Saturday, 26 March 2011

Kallummakkaaya Nirachathu/Ari Kadukka - Stuffed Mussels.

Hi all,

Hope everyone is doing great out there. This is a special post that I am posting for an event that a lovely blogger Magpiesrecipes is hosting at Magpiesrecipe. If she wouldn’t have asked me to join her event, I guess this recipe wouldn’t have appeared on the blog. It’s a lengthy recipe, lot of work, lot of typing and I don’t really expect many to be trying out his one. I prepared these almost an year ago. Wanted to post then and there, but as the post was going to be a lengthy and elaborate one, the thought of typing out made me just lethargic. These days I am not much keen on trying any new dishes or taking pictures and if it was not for Magpie, I wouldn’t have posted this recipe. She has been asking me to join her Kerala kitchen and I thought may be this would be the time for a marvellous recipe as this one to get published. Thanks Magpie for your event and the invite.

I guess the length of the name of this dish has to reflect in the intense labour that goes in making this Malabar delicacy. If you come across the Malabar specialities, these are the one of the dishes that everyone crave about and tops the list of favourite Malabar dishes! These are rich in flavour, aroma and has its own distinguished taste. Arikkadukka or stuffed mussels (Kallummakkaya nirachathu as people from Kannur (North Kerala) calls it). In this particular recipe, Mussels are stuffed with a ground rice mixture and then steamed in shell. Steam cooked rice is then scooped out of shell, marinated in a spicy mixture and then deep fried until golden. YUM!

Well, this was the first time ever that I prepared this dish all by myself. Usually, while preparing arikadukka, the labour is divided between people so as to ease out the process. Couple of ladies will do the scrubbing of mussels to remove the dirt, talking and cracking jokes in between while someone does the grinding of rice and preparing the rice dough. It would be couple of others filling the dough in to the shell, getting them ready to be steamed. See, there is division of labour here and normally these are made in huge batches of 75 or100 or even more. When there are many to do the job, it wouldn’t be that difficult, but if you need to do everything all by yourself, it can be a bit tiring. Imagine, how many of them I prepared, doing all the work by myself? Fifty of them!! Crazy, Isn’t it? I know. It all happened as I never bought mussels myself before. Back in India, these are sold by counts and not by weight. But over here, they sell by weight which is rather sensible I thought! But I was not sure how both are related as well. So when the fish monger at the farmers market asked me how many I wanted I asked him for 25 pieces. When he told me that I need to give him in weight in gram measures, I told him a Kilo! He then handed over to me a large bagful of nice, clean mussels which was fresh, live and full of flesh. I stood there a while, flabbergasted seeing the amount of the mussels and that too just for a £3. I din’t want so many, but was embarrassed to return and get a few instaed, so came back home with the lot. You know, there were 50 of them, whereas I just wanted around 20 of them!

Arikkadukka is prepared with fresh mussels - not frozen. So they have to be prepared on the day of purchase. Mussels that I bought were so clean that I dint have to do all that nasty scrubbing which otherwise takes ages. So it was one job down. Traditionally, kallummakkaaya nirachathu is prepared using parboiled rice. Rice is soaked for several hours, then ground coarsely without adding water along with coconut, fennel and onion. This needs Indian kind of mixies which uses no or minimal amount of water to do the grinding. The dough is exactly the same as the one I use for neypathal or aanapathal. But for the ease of use, I used roasted rice powder after I referred to shaheen’s recipe. Thank you Shaheen for that great tip. Don’t forget to check out her version too. It’s slightly different from mine. My way is the one that we have been making for ages at home and been eating at my relatives and anywhere in Kannur/Tellicherry. But due the intense labour that goes into its making, and bakeries coming up with these already made, these days people opt out getting them from the bakeries. Some adds, ginger, red chilli powder, turmeric and curry leaves to the ground mixture. But we always loved the ones without them. Even though this recipe takes considerable amount of time, it is easy, as I always say. The taste is worth every bit of labour.

Kallummakkaaya Nirachathu/Ari Kadukka- Stuffed Mussels
Serves 20-25


1 kilo – 50 medium size fresh mussels with shell

For the dough:

3 cups Puttu Podi (Coarsely ground and roasted rice powder)
2 medium size onions chopped (200 g)
2 cups grated coconut
1 ½ Tablespoons fennel seeds
2 tsp – 3 tsp salt (NB:Mussels are really salty, you may need to reduce the amount of salt considerably here depending on your taste.)
3 ½ - 4 1/2 cups boiling water (NB:Just enough water to make a soft and smooth dough. The amount of water needed may be less or more depending on the rice powder and how well the rice is roasted).

For marinating: (This quantity of spices are for frying around 15 of them)

1 tablespoon Kashmiri Chilli powder.
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Couple of pinches of salt
3-4 tablespoons of water


1 Grind coconut well, without adding water. Add fennel seeds, onion and grind again to get a coarse paste.

2. In a large bowl, add puttu podi and salt. Mix well. To this, add ground coconut mixture. Slowly add boiling water and mix using a large spoon until the mixture comes together. Knead it to a smooth dough, once it is warm enough to handle with bare hand. Dough shouldn’t be too soft and sticky or too hard and breaking apart. You can add more or less water as necessary. Cover and keep it aside while you prepare the mussels.

3. Clean the outer part of the mussels by scrubbing away all the dirt, if any. Discard the already opened mussels and use only the ones that are closed tight.

4. Using a blunt knife, slowly slide in the knife through the slits and open them slowly without breaking the shells apart. (I was told that leaving them in the freezer for about half an hour or so makes it easier to force open the shells). Once the shell is open, pull out the hairy substance from the flesh. Wash the opened mussels under slow running tap water, rubbing its flesh gently to clean any further dirt.

5. Make balls of the rice dough (You can divide teh dough depending on teh amount of mussels you have), wide open the shells without cracking them and stuff the dough into the shells. Take off any excess dough and shape them neatly.

6. Fill all the shells in the same manner.

7. Steam cook these stuffed mussels for about 25-30 minutes. You can stack these on top of each other and you will need to steam them in in 2-3 batches altogether. They will be slightly sticky when hot, but gets firmer as it cools down .( At this point, once it is completely cooled, you can store them in Ziploc bags and freeze them for later use. (See the tip in the notes). )

9. Slowly break open the shell and take out the cooked stuffing taking care not to break or part the mussel from the dough. It is usual that the mussel sticking to the shell, you can take them off using a sharp knife in case need be.

10. Add oil about 1 ½ - 2 inch high in a kadai/frying pan and set it on medium heat. Mix chilli powder, turmeric powder and a tad bit of salt along with water to make a thin paste. Dip the scooped out dough into this solution and slide into the hot oil. You may add as many your kadai/pan take. Fry on all sides until it takes golden colour. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with an evening tea.


1.Traditional recipe uses soaked parboiled rice for making the dough, which requires even more time. I have substituted this with roasted coarse rice powder (Puttu podi) for the ease of making. Thanks to shaheen for this tip. Although the recipe yielded me an excellent review, I thought there was a slight difference in the texture while using raw rice and rice powder

2. Mussels are very salty. So salt should be used with caution.

3. Once the mussels are steamed, if you are not planning to fry them all at a time, place them in a Ziploc bag, around8-10 mussels each in a bag and freeze it with shell on. DO NOT take the shell off. When you want to fry these frozen stuffed mussels, bring them back to room temperature and steam them with shell on for 8-10 minutes on until they are hot. This makes them soft and bring back their texture. Then marinate them again in spice solution and fry. Chilli powder may be reduced depending on the heat level.

4. The spice amount given here is just for 12-15 of them.

5. With the leftover dough, you can just shape them into ovals and steam cook it along with the rest of stuffed mussels. These can also be fried like the other one and are really tasty as well – A non-veg version

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