While my wife Caroline and I were in Kerala recently, we were invited to breakfast at the home of Shihabudeen V M and his family. This was no ordinary breakfast! In fact it was one of the most amazing home cooked meals Caroline and I have every experienced. Shihabudeed and his wife Ruvaida cooked up an incredible feast with no fewer than seven different dishes. We were in food heaven!
One of the dishes was this aleesa. Aleesa is a wheat and chicken dish that is also often made with mutton. It’s origins are from the Middle East but it is a very popular dish with the Muslim community in Kerala, especially during Ramadan. Caroline and I loved it so much I just had to get the recipe and thankfully, Shihabudeen was happy to send it to me.
This is the perfect dish for children too as it’s not at all spicy. I made it for my family when I got home and they’re already asking me to make it again. I think I might just do that really soon. If you would like to read more about our morning meal and afternoon spent with Shihabudeen and his family, click here. It was a real highlight of our trip to Kerala. Experiences like this are what make holidays for me.
Shihabudeen is a professional chef who has had his own television show in Kerala and has just recently started his own Youtube channel. Some of the recipes are in Malayalam but I highly recommend checking his videos out and subscribing as you will understand what’s going on even if you don’t understand the language. I subscribed to his channel when I got home and wait eagerly for each new video. The man knows his stuff!
- 3 star anise
- 3 green cardamom pods - smashed
- 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon
- 5 cloves
- 1 cup bulgur - soaked in water for 2 hours
- 350g chicken leg - skinned
- sliced almonds or cashews to garnish (optional)
- 4 tbsp ghee
- 50g shallots - thingly sliced
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Tie the star anise, cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon in a clean cloth. Place the tied spices in a large pot with the soaked bulgur and the chicken leg. Cover with water and cover the pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 40 minutes until the chicken is falling off the bone and the bulgur is nice and soft.
- Meanwhile, toast the almonds or cashews in the ghee until lightly browned and then transfer the nuts to a bowl to use as a garnish. This is optional.
- In the same ghee, sauté the shallots until lightly browned and add the turmeric. Stir well to combine.
- You can remove some of the chopped shallots to lose as a garnish as well.
- Remove all the meat from the chicken bone and place it with the cooked bulgur in the pan with the browned shallots.
- Cover with water and simmer for another 30 to 40 minutes until the chicken and bulgur are like much. The finished dish should have the texture of cooked oatmeal. You can use a potato masher to mash it all up really well.
- Season with salt to taste and garnish with browned nuts and shallots if you like.