There once was in Malabar, a biriyani, which was in no way remotely related to the biriyani we know as it is today. This went by the name of “kuthirabiriyani”.
Our familiarity with this peculiar brand is through the S K Pottekkatt’s novel Oru Deshathinte Katha and this is how he refers to it: “Sreedharan sat down on a bench by the corner. He then snapped his fingers at the server and placed his order, ‘Kuthirabiriyani’.
“Enter the biriyani. Kuthirabiriyani was a merry mix of puttu and kadala (Bengal gram) curry and pappadam. There were two pieces of puttu steamed from their cylindrical moulds and dressed lavishly with scraped coconut. The dish was a sight to behold. The thick and spicy gravy, with the aroma of fresh coconut oil, had red chillies, cut coconut pieces and generous helpings of bubbly pappads in it.” This was how Pottekkatt more or less chose to describe the not-so-familiar name given to an all-too-familiar dish.
Since kuthirabiriyani is served with kadala, the dish cannot be called a typically old Kerala serving as Bengal gram was introduced in Kerala just about 75 years ago. Hence, kuthirabiriyani too must be only as old as kadala is.
Since the dish sounds pretty appetizing, a recipe would come in handy for those who’d like to try out this special brand of biriyani. Usually, the kadala gravy that’s served with putta has lots of gravy. But with Pottekkat’s kuthirabiriyani, it’s got to be very thick.