March 23, 2010

Kappa Erachi/ Mashed Tapioca with Beef

Some of the food we enjoy the most are the most basic ones, with no frills..comfort food at its best, probably devised by some tired mother as a leftover special, whipping some of the contents of the fridge together. Kappa is Tapioca or Yuca and I grew up calling it "poolla".  Getting good kappa was not easy (we were outside Kerala) and when we did get it,  we used to love it.. in all the myriad forms of kappa.. ..sometimes served with fish curry,  sometimes made into "puzhukku", cooked together with sardines; sometimes cooked  with sweet potatoes, plantain peels, and yams and served with spicy red fish curry. As an escape from the routine rice-roti meals, I enjoyed it a lot and had a soft corner for any kappa item. It was much later that I found out that Kappa is considered a "poor man's food" in Kerala, a thattu kada food.

A thattukada is like a"dhaba" or a street food joint, or a NY food truck, but housed in a small restaurant.  The restaurant may not be something to write home about (in fact, if you are in college, better not to let your folks know where u are eating.), but most likely the food there was special. My classmates(guys) used always rave about a thattukada behind our college which served fresh meals while we cribbed about our hostel food. It was a boys only place most of the time, so they refused to take us there. In our final year of college, we finally got them to agree to take us there to have a "rice meal". Needless to say, we were the only girls there but the food was good.

There is a dhaba or a thattukada on the fringes of everyone's memories.... the dhaba where we went for the midnight  egg dipped fried alu parantha, the place where you got ur thattu dosa fix, the anda burji place, the puttu-mutton curry shoe hole, the appam stew place, the kuthu porotta joint.  Some are  liquor joints, the local place to get the nadan kallu, i.e. the country liquor, but a lot of them just cater to a hungry working/student  population with fast cheap eats, at all times of the day and night, when even the "decent" restaurants are closed off. Which one was your favorite thattukada? Anybody want to comment?

Now, far away from the crowd, this food is also a food group we miss, as much for the taste as for the fond memories of the time and place. Kappa Erachi, now known as a glorified "Kappa Biryani, used to be known simply as "erachiyum poollayum" in our houses, is a mashed concoction of spiced beef and tapioca, held together by a ground coconut paste. There are versions of this everywhere now, with more spices, more garam masala, with roasted coconut, but back home, its made very simply with some beef varatiyathu mixed into the kappa. My mom was amused to see our humble food being marketed as a ethnic gourmet delight in the TV and the resorts of Kerala. Well, I guess, as long as there are expatriate Keralites around, these resorts will do well and I definitely won't mind going and eating there.:)

Ingredients for 4-6 servings
Tapioca/ Yuca – 2 lbs
Beef – 1 lbs

For Cooking Beef
Shallots – 10
Fresh Ginger - Garlic Paste– 2 tbsp
Hot Green Chillies – 7
South Indian Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Roasted Coriander Powder – 2 tbsp
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Pepper Powder – 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds- 1.2 tsp
Curry Leaves – A handful
Salt – to taste

For Coconut paste
Grated Coconut – 1 cup
Fennel seeds  – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves-1 sprigs

1.Clean and cut the beef into small cubic pieces. Peel the tapioca and cut into medium sized chunks. Do not use any portion that is discolored, has blue lines or looks too soft.
2.Mix the spice powders and salt and keep aside. Chop the green chillies finely and add  to the beef, along with the ginger garlic paste and spice powders under the beef heading. Keep aside for about half hour.
3. Add the marinated beef, 4 sliced shallots, ginger-green chili paste and the rest of the ingredients including the leaves. Add half cup water and slow cook the meat on low heat and covered for 1hr, and stirred once in a while to prevent it from sticking to the pan. The cooking time will vary with the quality of the beef. Usually beef back in Kerala used to take forever to cook and here  it gets over cooked too easily. So keep an eye on it. Alternately, pressure cook the meat without adding any water, for 2-5 minutes after the first whistle and then open the cooker and let the extra liquid dry up on medium low heat in the cooker itself.

4.  Meanwhile, boil the tapioca pieces along with salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric until tender. You would need to add water for boiling....about double the quantity of tapioca. I usually pressure cook that too in just enough water to cover it, for just one whistle.  If there is too much water after the tapioca is cooked, drain the water (reserve it)and keep the tapioca pieces aside. The tapioca should be soft.
5. Grind the coconut with the fennel, shallots and curry leaves. Optionally, dry roasting the coconut for about  5minutes gives it nice flavor.
6. Mix the tapioca pieces with the beef, its gravy and the coconut. Adjust salt as needed. Cover and let it simmer on very low heat for about 5 minutes till the flavors blend in. Leave it covered for some more time. The texture should not be watery, it should be semi- thick and chunky with pieces of beef and tapioca.
Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil and fry the remaining 6 shallots (sliced finely) till brown and then add the curry leaves. Pour this mix over the kappa erachi  and serve.


    Suhaina said...

    Woww its looks so tempting.
    I do make this once in a while.
    Do u have a good recipe for black forest cake??
    Very happy to follow you...
    Keep up the good work.

    sra said...

    I've tried the tapioca, it's v heavy. It didn't have any meat, though I think we ordered some fish to go along with it.

    Mallugirl said...

    sra, tapioca by itself is heavy.. full of carbs, so i guess u won't like it!! yeah, its served with fish curry usually.

    Mallugirl said...

    i thot u probably make the same at home. u don't?

    13 hours ago @ - Kappa Erachi/ Mashed T... · 0 replies · +1 points
    lucky you... we have to go by school hols now!!

    13 hours ago @ - Kappa Erachi/ Mashed T... · 0 replies · +1 points
    Nasrajan..two great recipes in one comment.. please leave more comments.:)
    have to try ur kappa style..scrambled eggs makes everything taste better, doesn't it? Where in Cochin is this place? Is it still running?

    23 hours ago @ - Kappa Erachi/ Mashed T... · 1 reply · +1 points
    yeah jayshree, its is a Malabar term!! kolli sounds cute !i haven't heard that one. where is that used?

    23 hours ago @ - Kappa Erachi/ Mashed T... · 2 replies · +1 points
    what a rain right? and to think back in kerala they are hungering for some rains!!

    23 hours ago @ - Kappa Erachi/ Mashed T... · 1 reply · +1 points
    u could replace it with lamb.. chicken might fall apart, but will taste good.

    23 hours ago @ - Kappa Erachi/ Mashed T... · 0 replies · +1 points
    Yeah, when u go for a short visit, it is difficult to satisfy all the food cravings.:)) i have always wondered how this would taste with potatoes instead of kappa.:)

    23 hours ago @ - Kappa Erachi/ Mashed T... · 0 replies · +1 points

    5 days ago @ Veg Inspirations - Quinoa and Flax Uthappam · 0 replies · +1 points
    wonderful use of quinoa. have to try this.

    1 week ago @ - Grapefruit In Two Ways · 0 replies · +1 points
    it is "chakotra" in Hindi and "Babloose Naranga" (in Malayalam), I think.

    Mallugirl said...

    Nasrajan @ - Kappa Erachi/ Mashed T... 14 hours ago · 1 reply · 0 points
    My grand mother used to do a variant of the technique. She would cook beef, then use the gravy to cook the tapiocas. Afterwards, she would mix half of the beef with the Kappa, and the other half will be used for other purposes like a delicious beef fry :-) May be, practice from the old difficult times.
    And, Kappa Biriyani... though sounds glamorous, it was my staple food for dinner during the 5 yr stint in Cochin, whenever the office mess served boring vegetarian :-) Here is how they used to make it at the shop :
    1) Cook kappa with beef and keep in bulk
    2) Pour oil in a deep pan (used for making fried rice too), and scramble two eggs.
    3) Add kappa-beef combo to it and mix well.
    4) Add some raw onions as toppings and serve.
    They were delicious :-)

    PS: Sorry for the long comment :-)

    Mallugirl said...

    sarah: Yeah true!!!! today is better ..i m going for a vacation to India within 2 weeks, i m praying the rain to come with me ..hahhah..its burning hot it seems there...

    Radhika Vasanth
    Thank you! I will prepare this over the weekend.

    yeah jayshree, its is a Malabar term!! kolli sounds cute !i haven't heard that one. where is that used?

    finla,Yeah, when u go for a short visit, it is difficult to satisfy all the food cravings.:)) i have always wondered how this would taste with potatoes instead of kappa.:)

    Iyooooo adipoli...Njangade sidilottu ithinu ellum kappayum ennanu parayaru...My fav food...Kurachu parcel cheyoooo...

    Thats a nice recipe shaheen....i had kappayum irachiyum from pne of our family freinds place and absolutely loved it.....was thinking of recreating it at home......she made a curyy though...then put the kappa in it.....Yours looks so good.

    I heard the term poolla for the first time in Calicut....I think it is a malabar term 'coz I grew up calling it kolli.
    I remember a similar thattukada experience.....went there during my hostel days ofcourse.....if i'd done it at home, people would have been so scandalized :-))

    Your post reminds me of the thattukada near my hostel....Good old times :)This is one of our comfort foods too..especially during rainy times, so we are on a kappa diet for the past 2-3 days :)...looks so delicious..

    Radhika Vasanth
    wow, lovely dish. I will replace it with chicken or lamb. I believe it will still taste the same.

    HAppy Cook
    Now i hav enot ate kappa with erachi for years, when i was living a thome mom made them a lot, but now when ever i go there it never happens . And here i don't get kappa , wish i could grab that plate as it looks so so yumm.

    Yummy Team
    Great Recipe! It looks delicious...

    Mallugirl said...

    forgive me all, i got rid of the intense debate for some time so had to copy paste the comments here.

    starry said...

    looks so yummy.and love the tapioca.

    Pravs said...

    that looks so delicious. can i try this with mutton ? Nice to read about your college memories. I have not tried much of street food.

    Bharathy said...

    Thank You for your encouraging words in the 24 24 24 post, girl!! :)..You are always welcome to our place!..yeah my dad in law's brother & family live there in the village and that old house! :)..our tharavadu..:)

    Kappa with beef is still my favourite!! :)...and You make this at home??!!!..and did you ask me abt thattukada??..
    as rightly said, most of the thattukadas were the top most fast food centres of students..esp for my brother and friends, who was just a year older than me used to get the midnight food whenever we stayed awake to study till late night for exams..:)..
    ..we used to get Pork with kappa as well...and also chicken fry..the fellow was quite known for these fries and "chicken chettan" was a well known chef among us..he is quite well off now but does the same business...and my brother got me the same food from him when we holidayed in kottayam last summer!!!..
    I have never come across this dish anywhere and I absolutely Love the recipe!...:)

    s said...

    this is tooooo tempting..I wanna go hooomeeeeeee.....

    Ria Mathew said...

    Absolutely drool-icious!

    An Open Book said...

    Hello ...thanks for the comment on my blog...coming from a pro like you meant a lot to me:)

    KBA said...

    Maaloottiyeeeeey! thakarthu tto! nte kuttikkaalathey kure ormakal. local thattukada, rain and this superdish. nothing ever comes close. Thank you for this wonderful post.

    Sig said...

    I had never had Kappa Biryani till I found a frozen version here in the US. It was love at first bite, even with the frozen version. Now I make it at home once in a while, but its been a long time now though, your version looks very tempting.

    Anonymous said...

    hi mallu girl,
    i appreciate ur cooking and ur writing skill.
    your blog motivate me to enter my kitchen.kudos to you.

    hey were u an inmate of kunji beevathu (mes hstl ktprm?)
    ur discription of the mess hall in Recipe love letter reminds me some thing familiar .

    thats y

    good work
    and keep it up.

    vr said...

    I want to make this looks so tempting. I have never had kappa and beef together. Can you let me know how many shallots and curry leaves need to be ground with coconut. Thanks a lot.

    KANNADASAN said...

    Hallo, i like the methods. Its good as they all are very simple to cook.
    I have bookmarked your blog.
    The photos are also good.
    A chance search brought me to your blog.
    Great ... continue..

    Gandhi Kannadhasan