Story of Pesaha Appam

The story of Pesaha Appam on Maundy thursday and recipe

Two years back I put a video on how to prepare Pesaha Appam or Maundy Thursday Appam. There were lots of comments and suggestions like:

“This is not how the Pesaha Appam is made.”

“Why did you put Cashews and Raisins.”

“The cross so big.” And so many, so many comments.

First, let me share the story behind the Pesaha Appam. Subsequently, I will share the reason behind the making of ‘pesaha appam video’ two years ago. At the end of the blog the recipe of the original Pesaha appam is shared .

Story of Pesaha Appam

The story of Pesaha Appam dates back to 4000 years when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. They were preparing to leave to their promised land and there were the famous 10 plagues. The frogs, the river Nile turning red, the locust and the tenth plague was going to strike – the firstborn of every family was going to die.

Story of Pesaha Appam

God, through Moses, told the Israelites to make a sign with blood on their doors, so that the Angel of death passes over their homes; and their firstborns don’t die. They obeyed the order of God and their firsborns were saved.

In addition, God also instructed them to prepare unleavened bread.

To remember that day the Jews have a seven-day long festival even now.

Story of the unleavened bread

Last Supper of Jesus Christ

Fast forward 2000 years. On Maundy Thursday, the first day of Passover, Jesus Christ had his Last Supper with twelve disciples. You might know the picture of Jesus with his twelve disciples, the famous Da Vinci Painting.

Story of Maundy Thursday

He had the supper where he broke the bread, gave it to the disciples and told them this is my body. Then he shared the wine with the disciples and said, “this is my blood”. That was the beginning of the Eucharist, the Holy Mass or, the Holy Qurbana.

Pesaha Appam tradition in Kerala

On Maundy Thursday, in the holy week of the great lent, St Thomas Christians in Kerala prepare the Pesaha Appam. The tradition among the St Thomas Christians, in many parts of Kerala, begins by preparing unfermented Appam, only on Maundy Thursday. Along with the unleavened Appam, they will have a coconut milk dip.

Story of Pesaha Appam

On Maundy Thursday, the head of the family will lead the ceremony when everyone gathers around the table. He will be the chief at the table. He will cut the appam, dip it the coconut syrup and give it to all the members of the family.

Previous Pesaha Appam video

In my place, we attend the Maundy Thursday service, either on Wednesday evening or, on Thursday early morning. Mostly a midnight mass that begins at 2:00 AM. We make the appam to be taken to the Church as an offering to be given to all those who attend the service. What I made in the previous video was the appam that was to be taken to the Church.

Hence, I made the video, keeping in mind the young mothers, and the working women, who go to the office on Wednesday, return, prepare the appam and then go to Church. That intention was only to give them an easy recipe.

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I made a long study and talked to many people. Thanks to my cousins Anitha Chechy, Chitra, Deepa, Jaya Aunty and Alice Aunty for sharing their insights.

What I’m going to follow today is the recipe, verbatim, as shared by Jaya Aunty. I’m sure you will have many comments and suggestions to make.

There will be a lot of comments, that will give more insight into the story of Pesaha Appam and how to prepare it more traditionally. That’s very important.

What is important in Pesaha Appam is about ‘how it is prepared’- the preparation, the sanctity, the purity, the tradition, the custom that is involved in it.

If there are grannies or elderly aunts at home they will reprimand you for talking as we have to be in prayer, we have to use the precious ingredients, the cleanest plates, if possible, the newest utensils. The place is tidied up and cleaned.

How to prepare Pesaha Appam

These are the ingredients:

For the Unfermented appam:

Raw Rice – 1 Cup

Urad Dal/Split gram dal – 1/4 Cup

Grated Coconut – 1 Cup

Shallots – 2 Nos.

Garlic – 1 Pod

Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp

Salt – 1 tsp

For the Coconut milk Dip:

thick milk or the first coconut milk – 1 Cup

second milk or the thin coconut milk – 2 Cups

Melted Jaggery – 200gm

Cardamom – 3 Nos.

Cooking Method:

For the Maundy Thursday Appam

I have used a glass tumbler as a measurement cup. Rice and dal were soaked for 4 hours. Don’t add too much of urad dal. ¼ cup is enough for 1 cup of rice, that measurement needs to be followed, otherwise, Urad dal’s taste will be more.

The grated coconut is roughly ground with garlic, shallots and cumin seeds.

Grind the rice to a fine paste. This is the urad dal. We will mix both.

This is the mix of the coconut, with the shallots, cumin seeds and garlic, which has been roughly ground. And now we will mix.

Also, add a little salt also.

We won’t allow the batter to ferment. While preparing the coconut milk mix, we will let the batter stand for some time.

The cooking process:

To cook the appam, I will boil water in the idli maker, followed by steaming the appam for 20 minutes. 

I have taken a steel plate. I have applied a little coconut oil. If you don’t have coconut oil, which is best, apply butter, clarified butter or ghee, or any vegetable oil.

Pour the batter into the plate. And using the palm leaf you got from the Church for Hosanna, or Palm Sunday, make a cross on the appam. Make sure that the cross is made in only one appam, in case you are making more than 1 appam that is to be shared with friends, relatives and neighbors.

The appam is sent to houses where there is mourning because of the death of someone.

Now the appam has been prepared in the idli maker cooker by steaming for 20 minutes. If you do not have an idli maker, steam the batter in a pressure cooker, or a flat bottom wok. Then, place a ring at the bottom of the pan and pour half a cup water. When the water boils, place the appam batter, close with a lid and steam on low flame for 20 minutes.

For INRI appam

On the contrary, if you want to prepare INRI appam, Jaya Aunty says, you can add 2 tablespoons of melted jaggery, which will give a brown colour and sweetness. INRI was the inscription put on the cross of Jesus. 

For the Coconut Milk Dip:

First, we will pour the second milk and the melted jaggery. The jaggery was melted and strained to remove any impurities that are in there. I have melted around 200 grams. This is enough. Pour the jaggery into the coconut to get a light brown colour.

Next, add 1 teaspoon of rice flour, so that the coconut milk thickens and then keep this to boil.

Next, boil the coconut mix until a saucy pouring consistency is reached. Add the first milk. Lower the flame and do not let it boil. Finally, sprinkle cardamom powder and remove the coconut dip from flame. Do not let it boil and remove it from the flame. Now the Coconut milk dip is ready.

Please do share your opinion in the comment box. Thank you.

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