The Moplah Culinary Route at 601, The Park Hotel
Abida Rasheed curates an exquisite culinary experience that almost takes you to the heart of Kozhikode
(All food images shot with the Honor View 10)
If there’s one city that can claim to be Kerala’s food capital, it’s Kozhikode. The quality of food even at the city’s tiny eateries is usually superlative. They can’t survive otherwise; everyone’s a foodie in this city. Moplah cuisine drives the city’s food culture and some of the culinary influences date back centuries. Abida Rasheed is one of the city’s culinary ambassadors, a storehouse of information on the region’s traditions and cooking techniques.
Abida is in Chennai until January 29 and will work her magic at 601 at the Park Hotel. For starters, you will be relieved to hear that this is not one of those food promotions where everything gets dunked into a buffet. Fine cuisine like this deserves to be treated with respect. Abida hasn’t just taken over the kitchen but also carted some delicacies like the city’s iconic banana chips (from the one and only Kumari Banana chips) and halwa. These two delicacies doubled up as my amuse-bouche.
The menu is not voluminous and yet each dish truly hits the spot, A humble vada tasted terrific with her signature chammanthi (chutney) that combines freshly ground and raw mango. But my favourite appetiser was Kozhikode’s very own Kaduka Nirachathu – fried mussels with rice flour and coconut. Scrumptious. I’d also recommend the Kozhi Porichathu – shallow fried chicken with subtle spices sans masalas that usually numb your taste buds.
Do try the Mutton Stew (which is quite different from the Central Kerala version) and Kozhikode style breads like the Ari Pathiri; don’t leave 601 without trying the Moplah Biryani. It’s cooked with Kaima rice and served with a host of accompaniments including an exceptional prawn pickle. You’ll have to settle for the Mutton biryani though; unfortunately there’s no room for the signature Moplah style fish biryani. But you can try her recipe (at the end of this page) at home. Desserts get the same love on this menu.
The highlight of the dessert selection is the Mutta Mala. Crafting this borders on culinary art – strings of egg yolk are steamed with egg white. But despite its lovely textures it’s not for everyone; especially if you don’t like your desserts too ‘eggy’. Try the apricot pudding or the chakkara choru (whole wheat cooked in milk and coconut jaggery). If all that’s too overwhelming; don’t worry, the Sulaimani Tea provides the perfect antidote.
The Moplah Route runs until Sunday, January 28 (lunch and dinner) at 601, The Park Hotel. For reservations buzz (044) 4267 600. Meal for 2: Rs 3,500/-
Fish Biryani (Recipe Courtesy Abida Rasheed)
- Seer Fish – 1 kg (Seer fish)
- Onion – 1 kg
- Green chillies – 100 gms
- Garlic – 70 gms
- Ginger – 70 gms
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Coriander leaves – 1 cup
- Yogurt – 1 cup
- Salt to taste
- Rice – 1 kg (Kaima rice is best)
- Ghee – 3 tablespoons
- Cooking oil – 1 cup
- Tomato – ½ kg
- Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
- Cashew nuts broken (Small quantity)
- Raisins (Small quantity)
- Water – 4 glasses (in proportion to the number of cups of rice)
- Cardamom – 3 pods
- Cinnamon – 3 small pieces
- Garam masala – a pinch
- Slice onions thinly.
- Heat oil and 1/2 cup ghee. Fry onion 250 gms till golden brown. Fry cashew nuts and raisins and keep aside.
- Apply turmeric powder with enough salt and little water.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan. Lightly fry the fish half done and keep aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed vessel heat 3 tablespoons of oil.
- Grind the remaining onion in a blender with 1/2 cup water.
- Add this onion mixture to the hot oil.
- Meanwhile crush ginger, garlic and chilli. Add this paste also. Stir for some time.
- Add tomatoes, yogurt and salt. Cook for some time till the water evaporates. Add the fried fish pieces, coriander leaves and the juice from the lemons.
For the Rice
- Heat ghee in a non-stick vessel.
- Add 1/2 chopped onion, 3 cardamoms, three 3-inch pieces cinnamon.
- Immediately add the washed rice (drain without any water).
- Fry the rice till it becomes a light white colour and little crispy.
- Add boiled water (1:2 ratio) and salt and cook on high flame till the water is absorbed by rice.
- Keep the rice covered for 10 minutes. Sprinkle garam masala powder over the masala. Now add in the cooked rice in one layer.
- Add fried onion nuts and raisins and a little garam masala powder.
- Finish in layers.
- Take a napkin (radius of the vessel) dampen it with water and a little rose water.
- Put the biryani on dum for one hour with light heat from top and bottom.