Sunday, August 19, 2007

Kanji & Payar – Our Comfort Food…! A traditional favourite of many Keralites.

Memory Disk 1:
Quite a vague memory of my grand father’s house…..night time……dull light comes from a petromax lantern….a wooden dining table … grandpa sitting on a wooden bench and having Kanji/rice gruel with ‘an organic spoon’ made of plavila/jackfruit tree leaf…..and I am sitting , on the other side, insisting my aunt that I want one of those spoons too……

Memory Disk 2:
Sometime in my early teens…..our family is heading back home after our annual vacation to some place…all of us exhausted and just waiting to reach home and take a shower, my mother asks, “ Is kanji (rice gruel) and uppumanga chammanthi (brined mango chutney) ok for dinner?”. “yes…”, “yes…”, “.I am fine with that too”…all of us travel back with the hope of digging into our comfort food.

Memory Disk 3:
One of those hostel days in Chennai……..Just before reaching the Chennai central railway station, to catch the train to Kerala, Yours truly calls up her mother, to make sure that someone will be there at the destination to pick her up…her mother picks up the phone and after collecting all the information, she throws the very important question,”….so…what do you want for breakfast tomorrow….? Shall I make Appam and Stew or you want puttu and kadala ? “. “ I don’t want all that…..could you pls make some kanji and payar? “, a very affirmative answer from the other side!

Memory Disk 4:
A newly married couple …….girl gets back home quite late from work…completely exhausted….…..makes some fresh sweet-lime juice ……throws herself in a chair, grabs the remote control and switches on the TV…………picks up the phone and calls her husband, “ hey….what time you will reach home..? I am too tired …….want something very light for supper…what do you prefer? “ Husband says….” How about Kanji & payar ?” …A sigh of relief from the girl!

Memory Disk 5:
After 2 years stay in US of A, dying to reach home and meet the family and enjoy mom’s food, Yours truly calls up her home and gives all the flight information and arrival time…..and just before winding up the call, her parents ask, “ so that means you will be here in the morning…so what do you want for breakfast? “ Answer comes quickly,“…hmm…I will be happy to clean up my system with some Kanji & payar, after eating all that lousy flight food “, an answer that is not so welcome to her parents who are eagerly waiting to show all their love and compassion, in the form of food, when they meet their daughter after all those years.


Should I say anything more to show how much Kanji & payar mean to me and my family ?:) Kanji is a rice gruel, a comfort food for many Keralites. As macaroni and cheese is to Americans or Risotto to Italians , so is Kanji and Payar to a Keralite. A light breakfast or a light supper……Though Kanji & payar ( Stir fry with cooked green grams) is the most popular and traditional combo, Kanji can be served with a variety of chutneys, pappadam (Indian wafers) , pickles etc.

Now anyone interested to know why I thought of blogging this? When Mallugirl of Malabar Spices announced her Summer Express Cooking Event, she wanted to know what I was planning to contribute. Honestly speaking I had no plans to participate as I could not think of any interesting dishes to whip up in 30 minutes, I responded with an impish smile saying, “Kanji & Payar is the only thing I can cook in 30 minutes and do you really want me to blog that? “, thinking that I can escape from this and enjoy the round-up happily. But she was quite persistent and gave me a green signal. And there was one more innocent looking silent character from here, who did everything she could to pour oil to the flame!!! And they wanted my ‘stories’ too!!! And today I found myself, cajoling my husband for accompanying me to an Indian store in downtown, driving 16 miles up and down to buy the traditional Kerala rice used for preparing kanji and here I am making you all travel down my memory lane ! You blame those two girls from here & here :)

Pre-requisites for Express cooking Kanji & Payar :
  • 2 pressure cookers + 1 shallow pan
  • 1 pressure cooker and 1 rice cooker + 1 shallow pan
  • 1 pressure cooker and A microwave + 1 shallow pan
Time Frame :30 mins

0-15 mins:
  • Wash rice and keep it in pressure cooker.
  • Wash Cherupayar/green grams and keep it in pressure cooker
  • Peel off small onions and garlic and make a coarse paste.
16-30 mins:
  • Set the table and clean up the kitchen counter and relax until the steam is fully out from the cooker.
  • Heat the pan and stir-fry cherupayar/green grams.
Kanji- Rice Gruel (Serves 2)

  • 1 cup rose-matta rice/Kuthari
  • 5-6 cups water
  • Wash the rice thoroughly in water. Along with 5-6 cups of water, cook rice in a pressure cooker or rice cooker, in medium heat, until it’s cooked well and soft enough. Generally, I wait for 4-6 whistles from the cooker. (Note: Rice can be prepared in microwave too. Rice varieties like boiled ponni rice and sona masoori rice take only 25 minutes in microwave. Rose-matta rice might take more time; since I have never tried cooking this in microwave, I am unable to give you the right cooking time.)
Cherupayar Mezhukkupuratti – Stir-fry with cooked green grams.

  • ¾ cup cherupayar/green grams
  • 2 ¼ cups water
  • 4 green chillies slit opened lengthwise
  • 7-9 red pearl small onions/shallots
  • 3 cloves of small garlic
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1 ½ to 1 ¾ tsp red chilly flakes
  • 1 small sprig of curry leaves
  • 1tbsp oil, preferably coconut oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Wash the cherupayar/green grams in water and drain the water fully. Heat the pressure cooker and very mildly roast the cherupayar/green grams until they are dry and warm to touch. Add 2 ¼ cups water, green chillies and salt to taste and cook in the pressure cooker and wait for about 5-6 whistles in medium heat.
  • Using a mortar and pestle set, crush the small onions and garlic and make a coarse paste. If you dont have a mortar-pestle set, keep all the ingredients on the chopping board and crush with a rolling pin.
  • Heat oil in a shallow pan and when it’s hot enough, reduce the flame to low and add 2 dried red chillies and sauté for 4-5 seconds and add the coarse paste of small onion and garlic. When it turns transparent, add red chilly flakes and blend thoroughly with the onion and garlic and sauté for a minute. Now, add the cooked cherupayar/ green grams ( there will not be much water left in the cooker except 1-2 tbsp, which can be poured to the pan along with the green grams/cherupayar) and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Do a taste test here and adjust salt and just a minute before turning off the heat, add the curry leaves for a tempting aroma. Serve with Kanji; sprinkle some salt on top of Kanji :)

    Note: There is a jet fast way of cooking this dish, which is by replacing big onion for small onions and saute the onions until transparent; add chilly powder and cook for 1-2 minutes; add cooked cherupayar/green grams and curry leaves.
For a very informative post on Kanji and Payar, Click Here.

This is also my contribution to Jihva for Ingredients (JFI) at Neivedyam.

Related Posts:

Dried Prawn Condiment Manga Chammanthi Chutta Pappada(m) Chammanthi Pappadam Thalichathu

No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.


  1. The Nair at our hostel served us this regularly, it was much drier than yours, no kanji and shallots though.

  2. yeah a comfort food indeed I too love kanji with pickles.

  3. That really a comfort food!! Looks dlicious with inviting pics!!!

  4. Shn, not only you are an ace chef, you are also a master story teller! I love kanji, it is such a wonderful food (and you are so right, the best thing to balance the system!). Love the platter with payar!

  5. Shn, what a beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your family favourite food with us! And the food looks so yummy, I wanna eat them from the screen.

  6. what?????????????? u too? i have been planning to post abt ganji for JFI:) guess i'll come up with something else now:)
    ganji is what i asked for everytime i visited my parents when i was staying in hostel. ganji, salt, ghee and pickle...i can survive on that:) beautiful post shn...

  7. great idea with the contrasting bowl and the cool leaf and chilly next to it.. never stop wondering at the amazing creativity in all these food blogs around me :)

  8. I have no idea about this dish...but it does look comforting though...the simple pleasures of life :)

  9. Phew! You made it! Who knows all the hungama that went behind this kanji & payar! :D Will scan your memory discs later.

  10. Wow what a great entry it reminded me of my native food when we visited our native place during summer vacation..I think every one has their own memories attached to Kanji rice, I used to eat with mango slice or any pachadi/vadiyam

    Lovely combination with those green gram fry..tx Shn!

  11. Hey Shn, first of all I thank you so much for sending such a lovely dish to JFI. I have had the payar in the form of kanji and along with that some chamandi at a friends. I love the payar recipe. I can have it with appam too. looks yummy and sure is comfy. nice write up.

  12. U are such a sweetie! see, didn't this turn out to be such a wonderful post? just loved reading it and got ur payar recipe out of u. Thanks to K for the extra driving effort.:)
    I am more partial to the nellu kutthu ari for the kanchi and i add a handful of grated coocnut to it..the way my grandpa eats!

  13. Shn,
    when ever we return from a tedious journey this is a the perfect food i would love to have.....
    this is an oft cooked meal still in my kitchen.All of us love it....

  14. Loved, loved, loved your story. This is what is real comfort food, you have brought out the situations and memories where we yearn for such food so well.

    So if I get it right, Kanji is boiled rice right ?

    You know even in Bengalis, mostly villages, there was a tradition of eating left over rice soaked in water (in those days with no refrigerator) with a liitle mustard oil, onion and maybe posto. I have had that 2-3 times in my life and being a rice lover loved it. However with the refrigerator in picture, that food is gone

  15. Nice write-up Shn. I love kanji too though my mom makes a slightly different version and serves it with coconut thogayal. We used to wait for my dad to go on biz trips so we could have kanji! :) Yours looks so good and I love the payar too. Hope to try it sometime soon.

  16. That looks comforting!! Wonderful post!

  17. Hey nice recipe with green gram seems healthy too. Your story tells how much you relish this recipe thanks for sharing

  18. You had me at "Organic spoon" ;). Bookmarked!

  19. Fine pics!!!As always!!!Lovely you were the one mallugirl mentioned?
    Thanx for sharing this wonderful post..

  20. we made this payar. awesome. i've made payar many times, but this recipe really tastes how it should. thanks. you sure can eat a lot of chilli gal. we skipped the red chilli flakes.

  21. Darn! my disc stopped at # 5. Shn, I always want more of your memories and stories - they are sooooo good! As always dearest, this has been a thoroughly enjoyable post: food and stories to feed the soul.

  22. Ohhh, you already posted this? I was thinking of amma's and MIL's version of kanji... I loved those memories, how true :) We used to have kanji and payar on Sunays till I started my biryani experiments :)

  23. Hey shn,I really enjoyed the post&wonderful pictures too! I thought of having it right from the screen!!But, u see ,the problem is my kids will ran away even at the sight of kanji or rice.I don't know why these days kids don't like our traditional dishes,sometimes they may settle with a piece of chicken leg instead of payar or chammanthi!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Shn,I didn't know praparing kanji was such a time consuming work ,it took more than 30 minutes just to go tro' ur recipe!!(hi!hi! just kidding!!!)

  24. Enjoyed reading your post and kanji and payar looks inviting :) We too have soft rice cooked in this manner and people of coastal areas have this for breakfast with ghee and methkoot ( dry spicy powder having dal). Nice post and gr8 entry :)

  25. Hello shn, thought I would say a quick hello, still at the beach,will be back home today. Nice post as usual,got to try that red rice. Moong dish is yum:))

  26. Shn, so how much time over 30 minutes did it take to travel 16 miles for the rice? ; ) Americans do like mac and cheese, but we don't overlook the power of a bowl of plain buttered rice or noodles. I loved your memory snapshots.

  27. Shn,
    So nice of you, bringing out our comfort food with wonderful pictures..I usually make this next day of Biryani..

  28. Never heard of the kanji or payar... ur pics and post really are so endearing and inviting...

  29. I love moong... though im used to eating it like sprouts for most of my life, until recently... and cooked ones are truly tasty... will give ur keralite version a try soon...

  30. Sra, oh..u had a Nair cook..? thats cool...but hostel food is generally like that....there were times I did not get food itself ! :)

    Roopa, oh..thats again another deadly combo :)

    Cinnamon, Thank you ! :)

    Musical, oye...thanks , my friend!I always blush when I get such appreciations :P

    Anh, really ? but I will serve you some decent food when you come over...dont worry, i will not get into a lazy mood :)

    Sia, thats ok,dear, you go ahead and post your version...let us glamourize kanji and push it into exotic category :)

    Nags, Thanks so much :)

    Sunita, yes it is :)

    RP, hmm......eri-theeyil enna ozhicha nishkalankayaya kuttee :))))

    Padma, yes, there re different variations to the same dish....some people cook this together and make a one pot meal..

    Sharmi, ohh...I havent sent u the link and pic...will send it you dear...completely forgot about that :P

    Mallugirl, i have never tried adding coconut...u know , there is another version, where they cook both kanji and payar together and some top it with coconut as u said!

    Nanditha, exactly...its the same in my place too :P

    Sandeepa....thanks..thanks :)Yes u re right Kanji is boiled rice with more water....its liquidy, and mushy and creamy.I get what u re saying, Sandeepa....In Kerala that leftover rice/gruel is called pazhakanji, meaning old or leftover rice...its done the same way...soak in water and mostly have it next day,early morning for breakfast with some curd and pickle. It is supposed to be quite healthy and I used to have it for sometime to put on weight, which is all showing up now :P

    Laavanya, oh...I would love to see your version too :)

    Manasi, Sreelu, Suganya ..thanks friends...:)

    Bharathy, may be you should check with mallu girl :)

    Bee, you were jet-fast! This is my mother's recipe...and you avoided chilly flakes...oh my...thats bland for me :D

    Cynthia, and stories to feed the soul...nice caption :D I can keep writing more of such scenes, Cynthia...this is a real comfort food for us :)

    Jyothsna, oh...ur biriyani experiments...i remember :) U should have had it for dinner then...a light supper after a heavy lunch :)

    Liz, these days are KFC or McD products....cant blame them though :) recipe is too long?, just wanted to make sure that a bachelor or a new bride out there should not have any difficulty making the simplest food :))

    Archana, oh...thats a great info....btw, where re u from exactly?

    Asha, enjoy the beach vacation Ma'm....:) But I don't know if you will like this red rice, coz many non-keralites complain about's more of an acquired taste I guess !

    Susan, Took around 20-25 mts to reach the shop ; so almost 1 hour :)))

    Seena, I eat biriani the next day too...thats when it tastes better :P

    Priyanka,. thank you so much :)

    Priya, do give it a sure you will like this one...its quite simple !


  31. I tried commenting yest..... but it didn't go thru.... I hope it goes thru today!

    gujjus also have a similar comfort food which we call as mug bhaat...... which is moong and rice..... the only diff is, our mug ais more gravy like and rice is dyr like any normal dry rice, yours is opp. :)

    Wonderful walk down the memory as always!

  32. glad to see kanjiyum payarrum atleast it..esp pazham kanji and payar is the best combo...last time i had been home i insisted i have kanji for dinner...but the best kanji u get the way u described ..eating with the leaf spoon!!

    only u can describe kanji into such a eloquent post like this..already hungry!!!:-)

    neways wishing you a great trip back home..enjoy..

  33. It's a comfort food for me too...but i make my payar in slighlty different way. Why is payar lightly roasted ? does it change the taste ? Enjoyed reading and going through your memory lane. Getting to know you more and more with all the stories :D

  34. My comfort food too... It is almost like you stole my disks :D

    Whenever I get sick Siv makes this for me... and now with my mom here, after we come back from any trip, this is the breakfast next day.... nothing can beat this...

  35. wow...the food indeed looks very comforting dear :-) Yummmmm

  36. Do you have to use a pressure cooker? I don't have one, so what would you recommend? I love your story too. :)

  37. i have something waiting for you in my blog ..check it out :D

  38. Hey Shn
    You know what, till this date, whenever my husband is away & I land up to my mom's for dinner, I tell her before hand, that I would love to have kanji. I love kanji with "onakka chemmeen olatiadu" & some pappadam, even the payar is wonderful too.

    Wonderfully caught in words!! Great work

  39. mishmash,
    kanji payarum cherupayarum, uppu manga, nice combo alle..:)
    this looks good.

  40. Hey S,
    Happy Onam to you and family!Hope you will be back with sadya preparation!

  41. You got me there !! Kanji and payar is my ultimate comfort food without question. A befitting entry for JFI-Rice.

    WIsh you a very happy Onam !

  42. Coffee, ohh..that was so sweet of you to come back again :) Hey we have mug bhaat too....which is gravy version of this green grams served with rice for lunch...we serve it with roti/chappathi too :)

    Mathew, you' re a typical achayan kuttee :) The India vacation I mentioned in the post is about the one we had last year....our next one would be probably next year only :(

    Pravs, Payar is lightly roasted to get rid of the raw taste of the green grams, according to my mother :) I would like to see your version too :)

    Sig, yes...this combo is deadly after such long trips and vacations :) I guess most of us share the same memory disk when it comes to Kanji & Payar :)

    Sirisha, Thank you! Let me welcome you to Mishmash!

    Susan, You can either use a rice cooker or slow cooker or microwave itself for rice prep...for the Green grams prep, you can do the stove top slow cooking, if you soak the green grams overnight.

    Pravs.....njan kandu :)

    Shella, haa...unakka chemmeen olathiyathu and chammanthi is yumm...u re giving me unnecessary cravings now :) Thanks for dropping by :)

    Prajusha, the best combo, I would say :)

    Seena, Thanks so much :) but no celebs this year for us, sort of in a mourning period !

    Archana, Thanks so much :) "ultimate" is the word :)

    Thank You All......Had my own doubts while publishing this very simple yet our ultimate comfort food, and glad to see you all showering with your memories and words of appreciation. Thanks A LOT :)


  43. Lovely post! It was a wonderful read...

  44. Stopped by from Mathew's site. Had already had dessert, so refused the black forest cake.

    Helped myself to the Kanji & Payar for breakfast tomorrow.

    Although I have to tell you - at our place, we were fed it when we were sick. So I don't have the best memories of it.

    However, your post was so enticing that I couldn't resist.


    P.S. Sensational pictures too all through your blog. I can see why you have the copyright notice.

  45. Hi Mishmash..
    happened to pass by your blog site from comments you had made on others posts,and trust me, just happened to be hanging on here for ever !!..Holy gosh..such excellent fotographs...even the ooh so common kanji and payar to an ordinary mallu too, looks really inviting...honestly, you make a story of each snap!!!...excellent works Ms....(sorry, I don't know your name!)..and the idea of ice bowls...classic!!..will definitely try it out!!!

  46. This comment has been removed by the author.

  47. Mishmash,
    You are right,nothing can beat Kanji and payar.And for us malayalis(think for majority of them) kanji is a part of them,give us all pravasis a nostalgic feeling.I shud say,this one dish got me more appreciation during dinner parties than any other dish!!I had some guest for last long weekend and all they asked me was to get them some homely food.I cooked them many authentic kerala dishes and on the last day for dinner I cooked kanji payar and our Nadan pulissery,kadu manga achar and made some chembu puzhukku and mulaku pottichathu.They said,that was the most wonderful dinnerthey had in many months... Yes belive me,mallus,all of them have lot of nostalgic feeling linked with this special dish!! me too have a lot of nostalgic memories linked with this,a bowl of kanji for dinner during the rainy days,ah!! i just love those days... wanna run home and enjoy rain in all its beauty!!Good job mish mash,keep going.And ah I shud say this,you are really turning me passionate about cooking,i was always on the lazy side when it came to cooking.Thank you!!!

  48. I never expected to find a recipe for "kanji" on the blogs!I was so glad that I looked it up and the one post that I was pointed to was yours.. Made kanji-cherupayaru puzhukku and inji chammanthi with pappadam for dinner and my pseudo-tamil:) husband(for whom kanji is something you eat only when you are running a high temperature) told me we could make this a regular feature:) Told my mom today that there was site with recipe for kanji cherupayar and she was quite surprised- will send her this link! Lovely lovely site- on top of my favourite list this is now!Congrats!

  49. Kanji & Payar was very good, with this recipe... Highly appreciated.......


  50. The Kanji is called Conji in Chinese.

  51. The way u have presented the dish is Excellent. The aroma of the dish is mouth-watering and the dish is appetizing. I am basically from Kerala, Kanji, Payar and Chutta Pappadam is one of my favourites. Thanks and I am expecting more Kerala traditional receipes from you.

  52. When you are in a hurry ...don't worry... Kanji & payar comes in handy as a shandy.. Even I can cook..and so can you all..Its fast and easy

  53. Visiting the blog for the first time. You have taken me back to Keral in a moment. Thanks!

  54. Apart from the recipes being so authentic, how do you capture these images? Do you have a special camera. Your photography skills are excellent, makes your simple food mouth watering..

  55. Hi, I am from ohio. Liked ur entry , and am looking to make the kanji and payar. Do u know where I can get the Rosematta rice in Ohio. Do patel brothers sell it? Would be really nice if you or some one you know could help:)

    My email address is



  56. Are you from Columbus ,Ohio? Have you tried Bombay Bazaar ? The owners are from Kerala, they should have it, if not they would bring it in by demand.

    Bombay Bazaar is located on the corner of Lazelle Rd and 23 North (Next To Big Lots) in the Worthington locale

  57. Shn..the second pic of kanji is in a chennai magazine...was it with your permission?

  58. lovely write up! kanji & payar is very nostalgic for me too.

    My first time here. It took me right back home.
    Regards :)

  59. good to see this recipe here.. i had a malayalee friend who used to cook and eat this almost daily!! i used to wonder how he could do it..but now i see that this is the staple food for most malayalees.. cheers..

  60. Just wanted to let you know that the first photo in this post has been used by Mathrubhumi paper (Kochi edition, 13 April 2010) for their article on Vishu. I did not see any kind of acknowledgment for the source.

  61. Tried the came out really good, though i must suggest grated coconut, a few mustard seeds and a little turmeric powder.

  62. I tried making the cherupayar last night as I wanted to have some food that reminded me of my time in Kerala. I used shallots and ground them up in a food processor with the garlic as I don"t have a mortar big enough to accommodate that much. I sauteed the shallot/garlic paste in the coconut oil, but for some reason it became very bitter and ruined the whole dish. I had to toss it out. Any idea why this happened? Never had this happen before, and I am an experienced home cook.

  63. omg! u hav no idea wat sorta blessing in disguise dis blog is being in ma life... jus got married nd i had no slight idea wd de whole art f cookin! not jokin, dint evn knw hw 2 put a tea... all thnks 2 mishmash! my hubbby lovvves my food! :D keep blogging shn :D jus luv u!

  64. Adding coconut milk to kanji makes it really tasty


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.