How kuzhi mandi a palatal delight of Kerala turned villain

kuzhi mandi
While cooking kuzhi mandi at home, one can opt for healthier sauces instead of Mayonnaise. Representative Image: Santhosh Varghese /

Mandi is a Yemeni delicacy. It is cooked inside a clay oven or a small pit. When the delicacy reached Kerala, it became kuzhi mandi or kuzhi manthi as 'kuzhi' in Malayalam means a pit. The dish also has a distinctive taste and is considered less calorific.

Kuzhi mandi is the smaller Arabian version of a biryani made using mutton or chicken. The original mandi uses very less spices. The ingredients for making a mandi are biriyani rice, large chunks of chicken or mutton, mandi condiments (Arabian spices) dried lemons and Saffron. In Kerala's version, to enhance the taste, we add cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cumin, bay leaf, and some coriander powder. Originally, mandi is made with lamb meat.

Rice is slow-cooked in the marinated meat stock immersed in a clay pit. Chicken or mutton is kept on top and the cooked rice goes to the bottom. As the meat gets cooked, its juice drips down and flavours the rice. But you need to be careful while preparing the dish. Arabian grilled dishes require a certain temperature while cooking. And you can’t grill them at high temperatures as only the exterior will be cooked. If the meat is not fresh, that can cause problems for your health.

Hygiene is extremely important while cooking non-veg food items. Sometimes, at eateries, they use grills to cook the meat one batch after the other. Often, they don’t remove the fat that drips from the meat before going for the second batch of grilling. They also don’t clean the grills when they start it all over again the next day. The food prepared in such conditions can be toxic and result in food poisoning. Mayonnaise is yet another villain. Since it is made of raw eggs, there are more chances of Mayonnaise causing food poisoning. To avoid Salmonella, wash eggs properly while preparing the Mayonnaise. Make sure to prepare it afresh daily.

While cooking kuzhi mandi at home, you can opt for healthier sauces instead of Mayonnaise.

(Soly James is based in Kochi and is a Consultant Nutritionist)

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