Thursday, 31 December 2009

Malabar Chicken Biriyani



I thought I wouldn’t be able make another post before New Year, but here is another one. A yummy Chicken Biriyani. You can try it for the New Year if you really trust me! Once again, wishing you all a wonderful and prosperous New Year.

I have been getting lot of requests from my readers for Malabar Chicken Biriyani and here is the long waited recipe. Malabar Biriyani is known all over for its heavenly rich taste and its flavourful rice! Among them the most famous ones are the Thalassery Biriyani and Kozhikkodan (Calicut) Biriyani. Well, Even though Thalassery belongs to Kannur, the biriyani preparation is slightly different than Kannur Biriyani, but it can’t be beaten in taste and aroma, I bet. This time when I went to India I had Biriyani from different places of Kannur and they tasted almost similar and the method I noticed was also quite similar. The only difference would have been the addition of curd-some adds it and some doesn’t and the same with lime juice for masala. After all, they are used to bring in the sourness to the masala, and you can always increase the tomatoes instead. In my recipe, I always add lime and rarely use curd. The recipe I have given here is with the exception of curd. And For rice, some fries it and some don’t. If you notice, we don’t add pungent spices like chilli powder, Dhanya powder and turmeric powder. The main flavour comes from the ginger, garlic, chillies, tomatoes and onion. To add extra flavour, we finish it up with garam masala. The biriyani usually made is quite rich, lot of ghee is added and it is quite heavy. Here, I have used minimal amount of ghee as possible, so one can have it without much guilt. Well, you may add more ghee or oil if you wish. The recipe serves around 6 - 8 People with condiments side and it is just over a tablespoon of fat per person. How good is that!

For an authentic Malabar Biriyani, the rice that is normally used is known as ‘Jeerakashaala’ rice which has its own unique flavour and texture. The size of the rice is quite small, probably just half the length of the normal Basmati rice. Since we don’t get Jeerakashaala rice here, we always substitute it with Basmati rice. Well, I have never cooked with jeerakashaala rice. I was told by my mom that we don’t soak jeerakashaala rice since the biriyani gets mushy when soaked. So if using jeerakashaala rice for this recipe, please follow the ingredients as such, but do not soak the rice.



Malabar biriyanis are always garnished with fried onions, raisins and cashews. It is served along with Raita, a cucumber and yogurt based condiment, else tomato and onion in yogurt, a pickle, vinegary onions and pappadams. Chicken biriyani or mutton biriyani with the above said side dishes and chicken fries is the speciality of the Muslim weddings back in Malabar. It is always served after the starter ‘Alisa’, which is a porridge like stuff mainly made of wheat and meat and is served by sprinkling sugar on top! Yum..

Here is the recipe of Muslim style Malabar Chicken Biriyani.


Malabar Chicken Biriyani ( Serves 6-8)
For Ghee rice:

4 cups (800 g) Basmati rice
6 cups water
¾ cup onion sliced (1 medium size onion)
¾ - 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
7 cardamom pods
8 cloves
2 1” size pieces of cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaves
9 Tbsp clarified butter (Ghee), (I used 7 Tbs vegetable oil and 2 Tbs ghee)
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 twig curry leaves

For Biryani masala:
1 kg of large chicken pieces, preferably thighs, legs and breast
500g (4 ½ cups, 4-5 medium onions) thinly sliced onion
15 large cloves(4 packed Tbs) freshly minced garlic
65g (2 ½" thick piece) freshly minced ginger
330g (2 cups packed, 4 large) chopped tomatoes
20 (5 tsp) minced Green chillies (reduce if you want it less hot), you may use just 12-15 of them
½ cup Chopped Coriander leaves
10-12 fresh mint leaves chopped
22 mls (1 ½ Tbsp) freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp garam masala + 1 tsp extra to sprinkle on rice while layering.
4 tsp Oil (you may add more if needed)
3 cardamoms
8 cloves
4 small pieces of cinnamon sticks (1” size, thin ones)
1 ½tsp - 1 ¾ tsp Salt

For garnishing:
2 handful cashews
2 handful raisins
2 medium onions sliced thin
Few drops of yellow or orange food colouring or both (opional)

Step by step guide to prepare Dum Biryani:

Method to prepare Biryani masala:
1. Wash chicken well, place it on a colander to drain off all water.
2. Heat a large vessel to medium low and add oil. When hot, throw in the whole spices. When they leave the aroma (takes upto a minute on low heat) sauté chopped ginger, garlic, chillies and onions along with salt until the onions become soft and translucent.
3. At this point, add chopped tomatoes. When the tomatoes start to soften ad breakdown almost completely, add chicken and cook until almost done. All this should be done on a low heat so that onion releases its juice and chicken gets cooked in that juice slowly.
6. Add lime juice, chopped coriander and mint leaves and cook the chicken until done. Add garam masala and close lid to infuse in the flavour.

Note:
If there is lot of liquid, boil it off and reduce to a thick masala. If there is lot of water, the rice may end up overcooked.

Method to prepare Ghee rice and Garnishing:
1. Wash rice several times until you g et clear water to drain. Soak the rice for half an hour.

2. For preparing the garnish, in a large non-stick vessel, add oil + ghee or only ghee as mentioned in the recipe and fry the cashews until golden. Remove them and drain on a kitchen towel. In the same oil fry the raisins until they puff up and keep them along with cashews. Fry the onion until just golden and keep them with the former. The onion will get coloured (will continue to cook even after you take them out, so don’t fry until brown).

3. For preparing the ghee rice, In the same vessel, add ¾ cup slice onion and sauté till the onion turn soft and translucent. (don’t brown them, that will effect the colour of the rice.). At this stage add cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon and cumin seeds and sauté for a minute until it leaves the aroma.

4. Strain the rice and tip in the rice slowly and fry for 5 minutes on high heat by constant stirring.

5. Add boiling water, salt, curry leaves and lime juice and keep boiling, by keeping the lid open until all the water has disappeared, but the rice is still wet and not dry.

6. Reduce the flame to low, Cover tightly to let all the steam in and cook it until done. In between you can flip the rice two times to ensure even cooking.

If you follow the method of preparing therice you should get well fluffed individual rice that doesn’t stick to each other.

For layering the biryani and final cooking:

1. Using a large plate, take out 2/3 rd of the rice from the vessel and transfer it to another bowl. Leave the rest 1/3 of the rice in the vessel and level off the surface neatly using a spatula. Sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala (from the garam masala that is reserved for sprinkling) all over. If you are adding colour, add few drops of yellow or orange food colouring in 4-5 places.

2. Take half of the masala and sprinkle over the rice along with the chicken.

3. Spoon 1/3 rd of the rice again over the chicken masala. Sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala, and few drops of colouring.

4. Add the rest half of the masala and complete the layering by spooning the last 1/3 of the rice. Sprinkle again with garam masala, and few drops of colouring.

So now you have alternating layers of rice and masala that’s goes like this: Rice, Biryani masala, rice, Biryani masala and again rice.

5. Cover the entire vessel with foil (to ensure that full steam stays in), then close the lid tightly. Place a weight (you can also use any vessel filled with water for this) over this vessels and cook on hob top for about 30 minutes at very low heat. This is to infuse the flavour of the biryani masala into the rice and this process of cooking is called ‘Dum’. To know if it is done, lift the lid and you should be able to see steam coming from the top part of rice. (Don’t expect smoke, it will be just a light streak of steam from here and there) and the rice on the top will be slightly curvy!!

6. You can also do the layering in an ovenproof vessel and place it in a preheated oven at a very low temperature for about 20-30 minutes for the final cooking. I never tried this, but my friends do it this way.

Just before serving, garnish with fried onions, cashews and raisins.



Note:

1.You can also sprinkle little of the fried onions while layering and leave the rest for garnishing. You may sprinkle it along with garam masala. This helps to bring out the flavour of fried onions into the rice. And it is real good too.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Kozhi Nirachathu (Stuffed Chicken with Gravy)

An advance New year wishes from my side to all of you. May the coming year bring all sort of happiness and comfort to all of you.

Kozhi Nirachathu is one of the Malabar specialities; I don’t think it is popular but is definitely a heart winner. I didn’t have a clue about this recipe until I came across shaheen’s blog. I then enquired about it to my mom who then told me that she have heard about it and one of my aunts used to make it long back. These days stuffed chicken is not commonly made may be due to the tremendous labour that goes into making it and in a household where there are many members, you definitely need more than a chicken to feed all. Well, I never got to eat them even while I was in Kerala and only had them when I made them myself.

Even though Kozhi nirachathu/ stuffed chicken is not popularly seen around, many other luxurious stuffed items are commonly made in Malabar region for any occasion like Eid, Iftar, parties, for the just married groom and when important guests pay a visit. These stuffed foods include stuffed plantains of different types commonly known as ‘Unnakkaya’ or ‘Kaayada’ and pazham nirachathu, stuffed pancakes that take different forms and shapes like meen pathiri, chatty pathiri, atti pathal, Chemmeen ada, kadalapparippu ada to name a few...... I still have bizarre memories of a whole stuffed goat during one of my post wedding parties, with goat lying on its back and all four legs up in the air!!!

Well, coming back to Kozhi nirachathu/stuffed chicken, I recently prepared this it for dinner and we had it with Porotta and salad. It was finger-licking delicious! The recipe was an amazing one and I closely followed the recipe and instruction given at shaheen’s blog. I had noticed that recipe long time when I was blog hopping but I felt it was too complicated and time consuming at that time. And I guess it still is!!! I was just waiting for the perfect mood to make it because I knew it needs quite a lot of patience...The taste was too good and we just couldn’t stop admiring the dish. It was yummy and I surely would make it again, but only if there is someone to help me with my kid or share a part of toil!

Coming to the preparation part, tying the hands and legs sounded quite simple, but it took me sometime to tie the leg and I couldn’t manage to tie the hands. At a point of time, where I almost lost my patience, I also thought of using safety pin instead of tying them up! It also took a long time to finish cooking as managing the large bird was quite a hurdle plus so many other stuffs in between- my son’s feeding, washing up and a bit of time to run behind him and chase him when he tries to distract me playing naughty.....So my advice would be, try this dish when you have plenty of time in hand, a bit of patience and there is no one to bother you in the process!


Kozhi Nirachathu(Stuffed Chicken with Gravy)
Ingredients:

1400g (3 Lb) Chicken, skinned

Marinade:
3 Tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp Lime juice
1 tsp salt or as required
3-4 tbsp water

Ingredients for Egg stuffing:
2-3 tsp vegetable oil/coconut oil/olive oil
1 or 2 Eggs
3 medium size (325g) onions sliced thinly (3 cups)
2-4 slit green chillies
1 twig curry leaves
½ Tbsp ginger, minced
½ Tbsp garlic, minced
¼ cup (28g) cashews (Optional)
1 Tbsp raisins (optional)
½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder/paprika
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
Little salt to taste

Ingredients for the gravy:
4 medium size (385g) onions, sliced and then chopped into small pieces (2 ¾ cup)
2 twig curry leaves
3 large tomatoes (240g) chopped (1 ½ cups)
3/4 - 1 Tbsp freshly minced ginger
3/4 - 1 Tbsp freshly minced garlic
2-4 green chillies split lengthwise
1 ½ tsp fennel seeds powdered (1/2 heaped tablespoon)
2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder/paprika
½ tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
A handful of coriander leaves, chopped

Others:
4 Tbsp oil
Salt as required
¼ cup water (Add it only if your grvay is quite dry and to add moisture)

Preparation:




1.Clean the chicken well and make shallow incision on the thick part of chicken. Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients under marinade. Cover with a cling film and place it in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours or overnight. (I usually marinate it overnight to let the marinade penetrate through.)

2. Make the egg stuffing:

a.Boil eggs, peel and keep aside. Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté the cashews until golden and sauté the raisins until it puffs up. Remove from the pan and keep them aside along with the eggs. In the same pan, add the sliced onions, curry leaves, green chillies, ginger and garlic and sauté till onion turns brown. Add all the spice powders (turmeric powder, coriander powder and chilli powder) and sauté till it leaves aroma. Add raisins and cashews if using and mix well. Add eggs and mix well.

3. Stuff the chicken with this mixture taking care not to over stuff it. Insert the eggs first and then the onion masala. Tie the legs together with a twine and hands too.

4.Make the gravy and brief-fry the chicken:

a. Heat 4 Tbsp of oil in a large frying pan or wok and shallow fry the chicken in medium heat briefly just for few minutes until all side are lightly browned. It may take 10-15 minutes for the whole chicken. Remove the chicken and drain on a kitchen towel. In the same pan, add the sliced onions, curry leaves, green chillies, ginger and garlic and sauté till onion turns brown. Add tomatoes and sauté on medium heat till they start to breakdown. Add the spice powders (turmeric powder, coriander powder, fennel powder and chilli powder) and sauté till it forms a mass and tomatoes are pulpy. Add little water if the mixture is dry. Add coriander leaves and sprinkle garam masala. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes more.

5. Final cooking:

a.Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Spread half of the gravy masala on to a baking tray/pyrex dish and place the half fried chicken on the masala. Spread rest of masala on the chicken. Cover the entire dish with foil. Place it in the centre rack of oven and bake for about 1 hour and 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for further 10 minutes.

OR

b. After the gravy masala is prepared, place the brief-fried chicken on the masala, cover with a lid and cook it on medium flame until done. Make sure you flip the chicken on all sides to ensure thorough cooking.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Savioardi (Lady Fingers)




Seasons Greetings to all!

It was snowing here during last weekend it is a pleasure to see the stunning snow laden streets, trees, and the roofs of houses blanketed with snow. Temperature has been hitting minus degrees recently and yesterday it even reached minus 6 degrees!!! This is the perfect weather for having a bowl of soup and just snuggling under the soft blanket the whole day doing nothing. It’s all Christmassy everywhere, the snow, the gifts and the whole of the town center and malls are always fully packed!! The shops and stores are elegant and colourful with all the Christmas items on sales like the x’mas decor, trees, huge stockings, gift items etc etc. And it’s even livelier in the north than in the south where I used to live before.



Last weekend we had a potluck party at our friend’s place and it was so much of fun. There were four families altogether and four kids. All of them were to cook and bring something for the potluck and we had an elaborate three course meal. There were 2 starters i.e. chilli prawns and Chilli Paneer from my side, 3 main course – Chicken Biriyani, Roasted fish Masala, Roasted chicken with vegetables, paalappam, vellappam and chicken curry. For the dessert it was Tiramisu, one of the tastiest desserts ever, well, I prepared it and I should say everyone just LOVED it and some even went for a second and third helping!!!!It was a superhit....Not only the dessert but all others tasted so YUM!!



About the sponge fingers...it is another story. I din’t actually think of baking it. I bought all other ingredients for Tiramisu and couldn’t find sponge fingers. Thought I would buy them later and it din’t work either. So I thought it was easy baking it rather than shopping around with my little naughty one. It’s a hurdle shopping around with a toddler who wants to run around and wants all stuffs that comes on their way. So I sat down and searched for some recipes on net. Followed a recipe I got from http://www.recipezaar.com/. The recipe was good, but the instructions that I followed there gave me a result that was so difficult to pipe and when I baked them they turned out so flat for a sponge finger. But it tasted like sponge finger nonetheless. I then set again to make sponge fingers again using the same recipe but instructions from http://www.joyofbaking.com/. It was easy to pipe and tasted awesome. Well, it doesn’t look like the commercially produced sponge fingers you get from the stores, but tasted EXACTLY the same. You would need two double the recipe mentioned here if you are planning to make my Tiramisu. Else you can halve the quantity mentioned in the Tiramisu and stick to the same amount of ingredients for the sponge fingers.


I used the home-made savioardi in the Tiramisu and it tasted just like the one we get from stores. So if you can’t get hold of these savioardi from stores, try piping out some. It doesn’t take much time and is easy. If you are preparing Tiramisu, make this a day or two ahead, so it takes less time to assemble the following day. I have garnished Tiramisu using melted chocolate drawings and some white chocolate and dark chocolate curls. For making the chocolate curls, first, place any large, clean metallic plate or baking tray in a warm oven for about 10 minutes until the tray is warm. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place them in a bowl. Place the bowl over another pan containing simmering water. And melt chocolate till glossy smooth. Pour the melted chocolate on the plate or metallic tray and spread it in a thin layer using a WARM non serrated knife. To make the knife warm, just wash it in hot water. Spreading the warm chocolate will be easier when you use a warm knife. Place the tray in the fridge. When it starts setting (at this point, if you press gently using a finger, it should make a depression), hold both the handle and tip of the knife and gently scrape/shave the chocolate, holding the knife in a slanting position to the sheet. It will form curls. If the chocolate is set until hard, it will break up when you try to scrape and will be hard to shape curls....


Savioardi (Lady Fingers)
Ingredients:
½ cup (80 gm) plain flour
½ tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs, separated
3 Tbsp + 3 Tbsp (a total of 80 gm) white caster sugar
Extra caster sugar to sprinkle.

Preparation:

1. Using an electric beater, beat egg yolks with 3 tbsp of sugar at high speed until pale yellow and thick, for around 5 minutes.

2. Pour in vanilla and beat again until incorporated.

3. In a squeaky clean bowl (make sure it is grease free and is free of any moisture), add the egg whites. Whip until frothy and continue whipping until it holds peak. Add 3 Tbs of sugar little by little ( a table spoon each) and beat well until think and glossy and stiff. At this point, if you invert the bowl completely, the mixture should stay intact in the bowl without pouring down.

4. Sift the flour on the batter and DO NOT FOLD IN.

5. Add the egg whites in three stages folding carefully to the flour and egg yolk mixture just until incorporated and take care not to over mix.

6. Preheat the oven to 180º C. Fill the mixture in a plastic bag, piping bag or Ziploc bag with ½ inch (1.25 cm) wide hole. If using a Ziploc bag, measure and cut out the hole using scissors. Line two baking sheets with baking paper. Hold the bag at 45 degrees and pipe out the mixture into 3 inch long sponge fingers leaving a space of 1 inch/2.54cm between each piping. After piping out all the cookies, add the powdered sugar in a wire strainer and lightly sift over the sponges. Bake it until just firm and barely golden for about 10-14 minutes depending on the oven temperature (I baked until golden for 14 minutes). Let it cool for sometime, remove and place on a wire rack for further cooling.

Notes: Do not attempt to remove as soon as it comes out of oven because it will be soft. Take it out of the baking paper as soon as it has cooled a bit. Store in airtight containers and use within 2-3 days or store in freezer if using later on. To freeze, place in a plastic bag between layers of wax or parchment paper and freeze up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Kadalapparippu Ada (Bengal Gram and Coconut Parcels)


This is one recipe that I wanted to post quite long time back. I made it during Ramadan, and mis-placed the recipe ( I forgot where I scribbled down the recipe). I Have been searching for this precious recipe for many days actually.....Just found it today!phewww....

Kadalapparippu Ada is not a very common snack that’s made all around in Malabar areas, but it is one of my family’s favourite tea-time snacks especially my dearest dad’s and mine. These are normally made during iftar (breaking of fast) or to serve guests arriving home during evenings. The preparation method is some what like Sukhiyan, but substituting channa dal for moong dal and sugar for jaggery. Like Sukhiyan, this can also be dipped in batter and then deep –fried until golden to get a crispy outer covering and a rich coconut and dal filling in..Yummm.... I personally like it this way, and prepare them this way whenever I feel like having them. But traditionally it is made by using the rice dough, flattening the dough on a banana leaf, enclosing the filling in and steam-cooking it along with the leaf to infuse the wonderful aroma of the banan leaf. Since I couldn’t find the banana leaf, I used the baking paper instead. I prepared this way exclusively for the blog. It is a bit time consuming to prepare the traditional way using the dough, but to make it easier we dip it in batter and fry it in oil, like we do for Sukhiyan. It takes much less time when you prepare this way, but more oil....If you want to prepare this Ada and want to fry them instead of steaming, please refer the Sukhiyan recipe for the outer coating’s (batter) recipe. It is exactly the same.

Here I have made huge ones to finish up the process fast, you may make smaller ones. Smaller ones look better as well.

Kadalapparippu Ada (Bengal Gram and Coconut Parcels)
Makes 15- 17 large ones

Ingredients:

For the filling:
½ cup (100g) channa dal (Kadalapparippu)
1 ½ cup (150g) freshly grated coconut
¾ cup – 1 cup granulated sugar (adjust depending on the sweetness required)
1 tsp Ghee/clarified butter
1 small shallot sliced
½ heaped tsp cardamom powder
A good pinch of salt

For the rice dough:
2 ½ cup rice flour (unroasted)
2 ½ cup tap water
¾ tsp salt or as required

Preparation:
A) For the filling:
1.wash dal and cook until soft, not mushy. Cooking can be done in pressure cooker (I do it).

2. In a large frying pan, add coconut and sugar and simmer for few minutes until the sugar is completely melted. When the sugar is melted completely, you should be able to see bubbles appearing in the grated coconut. Make sure that the sugar is completely melted.

3. At this point, add the cooked dal and stir well. Cook until all the water from the sugar is vaporised and the mixture can be formed into balls.

4. Sprinkle a good pinch of salt over the filling and stir well. Add cardamom powder and stir well too.

5. In another pan/kadai, heat ghee. Add the sliced shallot and fry till slightly golden. Add it to the coconut and dal mixture and stir well. Cover and keep aside.

B). For the rice dough:

1 .In a large bowl add rice and stir in the salt. Gradually add in water and mix well until you get a smooth dough that you can shape into balls.

C). Assembling:


1. Divide the dough into 15 – 17 portions and equally divide the fillings. Cut 2 square shapes from baking paper. Shape the dough into balls and flatten them into discs. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the filling on half of the disc leaving 2 cm from the circumference.

2. Fold the other end of the disc using the baking paper to form a semi-circle parcel sealing all the ingredients in.

3. Steam-cook them along with baking paper for about 5-10 minutes until cooked. Once the dough is cooked, it will be firm to touch. Carefully lift the Ada along with the baking paper and let it cool. You can also try placing the ada directly without the baking paper, but I was scared that it would stick to the steamer, so placed along with the baking paper. You may steam 2-3 at the same time depending on the size of the steamer.

4. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough. Best served warm.

Note:
1. As I have mentioned earlier, if you are preparing like Sukhiyan, make orm the filling into lemon sized balls. Dip the balls in the batter and deep fry them.

2. The filling and dough stays in fridge upto 4 days if not touched by hand. The filling can be eaten as it is as an evening snack or filled. Try making them fresh, since it doesn’t taste good when cold and reheated later on.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Special Fried Chicken



Ever since my friend handed over this recipe to me, this has been a regular visitor on our table. Be it a lunch or dinner...this dish is very much enjoyed by my family and we simply love it. The best part is that the chicken can be fried without adding any oil and it tastes as good as the fried ones. You can’t notice any difference at all. If you are a health freak and love good food, you will love this version. These days, I don’t add any oil while preparing this dish, since it tastes finger-licking good even without oil. So why bother add some unwanted fat when it doesn’t make any difference at all?



Ingredients:
500g-600 g Chicken pieces
4 large cloves of garlic thinly sliced and chopped (1 ½ tbs)
1” piece ginger , thinly sliced and chopped (3/4 - 1 tbsp)
30 curry leaves (2 twigs), chopped
2 tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder
½ tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp salt or as required
¾ - 1 cup water
Oil- as required (Please read the instructions)
2-3 green chillies (optional)
1 twig curry leaves (optional)


Preparation:
1.Wash chicken, and pat dry. Marinate it with ginger, garlic, chilli powder, turmeric powder, curry leaves and salt for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight. If the pieces are big like leg, thigh or even breast, make 2-4 shallow slits on the meat so that the marinade can permeate through.

2. Heat a saucepan, add chicken along with enough water; cover and cook until the meat is tender. Open the lid, increase the flame and dry up almost all the water. At this point, you can see that the oil has cleared from the chicken.

3. After this, the frying process can be done in two ways as given below.

3.a) When all the water dries up and the oil clears, turn down the heat to low-medium and add 2-3 green chillies and a twig of curry leaves. Fry until the chicken is evenly browned by flipping them frequently. This is the healthier way of frying it without using oil.

Else:

3.b. Heat another frying pan, add 2-4 Tbs of oil, add 2 green chillies and a twig of curry leaves. Add the cooked chicken along with the juices and fry till brown.


Note: Adding chillies and green chillies at the end are purely optional. You may omit them. The dish is good even without adding them. I just love the flavour of green chillies and curry leaves, so added a bit more.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Tuna Chikkiyathu /Spicy Tuna Thoran (Stir-fried Tuna With Spices)


Tuna Chikkiyathu /Spicy Tuna Thoran:
Serves 3-4

Ran out of fish or prawns to prepare for an afternoon lunch? Got some tuna in stock? Then this recipe will help you out to sort the issue! Well, this recipe was somewhat my husband’s idea. It blinked in his brain on a day when we ran out of fish and seafood and the only thing we had was canned tuna. He then suggested me to prepare it this way, but I added some extra ingredients as well!!




Ingredients:
4 tsp coconut oil
¾ cup chopped onion
15 curry leaves
1/3 cupful (1 medium size) chopped tomato
1 tbsp + 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (Adjust per taste)
Few tsp of water
½ tsp pepper powder
2*185g canned tuna, drained
1/3 cup grated coconut
½ tsp garam masala

Preparation:
1.Heat a large frying pan or saucepan and add oil. Add the chopped onions, curry leaves and sauté till onion becomes soft and translucent. Add the chopped tomato , pepper powder and chilli powder.

2. Cover and cook on very low flame until tomatoes are soft and masala is thick.

3.Add the drained tuna and cook on low – medium flame for about 10-15 minutes until the masala is quite dry and no moisture at all. Add coconut and stir well. Cook for few more minutes until well incorporated.

4. Add garam masala, stir well and cover and cook for a minute.

Serve as a side dish for chappathi, poori, ottil pollichathu, rice,paalappam, appam or even bread.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Potato and Cauliflower Soup with Cheese


Potato and Cauliflower Soup with Cheese
Serves 4 (1 cup each).


Soups are always a healthy alternative to fat filled snacks or any other dinner/lunch platter which contain enormous amount of oil/clarified butter etc. Recently I have been trying to reduce the use of saturated fats and other oils after an alarming discovery of the calories that is present in a Tablespoon of fat, be it an olive oil or sunflower oil. I am not sure about butter, coconut oil and clarified butter, but I guess it should be much more than the others mentioned. Yeah, Can you believe that a tablespoon of vegetable oil has 135 Kcal?!!!I read it on the label on the bottle.... So I am trying to cut down the amount of oil in my recipe, you may use more as you wish. But, the foods that contain more oil, is quite tasty if you agree, and I always had an affinity to add more oil.... I always think, why do all or almost all tasty food should be unhealthy or High in calories?!

So, on such a day when I was browsing for some healthy recipe, I came across this stunning soup at Saju’s blog. Her recipe was ‘Cauliflower and broccoli soup’. I badly wanted to have the soup ago, but dint have broccoli to start with. Hence I substituted broccoli for potato, the one vegetable that I always have in stock and made it. It was really tasty and a filling soup. Thanks to Saju for such a delicious recipe. We had it for afternoon tea along with French Baguette and had the rest at night a swell. I dint find much of a difference in taste when I had it at night, but it was really good at noon.

I have modified the recipe a bit and here goes my version. I have added little cheese - I just couldn’t hold my temptation, so added it to give a light cheesy taste. Also added water along with milk, you can use complete milk rather than adding water. The soup was very refreshing and filling. It tasted really yum with garlic bread and baguette.

Ingredients:
1 ½ cup (200g) chopped cauliflower florets
1 cup (170g) potato cut into small cubes
½ cup (80g) thinly sliced carrot
½ cup (70g) chopped onion
¼ cup (4 Tbsp, 25g) grated cheddar cheese (optional)
1 ¾ cup semi skimmed milk
1 ¼ cup water
1 maggi stock cube crumbled (chicken or vegetable)
3 Tbsp plain flour
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Preparation :
1.Heat a saucepan, add oil. Add all the vegetables and sauté for 5 minutes. Add water, milk (leaving behind little milk to mix the flour) and stock cube and cook till vegetables are cooked well and is soft.

2. Mix the flour with little milk and add the milk to the vegetables. Let it boil for few minutes until thick. Don’t add the flour directly to soup without mixing it with milk since it becomes lumpy!

3. Add the grated cheddar and mix well until just melted. Season with pepper and serve hot.
4. Serve hot with any baguette or garlic bread.

(Salt was not added since there was adequate amount of salt in the stock cube. You may reduce the amount of stock cube in the beginning, if necessary, and add them later to adjust the salt level.)

This post is my entry for the ‘Monthly Mingle-Soups' organized by Meeta , author of one of the most stylish blogs around- "What's for lunch, Honey?". The event is hosted by yet another lovely blogger - Harini of Tongue Ticklers.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Banana Bread



What happens when you have a local farmers market nearby where you get fruits and vegetables at a very low cost?.....There will be more fruits and vegetables at home than required, and sometimes aiming to the bin! That’s what happened quite a few times at my home recently. The farmers market nearby is a whole sale market where we get loads of stuffs as cheap as chips.....Recently I had asked my HD to get some Bananas along with other stuffs and he bought more than dozen bananas! I am not much of a banana fan; I eat it once in a while but not so frequently to finish them all....So I had to think of options of how to use up the bananas without wasting any.....I used them in fruit salads, cornflakes, prepared some pancakes, drop scones and sometimes had them for breakfast!....I was still left with a few bananas which started developing black spots on them.....Then the thought of banana bread that recently appeared on many blogs struck me! Yes, I am Baking it........The Banana Bread, something that I was longing to try.... I then started googling for the recipe....googled and googled and got confused which one to follow since there were numerous amount of recipes........I wrote down many recipes, added and subtracted ingredients to my liking and finally referred www.Joyofbaking.com for the final recipe to see what I wrote down was almost the same.



I fell in love with banana flavoured cakes during my college days where I used to have banana muffins for breakfast. But after making the banana bread, I realised that the one I had in college just had the banana essence and dint have any banana in it. The recipe for Banan bread given here is very simple to follow and can be modified to suit your personal taste – you can omit the nuts if you don’t prefer them, or add more nuts, omit the cinnamon and add the spice of your choice, or omit it completely..... In this recipe I have used cinnamon powder and for nuts I used Brazil nuts even thethe original recipe calls for walnuts.. There is a story behind the using of Brazil nuts. There were only just enough amount of walnuts for baking. Lucky me, thought myself. Got all ready for baking, heated the oven, placed the walnuts on the sheet and popped it in the oven...When I was setting off with the other ingredients, came a phone call!! Guess who it was....Oh, not a surprise and not a minister...It was just my sis. But why do I have to mention it here?.....My sister, I don’t know how she does it, but always calls me at the worst possible hour......while I am sleeping early in the morning, or at midnight, or I am busy with something and running around like a headless chicken .........The phone kept ringing......I picked the phone and we started talking (The oven is still ON with walnuts in)....the talking went on for sometime until I sniffed a charred smell and made me think ‘Hey, what’s that funny smell all of a sudden?’......’Oops my walnuts’.....I dropped the phone and ran to the kitchen, and opened the oven, just to find my only walnuts turn into charcoal and smoke all over....So I had to find some substitute for the walnuts and used ended up using brazil nuts.... To be frank, even though brazil nuts are one of my favourites, I thought it just din’t click in this recipe...I thought the walnuts would give it the best crunchy bite... And for the cinnamon, I have been having too much of cinnamony stuffs, that I got bored of the taste. I am looking forward to baking banana bread again, but making sure I omit the nuts and cinnamon and add a tad more of vanilla extract.



The Bread, or rather a cake, was moist and had a true Banana flavour with a hint of cinnamon. It was deliciously crispy as soon it came out of the oven, but later on got moist, but yummy. The cake was quite dense cake and we loved it with tea. I tried toasting the slice of bread and drizzled with honey....It was great that way too...Well, while you choose the banana, go for the one that is really ripe, because the flavour of the banana intensifies as the banana ripens. My husband thought they were sweet enough for him, but I thought it was slightly less sweet for my taste. I would try adding a cup of sugar next time than ¾ cup. For checking the doneness, poke the bread at different place using a skewer. Since there is lot of banana in the bread, it will stick to the skewer and give a false idea

Banana Bread
Recipe adapted from: www.joyofbaking.com


Ingredients:
½ cup chopped nuts of your choice, preferably Walnuts or pecans
1 ¾ cup (250g) all purpose flour
¾ cup – 1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp Baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (113 g) butter
450g banana, mashed (1 ½ cups), 4 Large ones
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with whisk
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence

Preparation: Courtesy of www.Joyofbaking.com

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place oven rack to middle position. Cover the base and the longer side of a 1 kg loaf pan with a baking paper. Set aside.

2. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Let cool and then chop coarsely.

3. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nuts. Set aside.

4. In a medium-sized bowl combine the mashed bananas, eggs, melted butter, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, lightly fold the wet ingredients (banana mixture) into the dry ingredients just until combined and the batter is thick and chunky. (The important thing is not to over mix the batter. You do not want it smooth. Over mixing the batter will yield tough, rubbery bread). Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes (It took me 1 hour and 10 minutes). Place on a wire rack to cool and then remove the bread from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. This bread can be frozen.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Eid Mubarak!

A warm Eid greetings to all my readers and fellow bloggers. May you and your family have a blessed Eid!..Eid Mubarak!...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Mutton Korma/Kuruma (A mild and creamy Mutton Curry)


Mutton Korma/Kuruma is a rich and creamy curry and is delicately flavoured with spices. It pairs well with almost anything- Paratta, chappathi, naan, battura, poori, rice, neypathal etc etc..... Chicken Korma also can be prepared the same way, but you need not use the cooker for that.

Mutton Korma
Serves 3-4
Recipe Adapted from: Lakshmi nair's 'Magic Oven' PachakaVidhikal.

Ingredients:

500-600g mutton cubed
25g (30 pieces, 1/4 cup) cashews soaked in warm water for half hour
2 cups (260g, 2 medium size) onion, cut into cubes
5 large cloves of garlic
1 ½” thick piece ginger, chopped
1 Tbs couscous
1-1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
4 cardamoms
4 cloves
2-3 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
1 tspful black pepper corns
1 Tbsp Coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
2-6 green chillies slit lengthwise
½ cup (110g) tomatoes chopped
1 cup coconut milk
2-3 Tbsp vegetable Oil/coconut oil
Water- as necessary
Salt- as required
½ cup chopped Coriander leaves



Preparation:
1. Heat a pressure cooker. Add oil. When hot, add onion cubes, chopped ginger and garlic, couscous, fennel seeds, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon sticks, coriander powder and turmeric powder and sauté for few minutes until the onions are soft. Add few tablespoons of water if it is sticking to the pan. Let it cool down a bit, then grind it to a smooth paste by adding ¼ cup of water.

2. Put the ground paste back to the cooker, add green chillies and tomatoes and stir well. Add the mutton pieces and salt and stir well again. Add half cup of water and pressure cook till mutton is soft and the gravy is thick. If there is more water than required, open the lid and boil until you get thick gravy.

3. Grind cashew nuts in ½ cup of water. Add this ground cashew and coconut milk to the gravy and boil for 3-4 minutes. If the gravy is watery, grind cashew in coconut milk itself and add it to the curry.

4. Add chopped coriander leaves and stir well.

Best served with Paratta, chappathi, naan, Neypathal (Recipe is given under Indian breads/malabar dishes) etc....

Masala Koonthal (Spicy squid Masala/Calamari Masala)



Masala Koonthal (Spicy squid Masala/Calamari Masala)
Serves 2-3


This is a spicy dry preparation of squid/ Calamari/ Kanava/ koonthal and is full of flavour. We sometimes call it as koonthal varattiyathu or Koonthal roast. Even though I have used the mild version of chilli powder here, I thought it was slightly spicier than my requirement; but my hubby thought they were deliciously spicy! I don’t know if my spice tolerance level has gone down since I always prepare food adjusting the spice level so that, it could be eaten by my toddler as well. But my little one has been nibbling on these even though his eyes were wide and watering and he has been drinking lot of water after each intake! It was spicy for him, but when it comes to seafood, it looks as if nothing matters to him!!.


As I mentioned earlier, The recipe was slightly spicier for me. If you need it milder, reduce the chilli powder from the recipe. I always liked the lovely aroma and spiciness of green chillies...but these days the green chillies I get here are too hot that I feel the heat through-out my system. So I avoided adding green chillies to this one (But I would love to add a couple of them..). If at all you want to add green chillies and keep the dish mild, slit 2 green chillies, deseed them, and sauté along with onions. But make sure you reduce the chilli powder. It was a delicious side dish and I served it along with a vegetable curry and Chappathi.

Ingredients:
170 gms cleaned squid/Calamari/koonthal/Kanava (5 small ones about 3”, head excluded)

For marinade:
½ Tsp paprika/Kashmiri Chilli powder
½ Tsp turmeric powder
A pinch of salt

Others:
coconut oil or other oil- as required
½ cup (packed) chopped onions, ½ of a large onion
1 large clove of garlic, chopped
A small piece of ginger, chopped
¼ cup (¾ of a medium size) tomato
½ Tsp paprika/Kashmiri Chilli powder
¼ tsp black pepper powder
6-8 curry leaves
A good pinch (1/4 tsp) of garam masala
Few teaspoons of water
Salt to taste

Preparation:
1.Cut the squid into rings of 3mm - 4 mm and marinate it with salt, chilli powder and turmeric for 10 minutes. Heat a frying pan and add 2-3 tsp of oil. Add the marinated squid and sauté for a couple of minutes just until the squid is opaque/hard. Fish them out.

2. In the same pan, add a couple of teaspoons more of oil and add chopped onion, salt, ginger and garlic. Keep sautéing until the onions are soft and start to take golden colour. Add chilli powder, pepper powder and saute for few seconds. If using high flame, add few teaspoons of water to avoid burning the spices.

3. Add in the chopped tomatoes and few teaspoons of water (if the dish is dry). Close the lid and cook on low flame until tomatoes have become soft.

4. Add the half cooked squid along with curry leaves and a couple of teaspoons of oil. Stir well. Close and cook in low flame until the squid is cooked thoroughly and is soft. Add a pinch of garam masala, stir well and close the lid and let the flavours to infuse.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Sukhiyan (Moong dal Fritters)


Sukhiyan is one of the famous evening snacks made in kerala...It is a snack made of moog dal, jaggery and coconut filling and then coated with a plain flour batter and then deep fried....you can find this snack mostly in ‘Thattukada’s or the street side small food shops that serve parcels of food...Even though I never had food from ‘Thattukadas’ I was very much fondly told by many including my husband that the food served in ‘thattukadas’ are damn tasty. Here I have added little spice powders to give it an extra aroma, you may add more.

Ingredients:
For the filling:
1cup/250 g Green grams/moong dal/Cherupayar
1¾ round blocks of jaggery in the shape of coconut shell (300g)
1cup water
1 -1 ½ cup grated coconut
a pinch of salt
¼ tsp dry ginger powder/ chukku podi
¼ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp cardamom powder.

For the coating:
1 cup plain flour/ maida
1 cup and a couple of tablespoons of water to make batter
A good pinch of salt.

Preparation:
1. Melt jaggery by placing it in a saucepan along with one cup of water. When it is completely melted, sieve it several times in a muslin cloth or a cotton cloth to get rid of the impurities.
2. Wash the grams, and cook till soft, but not mushy. I pressure cooked them with sufficient water. Drain off any water left using a seive.
3. Heat a saucepan, add the melted, cleaned jaggery and add coconut. Stir well and cook until the water is almost evaporated. Mix the cooked grams and keep on low flame, mix well and cook till all the water is evaporated. Add all the spice powders and mix well. Let it cool down a bit. Roll the filling into lemon sized balls. Make sure the mixture is not watery and it is able to make into balls.
4. Mix plain flour and water by adding a pinch of salt to make a thick batter. Dip the balls of filling in this batter and deep fry in oil for couple of minutes until the coating is cooked and starts to turn golden.

Notes:
Adjust the sweetness as per taste. I think normally sukhiyan is slightly less sweeter than mentioned here.. But if you want it sweeter than mentioned, add a couple of table spoons of sugar and mix well in the filling. This can be made once the filling is completed as well.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Muringavaal Thengapaal Curry (Drumsticks in Coconut Milk)


It’s more than a week since I came from India and I am still in a lazy mood....lazy for everything....just got back to the normal routing after the jetlag, unpacking and cleaning the house which was left kinda messy when we left after all the packing......we had a real good time in India even though it was really really busy and hectic.....After all, that’s expected when we have a 2-3 weeks vacation, especially back home when you have a bunch of relatives....visiting them itself takes a good chunk of time.....Before starting, I would like to thank all for the B’day wishes......we had so much of fun on that day....I used to check all the yummy blogs and posts and was regular in checking....commenting was a tough task to do since I used to check my mail through phone.....

The only thing I hated being in India this time was the weather.....I am not cursing the weather or I am not just boasting or showing off, but it was Hot........I thought I felt so cos if I went the from the cold weather here.....But even the people out there told it was terribly hot... It was supposed to rain during October, but the weather was dry with heat, no wind and no signs of rain even..... I badly wanted to feel the rain back home, but it only started raining while we were on our way back which only delayed our journey....:(

My son very much enjoyed being in India even though his food habits and sleeping routine had become worse!.....He was always outdoors playing with his ever favourite toy- ‘The sand’...I think he was seeing the sand for the first time.....he would never get in whet ever we try to entertain him with....the worst part is, he plays and even baths in sand,....he puts them all over his head and then washing the sand off the hair is a tedious thing to do.....and of course, he has several baths a day.....The worst part of his sand story was once when we visited few of my husband’s relatives, my son saw a small mound of sand in one of the houses which was newly built and some part of the house was still being done....he started climbing on that and running up and down and up and down...........his shoes filled with sand and sand all over his body, face and hair....and on top of that he kept scattering the sand all over so that I won’t be able to take him or even go near him.......I just went crazy not being able to manage him......finally called my hubby for help, we just dusted him off the sand and dragged him to the next house and locked him in... (this is the second house and three more to go)....he started screaming since he dint want to come off the sand.....the guy at the house opened the door let him out...and he ran off to the first house and started playing with the sand again.....we then left him there to play with some kids and went to visit the rest of the families.....I can’t imagine how many times I had to wash his hair to get rid off the sand......

Anyways, coming to the recipe, It is a recipe that I made quite long time back and it was sitting in my drafts for sometime....Just dusted it off and thought of clearing it from my drafts.....I have followed Lashmi Nair’s recipe of Okra curry for this one with minor changes to suit the vegetable....In her recipe, Okras were fried and added....here you go one of the simplest vegetable curries from my kitchen......



Ingredients:
3 large (350 g)Drumsticks (cleaned and cut into 2” pieces and slit)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 twig curry leaves
½ cup onion, chopped
3 green chillies,slit lengthwise
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
2- 2 ½ thin coconut milk
1 cup thick coconut milk
Salt - to taste

For tempering:
1-2 Tbs Coconut oil
1 Tbs chopped shallot/onion
¼ tsp Fennel seeds

Preparation:
1.Heat a saucepan. Add a Tablespoon of oil and add curry leaves, onion and green chillies. Sauté until the onions are soft.

2. Add the spice powders and sauté for few seconds. Add the thin coconut milk, salt and drumstick. Stir well. Cover and cook till done. When the drumstick is cooked well and the gravy is thick, add the thick coconut milk and just boil once.

3. Heat another small kadai/wok, heat oil and add fennel seeds and shallots. When shallots start turning golden, add the tempered oil along with the onions to the above curry. Instead of adding the curry leaves in the beginning it can be added at the end while tempering. Best served with rice rotis like pathiris, Ottil pollichathu, Neeru dosa etc.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Malabar Meen Biriyani - Malabar Style Fish Biriyani (Fish and Rice Casserole)

Hi pals,
I am flying to India this Friday for a short holiday of three weeks. I am quite excited about it because I really wanted a change and this would be a perfect one...But I just wish if my family were there too...Then it would have been the best holiday ever!!..This time my B’Day will be in India too. I don’t remember being in India on my B’Day. So looking forward to it... Before leaving, I will share with you all one of my favourite recipes i.e. Malabar Fish biriyani. As I have told before I am a lover of prawn and fish biriyani and prepare them whenever I get a chance to. This is prepared in Malabar style with lots of sautéed onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes with a touch of spice and spicy fried fish. The outcome is a slight tangy fish masala that pairs well with the ghee rice making a wonderfully aromatic and rich Fish Biriyani. The recipe is very similar to the Chemmeen Biriyani I posted before and tastes yum!


These days I am finding it quite difficult to blog, since my little one wants me full time with him. So I am fully engaged and no time to spare at all. We play a lot and do colouring, reading his animal books and rolling his tiny cars with him...Um, I am no so keen on doing colouring and playing with cars and all but I am forced to!!!......Today I just grabbed the ‘Henna’ or ‘Mehendi’ cone that was lying in the fridge since Eid and started applying it on his tiny hand...(Well, I dirtied up his hand)....he was quite patient with it and was curious and happy too....because I was drawing his favourite items like: ball, moon, ‘caach’(cars), ‘Faathaafy’ (Butter-fly), ‘shun’ (sun) and ‘tarsh’ (stars).. Now I think he also dreams about dogs and cats because in sleep he sometimes says dog, cat etc....Well, he just started talking since one month and these are few of his vocabularies and the way he pronounce them. Then I applied henna on one of his little feet also. I applied it quite well, but dint have much luck with it....he rubbed his foot on the carpet and messed it up.....


Ingredients:
For Fish masala:
600 gm (4 Large pieces) King fish.

To marinate the Fish:
1 Tbsp Kashmiri Chilly powder
2 tsp Coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp lime juice
½ - ¾ tsp salt (Check and adjust)
10 tbs vegetable oil for frying fish and making masala.

For the gravy:
3 medium-large onions crushed in processor(3 cups, 500 gm)
2 1/2 medium size tomatoes chopped (1 1/3 cup, 300 gm)
12 cloves of garlic, crushed (3 tbs)
5 green Chillies, chopped fine (adjust to your taste)
4" piece ginger, crushed (60gm, 4 tbs)
1 tsp pepper powder
1 tbs lime juice
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves (loosely packed)
6-8 mint leaves,chopped
2-4 Tbsp water (I added 4)
½ tsp fennel seed powder
1 tsp salt, or as reqd
1 tsp garam masala.

For the Ghee rice:
3 cups Basmati rice
4 1/2 cups boiling water
salt-as required - (I used 3/4 Tbs salt)
3 tbs Clarified butter/ghee
4 tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion sliced
2 Tbs raisins,washed
1 bay leaf
5 cardamom
7 cloves
4 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
1/2 Tbs cumin seeds
3/4 tsp extra garam masala to sprinkle while layering rice

For Garnishing:
4 Tbs Almonds blanced,peeled and roasted (I din’t get time to blanch and peel, that’s y u see the skin on) or cashew nuts
1 large onion sliced
2-3 Tbsp raisins
½ tsp turmeric powder + little water/ few strands of saffron soaked in water/little yellow or orange food colour.



Preparation:
First prepare the Fish masala:
1. Wash the fish, drain and marinate them in kashmiri Chilli powder, Coriander powder turmeric powder, lemon and salt for half an hour.

2. Heat a large non-stick saucepan to high, and add the oil. When hot, shallow fry the fish briefly on both sides, turning once or twice. Drain them in the kitchen towel.

3. In the same oil add the chopped onion, ginger, garlic and chillies along with salt and cook until the onions have become soft for about 10 - 15 minutes.

4. Add in the chopped tomatoes and pepper powder. Reduce the heat to medium and cover and cook until the tomatoes become soft and you get a thick gravy.

5. At this point of time, add the chopped mint leaves, chopped coriander leaves, garam masala, fennel powder and lime juice. Reduce the flame to low, stir well, cover and cook for another 4 -5 minutes.Add 2-4 Tbs of water and stir well.

6. You can break the fish into 2–3 pieces if they are really big (I did, since it is easy to manage). Add in the half fried fish and cook on very low flame for about 15-20 minutes so that the flavour of the fish diffuse in the gravy and the gravy is thick.

For preparing the Ghee Rice and the garnish:
1.Wash rice several times and soak the rice in normal tap water while you prepare the fish masala, for about ½ -1 hour.

2. Boil water in the kettle or a large cooking vessel.

3. Heat a large pan to high heat and add ghee and oil. Sauté the onions to be garnished until golden and take them out. In the same oil, sauté the cashews or peeled almonds until golden and keep them along with onions. In the same manner sauté raisins until it puffs up. Keep them with the fried onions and nuts.

4. For preparing the ghee rice, In the same oil, add onions and sauté until the onions turns soft. At this stage add cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, raisins and cumin seeds and sauté for a couple of minutes until the aroma of the spices starts coming out.

5. Reduce the heat to medium and add drained rice. Sauté for about 3-4 mnutes until the rice is well coated with the oil and the spices. Add the boiling water and salt to this. When the water starts bubbling, reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan with a very tight lid to prevent the steam from escaping. If you don’t have a tight lid, first cover the saucepan with few sheets of newspaper/foil and then cover tightly with a lid. It will hold all the steam in. Cook for about 20 minutes or until done. Cooking time may differ depending on the rice you use. In between you may toss the bottom part of rice and bring to top once or twice, so that the rice gets cooked evenly. Then do the layering.

For layering the biryani and final cooking:
1. Divide the rice in 3 parts and masala in two parts.

2. Take a large heavy based vessel and rub it with oil or ghee. Layer the bottom of the vessel with the first part of the rice. Sprinkle a 1/4 tsp of garam masala all over and scatter one half of fish masala over the rice. Tip in the second part of rice and sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala (1/4 tsp) all over again. Scatter the second half of fish masala over the rice and then tip in the third part of rice and sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala (1/4 tsp) all over again. Now you can sprinkle yellow or orange food colouring in streaks if you like to have few yellow grains. I used ½ tsp of turmeric powder mixed in little water. You may use saffron soaked in water as well.

3. Cover the entire vessel with foil (to ensure that full steam stays in), then close the lid tightly. Place a weight (you can also use any vessel filled with water for this) over this vessels and cook on hob top for about 20-30 minutes at very low heat. This is to infuse the flavour of the biryani masala into the rice and this process of cooking is called ‘Dum’.

4. You can also do the layering in an ovenproof vessel and place it in a preheated oven at a very low temperature for about 20-30 minutes for the final cooking. I never tried this, but my friends do it this way.Just before serving, garnish with fried onions, cashews and raisins. Enjoy with Cucumber Raita, tomato and onion salad, thenga chammanthi, pickle and pappadams!



The sequence I followed:
1. I washed the rice and soaked it.
2. Started the masala preparation by peeling the onions, ginger and garlic. Chopped them all in processor to make the work easier. And prepared the masala. Kept them aside.
3. Prepared the garnish
4. Prepared the rice.
5. Did the layering.
6. Garnished while serving.

Check out other rice recipes here:

Chemmeen Biriyani
Aromatic Rice Pulao
Chilli Garlic Fried Rice
Fried Rice
Thalassery Mutton Dum Biryani
Ghee Rice (Neychor)

Awards and Meme:
My friend Saju has shared an award with me. Thanks you for sharing this award and the meme. I really enjoyed doing the meme.



This award goes with a fun meme which has to be passed on to 6 of your favourite blogs and which has to be answered with only one word (Oops, I saw this rule after writing the meme....Damn..I don’t have time to re-write..Sorry....).

Here is the meme part:

1. Where is your cell phone: Next to me..
2. Your hair: Black
3. Your mother: Caring.
4. Your father: kind.
5. Your favorite food: biriyani
6. Your dream last night: none
7. Your favorite drink: Hot-chocolate.
8. Your dream/goal: Secret ;)
9. What room are you in: Living room
10. Your hobby: Blogging.
11. Your fear: Darkness, reptiles, dogs, heavy lighting and thunder, sometimes strangers etc...the list goes on..
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years: UAE .
13. Where were you last night: Home.
14. Something you aren’t: Hypocrite.
15. Muffins: chocolate chip Muffins.
16. Wish list item: Coco perfume By Chanel, but my husband hates the smell of it!!
17. Where did you grow up: Kerala/ UAE
18. Last thing you did: Had a glass of juice.
19. What are you wearing: A long Skirt and a T-shirt.
20. Your TV: Plasma.
21. Your pets: Would prefer if someone takes care of me...:)..No pets.
22. Your friends: Hubby, Mom, sisters, school and college friends.
23. Your life: Going with the wind.
24. Your mood: Happy.
25. Missing someone: My family in UAE.
26. Vehicle: It’s a car.
27. Something you’re not wearing: Jewellery.
28. Your favorite store: Marks and Spencer, Tesco.
29. Your favorite color: Keeps changing
30. When was the last time you laughed: Sometime today....don’t remember
31. Last time you cried: Yesterday....My son really hurt his hand (pulled his elbow) and I couldn’t bear it.
32. Your best friend: My Mom.
33. One place that I go over and over: Kitchen....
34. One person who emails me regularly: There are many actually...
35. Favorite place to eat: Home sweet home.


Also vidhas has passed a ‘Giant Bear Hug’ Award. Thank you so much Vidhas.







I would like to share these awards and meme to the following great bloggers:

Sushma Mallya
Pavithra
Faiza Ali
Vrinda
Priya
Sangeetha Subhash

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Mutton Ularthiyathu (A Kerala Mutton Dry Curry)



Goodness, winter is almost here and I have started shivering already! Yeah, cold weather is a bit too much for me to bear. I really shiver like the way Tom in Tom & Jerry shivers...lol....These days it has been very windy and chilly as well.....During school days, I remember learning about all four seasons, but being in the gulf Area, I never noticed much of seasonal change apart from the winters and the ‘terribly hot’ summers. Autumn and spring were never felt much until I came to UK, where you notice the weather change due to change in the surroundings. I didn’t know the autumn had started until I saw the leaves of the trees in front of my balcony started getting beautiful red and golden colours and falling off. And the spring at its prettiest, you can see blanket of yellow daffodils all over the place.......but red and few other colours are also seen. They are so beautiful.....You know what, I get to see rainbows a lot these days!!I saw one ground to ground rainbow when I went for a morning walk in a vast, open and empty field....I always feel so exited at the sight of a rainbow. It is amazing......



Now, how I came to try this recipe out......when it comes to cooking, I always have to think sooo much what to cook!!It’s like an international issue for me at times.... Most of the time, it happens that I start thinking the previous day what to cook for next day! Since some of the foods that I make has fermenting and soaking of rice, earlier plan should be made. But I hate it sometimes, because there will be so many ideas and recipes that I end up getting confused and finally I seek my husband’s help asking him what he wants to have the next day...And all I get is his usual answer, “I will have what evvvver you eat”...or... “What’s in your mind, give me options.....” etc...

On one such confused day, I started skimming through my old collections of recipes in a recipe book which has no pictures and came across this recipe. I remember having one mutton Ularthu in of the Keralite restaurants here and had fallen in love with it, and I think that was the first time when I had a dry preparation for mutton. When it comes to cooking mutton, I usually make a gravy dish or end up making Biriyani. Unlike all other recipes that I made, mutton Ularthu had a typical Kerala taste and I just loved it. It was well seasoned and was not overpowering at all. It may be served as a thick curry by adding a bit more water or as a dry dish as I prepared here. We loved it so very much.....My husband being a gravy person told this would go perfectly with porotta! He has an eternal attachment with porotta too....


Mutton Ularthiyathu
Recipe Adapted from :Lalitha Pachakam by Nikhila Govind.
Serves 4
Ingredients:

½ kilo mutton cut into 1 ½” – 2” chunks
1 ½ Tbsp ground coriander
½ Tbs Kashmiri Chilli powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Salt as required
½ cup water
2-3 Tbs coconut oil
2 twigs Curry leaves
220 g (1 ½ cups) chopped onion
6 cloves of garlic grated (2 Tbs firmly packed)
30g / 2” medium thick ginger (1 heaped Tbsp)
¼ cup Sliced coconut (Thengakkothu)
1 dried Red Chilli, chopped
1 medium size tomato

To roast and grind:
1-1 ½ tsp fennel seeds (Perumjeerakam)
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
2-3 small pieces of cinnamon sticks

For final sprinkling:
2 Tbs chopped coriander leaves
1 twig curry leaf
¾ tsp pepper powder
½ tsp spice powder (from the roasted and ground powder)

Preparation:
1.Wash the mutton, marinate with ground coriander, Kashmiri Chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt for half an hour.
2. Heat a pressure cooker, add this marinated mutton along with half a cup of water and cook till done.
3. In another pan, heat oil. Add onions, ginger, garlic, curry leaves, red chilli and sliced coconut and sauté until onions starts turning golden colour.
4. At this stage, add cooked meat along with the water and sauté until it gets thick. Add the chopped tomato and spices leaving ½ tsp behind for final sprinkling and sauté until the curry is quite dry and starts taking a light blackish/dark brown colour.
5. Add pepper powder, chopped coriander, curry leaves and the rest of spice powder and stir well. Close the lid and cook for a couple of minutes until the coriander leaves are wilted and the flavours all are well combined. If it becomes too dry, just sprinkle some water.

Garnish with chopped shallots, sliced coconut and coriander leaves. Can be served as a side dish for rice, chappathi, porotta etc. I prepared this as a side dish for chappathi.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Vegetables in Coconut Gravy

This is one the curries that I usually serve with Ottil pollichathu or Neeru dosa that posted recently. This is a simple and very basic recipe for a vegetable curry. Every time I make tis curry, I add and subtract few things from the recipe given here. However it is, it tastes great with the above mentioned pancakes.. I always make it with the vegetables available, sometimes just using potato! Here I have used carrot, potato and cauliflower. You may use your own choice and combinations of vegetables like green peas alone, green peas,potato and cauliflower, green peas potato and carrot etc.....and everything will come out good and will easily go with the above mentioned Ottil pollichathu or Neeru dosa. I sometimes add a tomato after the ginger and garlic are cooked and sometimes omit red chilli completely and add just turmeric powder anda couple of green chillies instead...This curry is similar to the Green peas Curry in Coconut milk that I posted before. Well, these kinds of curries are adapted from my Mother-in-law who makes them regularly for breakfast. She makes them really well and they tastes real yummy with Ottil pollichathu.


Ingredients:
2 Tbs coconut oil
20 curry leaves (1 large twig)
½ tsp mustard seeds
1 large size potatoes diced (1 cup)
1 medium carrot diced (1/2 cup, 100 g)
1 ½ cups small cauliflower florets (½ of a medium size cauliflower)
1 onion sliced (1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, grated
Small piece of ginger grated
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1 ½ cups hot water
1 cup thick coconut milk
Salt as required.

Preparation:
1. Heat a pan to medium high, add oil and splutter mustard seeds. Add the leaves and sauté for few seconds.
2. Add the chopped onions and salt and sauté until soft. Add grated ginger and garlic and sauté for a minute. Add turmeric and chilli powder and sauté for few seconds.
3. Add all the chopped vegetables, stir well for a minute or two. Add hot water, cover lid and cook till done.
4. Add the coconut milk and just boil once.
5. Serve with Ottil pollichathu and Neeru dosa .

Monday, 28 September 2009

Neeru Dosa (Paper-thin Rice and Coconut Pancakes)

Few days back, I was all set to make Ottil pollichathu for dinner. Made some mixed vegetable curry first to go with it and had soaked some rice the previous night to make Ottil pollichathu. When I was about to make the batter, I noticed that there was no cooked rice in the fridge which I guessed there was! I have to do something to use up the soaked rice, and dint feel like cooking rice for this Ottil pollichathu, After all I make these to reduce my work...Thinking of what to cook, these Neeru Dosas from the Gulf News Cookery Book sparked in my brain. I have the habit of skimming through my recipe books very often and almost all the recipes have become quite familiar to me. Grabbed the book just praying there should not be any cooked rice and there you go - no cooked rice in Neeru Dosa. I was a bit worried to try these since it had no cooked rice and thought it would turn out hard. But it was softer than the normal Ottil pollichathuthat I make and is even easier.

Unlike Ottil pollichathu, Neeru Dosa has lot of freshly grated coconut in it which gave a lovely flavour and aroma to this Dosa. The batter was very thin and you need to swirl the pan rather than spreading the dosa with a spoon. These paper-thin dosas are served as an integral part of a curry dish with gravy. It was wonderfully soft and could go with most of vegetable curries and non-veg curries. But as u can see in most of my rice based dishes/pancakes I have used onion for a distinct flavour. A very small piece of onion gives a wonderful taste and we love it. The taste of onion doesn’t stand out there, but gives a beautiful flavour and a mild aroma.... Since I was making this dish for the first time, I din’t go for any experiment. I wanted to taste it the authentic way. But next time I make it, I will try adding a small piece of onion while grinding the batter. You may try it that way too.

We eat these kinds of dosa for breakfasts along with some vegetable curry and for dinner along with some non-veg curry. You can also make these dosas for dinner with vegetable curry, but for a strict non-veg like us, a fried piece of fish/fried Prawns/egg Omelet are some of the side dishes that I make while I make vegetable curry for dinner!!


Neeru Dosa: (Serves 6)
Recip Courtesy: Gulf News Cookery Book
Ingredients:
400 g/2 cups long grain rice (Pachari)
200g/2 cups grated coconut
1200 mls water
1 tsp salt or as required

Preparation:
1.Soak the rice for about 2 hours and grind it to fine paste, to make a pouring consistency using water. When the rice is well ground without any grainy feeling, add coconut and grind it well again until smooth or almost smooth.

2. To cook the dosa: In a non-stick pan, pour a ladleful of the batter and tilt the pan to form a thin even layer. Cook for just couple of minutes until the edges form crispy and starts to leave the sides. Since the dosa is paper thin, you don’t have to flip it over. Just cooking one side will do. Take it off without breaking using a flexible spatula. Repeat with all the batter and serve with any vegetarian, non-vegetarian or seafood curry. Here are few of the combinations for neeru dosa:
Green peas Curry in Coconut milk
Chemmeen Muringavaal curry
Malabar fish curry
Chemmeen Varattiyathu
King Prawn and Okra Curry
Chicken Chettinadu

Notes: This is the doubled amount than mentioned in the original recipe.
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