Vegam Vegam Malayalam

Lesson #8

You can always find all types of vegetables and edible plants at the market. Or sometimes, you may even find some in a regular backyard! (Of course, in Kerala, this is not uncommon, because Kerala is tropical and everyone has a great forest around somewhere!).

Vegetables, just like plantains and papaya, are cooked in many different ways in Kerala. Quite often, they're pan-fried with coconut, onions, salt, and many hot spices. You'll learn more about this later.

But sometimes when you're learning Malayalam, you know, there are good days and...there are bad days!

You see, I wanted to do what I did last time (i.e. make a bunch of pictures to help you remember the names of the vegetables), but when I made the pictures, none of them showed up correctly on the Web! And making a dialogue with all of these vegetables involved is VERY hard, so...you'll just have to learn the names! Good luck!!

So here goes! Learn the names of all your yummy little veggies in Malayalam! And of course, study hard!!!


veNTaykkaa                                                okra                                         IA Listen!

In Britain and in the Indian Subcontinent, what Americans know as "okra" is called "lady's finger." So, if any Indian (or Briton for that matter) comes up to you and talks to you about "lady's fingers," don't worry, they're not cannibals, just people who use a very strange name! Even though Malayalees may translate the name of this vegetable nastily into English, they seem to cook it quite deliciously (or at least my mom does!), often stir-frying it with onions...mmmmm....yum! But let's move on...

uLLi                                                        onion                                            U Listen!

In Kerala, this word usually refers to shallots, small purple onions that are more common and easy to grow in the region. More specifically, shallots are known as:

kochchuLLi                                        "small onion(s)"                        ޺U Listen!

I'll try to get a good picture of some of these sometime, but for now, you can find a very good picture on http://botany.cs.tamu.edu/FLORA/pic1/shallot.jpg.

The bigger white onion, which is more prominent in the West, is known by a corruption of the Portuguese word for onion (cebola):

savOLa                                            big white (Portuguese) onion       { Listen!

This should be easy to remember if you know Spanish (cebolla), Portuguese (see above!), Italian (cipolla), Catalan (same as Portuguese?), or some Latin (cipolla...I think!). 

vazhuthanangnga                             eggplant/aubergine                    B Listen!

Another common vegetable in Kerala--and in all of India--eggplant has its own name in Indian English as well: "brinjal" (pronounced "BRIN-jawl"). It's a very strange name, and I have no clue as to its origin, since the word in Hindi is rather different and does not sound like the Indian English equivalent. But, again, in Kerala, it's delicious when cooked with lots of masala (spice mixture)! This site has a good picture of this vegetable: http://www.esu.edu/~milewski/intro_biol_two/lab_4_seeds_fruits/berry_eggplant.html

veLuththuLLi                                    garlic                                       {JU Listen!

Another tasty vegetable if used properly! The Malayalam equivalent of the word "garlic" simply means "white onion," which is exactly what garlic is--a small white onion!

injchi                                                ginger                                        F Listen!

What sounds like "inji" in Malayalam can mean either ginger in particular or spices in general! Oh, and by the way, for those who are interested in Ayurvedic medicine but don't know anything much about it: I remember my mother saying that Ayurvedic doctors believe that uLLi, veLuththuLLi, and inji are all very medicinal. (However, Kashmiri Brahmins up north, on the other side of India, believe that uLLi encourages "base passions" and, unlike most other Brahmins, cook and eat lots of meat!) 

payarr(u)                                          beans/lentils                                  Listen!

Most people translate this Malayalam word as "beans," but it is more general than that. Certain kinds of lentils (or daal as it's called in Hindi and Indian English) also count as payarru, and in fact, I often eat one of these kinds of lentils (what is known to Indians as moong daal). 

cherrupayarr(u)                            long beans                                       Listen!

In Malayalam, this literally means "small beans," but it actually refers to green beans that are somewhat skinnier and longer than what most Westerners refer to as (ordinary) "green beans." In any case, it tastes really gooooooood when stir-fried with onions! This website has a good picture of them: http://www.hotcakencyclopedia.com/Botany/image.Beans.jpeg.

OK, I think that's about enough veggies for now! We'll learn the names of even more vegetables later. After all, Kerala has so many!!! But...hey, wait a minute...WHERE DO YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING!?! There's still another quiz! Don't go anywhere without doing that first!! Oh, and by the way...there's extra credit on it, too!