Pesaha Appam and Pesaha Paal


From St. Peter’s Family Kitchen


Recipe for Pesaha Appam (Indri Appam) and Pesaha paal(Paalu kurukku/ Passover milk)


Biblical significance


The first Passover as instituted by God through Moses and Aaron (Exodus12:13)-The festival of Unleavened Bread.  Our Lord Jesus Christ celebrated Passover with his disciples the day before he was crucified (Institution of Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper)




Pesaha Appam is the unleavened Passover bread made by the Syrian Christians of Kerala, India, to be served on Passover night of Maundy Thursday.  Pesaha appam is made from rice batter, but it is not fermented with yeast in its preparation.



It has been a tradition for the Catholic and Orthodox Christians (Nasranis) in Kerala make pesaha appam and paal on the evening of Maundy Thursday. The Pesaha Appam is derived from the ancient bread of Jewish tradition.  It has survived and continued as a tradition by the Knanayas that migrated to Kerala from the Levant in the early days of Jewish Christianity.  During Passover the St. Thomas Nasrani Christians prepare bread without yeast in accordance with the Jewish commemoration of pesaha or Passover.

This unleavened bread is prepared only for Passover and is called as Pesaha Appam or Passover unleavened bread.  Palm leaf we gather from the church on Palm Sunday is used to make a cross on top of the unleavened appam prior to cooking.


Pesaha paal (Passover coconut milk) is served along with Pesaha Appam on the night of Passover.  In order for the great lent not to be broken, coconut milk (not wine) has been used to make pesaha paal.


Traditionally, Pesaha Appam is served in a ceremonial manner on Passover night in Syrian Christian households.  The head of the family cuts the appam, dips it in paalukurukku (syrup) or Pesaha Pal (Passover milk), and serves it to the other family members, usually starting from the oldest.




There are two ways in which the pesaha appam is prepared, that is according to the method of preparation.  It can either be steamed appam or baked appam (kalathappam). In Kerala kalathapam is baked using kalam (pot filled with burning ember) placed over uruli(pan made of copper). Since these utensils are not easily available in North America, there are other easier ways to make this appam as explained below


Steamed Appam




Roasted rice flour ( 21/2 cups )

Roasted urad dal (ushunnu parippu) ( 3/4 cup )

Grated coconut ( 11/2 cups )

Cumin seeds ( ½ tsp )

Garlic pods peeled ( 3nos )

Shallots (cheriya onion) ( 10nos )

Salt to taste


Soak roasted urad daal for 2-3 hours.  Grind dal, coconut, cumin seed, garlic and shallots together into a coarse paste.  Add lukewarm water into roasted rice flour, mix it well into a thick batter.


Add the ground paste and salt to this rice batter and grind it again into a smooth batter –into idli consistency.  ( the same batter is used for making the baked appam as well)

Grease a steel plate ( pan) with oil and pour the batter on it with ½ inch thickness.

Make a cross by placing the palm leaf from Palm Sunday on top of the batter.  Steam- cook it until it is ready.


Baked appam (Kalathappam)


Additional ingredients


Oil (canola) ( ½ cup )

Coconut cut into small pieces ( ½ cup )

Red onion chopped ( 1 cup )


Roast coconut and red onion separately in oil

Add roasted coconut and red onion with left over oil into the batter already prepared for steamed appam

Heat electric griddle to 350 degrees

Pour ¾ cup of batter onto the griddle, just like making pan cake.  When one side is set and slightly brown underneath, flip it over with a spatula until both sides are properly cooked.




To make it tasty, rice flour and daal should be roasted and consistency of the batter should be that of the idli batter.

Conventional oven can also be used to bake kalathappam. Use round baking pans, thickness of appam should be ¼ inch to have the crispiness outside and softness inside.


Pesaha Paal


Jaggery or brown sugar ( 1/2 cup )

Coconut milk ( 3cups )

Parboiled rice ( 1/2cup )

Dry ginger powder ( 1/2tsp )

Cumin roasted powder ( 1/2tsp )

Cardamom ( 1/4tsp )


Dry roast parboiled rice till it crackles and turn to light brown color

Grind roasted rice and mix it with coconut milk

Make jaggery into syrup by adding 1 cup of water

Then add the ground rice and spices

Stir continuously for 2-3 minutes or until thickens




Roasted rice flour can also be used instead of roasted parboiled rice flour, but dry roasted parboiled rice flour makes pesaha paal taste better.