Monday, 30 March 2009

Stir-Fried Potatoes (Urulakkizhangu Thoran)

I got this recipe from a small book that I bought from India long before I started my cooking. I dint have a passion for potatoes and so something like a Urulakkizhangu thoran never even struck my mind. Thoran (vegetable Stir-fries) is regular accompaniment on lunch menu and some or the other thoran is a must. Long back, while preparing the lunch, I couldn’t find anything in my refrigerator shelf for making thoran other than few potatoes. So I was forced to make thoran out of it and surprisingly it was a hit. Since then, Potato thoran is added to my thoran’s list and has become one of the regular thorans at home.

2 medium size potatoes diced (2 cups)
½ cup onion chopped
¼ cup grated coconut
2 green chillies slit lengthwise
½ tsp mustard seeds
2 twigs curry leaves
3-4 tsp coconut oil/vegetable oil
Salt per taste

1. Peel and slice the potatoes into ½ cm thickness. Then dice them.
2. Heat a small sauce pan, add oil. When hot, crackle mustard seeds.
3. Gradually add in green chillies and curry leaves and sauté for few seconds.
4. Add in Chopped onions and sauté for a minute.
5. Add the potatoes and salt and mix well with a spoon and cook it covered until the potatoes are soft.
6. Serve as side dish with plain boiled rice

Pepper Chicken in Cashew Nut Gravy

This is one of the favourite chicken curries made at home for dinner. It is simple and quite mild. If you need it to be a bit more spicy, a couple of green chillies can be added.
750 grams chicken, cut into medium size pieces
3 tbs Vegetable oil
2 cups onion chopped
1 tbs freshly grated ginger
4-5 large cloves of garlic, grated
¾ cup (1 large) tomato chopped
1½ rounded tbs crushed Black pepper
2 rounded tbs coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
¾ tsp Dry Kasury methy leaves
¾ tsp Garam masala powder
18 medium size Cashew nuts

1. Soak cashew in ½ cup of water for half an hour and grind it to smooth paste.
2. Heat a Kadhai/kadai or a sauce pan, add oil.
3. Add in chopped onions and salt and sauté until it starts turning golden brown in colour. Add in the grated ginger and garlic and sauté until the raw smell goes off. Add in the crushed pepper, coriander powder and turmeric powder and sauté for a minute or two.
4. Add in the chopped tomatoes and let it cook until the tomatoes go mushy.
5. Add in the chicken, stir well and let it cook on medium flame until it is almost cooked. Add ½ - ¾ cup water if it is dry.
6. Add in the grated cashews, methy leaves and let it boil for 2-4 minutes until the chicken is well cooked.
7. Sprinkle the garam masala, close the lid and turn off the flame.
8. Serve warm with naan, parotta, chappathi or poori.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Kiddie Pizza

This is not the real pizza made with pizza dough and tomato sauce and then baking it. No. This is a simple and quick dish that I make for my little one for breakfast. It is hard to feed the fussy eating kids and can’t believe how fussy they can get at times. I can’t start my day properly if my toddler hasn’t had proper breakfast. Almost every time, I have to try many breakfasts before he eats something. Kiddie pizza is one of his favourites that he readily eats without any fuss. You can use different vegetables including courgettes or tomatoes. But i normally use carrots and Bell pepper and my kid is happy with that.

4 tbs Carrot sliced very thinly and chopped fine. (or grated)
2½ tbs Onion sliced very thinly and chopped fine.
4 tbs Capsicum sliced very thinly and chopped fine.
5-7 tbsful Yoghurt
2 tbs grated cheddar cheese (optional)
A pinch of Salt
A pinch of Pepper powder
4 pieces white bread
A knob of butter

1. For making the topping, mix all the chopped vegetables with the yoghurt and cheese and add salt and pepper to season.
2. Toast the bread slightly just enough to make it crisp. Doesnt have to change colour. This way it makes this snack slightly crispy than soaky.
3. Heat a pan, add a knob of butter.
4. Spread the topping mixture thickly on one side of the bread and fry on both sides until golden.
5. Serve warm.

Avocado and Tomato Salsa

Here is a dish with vibrant colours and bursting flavours. I normally use avocado for making milk shakes. I was a bit reluctant to make savoury dish with avocadoes since i haven't tried any before. But it reallyworks.
½ medium Avocado
1 medium Tomato (75 grams)
3 Spring onions
¼ cup chopped Coriander
2 tsp Lime/lemon juice
Salt - per taste
Pepper powder - per taste

1. Dice the avocado and tomatoes. Slice the spring onion thinly.
2. Transfer them in a serving bowl. Add in the chopped coriander.
3. Add in lime juice and season with salt and pepper.
4. Serve it on toast or Bruschetta or as a salad.

Classic Brownies

Brownies…..This is one post that I have been looking forward to share with you all for quite long time. What was holding me back was that I dint have anyone (with sweet tooth) to give a good opinion on this magical Cake. My husband is not a great fan of sweets especially anything with chocolaty flavour! And so he doesn’t like brownies, Imagine. Should I say lucky me or Unlucky me? May be both? Lucky because I can keep nibbling on brownies by myself. And unlucky because I end up eating them all putting on loads of calories.

Last weekend we had a splendid time at Sherwood Forest of Robin hood where we celebrated our son’s 2nd Birthday in a smaller way. Apart from us, there were 5 other families (Friends). So we all booked a cottage in the middle of forest which had a small beautiful lake behind it with ducks and daffodils every where. Since the weekend was unexpectedly sunny and cool we were able to spend more time outside rather than sitting inside and watching the beauty of the forest indoors. We stayed there for three days engaged in many indoor games and outdoor games. Each family were to cook and bring a meal for 12 people. I made my signature dish, Lasagne which always turned out great and for the dessert I made Brownies. Everybody loved brownies and it was over by the end of the trip. Yeah, one thing that came to my notice was the gas oven we had in the cottage. My lasagne took so long to cook and I had to increase the temperature of the oven from 180 to 200 then to 220 because it was taking very long time. What then happened was, smoke started coming out of the oven and the fire alarm went off!! I don’t know how many times the alarm went off that day. I have never used a gas oven, but now I would keep in mind never to buy a gas oven. I found it quite troublesome. I don’t know if it’s the same everywhere. We had two of them there and both were worse.
When it comes to baking with dark chocolate, I have always used good quality dark chocolate containing 74% cocoa solids in them. I go for dark chocolate containing more than 70% cocoa solids because that gives an intense chocolate flavour. But good quality chocolate can be a bit expensive compared to cocoa powder. Brownies can also be made with cocoa powder and it will be economical too. I would try making brownies with cocoa powder next time. I just want to see the difference. If you want the brownies to be fudgy, bake until u see few moist crumbs on a skewer when inserted in the middle. If the skewer comes out clean, Brownies will be dry. It’s a personal choice. I have used a clear glass rectangular oven proof dish for baking and not a tin as you see in the picture.

200 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped
150 grams unsalted butter, cut into 1”squares
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar
1¼ cups Plain flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup Brazil nuts, Pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts chopped (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 180 °C. Cover a 23cm*39 cm (9 inches 15 inches) rectangular dish of 2.7 litre Capacity entirely with a parchment paper or baking paper. Make sure the entire dish is covered up to the top with the baking paper.
2. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl kept over another saucepan of simmering water (Bain Marie). Make sure that the bowl containing chocolate doesn’t touch the water underneath. Stir the chocolate and butter occasionally until the chocolate has completely melted and is smooth. You can also microwave the chocolate but it should be watched carefully since chocolate burns very quickly.
3. Meanwhile, whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in another bowl and set aside.
4. When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually add in sugar and whisk well using a wooden spoon or a balloon whisk. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Add in vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture in three additions along with nuts (if using) and mix slowly just until combined. Don’t over mix the batter.
5. Transfer batter to prepared dish and spread batter into corners of pan and smooth surface.
6. Bake until wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 35-40 minutes. Cool for about 2 hours, and cut brownies into 2-inch squares and serve.
7. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. If you leave it open, it can get drier. This post is an entry for the 'the love of chocolate' Hosted by Poornima of Poornimastastytreats.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Chicken Mughlai/ Chicken Moghlai

I have been thinking of putting up some recipes since many days but something or the other kept me busy. Lot of things have been happening this month…some thing to celebrate and have a thought about. It’s been a year that I have been scribbling in here and I don’t really know how many people I am boring out there. I started blogging on my husband’s birthday (March 10th) and my sons 2nd birthday is tomorrow!

Apart from that I got my first award, from my wonderful Blogger friend Smitha of SaffronApron. I would like to thank her for making me feel special. Thank you Smitha. I would also like to pass this award on to my other blogger friends:
Varsha from Will-O’-the-wisp
Dhanya of Ammaas
Tina of Kaipunyam and all others.
Initially, this blog was started just to save my recipes in a better way. But now, apart from saving my recipes, it has become a hobby and a better way to share recipes with my family and friends. My friends and family and the comments that the visitors drop are the best inspirations to keep this blog alive. Thank you all.

It is a hassle skimming through large collection of recipes on my drafts for cooking everyday meals. I know many of them will be having the same trouble, thinking what to cook for the family. I feel thinking about what to cook is more tiring than cooking. If cooking takes an hour for me for example, thinking takes a day!! And if I ask my husband for an opinion, all what he can say is that, “Enthenkilum undaakku, enthaayaalum njaan kazhikkum”. i.e “cook something edible, I will have it”…I then give him the list of all foods he doesn’t like and a couple of them that he likes. He will then be forced to chose from them….this has been happening ever since I started cooking and is the same even now…But don’t think that I knew a lot when I started cooking….All I used to cook was a curry whether it is mutton, chicken or prawns, it all had the same taste and of course the same look….and one ‘Great ghee rice’, which sometimes I make ‘Great’ variations for a change by adding green peas and potatoes which later my husband told me how much he hated the potatoes in rice…..

There was a time when I hated cooking so much just because nothing used to come out good as I expected it to be even after the following the recipe exactly. I don’t remember how many times I had to ring my mom in the budding stage of my cooking to ask for little doubts like how much of salt to add and how much of mustard seeds to splutter and so on in which she used to be so shocked! Talking about salt, it was something I took so long to get hold of. Sometimes I make something good but there is something wrong and I couldn’t realise it was salt. Salt just boosts up the flavour of the whole dish. Later on, one of my cousins once told me that just swirling the ‘NIZO’ bottled salt thrice on any preparing dish is the perfect way of adding salt to any dish, and that would be perfect!! When I was just a beginner, I bought an empty salt bottle from Abu- Dhabi and used that ‘three swirl method’ of adding salt which comes out perfect. I am still adding salt that way! Sometimes a little bit of adjustments may be necessary. I never used a teaspoon for adding salt. Now the bottle has started wearing out and I started using spoon for adding salt, Ha. But it took me sometime to know that apart from experience a bit of common sense is also a major ingredient to any good food. And recipes are mostly only guidelines.

Things have moved quite far since then……I very much love cooking now and love experimenting too. All of the recipes in this blog are tried and liked by my family and friends and something that I would definitely be making again. The recipes I would be posting here won’t be confined just to Keralite food, but from other parts of India and cuisines from different parts of the world. I am a bit moody when it comes to food. The food that I prepare depends entirely on my mood of eating. I hope you all enjoy the recipes in here. And if you liked them please feel free to comment. I appreciate it.

Apart from that, you get different dishes with the same name from different hotels or restaurants. This always happened to me when I was in college. I and my friends used to go out to the cafeterias once in a while for lunch. These are the Universal Malayalee run small scale ‘Take-aways’ + ‘Eat in’ restaurants commonly found in all nook and corner back in UAE. They mostly serve some sandwiches with chicken fillets/nuggets/sausages stuffed in with some vegetables along with French fries and a milk shake. And the milk-shakes that we get here are wonderfully rich and colourful and are appealing to the eye. Of course it is tasty as well. Their menu always had funny names of juices like Internet, Titanic, Computer, Badshah, X5 which must have gained its name through BMW X5 four wheeler, couple of other movie names that I cant remember and such list just continues. I think they might bring some Shahrukh khan (An Indian Actor) in the menu too. If there is Badshah in the menu why not Sharukh? The best part is that all the cafeterias will have juices having these names, but Internet juice of one cafeteria will be the computer juice of other cafeteria. There is just no ‘connection’ at all. Its funny.

Anyways here's the simple recipe of Mughlai chicken, prepared in my way.

900 grams Skinless Chicken (cut into big chunks)
1-1/2 inch Ginger
6 Large Garlic cloves
8 Dry Red chillies
¾ cup Thick curd
½ tsp Turmeric powder
2-3 tbs Ghee or vegetable oil
1” piece Cinnamon Stick
4 Cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1½ tsp cumin seeds
2½ cups onion chopped (2 medium size)
½ cup Almonds (blanched and peeled)
Few Coriander leaves (to garnish)
2 Eggs Boiled
Salt to taste

1. Soak the dry chillies in ¼ cup of water until soft. (You can remove the seeds if you don’t want it hot. Remove them before soaking)
2. Grind Chillies along with ginger and garlic. Add curd, salt and turmeric powder to this and mix well.
3. Marinate Chicken in this curd mixture for about 2 hours.
4. Heat a saucepan and add oil. When hot, add cumin seeds along with cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cardamom and sauté just for few seconds. Add in chopped onions and sauté until it just starts to turn brown.
5. Add chicken along with the marinade and sauté for about 10 minutes until the meat turns opaque.
6. Grind Almonds along with 1½ cups of water and add it to the chicken. When it starts to boil, cover and cook in low flame until the chicken is tender.
7. Garnish with boiled eggs sliced into halves and coriander leaves and serve hot with naan, chappathi, boiled rice etc.

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