Indari Appam or Pesaha Appam is unleavened bread and Pesaha Paal refers to Passover Coconut Milk made on Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday) among the Kerala Syrian Catholics. Holy Thursday falls on the day of the Jewish Passover. The Malayalam term for Passover is Pesaha.
According to the Holy Bible (Exodus Chapter 12 &13), the first Passover was instituted by Lord through Moses and Aaron. On Passover day, God delivered the Israelites from Egypt. It was known as “The Festival of Unleavened Bread”.
According to the New Testament, Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples on the day before he was crucified. After washing his disciples feet, Jesus broke bread and gave it to his disciples and also offered the cup of wine. Thus Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist at the “Last Supper”.
Hence on Maundy Thursday, Catholics commemorate the Institution of the Eucharist.
The tradition of making Pesaha Appam and Paalu on Pesaha would have come from the early Jews who came to Kerala. The Jewish tradition is preserved in the consumption of Pesaha pal (passover coconut milk) instead of wine on the night of passover along with Pesaha appam (unleavened passover bread).
This is our first Easter in US and I asked my mother in law for the recipe for making Indri Appam and Paal. I guess this is the traditional Kerala Knanaya Catholic way of making Appam and Paal.
- Rice Flour – 2 cups (It doesn’t have to be roasted)
- Grated Coconut – 1 1/4 cup
- Uzhunnu (Urad Dal) – A handful (soaked in water for a few hours)
- Shallots (Kunjulli) - 5 or 6 pieces
- Garlic – 2 cloves
- Cumin (Jeerakam) – 1/4 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Water – as required
- Take rice flour in a big vessel and add a pinch of salt.
- Grind the soaked uzhunnu parippu with little water to form a fine paste and add it to the rice flour.
- Grind shallots and garlic to form a fine paste and add it to the rice flour.
- Grind coconut and 1/4 tsp jeera to form a coarse paste.
- Mix everything together adding little water to form a thick batter. Add more salt if required. The consistency of the batter should be slightly less than that of idli batter.
- Keep the batter for around 3 hours.
- Grease a steel plate or line it with Banana leaves and pour the batter and spread it evenly (I used Aluminum Foil for lining the vessel). Make a cross using the Palm Leaves from Palm Sunday and place it on the middle of the batter. This Appam with the cross is known as Kurishu Appam.
- Steam it for around 15 minutes in an AppaChembu or Idli Cooker.
- With the remaining batter, you can make appam in the same way without the cross.
- You can dry roast the urad dal (uzhunnu) for a few minutes before you soak it. This is how my Mother does it.
- Again another tip by my mom. It is preferable to use roasted rice flour since it enhances the taste.
Ingredients for Pesaha Coconut Milk
- Coconut Milk – 3 Cups
- Sharkara (Jaggery) – 1/4 kg (Use Black Jaggery for a dark color)
- Rice Flour – 1/4 cup (Try to use Roasted Rice Flour)
- Powdered Dry Ginger (Chukku) – 1/2 tsp
- Powdered Cardamom (Elakka) – 1/4 tsp
- Powdered Cumin – 1/4 tsp
- Black Sesame Seeds (Ellu) – 1/4 tsp
- Melt jaggery by boiling it slowly in around 1/2 cup of water. Filter the syrup.
- Take coconut milk in a saucepan. Keep it on low heat and bring it to a boil stirring continuously.
- Add jaggery syrup to the coconut milk and stir for a few minutes.
- Dissolve the rice flour in little water and add it to the above mixture so that the mixture thickens. Keep stirring so that there are no lumps.
- Add the powdered spices (dry ginger, cumin and cardamom) and finally some sesame seeds to the milk.
- You can add small pieces of the palm leaves to the Pesaha Milk.