Thursday, 2 May 2013

Chena Erissery (Yam and Cowpeas in rich Coconut Sauce)

My sister and family were here for couple of weeks last month and it was the more memorable, more entertaining time we had in the UK. I realized, having a family around is quite a different feeling. I was a bit apprehensive before her arrival as she told me she is was going to test my cooking skills as I never cook when I am back home apart from trying out some fancy stuff which almost always were screwed up. If you are used to cooking at a place, it makes it difficult when you cook in a different country, with different ingredients and even different pots and pans. It takes a while to get the hang of new place and the cooking.

Since she mentioned she was going to test my cooking skills,  I didn’t cook anything that she cooks and dished out something completely new, as I know she is very good at whatever little she prepares. Smart, huh? But I tell you, whenever someone visits, I get panicked and pay that extra care, that bit extra finishing touch, but sometimes giving that little extra something ends up ruining the whole dish. I need to be calm, which I can’t especially when they tell me they are going to test my cooking skills! It works me up only when I cook up the the savoury stuff; I think  it happens because the savoury bit is not my cuppa!

Those two weeks passed away quicker than ever, good times don’t last forever do they? How I wish. I was drawn back, the house felt empty all of a sudden and it took me more than a week to come out of that distress and get back to my routine after they left.

I know my blogging has become sluggish. I don’t have any other excuse to make apart from the fact that I am lazy. Lazy to type, lazy to shoot and lazy to clean up the mess afterwards. The several weeks of no fancy cooking and photographing left me calm with clean house, less stress, less washing up and more time for myself which doesn’t happen when I blog. So I thought to sit back, relax and do occasional blogging with the recipes that have been sitting in my drafts for ages.  

Anyways, these days I am more into savoury cooking, have been trying many traditional Kerala dishes and alike. There are many Kerala authentic dishes that I need to learn yet, as those were not what I have grown up eating with. Last year I happened to eat a proper Kerala Sadya here and was smitten by the taste of simple vegetarian food. I was determined to learn more Traditional Kerala cuisine with the help of books, blogs, friends etc. One of the curries that I loved that day was the Erisseri. I could literally slather my rice with erisseri and pappad and indulge. I have prepared Pumpkin Erisseri several times doing bits of changes everytime and we love it, but never got a chance to shoot a picture. But here is the same recipe, but with ‘chena’ or yam which is great too.  Just substitute with pumpkin for pumkin Erisseri.

Chena Erisseri
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Coking time: 20-30 minutes
Serves 4

½ cup, 125 g cow peas (‘vanpayar’)
2 ½ cups, 400g, cleaned yam diced into 2” pieces
2 ½ cups hot water

For grinding:
¾ cup fo freshly grated coconut, or frozen **
2 cloves of garlic
2 green chilly
¼ tsp peppercorns
¼ tsp cumin seeds
¼ - ½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ cup of water

For tempering:
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
¾ tsp mustard seeds
2 dried red chillies
2 twigs curry leaves
3 shallots
¼ cup grated coconut

1. Soak the cowpeas in hot water for about 2 hours or overnight and pressure cook them with sufficient water until cooked through, but not mashed.

2. Throw in diced yam and cook till done. (Do not pressure cook after adding yam, as yam cooks in no time).

3. While the yam is cooking, grind the coconut along with other ingredients coarsely. Add it to the cooked yam and cow peas.

4. Cook it on simmer until it is heated through thoroughly, but not boil.

5. For the tadka: Heat oil in a small karahi or pan. Splutter mustard seeds, add curry leaves, red chillies and chopped shallots. Once the shallots go soft, add coconut and fry till browned, on low heat, stirring in between to ensure it is not burnt. Add it to the curry above and stir through.

1.If using frozen coconut, thaw it down or grind in hot water.
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