Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kappa Puzhungiyathu (Chendamuriyan Kappa) with Mulaku Chammanthi / Boiled Cassava with a fiery hot green chilly relish.

Most of us grew up in Kerala would be having a delectable taste memory we share in common……a slice of the past we take pleasure in, when we dive into the repository of our thoughts and memories….the picture of the whole family leisurely enjoying or having a casual chat over some humble Kappa Puzhungiyathu/ boiled cassava by dipping into a hot and fiery Mulaku chammanthi/green chilly-pearl onion relish, with a glass of hot tea or coffee, in the evening . I hope I am not generalizing wrongly here!

Atleast, that’s the one and only picture that comes back to me whenever I relish or think of this snack. Whenever I crave for it or get wrapped up in a cloud of nostalgia, I try to rekindle those memories not only by making that combo but also by recreating the same atmosphere at home, to nibble those soft and creamy cylinders with a touch of heat from the green chillies married beautifully with the flavor and fragrance of coconut oil ………and the sensuous pleasures my taste buds experience immediately unravel the treasure chest of memories and take me closer to the picture of my family, sitting around our dining table after a work/school day…….my brother’s lips and nose and his entire face turning red because of the heat from the green chillies…….my mother sitting in one corner, analyzing the quality of her loot, sometimes telling herself, “mm….ee pravashyam nalla kappa-yaa kittiye” meaning this time cassava was of premium quality ….and me and my father sitting across each other and taking pleasure in each dip and each bite …..and my parents pouring a small share of their tea into my glass after a lot of my begging ……even at a tender age, I knew I could feel “the completeness” only if I wash it down with some hot tea/coffee. It’s a taste sensation I wouldn’t dare to give up for anything else!

Though Kappa/Cassava is so common in Kerala and easily spotted at most backyards and freely available in markets, I don’t remember my family buying it from the local markets. For us, we always got our share from our aunts’ or uncles houses. At times, we cultivated in our small yard itself and that happened every year, when my father hired a wage worker to clean up the yard and remove the weeds. At the end of the day, my father always instructed the worker to plant some “kolli”, aka cassava stems in some 10-15 inch length. Though my parents always complained about the poor quality of the soil and stayed away from any type of cultivation, this was a routine that was repeated almost every year as it grew without any particular care or fertilizers.

I also have a murky memory of a “Kappakkaran”/cassava seller, visiting our neighbourhood, by pushing a four wheeler covered cart, loaded with farm fresh kappa/cassava, and calling out “kappa…kappa…kappeiii…” at the top of his voice. My mother used to rush to our front gate to check out his bounty of harvest and after a quick and brief bargaining session, he would lift his old fashioned balance scale – like the blind justice holding the scale – and place kappa/cassava in one and weights of different sizes in the other….”katteem thrassum” as we say in our mother tongue and trust me, I never remember that needle or scale balancing correctly, the one with the weight was always hanging a bit low!! Well, he made some small profit and we got some good quality kappa/cassava, so atleast that balanced correctly on the scale, I guess!!

Last weekend, surprisingly we were lucky to find some fresh Kappa/cassava/yucca root in our local store. Though I could hear the craving department ringing the bell at its top, this time I was sensible and had gained enough experience to break the root into two pieces ( Oh yeah…I was like a He-Man trapped in a female body!) to see if the interior flesh is white and does not have any discoloration or brown dotted lines. Once the quality check was passed, it was time to recreate my homeland’s humble culinary pleasures in my current foster home!

Kappa Puzhungiyathu (Chendamuriyan Kappa)/ Boiled Cassava
Clean Kappa/Cassava by removing the outer brown skin as well as the pink skin inside and cut them into 2 inch cylinders or cubes and rinse them in plain water. (Note: Inji’s pictorial will clear all your doubts on cleaning and getting the cassava pieces ready for cooking.) Fill a large saucepot with cold water, enough to cover all pieces of Kappa/Cassava and bring to a boil. At this stage, drain the boiling water and fill the pot again with some cold water, add salt and cook cassava until it is tender and soft, when pierced with a fork or knife. Drain the excess water and now it is ready to serve.

Mulaku Chammanthi/Green chilly-pearl onion relish

  • 8-10 small red pearl onion/kunjulli
  • 5-6 Indian green chilly ( adjust as per your tolerance as well as the heat of the chillies)
  • A tiny piece of tamarind/vaalan-puli ( as tiny as a green pea or peanut)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 leaves of curry leaf (optional but recommended)
  • Salt to taste
Old fashioned Method: if you have the luxury of owning an old fashioned flat grinding stone, Ammikkallu, place pearl onion , green chillies and tamarind and crush well with its elongated rolling pin made of stone. Scrape everything with the edge of your palm and transfer the crushed mixture to a bowl, tear off the curry leaves , add salt and drizzle coconut oil and mix everything well and serve with boiled Kappa/cassava plus tea/coffee. If you do not have that luxury, try to recreate the same steps/process in a tabletop mortar and pestle. The crushed mixture would look somewhat similar to that in the above picture.

Quick n’ Easy Method: Put pearl onions , green chillies and tamarind in the smallest jar of the mixer/blender/food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times or until you get a coarse paste/mixture. Transfer the crushed mixture to a bowl, tear off the curry leaves , add salt and drizzle coconut oil and mix everything well and serve with boiled Kappa/cassava plus tea/coffee.

Kaanthari Mulaku Chammanthi – Back home in Kerala ,we get a very fiery hot variety of green chilly called Kaanthari Mulaku, which I assume is known as Bird’s eye chili pepper too . We make use of this particular variety for making Mulaku Chammanthi/ Green chilly-pearl onion relish, in which case, please make sure that you reduce the number of chillies uses as they are fiery hot.

Related Posts:

Mashed Tapioca & Fish Curry Kappa Biriyani

For more varieties, Go to complete recipe index.

Updated on Aug 24, 2009 : According to Kitchenfairy and Maria, Kappa Puzhungiyathu/Boiled Cassava is known as Chendamuriyan Kappa in their region. Thank you for letting me know about this and I have updated my post as well as the title of this post. The name sounds very sweet and I assume that the name comes from its close resemblance to Chenda , a type of musical instrument used in Kerala , that has a cylindrical shape.


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  1. Boiled kappa, never had one!....I like kappa with coconut though...nice pic...

  2. I prefer meen vattichat with Kappa,just saying :)
    What about making fake tooth with kappa's pink skin? Prethathinte pallokke undakkan best saadhaanam. :)

    Thanks for this post.Had Kappa yesterday for lunch.


  3. The sheer simplicity of this dish is it geniusness....though i think such recipes require an acquired palate for non-malayalees.....
    As for malayalees luv for kappa runs in the blood....try having kappa and Mulaku on a rainy evening with sum kattan kaapi(black coffee)...pleasure is sheer orgasmic....
    Thnxx for posting the recipe.....reminds me of good old days.....

  4. Impressive post as usual! I like this way of cooking cassava, which is new to me. But I am sure it’s delicious!

  5. Hi,

    You took me back to those days when we used to have it just like you said.. though I liked it better with 'kattan kaapi'..;).

    Please please I request you to compile all your blogs and publish it as a book, I think you are a great cook and also a great writer, your writings have the power to make anybody feel the smell of their native soil.. keep up the good work.

    take care

  6. just amazed how alike it was for us too..we used to get the kappa from our native...i used to love this with green chilli relish and kattan kaapi...bliss!!! though i often used to convince mom to make the regular kappa with yerachi..;-D

    we get kappa here too..the ones come from africa...never tried it yet! long time since i have had anything as spicy as this relish...but the just the thought has made me hungry..;-P

  7. one of my favorite foods! you shouldn't have posted this with the photos :( makes me miss it :D

  8. Mishmash!,U know what we call this type of preparation..Chendamuriyan kappa.In chammanthi instead of puli we used to put vinegar."ee pravasham avideyum nalla kappa yalo kittiye!! venna pole vevunna kappa alle?"

  9. Beautiful post Shn!! We call this chendamuriyan at home and adding valanpuli in chammanthi is smtg new to me :). I also remember having chembu puzhungiyathu, madhura kizhangu puzhungiyathu etc but my fav is chena puzhungiyathu with a dash of salt and freshly grated coconut, OMG I miss home badly :(( Anyways, thanks for bringing back the good memories :)

  10. ayyooo kappa is my fav.. loong time since I have had it though :(

  11. i remember having this,when attending a small gathering ...and it was so very delicious ! will try this when i get some good kappa.

  12. Wow! my ultimate all-time favourite with a cup of kattan kapi.........please do save some for me, I'm coming over.


  13. I love kappas! and meen kari n kappa is my most fav combo. Awesome pics as always :-)

  14. Shabs, yeah i like that one too...but this one is a much simpler one :)

    Nikhil, aa....manassilayee:) i liked the fake tooth idea...i should have met u in my i will have to scare just my hubby...we used to keep 'pori' (puffed rice) on both the side of the lips and call ourselves 'yakshi' :D suganallo alle? :)

    Anon, yeahh..kattan kaapi is the best...and the situation u mentioned,'s a pure bliss!! Only after coming to US, I realised it is widely used in other countries and cultures too....for a malayalaee, kappa is always very special, something that makes him feel at home! :)

    Anh, it is very delicious, if you get a good variety of kappa, I mean the creamy , soft kind :)

    Rekha, everyone seems to be having a soft spot for kattan kaapi/chaaya :) hmm...I wish u were a publisher :P Thanks a lot for such a generous compliment...wonder if i deserve all that but truly happy to read that u enjoy reading the posts here :)

    Mathew, mm...achayanmaarkku kurachu erachi okke ellathe enganeyaa....alle..:P pinne, african enkilum kittunnundallo....evide njangal stay cheyyunnidathu vellappozhum maathram aanu kappa onnu kaanan kittunne.....athu thanne palappozhum nallathavanam ennilla...ethu pakshe adipoli aayirunnu...:) u can make ur fav fish curry-kappa puzhukku with ur african kappa :))

    Rocksea, I hope u find some kappa soon wherever u re!

    KF, enikku peru nalla eshtapetu....njan post/title update cheythittundu....athe..athey...nalla buttery kappa aayirunnu...pettennu cooked mother also made the same comment seeing the pic....i bow before u women and ur expertise :)

    Priyanka, thank you:)

    Maria, by the time CJJ finished reading ur comment he had a waterfall in his mouth reading about chena puzhungiyathu...:D thats one of his fav, i havent tasted it though , and i dont get fresh chena either :( and u made me crave for madhura kizhangu...ho! and adding vaalan puli spruces it up a bit...but just a tiny piece...dont overdo it.

    Dhanya, avide kittille???

    Pravs, you should! :) the taste purely depends on the creamy/buttery texture of kappa.

    Reena, yeah...sure :))

    Vijitha, that's CJJ's fav combo and anyday, I will go for this much simpler version and flavour :) thanks for stopping by.


  15. Hey Chech..I prefer Kappa with beef !!! :):) Lovely post :):)

  16. oops, everybody seems to know this dish, how come I never had it ever?!!!...Did u try sweet potato with coconut and sugar??...Thats a poorman's tea time snack, but it's rich and yummy!
    By the way, I loved ur dish(paathram), where do u manage to get vaazhayila in US?...In uk i saw it nowhere!..Since onam is on the way, hopefully will get some!

  17. My favourite food....spicy mulaku nd chenda kappa....kidilam combination thanne.....

  18. Yum... Chendan Kappa... my favorite, I like it with mathi fry... :) I've never seen kappa good enough to make Chendan here... :(

  19. that chammanthi looks so unappealing.bleeh..

  20. Had that yellow kappa but this sounds very exotic!:)

  21. This sounds my kind of dish with onions and chillies, sure will be trying soon :)

  22. Kappa is what I miss most about Kerala! Sure, you can get it in the UK, but somehow it's not the same as eating it whilst in god's own country!

  23. This is such a simple and delicious way to have cassava. Love it!

  24. Nice favorite breakfast ever..i made this last week..

  25. I just made this now and enjoyed it with mulaku samanthi. Since I had very limited ingredients, I used regular onions, ginger, jalepeno peppers, salt, and a tiny amount of tamarind. I crushed it all with my fingers and added about 1 tbsp. of yogurt just to coat it. It was delicious! Thank you for the inspiration..


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