Palooda and Paalum Pazhavum are just two of the many traditional drinks that are served for Iftar

Creamy Palooda
| Photo Credit: Shakira Banu

Shakira Banu cannot imagine an Iftar without homemade palooda. No cousin of falooda, palooda is a popular dish that is part of Iftar in Northern Kerala, especially Kannur.

A home-cook, Shakira says her mother, who has her roots in Marthandam in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu, learned to make the palooda when they were living in Oman.

“It is milk cooked with a spoonful of maida, a little sugar, cardamom and cinnamon. Finally, it is tempered with shallots and cashewnut fried in ghee. My mother used to prefer peanuts to cashew. Now, with so many kinds of nuts that are easily available, you can use your imagination to garnish the palooda,” says Shakira.

After a long day’s fast, a variety of filling drinks are served during Iftar in the evening. With the mercury soaring steadily, fruit juice of different kinds are a staple. In addition, Kerala has a plethora of traditional homemade drinks that are made for Iftar.

Jugunu Thajudheen, a resident of Kochi who hails from Kannur, says the advantage of these drinks is that they are easy to digest and helps the empty stomach cope with the food that is eaten after a long break.

Palooda is a commonly made drink in most homes in Kannur for Iftar. It is soothing on the stomach and easy to digest. We use cloves and cardamom for the flavour. Finally, I add a dash of rosewater or rose essence. I make it when my grandchildren are home for Iftar,” says the septugenarian.

Paalum Pazhavum 

Paalum Pazhavum 
| Photo Credit:
Shakira Banu

Another traditional drink that Shakira, an experienced home-cook, cherishes is palum pazhavum. She says it is a drink that she can have any time of the day. The smaller varieties of yellow banana is mashed and mixed with coconut milk. “And it is sweetened with shavings of palm jaggery. It is a staple in my home. Nowadays, jaggery, sugar and honey are also used. In my opinion, palm jaggery beats all other sweeteners,” maintains Shakira.

Among a wide variety of other traditional homemade drinks are aval (flattened rice) paal and gothambu kachiyathu (a wheat drink). “Thari kachiyathu is semolina cooked in coconut milk with sugar and cardamom and cloves. It is garnished with cashewnuts, raisins and carmelised shallots. I use only kismis and shallots,” says Jugnu.

Vermicelli cooked in coconut milk.

Vermicelli cooked in coconut milk.
| Photo Credit:
Jugunu Thajudheen

Jugnu says vermicelli is also used to make a drink like payasam but coconut milk is used instead of dairy. Other traditional drinks like aval paal and gothambu kachiyathu are also made, she adds.

“For aval paal, yellow banana like njali poovan (a variety of yellow banana) is mashed and added to coconut milk. Finally, aval is added with sugar to taste and powdered cardamom. It’s very tasty. This is how my umma (mother) used to make it,” says Jugunu.

Nowadays YouTubers bring in all kind of variations, Jugnu says. “At present, eats like gothambu kanji (wheat gruel) is not commonly made. In Kannur, we get polished wheat that has been hand-pounded to remove the bran. That is cooked with a little onion and cinnamon. Once, it is cooked, the cinnamon is removed and the cooked wheat is mashed and sieved. Then coconut milk is added and cooked again. It is tempered with fried shallots before serving.”

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