Go to any corner of north Kerala during the holy month of Ramzan and the air will be thick with the mouthwatering aroma of Malabar spices, ghee and coconut oil. From lip-smacking tidbits to an array of main course picks such as the Thalassery biryani, it’s a full platter every day for iftaar. Countless number of snacks are prepared during this time which is a combination of sweet and savory, baked, fried and steamed. These dishes are world renowned and people go in search of these dishes.
Moplah food was influenced by the food habits of Arab traders who, centuries ago, came to the Malabar region in search of spices. It also draws inspiration from the cuisines of later trading groups like the Portuguese and the Dutch. “The perfect blend of several cultures led to the creation of a cuisine that uses local ingredients with techniques and concepts borrowed from faraway lands.
Malabar’s exotic spices lured many, including the Chinese, the French and finally, the British. The proof as they say is in the pudding or the alisa, a delicious porridge made of wheat, chicken pieces, grated onion and coconut, that originated in Yemen. Another dish, the mutta mala, made of egg yolk and sugar syrup, is similar to the Portuguese fios de ovos. Kozhikode, where Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama landed in 1498, is also famous for its different varieties of halwas. Besides fruit-based and vegetable platters, Moplah cuisine includes a variety of mutton, fish and shell fish dishes. Thalassery dum biryani tops the list of main course picks.
“Food is such an integral part of the lifestyle and culture of the Malabar coast. One can say the people of the Malabar live and breathe food, especially the members of the Moplah community, which has a long-standing tradition of whipping up the most delicious dishes to be served to their new sons-in-law, called the puthiyapilla. Eating is often a family affair; not only in Muslim homes but across religions. In fact, if you visit a home in the area, they pile the food on you and it’s almost an offense if you refuse to eat from there.
The most popular Malabar snacks are unnakai (stuffed and fried plantain), kinnathappam (steamed sweet cake) and kalathapam (pancake), mutta mala and chattipathiri and the varieties of pola or kum preparations, stuffed plantain, the list is endless. The demand for Malabar snacks is growing exponentially. Most of the short eats are very time consuming to prepare and thus slightly costlier than other snacks in the markets. As most of them are made of meat and fresh ingredients, their durability is also much less. Besides, these snacks are traditionally prepared by the women of the household.
Carrot pola/kums is originally a dish which is prepared with plantains. Kaipola (Kai means plantain) is the traditional dish which became the base for the different kums prepared in present day times. This dish reminds me of Spanish omeltte but a sweet version. I have made this healthy as possible. I have added coconut flour to maintain the shape of the cake, this can be avoided or can be substituted with any nut flour or any other healthy flour.
We have completely turned into raw sugar, coconut sugar, or the like natural sugar or sweetners. It is perfectly fine to use the normal white sugar. You can completley avoid the sugar if you prefer to be more healthy and stick to the condensed milk and the sweetness of the carrot. If you feel the batter is too thick you can add some milk of your choice to it. Orange blossom water is another option, since its mainly eggs, I wanted to flavor it well and orange blossom spreads an air of freshness and goodness when you have this dish. This can be substituted with rose water too or can avoid totally and just go with cardamom powder.
Always maintain the heat of the pan in low. Heat the pan to a high temperature, reduce and pour the batter and cook. Once you flip it you don’t have to cover, keep it open and brown. This will help to get out any moisture content remaining in the cake. This is a perfect weekend breakfast indulgence so try it out.
Peel and cut the carrots into chunks and add to a pressure cooker. Add 1 cup water and cook for 5 whistles or till cooked.
Add all the ingredients given in the batter section to a blender along with the cooked carrots and blend to a thick puree.
Heat a frying pan or sauce pan of 8” or 10 “ diameter. Heat and a tablespoon of butter.
Grate the carrot in the garnishing section. Saute for 2 minutes and keep aside.
In the same pan add 2 tablespoon of ghee and add the cashews and fry till golden, when the cashews starts turning color, add the raisins and fry till it is puffed up. Set aside.
In the same pan add the last tablespoon of ghee and heat well.
Pour the batter and reduce the flame. Cover and cook till half done.
Sprinkle the grated carrot, nuts and raisins on top and cook til done.
Flip and brown the other side and serve hot.