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A Coastal Festival Which Brought Back Memories Of Fish!
The Moplah community are from the Malabar region of Kerala, around Calicut. Their food is deeply non-vegetarian, cooked in coconut oil or ghee and not for the faint hearted.
Photo Credit :
I was out of action for a couple of weeks, but am back in full force restarting my column with a little memory. The year 2007 and I had the good fortune of being invited to The Park (hotel) in New Delhi to taste the most amazing non-vegetarian food, thanks to a lady named Abida Rasheed, a doctor, an independent business woman who sold sarees all across India and in her newest avatar (this was 2007), a chef who was the brand ambassador for Moplah cuisine.
The Moplah community are from the Malabar region of Kerala, around Calicut. Their food is deeply non-vegetarian, cooked in coconut oil or ghee and not for the faint hearted. There was a lot on my plate literally but the dish which I fell in love with was the simple fish fry or Meen Poricharu which was special, I was later informed because it was cooked on a tawa which was seasoned over time and added flavour to the fish.
Needless to say, the whole reason for the background above leads to The Park, New Delhi’s food festival which is on till December 13th, 2015. Begum Abida Rasheed has returned to the hotel with her collection of culinary masterpieces.
When we sat down to eat with the formidable lady, I was informed that apparently her Park festival way back in 2007 was the beginning of her culinary ambassadorship. This time Rasheed is here with her youngest daughter who was actually looking over the pots in the kitchen while Mum was being her usual fussy self with guests. It was like having a meal in their actual home at times and in a good way.
The menu was vast, but there were quite a few highlights, starting right at the beginning, mussels stuffed with a mix of rice flower and coconut, then steamed and shallowfried with spices—Kaduka Nirachathu. I could not have asked for a better beginning. But things were only going to get better.
I got to meet an old friend of mine. The Meen Poricharu, even better flavoured than last time because, as Rasheed told me, they used the very same tawa, which is now 30 years old. It really does make a difference.
The Mutton Ishtu which was served with porotta was lovely and bland, to balance all the spiced out and we went for the fish biriyani instead of the meat, which I think tasted delicate and fluffy, just as well because by this time, we were heavy with food.
This food is not for those who are looking for a healthy alternative and though they do have a vegetarian menu. It is not really for a vegetarian meal either.
What it is, is unabashedly true to its Malabar Moplah roots and a feast for the nose as well as the taste buds. What happens later is entirely your fault for indulging yourselves.
The festival is only on for dinner.
The Malabar Spice Route with Chef Begum Abida Rasheed @ Fire, The Park, New Delhi. 15, Parliament Street, New Delhi 110 001
For Reservations: 011 2374 3000
Meal for two without alcohol: Rs 3000