Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Chemmeen Pathiri/ Chemmeen Pathal (Curried Prawns in Rice Pockets)

We are having first snow of the season and it's snowing real thick today. Whole place is covered in snow, it looks beautiful and serene and it's so Christmassy. I like the slow build up of the Christmas mood in here and the snow just makes it perfect. Here is a warm recipe for the cold winter season.

Have you joined my Facebook page yet? It is the places that I hold my foodie discussions, interact with the readers, post recipes and updates. It’s a formal page to hold informal discussions and foodie talks and to get to know the readers suggestions, opinions and more. Couple of weeks back we had a discussion about what the readers would like to see on the blog and most of them came with the option of Malabar Food. In spite of dishing out Malabar food regularly at home, I rarely post them in here or even draft the recipe down. 

Most Malabar recipes are time consuming, very elaborated, and lot of typing as well which probably would be the reason I really don’t include the food that I grew up devouring every day. I almost feel lethargic when it comes to typing very long recipes and that is one reason you tend to see fewer Malabar posts. Some of the recipes would want to have pictorial representation as well as the method would be a bit too complicated for the novice cooks to grasp. But, I will try to include and post as many Malabar recipes as possible in the future.

Today I am going to share one such elaborated recipe that takes time, but well worth the efforts. These kind of recipes are usually made in the Malabar Muslim households usually as an evening snack and is a popular party dish. Malabar is known for its variety of pathiri/pathal which are usually rice based pancakes, some stuffed, some seasoned, some fried and then some just steamed. Really, the amount of recipes that could be made of out rice is just not a handful or two; but several of them, some of them which you would come across my blog too.

In this post I am going to share you one of my favourite dishes, chemmeen pathal/chemmen pathiri. These are rice pancakes stuffed with a spiced mixture of shrimps or prawns and steamed usually in banana leaf placed in a steamer. This is like roti and curry amalgamated into one single dish, just by stuffing the curry into the pancakes and then steaming it. I had the similar version of this stuffed pathiri several years back during one of the grand parties I attended back home and it is actually prepared using fish rather than prawns. But prawns work very well here and I suppose squid or mussels should work great as well if you can get hold of them.

Chemmeen Pathiri/Pathal (Makes 12-14 medium size ones)
For the pathiri:
(Please refer to the Neypathal dough and options given there. You can prepare the dough in any of the method mentioned there).

This is prepared in the same manner as my Fish pathiri, so check out that for a step by step pictorial illustration.Here is the link.

1 ½  cups Parboiled rice (Puzhukkalari (Ponni rice))
1 Tbsp fennel seeds/saunf (Perumjeerakam)
1 cup freshly grated coconut or frozen
water, just enough to grind the rice to a coarse paste
rice flour, just enough to bind the whole mixture to a soft dough.
Salt – As reqd

For the prawn masala:;
300g cleaned shrimps (cleaned weight)
2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp salt
6 Tbs oil

For the masala:
3 Large onion (400 gm, 3 cups chopped)
5 large cloves of garlic, grated- (1 heaped Tbsp)
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
2 green chilli, finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp fennel/saunf powder
¼ tsp garam masala
½ tsp pepper powder
¼ cup chopped coriander leaves
¼ cup grated coconut


1. Marinate shrimps with chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt for about ½ hour -1 hour.

2. Heat about 3 tbsp in a wide pan and fry the shrimps for about 8-10 minutes until thoroughly cooked. Take the cooked shrimps out and reserve.

3. In the same pan, heat remaining oil and add onions and salt. Add less salt as the shrimps are fried with salt. Sauté until it becomes soft and translucent.

4. Add ginger, garlic, green chilli and sauté for few minutes until the onion is reduced and raw smell of ginger and garlic has disappeared.

5. Add ground pepper, ground fennel and turmeric powder and sauté for few seconds.

6. Add the chopped coriander leaves, cooked prawns, coconut, garam masala and stir well, cook for a 8-10 minutes until all the flavours are well blended. Add the fish pieces, cover and cook on very low flame until all the flavour is infused well for about 8-10 minutes. Add more salt if needed and turn of the heat.

For the making pathiris and assembling:
1. Soak the rice in warm water for 3-4 hours or overnight.

2. Grind it along with minimal water until you get a coarse and grainy mixture.

3. Add coconut, fennel seeds and roughly chopped onions to this and grind for few seconds until everything coarsely ground and not smooth.

4. Tip the whole mixture in to a large bowl, add salt and mix well.

5. Add the rice powder and mix well using hands until you get dough that can be shaped into balls.

6. Divide the dough into 20 -24 portions and roll it into smooth spheres. Take a portion of the rice dough  and flatten it on a sheet (I use baking paper or a clear shopper bag cut into square shape, u can use banana leaf instead) using the heel and fingers of your palm. Add some masala in the centre leaving 2 centimeters around the edge.

7. Make another pathiri on another sheet the same way and flip it over to the pan cake with the prawn filling, covering the masala completely. Gently press the edges using the fingers to seal all the masala in or use a fork to press the edges and to give it a patterned egde. Carefully lift the sheet/banana leaf and place it in a steamer. Steam cook for about 10-12 minutes or until the pathiri is firm to touch. Wearing an oven mitt, hold all the edges of the banana leaf/baking paper and lift out the Pathiris. (Be careful here as the steam can burn your hands).

8. Make pathiris with rest of the dough and steam couple of them at a time.


1.To make soft Pathiris, soak the rice in hot water instead of cold/tap water. Use good quality rice.

2. For reheating, its always best to re-steam it to bring back the softness.
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