She carefully inspects the thickness of the pastry that encases the succulent chicken filling. A cross between a samosa and a gujia, the Kozhi Ada is a Moplah specialty that is actually served as a tea time snack. She laughs when I ask her about the equally enticing Ulliyada which has a caramelized onion filling. ‘Moplah cuisine is not high on vegetarian delicacies’ she says smiling, but she improvised to please the vegetarian guests. She signals to the ITC staff that the Ada is up to the mark and then settles down to regale us with tales from Moplah land. After two hours of abject gluttony and childhood stories, I’m floored by this 80-year-old diminutive food adventurer called Ummi Abdulla. Her first love – traditional Moplah cuisine, is being showcased by Dakshin, ITC Windsor till the 12th of September. Right off the bat, let’s just say you need to experience it!
I’m not certain we can call this Biryani in the purest sense of the word. But the debate on what constitutes Biryani has been raging for decades and I don’t have the time or the inclination to delve into its subtleties. For me, Biryani will always be a one-pot meal of rice and meat cooked together with spices, served with aplomb on a Sunday afternoon. Sundays would be incomplete without Biryani in our house, though logically it had no place in Andhra-Karnataka cuisine.