This is one book review I have been wanting to work on ever since my hands landed up on the book. There is a special reason for it. Ummi Abdullah is considered to be the all-in-all of Malabar cooking. My first tryst with her was when I ordered “Malabar Muslim Cookbook” online years back and ever since it has been like a bible for me. The book was particularly helpful in giving measurements when umma couldn’t give it. I hope you get what I mean… 🙂 A lot of the Malabar recipes on the blog have been referred to the book .
So when I saw an announcement on her FB page inviting people for trying the recipes for her new cookbook, I pounced onto it. In fact I saw the post quite late that I didn’t get a chance to try recipes that I would have loved to. If you remember, this Thari Unda was one of the recipes I tried and posted on the blog too. The other recipe I tested was the Vendakka Mulakittathu, which was very close to umma’s version. I had then forgotten about till early last year, I started receiving messages from the team regarding the launch of the booking for the book. Till I received the package in my hands in August last year, it has been an exciting ride.
I had booked for the collector’s package, which came with a signed copy of the beautiful book along with an extra little booklet of her handwritten recipes. Finally, I received the parcel when I was back home last year in August. It was so exciting to see my name in two places in the book – one among the patrons, since it was a crowd funded print, and among the ones who tried the recipes. As I would usually do, the first thing that went up was an Instagram post. 😉
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Finally the wait is over! I have always been an admirer of Mrs. Ummi Abdulla. She is the connoisseur of Malabar cooking and has done a lot to spread the beauty of this cuisine. I treat her first book “The Malabar Cookbook” like a Bible to refer when umma’s proportions are too confusing! 😄 I got a late chance to test a couple of recipes for this book too. So you can imagine my excitement of seeing my name in this lovely book… Her latest book brings in almost every recipe dear to those in Malabar with some lovely clicks by @sainajayapal. Can’t wait to explore… ❤️ #malabar #malabarfood #cookbook #recipes #featured #igers #foodporn #foodstagram #excited #prizedposession
The book is actually an amalgamation of all the recipes that Ummitha has done over the past years. All her little books we combined, collected and made into the shape of a coffee table cookbook. The book is quite big in size, with good quality paper and even more amazing clicks taken by Saina Jaypal. Even if you don’t feel like cooking, the way the book is put together would want you to curl on the couch and flip page by page, gawking at each of the pictures and reading through the anecdotes. Each recipe has connections to her family and friends, and each section starts with a detail of some story or the other.
The book covers almost all basic Malabar recipes plus some extra recipes as well. The recipes are all in detail, easy to understand and most of them are accompanied by beautiful pictures. Every recipe has a suggestion of how you can enjoy it even more by advising you the pairing. I haven’t seen this much in most of the cookbooks, and I totally loved this feature. If you are a collector of cookbooks related to regional cuisine, then this one is a must. The only disadvantage I feel is the large size of the book, which actually is standard with many of the cookbooks that cover regional cuisine. When I intend to try the recipe, I take a snapshot on my phone and keep the book back, so that it is easier to refer and the book also won’t get spoiled. 😀 If you wish to have a copy for yourself, then you can hop onto Ummi’s Corner. The book is also available on Amazon.
Now ever since I have been wanting to do a review and cook a recipe from the book, I was in complete confusion. There are many recipes in the book that are close to my heart, that I would have loved to try, but I still kept moving up and down. I posted a story on my IG handle and Meena instantly replied saying, “Try a fish recipe!” Now fish is not something that is widely accepted at home. My girls are so fussy with it thought HD loves it and B is OK with it. It did leave me in a dilemma but as I flipped through the fish section, my eyes fell on the Meen Kakkathil and I knew this is the one.
Kakkathil is basically a thick curry with a profound coriander flavoring. I had already tried the Mutta Kakkathil before, so I knew what to accept from this one. The recipe is quite easy to make, with loads of onion masala, so you can basically pair it with any flatbread, especially something like pathiri or chapathi and scoop it to have. The book suggests that it can be paired with neypathil as well. Even though the recipe used king-fish, I used shark, since that is what I had in hand. We had a little too much for dinner, that I ended up having the leftover the next day, since it was so delicious!
The fish is first marinated for a while and then just fried till half done. The onion masala is prepared by the side and once it gets well done, the fish is added back to finish off the process. The final result is a lip-smacking gravy that will surely entice any fish lover! The only adjustment I did to the recipe was to reduce the spiciness. If you do land up with some meaty fish, then do try this gravy, and I am sure you won’t be disappointed. Off to the recipe…
Meen Kakkathil ~ Malabar Thick Fish Curry
- 500 gm fish steaks I used shark
- 2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 large onions thinly sliced
- 3 green chillies chopped
- 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 tbsp coriander powder
- 2 to matoes chopped
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 4 tbsp coconut oil divided
- Salt to taste
- Wash and drain the fish well.
- Mix half the chilli and turmeric along with salt into a paste. Rub into the fish and allow to marinate for 10 minutes.
- Heat half the oil in a frying pan and fry both the sides just till brown. Switch off.
- Meanwhile, in a bigger saucepan, heat the rest of the oil. Add half the onions and saute till fried. Drain and set aside.
- Add the remaining onion and saute till translucent.
- Add the ginger garlic paste and chillies and saute till raw smell is gone.
- Add the remaining chilli-turmeric powders, tomatoes and coriander powders and saute till nicely browned.
- Add a cup of water and bring to boil. Adjust seasoning. Cook till the masala thickens.
- Add the fried fish along with the oil in the pan. Add the fried onion and more water if required. Cook, stirring occassionally, till oil appears on top.
- Sprinkle the garam masala powder and coriander leaves.
- Serve hot with pathiris or chapathis.