Alisa is one of the most served dishes during the Muslim weddings in Kerala. Apart from weddings, it is also one of the favourite dishes served before lunch or dinner as a starter. During weddings, Alisa is made in huge steel pots and then served just before the main course that is normally a Mutton Biriyani or Chicken Biriyani along with fried chicken, salads, curd with vegetables, pickles etc. Alisa is served by scattering fried onions, fried raisins and fried cashews all fried in clarified butter or ghee. This brings that extra taste to this dish and is very important. Omitting this part doesn’t bring the full flavour of Alisa. Since this dish has very less oil, it is suitable for diet conscious mates as well. As alisa is quite filling, we used to make it at home for dinner mainly.
The important thing to be noted while making alisa is getting the right wheat. In Arabic it is called ‘Hab Hareez’. I don’t really know what this specific wheat is called in English, but, the wheat that is used for making alisa is skinless or the bran has been cleaned off. It is neither pearl barley nor boiled wheat. Because I tried these and cooked for very very long time and still they dint get cooked. Finally I had to grind it and then cook the ground wheat! I wonder what they are actually used for! Maybe for feeding pigeons or something. Lols!
1 cup Skinless wheat
1 medium Onion
4 large cloves of garlic
500 mls hot water
¾ tsp Salt
A good piece of Chicken (1 leg piece+1 thigh piece)
1” Cinnamon sticks
2-4 tbsful Ghee
½ medium Onion
1 tbs Raisins
Sugar As required
1. Soak wheat for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight.
2. Set the flame onto medium and pressure cook wheat along with chicken, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, garlic and water for a minimum of 1 hour to 1 ½ hour or until the wheat is completely cooked. At this stage all wheat grain will be soft to touch and puffed up.
3. Add salt and stir well. Take out any chicken bones and beat well with the hand mixer (while hot) for about 10-15 minutes until all the cooked wheat is ground and the mixture looks grainy and thick. Don’t make it like puree. You can also use food processor for grinding the mixture. But if using a food processor, take care alisa is not too hot for the processor and it requires less time.
4. In another pan, add ghee, when it is hot, add rains. When they starts to puff up remove, drain in towel and keep aside. Don’t keep raisins for long because they can turn bitter.
5. In the same oil, fry cashews until golden. Take it out and keep them aside too.
6. Again in the same ghee, fry onions until golden. Turn the flame off; add the fried cashew and rains in the ghee.
7. Take 1-2 ladleful of alisa and spread it on a plate and spread little bit of ghee with back of your spoon and sprinkle raisins and cashews.
8. Sprinkle sugar on top and serve warm. Dive in!
It is normally served with sugar, but you can have it with curry as well. Never tried so far.