Today's episode is a special one. Special because, instead of straight away starting with the tasting of the food that we have gone to experience, it captures Anubhav preparing it.
We are in Thalassery, Kerala with our gracious host Mohammed Shihad from Kannur City Heritage Foundation, to savour Kerala famous Thalassery biryani, that is a piece de resistance of Malabari cuisine.
Our quest to try a good Thalassery biryani brought us to MRA Restaurant and Bakery where fortunately, Anubhav got the opportunity to prepare a huge batch of it. Although he had made biryani on many prior occasions, this was Anubhav's maiden attempt to make Thalassery biriyani that too in such a huge quantity.
The generous young owner connected him with Chef Jabir under whose expert guidance the feat was to be accomplished. Anubhav started with the preparation of the chicken for the biryani. For this he mixed chicken pieces with tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, garlic and fried onions and then left it to cook till tender. As the meat was cooking, he got the rice ready for the biryani.
Thalassery biryani uses aromatic Jeerakashala or Kaima rice. It was cooked in a huge vat with whole garam masala and lots of ghee. When the rice was 80-90 percent done, it was strained and kept aside. Meanwhile the chicken is finished with some inhouse garam masala and as soon as it was ready, the rice was layered over it along with more fried onions and nuts.
Although it might look simple and effortless but in reality it wasn't so as handling such huge quantities of ingredients is a challenging task. As a novice Anubhav did face some minor hiccups in the way but the chef's support made things easier.
Finally the batch was ready and it turned out to be pretty amazing. All credit goes to the chef whose smooth guidance made this maiden attempt a success. We joined our hosts for tasting and were hooked to its subtle aroma and flavour which was dominated by the fragrance of rice and garam masala. The meat pieces were tender, juicy and optimally spicy.
After polishing off our plate we further went on to try some traditional snacks with podi chaaya. This included kaaja, manda, kinnathappam and ghee cake. The conversations over these treats enriched us with so much information about the local cuisine.
This food experience ended with a visit to their bakery where we saw the assembling of a luscious red velvet cake.
Thanks to Mr.Biju Aravind and Shihad for their immense support in exploring Thalassery. Both of them are very much passionate about promoting Thalassery's local heritage and tradition.