“Son, anyone can fill the tummy but filling the heart and mind with happiness is exactly what cooking is”. An unforgettable dialogue from the Malayalam movie ‘Usthad Hotel’, released 8 years ago, still lingers inside my head. For the readers who are unfamiliar, Usthad Hotel is a movie where a grandfather and his grandson together run a Malabari hotel in Kerala that has been serving affordable yet exceptionally flavourful food. Malabar cuisine derives its unique flavours and tastes from Arab, Zamorin and Chirakkal cuisines and proudly presents a rich culinary experience that is authentic and exotic. The cultural heritage of the region is engraved in each bite of its many vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies.
The festivals of Ramzan/ Ramadan Iftar widely celebrated by the Muslim community offer the best opportunity to learn more about the strong influence of Malabar cuisine on the region’s culture and traditional festivities. Irrespective of religions and communities, people from all walks of life come together to rejoice and participate in the preparation and service of food to break the long day of fasting. The exciting moment of opening the fast is the culinary spread that can be witnessed at the dining area. I am sure, like me, most of you would have had such mouth-watering experiences at a Muslim household, where the table is completely conquered by different types of appetizers, starters, entrée (main course), desserts and what not. The only thing to do is to grab a plate, fill it with a little of everything and bond with the food and family.
The one sweet dish that is never absent in a Malabari food spread is the yummy Unnakaya. Often eaten during festive days or as an evening snack, Unnakaya is a spindle-shaped sweet dish made from simple and easy to find ingredients. The steamed and mashed ripe bananas stuffed with sautéed dry fruits and grated coconut creates a flavour explosion, the amalgamation giving a scrumptious treat, making it a must-try.
Have some ripe bananas (not plantain) and dry fruits handy? Then, it’s time to bounce into the recipe of making this sweet delight from the Malabar cuisine of Kerala.
|BANANAS ( RIPE)||3 Numbers|
|COCONUT GRATED||¾ CUP|
|CHOPPED CASHEW , RAISINS , BADAMS||½ cup|
|CARDAMOM CRUSHED||3 Numbers|
|COCONUT OIL||FOR DEEP FRYING|
FOR THE FILLING
FOR THE BANANA DOUGH
FOR UNNAKAYA SHAPE