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Kerala

Meen Varatharachathu… another fish delicacy from Kerala..!

Meen Varatharachathu.... a fragrant  fish curry from the land of Kerala..

From the very first time I tasted Basa, I just fell in love with it. The meat was so juicy & it just melted in my mouth. I had, had a basa sizzler when I was out with a friend. The meat does not smell at all, unlike most other fish. If you like haddock, then you will surely love it. The meat is firmer than haddock though & doesn’t break into pieces when cooking. I always found haddock melting away when I tried Indian curry’s with it. Have any of you faced such issues with Haddock??

K is very particular when it comes to fish, he won’t eat just about any fish. I’m particular too, but my preference is different. I don’t eat fresh water fish, I only eat Sea fish. K’s fish-eating depends largely on how the fish smells too ;). He won’t come anywhere around a sardine dish, forget eating it. He picks out the skin if he find it on the fish. I don’t blame him though, since he only ate fish once in a while at restaurants. He always prefers fish like Salmon, Haddock, Seer fish etc. whose bone placement is predictable. So, when I discovered this lovely fish I knew for sure he would fall in love with it, just like I did.

Meen Varatharachathu....

For those of you who have never given this fish a try I highly recommend it, the meat is white & nice & firm (when bought fresh of course ;)). It is easily available as fillets at the fish mongers. No bones, no hassles cleaning & making sure the scales are not present. The meat can be cut into smaller chunks, its perfect for an Indian fish curry as it does not disintegrate.

From the time I unpacked my Kitchen Aid mixer, K & I have moved on to eating a lot of Roti, fulka’s, paratha’s etc. as kneading the dough is not a big issue anymore. Our rice consumption has gone down considerably. I sometimes wonder how life changes you, it comes as a shock to K too, I settle easily to eat roti’s now. (If you have read my older posts you would know that I’m a rice eater. A meal was never complete without rice for me). It had been long since I ate some rice with a good curry to go with. I was looking for a hot flavourful curry & suddenly remembered that my aunt had passed me an old cookery book filled with various traditional recipe’s from Kerala. Since I love fish & so do Keralites (People who belong to the state of Kerala) I was thrilled when she passed on this book to me. You are sure to catch some more of their lovely recipe’s on the blog.

Meen Varatharachathu....

Tip: In Kerala Seer fish is usually used for this curry, you can use any fish which remains firm for this curry.

Ingredients: (Serves 2-3)       Preparation Time: 25 mins
Basa/Seer fish – 250 gms, cleaned & cut into 2-3 inch chunks
Garlic – 8-10 cloves, peeled
Ginger – 2 cm piece,
Turmeric powder – 1/8 tsp
Red Chilli powder – 1.5 – 2 tsp depending on your tolerance
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Green chilli’s – 4, slit or roughly chopped
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
Tamarind – marble sized ball
Coriander powder – 2 tbsp
Tomato – 1 large, chopped into chunks
Coriander leaves – 4-5 sprigs, chopped
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

For the fresh ground paste:
Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
Coconut – 1/2 of a medium-sized, grated
Shallots – 3-4, chopped
Curry leaves – 10-12

Method:
Soak the tamarind in about 100 ml water. Use a tsp of oil & roast the fennel, coconut, shallots & curry leaves till all these are golden brown. Make sure you maintain the heat at medium-low once the ingredients are in the oil and constantly keep tossing them around, we do not want to burn them. Once done keep it aside to cool.

Fry the ingredients mentioned for the freshly ground paste till golden brown..

Make a fresh paste out of the ginger & garlic. Keep aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in a medium-sized kadai or pot. Maintain heat at medium. Add fenugreek, when it changes colour add the chopped onion, green chilli’s & sauté till the onions turn translucent. Add a pinch of salt to help fry the onions.

Note: Fenugreek burns quickly, keep a constant check.

Next add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a couple of minutes. Add turmeric, red chilli, coriander powder & fry for a couple of minutes. Squeeze the juice out of the soaking tamarind & throw away the pulp. Add the tamarind juice along with another 200 ml water. Simmer & let the water begin to bubble. Add some salt to taste.

Meanwhile, grind the golden roasted coconut & rest of the ingredients to a smooth paste in a blender. Add water as required to help grind them to a smooth paste.

Now add the fish pieces & tomatoes to the bubbling water. Cook till the fish is done.

Add the fish & cook till done..

Now add the ground coconut paste, along with a cup of water.

Add the freshly ground coconut paste...

Mix well. Check seasoning. Simmer & let the curry come to a boil. Turn off the heat.

Garnishing:
Garnish with additional curry leaves & chopped coriander leaves.

Meen Varatharachathu....

Serving Suggestions:
Serve with a bowl of boiled rice or steamed rice.

Meen Varatharachathu.... a fragrant  fish curry from the land of Kerala..

 


Chicken Thoran.. from the yummy state of Kerala.. ;)

Chicken Thoran...

Chicken has been playing on my mind since a few days. K’s cousin also has been craving for some home cooked chicken. Unfortunately when K went to pick some chicken at the butchers, he gave him a very old chicken whose meat was very thready. I was so disappointed that I did not cook that meat. Both K & I do not like eating thready chicken, it turns too chewy when cooked. So had to drop chicken cooking plans for yesterday. Later in the night went over to a supermarket & picked up chicken from their meat section. 

Kerala is a yummy state & beautifully charming. I always have loads to say when it comes to Kerala. Food habits change from the north to the south & a particular recipe is prepared in slightly different ways when compared between the North & South parts of this state.

When I had visited my aunt in Calicut last year, she had prepared this for lunch on one of the days. I love the Mangalorean chicken sukka, this dish is tad similar to that & has a surprise in every bite because of the different spices added to the seasoning & the ground masala.

Chicken Thoran..

You will lick your fingers clean if you are a coconut lover. Remember to eat the curry leaves with your chicken. They are yummy & they are good for you. 

I have had this dish before in small Mallu restaurants (People from Kerala are referred to as Mallu, I mean no offence any of you Mallayali’s) & Mallu messes (Mess is a small eatery which opens up only for lunch & dinner, usually serves a complete meal which consists of a dry vegetable, on chapati, rice, dal, sambhar & rasam along with some pickle & papad. You can order additional non-veg dishes & omelette’s as sides) in & around my workplace.

Note: Traditionally, most cooking in Kerala is done using coconut oil. But if you think the amount of coconut can stop with the grated coconut , go ahead & use any cooking oil of your choice for preparing this dish. Also, traditionally boneless pieces of chicken are used in this recipe. But since we prefer chicken with bones, I prepared it with bones.

Chicken Thoran..

I bought an organic brand of turmeric powder, hence my dish ended up looking a little extra yellowish than brownish.

Ingredients: (Serves 3-4)       Preparation Time: 30 mins (Time for marination not included)
Chicken – 750 gms, skinless & cut into small pieces, I used pieces with bones, you can use diced chicken breast as well.
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp, use the small fennel seeds rather than the bigger ones if you do not want to bite into them, these closely resemble Cumin seeds
Curry Leaves – 3 sprigs + additional for garnishing if required
Red chilli’s – 4, whole, do not break them
Whole pepper corns – 1/2 tsp – freshly ground
Garam Masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp, else use any cooking oil of your choice
Salt to taste

For the Chicken marination:
Green chilli’s – 5,
Ginger – 1 inch piece, roughly chopped
Garlic – 8-10 cloves

Shallots/Sambhar onions..

For the freshly ground masala:
Shallots/ Sambhar onions – 5-6, peeled
Freshly grated Coconut – 1/2 cup
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp or more based on your tolerance
Turmeric – a pinch
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Method:
Wash & drain the chicken pieces. Marinate it with the paste made of the ingredients mentioned for the chicken marination along with some salt. Use some water to help you grind the ingredients to a coarse paste. Let the chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes. More is good.

Marinate the chicken...

Put together all the ingredients required for the freshly ground masala into a blender & blend them to a coarse paste. Use very little water to help you grind. You need to feel the grainy texture of the coconut in each bite..

Coarse grind the ingredients...

In a deep bottom pan, heat the coconut oil. Set heat to medium. Add mustard seeds & let them splutter. Add curry leaves. Next throw in the fennel seeds. Let them sizzle. Now add the whole red chilli’s & fry them for a minute. Add the marinated chicken along with any juices left in the marination bowl. Mix well. Toss the mixture around for a minute or two. Add the freshly ground black pepper.

Add the marinated chicken...

Now add the freshly ground masala & mix well. Season with salt. Also we want the raw flavours of the ingredients added to make the fresh coconut masala fade away. Simmer & let the chicken cook.

Note – If you want to make this as a curry, add some water when you add the coconut paste to the chicken.

The chicken will ooze out some water content present in it. When the water evaporates, add the garam masala powder. Mix well. Adjust seasoning. Check if the chicken is done. When the oil begins to separate out & the dish dries up, turns slightly brownish, its done. I wanted some moisture in the dish hence did not fry the chicken till it turned brownish.

Garnishing:
Garnish with some additional curry leaves.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve as a starter or as a side along with some boiled rice & curry or along with chapatis’.

Chicken Thoran...

If you like this recipe, then you may also like – Chicken Stew – Kerala StyleMeen Molee/Boneless fish pieces in a fragrant Kerala style coconut curryPrawn Pepper Fry – Kerala styleMutton Chilli Masala……..Alle Piyava Ghashi/Konkani style Fish curry.., etc.

 


Egg Puffs – A Savoury, South Indian Bakery treat

Egg Puffs...

Is there anyone who has not had puffs for a snack? I guess there won’t be anyone I know of, unless of course you don’t like it..

Bakery products are quite famous in the Southern States of India… Apart from Bread, you get cream rolls, jam rolls, apple cakes, their basic cupcakes, different kinds of biscuits, cutlets, rusks & of course puffs.. There are many different kinds of puffs available. Starting from the basic veg puff there are options like chicken puffs, mutton puffs, egg puffs are the most famous as there are more eggitarians around than meat eaters. But the newer additions to these traditional ones are mushroom, paneer puffs… 🙂

Egg Puffs - A South Indian, Savoury Bakery treat...

K’s Maternal uncle owns a Bakery & K loves most of the bakery products available.. His favourite being Rusk which we all love to dip in a cup of tea… other than that whenever we visit his uncles bakery we always have to have an egg puff if it’s not sold out already.. 🙂

But my love for puffs began as a kid. We always have a snack in the evening back in my parents house. It is usually the breakfast dish that we end up eating as a snack, but on those days mum was under the weather or if she was busy we would pick up Puffs on the way back from school. There is this tiny bakery near our house called P.R Bakery.. the owners are Malayali’s (People who belong to the state of Kerala, India).. To this you would say.. aren’t most bakery’s owned by Malayali’s??? while we ponder on that thought.. let me continue.. & then its been in my life everywhere.. even when I moved to Manipal for studies, then to Bangalore for work it was always available in the vicinity… a bakery was present at almost every corner in bangalore.. 🙂 … K & I both miss eating this..

I have prepared this a couple of times.. but never had any patience to click pictures & post pictures along with the recipe.. 😛 But I don’t think I will even have a thought of preparing this back in India since its so readily available, who would go through all the trouble.. 😛 Here I have the luxury of buying ready rolled puff pastry.. which is a blessing.. the entire process of rolling puff pastry is very tedious, requires a lot of patience & I ran out patience this one time.. 😛

I wanted to pack them for K as a snack, but unfortunately it took longer than I expected to turn golden brown & he had to leave without them.. 😦 So kept his share aside..

This is easy peasy if you can get your hands on some ready rolled puff pastry.

The shape of the puff may vary from bakery to bakery, I have eaten square/triangular/rectangular & circular puffs.

Ingredients: (Serves 2)     Preparation Time: 45 – 50 mins
Ready rolled Puff Pastry1/2 a sheet or more depending on the size of the puffs you want to prepare
Eggs – 2,
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped the way you wish
Ginger – 1/2 an inch piece, finely chopped
Green Chilli’s – 2, finely chopped
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Freshly crushed black pepper powder – as per taste
Garam Masala Powder – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder (optional) – a pinch
Fresh Green Peas (optional) – 1/4 cup
Curry leaves – 6-7 leaves roughly torn
Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method:
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees if it’s a fan assisted oven else to 220 degrees.

In a pot filled with water, boil the eggs & keep aside. De-shell the eggs & slit them into 2.

While the oven heats up, heat oil in a fry pan set to medium heat. When the oil heats up, add the cumin seeds & let them sizzle. Once they begin to change colour add the green chilli’s & sauté them for a minute so that the spice gets infused into the oil.

Next add the ginger & the chopped onions. Add a pinch of salt (add turmeric if you wish to), sauté them till they turn translucent. Now add the garam masala powder & mix well. When the raw flavours begin to fade away, add a tbsp of water & then add the curry leaves along with the slit eggs. Add the green peas if you wish to. Add salt to taste & crushed black pepper. Mix well. Turn off the heat before the peas turn hard.

Filling is ready....

Do not take out the pastry sheet from the fridge till this stage, i.e once you have the filling ready, get it out. Now cut the pastry sheets into the desired size as shown.

Cut four pieces from the ready rolled puff pastry sheet as shown..

Divide the filling into 4 equal portions, each having one half of an egg. Now add each portion to the centre of each cut puff pastry sheet as shown.

Add the divided portions of the filling to each cut puff pastry piece...

Close the sheet over the egg as shown. Seal the edges lightly.

Transfer them on a baking tray lined with some baking sheet which is greased.

Bake in the pre-heated oven till the outer covering of the puff turns golden brown. Ideally around 30 minutes.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve hot along with ketchup or dip of your choice.

Egg Puffs...
Hope you like this recipe, if you did, then you may also like – Bun Masala / Scrambled Egg BurgerBread rolls with an Indian flavour/Masala bread rolls.. they go perfect with Masala chai..Chicken Frankie RollRed pesto Egg Bomb Burgers… etc.


The Versatile Aloo/Potato Bhaji – South Indian style

The Versatile Aloo/Potato Bhaji - South Indian style

Who doesn’t love a good Masala Dosa.. what makes a Masala Dosa really special? Of course the bhaji added in between the dosa. This bhaji is so simple to prepare that if you’re a dosa lover, you will instantly stop going to restaurants once you learn to prepare this bhaji at home…

South Indian Style potato bhaji.. for masala dosa..

This recipe is very versatile because it has so many accompaniments.. a few I can think of are – a ladle between your dosa for Masala Dosa/eat it with Puri’s/ add it between bread slices for a sandwich/grill it between bread slices (with some cheese of course)/Add it when your baking buns for yummy Potato bun – Iyengar bakery style/ eat it with chapati’s/make a burger with this as a filling… versatile isn’t it??

Aloo bhaji- South Indian Style

Similar bhaji is also prepared in the Northern states of India, but the ingredients that add a South Indian touch to this curry leaves & a few tsp of lentils with some asafoetida for the tempering. The aroma is lovely.. like I always say.. South Indian food has the lovely aroma of the tempering added to it.

I omit the lentils added to the this recipe as I’m not a big fan of it. I remember asking my MIL “Whats the need to add the lentils to the tempering.. (as I always made my mum omit it if I was around :P) & she replied that Vegetarians always fall short of proteins, hence they are added as a part of the tempering to include it your food”. Well in the recipe below I have included it in the ingredients list, so you can customise it based on your taste.

As usual K’s lunchbox is a big deal for me.. he loves the Potato buns from his uncle’s Iyengar bakery, there were some burger buns lying around.. thought why not I fill them up with some of this bhaji.. he will surely enjoy them.. 🙂

Aloo Masala Burger..

Ingredients: (Serves 3-4 depends on how much of filling you like)    Preparation Time: 20 mins
Potatoes – 2 medium-sized potatoes, unpeeled
Red onion – 1, medium-sized, finely chopped or diced
Ginger – half an inch piece, finely chopped
Green chilli’s – 2, finely chopped/slit, choice is yours
Mustard seeds – half tsp
Cumin seeds – half a tsp
Bengal gram/chana dal – 1 tsp
Urad dal/Split black gram dal – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 7-8, roughly torn
Coriander leaves – 2 sprigs, finely chopped
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Asafoetida – a pinch
Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method:
Bring one litre of water to a boil or enough to cover the potatoes; add some salt & pressure cook the potatoes for 2 whistles. Make sure the pressure is off before opening the cooker. Transfer the cooked potatoes to a bowl of water at room temperature to cool them off. Peel the skin off & throw away the water. Cut the potatoes into cubes. Keep aside.

Tip: While the potatoes are cooking You can use the time to chop & get the base for the masala ready.

Heat oil in a deep bottom fry pan/kadai. Set heat to medium. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds & let them sizzle for a minute. Add urad dal & bengal gram. When they begin to change colour, add the cumin seeds & when they begin to change colour add the chopped green chilli’s & ginger. Sauté them for a minute so that the spice gets infused into the oil. Next add the asafoetida & let it sizzle for a few seconds.

Now add the chopped onions & a pinch of salt & turmeric. Sauté them till they turn translucent. Add the curry leaves. Mix well. Add the cubed, pressure cooked potatoes. Add salt to taste. Mix well & let them absorb the flavours. Turn off the heat when the potatoes begin to get mashed up when you move them around.

Turn off the heat when the potatoes begin to get mashed up.

Note: Some add garden peas to this recipe as well. You can add some if you wish to.

Garnishing:
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

The Versatile Aloo/Potato Bhaji - South Indian style

Serving Suggestions:
As mentioned earlier, this dish is very versatile.. serve with Dosa for delicious Masala Dosa/ with Puri’s/Poori’s / with Chapati’s or make a sandwich with this as the filling, you can grill the sandwich as well/ Add this as a filling when you bake buns.

Or make Aloo Masala burgers like I did.. pack them for a picnic or for food on the go.. 🙂

Aloo Masala burgers..

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.. 🙂

If you like this recipe, you may also enjoy – Adraki Aloo Gobi/Gingery Potato & Cauliflower, Peppery Raw plantain sabji…, Easy Potato fry/ Aloo fry, Paneer/Cottage Cheese Tava Masala… etc.


Mix-Veg Couscous Upma….

Mix-Veg Couscous Upma..

To begin with.. I’ll mention a few facts about Couscous… for the benefit of those who don’t know what couscous is all about… 🙂 they are tiny granules of Durum wheat which are cooking by steaming. It is traditionally served with a meat or vegetable stew spooned over it. Couscous is a staple food throughput the North African cuisines of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya etc. It is more than just a quick cook starch. Couscous contains 1% fat-to-calorie ratio. These yellow pellets are hard to make. They were traditionally made  by skilled hands, involving endless circular movements.

Mix-Veg Couscous Upma...

Thanks to globalisation in the food industry, Couscous has suddenly become very popular in the last decade or so, among people all round the world.  Most multi-cuisine restaurants offer couscous as an option instead of rice/potatoes.

I love this Upma, I prefer this over the usual Semolina upma prepared in Southern India. I eat this for breakfast at least once a week. Pretty filling as well. To me this tastes very much like the Idli upma my mum prepares from left over Idli’s at times..

This recipe was long pending. Had promised a friend who was supposed to switch to healthier food to help reduce her weight. This one is for you. 🙂 I don’t want to mention her name here.. She would know when she reads the post. 🙂

Mix-Veg Couscous Upma...

Note: Instead of using couscous you can try the same recipe with semolina or fine rice noodles known as Vermicelli in India. But make sure you dry roast both the semolina or the vermicelli before you use it. Semolina is used for both savoury & sweet dish preparations.

Ingredients: (Serves 3)       Preparation Time: 15 – 20 mins
Couscous – 1.5 cups,
Note: For every 1 cup of couscous, water required to cook it usually is 1.5 cups. But check the cooking instructions on your packet…
Beans – 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Onion – 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
Fresh/ frozen Green peas – 1/4, cup
Carrot – finely chopped, 1/4 cup
Tomato – 1, medium-sized, finely chopped
Green Chilli – 2-3, finely chopped, add more if you like your Upma spicy
Curry Leaves – 7-8, roughly torn
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida – a generous pinch
Ginger – chopped, as much as 1 tsp,
Urad Dal – 1 tsp
Cashews (optional) – 6-8, cut into 2
Coriander leaves (optional) – 2-3 sprigs, finely chopped
Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method:
Heat a deep bottom fry pan or saucepan. Set heat to medium. When oil is hot, add asafoetida, let it sizzle for a few seconds & the heavenly aroma fill your nose up. 🙂 Now add the mustard seeds & let them splutter. Now add the finely chopped green chilli’s & fry them for a goof minute or two, so that the spice gets induced into the oil. Next add the cumin seeds, when they turn golden brown add the urad dal, when they turn golden brown, add the cashews if you wish to. Let the cashews fry for a minute, next add the onion & curry leaves. Add salt to help fry the onions quicker.

When the onions turn translucent, add the beans, carrot. Let them fry for 2-3 minutes. Add some salt. Next add the tomatoes & green peas. Fry till the tomatoes begin to loosen up, now add the couscous. Add the water. Add salt to taste.

Tip: I usually heat the water up in a kettle so that I can avoid the time taken to bring the water to a boil. If you add water at room temperature & let it come to a boil, the veggies get overcooked & lose their crunchiness. I like my veggies crunchy in my Upma.

Simmer, cover & cook as per the instructions on your packet. I usually simmer & cook for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off & let the upma stand for another 5 minutes.

Use a fork & separate the couscous grains out.

Mix-Veg Couscous Upma...

Transfer to a serving bowl.

Garnishing:
Garnish with chopped coriander if you wish to. I did not add coriander leaves.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve hot for breakfast with a hot cup of Tea/Coffee or Hot Chocolate.. 🙂 or you can eat & carry this as a snack. If you want to spice it up a bit more then serve the upma with some pickle of your choice or any chutney.

Mix-Veg Couscous Upma...

If you liked this recipe, check out –

Spring Onion Semiya Upma,

Blanketed Frankfurters…,

Capsicum Omelette…,

Sabudana Khichdi/Soaked Tapioca pearls tossed with some Indian spices…,

Akki Rotti/Savoury Rice Pancakes from Karnataka etc.


Butternut Squash Olan…..

Butternut Squash Olan...

Olan is a popular dish from Kerala, usually prepared in Kerala during the harvest festival called Onam. Onam is a festival which commemorates the Vamana Avatar of Vishnu & the subsequent homecoming of the legendary emperor Mahabali. According to the legend, Kerala witnessed it golden era during the reign of Mahabali. It is the visit of Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year. The festival is marked by various festivities such as – flower carpets, elaborate lunches, boat races etc. Onam is a 10 day festival. The central feature of Onam is the grand feast called Onasadya, it is a nice course meal, consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes. The spread is served on banana leaves & people seat themselves on a mat laid on the floor. It is a tradition to play games collectively called Onakalikal. Men play rigorous sports like Talappanthukali – a game using a ball, Ambeyyal – a game of Archery, etc. Women involve themselves in other cultural activities like intricately designed flower mats called Pookalam in the front courtyard of the house to welcome King Mahabali. Kaikotti & Thumbi Thullal are two dances performed by women.

The other day a friend- Radhika had invited me over for lunch. She hails from Kerala & she had prepared Olan & I instantly fell in love with this.

Butternut Squash Olan...

It is traditionally prepared using Ash gourd, unfortunately Ash gourd is not available here in Glasgow. So, she prepared plan adding butternut squash & black-eyed peas. Turned out yummy. I’m sure the one prepared using ash gourd is equally tasty. I miss eating ash gourd. There are loads of Konkani dishes which are centred around ash gourd.

Butternut Squash..

If you like dishes with coconut milk, you should definitely try this one. It’s mildly hot, the butternut squash adds it’s slight sweet flavour too & a very good accompaniment with rice. The dish smells heavenly from the curry leaves added :).

Butternut Squash Olan...

Ingredients: (Serves 4)     Preparation Time: 20 – 25 mins
Black-eyed peas – 1 cup, soaked in water for about an hour
Ash gourd/ Butternut squash – 1.5 – 2 cups, skin peeled & cut into cubes
Green chilli – 3-4, slit lengthwise
Water – 3.5 cups
Thick coconut milk – 1 cup, I used 5-6 tbsp of coconut milk powder dissolved in water
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs, roughly about 10- 12 leaves, torn
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Some of the ingredients..

Method:
Transfer the soaked black-eyed peas to a pressure cooker, add about 2 cups of water & let the water come to a boil. Now pressure cook the soaked black-eyed peas for 10 minutes. Do not wait for a whistle as they will get overcooked & we want the peas nice & firmly cooked, not over-cooked. Separate the peas, & the water.

Tip: You can make a rasam out of the water used to cook the black-eyed peas. Follow the tempering used for – Brown lentil/Horse gram/Kulitha Saaru.

Butternut squash cut into two...

When the black-eyed peas are cooking, simultaneously in another vessel, add 1.5 cups of water & add the washed ash/gourd or butternut squash cubes. Add the slit green chilli’s & salt to taste. Once the water begins to boil, set the heat to medium & let the ash gourd/butternut squash cook. Remember, just like the black-eyed peas, we need the vegetable to be firm & not over cooked. Once they are about 80% cooked add the cooked black-eyed peas & the coconut milk & curry leaves. Once the curry comes to a boil, simmer & let the vegetable cook to 100%. Turn off the heat & add coconut oil.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve hot with some boiled/steamed rice. I licked my fingers clean, I’m sure you will too. 🙂

Butternut Squash Olan...

If you liked this, check out the recipe’s for – Meen Molee/Boneless fish pieces in a fragrant Kerala style coconut curry, Chicken Stew – Kerala Style, Prawn Pepper Fry – Kerala style, Vendekka Moor Kolumbu/Lady’s Finger in a spiced yogurt curry.., etc.


Alle Chutney/ Ginger Chutney

Alle Chutney/ Ginger Chutney...

When you think of Pongal/Dosa/Idli/Vada/Akki Rotti/Rice Bhath/Ade/Semiya Upma… or any other South Indian breakfast dishes, the first accompaniment any South Indian will come up with would be this chutney. Very simple. Requires very basic ingredients & voila there you are this finger licking good chutney is ready..

Yummy Alle Chutney/Ginger Chutney..

Alle is what ginger is called in Konkani. This is a very basic chutney that any Konkani/ South Indian kitchen will prepare to serve along with any of the breakfast dishes. Though there maybe a slight variation in the thickness of the chutney prepared. This chutney is very staple in my house, though we make this more watery/runny as it tastes good that way with Dosa’s. You can change the thickness of this chutney based on your taste.

Chutney...

I have a friend who could just eat bowls of this chutney just like that. Though this was way back when we were in our teens. Now she does not do that.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)       Preparation Time: 15 mins
To grind:
Fresh grated coconut – 1 cup/ approximately one half of a small coconut, grated
Green chilli’s – 2, slit
Ginger – 1/2 inch piece, you can add more as this is ginger chutney 😉

For the tempering:
Dried Red chilli – 1-2
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fresh Curry leaves – 1 sprig, roughly torn. I did not have fresh curry leaves hence I used dried curry leaves that I had. Fresh leaves add a lovely flavour to the chutney.
Cooking oil – 2 tsp

Salt to taste

Method:
Add all the ingredients mentioned to be ground into a smooth/coarse paste. Add about 50 ml water to help in the grinding process.

Ground chutney...

Transfer the paste to a serving bowl. Adjust the thickness of the chutney. If you like the consistency the way it is then just let it be. If you want to make it a little runny then do so by adding some water.Add salt to taste. Mix well. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a tempering vessel/a small fry pan. Maintain the heat at medium. Add the mustard seeds when the oil is hot. Let them splutter for about 30 seconds. Next add the dried red chilli & fry it for about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat & add the curry leaves. Mix well & transfer the tempering to the bowl which has the freshly ground chutney.

Alle Chutney/ Ginger Chutney...

Since I used dry curry leaves, the green colour from using fresh curry leaves which adds a lovely contrast to this white chutney is missing. 😦

Tip: 1. You can also prepare this chutney from desiccated coconut. The chutney does not taste as good as the one you prepare from freshly grated coconut.

2. If you do not have a coconut grater, you can make thin slices or pieces from the coconut flesh & grind them.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve with any South Indian breakfast as an accompaniment.

Serve with any South Indian breakfast dish...

I prepared the breakfast dish which is really famous in the northern part of the state of Karnataka called Akki Rotti & served it along with this chutney. The chutney prepared to be served with Akki Rotti is usually thick. I will be uploading the recipe to prepare Akki Rotti soon.

You can also serve this chutney with some Pakora’s or Bonda’s like – Raw Banana bajji, Potato Bonda, Mix Veg Bonda, Ripe Banana Bajji, Capsicum Bajji etc…

Recipe’s from my blog that you could serve this chutney  – Spring Onion Semiya Upma, Moong Daal ke Vade/Split Moong Bean Fritters..Onion/Kanda/Piyav/Eerulli Bajji/Pakoda’s/Bajo etc.


Chicken Stew – Kerala Style

Chicken Stew - Kerala Style...

Food from the coastal region & me have always shared a bond… makes me feel at home instantly… food from Kerala is even more special as it brings back fond memories… I had an awesome bunch of roommates/flatmates from Kerala back in Bangalore when I was unmarried. We used to have crazy girl parties.. sometimes with takeaway food to munch & binge on or the times we were all enthusiastic we would get back from work.. cook ourselves.. :)) How I miss those fun times…

This stew is very a dish from Kerala.. & eaten usually for breakfast along with some hot Appams (soft fluffy savoury pancakes made with a batter from fermented rice & coconut). Yes, you can also have them with bread. There is a veg version to this stew. Substitute the chicken with some mix veggies like – carrots, green beans, garden peas & potatoes.

My aunt lives in Kerala & she was supposed to pass on the recipe for this dish. But out of sheer coincidence my school friend Rashmi happened to send this recipe a few days back when we were discussing food… 🙂 It was strange to discuss recipes with girls whom you have had other topics to chatter about when in school.. Made me feel wow.. how years have flown by…

I made some adjustments to the recipe she passed on…added some fennel seeds as I remember this flavour in the stew & some cashew nut powder to make it a little creamier.. 🙂

Making Appams require a special kind of vessel & requires a stove with a gas burner. Unfortunately here I have a hob with hot plates hence cannot make Appams. But yes, I will surely make them when I get a chance. For now I had to make K eat this with bread..

If you want to you can also add carrots to the chicken version along with the potatoes. I ran out of carrots & moreover K does not really like cooked carrots.

Ingredients:  (Serves 4)          Preparation Time (25 – 30 mins)
Chicken – 500 gms, on the bone or boneless, whatever you prefer. I used chicken breast pieces cut into wedge-sized pieces
Potatoes – 2 medium-sized, peeled & cubed
Green chilli’s – 3, slit
Onion – 1 large, thinly sliced
Ginger – a small piece, finely chopped
Garlic – 4-5 cloves, finely chopped
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs, roughly about 15 leaves
Thick coconut milk – 2 cups,fresh tastes the best. Unfortunately I did not have fresh coconuts with me so I used 8 tbsp of coconut milk powder dissolved to make 2 cups of coconut milk.
Cashew paste/powder – 1 tsp
Corn flour – 1 tsp, dissolved in water
Coconut oil – 1.5 tbsp, coconut oil adds the authentic flavour to this dish. If you do not like the flavour added by coconut oil use sunflower oil/olive oil.
Salt to taste

Dry spices:
Cinnamon – 3/4 inch piece
Cloves – 3
cardamom – 3 whole
Fennel seeds – 15 seeds
Whole peppercorns – about 15-20

Method:
Roughly powder all the dry whole spices using a pestle & mortar. Keep this aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a pot. When the oil is hot add the powdered dry spices. Fry for a minute. Next add the green chilli’s & fry it for a minute. Add the curry leaves. Now add the ginger, garlic & sauté for under a minute. Do not let the garlic turn brown. Add the chopped onions & sauté them. Add a pinch of salt to accelerate the onion frying time.

When the onions turn translucent, add the potatoes & toss them around. Next add the chicken pieces. Toss them around for a minute or two. Add one cup of coconut milk, additionally add half a cup of water as well & simmer.

Add the coconut milk & water.. ...

I apologise for this bad picture… My kitchen does not have any natural light & as much as I would love to carry the hot pot out into the living room & click, like I do many times, sometimes I don’t end up doing that. 😦

Add salt to taste. Close the pot with a lid when the stew begins to bubble, close the pot with a lid & the chicken cook. The chicken would also let out some water & there would be enough water to cook the chicken.

Once the potatoes & chicken are almost cooked, say about 80% done, add the cashew powder & the other cup of coconut milk. Let the pot be still at low heat. Check & adjust salt. Let the stew come to a boil again. Once the chicken & potatoes are fully done, turn off the heat.

Garnishing:
Garnish with some additional curry leaves.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve hot with some Appams or bread.

Chicken Stew - Kerala Style...

Enjoy!!

If you like this recipe you may also enjoy – Meen Molee/Boneless fish pieces in a fragrant Kerala style coconut curry, Grilled/Baked fish in Green MasalaCrispy Mussels etc.

 


Meen Molee/Boneless fish pieces in a fragrant Kerala style coconut curry

Meen Molee/Boneless fish pieces in a fragrant Kerala style coconut curry

Hope each & everyone of you have kick started your weekend just the way you planned it.. For all those who are planning to fix a homemade meal for lunch or dinner here is a yummy fish curry from gorgeous Kerala.. Fish in Malayalam (the language spoken in Kerala) is called Meen.

This curry is a quick version of the same traditional dish. The traditional method involves using coconut milk of different consistency added at different intervals. But I skipped that and added coconut milk of one consistency.

The flavours of coconut, green chilli’s & tomatoes just blend really well with the fish. This dish may seem to be a wee bit similar to Thai yellow curry. But hell no, the ingredients are very different. This curry is awesome with some hot steamed rice or even with some chapatis’ or Kerala Paratha’s.

Meen Molee/Boneless fish pieces in a fragrant Kerala style coconut curry..

This curry is not for those who dislike coconut in their food. Even the seasoning is made with coconut oil. You can swap the coconut oil seasoning with any other cooking oil, but then you would not have that authentic flavour to your curry.

I used boneless & skinless Cod loin pieces for the curry, you can use any fleshy fish for this curry.

Ingredients: (Serves 2)         Preparation Time: 20-25 mins
Cod – skinless & boneless cod loin, cut into 2 inch square pieces
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Ginger – 1 inch piece, julienne
Green chilli – 3-4, finely chopped
Onion – 1 medium-sized, thinly diced
Coconut milk powder – 8 tbsp, dissolved in water to form a cup of thick coconut milk, approximately 250 ml
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Tomatoes – 2 medium-sized, blanched & chopped
Coriander leaves – 2 sprigs, chopped
Sugar – a pinch
Curry leaves – 1 sprig/ 6 leaves, roughly torn & a couple additional for garnishing
Salt to taste

Method:
In a heavy bottom pan, heat coconut oil. Set the heat to medium.Add black mustard seeds & let them splutter.

Add ginger julienne & chopped green chilli. Sauté them for about 30 seconds. Now add sliced onion and add turmeric & some salt to the onions so that they fry soon. Sauté the onions till golden in colour.

Saute the onions till golden brown..

Now add the tomatoes & mix well.

Add the tomatoes...

Add curry leaves. Next add coconut milk, mix well & simmer. Let the coconut milk simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Add the fish pieces in. Let the fish cook & absorb the flavours. Check salt & adjust. Simmer for another 2-3 minutes till the fish cooks completely & the raw flavours of coconut milk go away.

Tip: Add some water if the curry get’s too thick., but remember to adjust salt if you do so.

Garnishing:
Add chopped coriander & additional curry leaves if required. Tip: You can also squeeze in just a few drops of lemon juice for a nice flavour.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve with a hot bowl of steamed rice. Tastes best when eaten out of a Banana leaf. 😉

Meen Molee/Boneless fish pieces in a fragrant Kerala style coconut curry

For the non-rice eaters, chapatis’ or Kerala Paratha’s would just do fine.

If you like this recipe, you may also like – Thai Yellow curry with prawns, Batani Ambat/ Konkani Style Green Peas in Coconut, Tamarind gravy, Basic South-Indian Chicken curry – Chicken Masala, more curry’s.


Prawn Pepper Fry – Kerala style

Prawn Pepper Fry - Kerala style

Been a nice sunny day here in Glasgow today. Woke up with an awesome amount of sunlight filling my bedroom. I was so happy to wake up this way. 🙂 A song by the Beatles – “Here comes the Sun” came to my mind, been humming this song since the time I woke up.. 🙂 & Why shouldn’t I hum such a lovely song for a perfect day like this. These days hardly come by so easily here in Glasgow…

My spirits being high… wanted to eat something very hot & yummy & I could not help but smile when I remembered the prawns that I had marinated last night for dinner today. But changed plans & ended up preparing this for lunch.. 😀 Weekend binging  couldn’t have gotten any better ;)… So this is my second post for the day..

I can never get enough of seafood. Been a long time since I posted any starter with seafood. A couple of days back I picked up some king prawns. Been thinking of preparing some Kerala style prawn starter from a while.

Prawn pepper fry...

Tip: You can add more onions to the same recipe if you want to enjoy this with some Kerala Paratha’s.

The recipe I have below is a little on the hot side. So all of you who can’t take hot food lower the quantity of green chilli & black pepper used.

The flavour of coconut oil used in this dish would instantly take you to Kerala, you can almost imagine the greenery, its beautiful back waters with the house boats, coconut trees everywhere, people in lungi’s, well I can go on..

Ingredients: (Serves 2)             Preparation Time 15- 20 mins (Excludes time for the prawn marination)
King Prawns – 200 gms, peeled, de-veined & washed
Onion – 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
Green chilli’s – 2, cut into small pieces
Garlic – 2 cloves, finely chopped
Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Black peppercorns – 5-6 freshly crushed
Curry leaves – 1 sprig/ 6-7 leaves roughly torn
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp,
Salt to taste

Tip: You can use any other cooking oil if you do not want to use coconut oil. I used coconut oil for the authentic Kerala food flavour.

For the Prawn marination:
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric – a pinch
Garlic – 1 clove, minced
Salt to taste

Method:
Mix the cleaned & washed king prawns with the ingredients mentioned for the prawn marination. Marinate the prawns for at least an hour.

Marinated Prawns

I let the prawns marinate in the fridge overnight.

Heat oil in a fry pan set to medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds & sauté them. Don’t let them burn. Next add the chopped green chilli’s & fry them for a minute, so that the spice from them gets infused into the oil. Add the chopped garlic & sauté them for a minute. Do not let them turn brown.

Now add the chopped onions and sauté them till they turn light brown. Add a pinch of turmeric to the onions. Add some salt to the onions to reduce the onion sautéing time.

Add the torn curry leaves to the onions & fry them. Also add the freshly crushed pepper corns and fry them.

Now add the marinated prawns & mix them well.

Tip: I tear the curry leaves because they add more their flavour to the dish this way.

Lower the heat, cover for 5 minutes & let the prawns cook, but open the lid from time to time & toss them around. Check salt & adjust. Let them fry on low heat till the prawns are tender.

Garnishing:
You may garnish them with some lemon juice if required.

Serving Suggestions:
Serve hot as a starter with some Beer or along with some Kerala Paratha’s.

Prawn Pepper Fry - Kerala style
You may find similar recipe’s on the internet where they mention black pepper powder in the list of ingredients & hence the colour of the resulting dish looks greyish black. I dislike the taste of ready-made black pepper powder, hence always use freshly ground black pepper & this does not impart that colour.

Other seafood recipe’s – Crispy Mussels, Lemony Prawns with Parsley, Special Prawn Biryani, Tangy Mussels

Have an awesome weekend.. 🙂

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