Exploring The Secrets Of Mappila Cuisine And Popular Dishes
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The culinary landscape of the Malabar coast changed from the day when the concept of black pepper travelled to the coast from Rome hundreds of years back. The geographical advantage of this place led to the introduction of a lot of spices from distant lands. English, Portuguese and Dutch travellers had a huge influence on the cooking practices of this area. But the most evident influence was of the Arab traders and invaders. Mappila food can be termed as a flavourful concoction of local dishes and borrowed cooking practices. The whole concept of Mappila Cuisine lies in the fundamentals of using different spices in different types of bananas which are coconut-based curries and Kootans which are yoghurt-based curries.

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Spices like cloves, cardamom, and red chilli, or at the centre of this cuisine. Tamarind, green mango, and other soaring ingredients are also quite popular. Interestingly, Tellicherry pepper which was one of the establishing spices of Mappile cuisine is now no longer a very prominent part of the food culture. Let's look at how Mappila cuisine is different from anything that you have eaten before and what makes it so special.

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Mappila Speciality

The quintessential recipe of Mappila cuisine is undoubtedly the Tellicherry Biryani. It is very different from the Mughlai biryani and there are specific steps that you need to follow to prepare this dish. Generally, meat in most of the biryani recipes is prepared by marination with yoghurt and spices for several hours. This is a Persian technique. On the other hand, the Tellicherry biryani doesn't use yoghurt to make its meat flavourful and tender. Instead, the meat is cooked on a slow heat for several hours to get tender skin. It is mixed with some simple spices that are absorbed in the skin of the meat during the slow cooking process.

Pathiri is also a very important part of the Mappila cuisine. It is a flatbread that is made by using rice. Meen pathiri is a popular dish in which fish curry is placed between two rice breads and then it is steamed like a sandwich. It is one of the most famous dishes in the Mappila cuisine. Puttu is a dish that is very famous throughout Kerala and is made by layering meat or seafood, especially in the Mappila Cuisine. Rice and coconut are used to make this special dish. Orroti is another special kind of flat bread that is made with a thicker quality of rice. It is a part of the conventional Mappila dinner. A special dish in the Mappila Cuisine is Muttu Sirka which is a dish prepared by deep frying rice and making egg pancakes along with some spicy scrambled eggs. Another patented dish of  this cuisine is Alisa. This dish is prepared by slow-cooking wheat with a lot of other spices. This dish resembles a lot to Halim which is very popular in different parts of India and Pakistan and also a close cousin of the Persian dish Harisa. 

Arab Influence 

The Arab influence on the Mappila Cuisine is quite evident. There are a multitude of techniques that you can follow to make different dishes in the cuisine. Ghee is a very important condiment in the Mappila food. Most of the dishes that are prepared in this cuisine are incomplete without the flavours of Ghee. This is quite different as compared to the other kind of South Indian cuisine that dominantly uses coconut oil. The reason for the rampant use of ghee can be attributed to the Arab influences in the area. Kozhi Thalayana is a very famous recipe in the Mappila food that is prepared by stuffing chicken with some boiled eggs and then it is encased in a dough. The whole dish is then baked like a lot of other classic Arab dishes, including stuffed camel. By looking at the preparation techniques of most of the dishes, you will be able to see the huge traces of Arab Cusine on the Mappila food.

People in the region enjoy eating their food by sitting in circles and eating together very much like the Arab tradition. A giant platter is served in the middle and a variety of dishes are served on the platter. There are many such crispy, sweet and salty dishes in the Mappila Cusine that bear a strong resemblance to the Arab Queen. This goes on to say that cultural exchange is such a contagious phenomenon that changes so many things about both the parties involved. The Mappila cuisine is very popular in the Southern part of India but is still lesser known in the north. This cuisine is a powerful synthesis of flavours and different cultures.