Kallu is dear to a Keralaite. It’s the common man’s intoxicator, but that’s not the only reason why it’s so popular.
Extracting Toddy is a huge process where unique skills are involved. The specialists climb the tall palm tree or a coconut tree to manipulate the flowers to extract the juice which is collected in earthen large pots, kept overnight on the tree.
When fresh it is called ‘madhurakallu’ (sweet toddy) and women particularly like in this form. It’s sweeter and nicer from coconut palm than from the toddy palm at this stage.
The sweet toddy after a few hours of collection becomes slightly fermented. There are two uses at this stage that we Malayalees have. At an earlier stage, the liquid is kept on wood fire oven on a large thick bottom copper vessel called ‘uruli’ and got evaporated to a thick form, reducing the quantity to a tenth. This honey like but better product is called ‘paani’ and used as accompaniment to exotic dishes like Kerala Poott. Palm toddy is better for this.
Another use is for making Appam, the exotic Kerala breakfast item usually eaten with mutton stew. The appams using kallu are much superior to what is available usually where yeast is used.
Finally when the Kallu is fully fermented, it becomes the common man’s alcohol. You can see toddy shops (called shaap) all over Kerala.
Shaaps are also famous for the authentic and most tasty Kerala food, especially sea food.
There’s a song by an intoxicated Malayalee singing to his wife Maria.
“Kallolam nalloru vasthu, bhoolokathil illedi Mariye. Thellolam ullil chennal bhoolokam tharikida tharutha”.
(There’s nothing in the world better than Kallu, if you have some inside, the world goes topsy turvy) something like that, certain things can’t be trasalated effectively.
The photo here is fresh coconut toddy served at the Onam party that I posted earlier.
Kallolam nalloru vasthu………..