Pazhaya sooru and neer agaram

Murali Chellappan shares his nostalgia

I was reading an article of old and traditional food that’s making a comeback and how youth relish it. It made me very nostalgic . It took me to my growing up days. Simple days. No television or fast food. Family, siblings and lot of time together.

Pazhaya Saadham ( Fermented rice) and neer aagaram ( liquid diet) was part of our breakfast most of the days. We grew up with these dishes. It was a routine. Lovely days. Delicious food. Simple and healthy, tasty and good. My mother used to serve this to me and my siblings most of the days. It was not a left over, but a deliberate dish that kept us healthy energetic and active through the day. Served with love and dining with my siblings made the dish tastier.

Pazhaya Saadham is Fermented leftover rice is soaked in plain water left overnight to ferment. (My mother used to soak it in a clay pot and leave it to ferment overnight) In the morning, the water is drained off the rice. (The drained water is stored separately and becomes the main ingredient for neer agaram) The rice is mashed up and mixed with butter milk (liquid yogurt) topped with shallots (Chinna Vengayam) and Pachamilagai (green chillis) and served for breakfast. A power breakfast before school.

Fermented rice is rich in vitamins and generates bacteria that help in digestion. It is supposed to keep the body light, cool, fresh and energetic. It is known by different names such as poita bhaat (Assam), pazhaya saadham (Tamil Nadu), Pakhala bhat (Odisha), panta bhaat (Bengal), tanajana ( Tulu community) and chaddannam (Andhra Pradesh). Pazhaya Sadam is part of our tradition. A regular breakfast for the farmers and workers who works in the field because it gives more energy and produces the new cells while they burn more calories in the field work. I watched a Malayalam movie – Kalippattam, which has a very nice scene., A pregnant Urvashi craves for pazhamkanji when Mohanlal, playing her husband, makes her imagine eating it with a delicious description of the meal.

Neeraagaram : The water which we get drained from the fermented rice when had on an empty stomach, said to cure the stomach related problems. Also starch from the rice is always helpful for the hair, skin, and pigmentation. same as that the fermented water makes us look youth for along. Besides being an absolute coolant like tender coconut water.

Today many hotels and restaurants have started popularizing this dish.   They offer an offbeat eating out experience.  I see various posting on the face book and other social media on the food and this makes me so happy.  What makes me more happier is that many youngsters today are adapting to this and making it a preferred breakfast.

I also read an observation of doctors at the Institute of Surgical Gastroenterology, Government Stanley Medical College Hospital – Chennai.

They say “consumption of pazhaya saadham or fermented rice will protect the intestine and aid in digestion, The findings from an ongoing study suggest that the rice has presence of many good gut bacteria.”

As a sales and marketing professional, I travelled extensively. I observed that Pazhaya Saadham is still a preferred dish in most of the semi urban and rural places. Secret to health and happiness. I still have this at home many days… thinking of the lovely days I grew up with it..

Share this post