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Taking Travel Home: Celebrating an Indian Christian Passover

April 21st, 2011 · No Comments · Experience, Taking Travel Home

A couple centuries before the Catholic church in Rome established Holy Thursday to commemorate Jesus’ last supper, which was a Passover seder with his twelve apostles, Syrian Christians were celebrating Pesaha. Pesaha is the Malayalam word for Passover.

Christianity came to south India only a few decades after Jesus’ death and many of the first converts were Jews who had a large presence in the trading ports on the Malabar coast. As a result, many Jewish traditions were incorporated in the Indian version of Catholicism.

Virgin Mary & Christ child statue, Indian-style.

Virgin Mary & Christ child statue, Indian-style.

Today, many Syrian Christian families serve Pesaha appam, Passover bread, with Pesaha pal, a coconut milk drink that is like rum-free coquito.  Reading about it reminded me of one of my favorite food discoveries, pal appam, which Rena made for us at Vanilla County Plantation. (Rena also made our Masala Thanksgiving meal.)  This lacy pancake is one more example that Indians make some of the best bread in the world!

I’ve been meaning to make pal appam since coming back from India and decided to host an Indian-style Holy Thursday Pesaha.  Pal appam uses yeast to ferment the batter, so it’s not a true Pesaha meal. In a nod to Hindus and Buddhists, the meal will be vegetarian. (Ok, I just got my days of abstinence mixed up and thought Holy Thursday was meat-free.)

Christ child statue in India with local offerings.

Christ child statue in India with local offerings.

While there is something to offend everyone, I think my multi-cultural, multi-faith, multi-flavor, appam-centric meal is more in the spirit of Easter than bunnies & eggs.

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