84-year-old Malayali cooks up storm with heirloom recipes

Hailing from Thikkodi village in Kerala, Ummi Abdulla published her first book Malabar Muslim Cookery in 1981.

Published: 18th January 2019 10:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th January 2019 02:22 AM   |  A+A-

Ummi Abdulla started cooking around the age of 40

By Express News Service

BENGALURU : At a time when the world is ordering food online and there are so many restaurants to hop into, one still craves home-made food and the maa-ke-haath-ka-khaana can never be forgotten. A similar thought drove this 84-year-old woman to keep the traditional heirloom recipes alive through her cookbooks. 

Hailing from Thikkodi village in Kerala, Ummi Abdulla published her first book Malabar Muslim Cookery in 1981. She is an expert in Mappila cuisine (Mappilas are a community of Muslims on the Malabar coast of Kerala) and started cooking around the age of 40. She brought attention to this lesser-known cuisine through her books and a YouTube channel. It was due to her husband’s persuasion and constant support that she actually started cooking authentic dishes. Till date, expats still go back to her first book to cook delicious Mappila food at home.

Her granddaughter Nazaneen Jalaludheen had a huge role to play in publishing A Kitchen Full of Recipes in April 2018. She wanted to make her grandmother’s books more interesting and modern, so she did photo shoots and patiently tried more than 103 recipes for months. “Earlier, we did not have a proper equipment to measure ingredients. For this book, Nazaneen tried every recipe from start to finish and took measurements in cups. She went back to the earliest recipes and penned it down,” Abdulla said.

With generous use of red chilli paste, turmeric powder, ginger, curry leaves and Kerala’s staple ingredient, coconut oil, Mappila cuisine brings out complex techniques, but Abdulla made sure she documented every step carefully. After her husband V Abdulla’s demise, she moved to Calicut, but continued her passion, so much so that whenever she is tense, she goes to the kitchen and cooks a meal for her family. She has written more than six books in Malayalam and hopes to continue her culinary journey for as long as she can.

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