There is food for every ceremony in colourful Malabar

kunji-kalathappam
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Malabar is a melting pot of different cultures, traditions, food, beliefs and even the local dialects. These changes are quite palpable even as one crosses territories and regions in the Malabar area. There is an abundance of unique cultures and practices which will excite anyone who visits these places. For instance, the 'puyypala salkaram' or treating a new groom to mouthwatering delicacies, in Kozhikode, will become 'thakkaram' as one goes further north.

Celebrations like a wedding, naming ceremony, or kathukuthal (piercing the baby's ears for the first time) are nothing short of festivities in Malabar. Elaborate spread of delectable delicacies would be served for the 'palla kaanal' ceremony where the in-laws of an expectant mother visits her with truckloads of snacks and other tasty food items. Though feasts like these are very common in the Malabar area, the names of the dishes vary at different regions.

In Thalassery, kunjikalathappam and pandam are the dishes that are usually sent to the in-laws' house when a pregnant woman enters her third trimester. The batter for kunjikalathappam is made by grinding rice, which is usually used to make ghee rice, raw rice, and sugar. This is then fried to perfection in fresh coconut oil. However, the same dish is called 'kritha' in Kuttichira which is south to Kozhikode.

Pandam is made as a side dish for kunjikalathappam. In Malabar, pandam means a filling made with peanuts, grated coconut, and sugar and cardamom powder. In the olden days, women used to predict the gender of the unborn baby by looking at the consistency of the filling or pandam. It was believed that the woman would give birth to a baby girl if the pandam served at her 'palla kanal' ceremony had a sticky consistency.

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