Panchara patta – Malabar's own honeycomb cake

Panchara Patta
Fousia Abdul Manaf/YouTube

Say sweets and Kozhikode is sure to go weak in the knees. Famous for its Mittayi Theruvu (Sweetmeat Street) and the delicious Kozhikodan halwa, there’s a veritable spread of food and all sorts of delicacies in every home. And the output swells during the evenings once the day’s fasting is done.

Call Malabar a treasure trove of sweets. It’s not just the halwa that’s being sung about. Right from the unnakkaya to others, it’s a long list of goodies galore.

You can pick the dish that suits your palette according to the intensity of its sweetness. So there’s the very sweet variety which knocks your head off, or the ones with just about a hint of sugar. Hiding behind all the illustrious names is the humble panchara patta.

Years ago, much before pastries and desserts were served to guests, Malabari ummas (mothers) used to resort to the panchara patta as a menu special. Though it takes only a handful of ingredients to make this dish, the process is not quite a cakewalk. This could also be one of the reasons why it lost its supremacy. After all when time is money, who can afford to spend time on a dish elaborate in its making.

Though the dish itself is not at all sweet, panchara patta becomes a sweet tooth's favourite after it gets drizzled with sugar before serving.

There’s no loose dough involved in its making. The dough is churned till it turns foamy and it’s this foamy matter that’s fried. Once drained out, the top is treated to plenty of sugar. There have been several improvisations. Some eat the patta with fruits added to it.

Here’s how to make panchara patta:

Soak ½ a cup raw rice or biriyani rice for three to four hours

Wash, sun-dry and grind rice to a smooth powder with a pinch of salt

Sieve the flour till the powder is fine

Mix with water for a loose consistency

Whip up the batter with an egg beater or a wooden spoon till it turns frothy

Heat oil in a deep pan

Separate the froth from the batter as it surfaces and pour into the oil

Again collect the frothy bubbles and pour it on top of what’s already in the oil

Continue the process till it becomes 2½ inches thick

The flame should always be low

When one side turns a light brown and gets done, flip over to fry the other

Leave the patta in a a perforated bowl (colander) for a day or two to drain out the oil

Sprinkle sugar and raisins on top.

Panchara patta can be had with mashed banana and sugar.

Click here to read this recipe in Malayalam

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