The twentieth day of Ramadan. Today marks three years since my paternal grandmother left us. In her loving memory, today I want to share her recipe for Pazham Pori. This is essentially a snack made right after a long siesta and is served alongside piping cups of tea. She was very fond of bananas and she always tried to convince me to have a couple of Cheru Pazham or baby bananas immediately after lunch when we visited her for the summer. Plantains were never out of stock in her kitchen. When visitors would come unannounced as was the norm in her time, in all probability she would have the help make a plate of these. Ripe plantains are slivered and dipped in a batter, which I later learnt, was her original recipe. I didn’t care too much for them till I started tasting versions made in other households. I still remember waiting for Umma to finish frying them so I could help myself to the bowl of leftover batter. It tasted blissfully similar to cake.
I fall into the category of Malayalees that would be thrilled at the sight of steaming hot Vellappam for breakfast. Or dinner. Mind you, they’re best eaten if they’re made by mom so they are magically replenished and you can tuck into them leisurely. With tiny variations in ingredients according to the region, the batter is essentially rice and coconut ground together and allowed to ferment overnight. Its lacy edges and pillowy soft centers are characteristic features of these hoppers that are popular in the south of India and Sri Lanka. It is made in an Appam Chatty which is pretty similar to a wok. Ladlefuls of batter are poured into the heated pan and then swirled by the handles to spread where it rests against the sides to crisp and brown. The residual batter trickles to the centre where it is would be cooked through from the steam of the covered pan. One of the food resolutions I made for the new year is to tackle my list of food fears. This list has recipes that I have tried myself and they have fallen flat in either flavor or because of my imperfect technique. I have re-read these recipes and the thought of failing again and discarding the failed product puts me off. And sitting right on top of this list was Vellappam.
Ramadan Kareem to you! It’s that time of the year to reflect, to be grateful and to gather around the table with family and loved ones. We’re precisely halfway through the month and the routine of kitchen frenzy is balanced with introspection and worship. It is also the time when the last round of Iftar invites are sent out before the blessed ten nights of worship begins. Through this week, I will be sharing recipes that will make entertaining easier. Like these elegant croissant sandwiches filled with garlicky Chicken salad and a tang of citrus. It comes together very quickly and will make a classy yet fun addition to grace your table.
Ramadan Kareem! My blog is the busiest at this time of the year and it has become a ritual of sorts picking and planning on what to share with you. This year, I started looking into recipes from my parents’ time. A few of them were dishes Umma made only during Ramadan too. With all the recipes out there, I was convinced that there would be some variation of this drink on the internet. It is part of planning process to see how many variations of the recipe are available and only pick to publish those recipes that aren’t too common to avoid adding more to the mainstream. So imagine my surprise when I found no recipe even remotely similar to this. I did a quick pop quiz with the above photograph too with the grand prize of a sinfully chocolate cake freshly baked. Alright, I did make it difficult and gave the bare minimum clues. I thought given the few ingredients seen, I would have at least one right guess. The guesses bordered on the dessert spectrum including sago pearl, rice and a rather ambitious coconut rose creme brûlée. Nothing remotely traditional except for one lovely lady who suggested a beverage given to increase lactation in new mums. If you’ve drunk that, I’m wincing with you too.
How quickly has the final week of Ramadan arrived! In a few days, our routines will return to normalcy. There are a lot of goals I haven’t completed and yet the ones I have been able to, have struck a chord. Having eliminated the distraction of food, what I could finish reading resonated deeper than usual. Such is the beauty of this month. I’m hoping to leave it behind firmly clutching a few resolves. Speaking of Ramadan coming to an end, it also means that soon we are getting back to eating breakfast. Well, that is if you are that sort of a person.
The final recipe I want to share here will make the transition from Iftar evenings to breakfast post Ramadan smoothly. Considering you have the little ones at home for the summer, I can vouch this won’t be abandoned. Ever since Ali could eat more than mush, I have made these pancakes for him and he finishes them without a fuss. In fact, it is one of his favourite meal options and on occasions he has enjoyed them for dinner too.
When you are 7 years old and have just begun fasting, you’re constantly thinking about what Umma is preparing for Iftar. At that age, you don’t comprehend to the significance of fasting long hours. She would ask what my brother and I would like to eat to break our fast. These rolls were one of them. Sweet morsels of bread, a filling cutting through the sweetness with a lingering heat and the buttery crispness that is the start to this delightful bite.
Ramadan Kareem everyone!
I was never the child who winced at the sight of the milk. Nor the one who stealthily poured it down the sink when mom was not looking. I don’t start the day to pretty lattes or a steaming mug of tea. It is a habit lost on me. I start my day with tepid milk most likely with muesli. When we eat out for breakfast, there’s always a little part of me missing my glass of milk. Coming home from school, there’s usually a tall glass of milkshake (usually banana) waiting on the kitchen table. In the cooler months it was a mug of warm Cadbury hot chocolate.
A morsel of royalty. The khansamas, the Royal chefs of the Mughal kitchen, are recognised for inventing this dessert. The key ingredient in this recipe is bread which, come to think of it, is a staple in a poor mans’ diet. On paper, it is quite simply put, a bread pudding.The nobility, perhaps, was achieved with the elaborate process of frying bread triangles in pure ghee. Further progressing its status was milk, sweetened and boiled till it thickens like cream. This Rabri was flavoured and perfumed with the crushed whole spices and saffron imparting its hue. Certainly not a dessert to be taken lightly (pun intended).
The first time I ate a sweet strawberry was on a holiday in Aberdeen. They were picked up from Asda, the local supermarket, when I went grocery shopping with my cousins whom we were visiting. We were preparing breakfast in her kitchen the next day and I carelessly took a bite out of the fruit that I had just finished washing up. I came to a halt jolted by an explosion of sweetness. I couldn’t stop wondering if this is how strawberries really tasted. I sat at the kitchen table, eyes still wide and expressed my disbelief to my cousin. We were visiting in March and she tells me that strawberries taste much better (What?! Better than this?) when they are in season