Where Kochiites eat

Where can city people find good Malabari and Arabic dishes? Let’s take a look

author_img Mahima Anna Jacob Published :  11th June 2022 01:32 PM   |   Published :   |  11th June 2022 01:32 PM
Malabari food in Kochi

Malabari food in Kochi

With the rise of Middle Eastern and Malabar cuisine in Kerala, the prime spots of the state have been enticing the taste buds of many with their authentic dishes. Paragon restaurants started in 1939 under the patronage of Govindan Panhikeyil. The restaurant specialises in Thai, continental, traditional Arabic and Chinese cuisine. However, it is one of the pioneers in Malabari cuisines. Chef Thomas P K, who is currently working in the Kochi outlet, claims Kochiites are in awe of their Malabari Chicken Biriyani. 

“The rice is made with the small-sized Kaima rice, instead of the long Basmati rice. The biryani is special because of the chicken used in it its the Leghorn chicken, which are reared for eggs mainly,” says the chef. Adding to this, the multi-cuisine restaurant also boasts an array of Malabari seafood made in the authentic Kerala style. The grilled platter is marinated well with kanthari, cheriyaulli, veluthulli and coconut milk. The ‘mean manga curry’, the dish which is consumed with rice is given a little tweak to make it a great combination with porotta and appam. “The fish curry has a creamy taste and the usage of coconut is more. The combination is made possible when the first coconut milk is taken,” says Thomas.

Empire Plaza in Kochi, an eatery formed by Shafeeq, a former restaurant employee in Dubai says Shish Tawook is still the most popular dish. “It’s a Lebanese style skewered chicken dish marinated with spices, lemon, yoghurt and garlic. When it was introduced, Kochi was more into Tandoori dishes. It became popular as many consider it as healthy since it doesn’t consume much oil,” says Shafeeq. Their Kuzhimandi — yemeni biryani — too is becoming a hit. 

Bab Arabia in Panampilly Nagar serves authentic Turkish cuisine. According to Turkish chef, Tareek, Turkish rice with beef and chicken is one of their many specialities. “Adding 80% of Turkish masala and 20% of Indian masala, I make the cuisine suitable for the Indian palate,” he says. The Beyti Kebab, filled with chicken within a sesame-dotted bread, alongside yoghurt coated with crushed pistachio too is demanded in the city. 

To wind up the humongous meal Bab Arabia offers the authentic squishy textured Kanafeh topped with pistachio and Umm Ali. “The unique flavour of spices is the speciality of this cuisine. The cooks use them in copious amounts in their recipes. Many people tend to think that Malabar food is just non-vegetarian. Starting from snacks to the main course, its vegetarian dishes can excite the taste buds of diners. To me, the popularity of the cuisine is only about 60%. Snacks should be encouraged at a greater rate among consumers. They are missing out on plenty of them. The future of its popularity cannot be pointed out as food culture changes quickly, but it is a trend now,” says Pranav Premakumar, Executive Chef, Hotel Vivin Luxury suites, Thiruvananthapuram.

In the heart of the city Calicut notebook has been serving Kochiites and across the state with Malabari cuisine for the last three years. According to chef Anoop Augustine, who is also the general manager of the outlet, the most demanded item is the Malabari Fish curry meal. “It offers several dishes. Palakkad special kutharii is served along with the ikura fish curry, which is mixed primarily in grated coconut and kudumpuli,” he says. 

Kayikka’s Biriyani is a matter of pride for all Kochiites. Since 1948, the Hotel Rahmatulla owned by Vellathil Kunju Kayi has been making waves with its flagship biriyani. By word of mouth the fame started wafting to places outside Kochi. Compared to the Malabari biriyani made with small sized grains, Kayyes biriyani stays different with its long-sized rice. “The dish is neither Hyderabadi or Malabari. It is an in-house preparation formed by my grandfather. It is a slow-cooking process that goes upto four hours. The ingredients amd chicken is slowcooked then the rice, already 60 per cent boiled, is taken to the chembu,” says Shabeer V M, grandson of Kunju Kayi.