Vegam Vegam Malayalam

Lesson #7

What you mainly buy at the market are fruits and vegetables in addition to meat, and Kerala is full of flora and fauna! Actually, Malayalees usually don't need to buy fruits, since they tend to have those (and sometimes vegetables) in their backyard. This is because Kerala is tropical, and it is very easy and convenient to grow almost everything you need for your own meal!

I was thinking of making a dialog to help you remember the Malayalam names of all the fruits listed below. However, I decided against it; the dialog would've been too long! So instead, I have an illustration (albeit lousy) of each specific item right next to the Malayalam script. That way, you can associate the drawing with the script, and I can provide a quiz at the end of this lesson!

Here's our vocabulary: a list of fruits, of course! Most, if not all, fruits listed below are, as you can deduce, tropical. That means apples and grapes (although available in Kerala) are not included in this list, because 1. they may not be as fresh as in the Western world, and 2. they're not NEARLY as sweet as many of the other fruits listed...:


pazham                                                   banana/fruit                                ݢ Listen!

This word is usually not used very specifically. Its actually the colloquial word for "fruit" in Malayalam. However, many people consider only banana as "fruit." (See the Grapa Fruita? joke!)

If you're looking for bananas or plantains, you should remember these two words in Malayalam:

vaazhappazham                                    banana                                            Listen!  

Eththaykkaa                                         plantain              JA Listen!

Let's get one thing straight: by banana, I mean the long bananas with a yellow or red peel and white flesh. By plantain, I mean the small bananas with a starchy, yellowish flesh that both Cubans and Malayalees often bake. Sometimes, Indians get these two English words mixed up...so, to be on the safe side, just use Malayalam!

maampazham                                        mango                                Listen!

maangnga                                              mango                                B Listen!

Either of the two above words will probably be equally understood anywhere in Kerala to mean the same thing: mango!

thEngnga                                            coconut                 B Listen! 

Coconuts, coconuts, coconuts. Coconuts are everywhere in Kerala (ironically, my brother's allergic to them)! Malayalees usually put coconut husk, meat, or milk into at LEAST one dish. So, if you're allergic to coconuts, beware!

You can find a good picture of coconuts on http://www.tahiti1.com/images/coconut.jpg.

chakka                                                jackfruit                A Listen!

This should be an easier name to remember, since the word chakka kind of sounds like "jack." You know why? It's because in fact, the English word CAME FROM MALAYALAM!!! According to Webster's Dictionary, "jackfruit" comes from Portuguese jaca (ZHAH-kuh) which comes from Malayalam chakka!

http://www.garriss.org/trips/jamaica/jackfruit.jpg has a HUGE picture of jackfruits!

pEraykkaa                                          guava             A Listen!

See http://www.eeb.uconn.edu/Courses/EEB271/Myrtaceae/guava.jpg.

maththangngaa                                  pumpkin            JB Listen! 

http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/generic_frame.html?Cucu_pep.html not only has TONS of pumpkin pictures but practically analyzes pumpkins to death!

A very common fruit in the tropics which includes the word A in Malayalam is:

kaithachchakka                                 pineapple                 ĺA  Listen! 

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/cooking/text/0,1971,FOOD_9819_32230,00.html has a nice, big picture of a pineapple.

The word for pineapple in Malayalam (ĺA) literally means "pineapple tree jackfruit!"                                      

thaNNiimaththan                              watermelon                                           HJX Listen!

Malayalees usually don't eat pumpkins or watermelons very often! You can remember the word for watermelon in this way (if you don't want to try to trace the etymology of the word): One thunny (sunny) day in Kerala, I noticed it was very hot. Using my math skills, I calculated that it was 85 degrees outside. Noting some watermelons, I decided it would be better to eat one than suffer this unbearable heat! 

Omaykka                                            papaya                A Listen!

You can find a picture of a papaya at http://www.tropicalfruitnursery.com/fruitproducts_pr.htm.

aaththaykkaa                                    "custard apple"            J Listen!


The above fruit is very common in India (imported from the Americas) and known in Hindi as seethaphal ("Seetha's fruit"; I've no idea why it's called that...). In English it's usually known by names like "custard apple" and "sugar apple." Its scientific name is Annona squamosa (i.e. scaly fruit with a milky texture on the outside!). I've never tasted it before myself, but my dad says it's SOOOOOOO DELICIOUS! Go here to find out more about this mysterious, unique fruit from Ms. Mumtaz Khalid Ismail!

iiththappazham                                date                                   JMݢ Listen!

Dates, fruit from the Middle Eastern deserts, are definitely not indigenous to Kerala's tropical rainforests! However, they are somewhat common in India, perhaps due to the arrival of Muslims in India around the 12th century. 

That should be enough fruits for the day! Now try doing the quiz! And after you're done with that, how about more practical foods, like veggies?