Saturday, April 9, 2011

French Toast

After much contemplation I decided to publish this post. It's not like there's a real recipe for French Toast - everyone knows how to make it. It's almost like teaching people how to boil water, isn't it? Well, I was thinking on these lines when I realised that it had been at least 20 years since I had actually bitten into a French Toast. Not really sure how many people actually make it anymore since there's a fast food joint round the corner to satiate your 4pm hunger. My mum used to make it very often as an evening snack for us to eat when we returned from school. I can never forget that 4.30pm snack with a cuppa hot coffee. These mildly spiced sweet slices of bread dipped in egg were one of the ideal, 'nutritious' and filling snacks of our times. Almost every mum made them at least once a week or two. While some people used to have it for breakfast, it was an evening snack in our house.

Yesterday when my little son told me that he wanted a snack in the evening, I thought it was better to introduce this snack to him rather than reach out for a pack of biscuits. It's the best kind of snack if you want to get the goodness of Milk & Egg to reach a little tummy. The French Toast looks great with white bread, but you can always add some nutrition back into it by using brown/multigrain bread. I have used egg whites as it eliminiates the 'eggy' smell which yolks impart. The nutmeg can be skipped if you dont like it, replace it with cinnamon if you like, but I prefer a dash of nutmeg as it gives this truly divine flavour & fragrance to the toast.

French Toast
(Printable Recipe)

Recipe Source: My mum
Serves: 2
You Need:
  • 6 slices of bread
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3-4 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/8th tsp nutmeg powder
  • ghee for frying
Method:
1. Mix the sugar and nutmeg powder into the milk and place in in a flat wide bowl. Beat the egg whites & place them in another flat bowl.
2. Heat a frying pan and grease it with ghee.
3. Dip each slice of bread well in the milk first and then the egg whites and place them on the frying pan.
4. Fry well on both sides till golden brown
7. Serve hot




Friday, April 8, 2011

Ragi Idli (Steamed Finger Millet Cakes)

Although I don't believe in the past life and rebirth theories, if I ever had one, I probably was a farmer somewhere in North Karnataka :) How else can you explain my love for cereals especially the Finger Millet? Ragi as it's widely called across India, this humble millet is known as Nachni in Maharashtra and Nathno in Konkani. It is probably one of the earliest foods that most of us have had as babies are often weaned with the first semi solid food being the Ragi porridge.


Did you know that Finger Millet is originally native to the Ethiopian Highlands and was introduced to India 4000 years back? There are numerous health benefits of Ragi. Besides being a good source of protein it aids bone development and weight loss just to name a few benefits. While the most popular way of eating the Ragi is either in the form of porridge or steamed balls called as Ragi Mudde in Karnataka, some people eat it in the form of rottis (dry flat bread) or even steamed and eaten in the form of Puttu (famous in Kerala). Try the Ragi Dosa & Carrot Garlic Chutney for a complete power packed breakfast. The Ragi Idli is a lovely variation to the regular rice idli. You can skip the rice if you wish in the below recipe, but it tastes very nice with the rice in it.



Ragi Idli
(Printable Recipe)
Yield: 14-15 Idlis


Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finger millet flour (ragi flour)
  • 1/2 cup split black gram dal (udad dal)
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
  • 1/2 cup idli rice (parbpoiled rice called as Mutambo in Konkani, you can also use raw rice called as Kolam rice)
  • salt to taste


Method:
1. Soak udad dal, rice and fenugreek seeds separately for at least 2 hours. Soak the ragi flour for 10minutes before mixing the batter.
2. Grind the udad dal first until it turns fluffly. Grind the rice and methi seeds to an almost fine consistency - leave it a bit grainy (rawa consistency). In a deep pan mix the ground batters along with the soaked ragi flour adding a little water to arrive at a idli batter kind of consistency - should not be too runny nor too thick like cake batter
3. Leave it overnight for fermentation. Cover the mouth of the pan with a muslin cloth.
4. Place sufficient water in a cooker & bring it to a boil. Grease idli moulds with a little oil & pour batter into each mould. Place the mould into the cooker, cover the lid and steam without adding the weight (whistle) to the cooker for about 15-18 minutes. Alternatively if you own a Mangalorean style Tondor (steamer) and classic Sanna moulds (Ginduls) the same process can be followed.
5. Remove the moulds after 20minutes and allow them to cool a bit before gently turning them over to remove the idlis out.
6. Serve hot with Sambar or coconut chutney (recipes to follow)


Adapted from: Mahanandi and Aayis Recipes

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Classic Chocolate Fudge Brownies

After all the Mangalorean recipes that I've been uploading since the past few days, I thought I should take a break from all the endless typing & make myself a treat (and ofcourse a non-Mangalorean recipe post was due for all my non-Mangalorean friends). On a sultry afternoon (yeah, the mercury has been rising in my city since the past few days) I was simply lazing around on my favourite chair and browsing through some of my favourite blogs. The one I frequent is Easycooking with Divya who has some of the most lovely recipes. I browsed at random & found a whole list of brownie recipes, picked one and voila! one of the best tasting brownies was in my own kitchen. Moist and warm - I could barely resist cutting through it when it was still hot! Impatience did me in anyways and I tried to dig in when it was partially cool - result? A few pieces crumbled a bit, so when you try it, please wait till its completely cooled off before removing it from the tin.


This brownie has an amazing texture - sticky inside and crusty on the surface, it will taste divine with vanilla ice cream, but it didn't last long enough for me to order for some ice cream! The taste on first bite will feel bitter but then that's when the richness will engulf your tastebuds but it's not so rich that you won't want another bite - it's perfect! The quantity is just perfect for a small gathering as this recipe yields 12 medium size brownies



Classic Chocolate Fudge Brownies
(Printable Recipe)

You Need:
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4th tsp baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 6 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed - Hintz)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup melted butter (I substituted it with refined vegetable oil)
  • 1 cup walnuts chopped
Method:
1. Sift the flour with baking powder & salt and set aside. In a little flour roll the walnut pieces so that they dont sink to the bottom of the cake (thumb rule when you use nuts in any cake)
2. In a bowl mix the cocoa powder and melted butter (or oil)
3. In another bowl beat the eggs lightly along with the sugar (which I powdered using a dry grinder). Add the vanilla extract and mix well till incorporated.
4. Add the eggs & sugar mixture to the cocoa butter mixture and mix well.
5. Add the flour in parts and mix well
6. Grease an 8" square cake tin and line it with parchment paper. Pour the prepared mixture into the tin and bake in a preheated oven (see note) at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or till the cake is risen. You can do the skewer test to check if the cake is done, but since brownies usually have a sticky goey texture in the centre and they will continue to cook even after the tin has been removed from the oven. So unless your skewer/knife comes out with uncooked batter, consider your brownies done!

Note: I bake my cakes in an OTG (Oven Toaster Grill) also known as the Toaster Oven outside India. If you have a very basic model like I have (I own a Bajaj OTG 1602T) preheat on Bake mode (lower elements get heated) for 7-8minutes and then place the tin on the centre rack and bake for the required time.



Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bangde Atati (Mackerel Masala)

In the olden days a very popular way of cooking fish/meat dishes was called the 'voir-pondha uzo' (where coals are placed over the lid of the vessel making it a two way cooking process). This particular recipe was authentically made using the same technique as per my mum-in-law. However since these days nobody really uses earthen pots (called 'Kundlein' in Konkani) in which the best tasting food used to get cooked, the technique has also become almost redundant. Who has free access to coal these days? I literally begged my isthri-wala (laundry guy) to get me some coal as they use irons boxes fuelled by coal to make clothes wrinkle free...after sometime I just stopped asking him.

However, today's non-stick pans do the same job just fine, but ofcourse, earthen pots are earthen pots - there's something totally homely about them - the earthy fragrance and flavour is something else. Personally I still prefer making Pork Bafat in the ek-lauta (one and only) Kundlein that my mum-in-law gave me a few years ago. I have kept it carefully & use it once in a while like a prized possession. Even when I eat out, if there's a Hyderabadi dum biryani that comes in an earthen pot - I'm sold!


Atati is a word used to describe a very dry kind of dish with very little gravy. Atati is arrived at by 'drying up' the gravy resulting in a thick gravy with loads of shindaap (whole ingredients that form the base of the gravy). The success of this recipe also depends on the freshness of the Mackerels (ofcourse like any other fish). If you are a novice in buying fish, then here's a tip. The freshest catch they say, especially the Mackerel always reflect the colours of sunset - if they sparkle with a silverish grey shine - they are fresh. If a bunch of greyish red Mackerels give you a lacklustre look, then they are not so fresh - probably a couple of days old lying in the ice box. Fresh Mackerels should be firm to the touch, if your finger leaves a deep impression - move over to the next fisherwoman :) Old Mackrels will give out an unpleasant fishy smell ('himsaan') so even if you get not so fresh Mackerels, make sure you wash them in plenty of water with salt & turmeric and leave them to drain in a slotted colander before cooking them.


Mackerel Masala
(Printable Recipe)

Recipe Source: My mum-in-law


You Need:
  • 4 big Mackrels (Bangde in Konkani, Bangude in Kannada & Tulu, Baangda in Marathi/Hindi)
For the masala
  • 8 long dry chillies (reduce it to 5-6 chillies if you prefer less spicy although mackrels are best eaten in a spicy flaming hot gravy)
  • 1 tsp jeera
  • 1/4 tsp haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar
  • 1 small ball of tamarind
Note: You can replace the chillies, jeera & turmeric by just adding 2 tbsp bafat powder (preferably without the garam masala added to it)
    For the shindaap/tempering (whole ingredients to be fried before the ground masala is added)
    • 2 medium onions sliced
    • 1 green chilli (if you are petrified with the number of chillies used, reduce the red chillies if you wish but retain this green one, it gives a nice flavour)
    • 1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
    • 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
    • 1 large tomato chopped finely
    • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
    • 1 stalk or 5-6 curry leaves (kadipatta)
    Method:
    1. Clean the fish thoroughly with salt and leave to drain. Then apply salt & turmeric powder and set aside
    2. Heat a wok/thick bottomed pan, add oil and then add kadipatta & onion & fry lightly. Toss in the 3 G's (ginger-green chillies-garlic), fry some more and then add the tomato & chopped coriander. Reduce the flame and fry till the oil leaves the sides.
    3. Add the masala & fry a little. Add 1/2 cup of water & salt to taste. Bring the gravy to a boil and then turn off the flame.
    4. Slit the mackrels at the belly & stuff this masala into each fish.
    5. Add the fish back to the remaining gravy in the wok and gently cover the mackrels with the rest of the masala. Cook on very slow flame for 5 minutes and then turn them over gently to be cooked on the other side for another 5 minutes.
    6. Serve hot with steaming hot brown or white rice


    Tip: Mackrels cooked in an earthen pot are the ultimate in taste!


    Sunday, April 3, 2011

    Sunday Special! Sheviyo Ani Kunkdachi Kadi (Stringhoppers/Rice Noodles & Chicken Curry)

    This is probably the billionth time that I am writing the word 'favourite'. How else do I describe Sheviyo - Mangalore's very own steamed rice noodle? Called as Stringhoppers in English, it's closest cousin is the Keralite Noolputtu/Idiyappam which according to me are slightly thinner noodles - more like a hybrid between the cooked vermicelli & the Sheviyo. The Keralite version of this delicacy is made by using rice powder and the process of creating these delicate strands of flour requires a handy, portable cylindrical machine similar to the chakli maker. Batter is poured into it and a handle is wound to compress the batter which comes out of a fine slotted steel disc placed at the bottom of the cylinder. The Noolputtu is then steamed in a steamer and served hot with a dash of grated coconut. Yum! (Did I tell you I totally LOVE Mallu food as much as I love Mangy food? - I have loads of great Mallu friends and I have been tasting their food since my college days).


    Sheviyo is made by reversing this process. Instead of rice flour, rice grains are soaked & ground to a thick paste which is then formed into lumps and steamed till done. These lumps are then quickly passed through a larger apparatus called the 'Shevgo' in Konkani. If you are wondering where to buy the Shevgo, well, it's available in a few 'Mangalore Stores' outlets in Mumbai. I picked up mine for about Rs.800 a couple of years ago & it was well worth the investment even though I use it just a couple of times a year - as it needs an extra person for steering the wheel :-) For those of you who live outside India and cannot carry one abroad, I suggest you pick up the chakli maker which has 5-6 steel discs with different kinds of shapes suitable to make chaklis and sevai & other Indian dry snacks. The slotted disc will be handy to make the Sheviyo provided you add unsteamed batter & then steam it like the Noolputtu (DO NOT make the mistake of stuffing steamed batter into a tiny chakli maker - it will get stuck forever like glue - this is a tried & tested attempt that flopped which compelled me to make the wise investment of buying the Shevgo :-)

    The Chakli Maker

    The Shevgo requires two people to maneuver. One who puts the freshly steamed lumps of dough into the cylinder (almost like a copper lota) with fine slots at the bottom and the other person who helps compress the dough by turning a handle - tough job I must say, but it's fun too as Sheviyo making time always helps strike up a great camaraderie between these two people even if they are the worst of enemies :-) The Sheviyo which begin to form into noodles and get squeezed out of the cylinder are quickly collected in a dish. Authentically, in Mangalore instead of a dish halved strips of the Banana tree stem are used which helps to retain the long strands of Sheviyo without having to break them. Fun isn't it? I wonder who thought of this great practice, either ways, we must give credit to the great minds who knew to make use of everything from their gardens. What seems amazing & mind boggling for us tissue paper users was common practice in those golden days.

    The Mangalorean Shevgo



    While the most popular way of eating the Sheviyo is with a chicken/mutton gravy (which are usually of a thinner consistency than regular gravies), one can enjoy them dipped in Sweet Coconut Roce (coconut milk flavoured with cardamom & palm jaggery (surai god)). Leftover Sheviyo is re-steamed the next day and converted into a savoury upma by tempering it with mustard, kadipatta etc. So you see, Mangalorean 'Poli' (steamed/fried rice items like sannas, appams, panpolo(neer dosa), bakri, mutli etc) are versatile as there are many ways to eat one dish - sweet, savoury or plain - take your pick!


    Sheviyo

    Recipe Source: My mum
    Makes 8-10 'ghos' (portion of sheviyo derived from each compress)
    Serves 6-8 people

    You Need:
    • 3 cups boiled rice (called as Ukdo in Konkani, Ukda in Hindi)
    • salt to taste
    Method:
    1. Soak rice for a minimum 2-3hours and grind it to a fine paste with as little water as possible - adding 1-2 tbsp of water only if you are using a mixer grinder that refuses to co-operate. Try to retain as thick a batter as possible (it should not be runny)
    2. Make 4-5 portions of this thick batter and place them onto a cloth/bairas
    3. Place a Tondor (steamer) with sufficient water on full flame and bring it to a boil. Place the cloth with the portions of batter into the steaming vessel and steam for 15-20minutes when the dough looks transparent
    4. Prepare the 'Shevgo' by greasing the weight & compress cylinder with some cooking oil.
    5. Open the steamer & remove one ball/portion of steamed dough & place into the cylinder. The weight needs to be positioned to hover right above the cylinder & the handles of the Shevgo need to be turned to release the weight rolling down into place. Press tightly to release Sheviyo, collect them immediately from below & roll back the handles of the Shevgo to repeat this process
    6. Place Sheviyo on a Kurpon (disc woven out of reed) to cool off.
    7. Serve Sheviyo with Chicken/Mutton curry or with coconut sweet roce (recipe to follow)


    Chicken Curry
    Recipe Source: My mum-in-law
    Serves 6
    You Need:
    • 1 kg Chicken cut into medium size pieces
    • 4 short dry chillies (gaunchi mirsaang) * see notes before proceeding
    • 4 long dry chillies (kumti mirsaang) * see notes before proceeding
    • 1 tbsp coriander
    • 1 tsp jeera
    • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
    • 1/2 tsp mustard
    • 2 medium size onions (for grinding)
    • 1 medium onion sliced (to be boiled along with the chicken)
    • 1 small onion for tempering/fon/tadka
    • 5 cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 a coconut grated
    • Milk of 1/2 coconut (optional - only if you wish to eat a gravy which tastes strongly of coconut milk)
    • 1 small ball of tamarind
    • 1 tsp garam masala powder
    Method:
    1. Dry roast the ingredients (dry chillies, coriander, pepper, mustard, jeera, onions, garlic) one by one on a hot tawa. Powder the dry ingredients (minus the onions & garlic) first if you are using a mixer grinder and then add the onions, garlic, grated coconut, tamarind & garam masala. Grind to a fine paste using a little water
    2. Boil the chicken with 1 onion sliced (toss it in the pan with the chicken, no need to fry it first & all that jazz) and salt and a little water if required. Cook until chicken is done.
    3. Add the ground masala to the chicken & bring it to a boil.
    4. Heat a small pan, add ghee and when its smoking hot toss in the 1/2 sliced onion, reduce the flame to avoid burning. This is the Fon/Tadka/Tempering - Add this to the chicken gravy and serve hot!

    Notes:
    1. If you don't have both the varieties of the chillies just use the Byadge variety or even Kashmiri chillies will do (although the final dish may not taste 100% authentic Mangalorean). To tone down the spice remove the seeds from the chillies. If you are serving this dish to kids you may want to use not more than 6-7 deseeded Byadge chillies - this is what I do these days!



    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    Mani (Rice Halwa/Pudding)

    Another one of Mangalore's most loved and almost extinct sweet preparations is the Mani (pronounced as 'maani' in Konkani and also called as Manni in Kannada) which invokes some nice memories and makes my mouth water. Maani is a kind of rice pudding which requires a lot of patience and time. It is probably the preparation time and method that discourages today's generation from even giving it a try (I almost gave up towards the end if it wasn't for my Mum-in-law who kept reassuring me that it would be done soon).


    If you ask someone about how Maani is made, most people will throw their hands in the air, shudder, roll their eyes and say "thaka mosthu saalunk asa - ek ghanto!" (it takes a lot of stirring - takes ages!) - well, that's not really the case, when I tried it, it took me about 20 minutes to cook the mixture on a slow flame and then ofcourse another 20 minutes to cool off, but the stirring business doesn't take as long as people exclaim. The only catch here is that while you set the pan on slow fire you must make sure you give this precious Maani your undivided attention. Forget taking calls or answering the doorbell - cuz then you will have burnt Maani. If you must attend to other things while on the Maani business, simply turn off the flame & attend to it again ASAP! (although it's not the recommended procedure)

    The stirring is also a great exercise for your biceps :) As the mixture thickens to a transparent gooey consistency, it gets harder to stir, so having an extra hand to relieve you of this hard work can be really welcoming :) Shae! Did I scare you off? Nah, try it - it's worth the effort as the taste is so delicate & yummy - Maani will just melt in your mouth!


    Maani

    Recipe Source: My mum-in-law
    Yield: Enough mixture for a 12 inch steel plate

    You Need:
    • 150gms raw rice (Surai as it's called in Konkani, I use small grained Kolam rice in Mumbai)
    • 150gms (or 1 packed cup or 1 vole) grated coconut (to extract coconut milk/roce) - yields about 1 1/2- 2cups of thick milk
    • 3 pods if cardamom (remove the seeds & powder them)
    • 150gms jaggery (pound it a little to remove lumps if any)
    • 1 tsp indhache peet (optional) - see note below
    • 1-2 tsp raisins - washed & dried
    • 1/2 cup of cashewnuts (halved) - washed & dried - If you can get tender cashewnuts (pokan), its even better
    • Ghee for greasing the pan & plate
    Method:
    1. Soak the rice for an hour
    2. Grind the grated coconut with a little warm water (about 2tbsp) to a coarse paste and then put this mixture into a muslin cloth (or bairas cloth) and squeeze to extract the thick milk. Keep it aside. Add some more water into the cloth & extract another cup of thin milk. (You will require approximately 6 cups of liquid in total)
    3. Grind the rice to a fine paste with a cup of thick milk. Mix this paste along with the remaining liquid, cardamom powder, Indache Peet (optional) & jaggery to make a thin batter.
    4. Grease a thick bottomed deep pan with ghee and pour the batter into it. Toss in the cashewnuts (if they are regular ones & not pokan). Set the pan on medium flame and keep stirring continuously until the batter thickens (and looks a little transparent) and leaves the sides of the pan - this takes about 20-25minutes. When the thickening of the batter takes place it may become tough & tiring for you to stir, so it's a good idea to get someone reliable to help you switch places as you should not stop the task of stirring even for a minute.
    5. Pour the mixture into well buttered plates (steel plates with tall edges - Boshi or Peer as they are called in Konkani) and using a little ghee to your fingers quickly spread the mixture to the entire plate flattening the surface to make it smooth. If you cannot handle the heat, you can smear some ghee to the back of a large spoon/ladle to do the same.
    6. Allow the mixture to cool & set in the plates. Decorate with raisins, cut into diamond shapes,and serve



    Note on Indhache Peet: Well readers, i'm not sure what the exact name of Indache Peet is in English, but its very similar to arrowroot powder but is a little dull (offwhite) in colour compared to arrowroot powder. Commonly used in Mangalorean households to treat stomach upsets. The flour is obtained from the root of the tree (Indhaso rook) and is quite expensive and a rare commodity today)

    Saturday, April 9, 2011

    French Toast

    After much contemplation I decided to publish this post. It's not like there's a real recipe for French Toast - everyone knows how to make it. It's almost like teaching people how to boil water, isn't it? Well, I was thinking on these lines when I realised that it had been at least 20 years since I had actually bitten into a French Toast. Not really sure how many people actually make it anymore since there's a fast food joint round the corner to satiate your 4pm hunger. My mum used to make it very often as an evening snack for us to eat when we returned from school. I can never forget that 4.30pm snack with a cuppa hot coffee. These mildly spiced sweet slices of bread dipped in egg were one of the ideal, 'nutritious' and filling snacks of our times. Almost every mum made them at least once a week or two. While some people used to have it for breakfast, it was an evening snack in our house.

    Yesterday when my little son told me that he wanted a snack in the evening, I thought it was better to introduce this snack to him rather than reach out for a pack of biscuits. It's the best kind of snack if you want to get the goodness of Milk & Egg to reach a little tummy. The French Toast looks great with white bread, but you can always add some nutrition back into it by using brown/multigrain bread. I have used egg whites as it eliminiates the 'eggy' smell which yolks impart. The nutmeg can be skipped if you dont like it, replace it with cinnamon if you like, but I prefer a dash of nutmeg as it gives this truly divine flavour & fragrance to the toast.

    French Toast
    (Printable Recipe)

    Recipe Source: My mum
    Serves: 2
    You Need:
    • 6 slices of bread
    • 2 egg whites
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 3-4 tsp sugar (or to taste)
    • 1/8th tsp nutmeg powder
    • ghee for frying
    Method:
    1. Mix the sugar and nutmeg powder into the milk and place in in a flat wide bowl. Beat the egg whites & place them in another flat bowl.
    2. Heat a frying pan and grease it with ghee.
    3. Dip each slice of bread well in the milk first and then the egg whites and place them on the frying pan.
    4. Fry well on both sides till golden brown
    7. Serve hot




    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Ragi Idli (Steamed Finger Millet Cakes)

    Although I don't believe in the past life and rebirth theories, if I ever had one, I probably was a farmer somewhere in North Karnataka :) How else can you explain my love for cereals especially the Finger Millet? Ragi as it's widely called across India, this humble millet is known as Nachni in Maharashtra and Nathno in Konkani. It is probably one of the earliest foods that most of us have had as babies are often weaned with the first semi solid food being the Ragi porridge.


    Did you know that Finger Millet is originally native to the Ethiopian Highlands and was introduced to India 4000 years back? There are numerous health benefits of Ragi. Besides being a good source of protein it aids bone development and weight loss just to name a few benefits. While the most popular way of eating the Ragi is either in the form of porridge or steamed balls called as Ragi Mudde in Karnataka, some people eat it in the form of rottis (dry flat bread) or even steamed and eaten in the form of Puttu (famous in Kerala). Try the Ragi Dosa & Carrot Garlic Chutney for a complete power packed breakfast. The Ragi Idli is a lovely variation to the regular rice idli. You can skip the rice if you wish in the below recipe, but it tastes very nice with the rice in it.



    Ragi Idli
    (Printable Recipe)
    Yield: 14-15 Idlis


    Ingredients:

    • 1 cup finger millet flour (ragi flour)
    • 1/2 cup split black gram dal (udad dal)
    • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
    • 1/2 cup idli rice (parbpoiled rice called as Mutambo in Konkani, you can also use raw rice called as Kolam rice)
    • salt to taste


    Method:
    1. Soak udad dal, rice and fenugreek seeds separately for at least 2 hours. Soak the ragi flour for 10minutes before mixing the batter.
    2. Grind the udad dal first until it turns fluffly. Grind the rice and methi seeds to an almost fine consistency - leave it a bit grainy (rawa consistency). In a deep pan mix the ground batters along with the soaked ragi flour adding a little water to arrive at a idli batter kind of consistency - should not be too runny nor too thick like cake batter
    3. Leave it overnight for fermentation. Cover the mouth of the pan with a muslin cloth.
    4. Place sufficient water in a cooker & bring it to a boil. Grease idli moulds with a little oil & pour batter into each mould. Place the mould into the cooker, cover the lid and steam without adding the weight (whistle) to the cooker for about 15-18 minutes. Alternatively if you own a Mangalorean style Tondor (steamer) and classic Sanna moulds (Ginduls) the same process can be followed.
    5. Remove the moulds after 20minutes and allow them to cool a bit before gently turning them over to remove the idlis out.
    6. Serve hot with Sambar or coconut chutney (recipes to follow)


    Adapted from: Mahanandi and Aayis Recipes

    Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Classic Chocolate Fudge Brownies

    After all the Mangalorean recipes that I've been uploading since the past few days, I thought I should take a break from all the endless typing & make myself a treat (and ofcourse a non-Mangalorean recipe post was due for all my non-Mangalorean friends). On a sultry afternoon (yeah, the mercury has been rising in my city since the past few days) I was simply lazing around on my favourite chair and browsing through some of my favourite blogs. The one I frequent is Easycooking with Divya who has some of the most lovely recipes. I browsed at random & found a whole list of brownie recipes, picked one and voila! one of the best tasting brownies was in my own kitchen. Moist and warm - I could barely resist cutting through it when it was still hot! Impatience did me in anyways and I tried to dig in when it was partially cool - result? A few pieces crumbled a bit, so when you try it, please wait till its completely cooled off before removing it from the tin.


    This brownie has an amazing texture - sticky inside and crusty on the surface, it will taste divine with vanilla ice cream, but it didn't last long enough for me to order for some ice cream! The taste on first bite will feel bitter but then that's when the richness will engulf your tastebuds but it's not so rich that you won't want another bite - it's perfect! The quantity is just perfect for a small gathering as this recipe yields 12 medium size brownies



    Classic Chocolate Fudge Brownies
    (Printable Recipe)

    You Need:
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 3/4th tsp baking powder
    • a pinch of salt
    • 6 tbsp cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed - Hintz)
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 eggs
    • 3/4 cup melted butter (I substituted it with refined vegetable oil)
    • 1 cup walnuts chopped
    Method:
    1. Sift the flour with baking powder & salt and set aside. In a little flour roll the walnut pieces so that they dont sink to the bottom of the cake (thumb rule when you use nuts in any cake)
    2. In a bowl mix the cocoa powder and melted butter (or oil)
    3. In another bowl beat the eggs lightly along with the sugar (which I powdered using a dry grinder). Add the vanilla extract and mix well till incorporated.
    4. Add the eggs & sugar mixture to the cocoa butter mixture and mix well.
    5. Add the flour in parts and mix well
    6. Grease an 8" square cake tin and line it with parchment paper. Pour the prepared mixture into the tin and bake in a preheated oven (see note) at 350 degrees F for 30-35 minutes or till the cake is risen. You can do the skewer test to check if the cake is done, but since brownies usually have a sticky goey texture in the centre and they will continue to cook even after the tin has been removed from the oven. So unless your skewer/knife comes out with uncooked batter, consider your brownies done!

    Note: I bake my cakes in an OTG (Oven Toaster Grill) also known as the Toaster Oven outside India. If you have a very basic model like I have (I own a Bajaj OTG 1602T) preheat on Bake mode (lower elements get heated) for 7-8minutes and then place the tin on the centre rack and bake for the required time.



    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Bangde Atati (Mackerel Masala)

    In the olden days a very popular way of cooking fish/meat dishes was called the 'voir-pondha uzo' (where coals are placed over the lid of the vessel making it a two way cooking process). This particular recipe was authentically made using the same technique as per my mum-in-law. However since these days nobody really uses earthen pots (called 'Kundlein' in Konkani) in which the best tasting food used to get cooked, the technique has also become almost redundant. Who has free access to coal these days? I literally begged my isthri-wala (laundry guy) to get me some coal as they use irons boxes fuelled by coal to make clothes wrinkle free...after sometime I just stopped asking him.

    However, today's non-stick pans do the same job just fine, but ofcourse, earthen pots are earthen pots - there's something totally homely about them - the earthy fragrance and flavour is something else. Personally I still prefer making Pork Bafat in the ek-lauta (one and only) Kundlein that my mum-in-law gave me a few years ago. I have kept it carefully & use it once in a while like a prized possession. Even when I eat out, if there's a Hyderabadi dum biryani that comes in an earthen pot - I'm sold!


    Atati is a word used to describe a very dry kind of dish with very little gravy. Atati is arrived at by 'drying up' the gravy resulting in a thick gravy with loads of shindaap (whole ingredients that form the base of the gravy). The success of this recipe also depends on the freshness of the Mackerels (ofcourse like any other fish). If you are a novice in buying fish, then here's a tip. The freshest catch they say, especially the Mackerel always reflect the colours of sunset - if they sparkle with a silverish grey shine - they are fresh. If a bunch of greyish red Mackerels give you a lacklustre look, then they are not so fresh - probably a couple of days old lying in the ice box. Fresh Mackerels should be firm to the touch, if your finger leaves a deep impression - move over to the next fisherwoman :) Old Mackrels will give out an unpleasant fishy smell ('himsaan') so even if you get not so fresh Mackerels, make sure you wash them in plenty of water with salt & turmeric and leave them to drain in a slotted colander before cooking them.


    Mackerel Masala
    (Printable Recipe)

    Recipe Source: My mum-in-law


    You Need:
    • 4 big Mackrels (Bangde in Konkani, Bangude in Kannada & Tulu, Baangda in Marathi/Hindi)
    For the masala
    • 8 long dry chillies (reduce it to 5-6 chillies if you prefer less spicy although mackrels are best eaten in a spicy flaming hot gravy)
    • 1 tsp jeera
    • 1/4 tsp haldi/turmeric powder
    • 1/2 tsp vinegar
    • 1 small ball of tamarind
    Note: You can replace the chillies, jeera & turmeric by just adding 2 tbsp bafat powder (preferably without the garam masala added to it)
      For the shindaap/tempering (whole ingredients to be fried before the ground masala is added)
      • 2 medium onions sliced
      • 1 green chilli (if you are petrified with the number of chillies used, reduce the red chillies if you wish but retain this green one, it gives a nice flavour)
      • 1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
      • 6 cloves of garlic finely chopped
      • 1 large tomato chopped finely
      • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
      • 1 stalk or 5-6 curry leaves (kadipatta)
      Method:
      1. Clean the fish thoroughly with salt and leave to drain. Then apply salt & turmeric powder and set aside
      2. Heat a wok/thick bottomed pan, add oil and then add kadipatta & onion & fry lightly. Toss in the 3 G's (ginger-green chillies-garlic), fry some more and then add the tomato & chopped coriander. Reduce the flame and fry till the oil leaves the sides.
      3. Add the masala & fry a little. Add 1/2 cup of water & salt to taste. Bring the gravy to a boil and then turn off the flame.
      4. Slit the mackrels at the belly & stuff this masala into each fish.
      5. Add the fish back to the remaining gravy in the wok and gently cover the mackrels with the rest of the masala. Cook on very slow flame for 5 minutes and then turn them over gently to be cooked on the other side for another 5 minutes.
      6. Serve hot with steaming hot brown or white rice


      Tip: Mackrels cooked in an earthen pot are the ultimate in taste!


      Sunday, April 3, 2011

      Sunday Special! Sheviyo Ani Kunkdachi Kadi (Stringhoppers/Rice Noodles & Chicken Curry)

      This is probably the billionth time that I am writing the word 'favourite'. How else do I describe Sheviyo - Mangalore's very own steamed rice noodle? Called as Stringhoppers in English, it's closest cousin is the Keralite Noolputtu/Idiyappam which according to me are slightly thinner noodles - more like a hybrid between the cooked vermicelli & the Sheviyo. The Keralite version of this delicacy is made by using rice powder and the process of creating these delicate strands of flour requires a handy, portable cylindrical machine similar to the chakli maker. Batter is poured into it and a handle is wound to compress the batter which comes out of a fine slotted steel disc placed at the bottom of the cylinder. The Noolputtu is then steamed in a steamer and served hot with a dash of grated coconut. Yum! (Did I tell you I totally LOVE Mallu food as much as I love Mangy food? - I have loads of great Mallu friends and I have been tasting their food since my college days).


      Sheviyo is made by reversing this process. Instead of rice flour, rice grains are soaked & ground to a thick paste which is then formed into lumps and steamed till done. These lumps are then quickly passed through a larger apparatus called the 'Shevgo' in Konkani. If you are wondering where to buy the Shevgo, well, it's available in a few 'Mangalore Stores' outlets in Mumbai. I picked up mine for about Rs.800 a couple of years ago & it was well worth the investment even though I use it just a couple of times a year - as it needs an extra person for steering the wheel :-) For those of you who live outside India and cannot carry one abroad, I suggest you pick up the chakli maker which has 5-6 steel discs with different kinds of shapes suitable to make chaklis and sevai & other Indian dry snacks. The slotted disc will be handy to make the Sheviyo provided you add unsteamed batter & then steam it like the Noolputtu (DO NOT make the mistake of stuffing steamed batter into a tiny chakli maker - it will get stuck forever like glue - this is a tried & tested attempt that flopped which compelled me to make the wise investment of buying the Shevgo :-)

      The Chakli Maker

      The Shevgo requires two people to maneuver. One who puts the freshly steamed lumps of dough into the cylinder (almost like a copper lota) with fine slots at the bottom and the other person who helps compress the dough by turning a handle - tough job I must say, but it's fun too as Sheviyo making time always helps strike up a great camaraderie between these two people even if they are the worst of enemies :-) The Sheviyo which begin to form into noodles and get squeezed out of the cylinder are quickly collected in a dish. Authentically, in Mangalore instead of a dish halved strips of the Banana tree stem are used which helps to retain the long strands of Sheviyo without having to break them. Fun isn't it? I wonder who thought of this great practice, either ways, we must give credit to the great minds who knew to make use of everything from their gardens. What seems amazing & mind boggling for us tissue paper users was common practice in those golden days.

      The Mangalorean Shevgo



      While the most popular way of eating the Sheviyo is with a chicken/mutton gravy (which are usually of a thinner consistency than regular gravies), one can enjoy them dipped in Sweet Coconut Roce (coconut milk flavoured with cardamom & palm jaggery (surai god)). Leftover Sheviyo is re-steamed the next day and converted into a savoury upma by tempering it with mustard, kadipatta etc. So you see, Mangalorean 'Poli' (steamed/fried rice items like sannas, appams, panpolo(neer dosa), bakri, mutli etc) are versatile as there are many ways to eat one dish - sweet, savoury or plain - take your pick!


      Sheviyo

      Recipe Source: My mum
      Makes 8-10 'ghos' (portion of sheviyo derived from each compress)
      Serves 6-8 people

      You Need:
      • 3 cups boiled rice (called as Ukdo in Konkani, Ukda in Hindi)
      • salt to taste
      Method:
      1. Soak rice for a minimum 2-3hours and grind it to a fine paste with as little water as possible - adding 1-2 tbsp of water only if you are using a mixer grinder that refuses to co-operate. Try to retain as thick a batter as possible (it should not be runny)
      2. Make 4-5 portions of this thick batter and place them onto a cloth/bairas
      3. Place a Tondor (steamer) with sufficient water on full flame and bring it to a boil. Place the cloth with the portions of batter into the steaming vessel and steam for 15-20minutes when the dough looks transparent
      4. Prepare the 'Shevgo' by greasing the weight & compress cylinder with some cooking oil.
      5. Open the steamer & remove one ball/portion of steamed dough & place into the cylinder. The weight needs to be positioned to hover right above the cylinder & the handles of the Shevgo need to be turned to release the weight rolling down into place. Press tightly to release Sheviyo, collect them immediately from below & roll back the handles of the Shevgo to repeat this process
      6. Place Sheviyo on a Kurpon (disc woven out of reed) to cool off.
      7. Serve Sheviyo with Chicken/Mutton curry or with coconut sweet roce (recipe to follow)


      Chicken Curry
      Recipe Source: My mum-in-law
      Serves 6
      You Need:
      • 1 kg Chicken cut into medium size pieces
      • 4 short dry chillies (gaunchi mirsaang) * see notes before proceeding
      • 4 long dry chillies (kumti mirsaang) * see notes before proceeding
      • 1 tbsp coriander
      • 1 tsp jeera
      • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
      • 1/2 tsp mustard
      • 2 medium size onions (for grinding)
      • 1 medium onion sliced (to be boiled along with the chicken)
      • 1 small onion for tempering/fon/tadka
      • 5 cloves of garlic
      • 1/2 a coconut grated
      • Milk of 1/2 coconut (optional - only if you wish to eat a gravy which tastes strongly of coconut milk)
      • 1 small ball of tamarind
      • 1 tsp garam masala powder
      Method:
      1. Dry roast the ingredients (dry chillies, coriander, pepper, mustard, jeera, onions, garlic) one by one on a hot tawa. Powder the dry ingredients (minus the onions & garlic) first if you are using a mixer grinder and then add the onions, garlic, grated coconut, tamarind & garam masala. Grind to a fine paste using a little water
      2. Boil the chicken with 1 onion sliced (toss it in the pan with the chicken, no need to fry it first & all that jazz) and salt and a little water if required. Cook until chicken is done.
      3. Add the ground masala to the chicken & bring it to a boil.
      4. Heat a small pan, add ghee and when its smoking hot toss in the 1/2 sliced onion, reduce the flame to avoid burning. This is the Fon/Tadka/Tempering - Add this to the chicken gravy and serve hot!

      Notes:
      1. If you don't have both the varieties of the chillies just use the Byadge variety or even Kashmiri chillies will do (although the final dish may not taste 100% authentic Mangalorean). To tone down the spice remove the seeds from the chillies. If you are serving this dish to kids you may want to use not more than 6-7 deseeded Byadge chillies - this is what I do these days!



      Saturday, April 2, 2011

      Mani (Rice Halwa/Pudding)

      Another one of Mangalore's most loved and almost extinct sweet preparations is the Mani (pronounced as 'maani' in Konkani and also called as Manni in Kannada) which invokes some nice memories and makes my mouth water. Maani is a kind of rice pudding which requires a lot of patience and time. It is probably the preparation time and method that discourages today's generation from even giving it a try (I almost gave up towards the end if it wasn't for my Mum-in-law who kept reassuring me that it would be done soon).


      If you ask someone about how Maani is made, most people will throw their hands in the air, shudder, roll their eyes and say "thaka mosthu saalunk asa - ek ghanto!" (it takes a lot of stirring - takes ages!) - well, that's not really the case, when I tried it, it took me about 20 minutes to cook the mixture on a slow flame and then ofcourse another 20 minutes to cool off, but the stirring business doesn't take as long as people exclaim. The only catch here is that while you set the pan on slow fire you must make sure you give this precious Maani your undivided attention. Forget taking calls or answering the doorbell - cuz then you will have burnt Maani. If you must attend to other things while on the Maani business, simply turn off the flame & attend to it again ASAP! (although it's not the recommended procedure)

      The stirring is also a great exercise for your biceps :) As the mixture thickens to a transparent gooey consistency, it gets harder to stir, so having an extra hand to relieve you of this hard work can be really welcoming :) Shae! Did I scare you off? Nah, try it - it's worth the effort as the taste is so delicate & yummy - Maani will just melt in your mouth!


      Maani

      Recipe Source: My mum-in-law
      Yield: Enough mixture for a 12 inch steel plate

      You Need:
      • 150gms raw rice (Surai as it's called in Konkani, I use small grained Kolam rice in Mumbai)
      • 150gms (or 1 packed cup or 1 vole) grated coconut (to extract coconut milk/roce) - yields about 1 1/2- 2cups of thick milk
      • 3 pods if cardamom (remove the seeds & powder them)
      • 150gms jaggery (pound it a little to remove lumps if any)
      • 1 tsp indhache peet (optional) - see note below
      • 1-2 tsp raisins - washed & dried
      • 1/2 cup of cashewnuts (halved) - washed & dried - If you can get tender cashewnuts (pokan), its even better
      • Ghee for greasing the pan & plate
      Method:
      1. Soak the rice for an hour
      2. Grind the grated coconut with a little warm water (about 2tbsp) to a coarse paste and then put this mixture into a muslin cloth (or bairas cloth) and squeeze to extract the thick milk. Keep it aside. Add some more water into the cloth & extract another cup of thin milk. (You will require approximately 6 cups of liquid in total)
      3. Grind the rice to a fine paste with a cup of thick milk. Mix this paste along with the remaining liquid, cardamom powder, Indache Peet (optional) & jaggery to make a thin batter.
      4. Grease a thick bottomed deep pan with ghee and pour the batter into it. Toss in the cashewnuts (if they are regular ones & not pokan). Set the pan on medium flame and keep stirring continuously until the batter thickens (and looks a little transparent) and leaves the sides of the pan - this takes about 20-25minutes. When the thickening of the batter takes place it may become tough & tiring for you to stir, so it's a good idea to get someone reliable to help you switch places as you should not stop the task of stirring even for a minute.
      5. Pour the mixture into well buttered plates (steel plates with tall edges - Boshi or Peer as they are called in Konkani) and using a little ghee to your fingers quickly spread the mixture to the entire plate flattening the surface to make it smooth. If you cannot handle the heat, you can smear some ghee to the back of a large spoon/ladle to do the same.
      6. Allow the mixture to cool & set in the plates. Decorate with raisins, cut into diamond shapes,and serve



      Note on Indhache Peet: Well readers, i'm not sure what the exact name of Indache Peet is in English, but its very similar to arrowroot powder but is a little dull (offwhite) in colour compared to arrowroot powder. Commonly used in Mangalorean households to treat stomach upsets. The flour is obtained from the root of the tree (Indhaso rook) and is quite expensive and a rare commodity today)