Brahmins

Unnakkaya

“Son, anyone can fill the tummy but filling the heart and mind with happiness is exactly what cooking is”. An unforgettable dialogue from the Malayalam movie ‘Usthad Hotel’, released 8 years ago, still lingers inside my head. For the readers who are unfamiliar, Usthad Hotel is a movie where a grandfather and his grandson together run a Malabari hotel in Kerala that has been serving affordable yet exceptionally flavourful food. Malabar cuisine derives its unique flavours and tastes from Arab, Zamorin and Chirakkal cuisines and proudly presents a rich culinary experience that is authentic and exotic. The cultural heritage of the region is engraved in each bite of its many vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies.
The festivals of Ramzan/ Ramadan Iftar widely celebrated by the Muslim community offer the best opportunity to learn more about the strong influence of Malabar cuisine on the region’s culture and traditional festivities. Irrespective of religions and communities, people from all walks of life come together to rejoice and participate in the preparation and service of food to break the long day of fasting. The exciting moment of opening the fast is the culinary spread that can be witnessed at the dining area. I am sure, like me, most of you would have had such mouth-watering experiences at a Muslim household, where the table is completely conquered by different types of appetizers, starters, entrée (main course), desserts and what not. The only thing to do is to grab a plate, fill it with a little of everything and bond with the food and family.
The one sweet dish that is never absent in a Malabari food spread is the yummy Unnakaya. Often eaten during festive days or as an evening snack, Unnakaya is a spindle-shaped sweet dish made from simple and easy to find ingredients. The steamed and mashed ripe bananas stuffed with sautéed dry fruits and grated coconut creates a flavour explosion, the amalgamation giving a scrumptious treat, making it a must-try.
Have some ripe bananas (not plantain) and dry fruits handy? Then, it’s time to bounce into the recipe of making this sweet delight from the Malabar cuisine of Kerala.

INGREDIENTS

BANANAS ( RIPE) 3 Numbers
COCONUT GRATED ¾ CUP
CHOPPED CASHEW , RAISINS , BADAMS ½ cup
GHEE 2 TABLESPOONS
SUGAR 3 TABLESPOONS
CARDAMOM CRUSHED 3 Numbers
OIL FOR GREASING
COCONUT OIL FOR DEEP FRYING
HOW TO PREPRARE UNNAKAYA

FOR THE FILLING 

    • In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee and add the chopped dry nuts and slightly fry it.
    • Add the grated coconut to this and stir well for one minute.
    • Put the sugar and cardamom powder and mix thoroughly for one minute.
    • Transfer the mixture to a plate or bowl.
      (*so that the mixture will not harden*)

 

 

FOR THE BANANA DOUGH 

  • Take the ripe Bananas, and slice it into long small pieces. (Cut vertically).
  • Carefully remove the black portion (seeds).
  • The sliced pieces have to be steam cooked until soft for about 3 minutes in a steamer.
  • Let it cool for a few minutes and mash it with a Masher or Spoon to a smooth paste.
  • Apply some oil to both palms and knead the mashed bananas to a dough which can be rolled.


FOR UNNAKAYA SHAPE
 

  • From the dough make medium sized balls and roll it properly within the greased palms.
  • Then pat the ball carefully in one palm with the other palm to make it into a flat, oval shaped base.
  • Put 1 spoonful of the filling (coconut and nut mixture) on this base and close it by joining its edges so as to get a spindled shape unnakaya.
    (*the stuffing shouldn’t be too much as it might break while frying*)
  • Press its edges to ensure that it is closed completely.
  • Similarly roll the remaining dough into unnakaya.

 

FINAL STEPS 

  • In a pan, pour coconut oil for deep frying and heat it.
  • Add the rolled pieces into the hot oil one by one and fry them until golden brown on a medium flame.
    (*do not flip the pieces fast or press it deep inside the oil, as it could break the dough*)

     

    With a hot cup of tea, our homemade delicious Unnakaya will do its magic!