U is for Upperi.
U is also for Uthradam Paachil or Uthrittathi Vallam Kali. Tongue twisters, I know!
Like I said before, there are four days of celebrations for Onam. Onnam Onam (First Onam) falls on the star Uthradam. The day is spent in getting ready for Thiruvonam, with people running around to buy new clothes, vegetables, flowers and stuff.
That’s called ‘Uthradam Paachil’, the last minute rush on the day of Uthradam.
Now, Uthrittathi Vallam Kali. It is the famous snake boat race. It happens on the star of Uthrittathi, in a place called Aranmula, after Onam is over. You can read more about it here. Vanchi paattu is famous and this is a popular song, it has a very catchy music. This song is attached to Onam.
Coming back to the ‘upperi’ (chips/fries) , it is really important for a sadya. You will only have a few pieces of each upperi on the left hand end of the leaf, but those few pieces are very important.
A sadya without the sharkara varatti (sharkara upperi) or banana chips (ethakka upperi) is unthinkable! People usually make these at home, but you won’t be surprised when I tell you that mine is store-bought.
For a sadya, the must items are 3 types of payasam, 3 types of pickles and 3 types of upperi. In some places it is four types of each. Again, keep in mind that this changes from place to place and also from community to community.
The term ‘upperi’ itself means different in different places. Upperi means vegetable side dish in some places and chips/fries in other. I am used to calling these chips and not upperi (and sharkara varatti by its name itself).
In my place, for a sadya we make only one payasam (two at the most) and one pickle. But for upperi, we will serve at least two varieties (sharkara varatti and banana, mostly) since its well liked and its easily available in stores here.
Yesterday I talked about coconuts and how it is part of our daily lives and cooking in particular. After coconut, banana takes the place. It is used up in hundred different ways in our daily cooking.
Chips – mostly banana chips, fried in coconut oil, is a specialty of Kerala. You can see people carrying kilos of this back home, especially the tourists.
Sharkara varatti is a sweet chips. It’s thickly sliced raw bananas coated with jaggery. You can check out the recipe here. May be one day, even I might start making this at home, but I don’t see the day coming anytime soon though!
Raw banana sliced as circles is the most popular chips. When its cut into four, its called nurukku upperi and is very popular for serving in wedding sadya. You get more pieces from the same amount of bananas this way.
The ripe banana chips, is not very popular for sadyas, but I love it. I love anything sweet and went for a sweet banana chips cut length wise.
Other popular upperis are jackfruit (chakka upperi), tapioca (kappa upperi), taro roots (chembu upperi), yam (chena upperi). Taro roots and yam won’t be available in shops though. So the one here is homemade :-).
That’s my entry for the letter U. See U all tomorrow with ‘V’.
Previous posts in this series:
- A – Avial, Ada Pradhaman, Achinga Payar – Chena Mezhukkupiratti
- B – Beetroot Kichadi, Beet root thoran, Beans Thoran
- C – Carrot Thoran, Cabbage Thoran
- D – Daal – Parippu Curry
- E – Erisseri – Chena & Mathan Vanpayaru
- F - Fruit Pachadi
- G – God’s Own Country – Kerala
- H – How to Serve a Sadya
- I – Inji Puli
- J – Jackfruit Payasam – Chakka Payasam
- K – Kalan & Koottu Curry
- L – Lemon Rasam
- M – Mambazha Pulisseri & Mathan Pachadi
- N – Neer Moru/ButterMilk
- O – Olan
- P – Payasam & Pookkalam
- Q – Quaker Oats Payasam
- R – Rasam and Rice
- S – Sambar
- T – Thenga paal
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