Friday, November 20, 2009

Pooram Ada - A festival specialty linked to the Pooram Festival of Kannur

A glance into a mesmerizing temple festival basking in the old world charm of rituals and practices and a simple traditional food that gains a personality of its own because of all the tales and rituals associated with it……

I had one such gem in my mail box early this week from Revathy, who shared with us the recipe for Kannur Style Kalathappam/Kalthappam. Here’s excerpts from a couple of mails she sent me on this topic, clearing my doubts and questions……

Hi Shn,

Your interest to recreate the good old recipes excites me and another traditional snack came to my mind, which is made part of "Pooram festival "We call it as Ada. Did u know about this? It is somewhat like the Ela ada you have posted but the ingredients to make the ada is different. Rice powder is mixed with melted jaggery and cooked spilt dal, wrapped in jackfruit leaf or Cinnamon leaf or banana leaf and steam cooked .It lasts for a week in cool climate.

Pooram is celebrated a few weeks before Vishu and it is to please the God Kama, God of Love. We make idols of Kama using cow dung or mud and decorate it with seasonal flowers everyday . First, the idol will be kept outside steps of the well. Old homes have wells that has a few steps outside right…. and if no steps, then just outside of the well/Kinar ("Kinnattin Karayil"). Then each day new idols will be made and kept at the courtyard in front of home ….. it is just like we make pookkalam ..only thing is we don’t throw the old ones and places keep changing everyday....and last day we take all of them to the jack fruit tree and keep it under that . It is done with a small procession of every one in the family and neighbors. Last day when take it to the jackfruit tree everybody loudly say something like this.. "neerathum Kaalathum Adutha Kollavum Varanee Kamaa "

Duration of this celebration is 8 days ..That’s till Pooram Nakshtram. And the 8th day we make this Ada.

Now the Recipe

It is a time consuming recipe..

White Rice Flour - 2 cups (Like the one we make for Puttu and roast it very well)
Jaggery Melted - As per Sweetness (It shouldn’t be too loose ,So add very little water)
Cooked kadala -parippu /Split gram/ Chana Dal - 3/4 cup
Cardamom -3-4
Coconut slices -1/2 cup
Jack fruit /Cinnamon /Banana leaves -

When the Rice Flour and Jaggery are cool mix both with hands it should be thick like we make dough for Ela Ada, then add Cooked kadala -parippu /Split gram and coconut slices and cardamom powder and mix well with hand. Make small ball ,then place it on top of a Cinnamon or Jackfruit leaf/Banana leaf. Flatten it same like Ela Ada and fold it. There no filling so just fold. Then Steam it .You should steam it around 45 mints in high steam and then keep it in med for 15 mints. And check it is done or steam some more time.

Hope this will be helpful to you.


Till I read her first mail on this topic, the word “Pooram” , to me , was synonymous with the famous Thrissur Pooram of Kerala. Yes, it was my ignorance that I was not aware of such a charming festival celebrated among the northern Malabar region of Kerala. The web searches as always were not satisfactory but Revathy’s mails painted a more vivid and colourful picture and specific details of the festival…..and I loved the part where she mentioned that small yet the most interesting tidbit about the final day ceremonies of the festival and how they wrapped up the rituals with that simple prayer, “"neerathum Kaalathum Adutha Kollavum Varanee Kamaa "

I guess the links below throw light into the same festival and the Wikipedia link, talks about “Poovada Chudal” , which I assume , is referring to the same preparation. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I wish someone out there shared some photographs from the Pooram Festival of Kannur!

Revathy’s recipe is perfect and easy to follow and I just halved her recipe to get a sample and since neither jackfruit or cinnamon leaves are available at my part of the world, I had to use banana leaves and I can only imagine the depth of flavour cinnamon leaves would impart while steaming these rice flour parcels , sweetened with jaggery with the nutty taste from cooked split gram , flavored with fragrant cardamom!!

Since dark brown jaggery was out of stock in my kitchen, I have used the light brown variety and hence the colour might be different from the traditional one. Since it was one of those trials without a visual reference, please do forgive me for any mistakes I have made in recreating this dish or any assumptions I have drawn up unknowingly.

I know I would have got more tidbits and tales from Revathy, had I pestered her for more details but knowing that she juggles home, studies and a little wonder, I couldn’t think of taking her much valuable time. I really admire and appreciate Revathy’s efforts for taking time from her tight schedule and checking out all these tales and recipes with her mom and sharing with us.

Thank you, Revathy :)

UPDATE : Here's Revathy's feedback and one more tiny bit of info after reading this post:

"Hi Shn...
Felt so happy and thrilled to see new post with Pooram ada.It looks almost same except the color.Does that taste good too!!! My mom told me people from Nair caste make different version of this ada that is small version of Ela ada with jaggery and cocnut mixture inside ..There may be variations depending on castes and families ...Anyway thanks a lot for trying out the recipe ..that too so soon."


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  1. Never heard abt this da...Cute name. Ada looks lovely and delicious...

  2. Another Kannur post :) And the dish as well as the festival is new to me.. Sometimes I feel there is a huge difference in the culture bn two places even tho the distance is much lesser.. oh why am I saying different places - even in the same place different communities have different traditions right? We really ve diverse cultures :)

  3. These adas are indeed delightful. I have eaten the cinnamon/ bay leaf wrapped adas and the flavour from the leaves does take this to another level.
    I wasn't aware of the Kannur Pooram, though.

  4. wow..Reavthy has painted the picture perfectly for you..I am also from Kannur this is exactly how we usedto celebrate pooram during my childhood days..But nowadays Pooram is becoming less popular :(I must admit even at my home pooram celebration has confined to only the ada preparation..During my schooldays when I used to tell my friends about pooram most of them being from town area hasnt even heard abt pooram..Its really strange that even in kannur this celebration is unknown in many places!!

  5. Looks lovely...

    How can I regular feeds from your blog?

  6. your way of writing is excellent and stories with every recipes really take to our old times.... well done.... A NOSTALGIC FOOD EXPERIENCE...

  7. To add to this description of the festival, there was an additional thing we used to do while the evenings we would take the yellow and white flowers..(dont know the name) and place it near the well, and the girls were supposed to run around the flowers koooing :D :D, the best part i used to love in the festival...

  8. i have done this ritual early in childhood ,with my grandma.....I still remember the smell of `Chempakapookkal.(temple flowers).But now don't know the rituals & the song.If any one knows it share it we have to preserve it for the next generations.....Sheena


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