When she talks about food, you can see how passionate she is as she describes every aspect of the vessels and ingredients to the methods and taste. Meet Abida Rasheed who is renowned for taking Moplah cuisine from her kitchen to luxury hotels, food festivals and even inviting people home for an exotic Malabari culinary experience. Moplah cuisine is native to Malabari Muslims in north Kerala and Abida explains how different it is to the food in south Kerala. The influence of Arab, Portuguese and Dutch cuisine on Moplah food is evident but there is also the influence of traditions in neighbouring Tamil Nadu.
Julia Child said, “You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces- just good food from fresh ingredients.” And that is precisely what Abida Rasheed speaks of as well and says the fewer the ingredients, the better the taste. The ‘Pathiri’ or rice dosa for, instance, is a simple but filling dish as is the ‘Neichoru’, a rice enhanced with butter and salt. The sweet ‘Mutta Mala’ or ‘ egg-garland is just made of eggs and sugar syrup. The ‘chakkara choru’ dessert too is simple and made of puffed whole wheat and jaggery. And the food tastes delicious. Ask her if she has written cookbooks and Abida smiles and says, “I never wrote a cookbook because I can’t explain every step in intricate detail. I believe cooking is very instinctive.”
But she loves to feed people! And she makes sure that everyone she meets has a good meal. Abida is also doing her bit for women’s empowerment in Calicut. “There are so many talented home cooks in Calicut. I help them excel at what they make at home so they can take home orders,” she says. In Chennai for a Moplah food festival at The Park, Chennai, Abida Rasheed sat down to talk to Latha Srinivasan of NewsX about her love for food, Moplah cuisine and much more.