Not many know what “Muthaba” is. If you are from Tamil Nadu, Malaysia or Singapore you would know. Murthaba is a very common dish in these parts especially with the Muslim community. The word is possibly derived from the word “Murtabak”. Generally it is a dish where meat/vegetables are stuffed into bread forms and cooked/baked. Many say it originated in India and was taken to other places by traders during the Muslim rule. Different places have different versions, but none compared to the “Murthaba”! Some would disagree if I said it belongs to Koothanallur, a village somewhere near Thanjavur in South India. It’s actually the place where I was born. It’s mailny a Muslim community and famous for a variety of delicious mouth watering cuisines! We believe in the saying that the way to the heart is through the stomach!
The Murrthaba is basically a filling of mutton, chicken or vegetables wrapped in dough and pan cooked over a slow fire with lots of ghee! It is very filling and of course amazingly very very delicious!
The reason I thought of writing about it is because of Imthiaz’s mother-in-law or “mami”. Last night I went to visit them in Deira, Dubai. It was just a casual unexpected visit and I was in luck. Mami prepared another version of the murthaba called “Jaaler Murthaba”. Jaaler is another dish made by dripping watery flour mix directly onto the pan which forms a net like pancake. The filling is then folded into a few of the Jaalers and pan cooked. It is similar but has a different taste. Nonetheless it was a treat! Very tasty and I ate all I could. It fills you up pretty fast. I have to thank her for the wonderful Murthabas.
Mom is also a superb cook and she always prepares all these dishes whenever possible. Whether the Murthaba originated in Koothanallur, I don’t know. …but it prospers very well over there! If you do plan to visit us in Koothanallur please don’t forget to ask for… you know what!