Family recipes

Growing up in Neyveli in a corporation quarters which mom had made every effort possible to replicate the essence and spirit of our native Kerala, we had grown used to a garden rich with vegetation that represented a replica of the flora and fauna of Kerala. Hence it was no big surprise that we woke up to the smell of jasmine, madaram, thetti and Asoka from the backyards. The garden was always a riot of colors, fruits and flowers alike.
And there in the courtyard my sister and I would sit with our backs to the cold cement walls, watching amma cook, as she would bend over the lighted firewood coughing and straining to keep the fire alive.
That's where my humble beginnings of my eternal lust for the mouth-watering recipes started, my coming into the world of learning how to boil water and everything else and have it lady-like - the blood red Karingali wood stained crimson water, the amber light jeera water bubbling in the cauldron or the simmering moss green pot of bitter neem leaves and flowers.
Some of the recipes I have attempted to capture here through the memories of their fragrance; of a divine smelling kitchen that transformed me into what I am today. Hence in love of mom and her recipes here I go.

     - Srilatha Kenath
           NJ, USA

1) Therali Appam
Type IV Quarters by the Velludeyan Pattu temple had a garden that was the talk of our neighborhood. I can't remember any other house that boasted of a full fledged vineyard in its backyard.
Mom and my younger brother Suresh had taken utmost care to plant and nurse a Therali (Indian Bay leaf plant).  With these tender leaves, mom would make the freshest and belly warming Therali Appam when we came back cycling from school.


  • Fried rice powder , Elaichi Powder, Chukku Podi, Sharkara (Jaggery), Grated Coconut, Ghee, Therali leaves, Banana


  • Mix all ingredients to a semi thick 'kozhukatta' type dough. Place a small lemon sized ball of the dough in the center of the Vayanna/Therali leaf and fold it into a cone or square. Steam the Theralis in an idli steamer or pressure cooker without the weight on.

2) Baked fish with Potatoes: