Pitter Patter. Pitter Patter. You hear the gentle and soft sounds of raindrops striking on your window panes. Monsoons are always ushered in with a whiff of fresh air, and the longing to run into our gardens to catch the first drop of rain and of course, to inhale the fresh scent of raindrops falling on the parched soil; or as a linguist would say, the pleasant odour of “petrichor”. Once the drench comes to a close, you get inside, dry yourself and have a sudden craving for a piping hot cup of tea and some snacks to go with it.
Here’s our list of 5 Kerala nalumani snacks that you would want to try out to fight such monsoon cravings:
Every Malayali’s all-time favourite snack has to be Pazhampori. Whether you live in the northern, central, or southern part of Kerala, this is a snack that is loved and savoured by all people alike. The difference, more or less, lies in the way you refer to it – Pazhampori, Ethakkaappam, Boli. Though in our household, we refer to it as Ethakkappam, due to commercial influence I’ve lately started calling it Pazhampori. Anyway, let’s stick to calling it Pazhampori here!
The crispier the pazhampori, the more it satiates your cravings. In its simplest form, it is a ripe banana sliced into thin pieces, dipped in a batter of flour, salt, sugar, and water and then deep-fried until golden brown. Adding a pinch of turmeric powder to the batter gives it the right light yellowish colour. You can even add roasted and crushed cumin seeds or sesame seeds to enhance the taste. To a lot of Malayalis, this snack made their train journeys an absolute pleasure, which was why a lot of them took to social media to voice their protest when IRCTC revised their train menus to replace Pazhampori with North Indian delicacies. And the result? In no time, Pazhampori finds its much-deserved position back in the menu.
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One snack that can kindle your nostalgia is this simple, humble (yet powerful!) dish made of beaten rice flakes. Aval Vilayichathu is extremely healthy and can be tweaked to taste either sweet or savoury, as per your liking. Basically, it is beaten rice flakes added to a mixture of coconut and melted jaggery syrup. The jaggery makes the aval slightly crunchy, provided the syrup is of the right consistency and not too thick. A fine consistency will ensure that the aval doesn’t become candied or over soaked.
I am pretty sure I love this dish so much that I can literally eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with utmost happiness. Also, it’s interesting how this taste lingers on your sensory memory for a long time even after the meal is done. The best part is that you can make this, store it and have it again the next day, and it will taste just as amazing and fresh.
The first time I heard the name of this dish, it really fascinated me because I was trying to imagine what a garland made of eggs would look like. Known as one of the tastiest snacks in Kerala, the Mutta Maala is a sweet ensemble traditionally of Malabar origin. History has it that this dish was a recipe first given to Malayalis by the Portuguese back in the days of the Portuguese settlement. It is said that egg whites were used for a host of activities ranging from making wine to starching the Portuguese priest’s cassocks. The yolks that were left behind were mixed with sugar syrups to make confectionery.
This mouth-watering dessert, prepared from eggs and sugar syrup used to be a signature item on the menu specially prepared for the groom’s family at a traditional Malabar wedding. It is also served as an Eid special dish these days. The egg yolks and whites bid each other goodbye to unite with sugar syrup. The yolk gets a makeover into delicate and lacy strands that look like golden noodles while the white is transformed and steamed into a pudding called Kinnathappam. The golden stranded yolks are combined with the steamed pudding by forming a garnishing garland of loops around it. How cool is that?
It’s 4 in the evening and your tummy is grumbling and grovelling for food. You desperately need refuelling and much to your pleasure you see unniyappams laid on the table. You know your tastebuds are in for a treat as you see the snacks! Crispy on the outside, spongy and fluffy on the inside, this delicacy is such that you cannot stop with one.
Unniyappam is an interesting and yummy amalgam of mashed bananas, jaggery syrup, roasted coconut and rice flour. Typically, unniyappams are served as prasadams in temples and are an integral part of most Hindu festivals. It’s hugely known for the unique and special taste it imparts to your taste buds and literally has no substitutes in Kerala. As true in the case of Pazhampori, riper the banana, yummier the dish turns out to be! Also, if you like your unniyappams to have a darker shade of brown be sure to load in lots of jaggery to the ground bananas.
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As in the case of our dear Pazhampori, Kumbilappam is also famous for having a multitude of names. Chakka Appam, Theraliyappam, Vazhanayappam are some of the names that this delicious snack is fondly called. Kumbilappam is one dish which is not as widely available in confectioneries as other authentic snacks. This dish has more of a homely touch to it. One of the reasons I always look forward to the jackfruit season in Kerala is to have a bite of this dumpling wrapped in cone-shaped bay leaves. It is actually the bay leaves that add a distinct flavour and sweet aroma to the mound of mashed jackfruit, coconut, and jaggery. Apart from chakka kumbilappams, another variation of kumbilappam that tastes equally yummy and nutritious is the mathanga kumbilappam which can be easily be prepped up in the kitchen if you have a ripe pumpkin.
I could just go on listing many more authentic snacks like Ela Ada, Neyyappam, Avalose Unda, Sughiyan, Achappam, Kuzhalappam and myriad such yummy dishes but for the purpose of this list, we explore only five. Maybe a sequel some time?