As a Malayali, when you think of home, it’s hard not to get hit with a wave of emotions. Some things just scream Malayali like Kanan Devan chaaya. Whether it’s something your family does or a memory that’s just too good to forget, it’s those little things that make us who we are. So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and relive those memories that are so distinctly Malayali. Ready to jump in?
Ha, we know you almost heard it in your head. This wonderful sound echoes from the kitchen to your ears and makes us forget all your tensions momentarily and subconsciously go, “Innu kozhi curry aano, Amme?”. Once we step out of Kerala, we have all been made fun for our bond with coconuts – from the oil we massage our hair with to the food we eat to the ‘chakiri naaru’ we use to tie our parcels, we are a walking epitome of why coconut tree is called the ‘kalpavriksham’. And if you can’t relate to the emotion behind ‘vartha aracha thenga’, sorry, we have a problem here.
Who knew that the ‘kunthirikkam’ we burn in our houses, at least every fortnight, had a fancy name in English – frankincense? This is commonly used as a natural mosquito repellent in most of our homes owing to its strong fragrance that reaches right up to our brains. Having said that, burning kunthirikkam is also said to help alleviate stress and anxiety, perhaps one of the reasons why we feel a sense of calm and tranquillity when the aroma is in the air.
Aroma of Kaachiya Enna
Coconut oil is an inescapable element of every Malayali household. While coconut oil remains a natural conditioner, we do have the tradition of enhancing its properties by adding ingredients that have been passed onto us from forgotten ancestors. ‘Naadan’ herbs like thulasi mixed with aloe vera, curry leaves, and a bunch of other secret ingredients are thrust into hot oil and heated over until you see the colour of it all seep into the oil, and it is brought to a boil. The aroma that wafts from it is pleasant, and it reminds you of your grandmother’s hair, which had the exact same whiff.
Are you even living in a Malayali house if the TV remote is not confiscated from you in the evening?! It is that time of the day when all the women in the house finish household work and sit down to see people fight on screen.
Water boiled in Pathimukam
If you’re a Malayali, there’s a good chance that you don’t feel water is safe to drink unless it has a hue of pink. While pathimukam is supposed to be good for digestion and is alleged to have various other benefits, our love for this comes from memories of running into the kitchen after a session of games outdoors and drinking this pink elixir out of a giant metal ‘paathram’. But the worst part was when a stick of pathimukam got stuck in your throat (sorry for bringing that memory up! :P).
Biscuit Box with Stitching Materials
Receiving a biscuit box as a gift from your Gulf Ammavan can be nostalgic. However, later on, discovering that it only contains stitching materials instead of actual biscuits can be quite a disappointment. The box itself holds sentimental value, not because of the sweets it once held, but because of the items it now stores.
Muttam Adi Routine
Obviously, we don’t wake up to ‘kozhikooval’ or ‘kausalya suprabhatam’. If you are a relatively early riser, you probably wake up to the sound of your ‘muttam’ being swept with the ‘irkkili chool’ aka ‘kutichool’. No matter how inauspicious a broom is said to be, this sound is a pleasant reminder of normalcy at home. A sign that people are up and about and that you have a ‘chavaru free muttam’ to gaze at while sipping your morning Kanan Devan tea and contemplating on your life.
Speaking of tea, there’s a reason why Malayalis say that ‘chaaya’ is an emotion. For us, a cup of tea is not just a drink; it’s an experience. We associate ‘chaaya’ with conversations with people, with a sense of calmness, and with taking a break from our busy lives. No matter where a Malayali is in the world, they are bound to make a cup of tea in the morning, and it’s likely to be with Kanan Devan tea.
Do you know what makes Kanan Devan tea extra special? The tea leaves are grown in Kerala’s soil, rain, and sunlight at the Kanan Devan hills in Munnar. Almost every Malayali starts their day by enjoying a frothy cup of Kanan Devan tea. It is the perfect way to energise and prepare for the day ahead. Okay, now, let us go make a chaaya for ourselves.
We’re sure that many other things are truly Malayali, such as having a glass of Palada payasam, washing clothes on an alakku kallu and much more. Comment below what you think are the things that are distinctly Malayali.