Unnakkayi is an authentic sweet dish of traditional Malabar(northern part of Kerala,India) Moplah cuisine. As explained in my Mutton Biriyani post, the Malayalam speaking Muslims of northern part of Kerala are known as Moplahs. To read more about their origin and culture check out this post. I was introduced to Unnakkayi through my mom's best friend who hails from Malabar region of Kerala. Though I have asked my mom on innumerable occasions for the recipe, I never noted it down and conveniently forgot all about it until I came across the same recipe in Malabar Muslim Cookery by Ummi Abdulla.
What is Unnakkayi?
The literal meaning of Unnakkayi is Cotton Buds(Unna-Cotton, Kayi-Buds/Pods) and this delicious snack is called so because it resembles the cotton pods before its cracked open to yank out the cotton. This is a snack used to break the fast during the holy month of Ramadan,the ninth month of the Islamic calender. It was during this month in 610 AD when prophet Muhammad received revelations from God that later became Quran,the holy book.
Fasting during Ramadan, the holy month
The holy season begins with the sighting of crescent moon on the evening following the new moon and lasts for about 30 days. Muslims must see the new moon before beginning their fast. From dawn to dusk they abstain from food, drink and all sensual pleasures. But two main meals are taken, one called Souhoor that begins each day before dawn and the other, called Iftar that breaks the fast after sunset.
How is Unnakkayi prepared?
Sweets form an important part of the Ramadan food.Unnakkayi is a snack made with steamed, mashed & filled plantains which is later deep fried to a golden brown colour. Traditionally ghee is used to deep fry the stuffed plantains. The filling is made with eggs, grated coconut, sugar, cashews, raisins and cardamom powder. For those who do not prefer eggs, may make the filling by adding more grated coconut instead. Also over ripe plantains should not be used in this preparation as it would make it too messy. Go for the three fourth ripe ones.
Recipe Courtesy: Malabar Muslim Cookery by Ummi Abdulla
Plantain - 1(only 3/4th ripe)
Egg - 1
Granulated Sugar - 3.5 tsp
Grated coconut - 1.5 tbsp
Chopped cashews - 1/2 tbsp
Raisins - 1 tsp
Cardamom powdered - 1/4 tsp
Coconut oil for frying(Traditionally ghee is used)
- Cut the plantain into quarters and cook in a microwave for 4 minutes till the skin separates from the fruit.
- Allow it to cool slightly.
- Remove the skin and slice each piece lengthwise to remove the seeds.
- Mash the plantain to a smooth dough using a masher without adding water. The dough should be free from lumps.
- Slightly knead the dough for a minute or so. Shape it into a smooth round ball. Keep aside covered.
- Add 2 tsp sugar to egg and beat well.
- Heat 1 tsp ghee in a pan and scramble eggs. Remove from heat.
- Add 1.5 tsp sugar to grated coconut, mix well and saute this mixture in the same pan at low-medium heat till the sugar dissolves and coats the coconut mixture. Remove from heat.
- Add little ghee to the same pan and roast cashews and raisins. Remove from heat.
- Mix scrambled eggs, coconut mixture, cashews, raisins and cardamom powder.
- Divide the plantain dough into 4 balls.
- Grease your hands with ghee, flatten one ball on your palm by pressing with your fingers into a small disc.
- Place a portion of the filling in the middle lengthwise, bring the edges together and press slightly to seal it. Over stuffing the dough may make it difficult to seal.
- Now roll it between your hands and shape it like cotton buds, with bulge in the middle and tapered at the edges.
- Repeat the process for the remaining balls.
- Heat oil in a pan and deep fry to golden brown colour.
- Drain excess oil on paper towels.
- Enjoy hot Unnakayi with tea/coffee and have a pleasant evening!