Easter is almost here and those who are on lent will be desperately counting the days. Usually Easter is celebrated in the months of March and April, which is the school summer vacation time in India. I’ve very fond memories of Easter during my early school years and the most important one is the Pesaha appam murikkal (breaking of unleavened bread) on Maundy Thursday. During my early school years we celebrated the Pesaha appam murikkal at my amma’s place, in Cochin itself, and for Easter, we used to go to my appa’s place at Changanacherry. Now those of you who don’t have any clue about Maundy Thursday and Pesaha appam murikkal chadangu, please read on.
Maundy Thursday is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. It has a great significance in Christian faith because of three major events happened on that day. Those events are:
Maundy Thursday commemorates the institution of the Eucharist. Jesus had his last supper with disciples on this day. According to the old testament, this supper was the Passover Meal – a meal at which Jews remembered the covenant (agreement) God had made with them when they were released from captivity in Egypt. At the supper, Jesus passed round the bread to his disciples and said “this is my body, take it and eat it” and gave the cup of wine and said “this is my blood, take it and drink it”. This was done to mark God’s NEW covenant, and that, whenever we ate or drank in this way we were to remember Jesus and what he did for us. This is the basis of the Holy Communion service in a Christian Church (sometimes called the Eucharist, Lord’s supper or Mass)
During the Last Supper, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. He performed this humble task to remind them that they were to serve each other with love just as he had loved them. Even today this ritual is followed on Maundy Thursdays, where Priests wash the feet of 12 parish members, representing the twelve apostles.
Also, the night of Maundy Thursday is the night on which Jesus was betrayed by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane. During the rest of the night and through the night up to Good Friday, he stood trial under the High Priest, Herod, and Pontious Pilate, before being crucified on the Friday morning.
Back home in Kerala, on Maundy Thursday morning, we go for mass, during which the priest wash the feet of parish members and also start the preparations for the Good Friday & Easter. In the evenings, we have appam murikkal, which is celebrated to commemorate the last supper of Jesus. We make special unleavened bread (which is known as Indri or Pesaha appam) and Paal (jaggery drink/dip), in which the appam is dipped for the occasion. The entire family will come together for the appam murikkal. The eldest member will lead a short prayer and then distribute the appam and paal to all members in the family.
The making of pesaha/indri appam (unleavened bread) is a special ceremony and is prepared with much respect and special care. We usually place the palm leave (which we get from church on Palm Sunday) in the form of a cross and make the appam and paal. This appam is made only on Maundy Thursday. Usually the appam is cut on Maundy Thursday evenings and the leftover will be the breakfast on Good Friday mornings. Since we are obliged to fast on Good Friday, that will be the only solid food that we have till evening. So usually the demand for Appam & Paal is more on Good Friday :)
Though I’ve made appam on all the four Pesaha (passover) we celebrated after wedding, I never took a picture . The one above is my mother in laws’. This recipe is my maternal grandmother’s recipe, which I got from my aunt, Tesschechy. I guess, there are different ways of preparing it and this is how we prepare it at home.
Here is the recipe:
You can see the updated version of this recipe (step by step pictures included) here.
- Rice powder – 1 cup
- Urad dal (uzhunnu) – ¼ cup
- Coconut – 1 cup, heaped
- Garlic – 1 if it is big and 2 if its small
- Small onion - 3-5
- Jeera – a pinch
- Water – 1 - 1½ cups
- Jaggery – 400gm
- Medium thick coconut milk – 3 cup
- Thick coconut milk – 1 cup
- To Make Appam:
- Soak urad dal for 2 hours and grind it into a smooth paste by adding little water. Grind coconut with garlic, small onion and jeera with little water, until everything is combined well. Add salt & keep the water to boil, when bubbles start appearing add rice powder, little by little (vattikuzhakkuka) , making sure its not watery. The dough should be soft. Add urad dal paste and coconut paste. Combine everything well. The consistency of batter should be same as that of Idli batter. Transfer the batter to a well greased steaming tin. Place the cross made with palm leaves on the middle of the batter. Cover the tin with aluminium foil. Steam in appachembu/steamer for 18 – 23 minutes. Let it cool for sometime and then transfer to a serving dish. Use the same flame till the end, ie if you are using medium flame, cook on medium flame through out.
- To Make Paal:
- Melt jaggery with a little water. When it is completely melted, strain it. Add 3 cups medium thick coconut milk and stir continuously and when more than half of it is evaporated, add thick coconut milk and stir well. Do not boil once the thick coconut milk is added. For thickening the paal, take 1 or 2 tbsp rice powder and mix it with hot water and add to paal and cook for a few minutes.
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