Swaadhisht Restaurant’s Thalassery Briyani

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Swaadhisht is a rustic restaurant  located on the pretty street of Chander Road, a small lane lined with a choice of several mainly South Indian and Nepali Restaurants. On an evening out for dinner here, it is quiet and you can chill out watching people go by and making their entrance to have dinner in one of these restaurants. Unlike Race Course Road,  on the other side of the lane which is busy and bustling Chander Road Restaurants are blessed with a more peaceful ambience. The air is cool, clean and refreshing. You can take time here to pause  and contemplate for a while from the ratrace of Singapore. The restaurant is run by  Bindhu and Anil Kumar and seats 50 people in chocolate dark brown chairs with ivory cushions and is decorated with lovely print of Raja Ravi Varma (a renowned artist of India) paintings. The entrance of the restaurant is warmly welcoming with a statute of Lord Krishna  and majestic  tall brass oil lamps. A lovely brass bowl of specially selected colorful flowers happily float  in the water of this bowl  making the restaurant simple but pretty. The ambience is inviting  and though a small restaurant it is cosy enough for a nice meal that you can tuck into. This restaurant serves authentic Kerala or Malayalee cuisine and all recipes hail from Bindhu’s grandmother’s kitchen in Thalassery, Kerala.

The cuisine of Kerala, a state in the south west of India is known as the "Land of Spices" because it traded spices with Europe. Food is traditionally served on a banana leaf and almost every dish has coconut and spices added for flavour, giving its cuisine a sharp pungency that is heightened with the use of tamarind. Seafood is the main diet in coastal Kerala, whereas vegetables are the main diet on the plains. Meat is served as the main course in tribal and northern Kerala. Dishes range from simple 'kanji' (rice gruel) to extravagant feasts or 'sadyas'. Sadya means banquet in Malayalam. Coconuts grow in abundance in Kerala, and consequently, coconut kernel, (sliced or grated) coconut cream and coconut milk are widely used in dishes for thickening and flavouring.

Now let me tell you about their awesome mouth watering “Thalassery Briyani” which is the chef’s special and signature dish. I also want to add that this dish is cooked to perfection served in copper bowls and is perhaps the best in Singapore. Not too greasy and incredibly delicious “Thalassery Briyani” is a hybrid of “Dum  Briyani” but having an originality and culinary individuality of its own. It is sometimes called “ green briyani” because the masala is different from “Dum Briyani” which uses saffron liberally to make it look orange in colour . The concept is similar either Fish, Prawn, Chicken, Goat or Mutton is cooked  with rice but in this case the mixture of masala is green i.e. mint and coriander. Another name for this Briyani is also “ Malabar Briyani” I suppose because its origins are from Malabar in Kerala India. This is a very popular choice for Wedding Banquets in Malabar, Kerala. Traditionally served on banana leaf the accompaniments are Pudhina Chutney ( Mint)with a touch of dessicated coconut to give it full body, an “achar “or mango or lime pickle and “raita “to cool you off made from finely cut onions carrots and coriander leaf soaked in rich creamy yoghurt. Altogether the  you get a full meal that is tantalizing on the palate.

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. “Thalassery Biriyani” uses a unique, aromatic, small-grained, thin rice variety named Kaima , Jeerakasala or Jeeraka Chamba rice. This rice  though small in size, is different from the usual 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 also different .  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.

Biryani is an exotic dish of Mughal origin, but this variant is an indigenous recipe of Malabar. It is a symbol of the cultural marriage 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.

At Swaadhisht  Restaurant eating “Thalassery Briyani” is not only a treat to your palate it is a journey down history of the  Mughul culinary influence in Malabar, Kerala. The Malabaris were innovative enough to have a culinary identity of their own in the delicious world of Briyanis  and created “ Thalassery Briyani”Prices are very affordable at Swaadhisht – Goat  for $17, Fish $14.Egg $9.50 and Chicken $11.

 

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