Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Mom’s Special Fish Curry




I was a very fussy eater as a child and lunch was something I never enjoyed eating because we almost always had rice and curries, something that never really impressed me all through my childhood. Though I did like some of my mom’s vegetarian items, what I dreaded most was ‘Fish’. I completely detested fish curries and just ate very few varieties when fried.  To worsen my plight, fish curries were my dad’s favourite item and my mom kept making it every now and then and the worst part; there was no saying a ‘no’ to any item on the table!!!
All of this changed with 5 years of hostel life…. Everything I detested became close to my heart and it didn’t take much effort at all!!  I remember the days when I used rush home for the weekends after 5 days of starvation and homesickness. Anything my mom made was a treasure be it even bitter gourd. Seriously, I even began enjoying bitter gourd thoran (a traditional Kerala style dry curry). Food never tasted better!!!
It was like rediscovering my mom’s cooking and I began enjoying homemade food more than ever.







Obviously, fish curries too began to taste different for me. I am sure my mom must have had a hearty laugh seeing me gobble down fish curry and rice like some refugee!!  She’s really had a tough time forcing it down my throat when I was a childJ

After marriage this was one of the first items that I learned to prepare well because my husband is a fish lover.
Mom makes fish curries in quite a simple way but the taste is awesome and so here goes the recipe.

FISH CURRY (KERALA STYLE)

Ingredients

Fish any variety- 1 kg cut and cleaned (use vinegar or lime to get the fishy smell off)

Coconut milk – milk from 1 coconut (I prefer using freshly squeezed coconut milk. But you can use the coconut milk powder too. But I recommend the fresh milk as the taste enhancement is incomparable!!) if  you are using coconut milk powder, mix 3 tbsp of powder with ¾ glass water.

Chilly powder- 2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 ¾ tsp
Turmeric powder- ½ tsp
Chillies slit – 3
Ginger crushed- 3 inch long
Curry leaves- a handful
Small onion- 3-4 sliced
Gamboges ( kudam puli) – 2 pieces
Raw mango – 1 small cut into long pieces
Oil

Preparation

Use a clay pot if you have one. This kind of Fish curry tastes best in clay pots, but its okay if you don’t have it, you may use any vessel of choice.
First, pour the coconut milk into a blender, add all the powders (chilly powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder) along with it and blend for a minute or two.
Put the chillies, ginger, gamboges and raw mangoes into the pot and place it on the fire. Now pour the blended coconut milk into the pot and let it boil for around 5 minutes.
Once the coconut milk starts boiling, slowly put the fish pieces one by one into this gravy. Lower the flame, place the lid on the pot and let the fish cook. After around 5 mins remove the lid and continue cooking for another 5 – 10 mins or until the gravy starts getting thick. Do not use a spoon to stir or you may break the fish pieces.
Instead, just lift the vessel and rotate it slowly so that you don’t risk burning the gravy.
Take a small wok and pour around 2 tbsp of oil into it. Once hot, put the sliced onion pieces and fry till golden brown; put the curry leaves along with it.
Once the curry is cooked, take it off the flame and garnish it with the fried onions and curry leaves.
You can enjoy this with hot steaming rice or tapioca. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fried Potatoes




I don’t think there are many people who can resist a plate of crispy French fries dipped in tomato ketchup, they kind of slip uncontrollably from your hands into your mouth, non stop !!!  Well, I am no exception to that either and almost always end up succumbing to my temptations.  But something that always bothered me was the way French fries are made at the food joints…. You know, they are double fried in oil!! That’s the secret behind their taste.
I was not really bothered for myself, but the only way I could get my little girl to eat some potatoes were as fries and I wanted to give it to her in a healthy, home made way!  Let me tell you how….

FRENCH FRIES

Ingredients

Potatoes – cut into thin fingers
Oil
Salt
Water

Preparation

Boil a saucepan of water and put in the potatoes and continue boiling them till they are just cooked. Do not over cook as the potatoes will loose their shape.
Once done, strain out the water completely
Take a pan of oil and heat it till it’s very hot.
Now put in the boiled potatoes and fry till they are golden brown and crispy. Drain out from the oil using a slotted spoon and put the fries onto some tissue paper.
Season the fries with some salt.
Yummy restaurant style French fries ready!! These don’t get soggy like the usual home made ones J



Enjoy !!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Buns and Rolls



I love breads in any form and shape and I can have them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never tire of them, ever…
Probably that’s what motivated me into thinking about baking them at home. If I can bake a cake then why not a bun..  Baking breads had also been a childhood fancy, courtesy Enid Blyton books and other fairy tales which often spoke about the aroma of freshly baked breads and buns J . The whole idea always fascinated me.
And Trust me, the books weren’t exaggerating at all !!!!!!!! The aroma is seriously intoxicating…
I was so overjoyed with my baking experience that I decided to do some experiments of my own and the results weren’t bad at all. Know what I did??
I filled them up with chicken!!!!!!

HOME MADE BUN





Ingredients

300g All purpose flour, sifted
120ml Cold milk
1 tsp Instant yeast
1/2tsp Salt
55g Castor sugar
1 egg
30g Butter

Preparation

Add flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a bowl and mix well. Add beaten egg into the Cold milk. Now, slowly add in the egg and milk into the dry ingredients.
If the dough is too wet stop adding the liquid in.
Add butter and continue to knead until dough is formed. It should be of the consistency of chapatti dough
Cover dough with a piece of damp towel until double in bulk.(About 40minutes)
Divide dough into small portions.
You can shape them into small round shapes to make normal buns.




 To make dinner rolls like the ones I have done here, you will have to take 3 small equal portions of dough and make three rope- like shapes of equal length and thickness. Now squeeze these pieces together at one end and plait the remaining part of the rope, like you would plait your hair.. J . When done, squeeze together the lower portions as well. 
Viola!! Your dinner rolls are ready…

Place all of them onto a greased baking tray, cover them with damp towel once again and wait till they double in bulk.
Brush with melted butter and bake in preheated oven at 180C for 8-10minutes or until lightly browned.

Tip
To make the bun look glossy and presentable brush with this special egg wash.

Ingredients

50 ml Honey
50 gm Castor sugar
1 Egg
100 ml Water


CHICKEN BUN




Ingredients

Dough
Chicken- 1 cup boiled and shredded
Onion- 1 medium sized chopped
Ginger – a small piece, finely chopped
Chilly powder- ½ tsp
Pepper- as required
Garam masala – ¼ tsp
Oil

Preparation

Pour oil into a hot pan; add in the chopped onions and ginger and sauté till the onions are translucent. Now add the chilly powder and garam masala and continue sautéing for a few more mins. Add shredded chicken and after sautéing for a couple of mins, switch off the flame and season the mixture with pepper.
Let this cool down completely.




Take a small portion of the dough and flatten it in your palm. Scoop out 2 tbsp of the chicken filling and place it onto the flattened dough. Now cover the entire filling with the dough by shaping it like a small money bag. Seal the filling in completely.
 Once you are done with entire lot place them onto a greased baking tray, cover them with damp towel once again and wait till they double in bulk.
Brush with melted butter and bake in preheated oven at 180C for 8-10minutes or until lightly browned.

So all set to surprise your family at the tea table ;)  







Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Frozen Delight




Frozen yogurts are a favourite with my family, but I never realised it was something that could easily be made at home until I stumbled upon a wonderful recipe posted by my good friend Sarah, who runs a fabulous blog herself. And another reason for joy was that it didn’t require an ice cream maker!!!!
Her recipe inspired me to make one of my own and the result was a delicious, sweet and tangy purple beauty.
And know what gave its colour??  Pomegranate!!

POMEGRANATE FROZEN YOGURT

Ingredients

Pomegranate juice- 1 cup (you will have to use approx one big pomegranate and ¼ glass of water to get 1 cup of juice and remember to strain off the seeds)

Yogurt – 2 cups (Remove all the water present. You can also use hung curd, but ensure that it’s not sour)
Sugar – ¾ cup – 1 cup
Gelatine – 2 tsp
Hot water – 3 tbsp to dissolve the gelatine




Preparation

Put all the ingredients except the gelatine into a blender and make a smooth mixture.
Add gelatine to the hot water and stir until completely dissolved. Ensure that the water is very hot or else the gelatine wouldn’t dissolve properly.
Now pour the gelatine into the yogurt mixture and stir well. Transfer this into a freezer safe bowl and place it into your freezer after changing your freezer temperature to coldest.
After an hour, take out the bowl and whisk the mixture. This helps to break the ice crystals. Return the bowl to the freezer.
Repeat this after every hour for about 3 or 4 times.
Now freeze overnight.
Keep your yogurt outside for around 10 mins before serving so that it’s easy to scoop out.



Enjoy!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pepper, Egg and A Dosa!!


Dosas are a favourite for breakfast at my home and we keep having it almost every alternate day. But having the same old plain dosa or the regular masala dosa can get a little boring at times. I love experimenting with dosas and thats what made me land up with this simple but tasty dosa variety….
There are no fancy ingredients, just eggs, onions and lots of pepper. I teamed this up with onion chutney and the combination was fab!!

One little tip to make crispy and stiff restaurant style roasts which are best suited for masala dosas – do not make your dosa batter too watery, it should be of dropping consistency.

PEPPER-EGG MASALA DOSA AND ONION CHUTNEY


                                                                                      
Pepper- egg masala dosa

Ingredients
(Measurements to make 2 dosas)

Dosa batter
Eggs – 2
Pepper- 1 tsps ( according to your spice requirements)
Onions – 2 medium sized sliced
Green chilli – 2-3 as per your spice requirement
Curry leaves
Oil

Preparation

Break both the eggs into a cup and whisk it till its nice a frothy.
Take a frying pan, pour in 2 tbsp of oil and wait until hot. Now add the onions and green chillies and curry leaves and sauté till the onions are translucent. Once this is done, remove half of the onions from the pan and keep aside. Into the remaining onions pour half of the whisked egg, lower the flame and wait for it to cook.
 If you want your eggs fully cooked, as I prefer it to be, you will have to turn over the egg- onion mixture (Its ok if u break it, coz this is anyways going into the dosa).
You can skip this step if your preference is otherwise. Now lets season the masala with 1/2 tsp of pepper. 

Remember to add pepper only in the end.... this keeps the flavour strong.
While this is happening on your frying pan, heat your dosa pan and make a nice thin and crispy dosa. Pour ghee or oil over your dosa..Yum yum!
Once your dosa is ready place the egg masala onto the centre of the dosa and fold it over.

Viola!!! Your pepper- egg masala dosa is ready…..

Onion Chutney

Ingredients

Onions- 2 large ones sliced
Tomato- 1 medium diced
Garlic- a small piece
Curry leaves- 2-3
Tamarind- a small pinch
Oil (coconut oil is my preference)

Preparation

Heat a pan and pour 1 tsp of oil, put the onions, garlic and the curry leaves into to this and sauté till the onions are translucent, now add the tomatoes and sauté further for 2 or 3 mins. Let this mixture cool down completely before you put it into your blender to make a smooth paste. Before you blend add a pinch of tamarind into the mixture.

Now pour in 1 tbsp of oil into your chutney and mix well. You may now transfer the chutney into a serving dish and enjoy your dosa!! 

The Golden Crunchies




Well, this golden snack definitely doesn't need an introduction, especially to my Keralite friends out there: our very own ‘Kaya Upperi’ (Raw Banana chips). I am sure it’s a favourite amongst all the Malayalees across the globe but it’s a pity to say that hardly anyone makes it at home any more. With the invasion of the packaged varieties across the market we seem to have conveniently forgotten that this was once a home-made savoury. But let me tell you, these packet chips are just a mere shadow of the crispy crunchy home-made ones.
My mom still makes these at home, especially when it’s the Onam and Vishu (these are the 2 major festivals in Kerala) season and also to pack it up for us when we get back to Bahrain, where I live.
As these stock exhausts soon enough I thought I should learn to make them too so that my daughter should be as privileged as I am.

It’s really simple, trust me!!!

KAYA UPPERI (RAW BANANA CHIPS)




Ingredients

Raw bananas (the Kerala variety- Nendara Kaya)- 3-4
Oil ( I use coconut oil)– ½ a litre ( for deep frying)
Salt as per need
Water
 Turmeric – ½ tsp

Preparation

Peel the bananas of their skin. Be careful because the banana skins gives out this sap that can stain your cloths. Once this is done, wash the bananas well.
Take a big vessel of water, mix the turmeric in and drop the peeled bananas into this water. Leave for around 15-20 mins. This prevents the bananas from changing colour and also helps to get its golden colour when done.
Now you may take out the bananas and start slicing them into very thin, circular discs. Try to get them as thin as possible so as to get the final product nice and crispy. It’s best to use a vegetable slicer for this, if you have one.
Once the slicing is done, spread out the discs on a tray and leave it to dry up for 10-15 mins. Less the moisture content, more the crisp…
It’s frying time now… so heat up the oil in a big wok. Once boiling hot, drop in the banana slices and fry them nice, crisp and golden. Meanwhile take salt (as per your requirement) mix it with half a glass of water. Once the chips are almost done, sprinkle the salt water into the oil and stir. You better stand a little away as the oil is going to spit and splutter in fury!!
You may now use a slotted spoon to drain out the chips and place them on tissue paper to dry up the oil further.
Once cooled completely store your chips in an airtight container.



HAPPY SNACKING!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

An Orange Bake



Though I enjoy cooking as a whole, I always have a soft corner for baking. Though getting a cake from a store is a lot easier, the satisfaction I get from feeding my daughter with a home made cake is immense. And trust me the taste is so completely incomparable too.
I decided to bake one today and thought I would give it a nice citrus and orangey flavour. Oh yes, I have baked an Orange sponge cake and thought I would share it with you.


ORANGE SPONGE CAKE

Ingredients

All purpose flour- 2 ¼ cups
Eggs – 6 large ones
Castor sugar – 1 ½ cups (this is nothing but finely powdered sugar)
Baking powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Vegetable oil- ½ cup (do not use coconut oil, olive oil or any oil which gives a flavour. Corn oil or sunflower oil or safflower oil are the best)

Freshly squeezed orange juice – ¾ cup (2-3 Navel oranges can give 1 glass of juice)

Orange zest – 2 tbsp (this is the outer skin of the orange which has all the flavour and the zest. But be careful not to crape out the white layer just beneath the orange skin coz that can give a bitter taste to your cake)

Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Cream of tartar – ¾ tsp (you can do without this too, but just ensure that your eggs are as fresh as possible)


Preparation

Preheat oven to 180 degree C. Prepare the baking tray, you can either butter it or line it with parchment paper. I usually use parchment paper as its easy to pull out the cake after baking.
Separate the egg yolk and whites and keep aside till room temperature is attained. In a large bowl, wisk the egg whites using an electric beater until frothy, now add the cream of tartar and wisk again until soft peaks are formed. Now add 3 tbsp of castor sugar and continue wisking till stiff peaks form. Keep this aside.

In another mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar and salt). Make a well in the mixture and pour in all the wet ingredients (egg yolks, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla essence and oil).Mix all the ingredients well to make a smooth batter. You can use an electric beater if u wish, but personally I believe in using a wooden spatula to mix manually. I feel Manual mixing enhances the softness of the cake. Probably I am being a little too old fashioned!!

Now pour in the egg whites and carefully fold the egg whites into the mixture until just incorporated. Do not over mix because you may deflate the mixture and hence loose out on the cakes spongy texture….. Now it’s the tasting time!!!! Dip in a finger and give a big smack J  okay perfect!!!!
Alright, now you may pour in the batter to the prepared pan and place it in the preheated oven and bake for 50-55 mins or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
 I use a normal gas oven, and I prefer that to the microwave. If you are using a microwave, place a small bowl of water along with the pan, this will prevent moisture loss and helps keeping the cake soft and moist.

Place the cake on a wire rack to cool. Do not pull out the cake until completely cooled or you might end up ruining it!!!

Happy eating ..






Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chicken Biriyani my Mom’s style


Chicken Biriyani my Mom’s style

Biriyanis are an evergreen favourite at my house and I guess its same in most Indian homes. My husband can have it 24/7 for 365 days a year and yet never get over it. So obviously it’s a joy making it. I have tried different ways of making Biriyanis but my favourite is the way my mom makes. Its one of her masterpieces which I can say with pride that I have mastered close to her perfection. I am particularly attached to this recipe for another reason as well, this was first dish I whipped up for the husband after our marriage, something that made me an instant star with my In-laws as well :) So I thought I’ll start my posts with this lucky charm of mine, a Magical mix of meat and rice and spices!!!


CHICKEN BIRIYANI

Long grained rice (I use basmati rice)- 2.5 glasses/ approx 700 gms
Chicken cleaned and cut into medium sized pieces- 1 kg
Onions medium sized- 7 nos: sliced finely
Small Indian onions – 10 nos: crushed
Ginger – 3inch piece crushed
Garlic – 5-6 cloves crushed (in Bahrain where I live, garlic cloves are really big but if you get small garlic cloves at your place you will have to take almost 10-12 pieces)
Tomatoes – 2 medium ones diced
Green chillies – 2-3 slit (I am a less spice person, but u can add more as per your taste)
Curry leaves – a handful
Coriander leaves – a bunch chopped
Chilli powder- 1 ½ tsp
Coriander powder – 1 ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Fennel seed powder- 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Salt – as per requirement
Oil (I prefer using coconut oil, but any other vegetable oil can be used)
Ghee
Cashew nuts – a handful
Raisins – a handful
Cardamom – 6
Bay leaves – 3
Cinnamon sticks – 3-4

For the marinade
Chilli powder- ½ tsp
Coriander powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Pepper – ½ tsp
Salt a pinch
Curd – 1 tbsp

Preparation

Step 1:Mix up all the ingredients for the marinade to make a smooth paste and rub it onto the chicken pieces and keep it aside in the refrigerator overnight. This makes your chicken really tender and juicy and yummy!!!

Step 2: Soak rice for about ½ an hr to 1hr. You can do without this step too, but soaking makes the rice really soft and gives a light feeling to this heavy meal .I have tried both ways and I prefer the former.

Step 3: Pour 3-4 tbsp of ghee to a pan and once hot, put ¼ th portion of the sliced onions into this and fry till golden brown .Be careful not it overdo the frying coz it can give a burned taste to your onions. Use a slotted spoon to strain out the onions from the pan. Now put in the cashews and fry till they have turned a nice golden brown, and finally add the raisins and fry these out too. Strain them all out with a slotted spoon and drain out the fat on a tissue paper.

Step 4: Take a deep heavy bottomed vessel or a non stick vessel, pour in 3-4 tbsp of oil, and let it be really hot over the flame. When the oil is hot enough, reduce the flame and add the crushed ginger and garlic and sauté it until it turns a light brown and the lovely aroma starts oozing out of your pan.
 I have always preferred crushes ginger and garlic to the paste form of it because this gives us more of its lovely flavour and has far less water content than the pastes and also it takes lesser time to brown up. Once you get the aroma thrusting up into your nose trills, add 3/4th portion of the remaining sliced onions and all of  the crushed small onions as well, you can increase the flame now. You would be wondering why I have used the small onions along with the convenient bigger ones. Try it, you will never regret…. The flavour enhancement is amazing. The aroma of the coconut oil- small onion combination is just so tantalizing!!!!!!!
Now sauté the onions till they turn almost dark brown. Once this is done, add on the diced tomatoes, slit chillies and curry leaves and keep sautéing till the tomatoes are almost invisible.
Finally its spice time… drop in all the powders one by one (chilli pwdr, coriander pwdr, turmeric pwdr and fennel seed pwdr), remember to reduce the flame when you do this, we don’t want to burn the spices do we!! Add a tbsp of water as well so that you won’t risk burning the spices at all… keep sautéing the mixture till the aroma is unbearably mouth watering and till your whole neighbourhood starts knocking at your door J. Now the whole masala looks like a single brown lump, and oil starts separating from the mixture.
At this point add the marinated chicken and salt (as per your requirement). Slowly cover the entire chicken with the masala, add approx half glass of water and cover your vessel with a lit. Reduce flame and wait for curry to start boiling. Now add the garam masala and give a slight stir. Keep back the lid and cook for 10-15 mins or until the chicken is well cooked, giving occasional stirs. When the chicken curry comes to a semi gravy consistency you may turn of the flame.

Step 5: Drain away water from the soaked rice using a strainer. Take a vessel and pour in about 2tbsps of ghee, once its hot enough add the whole spices ( cardamoms, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks), let it start spluttering, now add the remaining onions to this and sauté till it turns light brown. Now wait….. don’t forget whiff in the lovely fragrance before you go on J
Well well, now you may add the rice into this mix and sauté for about 1 or 2 mins. Yes you heard me right… but remember just 1 or 2 mins. Your rice will turn nice and soft, trust me!!!
Meanwhile boil 4 and half glasses of water (remember to use the same glass you used to measure your rice)
Usually with basmati rice, water should be double the quantity of rice to cook the rice to the right consistency. But here, since we have had our rice soaked and fried, we need comparatively lesser water for the cooking.
Ok, now lets pour this water into your rice and add a pinch of turmeric powder, remember just a pinch, too much of colour can ruin the beauty of your biriyani. Put in some salt as per your need. Reduce the flame, cover up the vessel and wait for about 10-15 mins or until the water has completely evaporated and the rice has been cooked perfectly well. No 2 rice should stick to each other, That’s how perfect Biriyanis are!!.

Step 6: The Assembly and Dum
With the chicken curry done, The rice cooked and the garnishing ready, its time for the finale, the time to do the Dum.
There’s nothing better than an old fashioned grill for this, but if u don’t have one it’s ok to use the microwave as well. When I use the grill I usually use an aluminium vessel and seal up the vessel with chapatti dough. This time I used the microwave, so I have used a microwave safe vessel and covered the vessel with a lid and set the microwave on high for 5 mins.
For the assembly, take a deep bottomed serving dish, place half of the rice as the first layer, then pour in the whole chicken curry and level it up for the second layer and finally complete the sandwich with the remaining rice and then even out the surface. Close the vessel and do the Dum.
Just before serving, garnish your biriyani with the fried onions, cashews, raisins and the chopped coriander leaf.
The Biriyani is now ready for serving……
Serve your dish with some raita and fried papadom (pappad).

Hope you enjoy your meal!!!!