Category Archives: Indian Food

Mango Ginger Smoothie – JFI Ginger

Standard

ginger.jpg

For the life of me, I coud’t find a dish that screamed ginger. Kerala Fish Curry was in my plans for a while, but then I couldn’t find decent fish. Today I landed on this recipe, and as fate would have it, I am contributing to JFI Ginger. Hurrah!!

Ginger is indispensable in an Indian household. Shown below is a patch of ginger growing at my home in Kerala. Usually there are a few patches of ginger growing close to the house. When you need ginger, take your digging equipment and unearth fresh ginger. The wonderful smell of ginger on your hands is pretty amazing. Of course, as a kid I hated the chore of having to get out and dig the ginger out of the soil. Now, I wish I had some freshly dug ginger.

ginger-plants.jpg

Original recipe here

I followed the recipe exactly, except for using greek yogurt and cold milk.

Ingredients

Yogurt – half cup

Chopped ripe mango – a handful ( I used frozen mango)

Sugar or honey – 2 tbsp or adjust to taste

Low fat milk ( cold) – 1/2 cup

Crushed ice- half cup/handful

Fresh ginger- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp based on your taste. I used a thin slice and chopped it into thin strips.

Powdered cardamom – a pinch

Method:

Just mix everything in a blender. If too thick, add more milk or cold water.

ginger-smoothie.jpg

Adding fresh ginger to mango lassi was new for me. I liked it, but I suspect it could take getting used to.

Hugs to Rosie for hosting JFI Ginger amidst her move.

Tags: , ,

Phirni- Glad I found you!

Standard

pistachios.jpg

Ashwini did a great job of hosting JFI- coconut. Amond the 70+ dishes my eyes were on this white concotion in a cute cup. It was called Phirni. I had no idea what the heck Phirni was until that moment. I was so into Phirni after reading the post that I was searching for more info on phirni on the net. But Ashwini had it all covered in her post. It is indeed a Mughlai dish. I also see it listed as a Kashmiri dish, a Punjabi dish and is also very popular in Rajasthan. How did I miss this delicacy so long?

The Phirni looked so fresh and so full of clean flavors, I just had to try it. Better late than never.

I used a mix of almonds and pistachios for the dish. For the recipe I consulted both Ashwini’s and Roopa’s recipes!!

I understand this dish is served in small terracotta dishes as is shown here . I think I will try to get some when I visit India next time.

As Ashwini mentioned , it tasted much better the next day! This definitely is a keeper.

Tags:

Happy New Year!

Standard

Wishing everyone a happy New Year.

a1.jpg

Celebrating New Year with Ada Pradhaman.

Payasams are the major Kerala dessert. Before the bakeries started with the fancy birthday cakes, this is the dish that made birthdays special. This was the dessert course that followed elaborate sadyas that followed wedding ceremonies.

In the days before the instant ada, ada was made from scratch and this is where a lot of work was involved. Then the ada is cooked, and added to a jaggery- coconut milk mixture. The coconut milk making is also elaborate, but I took the aid of canned coconut milk. Worked just fine!

Final toss in some coconut pieces fried in ghee and cardamom powder. Let it cool before serving.

This dish is such a nostalgic one!

I am not alone in this nostalgia. Other memories about ada pradhaman from fellow Malayalis on the net:

And achamma’s ada pradhaman, rich with pure ghee and whole green cardamom. Oh! That taste. ( Read here)

Payasams, mmmmmm, I love that especially ada pradhaman. ( Here)

Brinjal theeyal

Standard

theeyal-main.jpg

Theeyal was made at our house only ‘ on demand’. It does take a bit of time and is not suited for those ‘curry in a hurry’ moments. When we think of coconuts and some delicious Kerala dishes to go with it, theeyal definitely is the one for me.

We make this with shallots, bittergourd or brinjal. I am sure there are more variations, but these are all I know. I decided to use whole baby eggplants instead of slicing them, only because I thought the baby eggplants would look very cute dressed up in a dark brown coconut sauce. And it did!!

Recipe source: by Mrs. K.M.Mathew

Method:

Step 1: Making the coconut paste

Coconut – 1 cup

Shallots – 1 small sliced

In a pan, add a bit of oil ( 1 tsp). Add the coconut and shallots and fry till dark brown in color. You might need to stir frequently and keep a close eye on them. Add the browned coconut to the blender.

theeyal.jpg

Dry coriander seeds – 1/2 tsp

Dry red chilis- 3

Fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds – a small pinch of each

 

In the same pan, dry roast the above ingredients and add them to the blender also. ( You could definitely add these to the coconut as it is turning brown and roast them)

Grind all these to a smooth silky paste. Add water as necessary to help with the grinding.

 

Step 2: Dressing up the brinjals

Brinjals – 9 baby brinjals.( Substitute with 2 larger slender asian eggplants)

Turmeric – a small pinch (optional)

Tomato- 1 plum tomato, sliced.

Green chilies 5 small slit.

Tamarind water – add a small piece to 1/4 cup water, use your hands to extract the tamarind.

Make slits on the brinjal ( make the slits as if you were stuffing the brinjal, but leave the stem intact).

Add a teaspoon of oil to the hot pan, add turmeric (optional), followed by brinjals. Then add green chillies and tomato and saute for a few minutes.

theeyal1.jpg theeyal2.jpg

To this add the ground coconut paste, tamarind water, salt. Add more water if needed to make enough gravy.Cover and cook till the brinjals are cooked.

Final step:

Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp

Curry leaves – one sprig

Fenugreek seeds- a small pinch

Sliced shallot- 1

Dry red chilies – one, cut into small pieces.

Take some oil, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, shallots, and dry red chilis. Fry till the shallots are dark in color. Add to the brinjals. Stir well and serve.

Another entry for JFI Coconut hosted by Ashwini.

Related recipes:

Annita’s recipe here

Ulli theeyal from Priya here

Inji’s Bittergourd theeyal here.

Radish curry- saute with onions, garlic and chili.

Standard

radish-curry1.jpg

This curry follows the basic principles of making Kerala style mezhukkupuratti. The addition of garlic is not common, but we do add it while making plantain mezhukkupuratti.

Recipe:

Ingredients

A bunch of red radish – contains 6 to 8 radishes.

Onion- one small, sliced.

Garlic- 2 or 3 small cloves crushed

Green chilis – 8 small, crushed

Turmeric powder- a pinch.

Oil for saute

Mustard seeds – a pinch

Curry leaves- a sprig

Salt to taste

The leaves: Roll all the leaves together and slice into long shreds.

Method:

Clean the radishes and cut them as you would slice an apple. Clean the leaves, if you want to use them in the dish.

radish-curry2.jpg

In a pan, add some oil. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds.

When the mustard seeds splutter, add curry leaves and onions. Saute for 3-5 mins till edges of the onions turn slightly brown.

Add the crushed garlic and chilis, and turmeric powder. Saute for about a minute or even less.

Add the radishes, mix well and add salt. Cook covered for about 3-4 mins.

Once the radish seems soft, remove the lid and crank up the heat. Saute on high heat for a couple more minutes. The radishes will be soft yet crunchy.

After you remove the radishes onto a plate, in the same pan quickly saute the leaves for a few seconds and add it to the top of the radishes.

For best results, serve right off the stove. The dish takes less than 15mins. Make this right before your meal.

Chicken biryani – Malabar ishtyle.

Standard

chicken-biryani1.jpg

Chicken biryanis are no longer a lot of hardwork. This was not always the case.

There used to be a time when cooking a biryani at home meant someone special was invited or something special was happening in the house. We would wake up in anticipation of the big day. “Today we are having biryani for lunch”- I would tell this to anybody who would care to listen. Then my father would go the market with the grocery list, of course, accompanied by me. See, it’s different in India. You have to travel a bit to get good quality Basmati rice.

“What?”, you say,”You don’t stock the biyani rice?We usually just buy a big bag from Costco.”

Ah! yes! But Basmati rice is quite expensive in India and unless you are really rich, you usually just buy enough for that one meal of biryani. A few years ago, there weren’t that many supermarkets. So you had to stop at one shop for the rice, another one for the chicken and then another for the herbs and lemon. It would take atleast an hour or more to get back home after a round of shopping.

Of course, things are different now and you can get all you want at any one of the many super markets that are popping all around. Sure is convenient but then you miss the walk in the chantha ( market), with all its varied smells and great display of veggies.

If Mastercard used this theme they would have said:

Biryani rice Rs. 50

Fresh chicken Rs.100
A walk in the chantha ( market ) Priceless

Making chicken biryani is a breeze after coming to the US. Take a few cups of rice from the Costco rice bag. Cut up the chicken in the freezer. Use the herbs that you have stored in the fridge. Chicken biryani is ready in an hour or so. And this is exactly what I did last Friday – actually Satish did go to the store for chicken.

I have had a brief touch with Malabar cuisine. My mother once worked for some time in Kozhikode. She stayed there for a few months or so. We went to visit her once and I had some amazing food at one of my father’s friends. I was convinced Muslim hospitality was the best. There was a whole table of food and all their relatives were in the house to welcome us. Made us all feel real special! I was really young but this episode is still clear in my memory.

Thanks to fellow bloggers Shaheen and Shynee, we are getting to know more about this cuisine.

For the chicken biryani, I followed Shynee’s recipe. I had seen Anita mention it. Thanks Anita!!!

Once you have made biryani you will see that it is more of a method than exact measure ( except for cooking the rice).

Here are some pictures to get you inspired.

Cooking the rice:

Soak the rice in water for 30min or so prior to cooking. Drain off the water.

Add ghee( a must for authentic taste), cloves, cardamon and cinnamon. Add the rice. Stir well. Add water and salt. ( For 3 cups of rice, I used 5 3/4 water). Cook covered. When all water is evaporated, shut off the flame and keep covered for a few more minutes. In the meanwhile avoid stirring. You can fluff with a fork after it has finished cooking

.basmati-rice-cooked.jpg

Cooking the chicken

chicken-biryani.jpg

Layering the rice and chicken

biryani-layers.jpg

Frying herbs to decorate the top

.herbs-fried.jpg

Also fry onions, raisins and cashews.

Bake for 15- 20 minutes.

Serve warm with raita, achar, ulli surka and pappadam.

biryani-plated.jpg

Potato thoran- potato with shredded coconut.

Standard

img_4105.jpg

Potato is a common and indispensable vegetable in most kitchens. At my home this didn’t hold true. The only time my mother cooked potatoes was in sambar. Sometimes in a potato gravy curry to go with appam. The reasons for not using potatoes was never discussed much – ‘gas’ being one of the issues.

My classmates would bring potato dishes galore to lunch and one of my favorite things was the masala that goes with the poori. For me in those years, the aloo masala dish was the best dish that was around. But couldn’t get that home. I tried many times to make the dish by myself, but I couldn’t recreate the colour and the taste. I have pretty much given up on the idea that I can recreate that dish.

This weekend we had gone to Philadelphia to stay with our friends and brought back some home made Kerala style fish curry. Coming home after class yesterday, I couldn’t think of anything to make for lunch to go with the fish. Mostly because there were no veggies at home and I was too lazy to go to the store. There were couple of potatoes starting to sprout in the kitchen and I decided to make something out of it. For me, the best accompaniment to a fish curry is a thoran. My choices for thoran were very very limited and so the obvious choice was potato. A quick look at my mother’s old cookbook confirmed that such a dish existed.

Method

Step 1:

Potatoes – 2 large, diced.

Onion- half of a large onion, diced

Shredded coconut- 3/4 to 1 cup

Chilies- I used about 12 small ones. ( I was pairing it with a spicy fish curry, so adjusted the chilies for a small amount of heat. You can add more or less to your liking)

Salt- 1/2 tsp or adjust to taste.

Combine all the above. Use a spoon or your hands to mix.

potato-thoran.jpg

Step 2:

Oil 2 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp

Curry leaves – one sprig, tear the leaves

I used a non- stick pan to cook this dish. Non stick pan is better as the potato doesn’t stick to the pan at all.

Heat the oil. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds start spluttering, add the curry leaves.

Follow that with the potato-onion- coconut mixture. Mix well to combine with the oil. Cook covered. Be sure to stir it every few minutes or just toss the pan . After about 10-15min the dish should be ready.

Check potaotes to see if they are cooked. Serve hot with rice.

potato-thoran-1.jpg

The cooking time depends on the potatoes. I didn’t have to add any water. But if the potato takes long to cook, sprinkling some water and cooking it covered should help. ( I haven’t done this, but just thinking this might help)

Recipe source:Desperation and Lalitha Pachakam ( Malayalam cookbook by )

Time spent in the kitchen: 30mins.

Fried Green Tomatoes or Green tomato chips

Standard

gt3.jpg

Green tomatoes are real pretty, but it is hard to find recipes for them. Whenever I would look

at these beauties, all I could think of was ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’. So one day after grabbing some

green tomatoes from the garden, I set out on a recipe search. All the recipes basically involved

dipping in some kind of flour and frying it.

I could do that. Dip and fry. So I did and made these….

Step by step instructions:

After washing and drying the tomatoes, slice them into slightly thick rounds.

gt.JPG

Take an egg and beat it. This is one part of the dipping process.

In a second plate, take some rava or semolina ( can substitute corn meal). Add salt and pepper to it.

Spice lovers, feel free to add some chili powder( do you see the potential here?).

Take a slice of tomato, dip in egg and then into the semolina. Drop into hot oil and deep fry.

gt1.JPG

Remove after the outside start turning a slight brown. Drop onto a paper towel to absorb the oil.Sprinkle some salt on top if you like and serve hot.

I had it with rice and curry. When Satish came home, I made a fresh batch and we ate it all by itself and was great.

I think the key is to have them while they are hot and just out of the oil.


img_3511.jpg

A simple Kerala meal

Standard

kfood.JPG

Clockwise from left: Tomato chaaru curry, vanpayar mezhukupuratti, green tomato thoran.

After being on vacation for about a week, we were craving some home cooked food. Owing to delayed flights, we reached home at 3am instead of 9p.m. Las Vegas had some amazing restaurants and we had some great food. But after a week of eating out, it was time for a simple home cooked meal.
Satish had to go to work in the morning. I vaguely remember him leaving, and I was off to sleep again. It was about noon when I finally woke up. I had some toast and then started making some Kerala food. I made a thoran ( dish with shredded coconut), a mezhukkupuratti( curry sauteed in oil) , and a chaaru kari ( curry with gravy). It has been a while since I made 3 dishes to go with rice. I loved the first 2 dishes, but the chaaru kari was not that great. I am hoping that it is going to taste better tomorrow.

kerala-food.JPG

Rasmalai and a lesson for life!

Standard

rasmalai-top.JPG

 

As a kid, I used to be an avid helper in the kitchen. My sister hated cooking (still does), and so when I started helping out in the kitchen it was a happening event. People were impressed at my interest in cooking, and aunties and ammachis visiting our place would shower praises on me! “Look at her. Everyone should be like her”, they would say. My sister didn’t mind these as long as she didn’t have to cook, and I shared everything I made with her.

One of the first things I loved making was the semiya payasam. Nothing much to it..add ghee, brown the semiya, add sugar, milk…eat! But this was enough to impress my family and so I grew up thinking I was a great cook. When I finally started cooking on my own, especially desserts, none of them would succeed. But I never accepted failure and would still try to make the most complicated sweets from scratch. After a series of failures, I finally realized last month that I am not so good at making sweets as I imagined myself to me. RP’s recipe was there to help me out. Boy! did it help..I served these couple of times and the compliments poured in. But all credit goes to RP and Priya.

And now Deepavali…I knew it was Deepavali because our new Indian neighbors had decorated their house with lights. It was beautiful! But I had an exam to study for and I forgot all about it. Then I located the JFI event which was happening and I had missed it too. I had left a comment at Vee’s blog mentioning how I missed it and maybe I will participate next year, and Vee send me a reply saying I still had time. Wish everyone was so nice when it comes to deadlines ( People at my college could learn from you, Vee!)

So thanks to Vee, I am blogging about my inflated pride and how I turned to being a realist…and also the rasmalai! This rasamalai not only helped me find a new easy dessert recipe, but also made me realize it is okay to take short cuts. Not everything needs to be made from scratch!

Recipe sources: RP’s blog, Priya’s blog

Ingredients:

Ricotto chesse ( I used the medium size one, part skim)

Sugar- according to taste

Rose water- a few drops
Half and half, milk- a cup each
Strands of saffron

Crushed cardamom-2

Pistachios for garnish

Pan: A muffin pan

I didnot measure any ingredients, you really don’t need to. Just adjust sugar to your taste and depending on the number of rasmalai make the sauce.

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix ricotta cheese, sugar and rose water and mix using a spoon. Do not have to spend much energy using a whisk as all it needs is a light mixing. This helps to keep the texture of the ricotta cheese.

When you add the sugar, it is very possible that you might end up eating quite a bit of ricotta ( Why? Because it is so damn good) . So if you are having guests over and do not have more ricotta to add later, I recommend taking small bites to test the sugar.

Spoon the mixture into a muffin pan. No need to oil the pan. Just scoop it in and place in the preheated oven.

img_3569.JPG
All this will be done in less than 5 mins…now onto the sauce

Combine half and half with milk ( a cup each will work). Put over medium flame. Add sugar, rose water and a few strands of saffron. Keep stirring often till the milk mixture is thick enough to be poured over as a sauce. Not too thick, a little on the runny side. Let this cool. The white mixture will be yellowish when done because of the saffron strands.

To test if the ricotta is done:

When you peep into the oven after 10 or 20 min, you might see a very gooey mess. Don’tpanic. I am telling you this because I did. I was convinced the dish was not going to work and started to panic. Anyway after about 40min, I inserted a tooth pick and it came out clean. Take the muffin pan out and let the ricotta cool. There might be some water that looks like it seperated from the ricotta, but that is fine.

Once cooled, run a spoon around each ricotta to seperate it from the pan. You can invert the whole dish into a plate or take out each one carefully. If you start taking them out when still warm, they might crack. It needs time to settle.

img_3575.JPG

Pour most of the sauce over the ricotta and keep in the fridge to cool. You can use the rest of the sauce to pour over the dish just before serving. The sauce was so good as it is and be sure to resist the thought of drinking it all!

rasmalai.JPG
To assemble:

In a serving dish, place a ricotta ball. Pour the sauce over it. Decorate with pistachios.

Tips:

Be ready for gasps, especially if your guests have never had rasmalai! Be ready for second helpings!