Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pesaha appam and Paal

Pesaha appam and paal
Luke 22:19-20And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you”.

I wanted pesaha appam and pesaha paal to be my first post,
because it was while searching for a recipe for pesaha appam that I came to know about the existence of other food blogs. And I owe all my baking experiments to many of them. I am aware that Maundy Thursday was last week I was so eager to do this post on Maundy Thursday but it just never happened. Well better late than never.
Maundy Thursday or pesaha is observed during the holy week on Thursday just before Easter. On Maundy Thursday the Syrian Christians in Kerala practice an age old tradition of preparing Pesaha Appam (Unleavened Bread) and Pesaha Paal (Milk) to commemorate the breaking of Bread by Jesus Christ in His last supper. Pesaha appam is also known by many names such as kurisappam, indri appam or I.N.R.I appam. The tradition goes as such; the appam is made on Maundy Thursday. A cross made from the palm leaf (obtained from the church on Palm Sunday) is placed on the appam and paal before making it and after the special evening prayers the appam is cut by the eldest in the family and given to everybody. The appam is eaten by dipping it in the paal. The appam and paal are considered holy and nothing is wasted. Any leftovers are eaten the next day morning, on Good Friday. Another important aspect is that friends and family are invited over to share the appam.
Being brought up as a marthomite (a denomination of Syrian Christians) I observed lent but the tradition of pesaha appam and paal were totally new to me. My husband is a catholic so I was introduced to pesaha appam and paal from his family. And from then on I made it for every Maundy Thursday. I got the recipe from my mother in law but the exact proportions of each ingredient may vary from individual to individual, making the taste very much a ‘family affair’. And I wanted to make it for just a few people, so I googled pesaha appam and landed upon Marias Menu that had the same ingredients as I was told.  That’s how I made my very first pesaha appam in Los Angeles. We shared our first pesaha appam with family and some new friends. And this time in Singapore it was just the four of us for pesaha. The recipe is quite simple and I always say a small prayer while making it. And great joy comes when you share it with friends and family. Hopefully we can have someone over for our next pesaha.

Pesaha Appam

  1. Rice powder – 1 cup
  2. Urad dal – ¼ cup
  3. Coconut –   1 cup
  4. Garlic – 1 clove
  5. Small onion (shallots)– 3-5
  6. Jeera – a pinch
  7. Water – 1 1/2 cups
  8. Salt-1/2 teaspoon
·         Soak the dal for 2 hours and grind it into a smooth paste.
·         Grind coconut with garlic, small onion and jeera
·         Boil water with the salt, switch of the stove and add the rice powder little by little and keep mixing so that there are no lumps. Once combined put it back on the stove on low heat while stirring the mixture just to evaporate the remaining water if any (this takes about a minute or so). Add urad dal and coconut paste.  Mix thoroughly. The consistency should be of thick idli batter
·         Transfer to a greased tin and place the cross made with palm leaves in the middle of the batter. Steam for 20 – 25 minutes. Let it cool for some time.

Pesaha Paal


  1. Jaggery – 250gm
  2. Medium thick coconut milk – 1 1/2 cup
  3. Thick coconut milk – 1 cup

·         Melt jaggery in water strain and keep aside.

·         Add the medium thick coconut milk, cross and keep stirring until half of the mixture evaporates.

·         Add the thick coconut milk and turn of the stove.


  1. Awesome start Shibi. Love the kappa and mean curry - we cooked it here with dry kappa. Peshaga appam remind me of our visit to LA during Easter. Great going Shibi

  2. Being a non-christian, this is the first time I am hearing of such a dish. Its very interesting and I also felt great reading the background to it. Since I understand it to be a holy dish made as an offering to God, I will keep in mind to do the same too whenever I make this - can it be made on any other day other than Maundy Thurs as well? Is it ok to use store bought rice powder? Or do you make by soaking, drying and then powdering rice?

  3. It can be made any time if you want to try it ..but its not sweet neither savoury best eaten with the pesha paal. I used store bought rice powder the house brand rice is what i use sometimes


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Hello, Welcome to Eleventeen Recipes and counting authored by me, Shibi. This blog is an outlet to share my love for food, cooking and clicking. It includes a collection of traditional recipes from my mom, mother-in-law, sister and friends kitchens, and a few from cook books, other food blogs, and a few of my own experiments. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome. Thank you.