The Arabian whiff of weddings

Arabian dish Mandi being served during a wedding party in Kozhikode.

Arabian dish Mandi being served during a wedding party in Kozhikode.

Biriyani is passé in Malabar’s wedding parties. Kabsa, Mandi, and Majboos are some of the favoured dishes now.

Like Shawarma, Shawaya and Khubuz, which came crossing the Arabian Sea to Kerala several years ago, these rice-meat combination dishes also came from Arabia.

According to observers, they first reached here through fast-food outlets and eateries started by the Gulf-returned cafeteria employees.

Of late, these dishes, which figure on the main course menu of the Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Oman, have become widely popular in Malabar. They are not only served as prestige dishes on occasions such as weddings and family parties but also are cooked in the kitchens of the region, with ready-to-cook kits available in the market

Outwardly, all these food varieties will appear like variants of biriyani, which also is basically a rice-meat combination dish. However, they are different in taste, texture, and the way they are prepared. Mandi is a traditional Yemeni dish prepared with chicken and rice while Kabsa is its Saudi variant. Chicken Majboos is an Arabian rice dish similar to Kerala Biriyani. Some also call it Arabian chicken biriyani.

This migration of food varieties, according to writer and sociologist Hafiz Mohammed, is only natural to the Malabar region, where most of the households have at least one member employed in the Middle East. “It is only a continuation of the culinary influence Arabia has cast on Kerala for the past 30 years,” he says.

Some wedding parties in Malabar, predominantly among the Muslim community, have both biriyani and Mandi served to the guests among other dishes.

“It is almost a fad now to have Mandi or Kabsa served during wedding parties in Malabar now,” says Rameez Karakkattil, from Koduvally near here. Many affluent families served more than one Arabian dish during the parties these days.

Dr. Mohammed said it had almost become a status symbol.

“Chefs who can prepare these dishes are in demand now. It is a big dent on your profile if you don’t know how to cook these items these days,” says a much sought-after cook from Parathappoyil, near Mukkam, in Kozhikode.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2022 10:27:20 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/the-arabian-whiff-of-weddings/article7741276.ece