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    Distinct Arab-Indian cuisine, courtesy Ummi Abdullah’s family recipes

    UMMI Abdullah, the sprightly 79-year-old cookbook author and television host, helms the Moplah festival at Ente Keralam and will happily demystify the Moplah cuisine. She describes how her grandmother, an expert cook, guarded her recipes closely and inspired her “to take up cooking seriously.”

    page9anchor3Moplahs use plenty of coconut everywhere — in delicious muthari sherbet coolers with palm sugar, ragi and fresh coconut milk, and in most of the gravies. We particularly enjoyed their chemeen unda – a kind of rice flour dimsum stuffed with shrimp. As for the rest of the dishes, little pearl onions and tomatoes lend body to the paste smothering the slices of fish, squid rings or the mussels that go nicely with the muringakka manga charu (spiced raw mango and drumstick curry) and vendakka mulakittathu (okra in spicy chilli tamarind gravy) and pathitirs – thin rice flour rotis. Or the biriyani, made from short grain kaima rice – light, full of flavour from the spices and crisp-fried onions, in a choice of prawns, fish and mussels, besides chicken and lamb.

    Round off your meal with a banana fritter – nendrakai stuffed with coconut and sugar. And a steamy glass of spicy, Sulaiman tea.
    Meal for two Rs. 900++. At Ulsoor Road. Details: 32421002

    —Jackie Pinto

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