The Humble Chapati Marks 100 Years Since Its Arrival In Kerala During Vaikom Satyagraha

On April 29, 2024, Kerala celebrated the 100 years of chapati in the state. This staple food of Sikhs introduced during the Vaikom Satyagraha has become a part of the state's culinary culture. Read on to know the journey of this North Indian flatbread in the cuisine of Kerala.
The Humble Chapati Marks 100 Years Since Its Arrival In Kerala During Vaikom Satyagraha
God's own country Kerala is renowned for its rich curries and fluffy rice appams but a century ago, a guest dish entered the state has a surprisingly became a common culinary delight, its none other than the humble chapati. Being a part of daily diet in North India, this flatbread is linked to a deep history and a touch of Sikh philanthropy.
It was the year 1924, when Kerala was going through the Vaikom Satyagraha, a movement against the untouchability restrictions near the Vaikom temple. With a motive to serve, a team from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) arrived in the region, setting up a langar- a community kitchen, to feed the protestors. This was the moment when the people of Kerala first tried chapati- a flatbread made from wheat flour.
Chapati
Chapati
Carried out under the leadership of Sardar Lala Lal Singh and Baba Kripal Singh, the group served over 30,000 chapatis along with dal. The Malyalis loved the soft, fluffy texture and the simplicity of the dish and made it a part of their diet. However, instead of mustard oil, they used coconut oil, ghee or palm oil. The 100-year celebration of its popularity was held in a grand manner at Mavelikara.
However, Mahatma Gandhi was against the Satyagrahis for accepting free food from the Sikhs calling it improper for people who could afford to buy meals for themselves. But the SGPC did not officially order the team to stop operating the langar in Vaikom, so the volunteers continued to operate the kitchen.
It was when Sardar KM Panicker, the then Diwan of the Princely State of Patiala, Punjab, telegrammed the committee’s approval to the volunteers then the operation came to an end in Vaikom. Though the team had left the place, the Keralites continued to embrace the chapati and today it has made a place in the state’s cuisine. In many local households, flatbread is enjoyed with a variety of curries and stews.
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