Hey Hey Mapillai! Feast on Malabar Food at Taj Gateway ‘Moplah Food Fest’
Mangaluru: Before getting further into the Moplah food, let me first get into the dance mood to the lyrics of the famous party song which goes like this”Hey Vaadaa Mapillai, Vaala Pala Thopula, Volleyball Aadalaama? Hey Aadum Saakula, Cycle Gapula Kidukku Pudi Podalaama? Mooku Keela, Balle Balle; Mutham Kudu, Balle Balle; Kadichi Putaa, Balle Balle; Moota Kattu, Balle Balle…Epdi Epdi, Apdi Apdi”–I bet many of you heard this number. Now getting serious in Moplah food, which is exclusively featured at the “Moplah Food Fest” now going at Hotel Taj Gateway-Bunder Road, Mangaluru – even though Moplah cuisine is predominantly non-vegetarian, there is plenty to keep the vegetarians happy too.
And the experienced Chef who has meticulously prepared all the Moplah cuisine, along with supervision of executive Chef of Taj Gateway-Mangaluru none other than Zubaida, a guest chef for Taj Hotels, when needed. Zubaida who says she started cooking from an early age hails from a traditional Moplah family which follows a matriarchal society where the ‘Mapillai’ or bridegroom comes to stay with his wife at her house. Chef Zubaida from Calicut, from a village called pazhaya Kozhikode, started cooking their Mapilla regional cuisine at the age of 12. She was inspired by her grandma and learnt the art of typical Mappilas of Malabar cuisine. She uses all home made spices and housemade ground masalas to cook these unusual dishes. She also uses mud pot items to cook for authentic taste. She holds a piece of culinary history, and It is a real pleasure to have her in Mangaluru.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, she said, “Moplah cooking is light on the stomach and quite different from the Muslim food from other places in India like Hyderabad, Kashmir and places in the north which use more oil and are heavy on spices. Restricted use of spices and the absence of ginger garlic paste as well as soups and starters besides copious amounts of coconut oil and coconut milk are the hallmarks of Moplah food. We add chilli powder to onions and mix it with water. Our particular food does not accept the flavour of other chillies so chillies like the Kashmiri chilly is just added for the colour and not its flavour. Even people inside my state are not aware of our cuisine. For instance, did you know that pathiris also vary from region to region. Towards the coast the rice pancakes are leaf thin while towards the hills of Wayanad the pathiris as as thick as a tyre?” added Zubaida.
“We have a culture of feasts and parties and we have the best of the food. Cooking forms an essential part of it. The quintessential food is the Moplah biriyani, which can be made of fish, mutton or chicken but the key ingredient is the rice. The Moplahs also have a fastidious style of eating. Also, our biriyanis are different. They are served with the masala on the side and not mixed into the rice. There is a difference between the stew and the ishtu. The Mutton ishtu is prepared using coconut milk, white pepper onion and potato with pathiri while the vegetable stew can be made even with water. Mapillah dal is made using tamarind and the vegetable ishtu is quite delicious. The food festival menu includes Fish Biriyani where slices of fish are cooked with Kerala spices and uses the small grained jeerakasala rice from the state. The Mutton Dum biriyani uses kaima rice”, added Chef Zubaida.
Also speaking to Team Mangalorean, the new Taj Gateway Food and Beverage Manager, Noor Mohammad said, “A Mappila, also known as a Muslim Mappila, Moplahs or Jonaka Mappila, is a member of the largest Muslim group in the Indian state of Kerala. The community arose primarily as a result of the pre- and post-Islamic Arab contact with Kerala, mainly based upon trade. Moplah cuisine has a great deal in common with food elsewhere in Kerala in its excessive use of coconut and coconut oil, and in its dependence on rice as the staple item of food. The Arab influence is evident in some of the dishes, wholesome wheat and meat porridge, and the stuffed chicken. There is a certain variety of dishes that is intrinsically Moplah and recognized as such by all Malayalis — the Pathiri or rice chapatti made in many different ways, the Neichoru, exotic fried rice, and the sweet Mutta Mala or the egg garland made of the yolks of eggs without a trace of fat”
It is learnt that Moplah food is not rich, don’t use too many spices, no ginger-garlic paste, use chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric, jeera, a few whole spices that grown locally. Moplah food, unlike other Mughlai food, will not give you a feeling of fullness at the end of a meal. Moplah cooking is generally done by traditional women cooks called “Ethathas” who dress with their heads covered by long, white scarves and their ears festooned with earrings. Moplah cuisine also has starters that are equally high on taste. Here are some of the delicacies featured at the “Moplah Food Fest” at Hotel Taj Gateway:
Muthari Sherbet : a Body cooler made with palm sugar, ragi and fresh coconut milk; Pepper Rasam: Very popular in South India, prepared with cumin seeds, pepper and garlic. It tastes great with hot steamed rice and a teaspoon of ghee; Sarlas: Challas or Sarlas is a very Kerala thing. Challas is basically thinly sliced red onion that’s soaked in vinegar, salted, spiced, and served commonly with Kerala biriyani, cutlets, parota, fried rice, etc. It has a wonderful tangy-sweet flavor from the vinegar and onions; Malabar Kuchumber Salad : Evenly diced onion tomato and peppers flavored with lemon juice and freshly chopped curry leaves; Muttakose Pepper Salad : Freshly shredded cabbage salad with home ground peppercorns; Koonthal Porichathu : Evenly sliced squid rings that are marinated and deep fried in oil; Cauliflower Fry : Small florets of cauliflower marinated and deep-fried in oil and served hot.
Malabar Chicken Curry : Delicious spicy chicken curry cooked in coconut milk is a special dish that goes well with parota, chappati etc.; Meen Biriyani: Malabar style sear fish biriyani cooked in traditional dum method; Erachi Aanam Vattichate : Succulent pieces of mutton cooked in broiled coconut and home ground spices goes well with ghee rice; Cucumber Tengapal Curry : Golden Cucumber cooked in thick coconut gravy; Kizhungu Vazhudananga Roast: Dry preparation of potato and brinjal which goes well with pathiri and parota; Paripu Takkali Curry: Nadan Parippu Thakkali Curry / Toor dal tomato curry is one of the tastiest curry recipe, which goes well with plain rice.
Veechu Parota: Also known as Malabar parota; Rice Pathiri : It is an authentic Indian style flat bread popular in the coastal Malabar region of Kerala and it is prepared using only three ingredients – rice flour, cooking oil and water; Kannan Pathiri : Folded pathiries are known as kannanpathiri; Nei Chor: Ghee rice with flavouring; Kerala rice: Unpolished brown rice. And for desserts, Pazham Nirachate : Kerala banana stuffed with coconut sugar and cardamom which is fried in ghee; Elanji: Stuffed rice pancake with freshly grated coconut and sugar traditional dessert of Malabar; And to digest all that you ate, it’s advisable to try “Kaahwa”- which is dry ginger flavored traditional refreshing tea, which is normally had at the end of a meal to reduce the heaviness and helps in digestion.
Nannari Sherbet: is also one of the refreshing drinks. Has cooling properties for the body. Made from sarsaparilla; Pineapple Rasam : Pineapple floavoured south Indian spicy tomato broth; Mutta Salad : Spicy boiled egg salad flavoured with freshly shredded curry leaves and coconut oil; Chemmeen Unda: Home style marinated prawn dumplings that are deep fried in oil; Koon Pattiri: khoon pathiri is steamed vadas made of rice flour stuffed with mushroom. A good change for vegetarians; Kozhi Varutharachatu : Varutharacha Kozhicurry Malabar style / Chicken curry in roasted coconut gravy. It is one of the authentic taste from Malabar. It goes well with Malabar nice pathiri. also serve this with dosa, appam, idiyappam etc. The perfect blend of roasted coconut and spices gives a rich and aromatic flavor to curry;
Mathi Nellika Va: Spicy Sardine Curry Using Dried Gooseberry. Sardines are paired with dried gooseberries and cooked with five simple ingredients till dry; Mutton Biriyani: Mutton is marinated in spices and yogurt and cooked with spices. Cooked rice is layered with the marinated mutton and the biryani is made in traditional dum style of cooking; Vegetable Veluta Annam : Evenly diced potatoes which are stewed in coconut thick gravy flavored with curry leaves and home ground masala; Parippu Pachamulagu Tallichatu: Parippu-Lentil is cooked with grated coconut and seasoned with spices; with ghee drizzled on top. The classic combination of rice, parippu curry with ghee sprinkled over, along with pappad. A strong tempering made with coconut oil, mustard and green chili adds to the flavor
Nei Pathiri: It is authentic Indian style flat bread popular in the coastal Malabar region of Kerala and it is prepared using only three ingredients – rice flour, cooking oil and water and is fried in oil. Also known as rice roti in some parts of Kerala; Kappa: Steamed tapioca with a tempering of mustard, red chili, curry leaves and shallots with coconut oil; Pal Vazhakka: Pal vazhakka or sago dessert is a classic Kozhikode (Calicut) delight. It is commonly prepared during Ramadan. Sago cooked with coconut milk and ripe plantain. A very delicious dessert; Mutta Sirka : Mutta sirka is a rice based appam. It is a special Malabar dish. It is a steamed egg based dessert which is served hot; Tenga Unnakai: Steamed Kerala banana dumplings that are deep fried in ghee and served hot. (Please note that menu items change daily during the Fest )
For more details/reservations call Hotel Taj Gateway at 0824-6660420; Noor Mohammad-Food & Beverage Manager: 9246490231; Vinay-Sales Manager: 9886896865
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