Influenced by the milder stews of the West, this refreshing & flavoursome stew is delicately seasoned so that the spices do not overpower the natural flavours……. Crushed peppercorns perfectly balances the sweet flavour of the main ingredient, i.e. the fresh coconut milk……… Every home have their own style of cooking…….. This is a favourite dish of Syrian Christians & is particularly served during breakfast & sometimes dinner…….. Ishtew is usually served with idiappam/appam/puttu….. It goes very well with bread too.


INGREDIENTS : 500 GMs Chicken, 2 + 4onions, 2 potatoes, 4-6 cloves garlic(optional), 1″ ginger, 2-3 green chillies, few curry leaves, 3-4 Cloves, 2 (1″) Cinnamon sticks, 3-4 Cardamoms, 2 cups thin coconut milk, 1 cup thick coconut milk, 1 tsp vinegar, water as required, 1-2 tsp black peppercorns, salt to taste, 1 tbsp coconut oil.

DIRECTIONS : Clean, wash & cut chicken into medium pieces & keep aside…….. Heat oil, fry two sliced onions till golden brown & keep aside for garnishing……. In the remaining oil add slit green chillies & curry leaves…….. Now cut four onion into cubes & sauté till soft……. Stir in freshly grated ginger & crushed garlic …….. Add cloves, cinnamon & cardamoms & sauté for a minute or two…….. Stir in the cubed potatoes & chicken pieces…… Stir fry till the chicken is lightly browned……Now add in the thin coconut milk, vinegar & salt……. If required add water….. Cook till chicken is done & potatoes are well cooked…….. Stir in thick coconut milk & crushed peppercorns……… Lightly mash 2-3 cubes of potatoes in the gravy……. Simmer till done……. Garnish with fried onions & serve hot with idiappam/appam.

NOTES : Boneless chicken is not preferred in this recipe…… Instead of coconut oil any white oil can be used.



This is a traditional chicken recipe with a thick gravy of roasted aromatic spices……. It goes very well with chapati/ rice/ ghee rice/ appam……. This dish has an unusual & distinct flavour due to it’s main ingredient being coriander powder.


INGREDIENTS : 500gms Chicken, 4 tbsp coriander seeds, 1tsp fennel seeds, 4-6 pepper corns, 2 dry whole red chillies, 2″cinnamon sticks, 4 cloves, 4 cardamoms, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1″ginger, 8-10 garlic cloves, 1 tsp vinegar, few pearl onions, 2 large onions, 1tsp rye(black mustard seeds), 2-3 sprigs curry leaves, coconut oil as required, salt to taste.

DIRECTIONS : Dry roast coriander seeds, fennel seeds, pepper corns, red chillies, cinnamon sticks, cloves, & cardamoms……… Cool the spices & grind them finely…… Grind the ginger & garlic to make paste…… In a pan mix chicken with ground spices, pearl onions, ginger & garlic pastes, vinegar, turmeric powder and salt……. Add enough water to cook the chicken till almost done & very little gravy remains…….p_20160421_135554_hdr.jpg

Take out the chicken pieces from the gravy & keep the gravy aside……. In the meantime, heat oil….. Add rye, curry leaves & stir…… When the rye splutters, add sliced onions & fry till golden brown……p_20160421_135452_hdr_1.jpg

Stir in the cooked chicken & fry till the chicken pieces are lightly browned…… Now add in the reserved gravy & cook till it becomes thick…….p_20160421_140729_hdr_1.jpg

Serve hot.

Note : Increase or decrease black pepper & red chillies according to taste……. Coconut oil gives authentic flavour……. But one can also use groundnut oil…… If pearl onions are unavailable, one can use shallots.p_20160624_114750_hdr_1.jpgPearl onions.



Syrian Christians of Kerala, according to tradition, are descendants from the converts of St.Thomas……. St.Thomas was one of the twelve apostles….. They are the oldest Christian community in India & use Syriac as their liturgical language……. Syrian Christians are also known as Nasranis ( meaning they are from Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus Christ)…… Syrian Christian cuisine is rich & varied……. It is a blend of different cooking traditions of Portuguese, Dutch, Syrian, Arab, Chinese & natives of Kerala…… Predominantly non-vegetarian, authentic Syrian Christian food depends on fresh produce, spices ground in stone mortar & pestle, traditional cooking vessels like heavy bell-metal urali or cheena chatti & wood fire for it’s flavour……. The Duck roast, a ceremonial dish, is a big favourite & is made during Easter and Christmas…….. The INRI Appam, an unleavened rice flour cake dipped in jaggery syrup, is eaten to commemorate the Last Supper…… Seafood & meat play a prominent part in the diet….. Vegetables are simply cooked….. Coconut & spices are important ingredients…… The forte of this cuisine is the trace of the various cultures that have influenced this community.




INGREDIENTS : Fish, vegetables(brinjal, potatoes, drumsticks, etc.), prepared masala, curry leaves, water as required.

PREPARED MASALA : Red/green chillies, turmeric powder, onion, ginger, tomatoes/raw mangoes/tamarind/curd.

PREPARATIONS : Make prepared masala by grinding chillies, turmeric powder, onion, ginger & tomatoes/raw mango/tamarind/curd. Tanginess is a must in Kerala preparations.

Keep water to boil according to consistency. Once it starts boiling add fish, vegetables, prepared masala & curry leaves. Keep boiling till cooked. Serve hot with Kappa Udachath (Mashed Tapioca).

MEEN Curry made with thakkali (tomatoes)……. p_20160620_140500_hdr_1.jpg

Meen Curry made with manga (raw mango)……..p_20160620_140822_hdr_1.jpg

NOTE : Curd with shark is also a variation of fish curry which is normally made in North Kerala. According to Ayurveda, fish & curd is not considered good. So this combination is less popular & less used.
Turmeric is added to all preparations as it is germicidal.





INGREDIENTS : Tapioca, salt to taste, turmeric powder, red/green chillies, onions/garlic/coriander leaves/coconut/curry leaves, rye(black mustard seeds), coconut oil(optional).

PREPARATION : Boil tapioca with salt & turmeric powder. Mix in grounded red chillies. One can add onions, garlic, coriander leaves, coconut, etc……gives different distinct flavours when added together or individually. After mixing the masala, heat the tapioca mixture on gentle heat so that it does not stick & burn. Mix in coconut oil. Serve with fish curry.

NOTE : Instead of red chillies, one can add green chillies.
There is another variation, where instead of adding grated coconut, coconut is roasted golden brown & grounded & then mixed in with tapioca.
To create another variety, instead of mixing in coconut oil, one can do tempering. Heat oil. Add in rye, red chillies, curry leaves. Add this tempering to tapioca mixture.





INGREDIENTS : Tapioca, fresh grated coconut, salt the taste, little coconut oil(optional), curry leaves(optional)

PREPARATION : Chop the tapioca into small pieces. Boil it till soft. Mix the boiled tapioca with salt & fresh coconut. Add coconut oil & curry leaves. Mix & serve.

NOTE : It is advised the that tapioca be boiled open. Also throw away the water in which kappa is boiled.




There may be umpteen varieties of recipes throughout Kerala. I cite few I know.

INGREDIENTS : Tapioca, salt to taste.

FOR CHUTNEY : Onions, green/red chillies, salt to taste, curry leaves(optional), 1/2 tsp coconut oil(optional).

PREPARATION : Cut tapioca as big pieces (roughly it can look like logs). Boil in a lot of water till soft. Keep monitoring the fire otherwise it sticks to the bottom. Once cooked, drain the water. Add salt. Toss so that it is absorbed evenly.

For the accompanying chutney, grind together onions, chillies, curry leaves & salt. Add coconut oil & mix well.

Serve the boiled tapioca logs with the onion chutney.

NOTE : To boil the tapioca, thick bottomed vessel should be used.
For the accompanying chutney, either green or red chillies can be used. Both give different flavours. So try it out.



The Portuguese left India long back but they left some things of their origin in God’s own country down South, where they first set foot rounding the Cape.

The tapioca, a humble tuber root crop, stayed back to be a people’s favourite.


As it happens, when anything new is introduced, public used to view it suspiciously. (An analogy is possible with Maharashtra’s popular ‘Pav’).

But after a famine or some such calamity, the ruler of the then Travancore State Sri Moolan Thirunal Maharaja, ordered to cultivate it rampantly as it’s harvesting takes much less time, than the staple rice, owing to its cheapness. Monetarily it became affordable to the lowest of low in the society.

Kerala is largely coastal. Many regional varieties of cuisine developed combining with fish preparations. So the foreigner became more native than the natives themselves. The mashed tapioca with fish curry still reigns as the staple & balanced diet for the poorer sections of the society, while it is served as delicacy in the more affluent sections. It could be a snack, it could be an accompaniment Or it could be a meal by itself. Owing to it’s starchy nature it gives sateity in a comparitavely less quantity.

A WORD OF CAUTION : While the tapioca – fish combination is an excellent, cheap, balanced food; having it exclusively as meal in bigger quantities for long time has a chance of giving rise to Diabetes Mellitus (Type II).


It has been wonderful journey through this marvellous cuisine……. The distinctive taste of Mappila Cuisine has been heavily influenced by the faraway traders, from various countries like Portuguese, British, Dutch, Chinese, French, Arabs, etc., who regularly visited this region…….. Arab influence on this cuisine is more pronounced……. Other than the recipes I have written about there are so many wonderful recipes that I must mention here…….

Puttu This is made throughout Kerala…… These are steamed, cylindrical, coarsely ground rice flour & grated coconut cakes……. Mappila speciality is that Puttu is layered with seafood/meat.

Pathiri : These are rice flat breads……. Pathiris are served on special occasions & are served with meat curry.

Muttasirka : This is another Malabar delicacy which is served with spicy scrambled eggs & meat curries.

Arikadukka : Mussels are stuffed with an aromatic rice & coconut mixture…… Marinated in a spicy batter……. & finally deep fried.

Koondal Kadaku Phokuvadu : Masala squid & mussels.

Chemeen Porichattu : Marinated prawn fry.

Chattipathiri : This is made in both sweet & savoury variations …… These are baked, layered flatbreads with rich filling, very similar to Italian Lasagne.

There are many more such wonderful recipes. Thus, in this way, the legacy of the sea faring traders from ancient times continues to live on in this exotic cuisine of Malabar region – MAPPILA CUISINE.




Mutta Mala and Pinjanathappam can be served separately or can be served together to create a sweet combo.


NOTE : To make Mutta Mala, ensure that egg yolks contain no trace of water…… Also pour beaten egg yolks from a certain height so that it falls in a thin stream into the boiling syrup, otherwise egg yolks will form lumps if poured from too close.

To make Pinjanathappam, ensure that egg whites & egg yolks are separated neatly so that not a drop of egg yolk falls into the egg whites…… In this way, it will come out white with flecks of cardamom.




This is an authentic Malabar dish…… This is especially made during Ramzan period.



INGREDIENTS : 6 egg whites, sugar syrup, a pinch of cardamom.

DIRECTIONS : Cool down the sugar syrup left over after making Mutta Mala……. Take the egg whites kept aside while making Mutta Mala & beat well…… Add cardamom powder & enough sugar syrup to it……. Beat till it is frothy…….


Take a pressure cooker and heat water in it….. Take a round steel box & coat the inside with a little ghee…… Pour the beaten egg white mixture into it……


Cover the box & steam it in the pressure cooker till it is firm…..


Remove the box from the pressure cooker….. Cool & remove Pinjanathappam…. Cut into desired shape…… Serve this wonderful subtle tasting pudding.

NOTE : One can also add in 1tbsp milk powder into the egg mixture.



This dish is very similar to a Portuguese dish “Fios de ovos”……. Egg yolk is cooked as thin filaments in sugar syrup…… It is particularly popular during Ramzan period & is normally had as a snack.


INGREDIENTS : 6 eggs, 1 cup sugar, a pinch of cardamom, 1-2 cups water.

DIRECTIONS : Carefully separate egg yolks & whites……. Save the whites for further use…… Beat the egg yolks & keep aside.


Sugar syrup : Boil water in a pan…… add sugar & boil, stirring occasionally, till one string consistency is attained….. add a pinch of cardamom powder.

Take a coconut shell & make a small hole in the bottom……


Cover the hole with a finger and pour beaten egg yolk into the shell……. Remove the finger & rotate the shell in circular motion over the syrup……. Egg yolk will fall into the syrup in thin stream….. Boil for few seconds…… Reduce the flame….. Sprinkle some water on it (otherwise the syrup will thicken)……. Carefully remove the filaments of egg yolk from the syrup…….. Increase the flame & continue making Mutta Mala in batches until all the yolks are used up…… Serve.

NOTE : Instead of coconut shell, one can make small holes in a disposable glass and use it to make Mutta Mala.