Sunday, November 8, 2009

An attempt to make Kannur style Kinnathappam – Has it come close to the real deal? Kannur’ians , pls help…..

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter…” How eloquently Keats captured the power of imagination in those beautiful lines!!!! And I must admit , when it comes to food, never tasted or seen, my imagination has no bounds, especially if the food in discussion is painted with a heightened magical image through someone else’s words……

…..that was the case with Kinnathappam (Kannur Style) ever since Revathy left that message three months ago. Till yesterday, it was a taste unknown with not even a picture to refer to…..something that was enchanting and charming from the old cultural town of kannur …….something I wanted to taste on my next visit to this place, from one of the bakeries in those crowded streets …and in my imagination, I saw it wrapped in a clear plastic, arranged in the glass shelves of that tiny bakery…some were white and some, in a light brown hue……

…but now, I associate the word Kinnathappam with a white, soft , dense pudding cake that is cooked with ground rice ,in the delightful richness of cream of coconut and divine ghee, sweetened with sugar and flavored with cardamom and the pleasant surprise bites of cooked split gram!! Now if I walk into one of those bakeries in that old town, it is definitely not like a blind struggling to point his choice in complete darkness.

My puzzle board is still incomplete with lots of missing pieces and they range from the socio-cultural background of this snack, existing variations, the right texture, the colour – sugar or jaggery …the list goes on. At this point some of the connecting links on my puzzle board is woven with a handful of comments and messages left by my readers and blog buddies and the recipe my aunt shared.

Revathy’s messages often described Kinnathappam like this “ Kinnathampam is nnormally made in large quantites for housewarming or weddings at home, nowadays we get it from bakery shops so no one bother taking the hardwork to prepare it.I saw ppl making it in big uruli at my home for big functions when I was a kid but dont really remeber the ingredients.I will ask my mom about the recipe and let you know. Revs

The cheerful young blogger , Ria from Kannur wrote : “I am from Kannur as well and I must say kinnathappam & kalathappam is a very yumm snack! Revathy, thanks for sharing the recipe with Shn! Shn, please try it out soon and post it! It's usually made in Hindu homes we don't have a recipe for it :)

A reader named Deepthy left this message on my Orappam post : “It looks like kinnathappam.My amma used to prepare it with rice flour,jaggery.We also add dried mango seeds powder in it.Deepthy

In pursuit of finding out more about this snack, I asked my mother to approach my aunt, S from Kannur and she was gracious enough to share her recipe over the phone and my mother jotted down the gist in her own language : “ 1 glass ari…1 tbsp kadala-parippu…kadala parippu uppittu vevikkuka…..thenga ara-muriyude paal ozhichu panchasaara ettu elakkuka…..onnu kattiyakumbol ¼ glass nei ozhichu elakkuka….pakuthi aakumbol kadala-parippu eduka…urundu varumbol, paathrathil ozhikkuka…

Well….well….these are two women who belong to the “ a glass of this, a handful of that and a pinch of this- generation” and trying to comprehend their language by someone who belongs to “ a cup of this and a tbsp of that – generation” is like…..well , let me not get into that aspect. I was totally confused!

I went back to Revathy and she promptly replied : “Hi Shn, I asked my mom about the kinnathappam recipe.She never tried at home in small quantities.She said it takes hrs to to make it,and we should keep stirring the batter until it become thick halwa like consistency.The main ingredients are coconut milk ,rice powder ,jaggery ,cardomom,split dal cooked.Mix all ingredients like watery consistency except ghee and in a Uruli keep strring until it become thick and then add ghee cardomom.,this is the vague idea about the recipe amma knows.She had seen it done in large quantites during house warming or weeding at our family. Take care, Revathy.

Now the question was whether to add sugar or jaggery and Ria, my local consultant and subject expert in this case, mailed me :” As far as Kinnathappam goes I have always seen them in blurry white colour.It is not as white as vattayappam, but more or less like kanjivellam colour . So it is definately made using sugar as sweetener. Even I have heard that the process is like halwa-making...2-3 hours of continuous stirring. But the end product is yum!

And here’s how we tried to put together the pieces of the puzzle, with the help of my mother :

Recipe Source: My aunt S from Kannur

What we took:
  • 1 cup jeerakasaala /kaima rice, soaked for 4 hours in water
  • 4 tsp Kadala-parippu/split gram/chana dal, soaked in water
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed coconut milk
  • 1 ½ cup sugar ( adjust as per sweetness)
  • ¼ cup + 2tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 10 pods of cardamom, powdered- adjust as pert your taste and strength of the seeds ( Added based on Revathy’s mail)
  • Salt
What we did:
  • Grind soaked rice into a fine paste, adding required water to operate the Indian mixer.
  • Cook soaked Kadala-parippu/split gram/chana dal with a pinch of salt until soft ( either in a pressure cooker or sauce pot) and once cooked and warm, gently press with your fingers and make it soft yet retaining the shape.
  • Mix ground rice , coconut milk and sugar with a pinch of salt; pour this to a heavy bottom large sauce pot/wok and start stirring on a low-medium heat. Stir continuously. When it starts to thicken and show some resistance to easy stirring, pour the entire ghee and stir continuously. When it thickens more, add cooked Kadala-parippu/split gram/chana dal and resume stirring incessantly. When you see the dough starting to come together in the centre as one mass, take a small amount and try to roll and make it into a ball with your thumb and index fingers and if it shapes up beautifully without sticking to your fingers, then it is time to turn off the stove and add the powdered cardamom; immediately transfer it to a 6 *2 round cake pan/or a “Kinnam”/any round old fashioned plate with borders – smeared with some ghee; Fill the cooked dough in the pan and flatten smoothly. Let it rest in the room temperature for 1-2 hours and when it is completely cool, cut into small squares and serve. This whole process of cooking one cup ground rice with other ingredients took us about 50 minutes of stirring continuously.
Taste verdict: Tasty, no doubt ! Richness of coconut milk, sugar and ghee is very prominent. The occasional bite into split gram offers a pleasant surprise. Texture we got was that of a dense yet soft pudding cake.

Wonder if we got the texture, colour and thickness right! Would love to hear the feedback, suggestions and recommendations from the Kannur’ians out there. I would also love to learn more about this snack…..your stories, memories and socio- cultural significance of this snack. Please help !

My sincere thanks to My aunt S , Revathy, Ria and my mother for all their help and guidance in bringing out this post.

Related Posts:
Ottada Orappam Orappam


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  1. I really appreciate your efforts to get the recipe for regional snacks and try it out.

    As for me, this is completely a new recipe.

  2. I have only eaten bakery bought u sd the one with brown tinge..urs luk much healthier compared to greasy store bought ones....
    Actually I m planning to make one of the many appams tht u hv been posting recently for Xmas....I think tht will b a gud change and surprise for all......
    Next in the series of naadan appams cn we expect Kallappam (I m sure u will manage to find sum toddy is US or even better brew it at home :) )
    As an Italian proverb says "Rice is born in water and must die in wine. "
    Lets conjure up mallu combination of rice and wine recipe....

  3. I think my mom makes like this but then without those dals in it.

  4. Hi Shn,
    It was a sweet surprise for me in the morning to see your version Kinnathappam in the blog.I am always curious to see the new recipe you are cuming up with.It looked yum,As far as my knowledge traditional Kinnathappam is really brown in color as we use jaggery,but in the last couple of years I have seen White color Kinnatham is the bakeries.And nowadays it is has got more demand.And everyone liked the new twist in Kinnathappam with sugary taste.But I never saw Kinnathappam made with sugar in my childhood.And Shn, what is Kaima rice?

  5. Hi Shn i am from Kannur and a gr8 Kinnathappam fan...Sorry to say ,its not our kannur style Kinnathappam,knannur style kinnathappam is always dark brown/black in color...As Revathy said it requires lots of hard work,need minimum 3 people to prepare..Looks like black halwa,oily but sooper in taste...Not easy to prepare,need lots of experience to make an authentic kinnathappam...

  6. Hi Shn,

    Nice to see kinnathappam recipe.I was looking for this recipe for past many months and couldn't find it anywhere.But I guess its made of jaggery as the color is usually light brown.Will try it with jaggery and let u know.

  7. I have heard about this but have never tasted.. Send me some pls :P

  8. wow, pretty white colour, the name and the recipe is totally new to me.Very nice post.Its very intersting to learn such authentic recipes.I also recently took the pain to learn one such cookie recipe from my mom and grandma.Will post it soon.

  9. Shn,

    Kinnathappam, as granny used to make it, used to be black, or almost dark brown in colour. As a kid, I always had a problem differentiating kinnathappam and karuthaluva(Black Halwa made of rice) untill I tasted it. Traditionally, jaggery is used instead of sugar and hence the difference in the colour i guess.

    I really appreciate your efforts. Keep it up! Gud Luck :)


  10. hi shn,
    kannur style kinnathappam is dark brown color and taste like parippuprathaman,i havnt see white
    color one ,may be new style? ok let me try during y next holidays

  11. YAY! You made it!I am showing this to my cuz who is preg and she is craving for a slice! :)

    Thanks for all the sweet li'l mentionS! And yes, it does look like the ones we get here :)))

    I wait for Vishu, cos that's when our neighbours sends in Kinnathappam along with Neyyappam :)

  12. Yeah, sariyayittundu ketto.. mine is in draft.. melle purathirakkamnnu karuthi.. :)

  13. I had an uncle visit me last week. He has been an NRI for most of his life (70 years) and he told me about a snack made out of rice jaggery and it was according to him like a cake , made by using two man chattis . He remembers this snack made by his Gramndma on his visits to Kerala. He thinks the name in Orrapam , but doesnt have any idea. I thought u will be a good person to investigate about this snack.

  14. Shn,

    your kinnathappam looks amazing, I love it, Unfortunately i am from Trivandrum, so I don't know how it looks like. I am planning to make your kuzlappam for this Christmas. I will let you know how it turned out.


  15. Jayasree, Thank you.

    Small Talk, hahha...have heard someone mentioning about canned toddy in US...but not available in my place...ellenkil oru kai nokkamayirunnu....:P btw, after setting , i saw a glazed coating on top of Kinnathappam and that itself gave me enough guilt while gobbling up each piece....:) I think sugary Kinnathappam is more of a modern day bakery invention....and best wishes on all ur recipe trials from here...hope everything comes out well...a kuttandan hand will deft'ly have have that magic in her hands to convert everything into tasty ones :)

    Happy Cook, kinnathappam my mother used to make at home is different...that;s a steamed one....for me, this type of prep was totally new....

    Revs, I wanted to snd you the link that night itself but as I wrote, didn't have a drop of energy left in me at that time of the hour and thought will mail you first thing in the morning and by then i had a comment from you on my mail box :) Ok, now that explains why there is two schools of thought for the same snack.....yeah...people in the olden days used jaggery more than that must be the traditional style.....let me try with jaggery once...and as fro kaima rice, hey this is quite common in calicut -kannur side...i guess there this one is widely used in biryani...smaller grains and sort of round too..check with ur sure she is aware of this one. Thanks again for clarifying all my doubts :)

    Vrinda, the one with jaggery seems to be old style and sugary one seems to be the modern approach to it, atleast that's what the comments speak..and yes I agree, deft'ly not easy to make, for 1 cup of rice, I had two people stirring continously for 50 minutes and one being an expert hand, experienced in halwa making...the only reason, I could get the consistency right.

    Nands, yeah do try with jaggery...adjust the quantity as per your sweetness....and let me know your feedback..if possible, share a picture too :)

    Dhanya, sure why not? :)

    Sumi, Thank you....hope to read ur post soon :)

    Prathibha, thanks a bunch for bringing in that tiny bit about ur confusion between kinnathappam and karutha aluva....helped me to get more closer to the real deal.....thanks a lot :)

    Madhu, yeah , i guess recently people have started giving a new twist to the old style and gaining popularity too i guess...btw, now that u mentioned paruppu pradhaman, let me ask u this....does that mean, more kadala parippu is added...? must be really yum!!

    Ria, poor girl....aa paavathine engane kothippikkalle....!ente neighbour aayirunnenkil njan kondu koduthene :) happy to read your comment....and great to know that i ve got it almost right, atleast like the bakery ones :) neyyappam...hmm...u made me crave for it :)

    Seena, so happy to read that message , seena.....u should have posted it longback , instead of keepingit in ur drafts...must have been useful for many like me....i didnt have a single clue as to how it looks like.....would love to read ur post at the earliest :)

    Village Idiot, I have already made a post on Orappam and u can find the link at the end of this post is in the related post section at the end or go to recipe index and access the link from there...

    Swathi, all the best with kuzhalappam...hope that kuzhal doesnt pose any challenges to you......let me know your feedback..

  16. I have tasted this kinnathappam once(brown in colour),brought to me by a "kannorian" which he mentioned as a delicacy served for functions associated to weddings. Now that I've got the recipe am very thankful yo you. I'm a great admirer of you as well as your recipes and also your style of presenting the whole thing.I've also got recipe of a traditional one "uzhunnappam"(looks similar to a plum cake")which I'd like to share with you.

  17. Soja, happy to read ur message and thanks a bunch for the encouragement. You can mail me at

  18. Dear Shn
    Pls c the Authentic Kannur Kinnathappam Here

  19. Hi shn,
    slightly late for commenting on this one....somehow,i missed this post even though i remember seeing the pic....

    Pinney, about kinnathappam, it is one of my faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaavorite paternal aunt used to make this and bring it to our home whenever we go to india....

    Sorry to say, but i have never seen or had a white was always brown, light or dark brown or sometimes the colour of the pradaman due to additiion of jaggery...I think u got the right texture, it has an 'Aluwa' texture not chewy, but soft....

    I am craving for this one now, forgot to have it from India!!!!so many things to do in 3 weeks, so this was just missed....

    I am into that aval nanachathu these days;)that too with banana..


  20. and i think more dal is also added than mentioned in the recipe...thx for introducing me to the sugar version...i hate dealing with jaggery.....the seiving part is a headache....try with jaggery next time, u will taste it the authentic way...:)

  21. Vrinda, Thank a bunch for your link and it looks beautiful. But I really wish I had seen it a bit earlier as we made our second attempt with jaggery last weekend, with all the inputs you guys left here....will update the post soon....thanks again, really appreciate it...:)

    Shabs. yes we tried with the jaggery :) and did add more kadala parippu as we really liked biting into those tiny pieces ...yeah you should have bought atleast one from those bakeries there...:)

  22. wow kinathappam looks delicious...would like to try it....but I m based in US ...cant get hold of the rice you have mentioned...Can u help me ? any substitutes?


  24. this is my next project from your blog :) My parents are from Kannur, but i am born and raised in Chennai, with very little ties to Kerala. However, my parents and my grandma made sure we never missed any of the Kerala style goodies as children :) My ammamma always makes this for me even now when I go back home. I am going to surprise her by making it myself :) And like you said, getting the recipe from her is "oru glass ithu, oru kai pidi athu" So thanx for translating the recipe into layman's terms :) Will let you know how it turns out!


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