Thalassery biryani

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Thalassery biriyani
Biriyani.jpg
Thalassery biriyani
Course Main course
Place of origin Indian subcontinent
Region or state Kerala
Creator Malabar variant, Mughal inception
Main ingredients Kaima/Jeerakasala rice, Chicken, Spices
Food energy
(per serving)
250 kcal (1047 kJ)[1]
Other information Accompaniments:
Raita, Grated coconut-mint chutney, Pickle
Cookbook:Thalassery biriyani  Thalassery biriyani

Thalassery biriyani (IPA: [t̪laʃeɾi biɾijɑːɳi]) is a rice-based[A] dish blended with spices and chicken.[2] As it is the only biriyani recipe in Kerala cuisine,[3][B] it can also be called Kerala biriyani.

The main difference between Thalassery biriyani and others is that it uses only Khaima/Jeerakasala rice—a short-grain, thin rice which is also called biriyani rice in Kerala. The dish does not use basmati rice. Biryani is an exotic dish of Mughal origin, but this variant is an indigenous recipe of Malabar. It is a symbol of the cultural amalgamation of Mughal and Malabari cuisines. The Mughals brought the cuisine of biryani from Samarkand, and later variations of biriyani developed in different parts of India. Thalassery biriyani may have come to the region because of the influence of the Muslim rulers of Mysore and Arkot.[4]

Thalassery biriyani is a cultural embodiment and is reminiscent of foreign influences in Malabar; it is a reminder of the Mughal-Arab cultural influence in North Kerala due to the trade that lasted for many centuries before the 1900s and the emigration to the Middle East of locals from the 1970s onwards.[5] Thalassery sea port was an export trade centre for spices where a convergence of European, Arab and Malabar cultures occurred.[6]

Etymology[edit]

The name "Thalassery biryani" (Malayalam: തലശ്ശേരി ബിരിയാണി, Hindi: त लश्शेरि बिरयानी, Tamil: தலச்சேரி பிரியாணி, Arabic: برياني تلشیری‎, Bengali: থালস্সের্য বিরিয়ানি) originates from Thalassery, a town in the coastal Malabar region in North Kerala, India. The word "biryani" is derived from the Persian word biryān (n) (بریان) which means "fried" or "roasted".[7] Biryani was believed to have been invented in the kitchens of the Mughal Emperors; Thalassery biriyani is one of many ways of preparing biriyani dishes. In the local dialect-Malayalam, there is a small variation in pronunciation. It is called biri-yaa-ni instead of bir-yani[2]

Historical and cultural influences[edit]

Thalassery biriyani with Raita

Thalassery biryani is an ample insignia of the Islamic cultural influence in the region. The dish is a traditional Mappila or Malabar cuisine. Ancient written records—except for a few treatise by historians—citing the origin of Mappila's (Malabar Muslims) are rare. The mythology about the conversion of the last Chera Emperor (Cheraman Perumal)—Rama Varma Kulasekhara Perumal—to Islam from Mahodayapuram (Kodungallur) by Malik Deenar and subsequent conversion of Perumal's sister and nephew residing in Dharmadam(a village located north of Thalassery) is generally believed to be the origin of Islam in North Malabar. Perumal is believed to have left Kerala from an erstwhile feudal province in the region named Poyanad (Poya Nadu-'The province from where he left') which lies in between Thalassery and Kannur taluks (Governed by local chieftains named Randuthara Achanmar before 1947).[8] Perumal's nephew Mahabali, is believed to be the first[9] Ali Raja of the Arakkal kingdom (The Sultanate of Lakshadweep and Cannanore)—the sole Muslim kingdom of Kerala. The Arakkal Kingdom controlled Dharmadam until the formation of Kerala state on 1 November 1956.[10] The legend showcases that these incidents had a significant influence in introducing Islamic culture in Thalassery. In the ancient period Thalassery—An erstwhile port town in North Malabar— was geographically in the convergence point of three regional provinces Chirakkal, Kottayam and Kadathanad. It was also the end point of the 'Perya pass' coming from the eastern hilly areas of Coorg and Wayanad making it an important trade center of spices in Malabar.[11] The Arab traders, the Arkot rulers and the invasion of Sultanate of Mysore were the other important factors which introduced and developed various Islamic culture in the region.[12]

During the Muslim holy month of Ramzan, Malabar dishes are made in abundant varieties.[13] The Muslim community of Malabar differs culturally; the lifestyle of the trader communities near the coastal towns differs from that of the farming communities in the inland and hilly areas; Malabar cuisine varies throughout the region. In the modern era as communication improved exponentially, the differences of culture between coastal and hilly area became inconspicuous resulting in the amalgamation of food culture with in the Muslim community in Malabar .[14]

The Mughlai cuisine had a significant influence upon Malabar recipes. Mughali recipes including Biriyani, Pulao, Thandoor, Nan and Roti spread throughout India.[15] The ingredients included rice, maida, wheat and there was extensive use of ghee (clarified butter) and oils for preparation. Sweet delicacies were made from jaggery (unrefined sugar). Most of these dishes are non-vegetarian; chicken, mutton, lamb and beef are used but pork is not consumed due to religious regulations. Dish range from mild to extremely spicy, and the dishes have distinct aromas.[16]

The practice in Islamic food culture is that the non-vegetarian dishes are required to be "Halal"[17] [C] compliant, such foods are supposed to be consumed by Muslims as a religious directive. The Malabar Mappila dishes are preferred by some societies to be compliant with the 'Halal' method of food processing.

Malabar cuisines[edit]

Thalassery biriyani prepared

There are two classes of the non-vegetarian cuisine in Kerala; 'Malabar cuisine' which is from North Kerala and 'Syrian Christian cuisine' from the South. They are clearly distinct from each other; the former has Mughalai-Arab influences and the latter is a mix of Kerala traditional dishes which is rich in coconut and the Syrian, Dutch, Portuguese and British recipes.[18][19] Thalassery biryani is a Malabar cuisine recipe. Most of the Malabar dish cuisines are through frying using ghee and most of them are non-vegetarian. There are spicy as well as sweet dishes in them. Some of the Malabar cuisines are Ari Pattiri, Chatti Pattiri, Coin porottas, Kallummakaya fry, Arikkadukka and biriyanis of chicken, mutton, prawn, fish, egg and sweeteners like Aleesa,[20] kadalpparippu ada, kozhikode halva and kayanirachatu.[21][22]

Biriyani is usually seen as an occasional serving. The Malabar dishes for breakfast are Pattiri, Orotti e.t.c and the sweeteners are mostly used as snacks in evening.[23] The dish 'biryani' came to the region due to the Islamic influence and it's recipe gradually evolved into Thalassery biryani which has distinct cuisine and taste when compared to other biryani variants.

Differences from other biriyani[edit]

Short-grained thin Kaima/Jeerakasala rice (left) and long-grained thin Basmati rice (right). Kaima/Jeerakasala is used to make Thalassery biriyani.

Thalassery biriyani uses a unique, fragrant, small-grained, thin rice variety named Kaima [24] or Jeerakasala. This rice even though small in size, is different from the usual(everyday purpose) small sized rice used in Indian rice dishes. Kaima/Jeerakasala is not round unlike these commonly found smaller variants and the fragrance of Kaima/Jeerakasala is another differentiating factor. Other variants of rice that could be chosen are similar ones like Jeera rice, Jeerakasemba or small Bangladeshi biryani rice. The aroma of these rice variants are their speciality, unlike others, the rice is white, short (small) grained, thin (not plum)—only few variants of rice like Basamati and Kaima(Jeerakasala) have fragrance.[2][25] The recipe and cuisine of Thalassery biryani has clear conspicuous differences with other biryani variants.[26] The Kaima/Jeerakasala rice does not need pre-soaking(marination); water is only used to clean the rice. So after adequate boiling there will not be any water remaining in the cooking dish as it will be evaporated completely. This is a major difference as in usual rice preparation (Using other rice variants) water has to be drained off[27]

The blending of ghee rice with masala is done by the dum process(A method of cooking by sealing a lid tightly and placing hot charcoal on it). The biriyani masala and ghee rice are arranged in layers inside the dish. Meat is cooked with masala on slow fire; it is layered with rice and the lid of the container is sealed with Maida dough or a loin cloth. Hot coal or charcoal is placed then above the lid.[28] Thalassery biryani is a Pakki-Biriyani. There are two types of biriyani; "Pakki" and "Kacchi", In Pakki style, the ghee rice is added to the fully cooked chicken-masala mix and then cooked by the "dum" process; where as in Kacchi style the ghee rice is added to the half cooked chicken and then cooked till it is fully cooked or the dum process is used.[29]

Specially dressed chicken [D]is poured into the masala dish. The chicken is slowly cooked in the masala, and gets blended well with the juices of masala and spices.[2] The Thalassery biriyani recipe has some additional specialty; unlike other biryanis it is not oily because of the dum process used for preparation. A unique blend of spices is added and the Kaima rice also adds a unique flavour. No oil is used to make the chicken, which is added raw into the masala mix.[E]

Ingredients[edit]

For the recipe, see Thalassery biryani at Wikibook Cookbooks

Thalassery biriyani at dining

Accompaniments[edit]

Raita—made from curd, salad (onion, tomato, skinless green cucumber), ginger, mint leaves and curry leaves—is often served with Thalassery biriyani
Coconut-Mint Chammandi (Biryani Chutney)

The prominent side dish preferred along with Thalassery biriyani are Coconut-Mint chammandi (Biriyani Chutney), South Asian pickle and Raita. After the meal, hot lime-black tea(Known among the Muslim community as 'Sulaimani') is served; this adds a special taste after the main course and is a digestion aid. Lime tea is a common afters in the Malabar region, especially with a rice based main-course.[48]

It is important to note that no other chutney is used other than the Coconut-Mint Chutney known locally as 'Biriyani Chutney' as the taste of this chutney complements the taste of Thalassery biryani.

Fried Indian anchovy or smelt[n 34] can be served as a starter if required and this is garnished with chopped onion, curry leaves and lime juice squeezed over it. Fried chicken in smaller pieces is also seen in some fiestas as accompaintments or as starters.

Daahashamani water, a medicated herbal drinking water, is preferred to be used in drinking water along with biriyani.[49] Daahashamani[n 35] is an ayurvedic medicine and natural thirst reliever and digestive aid prepared by mixing dry ginger[n 36], cardamom, cloves, coriander seeds, mimosa catechu[n 37], sapanwood[n 38], vetiver[n 39], puncturevine[n 40] and sandal wood, it is usually available in local markets.[50][50][51]

Popularity[edit]

The dish is popular and is often served in Malabar in weddings and other celebrations and parties. Biriyani is an unavoidable cuisine for the Muslim community. Even though Sadya is the traditional cuisine for Hindu weddings in the region, Hindus and Christians usually serve biriyani as familiar cuisine, mainly because it is easier to prepare than other main course cuisines and it is a complete food that does not require curry, and an additional effort to make curries can be avoided.[52][53][54][55] Unlike south Kerala, non vegetarian dishes are served during Onam and Vishu in Malabar and biriyani is often served on these occasions.[56]

Nutrition[edit]

The dish is rich in nutrients as it is a rice-spice dish. It is high in proteins and carbohydrates, and is also a source of minerals and vitamins. Nutritional value (According to U.S Dept. of Agriculture) of the spices is mentioned in the notes. The dish contains unsaturated and saturated fats; the saturated fat cann be reduced by adjusting the quantities of hydrogenated vegetable oil (vanaspati) and ghee.[1][57]

In fiction[edit]

The Malayalam movie, "Ustad Hotel" is based on the preparation of Malabar biriyani. The film is about a restaurant that specialises in Malabar cuisines that were made without adulteration and according to traditional recipes. The film narrates that customers choose this restaurant for the authenticity of the dishes.

"April 2009 – We were at the first discussion meeting for Kerala Cafe in Kochi. All the directors arrived and I was meeting most of them for the first time. At lunchtime, biryani packets arrived at the table. It smelt delicious and as I helped myself I asked “where is this biryani from?”,.... in two years time we’d be creating Ustad Hotel together!" – Anjali Menon about the film.[58]


The fictional restaurant depicted in the film is a prominent destination for food lovers as the cuisine is based on genuine Malabar recipe. The restaurant serves their flagship dish-Thalassery biryani to all customers who reach their for the first time. The story narration depicts these customers admiring the dish from the first time itself and when ever they come back to the city they choose this restaurant and order this biryani [59] The story depicts the importance of fiesta in Malabar culture. The choice of making the recipe of Malabar biryani as a theme for a blockbuster film shows how elegantly the dish is perceived in Malabar region and throughout Kerala.[60]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

Notes[edit]

Name of ingredients and their corresponding nutritional value (Link to this is given as highlighted superscript). Data reference: Nutrient Data Laboratory, United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service. Items marked in asterisk (*) are optional ingredients.
  1. ^ Malayalam: കൈമ(ജീരകശാല) അരി-Khaima rice
  2. ^ Malayalam: കോഴി ഇറച്ചി-Chicken
  3. ^ Malayalam: സവാള-ഉള്ളി-Onion
  4. ^ Malayalam: ഇഞ്ചി-Ginger[31]
  5. ^ Malayalam: വെളുത്തുള്ളി-Garlic
  6. ^ Malayalam: പച്ച മുളക്-Green chili
  7. ^ Malayalam: ചെറുനാരങ്ങ-Lime (fruit)
  8. ^ Malayalam: ചുവന്നുള്ളി(ചെറിയ ഉള്ളി)-Shallot
  9. ^ Malayalam: മല്ലിയില-Coriander leaves[32]
  10. ^ Malayalam: പുതീന-Mint leaves
  11. ^ Malayalam: തക്കാളി-Tomato
  12. ^ Malayalam: നെയ്യ്-Ghee
  13. ^ Malayalam: വനസ്പതി-Dalda (Vanaspati)
  14. ^ Malayalam: വെളിച്ചെണ്ണ-Coconut oil
  15. ^ Malayalam: പനിനീര്-Edible rose water
  16. ^ Malayalam: തൈര്-Curd/ diluted Yogurt
  17. ^ Malayalam: കറിയുപ്പ്-Table salt[33]
  18. ^ Malayalam: ഗരം മസാല-Garam (Curry) masala[34]
  19. ^ Malayalam: ശീമ ജീരകം (സാ ജീരകം)-Persian Cumin (Caraway)
  20. ^ Malayalam: ജാതിപത്രി-Mace[36]
  21. ^ Malayalam: മഞ്ഞള്‍ പൊടി-Turmeric powder[37]
  22. ^ Malayalam: ഉണക്ക മുളക് പൊടി-Red chili powder[38]
  23. ^ Malayalam: കുരുമുളക് പൊടി-Black pepper powder[39]
  24. ^ Malayalam: * കറിവേപ്പില-Curry leaves
  25. ^ Malayalam: കറുവപ്പട്ട-Cinnamon[40]
  26. ^ Malayalam: ഗ്രാമ്പു-Cloves[41]
  27. ^ Malayalam: ഏലക്ക-Cardamom[42]
  28. ^ Malayalam: കറുവാപട്ട ഇല-Bay leaf[43]
  29. ^ Malayalam: കസ്കസ്-Poppy seeds
  30. ^ Malayalam: കുങ്കുമ പുവ്-Saffron[44]
  31. ^ Malayalam: കശുവണ്ടിപ്പരിപ്പ്-Cashew nuts
  32. ^ Malayalam: മഞ്ഞ ഉണക്കമുന്തിരി-Sultana(Thompson Seedless) raisins
  33. ^ Malayalam: * തക്കോലം-Star anise
  34. ^ Malayalam: നത്തോലി/കൊഴുവ
  35. ^ Malayalam: ദാഹശമനി-Daahashamani herbal mixture and the following are its ingredients
  36. ^ Malayalam: ചുക്ക്
  37. ^ Malayalam: കരിങ്ങാലി
  38. ^ Malayalam: പതിമുഖം
  39. ^ Malayalam: രാമച്ചം
  40. ^ Malayalam: ഞെരിഞ്ഞി
  1. ^ Thalassery biriyani uses only Kaima/Jeerakasala rice, and does not use basmati rice. Basmati rice is used for variations such as Hyderabadi biryani
  2. ^ (Author)Pratibha Karan; (Title) Biriyani (2009); Topic: List of biriyanis by location.[3] Thalassery biriyani is the only biriyani variant mentioned in the Kerala section, the rest of the recipes being variations based on change of meat like mutton, prawns, chicken, fish, egg, etc. Variations of the dish may include mutton, fish, eggs or vegetables.
  3. ^ Halal[17] is a religious obligation, an Islamic belief where in the name of The Almighty should be uttered, also water and a little food should be given before cutting the jugular vein by the butcher. Processed non-vegetarian foods sometimes carry "Halal Tags", to help the Muslim consumers.
  4. ^ Chicken Dressing: Chicken is cut into comparatively larger pieces than the ones used for curry. Marination (immersing in water) is done for 20 to 30 minutes. It is then thoroughly cleaned many times ensuring there are no bloodstains on it. Chicken for biriyani is cleaned and the skin and other inedible parts are removed and the chicken is cut into pieces. Usually the drumstick (leg portion) is added as it is.[30]
  5. ^ Fresh meat is added directly to the masala. It is important to note that the dish requires no oil for making the chicken base for genuine Thalassery biriyani, however some experimental variations in recipes uses fried chicken.
  6. ^ Sunflower Oil can also be used in adequate proportions to reduce the usage of Dalda/ Vanaspati, as a good health choice; however Dalda/ Vanaspati cannot be completely avoided.
  7. ^ There are different varieties of fennel used in food recipes. They are *Cumin-Malayalam: ജീരകം, *Fennel (Sweet Cumin)-Malayalam: പെരും ജീരകം, *Aniseed(Anise)-Malayalam: അനിസ്, *Black Cumin (Black Caraway)-Malayalam: കരിഞ്ജീരകം, *Caraway (Meridian Fennel, Persian Cumin)-Malayalam: ശീമ ജീരകം (സാ ജീരകം). In Thalassery biryani Caraway or Persian Cumin is used[35]
  8. ^ Mace is the outer covering of Nutmeg

References[edit]

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  4. ^ Abdulla 1993, p. 2.
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  8. ^ Logan, William (2010). A collection of treaties, engagements and other papers of importance relating to British affairs in Malabar. Nabu Press. ISBN 1175082708. 
  9. ^ Ramunny, Murkot (1993). "2". Ezhimala: The Abode of the Naval Academy. Northern Book Centre. p. 17. ISBN 9788172110529. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
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  13. ^ "Culinary artiste". The Hindu. July 17, 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  14. ^ AP Kunhamu. "Mappilas of Malabar - A Kitchen Community". Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2013. [dead link]
  15. ^ Husain, Salma (2008). "Introduction". The Emperor's Table: The Art of Mughal Cuisine (2 ed.). Lustre Press. p. 0. ISBN 9788174364531. 
  16. ^ Chandrachud, Sonja (2011). Trouble at the Taj. Penguin Books India. p. 193. ISBN 9780143331377. 
  17. ^ a b Hussaini, Mohammad Mazhar (1993). Islamic Dietary Concepts & Practices. The University of Wisconsin - Madison: “The” Islamic Food & Nutrition Council of America. p. 53. ISBN 9780911119992. 
  18. ^ Philip, Thangam (1993). Flavours from India. Orient Blackswan. p. 9. ISBN 9788125008170. 
  19. ^ Chapman, Pat (2007). India Food and Cooking: The Ultimate Book on Indian Cuisine. New Holland Publishers. p. 111. ISBN 9781845376192. 
  20. ^ "ഗോതമ്പ് അലീസ". Mathrubhumi (in Malayalam). 2010. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  21. ^ "Malabar cuisine". Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "MALABAR LEAVES RECIPE..". Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  23. ^ Newton, James (2010). Jay Rai's Kitchen - Keralan Cuisine. Springwood emedia. ISBN 9781476123080. 
  24. ^ Karan 2009, p. 'Introduction'.
  25. ^ "Recipes:Indian|Arabic cuisine|Vegetarian|Italian: Chicken Biriyani". Deepsrecipes.com. 2012-06-04. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  26. ^ "Thalassery chicken biriyani". Mathrubhumi English. 2011-11-06. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
  27. ^ "Thalassery Chicken Dum Biryani". AnzzCafe. 2011-06-27. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  28. ^ "Welcome to Amrita Television - Taste of Kerala". Tasteofkerala.amritatv.com. Retrieved 2013-07-15. 
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Bibliography of notable references[edit]

  • Vinod, Ann (2010). "6, Chicken". Kachi's Kitchen: Family Favorites from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Bloomington, Indiana, USA: AuthorHouse. p. 72. ISBN 9781449094232. 
  • Karan, Pratibha (2009). Biryani. Noida, India: Random House India. ISBN 9788184002546. 
  • Ishrat Alam, ed. (2004). The Beginner's Cook Book: Cereals And Pulses. Global Vision Publishing House. ISBN 9788182200388. 
  • Logan, William (1887). Malabar Manual, Volume 1 and Volume 2. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 8120604466. 
  • Ramunny, Murkot (1993). "2". Ezhimala: The Abode of the Naval Academy. Northern Book Centre. p. 17. ISBN 9788172110529. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Malabar biryani: Abdulla, Ummi (1993). Malabar Muslim Cookery. Orient Blackswan. ISBN 8125013490. 
  • Hyderabadi biryani: Karan, Pratibha (1998). A Princely Legacy, Hyderabadi Cuisine. HarperCollins. ISBN 81-7223-318-3. 
  • Basmati Chicken biryani: Grandhi, Bindu (1998). Spice Up Your Life: The Flexitarian Way. New York: Cedar Fort. p. 109. ISBN 1599552736. 

External links[edit]