“He is a vegetarian da! He won’t eat non-veg. That’s great for us because, we get to eat that whole chicken”
This would be the usual rabble in any Malayali gang in your college, if there is a vegetarian in the group. If that vegetarian is an Iyer, then chances of him trying chicken looks bleak. But guess what, that Palakkad Iyer is a treasure trove of awesome vegetarian food.
You might be fondly reminiscing the times you gobbled up those soft Idlis, soaking them in piping hot Sambar, in your veggie buddy’s home. But my friend, you’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg. The spectrum of food coupled with the wide variety of selection available in Palakkad Iyer cuisine is so much that one blog won’t do justice to it. After careful consideration and discussion, I was able to zero in on the proliferation of satisfactory smiles in the Palakkadan belt after a meal. Based on the deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that the following five dishes are to be tried at least once in your lifetime. Let me take you folks into a vegetarian extravaganza.
Also known as Molagooshyam, Moleshyam in Malayalam, this is a dish straight from the kitchens of the epicurean Iyer. Molagootal can be made with any vegetable but the Chakkakuru (Jackfruit seeds) variant takes home the crown. To any Malayali, Chakkakuru is a known item but adding it into a gravy dish – never heard of that, have you? Well, we got a bit adventurous and out came this kickass variant.
The method for making this is simple, all you need to do is boil the jackfruit seeds along with diced ash gourd and split yellow gram dal. Don’t forget to add salt and turmeric powder to the same. Take grated coconut along with dry chilies and cumin seeds. Grind them into a paste and add to the boiled mixture. Season with fried mustard, pepper and curry leaves, mix it with rice and eat it down to wonderland!
This one’s an all time favourite. It’s your usual brinjal fry with a twist. The muzhukathrikka fry along with the chakkakuru molagootal forms a lip-smacking deadly irresistible combo. This one’s pretty easy to do. You need to handpick small brinjals. Hold them by their crown and slice them into four (not completely), but leave a bit of space at the top. So the brinjal looks complete, but can be opened like a flower. Prepare a mix of salt, turmeric powder, chili powder, asafetida and tamarind paste. If the concoction is bitter, a piece of jaggery can be added. Take a pan, fry some mustard and top it up with coconut oil. Take the sliced brinjal, apply the prepared paste and keep them for frying in the pan. Deep fry them but slowly so that the paste along with the oil will drip from your hand when you eat them. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m already drooling like a Labrador about to get his treat. Try it once and you will keep on doing it.
Mathan Kachatti Poduthuval
Kachatti, is a traditional pot prevalent in Brahmin households. We cook a special poduthuval or thoran (to the Malayali friend) in the Kachatti. The hero of this thoran is pumpkin or the most famous mathan. Dice the mathan and boil it along with turmeric powder and salt. Grind grated coconut and green chillies (but make sure it’s in a flake form and not a paste). Make sure to up the quantum of the green chili. Take the ground flakes and add it to the boiled pumpkin. Mix well and add sautéed mustard, urad dal and curry leaves for seasoning. Voila, kachati poduthuval is ready. This is a bit of a challenge as pumpkin is mostly used for semisolid gravies like pachadi or kootukari because of the consistency. So a careful eye must be constantly monitoring the boiling pumpkin to make sure it doesn’t go into a gravy form.
What do you do when the Dosa batter gets fermented? You make Idlis. But what if the Idli batter gets still fermented? Usual practise entails throwing it, but we can whip up the most interesting dish from that. This dish called morappam here and as paniyaram in the neighbouring state is a cakewalk to make, supports the reuse ideology and definitely will be a hit amongst evening snackers. Someone who prefers a “kadi” with tea. Take the fermented batter and add finely chopped onions, green chilis, ginger and sautéed mustard along with coriander. Take the fryer in which you make “uniyappam” or “neyyappam” and heat it with oil. Take the batter and pour one ladle of the mixture into the hot oil. Fry it until it’s golden brown and take it out to drain the oil. Serve it with chutney and euphoria is guaranteed.
Muringaelai Verumarissi Adai
One of the niche dishes available only in the Palakkadan belt, muringaelai verumarissi adai is a kind of thick pancake loaded with proteins and medicines. The first step for the adai is preparing the batter. Take raw boiled rice (not cooked) and coarsely grind it with the required amount of salt after soaking it overnight. The batter has to be in a semi-solid paste form as you spread it in the pan using your hands. Add muringa ela aka drumstick vegetable leaves into the batter. Coarsely spread it on the pan using your hands (like you do with a dosa) and cook it using till oil (no coconut oil). Serve it with anything you want, we leave it to your imagination though avial will be an excellent combo!
Well, that’s it folks! The five must-try vegetarian dishes from the kitchens of Palakkad. I would love to hear your thoughts after you tried them and tasted them. Hit me up in the comments section!