Chamayal Chaapadu by Deepa

Blog post by Deepa Mahesh

Being born and brought up in a typical Palakkad Iyer household, I have been raised exclusively on Palakkad Chamayal. And, I can swear to this day, that nothing beats it. Coming from a family where all the ladies, right from my Paati to my Amma, periamma’s and Chittis were fabulous cooks, I can safely say that I am a foodie who has midnight cravings for Pakodam, Mysore Pak and mixture. Even in my pregnancy, I was abroad and

the only thing I craved was Amma’s piping hot mor kootan!

Right from our awesome tiffins to light-n-healthy main courses,we Iyers can never go wrong in achieving the right balance of taste and health!

For all the North Indians out there, our menu consists only of dosa, idli and sambar. I have had friends who genuinely believed that we steamed about 35 idlis every single morning and everyone at home had that for breakfast, lunch and dinner. How I pity those kozhandails! They know nothing of our varied cuisine.

When I was a teenager, a Maami at a wedding very pointedly asked me whether I had any plans of marrying outside the community. I told her, I loved my molagutal too much to do that!

I remember rushing home from school and college, ravenous and piping hot arachu vitta sambar,  beans thoran or keerai molagutal with cucumber thayir pachadi waiting for me. Some days it would be mor kootan with cabbage poriyal or vazhakkai-chenai molagutal with puli pachadi.Aah, the memories!

My favourite (like all fellow kozhandails) has always been the Saddi. No offence to our Thanjavur-Thirunalveli kozhandails, but the Palakkad Saddi has always been my favourite.

I have attended many a function  where, as kids, our responsibility was to see when the elais were laid out after the muhurtham,and rush to reserve places for our large family full of Periappa-periammas, Chitappa Chittis, thatha Paatis and cousins. In case we missed out the first “pandi” we loitered in the dining area, closely watching the maamas and maamis slurping away their thayir chadams and by the time they were done with slurping the last handful of payasam on their elais, we were ready to pounce on their seats!


The elai laid out elaborately in front of you is always full of promise. The first item to be served is always a drop of payasam which you discreetly lick. The pachadi, elavan-chenai kootu, Olan, kalan, potato kaara Kari, beans thoran all follow in a row. Then its time for varatta uperi (banana chips) and puli-inji and maanga Kari. It is believed that you shouldn’t touch your food till the rice is served, but which true blue Iyer can wait till then? I have always licked away at the maanga Kari and taken a few bites of the varatta uperi keeping an eye open for any disapproving mama or Mami who may object.  It’s now time for some paruppu vadai, a boli maybe and a banana.Steaming hot rice follows with a dollop of ghee and paruppu. The sambar arrives in a bucket (FYI For all non tam Brahms, rasam, sambar and mor are ALWAYS served in buckets). Occasional beckoning the servers follows where maamas,maamis and kozhandails ask for a second helping of their favourite dish. This is followed by more rice and rasam arriving in a bucket again. You can hear the simultaneous crunching of applams/pappadams when everyone attacks the rasam chadham. Time for more rice topped with cooling moru  which you wolf down with the maanga Kari and puli inji served earlier. No tam brahm lunch is complete without this vital part. The payasam arrives (in yet another bucket) and you can choose whether to slurp it from your elai directly or have it from a disposable cup. By the time this is over  and you glance up from your elai, you can see eager eyes waiting for you to get up so that they can pounce on your seat! I get up graciously to give way for another to enjoy this satiating and sublime experience.

After writing this extremely appetising blog, I am making a mental list of all eligible kozhandails in the family and hoping that I will be invited to a saddi soon. Having spent half the morning writing this blog, I realise it’s time for me to cook lunch for the day. Rasakalan and cabbage-carrot poduthuval, anyone?

10 thoughts on “Chamayal Chaapadu by Deepa

  1. Well written Deepa. The variety of pachadis need mention. Sweet as well as salted and spicy. Kalan and Avial as also Olan cannot be forgotten! Payasam varieties are many including iddichhu pizhingcha payasam!
    Happy eating Deepa


  2. Well written with the mention of many Palakkadian items..but why is it that whenever we dwell upon Palakkad iyers we discuss mainly on food or “chappaadu”? Is it because of the variety of items and its typically Palakkadian names..which adds to the fun?
    I am P.Narayan who did the Palakkad iyer airlines audio which all seemed to like very much all over..I did an audio on Palakkad kalyana chappaadu scenario too..Sincere Thanks for your compliments..


    1. P Narayan Sir.. Are you Ramesh Mama from Kolkata by any chance?? I am Shanti Natarajan’s daughter Deepa.. If it’s you pls reply..


  3. Thanks for all the likes and comments people..a major goof-up I made was to forget mentioning avial!! 😱How could
    I?? Yes true.. Mor kootan cannot be piping hot.. But i always have it as hot as it can be 😊😊


  4. Sooooooper palakkad small correction. Mor kootan cannot b piping hotAdu pirinjoodum .Incidentily I m a palakkad iyer vd gud cooking flare started after marriage 36ys ago.our payasams r our trade mark.Palakkad iyers hav a taboo.FOODIES.


  5. So true! Nothing to beat palakkad Iyer cuisine. Some of them are exclusive to us, not heard of even in Tamil Nadu! Added to the various dishes like kurukki kaalan, olan, mambazha pulissery are Elai adai, Chaka poduthuval, Chakka payasam etc. Palakkad Mamis can make anything out of veggies. Murungakka Elai molaguttal, murungakka elai adai, mullangi elai poduthuval, green papaya curry and I don’t know how many. The paal payasam should be had with crushed banana pieces from the elai itself. No true blood palakkadan will relish payasam from a plastic cup! Getting a handful of rasam chadam or paal payasam after they run across the elai is a inborn quality. Not allowing the runny chadam or payasam to fall on that pattu pudavai or the shiny veshti is an art indeed. For the health conscious dudes out there, palakkad Iyer foods are nourishing and loaded with beneficial ingredients good for the health. However , if humanly possible, don’t over eat palakkad delicacies !!



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