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 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:

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

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.


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

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.

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

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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 you go one of the simplest vegetable curries from my kitchen......

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

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.
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