Athishayapathiri, a very unique dish of Malabar, for me is a sister version of Lasagna. For me, this is yet another reiteration of my hard belief that human kind is and can be bounded soley, without any differences by food and food only. I can proudly say this is a fusion food by the great minds of my ancestors. This can be an adapatation of some Portugese food, when they were in the North Malabar region for a century. Often when I dive deep into the vast sea of culinary encyclopedia, I get mesmerised by the fact that, many recipes of every region in the world matches in some or the other. This dish is one such great example.
I call this the “Malabar/Indian version of Lasagna. A juicy meating filling layered with crepes/pancakes, exactly as it is done in lasagna. The only difference is that, white sauce is replaced by a spiced egg mixture and cheese is avoided. As far as the pastry part is concerned, it is replaced by crepe/pancakes/flat breads. In the Malabar region itself this is made in different styles. Only with chicken filling or a sweet version with eggs, coconut, sugar, nuts, raisins and ghee or a version which is similar to mine. Instead of crepes, flat breads are also used for layering.
Athishaya pathiri is also called Chattipathiri. Chatti means a pan and pathiri means rice flour flat breads. Pathiri is a sought after dish of South Indian state of Kerala. This dish is a speciality of Muslims which are made for feasts and special occassions. There are different types of Pathiris. Thin, thick, baked, pan cooked, pan fried, deep fried and so on. Pathiris are often made more tastier and palatable by soaking in coconut milk.
Our forefathers were smart enough to find ways of baking in olden times. I’m sure these might have been one of the few dishes which were developed for baking. Heavy round bottomed pans are used for baking this dish and many others. Early days when gas stoves were not invented, people used to make fires, heat up the charcoal and then put it under and over the baking pans and used to bake perfectly even cakes. This was the procedure for this Athishayapathiri too, some of whom follow upto date too.
What I do is, keep a separator which we usually get with cooking ranges and then keep on top of it. You can also use a heavy lid also for the same. The separator should be a thing which can evenly spread the heat and maintain the temperature. Once the separator and the pan are heated up well, reduce the flame to bare minimum and cook till it is fully done and golden in color. Once it is done on stove top and underneath part is golden in color, you can either flip it a large plate and put back the other side if you want to crisp it a bit. What I do is, i flip it over and grill it in microwave for 5-6 minutes according to the texture. The centre part is always difficult to cook. So by doing this process, it’ll turn out to a perfect cake like texture.
There are some points to be noted when you make this dish. Egg filling is made with onions and tomatoes which are high in moisture content. So when you scramble it, make sure that it is dry enough. Otherwise while baking, liquid will ooze out from tomatoes, which will sog the entire pathiri. For the beef filling you can check out my samosa video or description for a detailed filling method (http://simiskitchendiaries.
Chicken filling is the regular Indian filling for many of the dishes we use. All the fillings should be juicy and moist. Crepes/pancakes used for this should be slightly thicker than the regular ones. This will help in differentiating the layers and give you that satisfying feeling of completeness. These crepes will also help in balancing the meaty flavors. A hint of cardamom in the egg mixture will help in taking the dish to a different level.
I’m sure you all will enjoy this dish as much as we do. The flavors of chicken, beef, egg along with the coconut soaked crepes, with a cardamom flavored egg mixture transports one to a literally whole new world of bursting flavors.
N.B: I’ve made pretty large amount of meat and eggs for the filling so that I can use it for few times. I divide this and freeze it and use when needed. You can reduce the quantity by half or three fourth according to your need. These fillings can be used for bread rolls, stuffed bun, puffs and sandwiches too.
For the Chicken & Beef filling :
Cook both chicken and beef adding the r selective ingredients along with half cup of water separately. Beef should be pressure cooked for 4-5 whistles or until soft and tender. Allow to cool down. Shred and set aside.
Saute the onions till firm but cooked. Add the ginger, garlic and chilies crushed and saute till aromatic and the raw flavor imparts completely. Now divide this into 2 portions.
In the first portion add all the powders ams saute till well cooked and the pungent flavors of powders are completely gone. Add the shredded chicken, salt and incorporate thoroughly. Cook for 5-7 minutes till all the flavors are well blended with the chicken. Add a bunch of finely chopped Coriander and mix up. Cook for further 2 minutes mixing well so that Coriander flavor and smell is infused to the filling. Keep aside.
In the rest of the onion mixture, add the shredded beef, salt and combine well. Cook for 5-6 minutes till the meat is coated with condiments. Finally add the fresh coriander and mix up well and cook for further 3 minutes. Beef filling is ready.
Egg filling :
Heat a pan with oil. Add the chopped onions with chillies until translucent and pink. Add the powders and sauté till aromatic. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till it is tender. Finally add the beaten eggs and cook till you get a dry scrambled eggs filling. Set aside.
For the pancakes/crepes:
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt and half the amount of water. Whisk to a smooth thick batter. Now add the remaining water carefully till you get the right consistency for a thick crepe.
Heat a pan. Pour a ladle if batter and roll it out into a crepe with half inch thickness. Cook till it starts coming out from the sides. Take it out and place on to a plate. Repeat till all the crepes are done. Set aside.
Layering the Pathiri:
Coat a non stick 16” pan with ghee generously. Dip the crepes in thick coconut milk and place it in the pan. Add a decent layer of chicken filling first. Then dip and place another crepe, then egg filling , another dipped crepe and beef filling. Repeat this once more so that you get 2 layers of each filling. You can add one more layer if you like. Pour the egg mixture from the top on to the center part so that it is evenly distributed all over. Place the lid tightly.
Bake on a stove top with a separator on high flame when you place it. Reduce the flame to bare minimum once the pan is very hot. Bake till golden brown and set like a cake. Serve hot. This can be served as a meal too.
Happy cooking and Blessed Ramadan wishes to all who are observing it.