Boiled rice, fennel seeds, shallots and coconut join hands to make this delicious fried bread called Ney Pathiri.
I had a very weird experience during the initial days of my married life. We were invited for tea to one of my in laws best friends house, who happened to be this gorgeous muslim woman, as fair and elegant as a a Barbie princess. I was struck by her expressions and her charm. We were escorted to the dinner table which was set with beautiful cakes, kinnathappam, unnakaya and .. a plate of egg omlette..?? Ahem.. I did not see any chappatis or bread on the table. I was surprised to see egg omlette on the table, seved with tea. But hey no worries.. I love eggs.! But my first bite into that delicious looking omlette changed all that. It was sweet.. Oh.!.. the egg omlette was sweet. Coming from Cochin, I had never eaten anything like that and I always associated eggs with salt and pepper, never sugar. I very secretly told my In- Law, “I think she mistook her containers and put sugar instead of salt in the eggs”. And they all laughed. That was when I came to know that beaten eggs + sugar = teatime delicacy.
I am in awe of Moppilah ie Malayalam Muslim cuisine. It is so diverse, so delicious, so complicated yet so simple. Well, I am basically from Cochin, but married into a family in Kannur. Today’s recipe is for a very popular food in the Malabar region. There are many types of breads or pathiris made, but ney pathiri is deep fried and more tasty than the one cooked on the tava. My hubby is very fond of this pathiri. It brings back memories of the thattukada near our house, from where we used to buy hot pathiris and kallumaka in the evenings.
NEY PATHAL / NEY PATHIRI
- 500 gm Parboiled rice / puzzhukalari
- Coconut scrapings from 1/2 a coconut about 1 cup
- Salt to Taste
- 1 1/2 tsp – 2 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 1/2 cup peeled shallots
- Rice flour if needed
- Refined Oil to deep fry
- 1 Ziploc or plastic bag
- Wash and clean the rice well. Pour boiling water over it and leave to soak for 4 to 5 hours. After this time drain the water and keep aside.
- In your grinder bowl, using very less water grind the rice, shallots, salt and fennel seeds to a paste. The trick here is to add as little water as possible. Run the grinder for a minute, then add 1/4 cup water and try grinding again. Repeat till the rice is ground. Add the coconut and grind again. It does not have to be finely ground, a coarse paste is great.
- Turn the ground mixture into a bowl. Knead it to make a dough. If you have added more water the dough will not come together and will stick to your hands. In that case add a little rice flour to make a moist dough which comes together well. I did not add rice flour as I ground it with little water.
- Roll the dough into lemon sized balls.
- Take your plastic bag and separate it into two halves by tearing at the edges.
- Place a ball of dough on one plastic sheet. Place the other one on top of the dough and gently press down with your hand to make a flat disc. It does not have to be thin. Ideally a rolled out pathiri should have the thickness of 2 to 3 puris kept together.
- Heat a kadai with enough oil to deep fry the pathiris.
- Slide the flattened pathiri off the plastic and into the oil. Take care that the oil does not splatter around.
- The pathiri will sink to the bottom and then slowly rise. Press the pathiri gently with your spoon and turn around. Soon it will puff up. Cook both sides till it is a beautiful golden brown color.
- Drain on absorbent paper.
- Serve with a good chicken / mutton curry.
- I have numerous recipes that use pachari instead of puzzhukalari. Sometimes they are used in combination too. The authentic recipe calls for puzzhukalari / parboiled rice.
- Use as less water as possible to grind the rice. It will take some time but is well worth the effort.
- A banana leaf or some plastic is necessary to roll out the dough perfectly into flat discs.