Monday, 30 August 2010

Malabar Chicken Curry

This is the most basic and the most widely prepared chicken curry in north Malabar area. The proportion and the consistency would differ from homes and the taste may differ slightly as well. The curry goes well with almost all dishes prepared back home and is mainly served with Ghee Rice, neypathal, Kalathappam , ari pathiri, puttu (steamed rice cakes) and chappathis. It also pairs very well with poori’s, Appams, Ottil Pollichathu, Alisa, Thenga Pathal, Marichedutha Appam, muttassurkki, parotta, nool puttu (string hopper) etc etc. Most of the dishes mentioned are made of rice and some with wheat which are all staple dishes made everyday back home.

Malabar Chicken Curry is very easy to prepare and there is no grinding or any other complicated steps involved. The only time consuming part would be sautéing onions -which is very crucial to the recipe as it forms the basis of the curry and decides the flavour as well. If the onions are not sautéed well, you can end up in a sweat curry and sometimes onions strings floating all over which can be very unpleasant. This curry would be quite spicy, but as I mentioned in notes, you can substitute red chilli powder with paprika powder to bring down the heat without effecting the consistency and flavour of the curry. Using a hot chilli powder is not recommended for this recipe. If using hot chilli powder, reduce the chilli powder considerably, but that would effect the consistency. No matter what, this curry is full of flavour and it pairs with so many dishes, some of which I mentioned above.

Malabar Chicken Curry - A North Kerala (Kannur) Style Spicy Chicken Curry
Serves 6-8

1 kilo Chicken on bone, cut into medium size pieces
3 ½ medium size onion finley sliced and chopped (around 3 cups)
1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger paste
2 tablespoons fresh garlic paste
2 medium tomatoes chopped (190g, 1 cup)
6 teaspoon Kashmiri Chilli powder (Read notes)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
3-4 rounded teaspoons of coriander powder
2-3 tablespoon of coconut oil (Vegetable oil can be substituted)
3 cardamoms
3 cloves
3 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
2 green chillies seeded
2-3 twigs curry leaves
1-1 ½ cup boiling water or as required
salt - as required
Coriander leaves - for garnishing


1.Wash chicken several times and place it in colander to drain of all water. Place a wide saucepan on medium heat and add oil. When it is hot, add whole spices, i.e cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and sauté for few seconds until it leaves aroma.

2. Add chopped onions and salt. Cover and Cook on medium heat for around 15- 20 minutes stirring occasionally until it turns golden colour. Give plenty of time in here for the onion to be sautéed really well as this effect the end result much.

3. Add ginger and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the raw smell fades.

4. Add chopped tomatoes, cover and cook until it becomes pulpy .

5. Add spice powders – i.e. chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder and sauté for 2 minutes. Tip in chicken, mix well to coat all spices. Cover and cook on medium heat till done. You may add ½ cup of water if the curry gets too dry while cooking. But normally chicken will release enough water to keep the curry moist, with thick masala.

6. When it is completely cooked, add enough amount of water to make slightly thin gravy, as per your taste and the water content in the sauce and boil for couple of minutes. Add curry leaves, garam masala and couple of green chillies, cover and cook for 1-2 minutes for the flavour to infuse.

7. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.


1.If your chilli powder is spicy, substitute half or more of chilli powder with paprika. Generally paprika is not used in Malabar cooking but as my chillies are real hot, I substitute half of it with paprika to balance the heat. Here, I used 3 teaspoon of paprika with 3 teaspoon of kashmiri chilli powder. You may reduce it even further to 2 teaspoon of chilli powder to 4 teaspoon of paprika if you want it even milder.

2. At stage 6, you may not add water at all if you like a really thick gravy and even boil off the extra sauce in the pan until the chicken is smothered in onions and spices. More oil is added to this curry at the end. We call this Kozhi varattiyathu and is even more tastier than the water added version or the curry version.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Katherine Hepburn's Brownies

Hello Foodies,
Did you vote for me yet? If not, hurry to Leites Culinaria and please vote for me if you liked my picture! A photography contest was held on their site a month ago and I have mentioned before that my picture too had made it's way to the finals.  The last day for voting for your favourite picture is on 28th or 29th, so Hop over at Leites culinaria and vote for me if you haven’t voted yet. As any other competitor, I too would like to win the contest, but on the other side, I wouldn’t be sad at all if I don’t. After all it is a contest, and that is how I like to deal with it. Since there is an option for readers choice award, I thought I have to mention here too!!
I have prepared 2 different brownies before this one and I prepared them exclusively for this contest. Like any other good brownie, Katherine Hepburns’s Brownies too had all the qualities of a best brownie - Crunchy and crackly crust, slightly chewy and fudgy. For any brownies that I made before, I have NEVER used electric mixer for mixing up the ingredients and used either wooden spoon or a balloon whisk to mix and fold ingredients. Using an electric mixer normally tends to trap in more air in the batter losing the brownie texture, which is quite fudgy and resulting in a cake like brownie. Always check the brownies for doneness - a few crumbs sticking to the skewer when it is inserted in the centre. If you see moist batter clinging to it, pop it back to the oven and bake for around 7-10 minutes and check again until you see little crumbs in the skewer. And never over bake the brownie too! Once it comes out of the oven leave it undisturbed for 10 minutes. Cool it completely in the wire rack before devouring into the Chocolate Nirvana! For me it almost tasted like my Supermoist Chocolate cake that I posted a while ago.

Katherine Hepburns’s Brownies
Recipe Courtesy: Leites Culinaria

1 stick (113g) unsalted butter, plus more for the baking pan
2 squares (2 ounces/56g) unsweetened chocolate
1 cup (220g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the baking pan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped walnuts (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Butter and flour an 8-inch square baking pan.

2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large saucepan over low heat. Remove from the heat.

3. Stir in the sugar until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and beat the mixture well.

4. Stir in the flour, salt, and walnuts, if using.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and bake for about 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Cut into squares.


1. If using salted butter, omit salt.
2. Follow either metric measurements or the cup measurements. Dont mix both.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Mehshi Malfouf (Stuffed Cabbage rolls)

Before I go in to the recipe and details, Let me Wish you all a 'Happy Onam'. This post is not related to Onam, but something that I started composing a while ago.


As I spent a major chunk of my life in the Arab world, I was acquainted to most of their food and I absolutely adore them. Who wouldn’t? I guess my love affair with Arabic food dish dates back to my university days or way before that when it comes to sweets like Baklawa and their all time favourite rice Machbus. There were couple of Lebanese Bakeries next to our campus where they sold Lebanese pizza and sandwiches, different kind of snacks, sweets and what not. Almost all afternoons I and my friends would stop at one of the bakeries and grab something and take it to the university canteen to devour during our busy university schedule and some discussions to go along with it or gossiping to add a bit of spice! The bakery sold all the famous Arabic Lebanese food and they have become part of my regular diet. During Ramadan, they used to display a different array of assorted snacks and sweets like Shaabiat, Luqaimat, Nammoura, Basbousa, Qatayef, Othmaliye to name a few. I used to grab few of them and take home to share it with my family too.

Apart from all that , During Ramadan, each faculty used to organize an Iftar evening where you would come across all the home made treats that you wouldn’t normally see in bakeries or sometimes even in restaurants. Oh boy! Those were days. I have come across many dishes that I have never seen before or even after those Iftar events in the College. In one of the Grand Iftar organized by our faculty, I remember there were around 6 - 8 rice Varieties served in Massive plates - as massive as it could be; with huge chunks of seasoned lamb served on top of each rice dish. Since lamb dishes were prepared in bite sized pieces at home, it was amusing for me to see them in large chunks, even though it din’t appeal me much. That was when I came across this ‘Stuffed Cabbage rolls’ also known as ‘Dolmah’ and Warak Al Einab or stuffed Grape leaves. They were very lemony for my taste, one bite into it and I could see myself just blinking. It is that sour. But apparently it is one of the most favourite and popular dishes of the Arab Community. Apart from the lemony taste the flavours were absolutely divine.

When I searched on the recipe for stuffed Cabbage leaves, I found out that not only the Arabs but all across the globe make stuffed cabbages but with their own native variations. You would find many variations with different kinds of fillings and a variety of cabbages like green cabbage or the savoy ones, but this is the kind that I am familiar with - the regular white cabbage that we normally get to see in India or UAE. I have always trusted Nestle family for their recipes and have followed their recipe pretty much as it is with minimal changes. And this is the Arabic version of Stuffed cabbage, literally known as 'Mehshi Malfouf'.

I prepared this dish at night and so I couldn’t shoot pictures of step by step preparations. The prepared dish was shot in the following noon by then which the rolls got a bit pale which otherwise was a bit more of a translucent off white. It is best served and eaten as soon as it is prepared. I have used home made Baharat or Arabic spice mix, but you can use readymade ones or even garam masala and adjust the seasoning to your liking. The only time consuming part in the process was separating the cabbage leaves. I had to cook the cabbage in boiling water for around 10 minutes then remove few leaves at a time, then return the cabbage back to boiling water to cook for further few more minutes to remove few more leaves until all leaves were takes except for the laste few which were too small to roll. It took me some extra time than I expected. But if you use different kind of cabbage, with loose leaves, it should be easier. And the filling is just mixing the ingredients without prior cooking which makes the job really easy.

25 - 30 leaves of white cabbage (Around 600 g)
¾ cup rice or 150 g, soaked for 2 hours and drained (I used Basmati, traditionally Egyptian rice is used)
300 g minced lamb
3 medium cloves of garlic, crushed
½ Tablespoon Arabic Spice Mix
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon paprika or Red chilli powder
2 Tablespoons chopped mint (20 leaves)
2 ½ Tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
1 Tablespoon Ghee (Clarified Butter)
5 large cloves of garlic, extra
1 ½ cubes MAGGI® Flavored Mutton Bouillon
2 cups water or 500 ml
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large onion sliced
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil


Please Check the Links below for an idea of how the Cabbage is prepared and is rolled:

1. Core the centre stalk of the cabbage, and blanch it in boiling water for 15 -20 minutes or until soft and pliable. It should look kind of semi transparent when done.Separate the leaves without much breaking. Leaves should be pliable, so that you can roll them easily without breaking up. If it hasn’t reached this stage, put the cabbage back to the sauce pan, cover and boilfor few more minutes until it reaches that stage. Then start separating the leaves until all leaves are removed. Once done, take each leaf and thinly slice the thicker part of the rib of each leaf to make it thinner. Else it will be difficult to roll. If you can separate the leaves without blanching, separate them and blanch.

2. Combine uncooked rice, meat, garlic, spices, mint, coriander and butter in a bowl. Mix well until well combined.

3. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling almost in the middle of the leaf opposite side of the thick rib part, fold the sides over to cover the filling and roll the leaf up. Fold it tightly so that everything is intact. Repeat until all of the filling is used up.

4. Meanwhile, heat oil in a saucepan/casserole dish and sauté the onions till it turns completely soft. Arrange cabbage rolls tightly over these sautéed onions and sprinkle some garlic slices over. Arrange another layer over the first layer and sprinkle rest of garlic as well. The rolls should be placed next to each other without spaces in between for them to open loose in the cooking process.

5. Dissolve MAGGI Mutton/ Chicken Bouillon cubes with water, add lemon juice and pour over the rolls. Add enough water just above the rolls. Invert a heavy dinner plate over the rolls, so that the rolls stay intact and doesn’t float while cooking.

6. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 20-25 minutes and reduce the heat and cook for further 35 – 40 minutes, a total of about 45 minutes - 1 hour, or until rice is cooked. You may pick out a roll after 40-45 minutes for checking the doneness. Once rice is completely cooked, serve immediately. There will be a little sauce left in the pan. You may pour that sauce over the rolls if you wish.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Biscuit Pudding

I love biscuit puddings of any kind. They are creamy, rich and one easy dessert that can be put together in no time. Here is one such pudding that I made couple of days back for an Iftar evening we had at our friend’s place. Everyone absolutely loved it and few even asked me for recipe. This is one of many recipes that I had bookmarked from nestle-family since last Ramadan. I have made some of their recipes in the past and all tasted just brilliant.

Here I have followed the recipe exactly except for some minor changes. The recipe uses crushed biscuits which I was a bit sceptical about. I am not a fan of crunchy biscuits in between the creamy pudding. If you like that crunchy bits, you may follow the recipe as it is. But if you are like me, and like soft pudding and a cake textured biscuit layer with a hint of coffee, you can dip the whole biscuits in strong black coffee concoction and use a double layer of biscuits instead of the crushed ones. If you don’t like the coffee flavour, you can dip them in milk too. The given amount makes a huge of batch of pudding which fills a 2 litre pudding dish/tray, and can be made a day or two ahead if you are making it for a party. It would be a real mob pleaser.


1 tin NESTLÉ® Sweetened Condensed Milk or 397 g
½ cup butter or 100 g, melted (I used 3 Tablespoons)
1 tin NESTLÉ® Cream or 170 g (I used ½ cup thick double cream)
4cups water or 1000 ml
½ cup – ¾ cup caster sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoon Lemon zest grated (I used 1 Tablespoon orange zest, grated)
¾ cup plain flour
150g tea biscuits , crushed with hand
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 - 4 tablespoons ground pistachio nuts
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut


1.Combine Condensed Milk , butter, Cream, water, sugar, eggs, vanilla and lemon/orange zest in a mixing bowl and mix until well combined; add flour to the mixture by batches and mix until the mixture smoothens and no lumps.

2. Pour the mixture in a large saucepan, whisk constantly over medium heat until it boils. Simmer for 5-8 minutes or until mixture thickens then remove from heat.

3. In a large baking dish; Pour around 4-5 ladles of the cream mixture. Sprinkle a thick layer of crushed biscuit and then sieve cocoa powder. Repeat another layer. Top with some cocoa powder, powdered pistachio and then dessicated coconut. The layers starts and end with cream mixture on top.

4. Place in a preheated oven at 180°C for 5-10 minutes until the coconut starts taking a golden colour. Remove from oven and let it cool to room temperature then place in fridge. Serve chilled.


1. Make sure to keep stirring the pudding mixture constantly else the egg would scramble scramble and form lumps.

2. Instead of crushing biscuits, dip them in strong black coffee and layer them. This will give the sessert a divine coffee flavour.
This recipe also goes for the event Joy From Fasting to feasting hosted by Lubna of KitchenFlavours.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Mutta Roast/ Egg Roast (A simple Kerala Style Egg Curry)

Ramadan Mubarak to all out there. Blessed Ramadan is here and I was mentally getting prepared to fast the long days of not-so-warm England. Unlike in India or UAE where I grew up and spend my childhood, fasting days are very much longer here. Fasting starts at  (Suhoor) 3:53 am to be precise during the beginning of Ramadan and Iftar is at 8:53 pm. And mental preparation is what is needed mostly to keep me going. The thought of early Iftar we used to have back in UAE and India would make me feel  hungry I guess!! At least the weather is really good, so I shouldn’t be complaining and I take it as a positive perspective. So when it comes to the eating period, there isn’t much of a time. No sufficient time to have both snacks and the main dinner that we normally devour during Ramadan. During this Ramadan, we are thinking of breaking fast with lots of fresh fruit and then carry on to main dinner later on, so mostly no snacks this time, until I crave for something so traditional. And all craving peaks when you fast and you are really hungry.If you would like to read more on Ramadan and other great articles, please visit Islamgreatreligion.

Anyways, this is one post that I intended to post many a days back, but kept me aloof purely out of laziness. This is not a post related to Ramadan by any means, but something that I prepare regularly as a break from non-veg curries. I came across this recipe from Maria’s blog long back and have been making it ever since with slight modification with regards to spices and consistency to suit my family. I used to prepare chicken, mutton and beef exactly in same manner, but never I thought I could prepare that way with eggs too. Simple yet spicy, this scurry goes well with anything – Appam, paratta, chappaatti, poori, battura, pathiri etc etc.

Mutta Roast / Egg Roast (A Simple Kerala Egg Gravy)
Serves 3-4


4-5 hardboiled eggs
3 medium size onions thinly sliced (2 1/2 cups)
1 large tomato, chopped (120g, ½ heaped cup)
1 TBSP minced ginger
1 TBSP minced garlic
2 green Chillies
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp Red chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp turmeric powder
3 Tbsp cooking oil
¼ - ¾ cup water (Add water depending on how thick or thin you like your gravy)
2 twigs curry leaves
4 tbsp coconut milk powder
½ cup hot water
Salt – as required
½ tsp Garam masala


1.Heat a sauce pan and add oil. When hot, Add sliced onions, slit chillies, one twig of curry leaves and salt and sauté on medium flame for about 15-20 minutes or until onion turns golden in colour.

2. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, on low-medium heat.

3. Add in chopped tomatoes, cover and cook for few minutes until tomatoes turn soft and mushy.

4. Add coriander powder, paprika powder, chilli powder and turmeric powder and stir well to combine.

5. Add ½ - ¾ cup water; cover and cook for 8-10 minutes

6 Make coconut milk by mixing coconut milk powder with hot water and add it to the curry along with boiled eggs. Add another twig of curry leaf and garam masala. Cover and swirl the pan carefully.

Bring to boil, reduce the heat and cook for further 2 minutes.


1.In the recipe you can see that I have used paprika. You can add just regular chilli powder or kashmiri chilli powder and add or decrease as per your liking. Here, I wanted colour and less heat. So I added more paprika and less chilli powder.

2. If you don't like the coconuty taste, just add water and still it would be perfect. You can avoid adding water at all at this stage, if you want your gravy to be really thick.

3. I normally add the eggs as whole by making deep slits on them to allow masala to permeate through. When you add halved eggs, the yolks seperate and get mushed up i n the gravy. It is upto your taste, how you like it to be.


This Curry goes to 'Show Me Your Curry' event HOsted by Divya of 'Dil Se'.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

A Request and a Golden Old Recipe...

Before going into the recipe, I would like to share something different and also request a small favour from all of my readers out there. If you remember, I had mentioned in my previous post about me participating in a food photography contest organized by Leites Culinaria. I am happy to share you all that my picture of Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies is one of the ten finalists entrees. The final judgement is at the end of this month and there is a voting going on in their site at the moment which continues until 28th august. Please don’t forget to vote for me, if you liked my entry. Here is my entry picture which was entered in the contest:

Musaara Varakiyathu (An ancient Malabar Muslim Payasam based on wheat, coconut and Bengal Gram)

Now, coming to today's recipe, have you heard of this much popular, but an old Malabar Muslim payasam aka pudding – Musara Varakiyathu? It would be new to many out there since it is not quite a famous one. To tell you, if I were to choose one payasam among all the payasams I have ever had, this one would top almost all. Creamy and smooth with little bites from the Bengal Gram; this payasam is just my kind of payasam, a pure bliss. It is a concoction made of ground wheat, coconut and cooked channa dal and sweetened with sugar unlike many other payasam usually sweetened with Jaggery or Molasses. This payasam is prepared on just few occasions like Eid and on 15 th of Sha’aban (Arabic Month), the month before Holy Ramadan – the month of fasting.

There are few other versions of this pudding called Kaayikkari and Chakkara Choru, with almost same ingredients, but with slight difference. In kaayikkari along with the above mentioned ingredients, we also add rice dumplings and Chopped plantains – Quite rich and time consuming as well, I certainly wouldn’t dare making it all alone. Here, wheat is sometimes replaced with rice, both of which are meant for thickening the payasam. Most famous and favourite one would be Chakkara Chor, which is made of whole wheat instead of ground ones and coconut. Specially prepared white coloured jaggery, which is similar to the condensed milk is used to sweeten this particular pudding, which is no more available now. So, regular sugar is used as a substitute. I have made it quite a few times before but I just dint get the right taste that I was looking for. Finally, I had to prepare again couple of weeks back during 15th Sha’aban and it just turned out like my mom's.

Musaara Varakiyathu has the consistency of medium thick pourable custard. It starts thickening as it sits and can even slice into shapes, not really neat ones though; after it is chilled. But it can be served hot, warm or chilled. If you plan to chill it, pour into desired dish while hot, cover with cling film, and let it come to room temperature before chilling. The picture was taken after several hours of making, so it has thickened further than what it was just after cooking.


1 cup skinned whole wheat
¾ cup Bengal gram (Kadala Paripp)
3 cups (300g) freshly grated coconut
1 ½ - 1 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
½ tspful salt
6 – 12 cardamoms crushed (Add it according to your taste and love for cardamom)
2 Cups whole milk
4 cups water


1. Wash wheat and soak them overnight.

2. Cook Bengal gram until done, soft, but not mushy.

3. Grind wheat and coconut along with milk until smooth adding water if necessary.

4. Pass the ground mixture through a sieve squeezing down as much as liquid as possible.

5. There will be lot of residue left. Squeeze them to extract all possible liquid out of it.

6. Put the residue back to the grinder/juicer and more water and grind them for couple of minutes. Pass this again through the sieve and press to extract all the liquid. Discard the residue left behind.

7. Pour this liquid into a large saucepan, add remaining water if left and cooked dal and cook on a low heat, by stirring continuously until the mixture starts to thicken and boil. It should take around 20 minutes.

8. Once it comes to gentle boil, add sugar and salt, stir well and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add crushed cardamom, stir well and cook for another 2 minutes, all done at low heat. Serve hot, warm or chilled.


1.One important thing to be noted is, you have to keep stirring the mixture continuously in the beginning until it starts to boil. Else the mixture will sediment and will start to form nasty lumps. So don’t forget to stir continuously. It should take a good 20 minutes for the mixture to cook and you can notice the liquid thickening as it goes.

2. Don’t boil for too long as the payasam will get thickened. If it did, add some milk and loosen it. Don’t forget to adjust sugar if you add more milk.

3. Payasam is usually sweeter when it is warm and less sweet if served cold.

Update: 12/08/2010

For those of you who find it difficult using fresh cocont can replace coconut by coconut milk powder
For that Method is slmost similar, but a few changes.

1. Mix coconut milk powder (250 grams) in 2 cups of hot water until well dissoved. Keep it aside

2. Grind wheat in whole milk and process as mentioned in step 4, 5 and 6.

3. Add the wheat and milk mixture to a large bowl, pour in coconut milk solution, cooked dal and then continue cooking as mantioned in step 7 and 8. I have never prepared it this way, and this is my mom's approximate measurements. Please add or reduce water, milk and sugar as necessary.

This post of mine goes to the event: Iftar Moments Hijri 1431 hosted by Ayeesha of Pearl City.

This recipe also goes for the event Joy From Fasting to feasting hosted by Lubna of KitchenFlavours.

This recipe is going to be an entree in Monthly Mingle - Party treats events hosted by sara of sara's corner, which was  originally started by Meeta.

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