For Catholic Christians, September 8 marks the Feast of Mother Mary, or Nativity of Mother Mary, believed to be Her birthday.
The winegrowers in France call this feast as”Our Lady of the Grape Harvest”. The best grapes are brought to the local church to be blessed and then some bunches are attached to hands of the statue of Mary. A festive meal which includes the new grapes is part of this day.
In Kerala, meanwhile, most churches would give pachoru as an offering to the devotees , after the Church Service. Traditionally, known as “pachoru” in Malayalam it’s raw rice cooked in coconut milk and served with jaggery syrup.
The History of Pachoru
The two well known nobles were Arakuzha Unnyathiri and Vallikkada Panicker in the history of Arakuzha,muvattupuzha in kerala.
Vallikkada Panicker was the trainer of fighters for the king. Unnyathiri was the subordinate of Chettoor karthakkal, who were the rulers as the second in charge on the ladder of rulers under the the king.
Unyathiri was one of the “ida prabhukkal” who ruled over small villages. Unnyathiri it seems hailed from the famous family of Aromal Chekavar in ancient vadakkan pattukal.
There is a traditional story that connects Unnyathiri to the traditional rice pudding offering called ” Pachoru Nercha” on August 15th at the arakuzha church. The king ruled during the period of 1770 s was Raja Raja Varma. In about 1770 A.D. there was no rain for 18 months. The reason for the drought is said to be consequence of an inhuman act by Unnyathiri who killed a person who sought shelter in Arakuzha Church.
The story goes like this.
One man was fishing in river from a tree using bow and arrows while the beautiful daughter of Unyathiri was taking bath in the river . She got scared and was humiliated by his behavior (according to the then existing moral standards and values). Hearing the story Unyathiri got angry and ordered to kill him. The Man ran to church and sought refuge in the arakuzha church. Later Unnyathiri found him. He was dragged out side and killed at the door step of the church.It is believed that because of the desecration of the church by the bloodshed, Arakuzha was affected by a severe drought and famine for 18 months.
Unyathiri called the astrologers to find out the reason behind the drought and famine. The astrologers found that the drought and famine were the consequences of desecration of the church by the murder of the innocent man by Unyathiri. As an atonement Unyathiri made an offering to the church to give food called “pachoru”.
Pachoru was prepared with 15 bushels (para) of rice with enough coconuts and brown sugar.
(Para)Traditional grain measuring utensil of Kerala
It is the oral story that it rained in an epic proportion just after the offering and the water swelled up to the level that they could not even walk back home. Even today there is this tradition of offering rice pudding (pachoru nercha) on August 15th since then.
The name ” Unyathiri” seems to be a title of a position rather than a name of a person because the same title has been seen in many period in different occasions.
Thus Pachoru is an ancient Christian delicacy. It is usually made during most Church Festivals. In olden days, when one’s wishes come true, people used to make Pachoru and distribute it as offering to the church which is then served to the devotees, on the festival day. It is served with melted jaggery (optional)and can be eaten as a snack or a dessert. Kids will love it too!
Now the Recipe (known by all Kerala Christians(variations are there from place to place in the recipe))
- Rice -3cups
- Coconut grated -1cup
- Milk -1cup(coconut milk can also be used)
- Jaggery (molasses) -1 ½ cup
- Cardamom powder -1tsp
- Clarified butter(ghee) -1tsp
- Thinly sliced coconut -1tsp
- Cook the rice. (its preferred to be overcooked).
- When it is well cooked, add milk and Grated coconut. Stir continuously.
- Melt and strain jaggery(molasses). Pour this syrup intothe rice mixture. Stir till it is almost dry.
- Turn off the flame.
- Fry thinly sliced coconut bites and add to rice.
- Garnish with cardamom and serve cold or hot..
Thanks And Regards