A blog on Malabar Food will be incomplete without the palharams or snacks popular in our houses. I should have blogged this a while ago but I don't make these snacks often enough. Ramazan of course will see all of them make their rounds in my kitchen, but unlike my reader's imagination, my house is more likely t o have simple, light, un-interesting food on a regular basis than these delicacies.
Most of the delicious Malabar dishes are meat based and spiced and fried to get its rich texture and taste.Comfort food in its raw form.... I love making them every now and then just to fill my kitchen with the ghost chatter and sounds of another time back home where it was made by more than one person interspered with a lot of conversation to take the tedium away.
Though why these dishes are called "palaharam", meaning a "light repast", or snacks is beyond me. They are delicious but in no way are they a "light" snack, unless u treat it as a pie and take just a slice. They are a meal in itself and should get their time in the limelight on their own..not with a hazaar other co-stars. It's literally a crime to eat anything after eating one of these, except fruits or a sulaimani.
Erachi pathiri is a Ramazan delicacy in the Malabar regions, mostly in Calicut and north of there. Any salkaram/celebration there is not complete without this delicious and elaborate item on the table.Though a standard item in most houses, it is still not commonly available on the menu in restaurants. Wait for a Malabar Food festival to get a taste of the real deal or wangle an invitation to a house there. Zain's restaurant in Calicut is one of the only places that has it on the menu for those who want to try it.
It is made with beef mostly but you could make it with chicken or mutton too. Not to be made with ground meat, it has to be meat cooked with the spiced and then chopped up and shredded by hand.
Kind of similar to the beef samosa but the pastry casing is fried after stuffing, and then dipped in a egg custard and shallow fried again. So the tastes vary from the sweet french toast like outer bites to the spicy meat-onion filling inside. I like it more than the uni dimensional samosa but my family goes for the spicy samosas more so that gets more show time.
For meat filling (makes about 4-5)
Boneless Beef/Mutton -1/2 lbs
Ginger -1/2 inch long piece
Garlic -3 cloves
Green chilies- 3
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Roasted Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Red chili powder -1/2 tsp
Fennel powder -1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Onions – 1 lb(3 medium ones)
Small green chilies -4
Curry leaves- A handful
Oil- 2-3 tbsp
1. Clean and cut the meat into small pieces. Grind ginger, green chilies and garlic into a paste. Mix everything with the meat, including the spice powders and leaves.
2. In a thick bottom pressure cooker, add the marinated meat and let it cook uncovered for 5 minutes. No need to add any oil at this stage. When the meat starts releasing its excess water, place the lid and let it cook on full flame till the first whistling sound and then lower the heat to the lowest and cook for another 5 minutes. (Some meat may need more time so open, check and redo the process.) Take it off the flame and open after the steam is fully released. If there is excess gravy, simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes to evaporate it.
Slow cook the meat covered on low heat for almost 1hr if you do not have a pressure cooker.
3. Meanwhile, chop the onions, green chilies and curry leaves into very fine pieces.
When the meat cools down, chop that also. You could use a chopper for this.
4. Heat the oil, and sauté the cut onions, chilies and meat on medium high heat till it looks dry and slightly separated. The onions just need to be translucent, not brown.Add chopped curry leaves.
Keep stirring to avoid the mix from sticking to the base. Adjust the salt and spice level. When the mix cools down, the filling is ready. the filling should be semi-dry and not too moist.
P.S.If onions were cut by the chopper, it becomes a bit moister so the frying time increases.
For the Custard:
1/2 cup milk
sugar- 2-3 tbsp
Cardamom Powder- a pinch
Mix everything and keep aside. Make more custard in the same proportion if this is not enough.
For the wrapper dough:
3/4 cup wheat flour
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour/maida
½ tsp salt and 2 tsp oil.
warm water -approx. equal quantity of flour.
Make the dough the same way as for you would make for puri. Add warm water slowly. The dough should be hard but pliable, else it would be difficult to roll it out. Spread a drop of oil and cover with plastic wrap and keep aside for at least 15 minutes. Divide into even sized balls...about the size of a small lemon.
Roll it out evenly till about 6 inch in diameter .Keep aside and roll out another chapathi of the same size. If they are nowhere near the same size, pile them up together and trim with a sharp circular lid. Now place one chapathi on the rolling board and place 2-3 tbsp of filling in the middle leaving a good 1 inch or more from the edges. Place the second chapathi over the this and press the ends together. The ends are crimped and pinched and rolled together to form a pattern.
Heat about 1 cup of oil in a saute pan. When it is medium hot, slide the stuffed chapathi into it and deep fry on each side for about 2-3 minutes. It should be brown and puff up. Drain onto paper towels.
Dip each stuffed chapathi into the egg custard and turn over once. Now shallow fry the dipped chapathi in a non stick pan( uses less oil and the egg doesn't stick) with just enough oil to cook the egg on the outside.(Not deep fry). Drain and serve hot. Cut into slices if the pie is too big.
My measurements may be not be fully accurate for the dough-filling, so just bear with me. I will update with more details soon. If there are any queries they will be answered promptly.