Ellum kappa literally means tapioca cooked with bones. But if you have ever googled this recipe you would find recipes of tapioca biriyani that is beef/mutton cooked with tapioca. While we cook tapioca with meat back home, there is a very different preparation that my mom and dad did. They cooked the tapioca with few yams and colocasia in a broth prepared from mutton bones. And at times they used the goat’s head. There is an interesting story behind this preparation. According to my parents, in their childhood with 10- 12 kids in a family, not everyone could afford to cook tapioca with meat which was considered a delicacy in their days. So people cooked tubers with bones or goat’s head which was much economical. The tubers got the flavour of the meat and if one was lucky, you could get few strands of meat that fell of the bones.
This was also a practice for feasts and wedding eves where offal parts of chicken/mutton and beef was cooked with tubers or prepared as a curry for friends and family who stayed for a week to attend the ceremony. Well my reasons to cook ellum kappa isn’t poverty, I got frustrated when I saw the long queue at the meat section and all that was at my hand’s reach was the goat head. And when I turned back I saw tapioca. And all these stories came to my mind, it was dad’s birthday too so I guess I felt compelled to do this dish. It’s a very east dish to do, in fact it has no spices. But the real rustic flavour of meat cooked for hours with the tapioca will make you realise the injustice you do to cooking meat with overwhelming spices.
As the saying goes in our family, ellum kappa tastes best the day after, even better if you eat it with your hands and if you eat it out of the pot.
Ingredients for Ellum kappa
Mutton bones/ Goat head- 250 g
Tapioca- 1.5 kg
Ginnger- 2 inch long piece
Bird’s eyes chillies- 6 (normal chilies- 8)
Curry leaves- 7-9
Salt- 1 tsp
Wash the bones thoroughly. If you use goat head I suggest you grill them over fire to take off the hairy parts. In a pressure cooker cook the bones with chopped onion, ginger, chilies, salt , minced garlic and 2 cups of water. You will get a rich broth after 4-5 whistles. Let the pressure settle and transfer the content in the cooker to a terracotta pan. Add the cleaned and cubed tapioca chunks to this broth.
Cook the tapioca in this broth for an hour and half. The time also varies depending on your tapioca. Some cook faster. Mine took a long time to cook. Ideally if you have the time and fuel, you can cook the tapioca along with the bones in the terracotta bones. This would be a long procedure so I did not opt for it. You could also pressure cook the tapioca and bones together but since I had no clue about the quality of the tapioca (lest it disintegrates and becomes mushy) I opted this step out.
I added few potatoes and gave them to Sarah. It was a bit spicy for her but she had it. If you plan on adding other tubers go for colocasia, yam or potatoes (1/2 kg all together). If you can find some toddy have your ellum kappa with it, if not I had mine with some buttermilk because bird’s eye chilies can be difficult to handle.
We had the leftovers for breakfast the next day, yep that the kind of breakfast we have at times and mea culpa maximus. It tasted divine on day 2 so I suggest you prepare this a day ahead. Now if you still want to use meat go for it but if you are a bone lover, this is the best you can have. No spices strictly for this preparation, its an affair between the bones, marrow, juices and you.
Hope you found this story of ellum kappa amusing and I am so grateful to my dad whose stories relive through me and my kitchen experiments. Till we meet again stay blesses and watch out for the 365 toddler challenge posts.