Thursday, January 22, 2015

With love, from Thiruvananthapuram.

One lazy day, as I browsed through channels on TV I came across this white guy on an international food channel, probably on his first visit to Kerala, saying that kappa(tapioca) and red fish curry is his ‘comfort food’. I almost laughed aloud. Comfort food it seems. That is MY comfort food my friend, yours is bread, I thought, with a typical bigheaded grin. And this grin is typical of Mallus, as we are known to take immense pride in our food. And our ego comes from the fact that even though the world eats bread for breakfast, we Mallus eat bread only when we are sick or dying.

You may think that on a map, Kerala looks like an strand of onion that fell out of your Biryani, but remember, this is God’s own ‘country’ and we have diverse slangs and cuisines across districts. I was brought up in the capital city, Thiruvananthapuram, and had a tough time communicating to an earlier housemaid from Calicut. There was nothing common in the Malayalam we spoke to each other; sometimes I had to use Google Images to make her understand vegetable names. Not to mention the number of situations Google decided to get naughty when I searched vegetable names on it:-/

I married a guy from Cochin and that turned out to be something like ‘2 States’. This household makes me question my proficiency in Malayalam. When Cochin people get angry or frustrated, they say ‘Manga Tholi’ and scratch their heads/bang their fists. ‘Manga Tholi’ translates to mango peel, and why they swear with a reference to the harmless and actually delicious mango we’ll never know. But for me, this is highly amusing. :D I still laugh when I see Cochin characters in movies tearing their hair apart and saying ‘Manga Tholi’. Another distinct feature of people in Cochin is that they look down on Thiruvananthapuram, our slang and food.  They also migrate to Thiruvananthapuram in large numbers for jobs, to attend good colleges, schools and for better living in general. Because Cochin has only malls, more malls, and a whole load of Manga Tholi ;-)  

Seafood, especially the red fish curry traditionally slow cooked in a mud vessel brings us all together, despite our differences, which is a feat accomplished earlier by the Janashatabdi Express. Even hard- core non-vegetarians (majority of the population) enjoy the purely vegetarian sadya on the banana leaf, complete with four payasams. A true blue Mallu will lick his fingers when he finishes the last payasam. And that is how it is done. We also intend to invite Oprah Winfrey for Onam to eat a full-fledged sadya with fork and spoon.

Image Courtesy: Here
Sadya in Thiruvananthapuram is different from other places as we have a special item called Boli with Aripayasam (Paal Payasam). My husband hadn’t heard of Boli till he married me. And he claims to have eaten Sadya! How ridiculous is that? Pity, I say. Firstly, living up to age 27 without knowing the awesomeness that is me, and secondly, not knowing Boli? Sigh.

Now Boli is a traditional sweet, served with payasam for Sadya.
Boli and Payasam: Image Courtesy
Here
This is a unique item mostly known and enjoyed only in Thiruvananthapuram. And that is my idea of comfort food, my friends. I eat it with my soul. I have attended innumerable Hindu weddings for it, without any idea about the bride or the groom. 


This Christmas, Mummy Boli and Payasam at home and needless to say, it was the best thing about Christmas. I invite all my friends reading this, to try this delicious dish, if you haven’t already. 

We forgive you for hating Thiruvananthapauram.

29 comments:

  1. I have not heard of Boli too but i dont want to score any points for saying that i have had sadya too. :P

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  2. I enjoy cuisines from the south but never heard of some dishes you've mentioned. LOL about eating bread when sick.....we in Delhi can't think beyond bread.

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    1. Yeah I know ..here if we have bread for breakfast people conclude that the woman in the house is too lazy ! And also noone enjoys eating bread !

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  3. Lol...lucky you. Just back from 'the strand of onion' myself.... n already missing the bolis and so much more... but for me the past vacation month wasn't very auspicious for 'bolis'....Did have my share of 'bolis'...er.. read 'weddings' throughout the past entire one year I spent in our dear ol' Thiru.. Perhaps i shud do a thapasya and learn the art of making bolis....for year round emergencies.

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    1. Nahin ! Buy the boli... always from East Fort where authentic Tamil Brahmins make it...and they do it best !

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  4. Good writing indeed ! By the way, I wish to tell you that Boli is not at all a Mallu food and it is a purely a Tamil delicacy. Available in Trivandrum and border areas only. You may like Boli! Is it because of your genetic lineage ? :) :) :) Ha Ha !
    Papa

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    1. C'mon Pa...Food choices have nothing to do with lineage. As you know, I hate Pongal !

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    2. Oh and by the way Boli is known as Puran Poli in Maharashtra. And it remains a delicacy here throughout the year esp during Makar Sankranti. Yeah! Its here and there and everywhere! :)

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  5. I love how our country has sooooo many varieties of food. I've tried a few dishes from Kerala, but, now don't kill me for saying this, I didn't enjoy them much!!! Maybe I should try a different restaurant :)

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    1. Restaurants??? Make a mallu friend and raid his/her house on Onam or Vishu! :) That's the place to begin eating South Indian food!

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  6. A couple of packets of boli reach me every time someone from the Boli-land care to travel Bengaluru-wards. (Also a few TVM special kappa pazhams for my kothiyan son.)
    You missed the beloved coconut bunch, my dear. Manga tholi and thenga kkola go together when we're mad. (Don't know about the Kochi-relation, we used to say those too.)
    :)

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    1. I see... I have heard Thenga kola in Trivandrum, but Manga Tholi was first heard in movies and then from Cochin.

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  7. :) .... I love sadya for the side dishes .. i finish it as soon as i get chance to sit in front of ila :) ... not a fan of Boli ...

    nice writing as always ...

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    1. Thanks Praphul ! I love Sadya for the side dishes too...! BUt I always eat only a bird's portion of rice so as to save the space for payasams !

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  8. You know what.. I too had not heard of Boli till last year when another Tvm friend updated me about its existence :p
    Naturally, as a "Malabari from Kannur", I am going to stick my tongue out at you Trivandrums and say "East or West, Kannur is the best!" :D :D

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    1. Yeah you say that now ! :D :D You won't when you have our boli with aripayasam !

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  9. I have not heard of Boli too. Though kappa and meen curry is a favorite :)

    I have been to Kerala only about five times now and that too on small visits so I don't know the different dialects of Calicut, Trivandrum or Kannur. But I know that we people from Palakkad have the worse one ever.

    :D

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    1. Hahaha :D However people of Palakkad think we have the worst dialect :D

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  10. Hi,

    Quite an interesting post for a first impression! I've had the pleasure of eating bolis soaked in paalpayasam (aripayasam for us is usually the ones made with jaggery and brown in colour) a lot of times even though I hail from Thrissur (though I think it's limited to the Brahmin weddings here). And as far as sadhyas go, Thrissur is the capital of the real sadhyas. No matter what you say, you cannot deny that! All the big names in traditional culinary expertise as far as sadhyas go hail from here!!! :P

    On a related note, it's good to have people fighting over food rather than religion and caste!

    Keep blogging.

    Manish

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    1. I DISAGREE ! Thiruvananthapuram has the best sadya ! I have had sadya from Thrissur and thought it was incomplete having eaten Thiruvananthapuram Sadyas since childhood ;-)
      Thanks for the visit and comment . Looking forward to more disagreements !

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  11. LOL! Yours truly hails from Thrishur, born and brought up in Delhi (but that doesnt take away even a pinch of malluness in me) and married to another pseudo mallu who was raised in Mumbai. In absolute chaos of the dialects and traditions, we have kind of reached a median which throbs with comical tension of inexplicable levels when there are mentions of get-togethers.. ;) Still the universe called Malluness prevails! :) Hail to thee! And for more such hilarious dope, am totally following your blogs from now on! :)

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    1. Hahaha thank you so much...this is the first comment I read today, and it's made my day !! Welcome to my blog, keep visitng !

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  12. I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE BOLI. My college friend from trivandrum used to get it for me everytime he came back from home. I have been to trivandrum twice and I do love the place. (the rich temple draws me to it!!)

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    1. I am so glad you know what Boli is ! Many Mallus dont ! :D

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  13. completly agree nothing can beat tvm sadhya .I have my relatives from i can say almost all districts of kerala.even posh sadhyas of cochi and trissur could not match average trivandrum sadhya taste.They way sadhya was served in cochi was way less tasty.even my husband frm rnakulam earlier b4 mrg he used to say this and that .i told him all this wud be compensated once he and his family have trivandrum sadhya and during my mrg it happened .he was like stunned and said 'etreyam njan karuthilla.I agreee this is SADHYA' sumptous. But we have to give credit to north kerala ppl for their fish curry.palada etc but neverrr sadhya

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  14. Nice post on Thiruvananthapuram. Movies are great source of entertainment and there are many halls in India. Click on SP cinemas Peyad to know details of it.

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