The Maundy Thursday in Kerala is incomplete without Indri appam and paal

Photo: iStock/Jogy Abraham

The Christians around the world celebrates Peshaha or Maundy Thursday today. Meanwhile, in Kerala, Christian households serve Peshaha paal (a sweet jaggery based drink) and indri appam (unleavened bread) in a ceremonial manner. The appam is made with rice flour, cumin and garlic with a palm cross in the middle. More than revisiting a major tradition, the delicious taste of the Peshaha paal and indri appam ignites a nostalgic memory in Keralites. The last supper of Jesus is commemorated in the homes by serving the bread and the drink by the head of the family. Meanwhile, the cumin and garlic add a touch of Indian flavour to the dishes.

The tradition

The unleavened bread is prepared and served in a traditional manner. The house and the surroundings are cleaned before the preparations begin. The one who cooks it mutters prayers as they prepare the bread. Freshly ground rice flour is the main ingredient of the appam. One third portion of soaked urad dal which is ground without any water too is added. Meanwhile, the dough is mixed by adding cumin, garlic, grated coconut and salt. Interestingly, hot water is used to mix the dough. This batter is then spread on a piece of plantain leaf and secured with a plantain fibre. A cross made using palm leaf is placed in the centre of the appam. While the appam is steamed in some places, it is baked in other areas.

The Peshaha paal

As per the Christian tradition, wine is served along with the Holy bread. However, in the Malayali households, paal or a sweet drink is made to be enjoyed with the unleavened bread. The paal is prepared is made by boiling jaggery, cumin, dried ginger and cardamom in coconut milk. A bit of rice flour too is added to thicken the drink. Small pieces of palm leaf too are added when the drink boils. People love this sweet drink and often enjoy the combination as a meal.

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