Monday, October 31, 2011

Karathein Sukhein - Bittergourd/Karela Stir Fry

Here's another one from my collection of recipes that was originally meant to be posted before September 8th - the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) called as 'Monthi Saibineeche Festh' in Konkani which is celebrated with great gusto by the Catholic community, especially in Mangalore when the feast is celebrated on the 8th of September after nine days of prayer (Novena). Somehow, I missed posting this & the newer recipes surfaced and got posted. I thought life would be more relaxed once my little one started school but I guess I was wrong. The first half of my day goes in scrambling around the house trying to finish chores which wont get done once the tyrant gets home. The second half is well, just a second half - most times quite unproductive as far as housework is concerned, but I do try to squeeze out time for blogging as much as possible.

This particular recipe belongs to my mum who made sure we kids ate bittergourd at least once a year. She did prepare it in abundance (like all other kinds of vegetables) all year round except that I didn't even bother to sniff it. During the Monthi feast it was impossible to escape the clutches of my mum who ensured I got at least my annual (if not more frequent) dose of this healthy vegetable. As I grew up I was exposed to other preparations of the Karela which I also started to like - especially the fried Karela which tastes just awesome. I am yet to experiment with that recipe in my kitchen as my hubby isn't too fond of this vegetable, but I am sure he will love the fried version.


Posting a vegetarian recipe, especially a Mangalorean one was long due. Before I change my mind & post another non vegetarian recipe, here is a dose of health for you. Do feel free to reduce the quantity of jaggery if you prefer the bitter taste. However, I totally love the bitter-sweet taste of this dish which makes it so perfect to be eaten with rice or chapathis the next day (amazingly this dish is just like Pork Bafat which tastes better the next day) :-) Enjoy!

Karathein Sukhein
Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 250gm Bittergourd/Karelas
For the masala
  • 1/2 tsp Bafat powder (or adjust as per taste)
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 1 medium size green chilli
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 medium size tomato
  • 2 small hog plums (ambade) bruised or 1 marble size ball of tamarind
  • jaggery to taste (I used about 50gm)
  • salt to taste
For the seasoning
  • 1/2 finely sliced onion
  • 2 tsp coconut oil or ghee
Method:
1. Wash and cut the bittergourds lengthwise. Remove any hard seeds and make thin slices of them. Apply 1/2 tsp salt & keep aside for 4 hours. After 4 hours, wash it a couple of times and drain excess water.
2. Place the washed & drained bittergourd slices in a pan, toss in the sliced onions, chopped garlic & ginger, tomato, hogplums, green chilli, bafat powder & salt to taste. Sprinkle some water, cover & cook on a very slow flame till half done.
3. Add some jaggery to taste and cook till completely done. In another pan heat some oil and toss in the sliced onion and fry till golden brown. Add this seasoning to the cooked Karela and serve hot with rice or chapathis


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Goan Pork Sausage (Chorizo) Pulao

Hello everybody! I am back after a long break from blogging. For all those who have been wondering if I've vanished into thin air making reappearances only to participate in the Blog Hop Wednesdays, well, the past two weeks or so have passed by so quickly in activities that range from falling sick, recovering, packing, travelling, returning & of course handling the post travel aftershocks (piles of laundry, a dusty house & parched plants). However, I did keep my commitments of blogging at least on the alternate Wednesday but before it becomes a habit (to resurface only on Wednesdays), I thought it was high time I posted one of my recipes that have waited long enough to see the light of day.


99% of Mangalorean Catholics love pork. The remaining 1% don't technically exist (just kidding!) - well, they are possibly those who have given up eating it because of health reasons. However, you may be surprised to note that pork fat is said to be a form of good cholesterol. Pork was always of bad repute because its lard (fat) was considered to be unhealthy, however lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight 

While every Mangalorean I've known has loved Pork in its most popular form in Mangalore, the Dukra Maas (Bafat Style Pork), there are other delicacies too, ranging from Sorpotel, Kaleez Ankiti, Vindaloo, Indad, Pork Salad & of course the Coorgi Pork (Pandi Curry) that are some local favourites made with the meat (often fresh). However, a few pork preparations are made with Linguiça (pronounced as 'lingis') or Chorizo (terms used interchangeably) that are popular among the Mangalorean Catholic community as well although not everyone cooks it - only those fortunate enough to obtain it from Goa would also be the privileged ones to savour this delicacy.



Linguiça or Chorizo commonly called as Goan Pork Sausages by tourists are typically sausages strung together with a thick thread and are usually sold by the kilo if you purchase them fresh off a butcher. Branded sausages however are available in packs of a quarter kilo onwards. While I used an unbranded string of sausages, some of the well known branded ones in Goa are Joao's & Costas. In Mumbai you can find them in Jude Cold Storage in Pali, Bandra

When I visited some relatives in Goa this May, I was technically reintroduced to the flavourful Sausage Pulao which is so simple to put together & tastes simply awesome. I adapted the recipe from here & here. For the sake of the pictures and also to retain a mild flavour of the rice I did not break the sausages as many people do before cooking them. My cousin suggested that the sausages be retained whole and one could always tear into them & dig in during the meal. If you cut up the sausages in advance they will crumble and become unidentifiable. For those who are unfamiliar with the Goan sausages, let me tell you that these sausages have a more crumby/coarse texture unlike regular tinned (cocktail/hot dog) sausages the texture of which is compact & can be neatly sliced. 



If you have never tried cooking Goan sausages, you must know that they are the handiest kind of ingredient to be stocked in your pantry. You can prepare a simple masala of Bafat powder & loads of chopped onions & tomatoes and serve it as a simple side dish or put together a flavourful & fragrant pulao in a jiffy (may I warn you that you need to have an acquired tasted for it!) These sausages that are coarsely ground & cooked with a lot of spices are packed with flavour & spice and so you don't need to add too many things to make the pulao. I hope you get to make this pulao & enjoy it just as much as we did. It's the perfect Sunday meal when you are too lazy to make anything elaborate

Goan Pork Sausage/Chorizo Pulao
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups (300gm) Basmati rice
  • 250gm Goan pork sausages/chorizo
  • 1 capsicum de seeded & diced (I skipped this)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 bullion/stock cubes
  • 2 medium onions chopped fine
  • 2 small tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli slit
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil or ghee
  • a dash of sugar
Whole spices (garam masala)
  • 4 cloves (laung)
  • 4 peppercorns (kalimirch)
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
  • 1 star anise (badiyan)
  • 1 green cardamom (elaichi)* see note
  • 1 black cardamom (I skipped this)
For garnishing (optional)
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
Method:
1. Wash the basmati rice 2-3 times and soak it in sufficient water for 15-20 minutes. Drain & keep aside.
2. In a heavy bottomed pan heat some oil or ghee and toss in the whole spices one by one, fry them on a slow flame. 
3. Throw in the chopped onions and sauté till they turn pale. Toss in the ginger garlic paste and fry till the oil separates. Add the tomatoes and let them cook till they turn mushy.
4. Toss in the turmeric powder, slit chilli, diced capsicum, sugar and crumbled stock cube and fry well. Add the sausages and sauté them well. (I only removed the strings that bound each one together but left the skin on & gave a slit in the centre of each sausage - you may skin & cut them if you wish)
5. Add the drained rice, give it a mix and fry on a slow flame for half a minute. Pour in 2-3/4th cups of  freshly boiled water (see note) and bring it to a boil on a full flame. Check salt to taste & add pepper powder if required. 
6. Cover the pan with a well fitting lid, place a weight on it if required to avoid the steam from escaping, reduce the flame completely & cook for 8 minutes without opening the lid. Turn off the flame, open the lid, fluff up the rice gently, cover & leave it to cook in its steam for a couple of minutes or till done. 
7. Garnish with chopped coriander & serve hot with a simple raitha


Notes:
  • This recipe works well with minimal oil & spices, so go easy on both - the pork sausages will let out a lot of oil & spice.
  • It is a good idea to slightly bruise (crush or open up) the cardamom as it tends to pop when it starts to sizzle in hot oil or ghee - you don't want hot oil spluttering on your face if that happens.
  • You may add exactly double the quantity of water in the ratio of 1:2 if you are using aged rice, but I prefer to add a little less than double the quantity of water especially for this pulao where the sausages are precooked. The quantity of water used largely depends on the quality, age & type of rice used and the technique of cooking it (pressure cooking, steam cooking or on slow fire in a regular pan) - so use the method that you are comfortable with.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beet Rava Laddoo (Beetroot & Semolina Balls)

Another week has passed by and it's time for another Blog Hop Wednesday. Well, you may be a little surprised as my previous post (exactly a week ago) was also part of the Blog Hop. There are two reasons for that, the first being that although Blog Hop Wednesdays an event hosted by Radhika of Tickling Palates is a bi-monthly event (scheduled every alternate Wednesday) it has happened for two consecutive Wednesdays in view of the upcoming festivities that will keep everyone rather busy - preparing for the upcoming celebrations, travelling etc. I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the first segment and am pretty excited about the second segment that starts from 2nd of November. Now coming to  the second reason why you didn't see any posts after the Egg Butter Masala was because my little one & I were down with the terrible trio - cold, cough & fever and I thought I should take the much needed break from blogging and relax a bit. Now that I am hale & hearty after a good dose of medicines and rest I am back to blogging! Yayy!



This Wednesday I am paired with Ayeesha Riaz of Taste of Pearl City. Ayeesha has an amazing collection of recipes accompanied by beautiful pictures. A comprehensive recipe index with recipes ranging from Indian to Mediterranean to Middle Eastern to Continental. I really had a hard time deciding which recipe to actually get down to making. I short listed a whole bunch of recipes ranging from rice items, main courses - vegetarian & non vegetarian, baked goodies and sweets of course, but unfortunately I could not try them out on time due to my bad health. However I am glad that I got around to trying something so simple yet delectable, easy yet perfect for the upcoming festive season. When I browsed through Ayeesha's recipe index and read 'Beet Rava Laddoo' I actually raised my eyebrow in delightful wonder. How does it taste? I asked myself. Well, to be honest I don't buy Beetroot too often as my hubby runs a mile away from it. But I love all kinds of vegetables and often buy at least one small beet with the intention of using it in salads. Thankfully one Beet was in the fridge and I knew I had to try this recipe as it would help my family get the goodness of Beet at least in the form of a sweet.



Well, I grew up with my mum telling me that Beets were great for the production of blood in one's body and many a time my brother & I would enact some crazy ham scene from some hindi movie & use the juice of Beetroot as if it were blood. So yes, the crimson colour often brings to mind these memories. I am assuming the same goes for hubbykins too which is why he may be apprehensive to eat them. My association with the Beet has been limited to just a slice which is all you need to make the Mangalorean Plum Chutney which is famously served along with the Sweet Pulao

Laddoos by nature are very easy and fun to put together and yummy to eat (or gobble up!). They are probably the only Indian sweets that can be either completely sinful or absolutely simple depending on the ingredients & method of preparation used. Motichoor/Boondi ladoo (chick pea flour droplets deep fried & shaped into balls) Churma laddoo (wheat flour laddoos), Besan ke laddoo (chickpea flour laddoos), Coconut laddoos to name a few are some famous laddoo varieties in India. The Mangalorean varieties (which are less famous) are the Rice Laddus, Sheme (Sevai) Laddu, Mithai Laddoo (softer version of the Boondi Laddoo), Boondi Laddoo (harder version made with melted jaggery), Chikki (peanut & jaggery) Laddoo, Til (sesame seeds & jaggery) Laddoo, Sweet Charmuri (Puffed Rice) Laddu, Laayo (Rajgira) Laddus (phew!) ~ Most of the laddoo versions are made with melted jaggery that make them so hard that they often call for a new set of teeth (joking!), yet we all love to eat them, don't we?


Since I am huge fan of Laddoos especially the Boondi and Rava varieties, I chose to make the Rava variety first. I am also beginning my Christmas sweets series shortly and though Rava Laddoo is not a part of the traditional Mangalorean Kuswar (platter of Christmas sweets & savouries), many people include them to add to the variety. Traditionally the Kuswar includes the Rice Laddoos (Thandhlache Laadu) but this time I will be more than delighted to include the Beet Rava Laddoos as they are not only healthier than other deep fried sweets but has the added advantage of the Beetroot which lends its delicate flavour and robust colour to these sweets making them look all the more festive. 

If you are still not convinced about adding the Beetroot, you can skip it altogether and leave the snow white laddoos as simply as they are. They are delightfully delicious irrespective of the colour.


For those of you planning the Kuswar menu, do consider including these Laddoos and those of you celebrating Diwali - well, you must make these!!


Beet Rava Laddoo
Yield: 10-12 lime sized laddoos

You Need:
  • 1 cup/150gm rava/semolina 
  • 1/3rd cup/75gm sugar * see notes
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut
  • 3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 10 cashewnuts halved 
  • 10-12 raisins 
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder (or 3-4 cardamoms powdered)
  • 1 beetroot/100gm finely grated beetroot (optional) *see notes
Method:
1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan/wok and fry the raisins on a slow flame. Stir continuously and remove them as soon as they puff up. Toss in the cashewnuts and fry them till golden brown and remove. Roast the grated coconut & remove. Add the grated beetroot and fry until all the water evaporates. Remove & keep aside.
2. Add the rava to the remaining ghee and lightly roast it till the colour changes very lightly and you get a nice aroma. Add the sugar and continue to cook on a very slow flame for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the milk and mix well, continue to stir. This helps the sugar to melt & the rava to cook well. Turn off the flame after a couple of minutes taking care to see that the rava does not burn.
4. Remove the pan off the flame, transfer contents to a wide pan or bowl and allow the mixture to cool off a bit until it is warm enough to be handled. Mix in the roasted raisins and cashewnuts & the grated beetroot well. and quickly form lime sized balls by compressing the mixture in your palm into a tight fist. If you wish you can place one raisin & cashew nut on the surface and press (just for decoration). The laddoos will be soft initially but will harden as they cool.



Notes:
1. I added 75gm sugar which is mildly sweet. If you wish you can adjust it accordingly (1/4 cup or 50gm for very mild sweetness or upto 100gm for very sweet laddoos)
2. I used about 1/4 cup+2 tsp milk. You can keep 1/2 cup milk handy and use as required.
3. If you wish to make laddoos in two colours, you can use only 50gm grated beetroot & halve the mixture and add it only to one half.
4. Since I did not have a fine grater, the beetroot strands did not blend so well with the rava as you can see in the original recipe but looked just as pretty.




Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Egg Butter Masala

My favourite part of cooking is when recipes call for simple ingredients that are readily available in my pantry. I keep a stockpile of such recipes to be tried out when I am utterly bored or unwell and can't pull myself to try anything that takes more than 20-25 mins. The easiest, simplest and undoubtedly the tastiest recipe for me is the one which comprises of eggs in any form, so I was rather happy to try out the Egg Butter Masala.


Blog Hop Wednesdays revolves around participating bloggers who cook from the blog of a fellow blogger with whom they have been paired up for that particular Wednesday. This is my 5th entry since the event was started (a list of all my previous entries is at the bottom of this post) and I am ever so excited to be paired with a random blogger & browse through their recipes and select the ones I will be trying. It always pushes me out of my comfort zone of cooking only the kind of cuisine I am accustomed to (or like) or with ingredients that I have already worked with. Thanks to Blog Hop Wednesdays I am now compelled to try a new method of cooking or a combination of spices that result in a totally new set of flavours.


This recipe has been adapted fromPrabha's Samayal/Cooking who has a lot of nice recipes primarily vegetarian and egg recipes and I selected the Egg Butter Masala as I had never eaten it before. The name sounded interesting too because as much as I have eaten the chicken version (Butter Chicken) I have not tried making it at home either (I am inspired to do that soon) and this recipe calls for egg whites only so it's great for health conscious people especially those with high cholesterol - of course the recipe calls for butter which can be replaced with minimal oil.What's the fun in taking out the butter from butter masala, you may ask. There are other ingredients (like coconut milk powder) which adequately make up for the lack of butter (and the creamy texture it provides) if you decide to do away with it altogether. The thick gravy is nice & creamy and the whole dish is a superb accompaniment to chapathis. You can go all creative and even use this as a spread for (desi) sandwiches - just make tiny pieces of the egg whites. I tried this dish with chapathis for lunch & with bread for dinner and it was finger lickin' good. What's more, you can whip this up in less than 30 minutes (yes it includes the time taken to hard boil the eggs too!)


When I was putting this dish together I also realised that despite having declared my love for eggs I have just a handful of egg recipes on the blog. So here's a nice egg recipe for you, I wish I had taken more pictures but I was just too starved! This is one recipe that actually tastes different because the egg pieces are lightly fried before marinating so the texture does feel a little chewy - you can skip the frying if you wish. I added the chopped onions as it gives a good gravy base and increases the quantity slightly


Egg Butter Masala
Serves 1-2

You Need:
  • 3 or 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli (I skipped this)
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp oil to fry the eggs
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp chopped coriander (for garnishing)
For marination
  • 1/4 cup curds (yogurt)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk powder (I used Maggi)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
Method:
1. Place the eggs in a pan filled with enough water (at room temperature) to cover them. Place the pan over a full flame and once the water comes to a rolling boil continue to cook for 12 minutes. Turn off the flame, transfer the eggs into another pan with plain water, remove the shells, slit each egg into half vertically, remove the egg yolks and cut the egg whites into quarters. Keep aside
2. Heat a pan with 1 tsp oil and lightly fry the egg pieces. Transfer into a bowl and marinate it with all the ingredients mentioned in 'For marination'. Keep aside for 10 mins.
3. Heat the butter in a wok or pan and toss in the cumin, when it begins to splutter add the green chillies if you are using them, fry for a few seconds and then add the onions and fry till translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till oil leaves the sides. 
4. Toss in the turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds and then add the chopped tomatoes and salt to taste. Fry till the tomatoes turn mushy. Add the marinated egg pieces, simmer and cook while mixing all the masala gently. Add a little water if you require it in a semi gravy form. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes on a slow flame
5. Turn off the flame, garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with chapathis or rice.

Notes:
If you wish to add the egg yolks you can do so at the end just before you turn off the flame. Be gentle while mixing it as yolks will crumble but of course it will only add to the taste


Monday, October 10, 2011

Zucchini & Choco Chip Loaf Cake

It's time for a cake!!! Yayy!! Well, as you know I thoroughly enjoy my baking sessions - and I have company too, my little fellow almost always lingers around the kitchen trying to be helpful during my baking marathons.  But more than being helpful he ends up creating a lot of clutter (Sigh!)


I had bookmarked this recipe along with many others a long long time ago, but what compelled me to actually go out & buy a Zucchini (pronounced as 'zu-khi-ni' & called as Courgette in some parts of the world) was my friend Michelle's (of Food, Football & a Baby) recent posts on the abundance of Zucchinis that grow in her garden that was compelling her to work faster (at grating & freezing them for later use) than they managed to grow literally in front of her eyes. So here I was sitting in another part of the world trying to get my hands on the first available piece of Zuke so that I could try something out of it. I have never really eaten (or rather consciously eaten) a Zucchini so this was a good chance to do so. And of course, I've mentioned a zillion times before about my obsession to get my son to eat some vegetables and his refusal to do so was making me come up with all sorts of ideas to sneak them into his food anyway. 


But exotic & imported food doesn't come cheap in India. Sure, living in Bombay makes it easier to find them at well stocked supermarkets or fruit & vegetable vendors, but one has to be willing to cough up an indecent sum of money for a tiny piece of it. I paid Rs. 60 for a piece of Zucchini that weighted a mere 200 grams! The 'Bhaajiwala' (vegetable vendor) who I usually visit when I am in need of some 'phoren maal' (herbs & veggies that are not locally grown or part of the Indian cuisine and are supposedly imported), started off complaining how tough it was to make any profit on his sales these days if I complained like I did (but I complained anyway). So I returned home laden with the goods that didn't weigh as much as the burden of guilt I brought along with them - what if my cake flopped? What if the Zucchini didn't taste as good as it's supposed to? What if it was locally grown like the Strawberries from Mahabaleshwar & the vendor had just fleeced a good sum off me? Gulp! Anyway, I swung into action as soon as I set foot in my kitchen. Out came the apron, the baking equipment and the rest of the clutter, courtesy: my son and off we embarked upon another journey to bakesville.


The loaf cake was as good as I could possibly imagine. Delicately flavoured and definitely didn't taste like I had sneaked a vegetable into it - so yes, my son devoured bite after bite and asked for some more. By the time we finished baking it, it was well into tea time, so it was a perfect accompaniment to a hot steaming cup of coffee as you can see. 



My only regret is that I halved the ingredients because I wasn't sure whether my new loaf pan would accommodate all the batter and I had no intention of letting this cake flop. So if you notice, the loaf is a lot thinner than it is supposed to be. The whole wheat flour & olive oil just made it a bit more healthier than regular cakes. Since I didn't use up all the grated Zucchini, I am have frozen it for later use, so my hunt for new recipes is on - next time, it'll be something savoury! 



Zucchini & Choco Chip Loaf Cake
You Need:
  • 200gm/1-2/3rd cups whole wheat flour
  • 200gm/1 cup sugar
  • 125gm/1 cup grated Zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml/1/2 cup light olive oil (or any odourless oil)
  • 80ml/1/3 cup warm water
  • 50gm/1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon or nutmeg powder (optional)
Method:
1. Sift the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder) about 2-3 times and keep aside. Grease a 7" loaf pan well and dust with flour. Preheat oven to 175 C (if you are using an OTG, preheat it for about 8 minutes)
2. In a large bowl beat the sugar & oil till the mixture looks pale and well blended. Add one egg at a time & beat well.
3. Mix in the sifted dry ingredients in parts till well incorporated. Add the water and combine into a smooth batter. Add the grated Zucchini & the chocolate chips & mix well.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until the skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. When done, remove and allow the tin to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Carefully invert it & place it on the wire rack. Allow it to cool completely. Cut & serve with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Notes:
  • You can use multi grain wheat flour to increase the health quotient. I used Ashirwad Multigrain Atta. Whole wheat flour tends to result in a cake that is more dense than regular flour (Maida) - so you can replace it with the same.
  • Adding unrefined sugar (brown/demerara/packed light brown sugar) instead of regular granulated white sugar is also a good idea if you want it to be a complete healthy cake
  • Increase the cinnamon powder upto 1-1/2 tsp if you wish a stronger cinnamon flavour & fragrance

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chicken Chops (Bunt Style Chicken Curry Without Coconut)



My little fellow is going through a phase where he is no longer interested in seafood despite the decent enough variety we manage to buy every week. All he wants now is chicken in any form. No veggies, no rice and no fish of course. If I let him choose his meals he would almost daily ask for 'chicken & chapathi'. Well, that actually means that mommy goes on a mad hunt looking for recipes that haven't already been tried and which can go well with chapathis.

This morning I must have flipped through at least 4-5 cookbooks and was almost on the verge of giving up & hunting for a recipe on the net when I came across an easy recipe in the Mangalore Ladies Club Cookery Book - my mum's birthday gift to me right after I got married. The book has been sifted through for recipes I can say, most of the recipes have been tried, but I use it mainly as a reference point because sometimes the recipes can end abruptly and I am left to my own devices to solve the suspense (which was quite a frightening experience when I first juggled with cooking).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mangalorean Mutton Kurma

"Do you always cook 'hi-fi' stuff?"  asked one of my readers jokingly. " Ha, ha, not really, only the best ones make it to the blog" I replied, thoroughly enjoying questions like these that help put a smile on my face often. Well, it's true that I have started to cook a lot of different kind of dishes lately. They are not necessarily "hi-fi" but are definitely those that sound interesting enough to be bookmarked and tried. Besides the regular Mangalorean fare, I also like to try out some party specific items on regular days so that I have a good collection of recipes to choose from when we invite guests over for a meal. And this looks like it is a never ending process - there are just so many wonderful recipes out there waiting to be tried!!


As you've noticed, most of my recipes are with small quantities of ingredients especially suited for nuclear families like ours and when time permits I try out at least one new recipe everyday - I do this for the sheer joy of cooking. Nothing is as exhilarating as the process of bringing together ingredients, fiddling around with proportions and creating a new batch of flavours that tantalize the taste buds. Having tried at least 3-4 new recipes per week, I have enough content to delight my readers with 'new' recipes every time. Blogging has greatly simplified and offered the convenience of collecting & storing a gamut of recipes in a single place making it a simple repository of recipes for my personal use which would otherwise be scattered across so many cookbooks & notebooks that I have amassed along the years. 


Honestly while I don't cook just because I have a blog, I am definitely more enthusiastic & driven to try out new things because I know I have some place to share it with others who may also benefit from my experiments. More than the need to feed my blog, I cook to feed my family and look forward to being judged by the two most important food critics in my house - my husband & my son. A dish rarely makes it to the blog if it hasn't got a majority vote :-). Before the blog was created, I followed the same process, vetoed recipes never got a chance of being saved as a fair copy in my main recipe book. 

Last but not the least, I thoroughly enjoy the process of cooking, styling the food & capturing the flavours in as many pictures as I can manage to click. - I enjoy this entire process so much that I actually look forward to doing it everyday if I could. And yes, receiving feedback is just one of the perks ;-) 


Mangalorean Mutton Kurma
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 750gm Mutton on the bone
For the garam masala (to be powdered)
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 peppercorns
For the marination
  • 3/4th cup thick sour curds (yogurt)
  • juice of 1/2 lime - optional
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 50gm or 1/2 cup copra (dried coconut)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1/2 tsp poppy seeds (khus khus)
  • 6 long dry red chillies with seeds removed
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1-2 medium size green chillies (adjust according to taste)
For frying
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or ghee as required
Method:
1. Cut the mutton into medium size pieces, wash and drain on a colander. Pat the pieces dry and marinate it with curds & salt & keep aside for at least 30mins.
2. Dry roast the ingredients for the garam masala and powder them. Set aside. If you are using freshly grated coconut, dry roast it till golden brown on a hot tawa and grind it to a fine paste along with the rest of the ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala' section using a little water. Reserve the masala water from the mixie.
3. In a pressure cooker heat some oil or ghee & fry the sliced onion till golden brown and add the ground masala and fry for a few minutes. Add the marinated meat pieces and fry for a few minutes till all the pieces are well coated with the masala. Add the masala water, adjust salt to taste (remember that the marination had salt in it - so go easy on the salt), add lime juice to adjust sourness (just in case the curds used for marination wasn't sour enough). Add the powdered garam masala, mix and cover the lid of the pressure cooker and cook on full flame till the first whistle goes off. Reduce to sim & continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes (cooking time may vary depending on the tenderness of meat used - please use your judgement here.) Turn off the flame and allow the cooker to cool down and the weight to loosen on its own.
4. Open, stir and serve hot with chapathis or rice.

Notes:
1. This recipe calls for copra (dried flesh of the coconut), however if you do not have it, you can use dessicated coconut or fresh coconut that has been dry roasted on a tawa.
2. Using sour curds for marination usually gives the best results, however you can add some lime if you are using fresh curds that is not so sour.



Monday, October 31, 2011

Karathein Sukhein - Bittergourd/Karela Stir Fry

Here's another one from my collection of recipes that was originally meant to be posted before September 8th - the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) called as 'Monthi Saibineeche Festh' in Konkani which is celebrated with great gusto by the Catholic community, especially in Mangalore when the feast is celebrated on the 8th of September after nine days of prayer (Novena). Somehow, I missed posting this & the newer recipes surfaced and got posted. I thought life would be more relaxed once my little one started school but I guess I was wrong. The first half of my day goes in scrambling around the house trying to finish chores which wont get done once the tyrant gets home. The second half is well, just a second half - most times quite unproductive as far as housework is concerned, but I do try to squeeze out time for blogging as much as possible.

This particular recipe belongs to my mum who made sure we kids ate bittergourd at least once a year. She did prepare it in abundance (like all other kinds of vegetables) all year round except that I didn't even bother to sniff it. During the Monthi feast it was impossible to escape the clutches of my mum who ensured I got at least my annual (if not more frequent) dose of this healthy vegetable. As I grew up I was exposed to other preparations of the Karela which I also started to like - especially the fried Karela which tastes just awesome. I am yet to experiment with that recipe in my kitchen as my hubby isn't too fond of this vegetable, but I am sure he will love the fried version.


Posting a vegetarian recipe, especially a Mangalorean one was long due. Before I change my mind & post another non vegetarian recipe, here is a dose of health for you. Do feel free to reduce the quantity of jaggery if you prefer the bitter taste. However, I totally love the bitter-sweet taste of this dish which makes it so perfect to be eaten with rice or chapathis the next day (amazingly this dish is just like Pork Bafat which tastes better the next day) :-) Enjoy!

Karathein Sukhein
Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 250gm Bittergourd/Karelas
For the masala
  • 1/2 tsp Bafat powder (or adjust as per taste)
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 1 medium size green chilli
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 medium size tomato
  • 2 small hog plums (ambade) bruised or 1 marble size ball of tamarind
  • jaggery to taste (I used about 50gm)
  • salt to taste
For the seasoning
  • 1/2 finely sliced onion
  • 2 tsp coconut oil or ghee
Method:
1. Wash and cut the bittergourds lengthwise. Remove any hard seeds and make thin slices of them. Apply 1/2 tsp salt & keep aside for 4 hours. After 4 hours, wash it a couple of times and drain excess water.
2. Place the washed & drained bittergourd slices in a pan, toss in the sliced onions, chopped garlic & ginger, tomato, hogplums, green chilli, bafat powder & salt to taste. Sprinkle some water, cover & cook on a very slow flame till half done.
3. Add some jaggery to taste and cook till completely done. In another pan heat some oil and toss in the sliced onion and fry till golden brown. Add this seasoning to the cooked Karela and serve hot with rice or chapathis


Sunday, October 30, 2011

Goan Pork Sausage (Chorizo) Pulao

Hello everybody! I am back after a long break from blogging. For all those who have been wondering if I've vanished into thin air making reappearances only to participate in the Blog Hop Wednesdays, well, the past two weeks or so have passed by so quickly in activities that range from falling sick, recovering, packing, travelling, returning & of course handling the post travel aftershocks (piles of laundry, a dusty house & parched plants). However, I did keep my commitments of blogging at least on the alternate Wednesday but before it becomes a habit (to resurface only on Wednesdays), I thought it was high time I posted one of my recipes that have waited long enough to see the light of day.


99% of Mangalorean Catholics love pork. The remaining 1% don't technically exist (just kidding!) - well, they are possibly those who have given up eating it because of health reasons. However, you may be surprised to note that pork fat is said to be a form of good cholesterol. Pork was always of bad repute because its lard (fat) was considered to be unhealthy, however lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight 

While every Mangalorean I've known has loved Pork in its most popular form in Mangalore, the Dukra Maas (Bafat Style Pork), there are other delicacies too, ranging from Sorpotel, Kaleez Ankiti, Vindaloo, Indad, Pork Salad & of course the Coorgi Pork (Pandi Curry) that are some local favourites made with the meat (often fresh). However, a few pork preparations are made with Linguiça (pronounced as 'lingis') or Chorizo (terms used interchangeably) that are popular among the Mangalorean Catholic community as well although not everyone cooks it - only those fortunate enough to obtain it from Goa would also be the privileged ones to savour this delicacy.



Linguiça or Chorizo commonly called as Goan Pork Sausages by tourists are typically sausages strung together with a thick thread and are usually sold by the kilo if you purchase them fresh off a butcher. Branded sausages however are available in packs of a quarter kilo onwards. While I used an unbranded string of sausages, some of the well known branded ones in Goa are Joao's & Costas. In Mumbai you can find them in Jude Cold Storage in Pali, Bandra

When I visited some relatives in Goa this May, I was technically reintroduced to the flavourful Sausage Pulao which is so simple to put together & tastes simply awesome. I adapted the recipe from here & here. For the sake of the pictures and also to retain a mild flavour of the rice I did not break the sausages as many people do before cooking them. My cousin suggested that the sausages be retained whole and one could always tear into them & dig in during the meal. If you cut up the sausages in advance they will crumble and become unidentifiable. For those who are unfamiliar with the Goan sausages, let me tell you that these sausages have a more crumby/coarse texture unlike regular tinned (cocktail/hot dog) sausages the texture of which is compact & can be neatly sliced. 



If you have never tried cooking Goan sausages, you must know that they are the handiest kind of ingredient to be stocked in your pantry. You can prepare a simple masala of Bafat powder & loads of chopped onions & tomatoes and serve it as a simple side dish or put together a flavourful & fragrant pulao in a jiffy (may I warn you that you need to have an acquired tasted for it!) These sausages that are coarsely ground & cooked with a lot of spices are packed with flavour & spice and so you don't need to add too many things to make the pulao. I hope you get to make this pulao & enjoy it just as much as we did. It's the perfect Sunday meal when you are too lazy to make anything elaborate

Goan Pork Sausage/Chorizo Pulao
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups (300gm) Basmati rice
  • 250gm Goan pork sausages/chorizo
  • 1 capsicum de seeded & diced (I skipped this)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 bullion/stock cubes
  • 2 medium onions chopped fine
  • 2 small tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli slit
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil or ghee
  • a dash of sugar
Whole spices (garam masala)
  • 4 cloves (laung)
  • 4 peppercorns (kalimirch)
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
  • 1 star anise (badiyan)
  • 1 green cardamom (elaichi)* see note
  • 1 black cardamom (I skipped this)
For garnishing (optional)
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
Method:
1. Wash the basmati rice 2-3 times and soak it in sufficient water for 15-20 minutes. Drain & keep aside.
2. In a heavy bottomed pan heat some oil or ghee and toss in the whole spices one by one, fry them on a slow flame. 
3. Throw in the chopped onions and sauté till they turn pale. Toss in the ginger garlic paste and fry till the oil separates. Add the tomatoes and let them cook till they turn mushy.
4. Toss in the turmeric powder, slit chilli, diced capsicum, sugar and crumbled stock cube and fry well. Add the sausages and sauté them well. (I only removed the strings that bound each one together but left the skin on & gave a slit in the centre of each sausage - you may skin & cut them if you wish)
5. Add the drained rice, give it a mix and fry on a slow flame for half a minute. Pour in 2-3/4th cups of  freshly boiled water (see note) and bring it to a boil on a full flame. Check salt to taste & add pepper powder if required. 
6. Cover the pan with a well fitting lid, place a weight on it if required to avoid the steam from escaping, reduce the flame completely & cook for 8 minutes without opening the lid. Turn off the flame, open the lid, fluff up the rice gently, cover & leave it to cook in its steam for a couple of minutes or till done. 
7. Garnish with chopped coriander & serve hot with a simple raitha


Notes:
  • This recipe works well with minimal oil & spices, so go easy on both - the pork sausages will let out a lot of oil & spice.
  • It is a good idea to slightly bruise (crush or open up) the cardamom as it tends to pop when it starts to sizzle in hot oil or ghee - you don't want hot oil spluttering on your face if that happens.
  • You may add exactly double the quantity of water in the ratio of 1:2 if you are using aged rice, but I prefer to add a little less than double the quantity of water especially for this pulao where the sausages are precooked. The quantity of water used largely depends on the quality, age & type of rice used and the technique of cooking it (pressure cooking, steam cooking or on slow fire in a regular pan) - so use the method that you are comfortable with.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Beet Rava Laddoo (Beetroot & Semolina Balls)

Another week has passed by and it's time for another Blog Hop Wednesday. Well, you may be a little surprised as my previous post (exactly a week ago) was also part of the Blog Hop. There are two reasons for that, the first being that although Blog Hop Wednesdays an event hosted by Radhika of Tickling Palates is a bi-monthly event (scheduled every alternate Wednesday) it has happened for two consecutive Wednesdays in view of the upcoming festivities that will keep everyone rather busy - preparing for the upcoming celebrations, travelling etc. I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in the first segment and am pretty excited about the second segment that starts from 2nd of November. Now coming to  the second reason why you didn't see any posts after the Egg Butter Masala was because my little one & I were down with the terrible trio - cold, cough & fever and I thought I should take the much needed break from blogging and relax a bit. Now that I am hale & hearty after a good dose of medicines and rest I am back to blogging! Yayy!



This Wednesday I am paired with Ayeesha Riaz of Taste of Pearl City. Ayeesha has an amazing collection of recipes accompanied by beautiful pictures. A comprehensive recipe index with recipes ranging from Indian to Mediterranean to Middle Eastern to Continental. I really had a hard time deciding which recipe to actually get down to making. I short listed a whole bunch of recipes ranging from rice items, main courses - vegetarian & non vegetarian, baked goodies and sweets of course, but unfortunately I could not try them out on time due to my bad health. However I am glad that I got around to trying something so simple yet delectable, easy yet perfect for the upcoming festive season. When I browsed through Ayeesha's recipe index and read 'Beet Rava Laddoo' I actually raised my eyebrow in delightful wonder. How does it taste? I asked myself. Well, to be honest I don't buy Beetroot too often as my hubby runs a mile away from it. But I love all kinds of vegetables and often buy at least one small beet with the intention of using it in salads. Thankfully one Beet was in the fridge and I knew I had to try this recipe as it would help my family get the goodness of Beet at least in the form of a sweet.



Well, I grew up with my mum telling me that Beets were great for the production of blood in one's body and many a time my brother & I would enact some crazy ham scene from some hindi movie & use the juice of Beetroot as if it were blood. So yes, the crimson colour often brings to mind these memories. I am assuming the same goes for hubbykins too which is why he may be apprehensive to eat them. My association with the Beet has been limited to just a slice which is all you need to make the Mangalorean Plum Chutney which is famously served along with the Sweet Pulao

Laddoos by nature are very easy and fun to put together and yummy to eat (or gobble up!). They are probably the only Indian sweets that can be either completely sinful or absolutely simple depending on the ingredients & method of preparation used. Motichoor/Boondi ladoo (chick pea flour droplets deep fried & shaped into balls) Churma laddoo (wheat flour laddoos), Besan ke laddoo (chickpea flour laddoos), Coconut laddoos to name a few are some famous laddoo varieties in India. The Mangalorean varieties (which are less famous) are the Rice Laddus, Sheme (Sevai) Laddu, Mithai Laddoo (softer version of the Boondi Laddoo), Boondi Laddoo (harder version made with melted jaggery), Chikki (peanut & jaggery) Laddoo, Til (sesame seeds & jaggery) Laddoo, Sweet Charmuri (Puffed Rice) Laddu, Laayo (Rajgira) Laddus (phew!) ~ Most of the laddoo versions are made with melted jaggery that make them so hard that they often call for a new set of teeth (joking!), yet we all love to eat them, don't we?


Since I am huge fan of Laddoos especially the Boondi and Rava varieties, I chose to make the Rava variety first. I am also beginning my Christmas sweets series shortly and though Rava Laddoo is not a part of the traditional Mangalorean Kuswar (platter of Christmas sweets & savouries), many people include them to add to the variety. Traditionally the Kuswar includes the Rice Laddoos (Thandhlache Laadu) but this time I will be more than delighted to include the Beet Rava Laddoos as they are not only healthier than other deep fried sweets but has the added advantage of the Beetroot which lends its delicate flavour and robust colour to these sweets making them look all the more festive. 

If you are still not convinced about adding the Beetroot, you can skip it altogether and leave the snow white laddoos as simply as they are. They are delightfully delicious irrespective of the colour.


For those of you planning the Kuswar menu, do consider including these Laddoos and those of you celebrating Diwali - well, you must make these!!


Beet Rava Laddoo
Yield: 10-12 lime sized laddoos

You Need:
  • 1 cup/150gm rava/semolina 
  • 1/3rd cup/75gm sugar * see notes
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut
  • 3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 10 cashewnuts halved 
  • 10-12 raisins 
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder (or 3-4 cardamoms powdered)
  • 1 beetroot/100gm finely grated beetroot (optional) *see notes
Method:
1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan/wok and fry the raisins on a slow flame. Stir continuously and remove them as soon as they puff up. Toss in the cashewnuts and fry them till golden brown and remove. Roast the grated coconut & remove. Add the grated beetroot and fry until all the water evaporates. Remove & keep aside.
2. Add the rava to the remaining ghee and lightly roast it till the colour changes very lightly and you get a nice aroma. Add the sugar and continue to cook on a very slow flame for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the milk and mix well, continue to stir. This helps the sugar to melt & the rava to cook well. Turn off the flame after a couple of minutes taking care to see that the rava does not burn.
4. Remove the pan off the flame, transfer contents to a wide pan or bowl and allow the mixture to cool off a bit until it is warm enough to be handled. Mix in the roasted raisins and cashewnuts & the grated beetroot well. and quickly form lime sized balls by compressing the mixture in your palm into a tight fist. If you wish you can place one raisin & cashew nut on the surface and press (just for decoration). The laddoos will be soft initially but will harden as they cool.



Notes:
1. I added 75gm sugar which is mildly sweet. If you wish you can adjust it accordingly (1/4 cup or 50gm for very mild sweetness or upto 100gm for very sweet laddoos)
2. I used about 1/4 cup+2 tsp milk. You can keep 1/2 cup milk handy and use as required.
3. If you wish to make laddoos in two colours, you can use only 50gm grated beetroot & halve the mixture and add it only to one half.
4. Since I did not have a fine grater, the beetroot strands did not blend so well with the rava as you can see in the original recipe but looked just as pretty.




Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Egg Butter Masala

My favourite part of cooking is when recipes call for simple ingredients that are readily available in my pantry. I keep a stockpile of such recipes to be tried out when I am utterly bored or unwell and can't pull myself to try anything that takes more than 20-25 mins. The easiest, simplest and undoubtedly the tastiest recipe for me is the one which comprises of eggs in any form, so I was rather happy to try out the Egg Butter Masala.


Blog Hop Wednesdays revolves around participating bloggers who cook from the blog of a fellow blogger with whom they have been paired up for that particular Wednesday. This is my 5th entry since the event was started (a list of all my previous entries is at the bottom of this post) and I am ever so excited to be paired with a random blogger & browse through their recipes and select the ones I will be trying. It always pushes me out of my comfort zone of cooking only the kind of cuisine I am accustomed to (or like) or with ingredients that I have already worked with. Thanks to Blog Hop Wednesdays I am now compelled to try a new method of cooking or a combination of spices that result in a totally new set of flavours.


This recipe has been adapted fromPrabha's Samayal/Cooking who has a lot of nice recipes primarily vegetarian and egg recipes and I selected the Egg Butter Masala as I had never eaten it before. The name sounded interesting too because as much as I have eaten the chicken version (Butter Chicken) I have not tried making it at home either (I am inspired to do that soon) and this recipe calls for egg whites only so it's great for health conscious people especially those with high cholesterol - of course the recipe calls for butter which can be replaced with minimal oil.What's the fun in taking out the butter from butter masala, you may ask. There are other ingredients (like coconut milk powder) which adequately make up for the lack of butter (and the creamy texture it provides) if you decide to do away with it altogether. The thick gravy is nice & creamy and the whole dish is a superb accompaniment to chapathis. You can go all creative and even use this as a spread for (desi) sandwiches - just make tiny pieces of the egg whites. I tried this dish with chapathis for lunch & with bread for dinner and it was finger lickin' good. What's more, you can whip this up in less than 30 minutes (yes it includes the time taken to hard boil the eggs too!)


When I was putting this dish together I also realised that despite having declared my love for eggs I have just a handful of egg recipes on the blog. So here's a nice egg recipe for you, I wish I had taken more pictures but I was just too starved! This is one recipe that actually tastes different because the egg pieces are lightly fried before marinating so the texture does feel a little chewy - you can skip the frying if you wish. I added the chopped onions as it gives a good gravy base and increases the quantity slightly


Egg Butter Masala
Serves 1-2

You Need:
  • 3 or 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli (I skipped this)
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp oil to fry the eggs
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp chopped coriander (for garnishing)
For marination
  • 1/4 cup curds (yogurt)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk powder (I used Maggi)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
Method:
1. Place the eggs in a pan filled with enough water (at room temperature) to cover them. Place the pan over a full flame and once the water comes to a rolling boil continue to cook for 12 minutes. Turn off the flame, transfer the eggs into another pan with plain water, remove the shells, slit each egg into half vertically, remove the egg yolks and cut the egg whites into quarters. Keep aside
2. Heat a pan with 1 tsp oil and lightly fry the egg pieces. Transfer into a bowl and marinate it with all the ingredients mentioned in 'For marination'. Keep aside for 10 mins.
3. Heat the butter in a wok or pan and toss in the cumin, when it begins to splutter add the green chillies if you are using them, fry for a few seconds and then add the onions and fry till translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till oil leaves the sides. 
4. Toss in the turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds and then add the chopped tomatoes and salt to taste. Fry till the tomatoes turn mushy. Add the marinated egg pieces, simmer and cook while mixing all the masala gently. Add a little water if you require it in a semi gravy form. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes on a slow flame
5. Turn off the flame, garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with chapathis or rice.

Notes:
If you wish to add the egg yolks you can do so at the end just before you turn off the flame. Be gentle while mixing it as yolks will crumble but of course it will only add to the taste


Monday, October 10, 2011

Zucchini & Choco Chip Loaf Cake

It's time for a cake!!! Yayy!! Well, as you know I thoroughly enjoy my baking sessions - and I have company too, my little fellow almost always lingers around the kitchen trying to be helpful during my baking marathons.  But more than being helpful he ends up creating a lot of clutter (Sigh!)


I had bookmarked this recipe along with many others a long long time ago, but what compelled me to actually go out & buy a Zucchini (pronounced as 'zu-khi-ni' & called as Courgette in some parts of the world) was my friend Michelle's (of Food, Football & a Baby) recent posts on the abundance of Zucchinis that grow in her garden that was compelling her to work faster (at grating & freezing them for later use) than they managed to grow literally in front of her eyes. So here I was sitting in another part of the world trying to get my hands on the first available piece of Zuke so that I could try something out of it. I have never really eaten (or rather consciously eaten) a Zucchini so this was a good chance to do so. And of course, I've mentioned a zillion times before about my obsession to get my son to eat some vegetables and his refusal to do so was making me come up with all sorts of ideas to sneak them into his food anyway. 


But exotic & imported food doesn't come cheap in India. Sure, living in Bombay makes it easier to find them at well stocked supermarkets or fruit & vegetable vendors, but one has to be willing to cough up an indecent sum of money for a tiny piece of it. I paid Rs. 60 for a piece of Zucchini that weighted a mere 200 grams! The 'Bhaajiwala' (vegetable vendor) who I usually visit when I am in need of some 'phoren maal' (herbs & veggies that are not locally grown or part of the Indian cuisine and are supposedly imported), started off complaining how tough it was to make any profit on his sales these days if I complained like I did (but I complained anyway). So I returned home laden with the goods that didn't weigh as much as the burden of guilt I brought along with them - what if my cake flopped? What if the Zucchini didn't taste as good as it's supposed to? What if it was locally grown like the Strawberries from Mahabaleshwar & the vendor had just fleeced a good sum off me? Gulp! Anyway, I swung into action as soon as I set foot in my kitchen. Out came the apron, the baking equipment and the rest of the clutter, courtesy: my son and off we embarked upon another journey to bakesville.


The loaf cake was as good as I could possibly imagine. Delicately flavoured and definitely didn't taste like I had sneaked a vegetable into it - so yes, my son devoured bite after bite and asked for some more. By the time we finished baking it, it was well into tea time, so it was a perfect accompaniment to a hot steaming cup of coffee as you can see. 



My only regret is that I halved the ingredients because I wasn't sure whether my new loaf pan would accommodate all the batter and I had no intention of letting this cake flop. So if you notice, the loaf is a lot thinner than it is supposed to be. The whole wheat flour & olive oil just made it a bit more healthier than regular cakes. Since I didn't use up all the grated Zucchini, I am have frozen it for later use, so my hunt for new recipes is on - next time, it'll be something savoury! 



Zucchini & Choco Chip Loaf Cake
You Need:
  • 200gm/1-2/3rd cups whole wheat flour
  • 200gm/1 cup sugar
  • 125gm/1 cup grated Zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • 120ml/1/2 cup light olive oil (or any odourless oil)
  • 80ml/1/3 cup warm water
  • 50gm/1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon or nutmeg powder (optional)
Method:
1. Sift the dry ingredients (whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder) about 2-3 times and keep aside. Grease a 7" loaf pan well and dust with flour. Preheat oven to 175 C (if you are using an OTG, preheat it for about 8 minutes)
2. In a large bowl beat the sugar & oil till the mixture looks pale and well blended. Add one egg at a time & beat well.
3. Mix in the sifted dry ingredients in parts till well incorporated. Add the water and combine into a smooth batter. Add the grated Zucchini & the chocolate chips & mix well.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes or until the skewer inserted comes out clean.
5. When done, remove and allow the tin to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Carefully invert it & place it on the wire rack. Allow it to cool completely. Cut & serve with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

Notes:
  • You can use multi grain wheat flour to increase the health quotient. I used Ashirwad Multigrain Atta. Whole wheat flour tends to result in a cake that is more dense than regular flour (Maida) - so you can replace it with the same.
  • Adding unrefined sugar (brown/demerara/packed light brown sugar) instead of regular granulated white sugar is also a good idea if you want it to be a complete healthy cake
  • Increase the cinnamon powder upto 1-1/2 tsp if you wish a stronger cinnamon flavour & fragrance

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chicken Chops (Bunt Style Chicken Curry Without Coconut)



My little fellow is going through a phase where he is no longer interested in seafood despite the decent enough variety we manage to buy every week. All he wants now is chicken in any form. No veggies, no rice and no fish of course. If I let him choose his meals he would almost daily ask for 'chicken & chapathi'. Well, that actually means that mommy goes on a mad hunt looking for recipes that haven't already been tried and which can go well with chapathis.

This morning I must have flipped through at least 4-5 cookbooks and was almost on the verge of giving up & hunting for a recipe on the net when I came across an easy recipe in the Mangalore Ladies Club Cookery Book - my mum's birthday gift to me right after I got married. The book has been sifted through for recipes I can say, most of the recipes have been tried, but I use it mainly as a reference point because sometimes the recipes can end abruptly and I am left to my own devices to solve the suspense (which was quite a frightening experience when I first juggled with cooking).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Mangalorean Mutton Kurma

"Do you always cook 'hi-fi' stuff?"  asked one of my readers jokingly. " Ha, ha, not really, only the best ones make it to the blog" I replied, thoroughly enjoying questions like these that help put a smile on my face often. Well, it's true that I have started to cook a lot of different kind of dishes lately. They are not necessarily "hi-fi" but are definitely those that sound interesting enough to be bookmarked and tried. Besides the regular Mangalorean fare, I also like to try out some party specific items on regular days so that I have a good collection of recipes to choose from when we invite guests over for a meal. And this looks like it is a never ending process - there are just so many wonderful recipes out there waiting to be tried!!


As you've noticed, most of my recipes are with small quantities of ingredients especially suited for nuclear families like ours and when time permits I try out at least one new recipe everyday - I do this for the sheer joy of cooking. Nothing is as exhilarating as the process of bringing together ingredients, fiddling around with proportions and creating a new batch of flavours that tantalize the taste buds. Having tried at least 3-4 new recipes per week, I have enough content to delight my readers with 'new' recipes every time. Blogging has greatly simplified and offered the convenience of collecting & storing a gamut of recipes in a single place making it a simple repository of recipes for my personal use which would otherwise be scattered across so many cookbooks & notebooks that I have amassed along the years. 


Honestly while I don't cook just because I have a blog, I am definitely more enthusiastic & driven to try out new things because I know I have some place to share it with others who may also benefit from my experiments. More than the need to feed my blog, I cook to feed my family and look forward to being judged by the two most important food critics in my house - my husband & my son. A dish rarely makes it to the blog if it hasn't got a majority vote :-). Before the blog was created, I followed the same process, vetoed recipes never got a chance of being saved as a fair copy in my main recipe book. 

Last but not the least, I thoroughly enjoy the process of cooking, styling the food & capturing the flavours in as many pictures as I can manage to click. - I enjoy this entire process so much that I actually look forward to doing it everyday if I could. And yes, receiving feedback is just one of the perks ;-) 


Mangalorean Mutton Kurma
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 750gm Mutton on the bone
For the garam masala (to be powdered)
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • 4 peppercorns
For the marination
  • 3/4th cup thick sour curds (yogurt)
  • juice of 1/2 lime - optional
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 50gm or 1/2 cup copra (dried coconut)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1/2 tsp poppy seeds (khus khus)
  • 6 long dry red chillies with seeds removed
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1-2 medium size green chillies (adjust according to taste)
For frying
  • 1 large onion finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or ghee as required
Method:
1. Cut the mutton into medium size pieces, wash and drain on a colander. Pat the pieces dry and marinate it with curds & salt & keep aside for at least 30mins.
2. Dry roast the ingredients for the garam masala and powder them. Set aside. If you are using freshly grated coconut, dry roast it till golden brown on a hot tawa and grind it to a fine paste along with the rest of the ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala' section using a little water. Reserve the masala water from the mixie.
3. In a pressure cooker heat some oil or ghee & fry the sliced onion till golden brown and add the ground masala and fry for a few minutes. Add the marinated meat pieces and fry for a few minutes till all the pieces are well coated with the masala. Add the masala water, adjust salt to taste (remember that the marination had salt in it - so go easy on the salt), add lime juice to adjust sourness (just in case the curds used for marination wasn't sour enough). Add the powdered garam masala, mix and cover the lid of the pressure cooker and cook on full flame till the first whistle goes off. Reduce to sim & continue to cook for another 10-12 minutes (cooking time may vary depending on the tenderness of meat used - please use your judgement here.) Turn off the flame and allow the cooker to cool down and the weight to loosen on its own.
4. Open, stir and serve hot with chapathis or rice.

Notes:
1. This recipe calls for copra (dried flesh of the coconut), however if you do not have it, you can use dessicated coconut or fresh coconut that has been dry roasted on a tawa.
2. Using sour curds for marination usually gives the best results, however you can add some lime if you are using fresh curds that is not so sour.