Food spot Metroplus

More power to Moplah!

A dish of Moplah cuisine

A dish of Moplah cuisine   | Photo Credit: 12dmc rahul 1

Chef Abida Rasheed’s repertoire of Moplah cuisine continues to impress connoisseurs

I met Abida Rasheed seven years ago. That was when the business woman-cum-homemaker from Calicut was on her first professional visit to Delhi as a chef. She had organised a Moplah food festival at The Park, and I remember I had some delicious dishes that she had prepared for us.

She is back at the hotel, overseeing another festival. And once again I had a superb meal supervised by the Moplah food specialist. From the starters to the dessert, each dish was incredible. The spices were just right, the food had been cooked to perfection and, not surprisingly, the taste was memorable.

Moplah food is the cuisine of the Kerala Muslim community in the northern part of the state. A common thread ties the cuisine to that of other regions in the state and most dishes are eaten by all communities – Hindus, Muslims and Christians. But Moplah food has its own trademark dishes and way of cooking. The food is suitably spicy and tangy, and revels in non-vegetarian specialities.

The festival – only for dinner — is on at Fire till tomorrow (December 13). Park hotel is keen to promote regional and sub-regional food, which is a reason why the rates are not as high as one would expect at a luxury hotel. The appetisers that I ate, for instance, came for Rs 300 and the meat ishtu was for Rs.500.

We started the meal with a platter of appetisers. It consisted of an erachipathiri, a puri stuffed with onions and mutton, kaduka nirachathu, a special mussel stuffed with rice flour and coconut and then steamed and shallow fried, and kozhi orichathu – fried chicken. I loved the mussel, which was tender and moist, and the chicken, which was deliciously spicy. And the erachipathiri was out of this world – a bit like the north Indian gujia, but with an excellent savoury stuffing of minced met and onions.

Next on the table was a bowl of mutton ishtu – mutton cooked in coconut milk, white pepper, onions and potato – served with a pathiri, prepared with powdered rice. Chef Abida believes the way to eat this is by pouring the stew over the pathiri, and letting the rice roti soak it all in. I followed her instructions, and thought the stew was superb. The Thalassery mutton dum biryani was different from all the biryanis I have had, but interesting.

What I enjoyed the most was the chemeen mulaku curry – prawns cooked with small onion, tomato, tamarind, chilli powder, mustard and garlic (Rs 650). The gravy was strong, spicy and tangy, and I was happy to find that the chef had not toned it down for north Indian diners. The prawns were soft and had soaked in all the juices of the curry, and went well with the puttu – a steamed coconut rice cake – that it came with.

I have always said (much to the annoyance of my Malayali friends) that Kerala’s desserts are nothing much to write home about. But I have to admit that both the chakara choru – tiny wheat balls cooked in milk and with coconut and jaggery — and elaneer payasam – tender coconut kheer – (Rs 400 for the platter, along with a small helping of halwa) were truly excellent.

You will notice that I didn’t waste any time on anything vegetarian, but there is quite a long veg menu, too – with such Moplah delicacies as cashew curry, potato stew, mushroom fry, raw green mango curry and green gram curry.

Chef Abida is a consultant who trains others and cooks Moplah meals for special occasions, travelling across the country. And, clearly, she is a chef who wields magic. More power to her spatula!

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 1:53:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/more-power-to-moplah/article7977213.ece

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