Time journey: Meals reminiscence compels 62-year-old Gulf Information reader in India to journey again in time each Sunday

2021-05-17 18:50:50

Ellum Kappayum (cassava cooked with spicy, curried beef ribs) Some call it Kappayum irachiyum, others call it Kappa Biriyani
Ellum Kappayum (cassava cooked with spicy, curried beef ribs). Some name it Kappayum irachiyum, others name it Kappa Biryani
Picture Credit score: Shutterstock

Each Sunday, a meals reminiscence takes me again in time to after I was simply 10.

A busy kitchen. My mom’s sturdy arms chopping off chunks of kappa (cassava), freshly uprooted from our yard. My father and uncle, busy cleansing items of beef (its meat, ribs, and bones), which have been purchased contemporary each Sunday by my father, on our manner again from church, after the morning mass.

Hungry from not having eaten all morning, we might wait, my 4 siblings and I, because the aroma of spices roasting in oil, stuffed our enormous, very earthy, rustic kitchen, in our dwelling in Mammoodu, a small village in Kerala’s Kottayam district. Added to our starvation was the week-long built-up anticipation for the Sunday particular, a household feast of ellum kappayum (cassava cooked with spicy, curried beef ribs).

Although this reminiscence is from over 50 years in the past, my tummy nonetheless rumbles after I consider the kappa items boiling in a large vessel over a hearth range.

Because the kappa boiled to softness, each jiffy, my mom would return to shift the firewood and hold the hearth lit, blowing into it by way of a hole pipe. All of 5 ft tall, she was one of the best prepare dinner I’ve recognized.

The outdated kitchen

Kitchens in that a part of the world have been very totally different on the time. Firewood was the gas that may hold the range burning. Throughout the monsoons, it might be exhausting to maintain the firewood dry, and I keep in mind the adults of the household struggling to begin a hearth. Typically, smoke would fill the complete kitchen.

Fridges had already reached India 10 years earlier than that, however not all homes had them. Furthermore, the climate within the space the place we lived, didn’t actually warrant the necessity for one. There have been sufficient members within the household who would fortunately end the day’s meals. The one two dishes that may be saved for the subsequent day have been the fish curry (which, with out fail, tasted higher on the second day), and the leftover rice, to which contemporary water was added and saved in a single day in an earthen pot to make pazhankanji or congee.

Filled with diet, pazhankanji had turn out to be the working man’s favorite breakfast in Kerala. Subsequent morning, if we have been early sufficient to get up earlier than dad and uncle left for work, we might get to style the scrumptious combine with some crunchy hen’s-eye chillies, contemporary shallots pounded utilizing the stone iddi kuzhavi (mortar and pestle), and overwhelmed curd. If mum was up for it, there was an additional facet of coconut chutney. It was heavenly.

The kitchen was our favorite place to be. After I was not in class or taking part in exterior with buddies, I used to be within the kitchen. Mum was at all times there, and on days she was not busy, there was an countless provide of treats. It was not simply the place the place the entire household gathered for meals on the massive picket desk, it was the busiest room in our home at any given time in the course of the day. My favorite place to take a seat was an enormous trunk we had through which we might retailer grains. Some mornings, I’d eat sitting on it, and lie down and go to sleep instantly. Who would wish to go away a heat cozy kitchen that smells like mum, and stroll many kilometers to high school as a substitute?

That means no offence to shorter folks, what was additionally nice about mum’s top was that issues saved on cabinets inside her attain, have been additionally accessible to my siblings and me. I’ve numerous recollections of working away with items of jaggery, sugar or bananas, whereas my mom was not watching. My elder sister, who was 12 at the moment, was my associate in crime.

To say we each liked meals, is an understatement. We might spend hours watching our mum prepare dinner and attempt to experiment, too. As soon as, when our mother and father needed to go to a different city for an entire day, my sister determined we might attempt to make kozhukattai (steamed dumplings made with rice flour dough), one in every of our favorite snacks mum typically made. We had seen her making it and have been assured that we might obtain the easy feat.

We acquired collectively, two hungry minds and 4 small arms, and made the rice flour dough, able to be put in water. Faces and arms coated with flour, as we slowly put the dough balls in water and put the vessel on the range, little did we realise that the water ought to have been boiling earlier than the balls have been dropped in. In the long run, we stood defeated with some gooey rice paste. We each checked out one another, nonetheless not sure of what had occurred. Fortunately, mum discovered it hilarious when she returned.

Of all recollections… our Sunday ritual of the complete household pitching in, to make ellum kappayum, is my favorite. To at the present time, I’m going again to it each Sunday, on my manner dwelling from church.

– M A Josekutty, Gulf Information reader

However, of all recollections, the smoky odor of the earthen range to the sight of my elder sister grinding the garlic and ginger to stick on the arakallu (Malayalam for grinding stone), our Sunday ritual of the complete household pitching in, to make ellum kappayum, is my favorite. To at the present time, I’m going again to it each Sunday, on my manner dwelling from church.

How meals can set off recollections

So, can the style or thought of your favorite meals transport you again to childhood? Science says sure. Dubai-based scientific psychologist Urmimala Sinha defined: “Meals recollections contain a variety of senses thus creating a robust impact giving rise to associative recollections. Associative reminiscence is outlined as the flexibility to recollect the connection between unrelated gadgets. Thus consuming a selected meals can set off recollections of the place, setting and the sensation of consuming it the primary time, creating nostalgia in us.”

Analysis has proven that the style, odor, and texture of meals will be terribly evocative. Meals is an efficient set off of deeper recollections of emotions and feelings, and the inner states of the thoughts and physique.

A very powerful set off in meals is the scent. There’s an intimate connection between feelings, recollections and smells. Rachel Herz, creator and an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at Brown College in Rhode Island, US, was quoted in a livescience.com article, as saying: “…recollections triggered by scents versus different senses are skilled as extra emotional and extra evocative.”

A scent is a chemical particle that floats in by way of the nostril and into the mind’s olfactory bulbs, the place the feeling is first processed right into a kind that is readable by the mind. Mind cells then carry that info to a tiny space of the mind known as the amygdala, the place feelings are processed, after which to the adjoining hippocampus, the place studying and reminiscence formation happen.

In the identical report, John McGann, an affiliate professor within the psychology division of Rutgers College in New Jersey defined one other attention-grabbing remark about scents and the quick and straightforward route they must the reminiscence facilities of the mind. He stated: “Scents are the one sensations that journey such a direct path to the emotional and reminiscence facilities of the mind. All different senses first journey to a mind area known as the thalamus, which acts like a ‘switchboard’, relaying details about the issues we see, hear or really feel to the remainder of the mind. However scents bypass the thalamus and attain the amygdala and the hippocampus in a synapse or two.”

Making Ellum Kappayum

Ellum kappayum, a dish that has its roots in Kottayam and Idukki, unfold to each a part of the world as folks from these districts began travelling out, on the lookout for work and alternatives. It acquired tailored and was given new names, some known as it irachiyum kappayum (meat and cassava) and Malayali eating places began serving it as kappa biryani. In some areas of Kerala, like Ernakulam, it is usually known as Asiad.

Sunday rituals are not adopted. My spouse and I now stay in Kollam, a coastal metropolis in Kerala. Often, on Sundays, I take over our kitchen to make ellum kappayum, following the recipe my mother and father handed right down to me.

Kappa biryani or ellum kappayum
Kappa biryani or ellum kappayum
Picture Credit score: Provided/MA Josekutty

When my elder daughter (who forces me into making it each time she visits dwelling from Dubai) requested me if I’d share the recipe with Gulf Information readers, I couldn’t cease myself. So, right here is the easy, but scrumptious, recipe that is over 50 years outdated. A particular delight for individuals who get pleasure from Kerala delicacies.

Ingredients for ellum kappayum
Picture Credit score: Provided/MA Josekutty

2 – 2½kg kappa (chopped into small items)

1kg beef items (with bone, reduce in medium 2-inch items)

  • 1 to 1½ tbsp chilli powder (relying on spice tolerance)
  • 1½ tbsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1½ tsp black pepper
  • 2-3 items of cardamom
  • 3-4 items of clove (a spice)
  • 2 items of cinnamon (1 inch lengthy)
  • 1 tbsp fennel

Notice: Grind the spices collectively. As a substitute of the final 4 substances, you should utilize 1½ tbsp of five-spices powder that you may purchase at supermarkets within the UAE.

For marinade and tempering:

  • 1 medium piece ginger (peeled and crushed)
  • ½ a pod of garlic (peeled and crushed)
  • 1 cup of chopped pearl onions (shallots)
  • 1 massive pink onion (chopped)
  • Curry leaves
  • 3-4 inexperienced chillies cut up within the center
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt to style


1. Wash the meat totally. Squeeze to take away extra water.

2. To the meat, add half of all of the dry spices (powder), 1½ spoon of coconut oil and a few curry leaves, salt. Additionally add half of the marinade substances to the meat and blend with clear arms. Intention to coat the meat evenly. Put aside for 30-40 minutes.

3. After the marination time, in a deep vessel on low flame, slowly prepare dinner the meat. (Should you lack persistence or time for this and are utilizing a strain cooker as a substitute, prepare dinner it for 10-Quarter-hour, scale back the flame to minimal after the primary whistle. Then, flip off the flame and put aside with out opening the lid).

4. Because the meat releases water and will get cooked slowly, it is time to care for the cassava (Some folks additionally name it tapioca, which is definitely the starch extracted from the cassava root by way of a means of washing and pulping).

5. Wash the diced cassava two to a few occasions until water runs clear. Put it in an appropriate vessel. Add sufficient water to fully cowl the cassava items.

6. Add salt to style, and boil it until the items turn out to be fork tender. Pressure to take away the water.

7. In a separate pan, sauté the remaining onions, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, inexperienced peppers, until the onion turns into barely golden. Add the remaining dry masala powders and mood until the uncooked odor of th spices disappears, and oil separates.

8. Add the tempered combine into the cooked tapioca.

9. Examine whether or not the meat is tender and properly finished. There ought to be sufficient gravy to combine it properly with the tapioca. If there is extra gravy, prepare dinner the meat on barely excessive flame with out the lid, until the gravy reduces.

The curry should look like this, before adding the cassava.
Picture Credit score: Provided/MA Josekutty

10. Combine all the pieces utilizing a heavy spoon (this requires some forearm energy), until evenly mixed.

Combine the fork-tender kappa and the curried beef.
Picture Credit score: Provided/MA Josekutty

Garnish with chopped onions and curry leaves, and benefit from the ellum kappayum, steaming scorching.

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