Three chefs from Malabar travel to the city and cook up a Mappila special

Have you had ‘kozhi ada'? What? You say you are not a non-vegetarian? Ha..ha.. but ‘kozhi ada' has no ‘kozhi' (chicken) in it! Honest. Listen to Nishabi, the sole feminine factor in the three-member team, headed by A.C. Mustapha who is behind the Mappila Food Festival, on at Tharavadu, Hotel Casino.

“We call it ‘kozhi ada', but there's no chicken in it. It is rice and coconut and it's sweet,” says a bemused Nishabi. Malabar is a place which evokes all kinds of traditional thoughts. And first among those is food. Sitting here in Kochi, now, we can we taste Malabari food. Of the three authentic Malabari chefs here from Thalassery, the third member is Ashraf. They reel off the delicacies that North Keralites love. Most of them are available at the festival.

Nishabi, who has left her 11-year-old daughter at home to give Kochiites a feel of Malabari fare, and Ashraf, besides their leader, Mustapha have has years of experience cooking traditional food for special occasions like weddings, feats and other celebrations.

Rice forms the base for many of the Mappila delicacies. The banana takes on umpteen forms with or without props like rice. What is familiar ground for us is of course the biriyanis, mutton, beef and chicken. ‘Irachi' rice is different from biriyani. It has a lot of chilli and coriander, which the biriyani lacks. ‘Ari pathiri' turns ‘ari roti' at the Mappila fete, which is made by hands, not the rolling pin.

‘Kakka roti', like ‘kozhi ada', has no ‘kakka' in it either. It is predominantly rice with a few condiments and shaped like a ‘kakka' (mussel), a steamed dish that is eaten with meat or chicken curry, as you wish.

For the ‘puzhungol oroti', no meat or chicken is used, only prawn, fish or mussel meat, which is sandwiched between the chapathi type dough and steamed. Kaipola is one dessert that you will not forget. Banana bits, cashew, egg, sugar and ghee go into its making and it's round. That's all Nishabi would tell you. Another of the banana desserts is ‘kaya nirachathu', where the banana is slit and the coconut-sugar-condiments combo is tucked into the slits and fried to perfection, in ghee. Unnakkai is now familiar to all of us here. The toughest to make is ‘chatti pathiri', which is a layered dish that takes hours to make. The threesome dish out a different menu every day with something new each day.

For a great Iftar feast, reach Hotel Casino anytime between 7.30-11 p.m.

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