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Help me identify these South Indian Items

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I spent several months in Kerala in 2002, and I've been dying to either make or find these dishes again. The closest I've come is a Sri Lankan restaurant that serves similiar dishes, although they somehow miss the mark.

If there's any Keralites out there, please help! :) (P.S. I was based in Mavelikara for the four months I was there)

1. Thoren - I may have the spelling wrong, but this was served with lunch, and was sort of a cabbage-based mix that was crunchy and so so tasty!

2. Pachadi - also like a salad I beleive

3. Many times when I was invited to someone's home, there was a reddish-brown powder that was sprinkled atop rice or other dishes - I believe the base was toasted coconut and chili but I don't know what it was called

4. Theeyal - Bar None. This was the single-best thing I ate. It had several different incarnations, one of which was made with Tapioca. Another was bitter melon I think. It reminded me of a mexican mole sauce in that it was spicy but somehow a little bit chocolaty?

I know my clues haven't been terribly helpful, but if you knew anything about these dishes I'd be so happy to hear from you.

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i usualy make a thoran with just mustard seeds and urad dal and curry leaves cooked in oil, then put in the veg and stirfry it till done, then put some grated coconut on top. Some times i put in ginger or turmeric or green chilis too.

I have no idea if this is authentic or what but it tastes good to me. green beans, cabbage or okra are my favorite veg to cook like this.

Edited by Yajna Patni (log)
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Hello CharityCase,

The brown roasted coconut powder might have been 'chamandi podi'. When I was in college, a Christian friend from Trivandrum would bring it from home and being the great friend that I was, I would help her finish it. I have asked her for the recipe, but not being culinarily-inclined, she keeps forgetting to ask her mother for me. Here's the only relevant page that came up on google:


And spelt 'chammanthi podi' here:


Perhaps Ammini, our expert on all foods Keralan, could help you out more.


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Thank you so much for all the contributions. The Podi recipe from the site you posted is below. I will try it and let you know how it tastes (in myu mind...it was almost a chocolatey coconut taste from the roasting).

In the recipe below though I think I would grind or pwder this once cooled.

Fried coconut chammanthi podi:

1. Grated coconut 6 cups

2. Dried red chilies 10 (adjust according to taste)

Coriander ½ teaspoons

Black pepper corns ½ teaspoon

Curry leaves 2 sprigs

3.Asafetida a small piece fried in Sesame seed oil

Roasted split black gram without skin 2-3 tablespoons

4 Ginger one small piece

Tamarind the size of a goose berry

Shallots 6

5. Salt to taste


Heat up a heavy bottom saucepan. And fry grated coconut, red chilies, coriander, black pepper and curry leaves. Fry until the coconut turns to a brown color. Take a small pan and add a little bit of Sesame seed oil and fry a small piece of Asafetida, and then roast split black gram to a golden brown color.

Grind well the roasted ingredients with ginger, tamarind, shallots and salt. Take this out and spread it on a tray and let it cool. Taste and adjust salt, Tamarind, chilies etc.

when cold store this in a clean dry bottle.

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Perhaps Ammini, our expert on all foods Keralan, could help you out more.


Hello Suman & CharityCase

Sorry, I couldn't reply sooner. I did not have access to the internet for the past two weeks. Recipes for pachadi with ripe mangoes and thoran with green beans are at the following links. I will post a recipe for Theeyal soon.




Ammini Ramachandran


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Here are the recipes for bitter melon theeyal and cabbage thoran. In the theeyal recipe bitter melon may be substituted with tapioca, eggplant or onions.

Bitter Melon (Paavakka) Theeyal

As the name suggests, bitter melons have a strong bitter taste. To mellow this taste, first cook the pieces with salt and turmeric for five minutes and drain. It will lose some of the bitterness.

5 or 6 medium sized bitter gourd (or Chinese bitter melon)

½ teaspoon of turmeric powder

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons of vegetable, corn or canola oil

1 cup of freshly grated coconut or

3/4th of a cup of dried unsweetened coconut flakes

1tablespoon coriander seeds

4 dry red chili peppers (reduce for milder taste)

1 cup of thinly sliced shallots or onions

Juice from a small lime-sized piece of tamarind

Or 1-teaspoon tamarind paste mixed with a cup of water

For seasoning and garnish:

1tablespoon vegetable, corn or canola oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

A few springs of curry leaves

1 red pepper, halved

Wash and cut the bitter melons into thin rounds. Boil them with salt and turmeric for five minutes and drain. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat and fry the grated coconut flakes till they start turning golden brown. Add the coriander seeds and red chili pepper to the fried coconut and stir well. Fry for another two to three minutes till the coriander seeds are well toasted. Remove from the stove and let it cool. Heat ½ tablespoon of oil in a small skillet and pan-fry the shallots/onions till they are slightly browned. Grind the spices, toasted coconut and shallots/onions with just enough water to make a very smooth thick paste.

Heat ½ a tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottomed pot and saute the cooked bitter melon pieces for three to four minutes. Add the ground spice and coconut masala, salt and a cup of water and stir gently. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for six to eight minutes. Add tamarind and cook for another five minutes. Heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds to it. When they start spluttering, add the curry leaves and red pepper. Pour over the cooked curry. This curry will have fairly thick gravy. Serve with plain, boiled rice.

Cabbage Thoran

1 small green cabbage

4 fresh green chilies (Thai or serrano)

Salt to taste

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons vegetable, corn, or canola oil

1 teaspoon each urad dal and channa dal rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 hot red chili pepper, halved

A few curry leaves

¾ cup freshly grated coconut

Cut cabbage in half and cut out the thick core in the middle. Cut the leaves into chiffonade, as you would for coleslaw. A food processor will do this job very well. Place shredded cabbage in a colander wash under running water, and drain. Cut green chilies into thin strips and combine them with cabbage. Sprinkle salt and the turmeric over the shredded cabbage and mix well. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet and add the dals and mustard seeds. When the dals start turning golden brown and mustard start spluttering, add red pepper, curry leaves, and cabbage. Mix well and reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle a tablespoon of water over the cabbage and cover the skillet. Remove the cover after 2 minutes and stir gently. Sauté cabbage for 5 to 8 minutes stirring occasionally. When the cabbage is well cooked, sprinkle grated coconut on top and stir gently. Serve with rice and curries.

Ammini Ramachandran


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