Neypathal or nei pathiri are popular Malabar Moplah delicacy that are crispy deep-fried rice bread with flavours of fennel seeds and coconut. Best served for breakfast or dinner with spicy Malabar chicken or beef curry.
What is Neypathal?
Neypathal, a deep-fried Malabar pathal made with ground rice. Unlike poori, neypathals are thicker and have a coarse texture that helps to adhere to the sauce easily. This dough can also be used to make Kakka Orotti or Kalumakaya (stuffed mussels) recipes. This dough is the base for many other Malabar Moplah cuisine.
Pathal refers to any rice flour based flatbread made in Kerala, especailly in the Malabar region. It is a malayalam word for "flatbread" and can be stuffed or plain bread recipes. Neypathal, Meen pathal, Tyre pathal, etc.
My memories of Neypathal go back to my childhood summer holidays at Umama's (grandma’s) home. Our cousins used to take turns grinding the rice on the ammi (a flat stone with a rolling pin made of the same stone). As kids, we had to stand over a low stool to reach the stone grinder and then move the rolling pin back and forth while simultaneously rolling the pin too while another cousin sprinkles water on the rice and another one waited behind for her turn... It was an activity that I enjoyed and a reason I got into the good books of the elders.
- Parboiled rice: puzhungal arisi. example: ponni rice.
- Freshly grated coconut: You can substitute with rehyrdrated desiccated coconut. You may use frozen grated coconut but make sure it is fully thawed before using.
- Fennel seeds: The closest sub would be anise seed (not star anise).
- Red onion or shallots
- Rice Flour: Authentic recipe does not require rice flour. In this recipe, I have added rice flour only to make the dough workable as we are using electric appliances to grind the rice with water. So use water sparingly then you will need less rice flour. Too much rice flour will make the bread too dry.
- Water to grind and oil to fry
How to make it?
Prepare the dough
Soak the par-boiled rice in just hot water for an hour. Drain the rice and mix it with the remaining dough ingredients like grated coconut, onion chunks, fennel seeds, garam masala, salt and water. Grind in batches to a coarse and grainy mixture with help of little water. Transfer the ground mixture into a bowl and start adding rice flour little by little until the mixture is a non-sticky but still wet dough. You should be able to pinch a little and make balls that retain shape.
Hint: If the dough is too dry, then it will crack in the sides while shaping. Dry dough make dry bread. Use rice flour sparingly.
The best and easiest way to shape is to use a plastic sheet like milk pack or zip-lock. Grease one side of the plastic sheet and your palms with oil. Scoop a lemon-sized dough and place it on a greased sheet. Start to flatten the dough ball into a disc of little less than ¼ inch thickness using your palm of the thumb area.
Hold the plastic sheet in one hand and peel and remove the pathal using the other hand and slowly slide it in hot oil. It will sink to the bottom of the kadai and will surface only after a few seconds. So wait until it surfaces and puff up. Flip and fry the other side until evenly browned. Remove the naypathal, drain and serve immediately with warm Malabar chicken curry.
Neypathal is great when had immediately. So, it will help if you prepare the curry ahead and start frying only close to the serving time. If you want to reheat the leftovers the next day, then the best way is to steam it though it would not be crispy any longer. But reheating in a microwave or on tawa makes it hard and dry. So, it is better to fry only as much as you need and refrigerate the remaining dough. You may use the this dough to make Kakka Orotti!
Neypathal | Deep fried Rice Bread
- 2 cups parboiled rice eg. ponni rice
- 1 cup grated coconut
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 medium onion diced roughly
- 1 teaspoon Malabar garam masala optional
- ½ cup Water to grind. ½ to 1 cup depending on the quality of the rice.
- 3 to 4 tablespoons rice flour or enough to make the dough hold together but not too tight
- salt to taste
- Oil to grease a plastic sheet like a milk packet, ziploack bag, baking paper and your palm
- Oil to deep fry eg. sunflower oil
Prepare the dough
- Heat water in a pot just tepid or warm to touch and switch off.
- Add the rice to that water and cover and let soak for an hour.
- Drain and grind the rice along with grated coconut, onion chunks, fennel seeds, garam masala, salt and water to a coarse and grainy mixture. Do it in batches if needed.
- Transfer the ground mixture into a bowl and start adding rice flour little by little until the mixture is a non-sticky wet dough. You should be able to pinch a little and make balls that retain shape. (Cover and keep it until needed).
- Heat enough oil to deep fry in a kadai.
- Grease one side of a sandwich bag or clean milk packet or any similar-sized plastic sheet with oil and place it in the work area.
- Grease your palm with oil and scoop a lemon or golf-sized dough (depending on your kadai size) and place it on a greased sheet.
- Start to flatten the dough ball into a disc of little less than ¼ inch thickness using your palm of the thumb area.
- Test the oil readiness by dropping a tiny bit of the dough, if it sizzles up to the surface, then your oil is ready. Maintain the flame at medium as the dough needs to get cooked.
- Carefully hold the plastic sheet in one hand and peel and remove the pathal using the other hand and slowly slide it in oil. It will sink to the bottom of the kadai and will surface only after a few seconds. So wait until it surfaces and puff up.
- Use a slotted spoon and splash some hot oil over the bread and then flip carefully and fry the other side until evenly browned. Remove the naypathal, drain and keep aside.
- Repeat the process for the rest of the dough (refrigerate any remaining dough and use it within 2 days).
- Serve hot with any Chicken curry or Beef or Mutton curry.