Moplah Biriyani From Flavourful Malabar
Image Credit: Moplah biriyani

Who doesn’t love flavourful bowl of biryani loaded with some great aroma? Historians believe that Biryani that is supposed to have come to India via Persia with the Mughals. There are different stories that go as to how to exotic dish that needs no introduction became one of India’s favourite rice dish. Over many centuries each region in India adapted this dish in its own way and came up with version like Awadhi biriyani, Lucknowi biriyani, Sindhi Biriyani, Murababdi Biriyani and so on. Amongst all these varieties one of them is Moplah Biriyani. 

For the uninitiated Moplah (or Mappila) are ethenic people from Kerala's Malabar region. Moplah (or Mappila - the local term for Muslims in the state. the Mapilla muslims cuisime sees a very strong influence from the Arab traders who frequented this region. Later the region was invaded by Portuguese and the Dutch. The group is known for their authentic dishes like kozhi Ada, muringakka manga charu, Mutta Mala, vendakka mulakittathu and more. With hearty and gernaous use of coconut, eggs, mutton and spices like star anise, fennel this cuisine sets itself apart. 

One of the most popular dishes from this cuisine happens to be the Moplah Biriyani and what makes it different is that this biriyani unlike the other doesn’t require any “dum”. Zachariah Jacob, Co-founder/Partner, Mahabelly adds “The Moplah biryani named after the Mappila community of the Malabar region owes its origins to the blending of cultures between the local Muslims and Arab Merchants who used to frequent the Malabar coast for spice trade many centuries ago. These traders over the years married the local women leading to the creation of a new community of Muslims called the Mappilas whose literature, art, language and cuisine has influences from both cultures.

As a result, the Moplah biryani, unlike other biryanis available in the rest of Kerala as well as South India has a very unique flavour and aroma. Even in the Malabar area, the taste and flavours vary between places such as Kozhikode, Thalassery and Kannur, which are less than 100 km in distance. The biryani is usually made out of short-grained wonderfully aromatic khaima rice along with liberal use of ghee and local spices even though red chilly is given a miss which makes it mildly spiced. The rice and protein are cooked separately and then layered and steamed using the dum style of cooking. The slow-cooked biryani is then served with pappadam, coconut chutney, onion raita and sweet date pickle. The test of a great biryani is the subtle flavour of the rice and the well-cooked meat". 

This aromatic and highly flavourful biriyani with rich Kerala- Arab influence is deep rooted in culture. When we talk of Moplah cuisine Abida Rasheed and Ummi Abdullah are regarded as Moplah cuisine ambassador. Straight from the coast of Malabar, this biryani is known to draw it’s inspiration from the Mandi, an Arabic origin dish that’s made with rice, spices and chicken or lamb. Cooked in an oven over wood fire or clay bricks it’s covered in such a way that the steam from inside doesn’t escape and the flavours stay intact. The texture and the taste that this dish imparts, is absolutely soulful. Mostly a celebratory dish, the Moplah biryani will never leave you dishearten.