldn’t be able to proceed.
Raw bananas are very nutritious and you must try this simple recipe. Add lots of love too. 

Ingredients (Serves 4)
Raw bananas - 3-4
Virgin Coconut Oil – 3 - 4 tbsps
Mustard seeds - ½ tsp
White lentil split (Urad Dal) - ½ tsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Red chilly powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida (Hing) – ¼ tsp
Dry red chillies – 2, broken in half
Salt as per taste 

Wash the bananas, de-stem and cut the end as well. Peel the banana and cut in square chunks. Once diced, put in the water otherwise it will get discoloured. Keep aside.
In an Iron Wok/Pan, Add the coconut oil, once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, Urad dal and red chillies, when the mustard seeds start to splutter. Add the diced raw bananas. Add turmeric, Asafetida, salt and red chilly powder. Mix well. Add a 4-5 tablespoons of water.
Cover and cook in a low flame, stirring occasionally, until done.
The important thing is the banana has to get cooked well but not become mushy, then add a tablespoon of hot coconut oil and let the raw banana cook until its gets crisp on one side and soft inside.
Serve the vazhakkai Mezhukkuvarathi hot with hot rice, a dollop of ghee, some hot dal (Paruppu) and rasam.


· Use coconut oil only for the authentic taste

· Apply coconut oil before you start peeling and chopping raw banana as it tends to leave a stain on your hands.


· Vazhakkai Mezhukkupuratti can be made by adding onion, garlic, curry leaves & grated coconut as well to the existing recipe.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Navarathri Festival then & now...changing times and patterns

Navarathri in the 70's- 2000 & Now....

I had the privilege of living & being brought up in Mumbai. A place where people from all over the country live. Where each festival is celebrated with gaeity. A place where there's a frenzy to catch a train/bus/rickshaw/taxi. Where a day passes only to go to work & be back. Where even 24 hours in a day is less.

The power it takes to board the train, squeezing through the robust melee of people in a mad frenzy to catch the train & the same frenzy to get off the train, literally jumping onto the platform, squeezing back through the crowd and daring all odds to reach home and yet come back with energy for the family & household chores waiting for them.

Yet, when festivals come, the ladies undauntingly celebrate it with ardour & warmth.

Our Tambrahm community has always known to be a practical & intelligent lot. Our pragmatic approach to changing times has helped retain our age-old traditions & rich culture & heritage.


Working ladies would invite over the weekends & housewives over the week. Inspite of living in a fast paced city with such a flinty pace. People still managed to make the time to celebrate festivals with zest.

Back then, I used to enjoy dressing up in my pattu pavadais(silk petticoats), adorning jasmines in my hair and wearing Amma's gold necklace and jhimki(long gold earring with precious stones). I used to feel so dolled up as I used to accompany my Amma(mother) for vettala paaku.

The girl kids were an integral part of the celebrations and were "invited". I used to feel so privileged to be "invited"😀

Nowadays the kids do not want to accompany nor do they like to dress up in our beautiful traditional gear.

In our community, being born as a girl itself was a celebration.

My brother wasn't officially "invited"😜 for the vettala paaku.

Once we reached in our silks & fineries, mind you it's the onset of winters and just comfortable to be attired in our ensemble.

When we visited the people, we used to admire the golus(arrangement of dolls), ask questions about the theme of arrangement, new Additions (It's a tradition to have a new addition of a doll every year). We used to chant shlokas, sing bhajans, appreciate any new things in the hostess's house.

We usually used to be offered sundal & some sweet and beverages(coffee, tea, juice)

Sometimes we used to visit a few houses in a row, so the sundals & sweets used to be packed in little small packets of banana leaves covered with a newspaper made into little take away packs. These packets were made & readily kept if we refused to have anything offered at the hostess's home.

But now....

Calling for Vettala paaku has become an elaborate affair.

Every person is competing with another. The humble sundal & sweet are replaced with a huge array of food items. It's like a buffet arrangement with a varieties of snacks & sweets. People are slogging in the kitchen to outdo each other in the quest of making an impression on the invitees. Some even ordering food from restaurants. Eventually a lot of ladies who cannot manage all this will jump off this bandwagon and succumb to the temptation of "not" celebrating this beautiful festival.

There's also competition in dressing up, presenting the house,

Offering expensive gifts and comparing who's gift is better than the other.

There's pressure in dressing up in certain colors.

There are yet, a group of people who pack the thamboolam in gift pouches and send it over to their friends through their maids😂.Totally hassle-free but completely kills the idea of offering thamboolam.

The manjal(Haldi) kumkumam (Kumkum)which was offered from little brass/silver boxes have transformed into plastic pouches or boxes holding colored powders.

The paaku(betel nuts) is packed in plastic pouches.

We are using so many non biodegradable things now in the name of convenience which is harming the environment.

I'm glad I kept re-inventing myself over the period of years. This year I purchased cloth bags to give my vettala paaku, i do not give blouse pieces which are going to be further passed on😜.

I love the idea of gifts, Gifts are an integral part of the thamboolam, so i take a lot of efforts, go to many shops, buy gifts which can be used in the pooja room or house. Keep the cost economical as I give a lot of people (80-100 ladies). The idea is not the cost but the thought behind it.

Haldi-kumkum packets i still give....maybe eventually it should (will)change. Betel nut packets too....but my friends love them.

No bangles, combs, pottu packets, mirrors😂🤣....they definitely get recycled.

Gifts are an integral part of the Haldi kumkum,

My mom used to say, "The more ladies you give, the more punyam you get".

We must adapt to the changing times and not rigidly keep doing rituals in the name of tradition. We must take into account the present day situation and act accordingly.

"Happy Navarathri to All"

© Sukanya's Musings

Friday, July 18, 2014


The biological name of Cluster beans is Cyamopsis tetragonoloba. It is an annual legume and the source of guar gum. It is also known as Gavar, Gawar Phali, Guwar or Guvar bean.

This is yet another weekend special from my kitchen. The reason it’s cooked over the weekends is simply because the process to cook this dish is quite lengthy and time consuming. But it’s one of my absolute favorites. There are some dishes which amma (my mom) knows; that can make me happy any day and this is one of it.

Now, cluster beans is called Cheenivarikkai at my place. I guess it must be a kerala iyer (Tam brahms from Kerala) name.  I don’t know how many people call it as that. I didn’t know for very long that it is also known as Kothavarangai.

Paruppu usili is made in different houses differently but I absolutely adore my mom’s recipe and follow it to the T.
I even heard that many people use Bengal Gram (Chana dal) to make paruppu usili, but my mom uses Toor Dal (Pigeon Peas).
Apparently many people don’t like Cluster beans and it seems in yesteryears when old people would go for Pilgrimage to Kashi (Explanation below) they would usually give up on Cluster beans.

Kashi Vishwanath temple  - A visit to the temple and a bath in the river Ganges is one of many methods believed to lead one on a path to Moksha (salvation) hence people from all over the nation try to visit the place at least once in their lifetime. There is also a tradition that one should give up at least one desire after a pilgrimage at the temple.

When I asked my Grandma why they would give up on such a lovely vegetable, my grandma would say, because Cluster Beans is usually very gassy and as you age your digestive systems would become weak so it would be best to avoid it.

Thank god we are not in those times and I probably may not have to give up on this lovely vegetable. There are some people who steam the paruppu (Dal), but I don’t, here is the recipe for all of you to enjoy.

For the Kothavarangai Mezhukkuvaratti (Poriyal)
Cheenivarikkai / Kothavarangai (Cluster Beans) – 750 gms chopped
Oil – 2 tsps
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Udad seeds – 1 tsp
Red Chilly – 1 broken in halves
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt as per taste
Shredded Coconut – 2 tbsps

For the Paruppu Usili
To grind to a coarse paste:
Toor Dal - 1 cup
Dried Red Chillies – 1
Green Chilly – 1
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt as per taste
Mustard seeds – 1tsp
Udad seeds – 1 tsp
Rinse & soak 1 cup Toor dal for about 1-2 hours.
Trim the edges and chop cluster beans finely. Rinse it well. In a Kadhai (wok), Add 1 tsp of oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal and the dried chilly broken in half. When the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the chopped cluster beans, mix well, ½ tsp of Turmeric powder, a pinch of Asafetida, Salt as per taste,  stir and close with lid and cook on low flame till it is cooked. Once it’s cooked, Transfer to a plate.
Drain the Soaked toor dal and grind it coarse in a blender with 1 dried red chilly and 1 green chilly, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of asafetida and salt as
per taste. Keep aside

In the same Kadhai (wok), Add 1 tsp of oil, when it is hot, Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the  coarsely blended dal mixture. Keep sautéing until the mixture separates and become golden brown. Once that is done, add the cooked cluster beans and mix well. Now, finally, add in the shredded coconut and mix well. Check for salt at this point as well. Incase there is salt you can add some at this point as well. Cook for 2-3 minutes on sim.

The Cheenivarikkai / Kothavarangai Paruppu usili is ready. Enjoy with Rasam and rice.

Variation to the above method
Steam method – After you coarse grind the dal paste. Boil water in an idli pan, spread the coarse mixture on the steamer plate and steam it for 5-7mins, once it cools down, crumble it with your hands and set aside.
Now heat oil in a wok,  Add the mustard seeds and when they begin to crackle, Add udad dal, when the udad dal becomes slightly pink, add the add the dal mixture & sauté till golden brown, then follow as above.

  • Ensure that the dal mixture is blended coarse, if it becomes a fine paste then you will not get the perfect texture. To ensure that it doesn’t get ground fine, make sure to drain the water completely.
  • If you are using the steaming method then follow as above. Please ensure to spread the mixture and then steam it as it crumbles easily.
  • This recipe can be used to make French beans, flat beans (Avarakkai), Long beans, Banana flower (Vazhapoo) etc.

Monday, March 10, 2003


The language spoken by the Tamil Iyers settled in Kerala, is something which is a mix of Tamil and Malayalam, we can call it Talayalam as many people call it.
Identity Crisis
Am I a Talayalee? ….almost so….because while I was growing up and even now. I don’t fall in either category i.e. Tamil or Malayalam speaking. That definitely qualifies me to be in this genre.
Born to a mother from a Talayalam lineage (my maternal grandfather hails from Tirunelveli and my maternal grandmother from Vadakkan Paravoor (North Paravoor). My grandma knew only to read and write Malayalam and she definitely didn’t know much Tamil, and as the mother’s influence at home is very strong on her kids, all the 3 daughter’s speak Talayalam, cook Keralaiyer style and 2 out of the 3 are married to Keralaiyers,(Tiruchur and Trivandrum respectively).
My mother got married to my father who hails from Coimbatore and has more of a Tamilnadu influence. But both of them are brought up in Mumbai and I grew up hearing different words for the same thing.
When Appa used to go to the market Amma will ask him to buy Matthan (Orange Pumpkin) and Elavan (Ash gourd) and when he comes back he will say Pushnikkaiyum Parangyakaiyum vaindhu vandurken.
In Tamilnadu  Ash Gourd is Pushnikkai and Orange Pumpkin is Parangyakai.
Amma used to get quite irritated. Then Appa used to call Amma “Ara Palakkad”(means half-Palakkad). We used to be quite entertained by the Great Tamil-Talayalam squabbles and grew up to learn nothing perfectly.
It was always a royal confusion at home growing up and learning a language. I don’t think what we talk could be classified as Tamil in any sense of the word, hence the last time I started a thread of Bombay Palakkad tamil Iyers, in our Palakkad Iyers forum. I called it an entirely different genre and I named this genre BBC- PTI  (Bombay born confused Palakkad Tamil Iyers).
(Sorry folks I still can’t get myself to say Mumbai.)

BBC-PTI ke baarein mein (About BBC-PTI’s)
I am a Bombay born confused Palakkad Tamil Iyer, but I can still call myself as Tamil speaking, Malayalam was a bit far off from what we spoke at home. It was already challenging to speak our mother tongue, as vallam (water) transformed into tanni(water) at my home and when grandma came she used to ask “ konjam thanuttha jalam venum enakku”(I want some cold water?) and I used to tell my mother, “ Fridge lenthu konjam cold vallam venam ammavukku?”
Now what was that…..That is Talayalam mixed with English and sometimes there was a mix of other languages as well Hindi and English with the Talayalam.

Let’s see some Tamil and Talayalam words (courtesy- our Palakkad Iyer Members which includes me)

Ende Guruvayorappa – O my Lord Guruvayoorappan (Talayalam)

Eeshwaro Rakhshathi – Lord save us.

Allah – No in Talayalam
Illay (Tamil)
(Appa teases my mother, "Allah Allah Misbillah" for using the word Allah)

We use a lot of “O” in reply to questions

Neku – for me in Talayalam
Ennakku in Tamil

Noku – for you in Talayalam
Onnakku in Tamil

Evolo – Tamil how much
Ethara – Talayalam

Enna pannare- Tamil
Ennavakkum Pannaraai-Talayalam

Manasilaacha  - Talayam (did u understand)- this word is nearer to Malayalam
Purinjacha -Tamil

Verummane –Talayalam (Simply)
Chumma – Tamil

Kaalambra – Talayalam (Morning)
Kaarthala – Tamil

Uchaikki – Talayalam (Afternoon)
Madhyaanam – Tamil

Aaharam kazhichacha--talayalam

Evlo neram aachu -Tamil
Ethara neram aachu –Talayalam

Ethra prashiyam – how many times -Talayalam
Evolo vaati – how many times – Tamil

Velai – Work in Tamil
Joli – Talayalam

Dhirudhi – Talayalam (Rush)

Nagaru/ Navuru – Moove out of my way in Tamil
And in Talayalam Neengiko

We call our little girls Kunju ponnu and little boys Kuttan
Kutty – small in tamil and  Kunju – Talayalam

Naai – Dog in Tamil And Patti in Talayalam

Tamilians say Veetu ku vaango
We say, Aathuku .vaangol

Talayalam -"cheruppa azhichutu vaa"  In Tamil"seruppa kazhatyutu vaa"(Remove your slippers and come)

Tamil - Kizha poithu valayadyutu verthukotindhu vandirkan (he went down, played and has come back sweating)
Talayalam - Kizha poithu kalichuthu vesharthukothindhu vandirkan

Saadikyalai – Talayalam (couldn’t do)
Mudiyalai - Tamil

Madiyan – Talayalam (Lazy)
Somberi - in Tamil

Medukkan (boy)/ medukkathi(girl) – clever boy or girl in Talayalam
Buddhishaali in Tamil

Varthamanam- Talayalam (news)
Samaajaaram - Tamil

Molla – Talayalam (slowly)
Medhuva – Tamil

Cheekaram – Talayalam (quickly)
Vegam – Tamil

Ormai – Talayalam (Do u remember)
Nyaboham - Tamil

Ammanji – Mama’s son
Ammanga – Mama’s daughter

Attan – Attai’s son
Attangaar – Attai’s daughter

Konthai – Talayalam –  (baby)
Kozhandai - Tamil

Therakku – Talayalam (crowd)
Kootam -Tamil

Pani – Talayalam (Fever)
Joram – Tamil

Mookuchali in Talayalam (cold)
Jaladosham in Tamil

Vayaru seriya illai – Tamil (Stomach is not good)
Vayaru kedu vandirku – Talayalam

Kushumbu – Talayalam (mischief)
Kurumbu – Tamil

Budhimuttu – Talayalam (Trouble)
Kashtam - Tamil

Ubadhravikkarathu – Talayalam (to trouble)
Kashtapaditharthu - Tamil

Torthu / Torthumundu– Talayalam (Towel)
Tundu – Tamil

Virutthikedu - Talayalam (untidy)
Asingyam - Tamil

Praandhu – Talayalam (Mad)
Paithiyam- Tamil

Vashal la – Talayalam (Outside)
Veli la – Tamil

Chamachacha - Talayalam
samayal aacha - Tamil

Adukkulai is kitchen in Talayalam and in Tamil they say Aduppu arai

Vellicha Ennai – Talayalam (Coconut Oil)
Tenga Ennai

Appam in Talayalam
Paniyaaram in Tamil

Appakaarai in Talayalam
Kuzhi Paniyaaram in Tamil

Pansaarai / Panjaarai– Talayalam (Sugar)
Chakkarai – Tamil

Chakara Pongal in Talayalam
Sakkarai Pongal

Karandi in Tamil for a ladle is Aapai in Talayalam.
Kanaapai (Spoon with holes)

Cheena Chatty – Talayalam(wok)
Vaanali / Iluppu chutty in Tamil

Chattuvam for the rice spoon

Kashnam –Talayalam (Pieces )
Tundu - Tamil

Mundhu – Talayalam (Sarong for men-Dhoti)
Veshti – Tamil

In tamil Kootu (mix vegetables in coconut and lentil gravy) Becomes molaghutal in talayalam.

Curry / Poriyal becomes Mezhukkuvarati if just sautéed, if coconut is added it becomes Thovaran and we call everything podutuval at home. It was easier for us. Some call it upperi too. But for us Upperi was always Banana chips.
Also thengapodi became sambaarapodi and the thuvayals became Chammanthi and then there are typical PI dishes like molagushayam and idi chakka thuvaran.

Morkozhambu(Tamil) becomes Morkootan(Talayalam) 

and then there are dishes like Olan, Kaalan, Pulinkari, Puli-Inji which also form an integral part of the PI wedding lunch along with Nendram Upperi, Sarkaritta Upperi(the sweet banana chips) and a Banana which usually don't form a part of Tamil iyer wedding menu.

I always say doshai. Never was it dosa or dosai or as they say in Singapore Thosai.
Idly was always Idaly.

Harmless Abuses
We do use a lot of Mannangatti…..the Malayalees say Mannangatta…(a form of abuse…meaningless as far as I know)

My uncle used to get angry and say, “Cheppe la oru adi kittum” (you will get one beating on your butt)

Ennathu idu kaatumbraandi maadri nadakkarai (walking like a savage)

My mother always threatened me by saying,“choota kaachi ezhuten na paaru” (I will burn you with the iron rod)

Chooral aala vechchu kachuven (Cane you)

Moonjiyem Morakattai yem paaru (see the face)

Atchipitchu (Idiot)

Muttal (Fool)

Abhishtu (Stupid)

But there are certain words which mean entirely different in tamil and Malayalam This is seriously funny.
Valakku Kathanam – Talayalam ( I have to light the lamp )
Valakku Ethanam – Tamil
Kathardhu in tamil means shouting

Thalla lai enakku (Iam not feeling well) in Talayalam
Enakku odambu mudiyalai in Tamil
Actually Thallarthu means pushing someone in Tamil

Thooral - Drizzling in tamil and Vayathaala porathu in Malayalam
I read somewhere in blogosphere that when the movie 'Thooral ninnu pochu' came to kerala they had to change it to Saaral ninnu pochu and release it

Kazhichacha- have u eaten? in Talayalam is saptacha in tamil, but kazhichacha actually means subtracting

Veedu in Tamil(home) is Aathu in Talayalam but
Aathu in talayalam actually means river in Tamil

I have never understood the Tamil news read on Singapore local channel Vasantham Central or on / Sun TV / Vijay TV / Jaya TV nor have I understood the Asianet news. It all sounds like a foreign language to me.
Then there are words like thair oravathardhu(setting the yogurt from milk), moru Kadayardhu(making buttermilk), chaana churnai(rag to wipe the floor), modai (kitchen platform), sambadam(vessel), eriyardhu/ kaaram aa irukku- I don’t know which one is Talayalam and which one is Tamil…
I like my chaya (tea) as in Malayalam and Talayalam but we call it Chai (Mumbai isshtyle) and don’t like Kapi (Coffee) at all like the Tamilians
So does that qualify me to be a Talayalee……?
I love dhoklas, samosas and pav bhaji. Vada pao is my absolute favorite and I speak fluent Marathi and extremely fluent Hindi and my hindi peeks into my Talayalam as well…. Ezhadhardhu khatam(finished in hindi) panniyaachu? I have finished writing.
so does that qualify me to be a BBC-PTI ?
Confused and not accepted but what the heck I get the best of all worlds don’t I?


Related Posts with Thumbnails
LinkWithin Related Stories Widget for Blogs