There is more to Malabar cuisine than just biriyanis… Find out at an ongoing Moplah food festival at Vivanta by Taj

The flavours of Malabar beckon at an ongoing Moplah food festival at The Fifth Element, Vivanta by Taj, Vazhuthacaud. And although the Malabar coast is not that far from the capital city, not many are familiar with its cuisine, except perhaps for the Thalassery biriyani. But there is more to the cuisine than just biriyanis as I soon come to realise.

The chefs are busy setting up the buffet counter as I enter the restaurant. Chefs Kabeer and Rahmat, who have come down from Kozhikode especially for the fete are getting their live counter ready. I help myself to a glass of narunandi sherbet – refreshing.

I walk around checking the dishes on the menu. It’s an interesting mix. While most of the dishes like the neichoru, kadala curry, pathiri, sweet ada and taripola are distinctly Malabari, the rest are a potpourri of other cuisines.

I decide to go authentically Malabari in my palette today so I start with a steaming hot bowl of aadu kurumulaghu soup, a thin spicy mutton broth with just the right amount of salt and spices.

Chef Rahmat is busy frying kallumaikai nirachathu. Although the aroma is appetising, I skip it as I am not too fond of mussels. Chef Kabeer serves me some hot-from-the-wok crisp fried tapioca chips.

I help myself to fried pathiri with some chicken korma and erachi chilli. The pathiri, which surprisingly is not laden with oil, goes well with the korma. The erachi chilli is really good, dark brown and moist with its masala.

What is a Malabar food festival without its biriyani? The Kaima rice and succulent pieces of chicken, cooked dum style brings out the subtle flavour of spices. And the best part is that the biriyani is not that oily. The chammanti and pickle served as accompaniment to the dish lend the dish a twist.

Although there are many more dishes to try out in the main course section, I decide to go for the desserts. I ignore the cakes and other bakes and pile my plate high with Kozhikodan halwa, unnakai and taripola. The halwa melts in my mouth and the unnakai is a delight with its perfect blend of banana, and raisins. The taripola, similar to a sponge cake, has a strong hint of cardamom.

A glass of hot Sulaimani (black tea), ends a perfect meal.

The Moplah food festival is on in the evenings till June 8. It is priced at Rs. 1,250 plus tax per person.