Category Archives: Kerala

Fluffy Uppumavu (Upma)

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I have always known upma to be a little fluffy. When I started my hostel life, the upma served at the canteen didn’t look anything like the upma I grew up with. It was cooked into one big mass and you could took a scoop of upma rather than a spoonful of upma. I blamed the cook for not knowing how to cook but little did I know this is how upma is supposed to be for many others.

Even after 4 years of eating canteen upma, I couldn’t get used to it. I love my fluffy upma with a sprinkle of sugar and a banana.

How to make fluffy upma?

Oil/ghee- 1 tablespoon

Rava/sooji/semolina- 1 cup

Minced shallots/onions- 2 tablespoon, Ginger minced- 1 tsp, Chilies- 2 chopped, curry leaves- 1/2 sprig.

Water- 1.5 cups (approx)

Salt- to taste

Coconut shredded- a handful, Ghee- 1/4 tsp (optional)

Heat oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the onions/shallots, ginger, chillies and curry leaves. When the onions start to turn brown, add the rava to the pan. Keep stirring till the rava is slightly roasted.

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Then comes the fluffing part. Sprinkle a handful of water into the rava and keep stirring. Break up big lumps. For one cup rava, you might need about 1.5 cups of water. The important tip is to add water in handfuls and to keep stirring. Towards the end, you can just close it with a lid for a few minutes to cook it through. Stir in shredded coconut and ghee. Serve warm.

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This upma goes to RCI-Kerala being hosted by Jyothsna at Currybazaar.

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Chembu (Colocasia, Taro) curry

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Chembu is used widely in Kerala in a wide variety of recipes.This is a starchy vegetable and is quite delicious steamed, fried or smothered with seasonings. This is found growing in most homes in Kerala and thrive without any attention.

This is a simple recipe that goes well with rice.

Recipe:

Chembu – 1 cup ( Remove the skin and cut into small pieces)chembu-diced.jpg

Turmeric powder- 1/3 tsp

Salt- to taste

Coconut grated- 1/2 cup

Green chilies- 4 (Add more if you like it with more heat)

Cumin – 1/3 tsp.

Tamarind- one tablespoon. Mix well with some water to obtain tamarind extract. Discard the seeds.

Method:

Cook the diced chembu with the turmeric powder and salt with about 1 cup water, over medium flame.

While the chembu is cooking, grind the coconut, chilies and cumin to a smooth paste.

Once the chembu is cooked, add the coconut mixture to it and cook on low heat.

When the chembu curry starts to boil, add the tamarind extract and mix well. Turn off and keep covered for a few minutes.

In a seperate small pan, add oil. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds.

As mustard seeds start to pop, add the shallots and curry leaves and fry till they turn brown.

Pour this over the curry. Mix well. Adjust salt.

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Serve warm with rice.

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Note:  Chembu  can get mushy if overcooked.

Going Lite with Kale Thoran

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RP blogged about kale thoran last year. Ever since, it’s been a regular at our household. Coffee’s MBP ( Monthly Blog Patrol) is the perfect event to give thanks for the recipes from fellow bloggers. The theme this month is Going Lite. This was the perfect oppurtunity to thank RP for this wonderful healthy and lite recipe.

The beautiful leaves of the kale plant provide an earthy flavor and more nutritional value for fewer calories than almost any other food around ( Link)

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Raw chopped kale leaves

While preparing greens, I have seen that urad dal is added along with mustard. But I used raw rice instead, as my mother would.

Kale Thoran ( original recipe here)

Kale – 1 bunch ( sliced fine)

Shallot- 2

Green chilies – 6

Grated coconut- 1/4 cup

Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp

Raw unccoked rice- 1 tsp

Oil – 1 tbsp

Salt to taste.

Add oil to the hot pan. Add mustard seeds and when they start to splutter, add the rice. The rice will start to puff up. Add the kale and give a quick stir.

In a small mortar, mix the shallots, green chilies and coconut. Just a coarse mix is fine. Make a small area in the centre of the pan and add the coconut mixture. Cover it with the kale like this. ( You can add the coconut to the kale and give a mix but my aunt used to make thorans this way. I happened to think of her and followed her method)

Cover and cook for 5 mins on low medium heat. Stir, add salt and cook covered again till the leaves are at your desired texture. Kale leaves take longer than other leafy greens.

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Serve with rice.

Swap baked kale for potato chips- ??

Kottayam fish curry- Fish in fiery red sauce

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Fish is indispensable in Kerala. The way it is made varies from place to place, but it always make it to the table for lunch or dinner. This is how fish curry is usually made in the households in Kottayam. When my grandfather was alive, we had fish every single day. That’s right. Every single day!!

When I blogged an okra recipe recently, I got a lot of requests for the fish curry that was shown in the post. The truth of the matter is that until recently my fish curries never tasted as they should. We started writing down the recipe every time we made it, and made changes to adjust the taste. We believe this recipe comes closest to the fish curry back home. Thanks to Manisha whose initial request started this whole post.

We make our fish curry in a chatti. The chatti in our home has a story to tell. The story that ends with, ” Wives know better”. When we were in Kerala last vacation, I mentioned that I would like to take a chatti back with me. Satish had a big problem with that, and was making all kinds of excuses. He was confident that the chatti wouldn’t make it home in one piece. Thanks to my persistence, the chatti made it home with us. Guess what he wants to bring back this time!! Ha-ha..

Now to the fish. Fresh fish is hard to come by, unless you have a Chinese store with fresh fish. We usually buy catfish from the local grocery store. Mallu stores have frozen fish from Kerala, but some of them lose their taste when frozen. This time we used salmon fillets. Back home, we have meenkarans ( fish monger) that brings fish right to your doorsteps. When I was a kid, they used to come on a cycle, with a basket of fish tied to the back of the cycle. They would honk their horns as a signal, and I was often made to run out of the house to flag him down. Then my mother would look and choose the fish, and sometimes neighbors all gather to discuss fish. If you had a cat, it would be close by, sniffing and rubbing against your legs, hoping to get some heads and tails.

Recipe:

Fish – 1lb. We used salmon fillets this time. We added some salt to the fillets to make them firmer, so that they don’t break easily. If you do this, be careful when you add salt to the curry.

Oil- 2 tbsp ( I use coconut oil)

Curry leaves- 1sprig + 2 or 3 f0r layering in the chatti

Mustard seeds, Fenugreek seeds- 1/4 tsp each

Shallots- 4 or 5 , sliced fine

Ginger- 2 tbsp , finely minced

Garlic – 15 cloves( if the cloves are small, leave them whole)

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Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

Red chili powder- 2 tsp

Paprika – 3 tsp

Kudampuli- 2pieces ( clean in running water and soak them in water with some salt added to it)

Water- 1cup or more, as needed

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Kudampuli soaking in salt water

Method:

Step 1:

Layer a few sprigs of curry leaves at the bottom of the chatti. Layer the raw fish on top of that.

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Step2: Making the gravy

Heat oil in a pan, add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the fenugreek seeds. When the fenugreek seeds starts to change into a deeper color, add the shallots, ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Cook on medium heat till the shallots turn dark brown. Then add the chili powder and turmeric powder. Stir to combine with the oil.

Lower the heat and add paprika. Stir quicky. Paprika burns fast, so don’t leave on fire too long. Add water and the kudampuli which was soaked in some salt water. I usually add the salt water also. It looks muddy from the puli but I think it adds to the taste. Add enough water to make a watery gravy. Bring to a rolling boil.

Step 3: Bringing everything together

Pour this into the fish that has been arranged in the chatti. Cook covered on low medium heat till the fish is cooked ( 15-20 mins). Every 5-8min grab the chatti with mitts and give a slight swirl. This is the best way to make sure the flavors blend without breaking the fish pieces. Cook till the fish is cooked and the gravy is lightly thick. ( some people prefer a watery gravy)

Taste for salt . Just before serving, add some coconut oil on the top and fresh curry leaves to garnish.

Notes:

The curry is good right off the stove, but the flavor intensifies after a day.

The curry can be left out in room temperature, especially in winter. Every night it is slightly warmed over the stove. During winter, our fish curry stays outside for atleast 3 days.

Coriander powder is omitted to increase shelf life.

Adding coconut oil over the fish curry after it is cooked can add a wonderful aroma, and I don’t recommend missing this step.

To serve : My favorite way is to eat this with rice and a thoran.

Also goes well with chappathi, puttu and the perpetual favorite, kappa and meen ( here and here).

Dried shrimp in coconut sauce – Unakka chemmeen curry

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We recently tried a recipe from this blog and it turned out great. And last week we tried this dish from the same blog. It was spectacular. Thank you Shiny for posting these favorite dishes. Her blog is like a cookbook dream come true for me.

The dish is made of dried shrimp. This is available in Kerala grocery stores in the US. Fish and coconut are integral to Kerala cuisine, and this dish is a happy combo of the two. Dried fish are stinky, but taste great. The prepared dish doesn’t smell of the dried shrimp at all. Dried shrimp is cooked with some water and mango, coconut ground to a silky paste is added to it and finally dressed up with shallots and curry leaves in coconut oil.

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Dried shrimp

Although I didn’t have fresh mango, I substituted amchur powder as the recipe suggested. It worked quite well.

Recipe: Here

This recipe is a keeper. It is easy to make and tastes great. Thank you Shynee!!

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Rice with chemmeen curry and radish saute.

Happy New Year!

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Wishing everyone a happy New Year.

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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)