Food

Pidi for Christmas

There’s plenty of chitchat and laughter as the whole family sits together on Christmas eve to make rice balls for pidiyum kozhiyum

Christmas is inevitably associated with food and food stories. Probably because it is one occasion when everyone in the family gathers together.

After the 25-day Nativity Lent when we do not eat meat, Christmas day is eagerly awaited, when we no longer need to abstain. My father disappears on Christmas Eve to hunt for the best chicken, beef, and fish available in the market. My mother waits anxiously at the gate, looking out for the chetthukaran (toddy tapper) who will bring her fresh toddy. That is a key ingredient for the preparation of kallappam for the Christmas breakfast.

For me, the favourite bit of Christmas day is the preparation of pidi. It is a traditional Christian dish and is made on special occasions in my family, and is had usually for breakfast or lunch. “It is cooked widely in Ernakulam and Idukki districts. With the migration of people to other parts of the State, it is now available everywhere,” explains my mother.

In my family, the women get together to make pidi. My mother carefully measures out the rice flour, sautés it with grated coconut and kneads it into a dough with hot water, salt, garlic and cumin paste. The dough is placed in the middle of the dining table and my ammaimar (aunties), ammachimar (grandmothers) and sisters reach out, take bits of it and make them into small balls of equal size. It is a time-consuming process, mainly because of the sheer quantity that is prepared. This is the best time for family gossip and nostalgic stories. My mother loves to tell this story every year as we make pidi. She was 20 when she first made this dish, she says. “It was so good that I sent portions of it to all our relatives!” While the older women are veterans at this and make the rice balls at great speed, the younger ones like me lag behind. My ammachi consoled me saying it take years of practice to get to the pace she works at. Once the balls are ready, they are dropped into boiling water and stirred gently till they are gooey. Then, we get down to eating it with chicken curry. We call the combination pidiyum kozhiyum and it is the best Christmas lunch ever.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 2:54:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/pidi-for-christmas/article25788663.ece

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