ALISA

 Alisa is a fortifying ,wholesome & highly satisfying one pot dish & is normally served as a starter during marriages, religious festivals like Eid & other special occasions….. It is quite similar to harisa or harees which is a traditional Middle Eastern recipe…. Yemeni Arab traders brought this dish with them to Kerala….. Thus, one can say that Alisa is a sort of fusion food of Malabar region & Arabs ……Traditionally, Alisa is cooked in large pots on low flames & although it takes a lot of time to cook, the outcome is delicious….. Here I’m going to use pressure cooker for faster cooking.

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INGREDIENTS : 1  1/2 cups chamba wheat ( branless wheat), 1/2 kg chicken/ mutton, 1-2 large onions (cubed), few cloves of garlic (optional), 1  1/2 – 2″cinnamon, 1-2 cups coconut milk, water as needed, salt to taste.

Garnish : Ghee, few cashew nuts & raisins, sliced onions.

DIRECTIONS  : Wash & soak the wheat overnight….. In the pressure cooker add wheat, meat, cubed onions, garlic, cinnamon & salt……. Pour in water till the level of water is, upto the second knuckle of the pointing finger from the tip ( say upto 1  1/2″), above the ingredients…….  Cover the pressure cooker & cook till a couple of whistle blows…… Now lower the flame & cook for around 45 mins……… Remove from heat & keep aside for some time……. In the meantime, prepare the garnish by frying cashewnuts, raisins & sliced onions till golden brown.

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Now open the pressure cooker lid, mash thoroughly & pour in a cup of coconut milk….. Mix & cook on low flame….. Check for consistency….it should be porridge like…… Add more coconut milk if required…. Turn off the flame……. Serve hot with garnish & little ghee….. Some like to have it with a sprinkling of sugar too.

NOTE :  Alisa can also be had as a breakfast dish….. One can also have it as a main meal with mutton/ chicken fry.

If chamba wheat is not available, one can use rice/ barley/semolina instead….. Cooking time will vary accordingly.

Kerala- Mappila(Moplah) Cuisine

Mappila, also known as Moplah, food was influenced by the food habits of Arab traders who came to the Malabar region centuries ago in search of spices….. Later trading groups like the Portuguese, Dutch, British also brought in their influences……. Thus Mappila Cuisine, one can say, is a merger of local & borrowed food traditions…… It uses local ingredients with skills borrowed from other cultures. I will present here some of the typical recipes of this cuisine……

UNNAKKAYA

(BANANA ROLLS )

These are traditional, delicious & sweet snack prepared mainly during the Ramzan days…….

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INGREDIENTS : 4 medium ripe bananas

Filling : 2 cups grated coconut, 1/2 cup sugar,  few raisins, few cashew nuts, about 1/2 tsp cardamom powder, 1 tbsp ghee.

DIRECTION  : Pressure cook  halved bananas. After cooking, cool the banana….peel of the skin….mash it well….. Divide it into equal portions & set aside.

Fry resins & cashew nuts in melted ghee in a pan for a minute ……Add grated coconut & toss well…. Add in sugar & cardamom powder and mix well till sugar starts to melt…..

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Remove & let it cool a bit.

Now take one portion of mashed bananas, flatten it, spoon in some coconut filling, cover it in & seal it giving it a cylindrical shape…….  Deep fry these in oil till golden brown….

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Drain onto tissue……Serve hot.