Syrian Christian Cuisine- Pachakaprakaranam (1958)
Pachakaprakaranam is the first-ever recipe book to have been published in Malayalam. It was written by Mrs. TN. Kurien who was a pioneer in Syrian Christian cuisine cookery books. It was first published in 1938, the second edition was published in 1958, and was reprinted in 2019.
The cookbook being published almost 63 years ago, has a variety of recipes unique to the Syrian Christian Community, and the weights & measurements mentioned in the book are very different from what we see today.
Ms. Meena Kurien has shared and translated the following excerpts from her great-grandmother, Mrs. T.N. Kurien's recipe book.
Table of Contents
Weights & Measurements
Selected Recipes:- Duck Curry, Coconut Rice, Green Tomato Chutney, Orappam
However nutritious food maybe, if it is tasteless, one gradually loses interest in eating it. Even if the food does nothing good for the body, if it is tasty, then we are apt to enjoy it. The taste in the foods we eat depends not on the excess of condiments we use to prepare it, but in exact measurements and method of making these dishes. When food is cooked in novel and different ways, the most simple ingredients put together can be elevated to a tasty final product. I have tried to include in this book the different methods of cooking that have been practiced in Kerala over time and to make them familiar to the people of Kerala. The many dishes which can be prepared with vegetables, fish, and meat, pickles, puddings, halwa, cake varieties, biscuits, payasams, snacks both sweet and savoury; and the different ways of preparing them are presented in an appropriate manner in this book. I have added new dishes which I could not include in the previous editions. Cooking with the raw material available to people in their localities, and drawing up a menu for each day would be a very good idea. I would be very content if this small book is even a little help to those interested in the art of cooking.
Mrs. TN Kurien.
Table of Contents
Weights and Measurements
16 Dram = 1 Ounce
16 Ounces = 1 Pound
2 Pounds = 1 Seer
* * * * * *
60 drops = 1 tsp
2 tsp = 1 dessert spoon
3 tsp = 1 tbsp
2 tbsp = 1 ounce
2 ounces = 1 thudam
4 thudam = 1 cup
1 pint = 20 ounces (10 thudams)
2 pints = 1 quart
1. Duck Gravy
1 duck or chicken, 1/2 kg tomatoes, 2 pods garlic, 1 big piece turmeric powdered, 1 level tsp powdered cumin seeds, 4 egg-sized big onions, 30 ml vinegar, 60 ml good quality ghee, salt to taste.
Heat ghee in a vessel, add onions and fry till light brown. Add turmeric powder. Then add sliced garlic, the duck pieces, and fry a bit more. Then add chopped tomatoes salt and vinegar, enough water and cook covered until the water is cooked down and ghee floats. If you want a nice gravy, fry 8 red chillies, powder it and add with the rest of the masala. Remove from fire when there is enough gravy.
2. Coconut Rice
Wash 1 cup (see note) of good quality rice and keep to drain in a colander. Grind 10 red
chillies and 1 small piece of turmeric to a fine paste. Heat 1/4 cup ghee in a vessel and fry some cashew nuts till brown and keep aside. Then splutter a little mustard and curry leaves, add the ground paste. When the raw smell is gone, add the rice and fry on low fire for a while. Then add double the volume of the rice of thick coconut milk, enough salt, and cook covered until the rice is cooked and dry.
Garnish with the fried cashew nuts. Serve with any chicken or mutton curry.
Note: The measure of rice here is given as 1 naazhi, which is the smallest measuring cup used in olden times in Kerala. One naazhi will be about 1-3/4 cups.
3. Green Tomato Chutney
500 g green tomatoes, 500 gms sugar, 1 oz dry red chillies, 1 oz mustard, 0.5 oz garlic cloves, 0.5 oz ginger, 250 ml vinegar, salt as needed.
Chop the tomatoes, add a little salt, and keep aside covered for a day. Grind the red chillies, mustard, ginger and garlic in a little vinegar to a fine paste. Cook the tomatoes in salt with the rest of the vinegar. When cooked, add the ground paste, sugar, and enough salt and simmer to chutney consistency.
1 naazhi finely powdered fried rice flour, 1 naazhi jaggery syrup-cleaned of all impurities, 1
big coconut, 1 pinch saunf (Fennel seeds), 2 eggs yolks only, 2 tbsp chopped cashew, 2 tbsp rains, 1/4 cup ghee.
Grate the coconut, extract 1 cup each of the first and second milk. Take the thick first milk in a heavy-bottomed vessel and boil until the sediment separates and starts to brown. In the meantime, mix the rice flour into the second milk, add beaten egg yolks, fried cashew and raisins, pinch of saunf powdered, pinch salt, and add to the first milk just as the sediment starts to brown. Stir well until it thickens. Then pour ghee on top and bake or steam until top is brown. When cool, turn onto a plate and cut into pieces.
Special Thanks to Ms. Meena Kurien for sharing this amazing recipebook with us!