The following are recipes for certain unique Kerala Nazranee Pesaha dishes, from different sources/individuals as duly acknowledged after each recipe. Such or similar dishes were and are part of the Pesaha (Maundy Thursday) supper in several Nazranee families in India and overseas. The tradition is thus kept alive by them.
1. Pesaha Appam (Unleavened Bread Kerala Nazranee Style!)
Rice -1.5 cups
Urad Dal withot skin – 0.5 cup
Cumin seeds – 0.5 teaspoon
Garlic – 2 cloves
Coconut, shredded – 1 cup
Salt – as needed
Soak the rice overnight on Wednesday evening.
Heat Urad Dal in a frying pan, stirring continuously. Be careful so that it does not burn. Stop heating when golden brown. Stir and let it cool. Soak this Dal for 2 hours.
Grind all ingredients together. Add water just enough for a viscous batter. Do not grind to a fine paste. The batter should be slightly lumpy. Taste and add salt as needed.
Pour in a baking dish. Steam for 20 minutes. Alternatively, bake at 400 F. Allow it to cool before serving with Pesaha Pal (see below). (( Acknowledgement: John Medamana))
2. Pesaha Pal (Kerala Nazranee innovation for Wine!)
Coconut Milk – 2 cups (alternatively, use regular milk)
Putt flour – 1 table spoon (alternatively, use Cream of Wheat flour)
Brown Sugar – 2 to 3 tablespoons
Cardamom (powdered) – 2
Salt – for taste
Mix flour and milk in a saucepan. Add brown sugar. Boil for 3-5 minutes until thickened like gravy. Add salt and test for taste. Adjust thickness by adding more flour or milk as needed. Add cardamom. Keep stirring till it cools. Serve with Appam (see above). ((Acknowledgement: John Medamana))
3. Pesaha Appam
(This is said to be the way the Pesaha Appam is made in the southern side of Kottayam)
(For One Deep Dish) (10-12 pcs.)
Rice Flour – 2 Cups
Cream of Rice – ½ cup
(Option: Soak 2 cups, ie. 1 pound long grain rice in water for 3 hrs, grind coarse,
1 cup grated coconut. Use the coconut water to grind the rice.)
Coconut, grated – 1 cup (Blended)
Dark Brown sugar – ½ cup (More for more sweetness)
Yeast + Sugar – ¼ Tsp + 1 tsp sugar in ¼ cup warm water
(Instead of yeast, save the coconut milk with 1 tsp raw rice grains, 1 tsp sugar , keep it in a warm place for a day, use that mixture to grind the rice. Also, if vellom (chakkara) is used,no yeast is needed. Or, one cup (pressed, not loose) of the crust-free soft bread could be used in place of yeast.)
1 Table spoon farina boiled in ½ cup water (Paavu kachi).
Salt – ¼ tsp or enough to taste
Cumin powder- 1 tsp
Red or small onion – 1 Tbsp (blended)
Grind the mixture 1-4, to an Iddli consistency, add the warm farina porridge (paav kachi), keep in a warm place for 6 hrs. Place ¼ tsp yeast and 1 Tsp sugar in ¼ cup warm water, the solution will froth in 5 minutes, (or the substitutes) add it to the mixture, keep warm for 4 more hours. Before cooking, add the salt and cumin powder, onion paste, pour into a greased pan, cook in a steam bath for 20 minutes, or till it is firm, test with a toothpick.
Raisins and cashews could be sprinkled on top of the Appam before cooking, for more taste and decoration. Usually the first Pesaha Appam is made plain (without the nuts and fruits)
Use the multiples of the measure for more pans of Appam.
Usually 2 cups(200ml.cup) or one pound is enough to make one kinnam appam. Instead of dark brown sugar, if white color is preferred, use ½ cup sugar or more for more sweetness. ((Acknowledgement: Elcy Yohannan Sakarathil))
4. Recipe for Pesaha Appam (INRI appam)
Rice powder (not roasted)-1 cup
Urad dal (uzhunnu)-25 gm
1/2 coconut grinded (medium)
Pinch of cumin
Soak the uzhunnu for a few hours. Grind well.
Grind well the coconut + a pinch of jeera (cumin).
Add everything together and make a dough of idli maavu consistency.
“Keep only for 1/2 hour to ferment.”
(To remind of Pesaha)
Grease preferably steel plates of medium round shape. Pour batter in one, and make a cross of palm leaf obtained on palm sunday on it. Steam till well done.
Make all other appams same way but with no cross.
Makes about 2 or 3 medium appams. ((Acknowledgement: Anne Thomas, Hyderabad))
Roasted rice powder-1 cup
Sarkkara (molasses)-1 cup
Please use freshly grinded coconut for making this, otherwise the taste won’t be good. Take the juice of coconut. You can put the grinded coconut in mixer and add some hot water to grind for 30 seconds. Now the juice comes out easily.1st milk should be kept separately; take 2nd and third milk also. These two should equal 1 litre of milk.
Take molasses and put the in a saucepan, add some water and heat well. While boiling, lather forms; this should be cleaned away. Then add cumin and chukku (dried ginger). Now sieve this through a strainer and you can see lot of stones and dirt in it. This liquid form of molasses should be used in your recipes. I have seen lots of people use molasses directly in recipes, without first melting them. Remember, all these dirt and stones are dangerous, especially for kids. This commonly happens when we prepare aval vilayichathu, where we use it directly. But be sure to melt it first. The consistency can be achieved by adjusting the amount of water added to it.
Take the 2nd and third milk, molasses syrup and roasted rice powder, bring to a boil. Stir continuously, otherwise lumps will form. Mix cardamom powder with 1st milk and add it last. Also add a piece of palm leaf. Before it boils, take off the stove.
As the tradition goes, the head of the family cuts the appam and gives it to other members, oldest to youngest respectively, after dipping in paalukurukku. This is done in great reverence and pious atmosphere. ((Acknowledgement: Annie Thomas, Hyderabad))
Picture Courtesy : Inji Pennu – ((Acknowledgement: myinjimanga))
Author Kuruvilla Cherian Amprayil can be reached on amprayilusa at gmail dot com
Have a look on the following link,
Article by Bishop of Palai, Mar Joseph Kallarangatt
The ritual details of the Passover (Pesaha/Pesahach) observed traditionally by the ancient Israelites has been accounted in the Book of Exodus (OT) and the traditions associated with the Nasrani Pesaha have striking resemblance to many of Hebrew Passover details. Thus the following is an attempt to compare the two ritual traditions.
Some of the relative aspects have been stated in detail on the NSC links below; while some details have been missed.
The similarities :
1). The Pesaha Appam is made of the ingredients as described above in the link provided by Dr. Kuruvilla. The spices used are garlic, cumin seeds (jeerakam) and cheriulli (small onions) by some. These spices/condiments seem to be used in relation to the bitter herbs as mentioned in Exodus Passover rules (Exo. 12:8) and may not be simply to add flavour. Note that no other appam has garlic in it. ! Its debatable.
2). The batter of the Appam is made and traditionally immediately poured into the dish for cooking and not allowed to stand for more than 20-30 mins. This is because the batter may ferment after 20 mins and the very concept of unleavened bread is lost. This is the traditional old Nasrani way still strictly followed in many families. This again is strikingly similar to the Hebrew tradition of making the unleavened Passover bread which again is not allowed to stand for more than 20 mins. Check the link below for details.
3). The link mentions that the Appam batter is steamed. This may be a recent method. The traditional method is strictly baking/roast (Chudal) on the fire with firewood placed below and above the baking vessel, again followed by some Nasrani families still. This Baking/roasting without oil method is similar to the commandment in Exodus (Exo. 12:9) followed by ancient Israelites wherein the bread is baked/roasted and not steamed. Exceptions have arisen recently like steaming since gas stoves have replaced the traditional “adapu” cooking.
4). The traditional Nasrani way of baking of the Appam is in a new earthen vessel, (new Mannchatti) brought specially for this baking and not used before. This again is perfectly similar to the Jewish custom wherein the Unleavened bread is baked by the Jews in new/unused/perfectly washed vessel. This is done to avoid contamination by any previous yeast/fermenting agent as per Exodus 12: 15-20. For details check the sub-topic ‘Passover dishware’ in below link.
Reference for more details: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover
Other traditions and observances
Then there is another tradition wherein the Pesaha appam was/is eaten standing and this is still followed by some in accordance with the Israelite Passover and OT Exodus rules. This may be largely extinct today but observed by some Nasrani families still.
Then the Appam and Pal is neither eaten/shared with non-Nasranis outside the community nor must any of it be taken outside the house. Though friends and neighbours do come and eat, but again this is only by visiting the house where the Appam is made. Similarly Pesaha is not observed in the year wherein someone has died in a family. All these are ancient stringent rules related to observing the Pesaha and again is in perfect accordance with the OT Passover regulations. Many are getting extinct today.
Then while breaking the appam certain prayers/blessings are said by those including non-knanaya Surianis too. But I’m not aware of the details of the Prayers recited. There are no songs as in the knanaya tradition as mentioned in the NSC link. The only distinguishing point between the Knas and non-knas comes here in Pesaha observance.
The Pesaha Appam is called Kalathappam by Nasranis of North kerala and the recipe is almost the same. Kalathappam is said to be of jewish origin.
Indriappam or Inri (derived from INRI of Jesus’s cross) appam is the other name more popular in South Kerala.
While visiting Kerala last month I was able to take part in the Pesaha tradition at my parents’ house. The Appam and Pal were made by my Mom exactly as it used to be when I lived in Kerala during the 70s. I talked to my parents about the tradition. They told me that Pesaha dinner is a very important tradition among all Suriani christians in the area (Piravom, Mulakulam) – includes Jacobites and Marthomites. The tradition in our family is that the oldest (male) member must cut the bread and lead the prayer. This is similar to Jewish passover sader, except that the service is much shorter and we read the account of last supper from the Gospels rather than Exodus.
I also discussed the Suriyai tradition with a Cochini Jewish friend. She told me that the use of rice and coconut milk is really odd. Cochini Jews used wheat to make the unleavened bread and they used a form of grape juice for wine.
Tell us about the Cochini Jewess. Is the ‘black Jew’ or the ‘Foreign Jew’? (I know Indians of all shades and castes do not like the word ‘Black’, but I use it here to make things clear.
I have met lot’s of Jews but not a single Malabari Jew.
Dear John Medaman,
We also made Pesaha Appam in Calgary based upon Ampravil Achayan’s receipe. It is good. In our very small circle, there was even some healthy rivalry to be ‘traditional’. We kind of tried to outdo each other and also learned how Nasrani Catholics from the very north of Kerala remember the Pesaha.
Hopefully, next year if God permits, we will have a better remembrance.
Dear George Mathew,
The Pesaha recipes were not mine, I just collected them from various sources as was acknowledged in the posting. In fact items 1 & 2 of them were originally from John Medamana himself, received several years ago when we had some discussions about the Hebrew-Brahmin roots of the Nazranees….
Thanks John for reconfirming the great tradition.
Syrian Christian cuisine was featured in New York Times.
New York Times Editor and writer of books like Apple’s America , R.W. Apple ran a story on the food and flavors of Kerala
Indeed very interesting ! How many Israelis are there in South India !
There are 36 Jews in the Kochi-Ernakulam-Aluwa area today. Five are White or Paradesis and the rest are Malabari Jews. There are now about 20,000 Cochin Jews in Israel and elsewhere. The only functioning synagogue is the Paradesi in Mattancherry, Kochi.
I heard that the Latin bishop Garcia ordered the Malabar Christians to stop observing Pesaha at homes? Is it true? Can anyone provide some references that describe about the Pesaha traditions of Malabar Christians?