Kanhi or rice gruel, eaten with payaru puzhukku (boiled or steamed green gram), most definitely typifies Kerala's varied cuisine. Boiled or steamed low-oil foods are typical of this part of the country. Kanhi, though, has a special place. It permeates Kerala's socio-cultural fabric deeply. In fact, kanhi prepared with podi ari (broken rice), which is easier to digest, is also traditionally used as weaning food.
It is said in Kerala: " Onam vannaalum, unni pirannaalum, koranu kumbilil kanhi. ' (Whether it is the Onam season or the birth of a baby, a poor person's bowl contains only kanhi.) This is significant because though kanhi is eaten through the year, people with even a little to spare avoid kanhi through the 10 days of Onam. Though every household eats kanhi, it is culturally well established as the poor person's food. Could this have anything to do with the fact that the water content is higher than the rice content?
Of course, the affluent have their variations of the humble kanhi. There is palkanhi (kanhi cooked in milk), for example. One could add a touch of clarified butter (ghee), coconut milk or grated coconut. There are side-dishes that could spice it up further: payaru puzhukku (which is the traditional combination with kanhi), pappadam (fried or roasted crispies) and coconut chutney. The poorer home has its own set of side-dishes to go with kanhi: tapioca, erisseri (a gravy preparation made with pumpkin) and pickle.
Annadaanam (distribution of food to the poor) is called
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