A coastal favourite: Kallummekkaya Olathiyathu / Spiced mussels fry.


The Kerala backwaters, in the southern state of India is a network of interconnected canals, rivers, islands, lakes and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 km of waterways. The network includes five large lakes linked by canals, both man made and natural, fed by 38 rivers, and extending virtually half the length of Kerala state.

For the tourists Alleppey is the principal point for trips into Kerala’s famed backwaters and the state’s lush rice bowl, Kuttanadu, between Quilon to the south and Kottayam to the east laid some of the most entrancing scenery of palm-lined banks, quiet water-bound villages and little boats taking the local people to and fro; everything framed in green.

Backwaters at Alleppey we called it “The land of green magic.” There are more than a thousand houseboats catering for the tourist. The crew consist of the Captain, a cook, and a driver.

The captain will point out the various farms produce and the type of birdlife along the way. Many unique species of wildlife including crabs, frogs and mudskippers, water birds such as terns, seagulls, kingfisher’s darters and cormorants and marine creatures such as otters and turtles can be found living in the backwaters. Coconut palms, shrubs, various leafy plants and bushes grow alongside the backwaters, providing a green hue to the surrounding landscape.

Comparing the trip to Norwegian fjords of my cruise in Norway I would say the experience is of equal value and excitement.

While travelling through the backwaters I came across men, alone on little fishing boats. Normally, the fishermen go out in at least twos in order to gather the net together. When I looked closer, I saw that the fisherman was just pushing a long pole in, up and down the bottom of the water. I asked our boatman what was going on and he explained that they were collecting mussels from the bottom of the backwaters. All down the waterways there was mussel fishing activity.

In kerala the flesh is removed from the shell and marinated in a mixture of spices before being panfried in oil. In the North Malabar side of Kerala these mussels are stuffed and served as tea time snack, I have not been lucky to try those but I can tell you this curry was awesome. Maybe it is the sea water flavour of the mussel or it being cooked in mere coconut oil, the aroma of this curry still lingers in my mind.

Kallummekkaya Olathiyathu / Spiced mussels Fry.

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Min

Kallumakkaya/mussels- 500 g
Shallots- 10 pods
Curry leaves- 3 sprig
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp 1/4tsp

Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Crushed chilli flakes- 1 tsp
Pepper powder- 1 tsp
Garlic- 6 cloves
Ginger- 1 inch piece
Coconut oil- 3 tbsp
Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
Salt- 2 tsp
1) Boil the mussels with 1/4 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tsp salt with 1/2 cup water. Cook for 5- 10 minutes and switch off the flame.
Overcooking makes the mussels rubbery so do not overcook the mussels. In a pan heat some oil.
2) Saute the sliced shallots and curry leaves till the shallots brown. Now add the crushed ginger and garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
3) Add 1 tsp salt and the spice powders and saute for sometime till the spice powders are well roasted with the other ingredients.
4) Add the mussels now and stir fry for 10 minutes. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the flame low to let the mussels cook for 4-5 minutes more.
5) Add lime juice and give the mussels a final stir before taking the mussels off the flame. Your spicy stir fried mussels is ready to serve.

16 thoughts on “A coastal favourite: Kallummekkaya Olathiyathu / Spiced mussels fry.

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