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Friday, July 31, 2009

Mangavu Kovilakkam

I have always had the yearning to go to the Mankavu Kovilakkam in kozhikode because that is where my grandfather belonged to,

P.C.M. Raja ( Padinjare covilakkathu Manavedan Raja )was born as one among the Zamorins but before you get impressed by the royal name let me hurry to tell you the Zamorins today are anything but royal ( probabaly only in thier culture )they are friendly and down to earth people like you and me

Unlike the kochi and Travancore royal families the ancestral house of the zamorins are in a shamble

The British and later our politicians effectively reduced them to penury ,a very few of them got educated and into good jobs but many are now average middle class families eking out a living .

Many are in other cities and abroad and some of them in very good positions and highly educated .

I also understood that family gatherings are happening in a big way these days

Apart from the Mankavu kovilakkam in kozhikode , the Zamorin family has two other branches: the Kizzhake Kovilakkam at Kottakal and the Thiruvannur Kovilakam.

The eldest member of these three Kovilakams will be the Zamorin.

The current Zamorin, P.K.S. Raja, belongs to Thiruvannur Kovilakam

I still remember the stories of my mother in her childhood when she used to go to Mankavu in her childhood with her father and thier customs and traditions .

those days they still retained a semblance of royalty

So this june on a rainy day I took an auto from Calicut Station to Mankavu kovilakkam to see my cousin Ammani thamburan who was waiting for me ,I had called him and evinced intrest in seeing the place and he welcomed me .

I alighted near a huge tank full of blue water upto its brim ,the rain was heavy and an umbrella clad thin Ammani chettan rushed to recieve me ,he was joyous at my intrest and attitude .and we entered the walled compound called Mankavu which housed several houses .

many houses are sectioned partitions of a bigger house which was a part of the palace ( when one talks of palace please dont visualise any other palaces say like in Rajasthan ,

the Zamorins were never ostentatious but rather lived like all in tiled Kerala houses some of the residents had built thier own small bungalows with gates and gardens .

I was taken to several relatives houses and introduced ,and was touched by thier love and affection .

We went into narrrow corridors up dingly attics cobweb ridden but full of history

the rain was drumming its music all along and the paths were slushy and green

it was a very cosy and wet forenoon ,we saw the Vaikkina maliga which was the place where gatherings took place to read scriptures ,it had some lovely temple paintings on its walls ,we also saw the small temple inside the complex .

Soon it was time for me to return ,

This trip was to me just a beginning ,i do hope I can make a longer one to delve into the details of my ancestor and his way of life

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ramaserry Idlis

Driving in the rains in Kerala is a delight
of course this statement should be taken with a ton of salt as potholes ,narrow roads with steep edges and murderous drivers demonise the delight !
But then if one just looked around the landscape was a feast ,
soothing green ,foggy clouds ,thunderous rains ,windswept umbrellas ,wet children with schoolbags ,overfilled buses ,drenched cyclists ,here lay the real chicken soup to the soul !
We were on our way from visiting a family deity in Nallepully Kavu a hamlet in Palghat district ,after our divine responsibilities we were looking forwards to our gastronomic one ,
It was breakfast time and we were heading towards the well known Ramaserry Idlis !
This is available in only one place in the world and this was where we were headed to ,
Near Elapully we turned towards the village Ramaserry

the country road wound its way and we reached a small vilage with a few shops and a temple ( Mannath Bhagavathi temple )
On enquiry from a group of youngsters I came to know that there are four families in the idli making art and it was a tradition handed over to them by thier ancestors .
Chittoori ammal was said to be the prima donna who bequeathed the secret recipe to her offsprings .
Way back some families from the weaving community in Kancheepuram ( Mudaliar families ) in Tamilnadu migrated to Kerala and settled down in Palghat ,they left due to lack of work and as all they knew was weaving and making these delicious idlis ,somehow they gained fame in the latter which they used to make and sell in Palghat town .
thier idlis were different from the conventional ones as these were flat more like appams soft and succulent and taken with chammandi ,podi ,or if you want chicken or whatever
( in the shops only vegetarian fare was available ) .
The special taste came from the ingredients and the making .
specific varieties of rice were used and the ratio of urad dal to rice, its fermentation were all specific and exacting ,the idlis were steamed in special clay pots only in firewood ( attempts to do the same in gas stoves in ambient five star kitchens were failures )
This was true gourmet food handed down the generations and just could not be commercialised ,maybe if it was it would reach the fame of Italian Pizzas or rather it should
We enjoyed the idlis ,and also bought some for taking home ( they last for more than 3 days )
a couple of links below on the same topic
so make a trip to Kerala preferably in the monsoon and while the rains make a pattern watch it tucking into these heavenly idlis .( food for the Gods indeed ) .
Note : if you are the type to look into ambience of eating places you better parcel them if not njoy !

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