Monday, February 01, 2010

Mellow Mallum

There was Baby Bok Choy,
There was Big Bok Choy,
Then there were incessant
Cups of chopped choy.

In went the leek,
Garlic and salt
Green chilli, turmeric
Spicy things all.
Steamed was the mix,
Covered for ten minutes
Stirred now and then
In my li'l kitchen.

Off with the lid
So went the liquid
In went the coconut
Shredded and grated.

Mix it well
Mix it nice
Wait just a minute (or two),
And there's a dish
For your rice!

As in all great literary works, there is much creative licence in this poem too. (One instance of it is that you don't need the rice.) I will not bore you with the technicalities of meter and rhythm, but hasten to assure you that truth has its place in this licentious (poetically speaking) piece.

The weekly shopping expedition resulted in many greens, including a first for me - bok choy. (I've eaten it on the rare occasion, but I have never processed it myself, ever.) I got some fine specimens and though my head told me to search for adequately apposite recipes, my heart immediately knew it would go into only one, a formula I had discovered a few weeks ago when Cynthia wrote about how she made mallum (also mallung, a Sri Lankan dish) for her vegan guests.

The better part of this morning was taken up with cleaning and chopping the bok choy, it came to nearly 12 cups, stalks and leaves together. I had a couple of leeks too, so one of them went into it, sliced. I added some salt, turmeric and five cloves of garlic, minced, mixed it all up and set it to cook, covered, on medium high flame for 10-15 minutes. Stir it every 3-4 minutes. The greens will give off some water so do away with the cover after a while. When the chopped stalks turn a transparent green and the leaves have wilted just enough, add about one-and-a-half cups of grated coconut and cook for another minute or two.

Bok Choy Mallum

Cabbage mallum

In the other mallums I've made, I've used French beans, cabbage and hyacinth beans. With these vegetables, I did not even wait to add the coconut at a later stage, it was a one-shot attempt. With the hyacinth beans, which was more experimental than the rest and did not contain any coconut, I added red chilli flakes (not a cupful, no!), salt and turmeric alone.

French Bean mallum

Truth be told, this is not very different from most South Indian stir-fries but what I'm chuffed about is the absence of oil (other than that contained within the coconut) and water, and the novelty of mixing everything together and letting it cook entirely on/in its own steam!

Your pan needs to be suitably thick-bottomed, or you could end up with some charred coconut and vegetables.

Here are some links I found useful:

Leafy vegetable mallum (mallung)

"Mallum is usually shredded vegetables cooked with spices and grated coconut.

Cabbage is commonly used to make mallum, but Sinhalese also use jackfruit, breadfruit, ash plaintain and unripe papaya."
- From here

"Mallum combine one of any number of vegetables (on Sri Lanka, we most often encountered carrot mallum and green bean mallum) with chiles, onions, coconut, and turmeric. Once the ingredients are mixed together in a heavy pot they're steam-cooked over medium heat. Mallum require minimum attention once they're on the fire, and make an excellent side dish."
- From here

This goes to Simona of Briciole, who is hosting this week's Weekend Herb Blogging, created by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and administered now by Haalo of Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once.


  1. Mallum looks very appetizing and your poem is just perfect for a food blog. You should do more of these :)

    The amount of coconut could make it a coconut poriyal even but qwho cares, coconut is so very good.

  2. This recipe seems to be really interesting... love the idea of oil less stir fry....

  3. lol! Did you drink a bit too much Wine or something? Being very poetic today!;D

    Not bad, makes sense when you say it so lovingly about Bokchoy. Love the Mallum without oil. I love Cabbage, so anything easy to good. Love the photo with leaf as plate, very creative. I wouldn't remember to save one before I chop it all up.

    We got 8" snow last weekend, now ice and sleet. There were 4 deaths in one weekend on the NC roads. Pretty bad and strange weather these days, global warming?

  4. you know what..i just got the bok choy once and never did i venture into bring it again in my kitchen..may be i should try this recipe !!nice poem by the way !

  5. Never heard of this dish. looks awesome!! Nice poem :)

  6. Once there was a girl name Jaya
    She found a blogger named Sra...

    That's all I could come up with and it doesn't even go together. You are a witty genius Sra!

    We get bok choy in just about every store and I have not even attempted to pick it up. After reading this great literary work, I have to. :)

  7. Lovely! Sort of an oil-free thoran. I have been making something similar with cabbage or shredded carrots without knowing that i was making mallum. And i feel your delight in not adding oil, cocnut to the rescue here :). I add green chilies to the one with cabbage.Mmmmm.....sso good!

  8. Mallum, that is a new thing I learned today Sra. Thanks.

    The poetic recipe is superb

  9. Very simple stir fry sans the tadka. Usually the tadka is not just the oil and fragrance. The mustard has a unique quality of cleansing the ingredients added to it. Hence the tadka is done before we add any thing. In some dishes tadka comes in the end. Thats why in many indian dishes you cannot miss tadka. As well you can do it with very little oil. I lik this type of stir fries for their simplicity and the absoluteness!

  10. Oh Sra, missed to write about the poem. Really adorable! I love to see more such poetic recipes. Looks like in olden days Rishis' write medicine making methods inthe form of poems and only people who have the wisdom can understand it for the rest it looks like an ordinay poem about a king or the people!

  11. Long live iambic pentameter(is that what it is???)......liked your poetic take on mallum. Btw, i like the word mallum.

  12. In all the three what i would love to have is cabbage mallum, i think we call it back home this thoran.

  13. You made bokchoy,
    oh what joy joy joy!

    That is my rather pathetic attempt at rhyme and worse(verse!)

    We get a lot of bokchoy here, I normally make a stir fry with garlic and soy sauce. Never thought of making a thoran though.

  14. Sra,
    you get Bok Choy in India also , wow! world is getting smaller lol..
    and kya baat hai you are into poems today! ...I like the word mallum even it has a simple rythum of it's own ..if I get bok choy this time,I am going to try out this Sri lankan recipe soon ...thanks for sharing
    hugs and smiles

  15. wow..the poem is cute..and as indo said it sounds like coconut poriyal..still sounds and looks good sra..

  16. Another hidden talent there, huh? You should write more of these Sra! So, the mallum is just like the Kerala thoran from the looks of it.

  17. I love all this greenery! Yum! Your dish looks not only delicious but life-sustaining.


  18. Loved the poem. I have not made anythinig with BokChoy in the kitchen; had it in some chinese restaurants.
    Glad that I learnt a new word Mallum today and I am able to relate it to Indian coconut dry curries.

  19. Cute poem there Sra :)
    I've been wanting to cook with bokchoy..since it's found in abundance here. This sounds like a nice way esp. since my husband loves coconut.

  20. I should recite this rhyme to my little one :) Mallum is new to me, like an oil/tadka free thoran. How did the bak choy taste? I'm a bit nervous to try new veggies after some not so good attempts with unknown stuff!

  21. Did the rare bokchoy unveiled this poet! Very creative post , we get tons of this leaf year long, but never knew we could cook this delicious way!

  22. The poem is somewhat perfect for your blog! Mallum looks nice and the photos is so appetizing.

  23. Indo, I thought only the first four lines were naturally poetic, the rest I made up with a little effort. :-)
    RV, yeah, I think I'm a convert for life.
    Asha, I was expecting this reaction from you - even I wondered what the hell came over me. And I surprised myself by remembering to save a leaf.
    SE, it's a mildly strange taste but with the coconut, you'd hardly notice!
    Uma, I hadn't heard of it too, till Cynthia wrote about it.
    Jaya, that's quite a nice rhyme, with a story to boot!
    Musy, Yes, carrot is next on my list. I too added green chilli to the cabbage.
    Bong Mom, Tk you, tk you.
    Ni, I knew the tadka had to have a deeper purpose. The purpose of this dish was not to do away with the oil, just highlight a one-shot method of cooking. And I didn't know about the medicine either!
    Jayashree, you know, i was revising lessons on iambic pentameter as I was writing this post. But this is more a rap tune in my head!
    Happy, the beans were nice and crunchy too.
    Aqua, try it, it's nice.
    Jaya, yes, first time I'm seeing it in my neighbourhood.
    Valli, tk you, tk you
    Sig, Ha ha, the poem's crazy, isn't it? Yes, it's very much like many South Indian dishes.
    Paz, thanks, I liked the greenery myself!
    Red Chillies, tks, I've had bok choy with almonds, and maybe earlier in restaurants, not v common here.
    Laavanya, now that's a combination of happy circumstances, isn't it? Jyothsna, it was something approaching bitter, but not really. And yes, some new stuff can disappoint - I've gone through a lot of that myself.
    Shankari, you bet, that's how I tuned it. Stay tuned for the video release!
    Cham, Yes, it did! The last time I wrote a poem was in college.

  24. sra, have you read any of the NC author Nicholas Sparks's books? Very romantic, heart warming and some are made into movies. Latest one "Dear John", small books, light reading but always so romantic, movie releasing too.

  25. This is beautiful Sra, from the really nice poem, to the recipe, to photos, to the information about mallum. Thank you so much for your contribution.

  26. Gosh you are amazing with words :)

  27. As I was reading through the poem, in my head, I was rapping it the whole-time. It was fun..;).
    Isn't the mallum similar to the poriyal dishes like dondakaya kobbari koora etc where we add a cup of coconut at the end. yummy looking bok-choy curry!


  28. Seems very similar to what is called 'thoran' but for the tadka - lovely bok choy you found there - would make a yummy fried rice or noodles :)

    Would have jumped on a bunch this fresh had I spotted it :)

  29. Oh gosh, your array of mallum is enticing!

    I think when I do it with the bak choy, I'm going to leave the pot uncovered.

  30. :) that was such a lovely poem ! thanks

  31. That poem absolutely made my day! So creative.

    Interesting cooking method. Definitely need to give it a try!

  32. New way of cooking boy choy! :)

  33. Intresting recipe...looks yummy and mouthwatering..


  34. Loved the are so creative..Mallum is a new name for me though we make a similar dish called "thoran"(in Kerala)

  35. If that's not health in a bowl I don't know what is!!!

  36. You are challenging Nash, Sra. Bok Choy is a lovely ingredient, but it is rare that I see really good specimens around; most of them are wilted and weak. Nice dishes all around. Is a mallum any different from a thoran? I am sensing not.

  37. maybe you should write your recipes in verse and do a collection like beastly tales (vikram seth), its funny! i am sure you dont want critical analysis on this work so i shall desist. :D

    nice subzi!

    ya eatwritethink is the new blog, vegetarian in middle east is passe now.

  38. Wow that's an interesting recipe!!

  39. Looks very nice, with the presentation. Title too, mellow mallum!

  40. Challenging? I meant channeling. My typing of late has become rather dyslexic. Duh me.

  41. She can cook. And she can rhyme. Will you marry me?

  42. Asha, yes, am replying v late to these comments.
    Simona, thanks for the beautiful round-up
    Rachel, yes, aren't I, absolutely! LOL! Thanks v much.
    Siri, yes, it's very similar to that
    Nandita, That was my next project, but it hasn't been available since!
    Cynthia, why? Because it would have come down in size? God knows I could have used that.
    Miri, ;) Thanks.
    Joanne, thanks, the first four lines set me off
    Nostalgia, thanks.
    Tigerfish, yes, it is, really! Jagruti, yes, I would have used any greens in that mood.
    Gulmohar, Tks, I know about thoran, just didn't strike me when I said it was a familiar taste from south India.
    Kris, yep, greeeeeen!
    Susan, actually I wanted to 'channel' him, but I couldn't twist any words like he did, to suit the rhyme. Guess it's not v different from a thoran, except for the tempering, as the comments reveal. from a thoran? I am sensing not.
    Rajani, ah, this was belted out one sleepy nite, guess it won't work when I'm all awake.
    ARUNA, thank you!
    Ruchika, Thank you, that was a very opportune thought, the presentation.
    Susan, I guess both meant the same in this context - trying to be like him is also a challenge, isn't it? :)
    Cynic, :-D


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