Malabar: Mecca of Muslim food

Flavourful dishes passed on from generations, are an inseparable part of festive occasions

A stroll along the streets of Thalassery, a small town in Kozhikode and the hub of Malabar cuisine, during the Ramadan season will be a feast to the eyes as well as the gourmet’s palate. Wayside shops overflow with a wide array of local delicacies to break the fast. The fare ranges from crispy hot snacks to yummy sweets, fresh fruits, juices, sarbats (a local drink with fruits and flavourings) and other elaborately prepared dishes.

Authentic and phenomenal are two adjectives that spring to mind when one thinks of Malabar cuisine. Dominated by the Muslim community, the north of Kerala is a Mecca of culture and cuisine. Flavourful dishes that have been passed down the generations are an inseparable part of festive occasions. The ladies in the houses take great pride in creating these dishes with patience and love.

Malabar was rich in spices like cardamom, pepper, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and attracted traders from far and wide. Not surprisingly, the cuisine has Arab as well as Chinese influences. Thus the palate of Malabar is rich and diverse but at the same time boasting of a unique taste and style.

The Malabar coast has an abundance of fish and shell fish, so seafood gets pride of place while the meat dishes of chicken and mutton are the contribution of Arab traders. Rice dishes like biryani, pulav and bread items like pathiri (a wafer-thin rice pan cake) go very well with these dishes.

The writer is the Executive Chef at Club Mahindra Resorts Poovar, Thiruvananthapura

Malabar mutton varattiyathu

  • Mutton 1 kg
  • Sliced onion 200 gms
  • Shallots 50 gms
  • Curry leaf 1 sprig
  • Ginger 2 pieces
  • Garlic 2 pods
  • green chilli 5-6
  • Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli powder 2 tsp
  • Coriander powder 1 tsp
  • Garam masala powder 1 tsp
  • Black pepper powder 1/2 tsp
  • Fennel powder1/2 tsp
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Coconut oil 2 tbsp
  • Coconut milk 2 tbsp


  • Clean the mutton and crush the chilli, ginger, garlic and shallots. Heat coconut oil, put curry leaves and sauté the crushed ingredients along with sliced onion till brown.
  • Add the mutton pieces and fry well. Add all the spices, saute and add water to avoid burning. Add sufficient water and cook covered in a slow flame. Sprinkle the seasoning.
  • Cook till the mutton is tender and the gravy is thick. Remove the cover and fry the mutton well with adding some more oil and curry leaves till the time the gravy dries up and is well-coated with the pieces, add the coconut milk and roast well.
  • Remove from the fire and serve hot.

Kozhi pollichathu (pan fried chicken)

  • Chicken breast 2 pieces
  • Pepper corn 1 tsp
  • Garlic 1 pod
  • Ginger 1 piece
  • Lemon juice 10 ml
  • Salt (To taste)
  • Sliced shallots 100 gms
  • Tomatoes 50 gms
  • Curry leaves 1 sprig
  • Coconut oil 3 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli powder 1 tsp
  • Fennel powder 1/2 tsp
  • Coconut milk 1/4cup
  • Chopped coriander 1 tbsp
  • Garam masala powder 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard 1 tsp


  • Cut the chicken breast into four pieces. Make a paste of ginger, garlic, black pepper, salt and lemon juice. Marinate the chicken pieces with this paste and keep aside.
  • Heat coconut oil, add mustard and curry leaves, and sauté the shallots till golden brown color. Add sliced onions and sauté well.
  • Add turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala powder, fennel powder and cook the gravy in low heat. Add coconut milk and coriander leaves, and adjust the seasoning.
  • Pan fry the marinated chicken pieces.
  • Take a banana leaf and put some prepared masala on the bottom. Arrange chicken on top and cover with the remaining masala. Wrap the chicken and pan fry it on a hot tawa with little oil. Serve hot.

Kayada charu (stuffed banana in jaggery syrup)

  • Ripe banana 1/2 kg
  • Grated coconut ½ cup
  • Sugar 50gm
  • Cardamom powder 1 tsp
  • Cashew nut 1 tsp
  • Raisin 1 tsp
  • Jaggery 50 gms
  • Coconut milk 1/2 cup
  • Oil (For deep frying)


  • Steam the banana and mash well. Sauté grated coconut till golden brown, add sugar, cardamom powder, chopped nuts and raisins. Remove and cool.
  • Divide the mashed bananas, flatten it, stuff spoonful of coconut in it and make into a small balls. Heat oil and deep fry the stuffed balls, remove and keep aside.
  • Melt jaggery in a pan with little water on a slow flame. Simmer till it becomes a syrup. Add coconut milk and cardamom powder, add the fried balls in it and remove from fire. Serve with the jaggery syrup.
( Source : dc )
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