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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Karyachi Chutney (Dry Fish Chutney)

Globalisation & commercialisation has also brought with them the banes of instant gratification. Soups, noodles, take away fast food & what have you - everything to accomodate your life on a fast track. One of the soon to be extinct Mangalorean specialities is the range of recipes where the primary ingredient is the Dry Fish. Swirled into a chutney, fried with marinated masala or cooked in a gravy along with raw Mangoes (Thor), the Dry Fish was the ideal sea food option during the monsoons when obtaining fresh catch was almost next to impossible - fishing boats would not venture out into the sea due to safety reasons and people on the shores would have to stick to vegetarian food (which was also stocked up in every home - often found packed in ropes made out of coconut fibre and left hanging from the ceiling - what a lovely sight that was). The Dry Fish hence came very handy as a little of it would satiate the entire family (owing to its salitiness it was made & eaten in small portions). 40-50years ago (and earlier) it was very common for people to have as many as 12-14 children, so feeding them was obviously an expensive affair especially since the man was the only bread winner - the woman of the house had the task to ensure that finances were stretched enough to last the whole month and hence the most feasible & economical of all meals was the Pez (Rice Konji/Gruel) - a huge 'Modki' (or Matka) (Steel vessel with a wide base & long narrow neck) would sit for hours on the fire cooking away the brown rice along with plenty of water to produce the most delicious & satisfying cooked rice with its thickened starch water (which was also drunk in plenty by young & old for strength - also by those who worked in the fields)

A common scene in every poor/middle class family was that Pez was served to all & sundry who even bothered to pop their heads into the household. Pez for breakfast & Pez for an early supper. Often served with Chutneys (especially the Dry Fish chutney) or Pickes made out of shredded raw mango, tender lime or seasonal berries (usually gooseberries). If you are a Mangalorean reading this, you will be able to come up with many more suggestions which I am sure you or your elders would have eaten & relished (and still continue to do). So, I'll leave your mind to conjour up the most lovely & mouth watering memories of yesteryears which will probably never return....




Karyachi Chutney
(Print Recipe)

Recipe Source: My mum-in-law

You Need:
  • 1 1/2 cups grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup dry fish (shredded)
  • 1 tbsp tamarind juice
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 4 dry red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
Note: Instead of the above 3 ingredients (red chillies, jeera and haldi) you can use 2tbsp Bafat powder to which garam masala (cinnamon, cloves etc) has not been added.

Method:
1. Dry fish can be terribly salty - so soak it in lots of water for at least 6-8 hours (or more if you want your chutney less salty). Throw away the soaked water. Carefully slice off the skin (if present) and make thin slices  (assuming you are using a chunky piece of fish)
2. Heat 1 tsp oil a tawa and gently fry the fish till it is lightly roasted. Remove & shred the roasted pieces.


3. Use a dry grinding jar of a mixer grinder to grind all the ingredients to a coarse paste - it must be coarse enough to feel the grated coconut - yet well blended so that all the ingredients get incorporated and release the flavours.
4. Serve with rice or 'pez' (konji made out of brown rice) - its the best meal ever!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tendli Ani Moi (Pokan) Sukhe (Ivy Gourd with Tender Cashewnuts)

Although Mangalorean cuisine has a million varieties, the Catholic community knows to make primarily two err..three types of vegetables - Thel Piyav (using oil & onion as primary ingredients and also similar to the Foogath style of making vegetables where curry leaves are also added), Fon Method (veggies tempered with mustard, garlic and Bafat or Vegetable powder) and the Vegetable Gravy with usually a combo of two veggies. I am talking about vegetables made on an everyday basis with minimum of ingredients & efforts. All these methods use the coconut (grated or ground to paste). The kind that is reserved for weddings and special occasions is the Tendli Ani Moi which has a dash of sugar or jaggery and practically no other 'masala/spice' besides the tempering that needs red chillies. So you can say that it is the simplest way to make a vegetable dish which is really healthy as it doesn't swim in loads of oil/ghee unlike it's North Indian counterparts.

While Ivy Gourd (famously yet mistakenly known as the Gerkin in Mangalore) has always been my favourite in whatever style it is made - Tendli Miriyapito (Ivy Gourd Pepper) or the Fon style (recipe to follow), this special type used to be served only during Mangalorean Catholic weddings on a menu along with Sweet Pulao. Tender cashewnuts called as 'Pokaan' are usually used for this dish as it was the custom in olden days when almost all families had access to Cashew trees in their own yards, but regular cashewnuts can also be blanched and used. This dish is very palatable for anyone - the young and old alike due to minimum spices used. Unless you hate nuts in your food, I'm sure you'll love this preparation.



Tendli Ani Moi
(Print Recipe)
Recipe Source: Sambardo by J.B Lobo


You Need:
  • 250gms Ivy Gourd (Tendli)
  • 1 handful of whole cashewnuts halved (you can use broken cashewnuts which are sometimes available)
  • 1/2 - 1tsp sugar (or about 1/2 tbsp jaggery to taste)
  • 2 long dry red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp black gram dal (udad dal)
  • 2-3 tbsp grated coconut
  • 2 tsps oil
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Wash the Tendli well and snip off the ends. Slit them lengthwise in quarters (four parts of 1 Tendli)
2. Wash the cashewnuts and blanch them in boiling water and a pinch of salt for about 8-10minutes. Remove, refresh with cold water and set aside
3. In a pan cook the Tendli with the sugar, salt to taste, cashewnuts & a little water till tender (alternatively you can put all these ingredients in a pressure cooker, put the weight (whistle) on and keep it on a high flame till you start hearing the hissing noise. Turn off immediately before the whistle goes off, wait for a few seconds before removing the weight. Stir and your Tendlis will be cooked much faster - saves time & energy). Add the grated coconut and cover the pan - the heat will help the coconut to 'cook'
4. Heat oil in a smaller pan (separate one for tempering) and when its hot toss in the mustard and wait till they splutter, add the udad dal and stir gently till they turn pale brown - dont allow them to burn, reduce flame if required. Toss in the broken red chillies and stir a bit till the oil seeps into them & they release a nice fragrance, colour & flavour to the oil. Immediately pour this mixture into the Tendli. Stir & cover the lid immediately
5. Serve hot with white or boiled rice. Goes best with rice and Bangda Masala (recipe to follow)



Friday, March 25, 2011

Thandhlache Laadu (Rice Laddus) - Christmas Goodies - Kuswar


The Rice Laddus are by far one of Mangalore's most favourite sweets which has been around for ages. While it is made by people of all religions, it has a special place in the 'Kuswar' made by Mangalorean Catholics for Christmas. Kuswar is an assortment of sweets & savouries - I will dedicate a separate post for them shortly. Not too many people make the entire Kuswar (the whole range of sweets & savouries) anymore as it's easily available at bakeries & sweet shops in and around Mangalore. However, the Rice Laddu is something that many people prefer to make in small quantities at home so that it can be consumed fresh & finished before they turn hard & stale. Although my mom joined the bandwagon of making just the basic sweets & buying the rest from the famous M.D'Souza & Sons - Bakers, Confectioners & Caterers of our times, she would never fail to make the Rice Laddus.

My mum-in-law who taught me to make this lovely sweet tells me that in the olden days it was made at home by the rich & poor alike - even by those who couldn't afford to make expensive sweets at home would at least make the humble Rice Laddus made out of unpolished rice, jaggery & coconut - staple items in every poor man's house. 

The roasting of the rice helps the grains to fluff up & lends a nutty flavour to the Laddus. This along with the mild taste of jaggery soaked with shreds of fresh & juicy grated coconut just melts in the mouth. The sesame provides the surprise factor when you get to bite into a couple of them when you are busy munching the Laddu. The pinch of salt should not be underestimated as it brings out all the lovely flavours. The mild fragrance of cardamom blended with roasted & powdered rice is something that lingers on - not just in your kitchen, but on your taste buds too! So try this anytime - it hardly takes 15-20 minutes to make it!


Thandhlache Laadu
(Print Recipe)

Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: Nil | Yield 10-12 laddus

You Need:
  • 250 gms boiled rice (preferably brown unpolished rice as it lends a nice colour)
  • 150 gms jaggery (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 grated coconut (1 vole as it's called in Konkani)
  • 2-3 pods of cardamom
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (Til)
  • pinch of salt
Method:
1. Wash the rice and dry it well.
2. Roast it on a hot tawa on a slow flame till the grains fluff up a bit - this takes about 10mins
3. Powder the rice along with the cardamom to an almost fine texture - like very fine sand (leave it slightly grainy - this avoids the laddu flour from turning into a paste when you eat it & stick to the roof of your mouth which is not a pleasant experience). Reserve 1 tbsp of flour for rolling the laddus
4. Pound the jaggery to remove lumps or use the dry jar of mixer grinder - you can grind the jaggery & coconut together to achieve a coarse consistency - do not grind it to a paste, just swirl the two for about 3-4 seconds

5. Mix the jaggery & coconut mixture with the rice powder. Add the sesame seeds & pinch of salt. Mix everything well so all the flavours get incorporated.
6. Take a portion of mixture in your palm and compress in your fist to make a tight ball. The tighter the ball the better you will be able to shape it into a round laddu. If you don't make it tight enough, when you roll it into a laddu the mixture will crumble.
7. Roll each laddu in the reserved flour & serve.


8. Store laddus in an airtight container & eat them within 3-4 days (if stored outside). They will last longer if you refrigerate them


Monday, March 21, 2011

Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) Chutney

Are you often lost when it comes to chutney ideas? Idlis, Dosas, Sannas or Neer Dosas - all set to be steamed/fried and the chutney is missing - aah! This scene pretty much unfolds itself almost everytime I make something for breakfast. But thanks to my mother-in-law who has arrived from Mangalore - her ideas seem to be flowing like water out of the tap! 

Like I mentioned in my previous post she arrived with bags full of goodies, sweets, vegetables, meats and even plants! (that have found home in my kitchen garden). She brought loads of Kadipatta (Bevaso Palo as it's called in Konkani, Kari Bevina Soppu in Kannada) or Curry Leaves as it's called in English. The fresh and tender Mangalorean variety of curry leaves were a welcome change from the thicker and darker shade available in Mumbai (and sometimes slightly wilted)

Kadipatta is undoubtedly the wonder plant of India especially South India. Used mainly for tempering (seasoning/tadka) a dish - fish, meat, vegetables or other preparations like chutneys, raita, soups, upma, vadas etc. It is even used to flavour spiced buttermilk. It aids digestion and is very beneficial for people who have diabetes. 

When I was little, I didnt quite like the taste of the Kadipatta, but as I grew up I took to it's flavour strongly and love the fragrance of fresh leaves. While it was unthinkable to add a whole handful of leaves into a chutney, the taste was balanced quite nicely by the grated coconut that went into it. So here's the recipe - highly recommend you to try it at least once in a month or two - just so you & your family can reap the benefits of this rich source of good health!


Kadipatta Chutney

Recipe source: My mum-in-law

You Need:
  • A handful of kadipatta leaves (stalks removed, washed & air dried)
  • 1 green chilli (increase it to 2 chillies if you prefer it spicy)
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 small slice of raw mango (or you can even use 1/2 a marble size ball of tamarind - or to taste)
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Heat a tawa/non stick pan and gently toast the kadipatta without using any oil. Dont burn them, just toast them on a slow flame till you get a nice aroma. 
2. Grind the rest of the ingredients together with the leaves by adding about 1 tbsp water or slightly more if required. Grind it thick enough to achieve the consistency of a chutney (it should feel coarse if you rub the chutney between you index  finger & thumb)
3. Serve it with idlis, dosas, sannas, neer dosas or as a dip :-)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Scrumptious Mangalorean Delights - Only Pictures, No Recipes!

Hey all! Thought I'd share the pictures of some of my most favourite Mangalorean sweets! My mother-in-law arrived from Kudla (Mangalore) with lots & lots of Mangalorean goodies including these lovely sweets which I've eaten all my life (and never put on even a gram of weight while in Mangalore) - but that wont be the case now, but a little indulgence is okay as they are simply irresistible! 

While I am busy spending quality time with my family, take a look at these beauties and do watch this space for some authentic Mangalorean recipes which I'll be posting shortly (I am busy learning to make them at the moment :-)

Mithai Laddu

Every die hard Mangy will have their own favourites, mine being the 'Mitai Laddu' (Boondi Laddoo) - I can easily gobble up 3-4 in less than 2 minutes :-) The lovely golden yellow Laddoos are made with a thousand tiny balls of deep fried gram flour paste dropped into piping hot oil through a colander. The resultant 'boondi' is then shaped into Laddus which are probably the most popular kind of sweets across India. The taste & colour will vary but Laddus will remain Laddus :-)




Mysore Pak

The Mangalorean version of the Mysore Pak is probably found only in Mangalore - not the pure ghee variety that is famously sold by Sri Krishna sweets in Chennai (which is superb too) or the pure ghee Mysore Pak sold by Nandini sweets in Mangalore at specific milk booths (which made an entry maybe just a couple of decades ago) - the real Mysore Pak is a beautiful brown in the centre with the edges fading into a lighter brown or the colour of butterscotch. The centre portion has always been my favourite as it has this very mealy taste of Besan (chana atta/roasted chick pea flour) and has the mild burnt taste which is so yum!


Saat

What typically means 'Sixty' in Hindi is actually a sugary sweet in Mangalore. Made of Maida flour & rolled in powdered sugar with a hint of cardamom. When I was little, I always liked to chip off the base of each 'saat' which is thickened sugar before gobbling up the 'blandish' sweet - I simply loved it. The same practice is followed even today :-)



Maalpuri

Another one of my favourites which is the distant cousin of the 'Maalpua' famously made in Mumbai during Ramadan as one of the sweets prepared for the Iftaar (breaking of fast). Whenever I used to pass by mountains of Malpuas piled on top of each other by sweetmakers setting shop outside the railway stations (of local trains) I would instantly be reminded of the dear Maalpuri that I left behind in Mangalore. I don't miss to grab a few during each trip. These deep fried babies don't have a long shelf life so they are best refrigerated & microwaved before eating.


Want to see your favourite Mangalorean sweet here? Lemme know what your favourites are and I'll probably make them & post the recipe too!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Zebra Cake

Time for another cake! announced the cuckoo bird...well, not really, since I love to bake as often as I can, I thought of trying out this cake which my friend Rinku highly recommended. Since there was a pot luck party at the Women's Day celebration for all mommies at my son's playschool, I decided it would be good to try it out once before the actual day. There are no lengthy stories in this post :-) I will come straight to the point and   allow you to enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed making this cake. The only problem with the way my cake turned out was that the surface browned a bit cuz i have such a teeny tiny OTG (Oven Toaster Grill) in which the heating elements on the top can be a bit too harsh if you don't cover the cake with parchment paper (which I ran out of during the second time I tried it). During the first try I was too lazy to click the pictures cuz my family of three just wolfed it down to the last crumb on a lazy Wednesday two weeks ago. I intend to try it again sometime this week, cuz this cake is simply delicious! So, better pictures will follow. I simply had to post it now on request. 


It's an anytime cake & keeps well in an airtight container for upto 3 days without refrigeration. My hubby dubby who loves simple cakes initially thought I was whipping up a chocolate cake (which he doesn't like to eat beyond a bite) when he saw me preparing the batter. But when I started to make the design he was convinced that this was going to be a marble cake with a twist :-) Its a breakfast, post lunch & tea time cake and a visual treat especially for little darlings like my son who cant have enough of the 'Zebra Cake' - he has a pillow in the same design :-) 


Zebra Cake

You Need:
  • 300gms flour (maida)
  • 300gms sugar
  • 250 ml oil (preferably odourless)
  • 130 ml warm milk
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp dark cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed Hintz cocoa powder)
  • 4 eggs
Method:
1. Prepare a 9 inch round cake tin by greasing & dusting it with flour. You can also line it with parchment/butter paper.
2. In a large bowl beat the eggs & sugar till well incorporated (I always powder the granulated sugar in a dry grinder after measuring it).
3. Add the oil to the eggs & sugar mixture & mix till it is well incorporated. The original recipe required the milk (250ml) also to be added along with the oil  - which actually makes the batter very runny & it is suggested to add extra flour which then makes the cake less sweet - so I add the milk after the flour has been incorporated and just about 130 ml is enough to achieve the right consistency which should neither be runny nor too thick. A runny batter will take slightly longer time to cook in the centre (fails the skewer test) hence the changes in the proportion of milk.
4. Sift the flour & baking powder and set aside - these are your dry ingredients
5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in three parts - alternating between flour & milk. Add the milk upto the point till you get a creamy (but not runny) consistency. You can add more than 130ml of milk if required.
6. Divide this batter into two equal parts. I weighed the batter on a weighing scale & I divided it equally into 550gms each. 



7. To one portion add the cocoa powder & mix well until incorporated. Leave the other as it is. So you get two different colours. See note below
8. Now you will need to measure 3 tbsps of batter each of (brown & white batter) and drop them into the baking dish. To make things easier & faster (as you need to work quickly), use a ladle which can exactly contain 3tbsp of batter. 3tbsp of batter per colour ensures your zebra stripes turn out just right in thickness. Ideally use separate spoons for the two batters as you want to avoid mixing of colours (I used an icecream scoop & another ladle - both measuring 3 tbsp)
9. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (I preheat my OTG to 8 minutes)
10. Scoop out a ladleful (of 3tbsp) of white batter & drop it in the centre of the dish. Quickly take the brown batter & place it in the centre of the white batter. Do not shake the tin - the batters will move by themselves. Alternate between with the two batters till everything is used up. You will get a beautiful design in a circular form.
10. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or till the skewer comes out clean.
12. Remove from the oven & allow the cake to cool in the tin  for about 10minutes. Invert it onto a wire rack & cool off completely.
13. Cut into pieces & serve - it is simply a delight to look at the beautiful design before munching it down to the last crumb!

Note: I have seen some cute & creative Zebra cakes with brown & pink stripes...so you can add a few drops of food colouring to the plain portion of batter. But it's totally upto you.




Saturday, March 12, 2011

Grape Wine

What's better than spending a weekend with some great friends, food & drinks? To those who politely decline 'hard' drinks, the Wine is the first thing that comes to mind of the host and is immediately offered. Who can refuse this mildly intoxicating & delightful drink?


In India the most popular alcoholic drink after Whiskey, Rum & Brandy has been the Wine. Cocktails and mocktails became popular only a couple of decades ago when the pub and party culture grew. At least in Mangalore, Wine was offered to ladies by default (even if they would have wanted to have a peg or two of some other kind of alcohol) :-) because it was the socially accepted and permissible drink where the alcohol content was almost negligible (or so it was assumed!). It was unladylike to ask for anything else and the only ladies who grabbed a 'hard' drink were grannies who needed a 'dose' to be in the best of spirits and probably get a good night's sleep too.


Wine has been very popular in the Mangalore Catholic culture as it has a Eucharistic significance (although it is never served to people in the church) and is also served (although a namesake - usually grape juice) along with a piece of cake (usually plum cake) to guests during weddings. As soon as the Toast Master (the person who wishes well to the newly weds) finishes his rather lengthy speech of  introducing the bridal couple, their education, their families, the extended families, family background and how each of them is related to all & sundry and their domestic pets (phew!) he/she raises his/her wine glass in honour of the happy couple and wishes them a great beginning to a happy married life.


Wine has a longstanding history and is probably one of the first things that man ever created. Made of fermented fruit juice (usually grapes) to which yeast is added which helps the conversion of sugars present in the juice into alcohol. Wines can be made from different sources ranging from fruits (grapes, apples), berries, roots (ginger) and grains such as barley & rice. Wine has not only acquired a significant place in religion (Christianity/Judaism) it is also greatly valued in the art of cooking. 

Viticulture in India is also traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization during which it was believed to have been introduced from Persia. So it's really not a valid argument when people say that it is not Indian culture to have a little wine (or any alcoholic drink)

Wines can also be of different types, the most popular being the Red & White wines. 

My relationship with Wine has been minimal. It was never made in my home as my mom never ventured out to make any kind of preserved foods/beverages (which require a great deal of time & patience) as she had her hands full taking care of the young and old besides running a house & a plant nursery and a couple of pets thrown in for good measure. My maternal grandma has always dabbled with making pickles, jams, preserves, wines and what not beside making all kinds of seasonal eats such as Patholis (rice cakes sweetened with jaggery & coconut & steamed in Teak leaves of Turmeric leaves), Pathrades, Gariyos etc. This particular recipe belongs to her which she lovingly gave me last year, six months before she had a fall & an injury. Not sure if she can make it any time soon to taste some of my wine, but nevertheless this post is especially dedicated for my dearest Nana.

Grape Wine

Recipe Source: My grandmother

You Need:
  • 1/2 kg sour black grapes (over ripe is better)
  • 350gms sugar (increase it upto 500gms if you like sweet wine - I like my wine less sweet)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (to make the caramel)
  • 1 litre water (boiled & cooled)
  • 1 tsp yeast dissolved in 2 tbsp warm water
  • 2 tsp rum or brandy (as a preservative)

Method:
1. Wash the grapes well & allow to drain. In a large pan crush them along with the sugar (350gms) and make a paste out of them (messy? enjoy it :-)
2. Add the water and stir well with a wooden ladle. Pour this mixture into a sterile glass jar (see note below) and add the dissolved yeast. Stir and close the jar (place the lid over it loosely or just cover it - DO NOT fasten it or the jar will burst during the fermentation process). Keep it for 21 days stirring once a day.
3. After the time is up, open the jar and strain out the grapes using a muslin cloth (or bairas) into a steel vessel. Reuse the grapes to make more wine.
4. Leave the strained liquid for 2 days for the sediment to settle down. After two days slowly pour into a bottle and place the cork loosely over it. Leave it for a week
5. Repeat the process of straining the residue grapes again and pour it back into the bottle for another 8 days.

Making the Caramel
Place a heavy bottomed vessel over a slow flame and add 1 tbsp sugar. Do not add any water. It will slowly melt and turn brown. Do not allow it to burn, turn off the flame, remove.

6. Pour the wine into a steel vessel and mix the caramel into it. Stir well so that all the caramel is incorporated.
7. Add 2 tsp rum or brandy which acts as a preservative.
8. Pour the wine back into the bottle, fasten the cork & store.
9. Enjoy a glass of wine with some great food & great company!

Note: Make sure you use sterile jar (which is washed well & dried) and vessels. The last thing you want is Mr. Bacteria (Acetobacter) to infect your wine & turn it into vinegar.


What good is this post if I don't come to my favourite topic? Health benefits ofcourse! Despite many debates, recent evidence shows that moderate consumption of wine may actually benefit you. While Red wine contains much higher levels of antioxidants like reservatrol than White wine, drinking either type of wine will increase the HDL or good cholesterol. 

However....here's a STATUTORY WARNING!!!

   Too Much Wine........


Can Kill....!



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hyderabadi Biryani

I dont know how the past week just flew by....aah, yeah, most of the last two weeks went by in taking care of my lil one who was down with a viral fever. It can be such a mood killer especially  if you have to stay indoors even during a weekend. So after almost ten days of illness & boredom (which comes free with illness when you have nothing else to do) and battling with a three year old to take his medicines, we thought we should celebrate with a Biryani for lunch or dinner as soon as we could. Sure enough, Sunday came trotting along and without too much thought or prior planning, I set out to prepare the Biryani - this time it was a recipe from  a book that I had gifted hubbykins when we dated and which he had never made use of even once :-( I had picked up the book from a book exhibition in Bangalore eons ago and it was sitting pretty on my bookshelf all these years. I thought that the book deserved a chance, at least once. I am glad I wasn't disappointed. I was amazed at the huge collection of rice recipes the author has put together with a special focus on Moghul, Lucknowi, Awadhi & Hyderabadi recipes - all categorised under Chicken, Meat, Fish & Vegetarian. I am yet to try some more recipes from that book and so I'll save the review for later.

At this point I think it is imperative that we know the difference between a Biryani & a Pulao (or Pilaf). The difference between the two is the technique used in cooking the rice. The Pulao is made by cooking the rice in exactly measured water, starting by frying the rice in ghee (clarified butter) along with whole spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise etc) and then adding preboiled water or broth/stock and cooking the rice completely. It is then layered or mixed along with the main ingredient (chicken, fish, meat, vegetables).

Biryani on the other hand uses par boiled (cooked three fourth) rice boiled in plenty of (unmeasured) water and then assembled with the main ingredients. This method involves the par boiled rice to be placed over the almost cooked meat. The vessel is then sealed with aluminium foil or tightly sealed with dough and put on a 'dum' (cooked on slow fire for 30-45 minutes so that all the flavours amalgamate well). This process helps the rice to cook completely. Once done, the pot is allowed to sit for 5 minutes before it is opened & served.

So technically while the Pulao uses the 'absorption' technique of cooking the rice, the Biryani uses the 'draining' technique.



The success of a Biryani always depends on the quality of rice used, so always try to use the best quality. Use of desi ghee and good quality spices also help bring out the best flavours. The process also involves preparation of the 'Birista' which is finely sliced onions that are deep fried to golden brown which impart a unique richness & flavour to the Biryani.

For now, try this heavy duty Biryani (with all its richness & royal splendour) and you will be surprised at how this mildly spiced fragrant rice exudes such delicate flavours. So much better than ordering a greasy Biryani from your local restaurant. Most of them taste so similar that it's hard to tell each one from the other. No wonder Royalty always made sure their recipes were always well guarded secrets and were treated as family heirlooms passed down only to daughters-in-law and never to the daughters.

Hyderabadi Biryani
Recipe Source: Pulaos and Biryanis by Katy Dalal
You Need:
For the rice:
  • 500gms basmati rice
  • 3 crushed green cardamoms
  • 2 pieces of cinnamon (about 1" each)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera/black cumin)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 gram saffron (kesar)
  • salt to taste
  • juice of 1/2 lime
For the marination:
  • 800 gms mutton (goat meat) *see notes
  • 250 gms thick curd
  • 1tbsp ginger garlic paste (I used freshly ground paste)
  • 1/2 tbsp red chilli powder (increase it to 1 tbsp if you can tolerate spice)
  • juice of 2 large limes
  • 2"raw papaya finely ground (I skipped this as I didnt have any)
  • 4 medium size onions sliced fine
  • A pinch of garam masala
  • Ghee for frying
For the masala:
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp carraway seeds
  • 3 green cardamoms (seeds only)
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1" piece cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 mace flowers (javitri)
  • 3 medium onions sliced
  • 3 green chillies deseeded
  • 1 fistful of coriander leaves
  • 1/2 a cup (about 4 stalks) mint leaves


Method:
Marinating & cooking the Mutton:
1. Cut the mutton into medium size pieces, wash & drain well
2. Make a marinade of thick curd, red chilli powder, ginger garlic paste, lime juice and salt (to taste) and apply it to the mutton pieces well. Keep it aside for at least 2 hours.
3. In a wok/kadai heat some ghee and fry the sliced onions well till golden brown. Drain well & remove on an absorbent kitchen towel. Allow to cool for a few minutes - they will turn crispy. Sprinkle a pinch of garam masala. Crush them in a mixer grinder and add them to the marinating meat.
4. Next grind all the dry ingredients of the masala and add the wet ingredients & swirl it into a fine paste. Add this masala to the marinating meat.
5. It is ideal if you can cook the meat on slow fire, but this could take over an hour and half. To cut short the cooking time, I pressure cooked the marinated mutton as follows:
In a sufficiently large cooker, heat some ghee and fry the mutton pieces for about 2 minutes & add all the masala which was marinating along with it and mix well. There is no need to add additional water - if you wish you can add 1/2 a cup of water and mix again. Close the lid of the cooker, place the weight (whistle) and pressure cook on full flame for 10minutes or till the first whistle goes off. Reduce flame & cook for another 15-20 minutes (if you get tender meat) or till meat is done.

Cooking the rice:
1. Wash the rice and soak it for 10-15 minutes. Drain & keep.
2. Warm up the 1 cup of milk. On a hot tawa toast the saffron (kesar) slightly till crisp (do not burn it)- do this on a slow flame & toss it around gently using a clean kitchen towel. Crumble this saffron into the warm milk. It will turn yellow as the strands leave a beautiful colour & fragrance.
3. In a large pan boil plenty of water (you can measure double the water and throw in an extra couple of cups - but remember that you will need to drain the water so it has to be plenty or the rice wont cook and fluff up properly). When the water comes to a boil, toss in the spices - cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, fennel seeds, caraway seeds.
4. Add the rice, stir well. Add salt to taste. Cover with a tight lid so that no steam can escape. Cook till the rice is done three fourths - to check this, take a grain of rice and press it between your index finger & thumb, if it breaks into three parts, your rice has cooked just right. Turn off flame and drain the rice in a colander. Spread it out on large thalis (plates) and allow to cool. Sprinkle some lime juice & the saffron milk & mix gently.

Assembling the Mutton & Rice:
1. In a handi/wok with a wide bottom transfer the cooked meat from the pressure cooker and then place the par boiled rice on top of the meat. Seal the pan with foil and then place a lid over it or you can cover the pan with a lid & then use dough along the rim. (knead the dough & roll it into a thin coil & use it to seal the edges)

2. Place a large iron tawa on the flame & the sealed pan on top of the tawa. Cook on sim for 30-40minutes. Turn off flame after 40minutes and allow to settle for 10-15 minutes before opening it. Open and cover with silver vark (optional). Serve hot with raita!


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Randhaichi Kadi - Valchebaji Ani Guley (Vegetable Gravy with Spinach & Black Eyed Peas)

One of the most versatile Mangalorean specialities is the Vegetable Gravy which is usually made during the week to break the monotony of eating seafood. Many Mangy Catholics make it most often during the Lenten Season when they abstain from eating meat. We have a designated day for vegetarian preparations - which is usually a Friday. It's neither for religious nor health reasons (err...partially, yes), but just to take a break from making non vegetarian food. This veg gravy can be made with a variety of vegetable combos. Usually in the form of leafy greens with legumes or root vegetables with legumes. My most favourite is the Valchebaji (Mangalore/Malabar Spinach) and Guley (Black Eyed Peas). You can also make this gravy with Soorn (Yam) and Black Chana (Bengal Gram) or Black Eyed Peas, Green Gram Sprouts (Moong Sprouts), Potato & Toor Dal, Mogem (Field Marrow) and Toor Dal/Moong/Black Eyed Peas (any of these three with Field Marrow) - so it's really upto you what combination you like best.

The Vegetable Gravy is best eaten with brown rice (unpolished boiled rice) and whatever's remaining can be reheated & served with chapathis for breakfast the next morning.


So, here's a little about my favourite type of Spinach - The Mangalore/Malabar Spinach does not actually belong to the Spinach family and is botanically called the Basella Alba. It thrives in hot tropical climate and growns on a vine. In Coastal India especially Mlore & Kerala you can see this Spinach being grown on make shift pendals in almost every home which has a backyard.

When this spinach is ready to be plucked, the vine is wound in the form of a wreath (round in shape) and sold or passed on to neighbours & friends if it has grown in excess. Every Mangalorean housewife will claim that she has grown the best Valchebaji and will go to great lengths to ensure it has the best manure ranging from kitchen waste including vegetable peels to dried cow dung & water in which fish is cleaned. So you see, in many homes it's a great source of free & organic leafy greens that are high in Vitamins C & A, Iron & Calcium

Named after the famous music band (ha ha, just kidding), the Black Eyed Peas are also my favourite among legumes. It is also called as the Black Eyed Beans (which is why if you Google 'black eyed peas' you'll get loads of information about the music band and not the legume :-) which is again a heat loving crop and hence is in great partnership with the Malabar Spinach in a gravy made by heat resistant people in sun kissed Mangalore :-)

Black eyed peas or Chawli (and Guley/Alsando in Konkani) as they are called in India are of great significance in the Jewish tradition and is apparently eaten on New Year's day as a part of a good luck tradition which also involves bottle gourds, leeks, beets & dates.

Black eyed peas are rich in the best sort of fiber which is soluble fibre which helps to eliminate cholesterol from the body. They are an excellent source of Folate, Calcium and Vitamin A. So why don't we include this rich source of good health more often into our diet?



Vegetable Gravy
Recipe Source: My mom's cookbook


You Need:
  • 5 dry red long chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp jeera (cumin)
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 4-5 peppercorns
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (with skin) for grinding
  • 2 cloves garlic for tempering
  • 1/2 grated coconut (about 1 cup)
  • 1 marble size ball of tamarind
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup black eyed peas soaked overnight
  • 1 bunch malabar spinach with the stalks (in Konkani one batch of valche baji/spinach is called 'mouli', so if you are using a batch freshly plucked, you can use 1/2 of a large mouli of baji)
Method:
1. Pluck the leaves from the stems, wash thoroughly & drain well. Set aside.
2. Select the very tender stalks and use them to cook along with the leaves. Select the not so tender ones and cut into finger size pieces. Pressure cook them with a little water & salt for about 3-4 whistles.
3. Dry roast the red chillies, coriander seeds, pepper, cumin, mustard one by one on a tawa till you get a nice aroma. Be careful not to burn it. Remove & let these ingredients cool off a bit before grinding them to a fine powder using the dry grinding jar of your mixie (mixer grinder). Next dry roast the coconut, garlic & onion together on very slow fire till most of the moisture in the coconut has vanished. This also helps to eliminate the raw taste of the onion & garlic. Add this to the powdered spices and grind along with the tamarind & a little water. This method of grinding the spices to powder first & then adding the wet ingredients ensures that your grinding process (if you are using a mixer grinder) is fast. If you toss in all ingredients together most times the mixie gets a little stubborn and the masala wont turn out into a fine paste.
5. In a large pan heat add the ground masala. Stir for a few minutes and then add the Spinach (there is no need to chop them as they will wilt anyways). Cook on slow flame adding a little water only if required. The leaves will take about 10 minutes to wilt and they will release some water too. Now, add the pressure cooked black eyed peas and the stock (the water in which they have been cooked). Add the Spinach stalks which were also pressure cooked & add the stock if required. Check salt & add more if required. Cook till leaves have softened. Remove from flame.
6. In a smaller pan heat 2 tsps oil and toss in the 2 cloves of garlic that have been mashed up a bit. Stir for a few seconds and then add this to the gravy. Gravy is done!
7. Serve hot with brown (unpolished) boiled rice and fish fry (optional). Slurp!


The gravy thickens the next day which makes it ideal to be served with chapathis for breakfast the following morning. We reheated the gravy & had it with steaming hot rice & sizzling fish fry :-) Take a look!


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Moong Dal Ke Cheelay (Split Green Gram Pancakes)

I was first introduced to Cheelas (a kind of dosa made out of mixing one or more flours - famous in Northern India) when I moved to Mumbai. To me it was a hybrid between the South Indian dosa and an Omlette. A base & a topping - a complete meal by itself, you can either have it by itself or with a chutney or sauce. The base can be made of different kinds of flours used individually or in a blend with two or three other flours. My most favourite & regular blends are Ragi & Soya flour as I stock these all through the year. The topping again can be anything you can think of, but the most standard of them all being a mixture of onions & tomatoes. While I had tried Cheelas which required mixing of flours (mind you, as tasty as they are - they are very slow to cook - especially those containing Ragi flour) I had never tried anything which required an ingredient to be soaked & ground. Although I had seen this recipe some time back, I was never inclined towards actually making it. I am glad I gave it a try this time!



Since I wasn't so much into different types of Dals before I got married, I saw Moong Dal in a new avatar once my son was in the weaning stage. I tried lots of dishes with Moong Dal, all of them turned out good & baby friendly. I then realised that it was time to introduce this into our diet as well. Just recently while I was using up stuff from my pantry while doing a routine clearance, I ended up with some Moong Dal on my hands which required to be put into a proper use - so here it was, a delicious and nutritious breakfast option with little effort. It was definitely an alternative to an Omlette (which I end up making every so often when my brains refuse to kick start for a brand new day and ideas don't tumble out - making it extremely difficult to decide the first item on the day's menu).

Since it is said that the breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why not make it interesting & healthy? A good breakfast is said to help you overcome binge eating throughout the day as it provides all the necessary nutrients for your body - so you can pardon yourself if you skip any other meal during the day but never skip your breakfast.


As usual I skipped through my collection of recipe books (I have vowed not to buy new cookery books till I've tried at least 90% of the recipes in the books I own after which they will be donated to make space for new ones - ha ha!)

Moong Dal Ke Cheelay

You Need: 
  • split green gram, skinless (moong dal) - 1 cup
  • jeera (cumin seeds) - 1tsp
  • green chillies - 2 (or 1 if you prefer less spicy)
  • asafoetida (hing) - a pinch
  • salt to taste
  • cottage cheese (paneer) - 100gms
  • chopped onion - 1/2 cup
  • chopped tomato - 1/2 cup
  • chopped coriander leaves - 2 tbsp
  • red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • oil for frying
1. Clean the Moong dal and soak it in 2 cups of water for about 2 hours.
2. Grind it to a fine paste with cumin seeds & green chillies. Dissolve hing in 2 tbsp water and mix it into the dal. Add salt to taste & mix well.
3. Grate paneer and mix chopped onions, tomatoes & coriander. Add salt to taste & chilli powder. Set aside
4. Heat 1 tsp oil on a tawa/frying pan and spread 1 ladleful of batter in the centre and gently spread to make a palm size pancake. Let it cook for half a minute on medium heat.
5. Spread 2 tbs of paneer topping over the cheela. Sprinkle some oil to the sides and cook for about 15-20 seconds and flip over. Cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle some more oil to the sides of the Cheela and turn it over again. Cook for another minute or so and then remove
6. Serve hot with mint chutney or Tomato Garlic Chutney.

   

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Khadgi Sukhi (Tender/Raw Jackfruit Sukka)

Can you think of some Mangalorean specialities that you were probably never interested in when you lived in Mangalore (assuming you were born & brought up there) but now that you live outside Mangalore/India you have found a sudden liking towards this dish? I can think of many such dishes - Pathrade for example or the Ponsache Patholi (Steamed Jackfruit & Rice Cakes) - I was never really fond of them during my growing up years. Somehow I felt that these were two unavoidable delicacies which were done to death during the Summer. Every household had some saved up ESPECIALLY for you if you happened to visit them. "Patholi kelya...zai gi?" (Made some Patholi.... would you like to have some?) would be the first question hurled at you and it was hard to politely decline even if you had stuffed yourself with one or two whole Patholis for tea that evening (I know, I know have always been a glutton :-)). It was always the in-your-face (and in your fridge too) kind of foods which you had to have a bite of whether you liked it or not just because it was being religious & abundantly prepared during the season. I would always run miles away from the Jackfruit Patholis and the Haldikolyanche Patholis (Rice & Jaggery Cakes Steamed in Turmeric Leaves) were the more bearable variety.

Sigh! Today I can only dream about them. It's probably only the older generation (mommies & grandmas) that can still make them the authentic way, cuz I havent seen too many people from my age group who know to make it or who have the inclination to make this time consuming & tedious fare. 

Now that I am away I crave for these goodies all the more. The sole purpose of starting this blog with a focus on Mangalorean cuisine is to revive the lost & forgotten (or soon to be forgotten) and dying flavours of our cuisine. I know, I know, sometimes Mangy food can be a big chore when you have to to cook up a meal in a jiffy. Who has the time to slave over grating coconuts & grinding them along with a thousand ingredients into a perfect masala? And how do you find all those rare ingredients when in a foreign land? Totally agree, which is why even I abandoned making some of these delicacies at some point when I was turning into a Mumbaikar. But my roots came a-calling when my son was born & I slowly transitioned into being a dutiful stay at home mom & wife (ha!). I felt that the least I could give my child during his growing up years is a part of his cultural heritage which he would otherwise miss out on if I dont even make the effort. Ofcourse, I do all this when time permits & when ingredients are available. Also, its wonderful to learn all the techniques of making Mangalorean food and pass them on to die hard Mangies who would kill for some delicacies and may want to try their hand at it themselves but dont know how to or havent got the right sources for learning.

Last but not the least, a certain article that came in the newspaper captured my attention. It was called the Global 'Slow Food' movement which as per Wikipedia is being "promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem".

So now you know why I even thought of trying my hand at raw jackfruit (and getting my hands all sticky) when it was easier to call for a big Mac for less than 30 bucks in less than 30minutes! - Fast food may be a form of instant gratification but never a healthy option!




Similar to the Coconut Tree, the Jackfruit Tree is found in almost all Mangalorean gardens/backyards. Hence people make the most of these two trees. The Jackfruit is best enjoyed when it is ripe - the pods in a lovely yellow give out a fragrance that marks the beginning of Summer. Just as how one would associate the Mango and its fragrances with Summer elsewhere in India. The Jackfruit is surprisingly the national fruit of Bangladesh - should have been the national fruit of Mangalore :). The seeds of the Jackfruit called as 'Bikna' in Konkani are often roasted & eaten or added to gravies. Mangies will know that the Bikna are also the butt of many jokes :). The leaves of the Jackfruit tree are used to make little pockets in which idli batter is poured & steamed and is called as the 'Kottige' in Mangalore. 

Khadgi (sounds like 'Curd'-'ghee' said quickly without stressing on the 'urd' of the curd) phew! as it's called in Konkani, the tender/raw Jacfruit often finds itself in savoury dishes like gravies. This particular recipe is the favourite of my dear Hubby and so I let him do the major part of cooking the dish the way he loves it.


Khadgi Sukhi

Recipe Source: My hubby dearest


You Need:
  • 500gms raw jackfruit (cleaned of its skin & pith)
  • 1/2 cup Black Chana (Kadala/Chickpea/Bengal Gram/Garbanzo) soaked overnight
  • 1 tsp jeera/cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp tamarind juice (extracted from about 1 lime size ball of tamarind soaked in 2 tbsp water for 15mins)
  • 1 handful grated coconut
  • 1 medium onion finely sliced
  • salt to taste
  • oil for frying
For the tempering (tadka/bagaar/fon):
  • 4-5 curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 2 long dry red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnishing (optional)
      Method:
      1. Remove the skin, pith (called as mav or mau in Konkani) & seeds of the raw jackfruit. Take care to see that you oil your hands using coconut/vegetable oil while handling this as the whole process can get messy with the sticky white gum (sap) oozing out of the Jackfruit that can be hard to get rid of. Shred the cleaned chunks of jackfruit and soak the shreds in water mixed with a little tamarind juice immediately or else it will turn black.

      2. Pressure cook/boil the black chana with a little salt till well cooked. Retain the stock (even if you dont utilize this stock for this preparation, never throw away stock in which vegetables have been cooked. You can convert them into a delicious & nutritious broth/soup.


      3. Pressure cook the Jackfruit shreds with a little salt & water (sufficiently upto the level of the jackfruit - not more as you are just preventing the jackfruit from getting burnt) for about 10-15minutes. Use a weight (whistle) and count about 5 whistles. Let the weight loosen up before you open the cooker to mix the contents well .
      Cooking the Raw Jackfruit 

      Before

      After

      4. In a large wok/pan heat some oil & fry the sliced onion to golden. Add 2 tsps of vegetable powder & fry on slow fire. Add the jeera powder & fry some more.
      5. Toss in the grated coconut and fry till you get a nice aroma. Add the tamarind juice and the Chana & Jackfruit along with the stock of each. Mix well and adjust salt if required (remember - both the vegetables have been pressure cooked with salt, so you wont really need to add again)
      6. Cook on slow fire for about 10 minutes, stirring every now & then and adding. Ensure that the water has been absorbed by the vegetables and the gravy has thickened. Turn off the flame.


      7. For the tempering - heat some oil in a smaller pan & add the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, add the curry leaves and stir quickly for about 2-3 seconds before tossing in the red chillies. Fry till you get a fantastic flavour (my most favourite!) but dont let the chillies burn! Add the garlic cloves slightly mashed up. Let the garlic blend along with the rest of the ingredients. Immediately add this to the vegetable. Garnish with chopped coriander.
      8. Serve hot with rice (preferably boiled rice). Enjoy!




      Thursday, March 31, 2011

      Karyachi Chutney (Dry Fish Chutney)

      Globalisation & commercialisation has also brought with them the banes of instant gratification. Soups, noodles, take away fast food & what have you - everything to accomodate your life on a fast track. One of the soon to be extinct Mangalorean specialities is the range of recipes where the primary ingredient is the Dry Fish. Swirled into a chutney, fried with marinated masala or cooked in a gravy along with raw Mangoes (Thor), the Dry Fish was the ideal sea food option during the monsoons when obtaining fresh catch was almost next to impossible - fishing boats would not venture out into the sea due to safety reasons and people on the shores would have to stick to vegetarian food (which was also stocked up in every home - often found packed in ropes made out of coconut fibre and left hanging from the ceiling - what a lovely sight that was). The Dry Fish hence came very handy as a little of it would satiate the entire family (owing to its salitiness it was made & eaten in small portions). 40-50years ago (and earlier) it was very common for people to have as many as 12-14 children, so feeding them was obviously an expensive affair especially since the man was the only bread winner - the woman of the house had the task to ensure that finances were stretched enough to last the whole month and hence the most feasible & economical of all meals was the Pez (Rice Konji/Gruel) - a huge 'Modki' (or Matka) (Steel vessel with a wide base & long narrow neck) would sit for hours on the fire cooking away the brown rice along with plenty of water to produce the most delicious & satisfying cooked rice with its thickened starch water (which was also drunk in plenty by young & old for strength - also by those who worked in the fields)

      A common scene in every poor/middle class family was that Pez was served to all & sundry who even bothered to pop their heads into the household. Pez for breakfast & Pez for an early supper. Often served with Chutneys (especially the Dry Fish chutney) or Pickes made out of shredded raw mango, tender lime or seasonal berries (usually gooseberries). If you are a Mangalorean reading this, you will be able to come up with many more suggestions which I am sure you or your elders would have eaten & relished (and still continue to do). So, I'll leave your mind to conjour up the most lovely & mouth watering memories of yesteryears which will probably never return....




      Karyachi Chutney
      (Print Recipe)

      Recipe Source: My mum-in-law

      You Need:
      • 1 1/2 cups grated coconut
      • 1/2 cup dry fish (shredded)
      • 1 tbsp tamarind juice
      • 1 tsp oil
      • 4 dry red chillies
      • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
      • 1/4 tsp turmeric (haldi)
      Note: Instead of the above 3 ingredients (red chillies, jeera and haldi) you can use 2tbsp Bafat powder to which garam masala (cinnamon, cloves etc) has not been added.

      Method:
      1. Dry fish can be terribly salty - so soak it in lots of water for at least 6-8 hours (or more if you want your chutney less salty). Throw away the soaked water. Carefully slice off the skin (if present) and make thin slices  (assuming you are using a chunky piece of fish)
      2. Heat 1 tsp oil a tawa and gently fry the fish till it is lightly roasted. Remove & shred the roasted pieces.


      3. Use a dry grinding jar of a mixer grinder to grind all the ingredients to a coarse paste - it must be coarse enough to feel the grated coconut - yet well blended so that all the ingredients get incorporated and release the flavours.
      4. Serve with rice or 'pez' (konji made out of brown rice) - its the best meal ever!


      Wednesday, March 30, 2011

      Tendli Ani Moi (Pokan) Sukhe (Ivy Gourd with Tender Cashewnuts)

      Although Mangalorean cuisine has a million varieties, the Catholic community knows to make primarily two err..three types of vegetables - Thel Piyav (using oil & onion as primary ingredients and also similar to the Foogath style of making vegetables where curry leaves are also added), Fon Method (veggies tempered with mustard, garlic and Bafat or Vegetable powder) and the Vegetable Gravy with usually a combo of two veggies. I am talking about vegetables made on an everyday basis with minimum of ingredients & efforts. All these methods use the coconut (grated or ground to paste). The kind that is reserved for weddings and special occasions is the Tendli Ani Moi which has a dash of sugar or jaggery and practically no other 'masala/spice' besides the tempering that needs red chillies. So you can say that it is the simplest way to make a vegetable dish which is really healthy as it doesn't swim in loads of oil/ghee unlike it's North Indian counterparts.

      While Ivy Gourd (famously yet mistakenly known as the Gerkin in Mangalore) has always been my favourite in whatever style it is made - Tendli Miriyapito (Ivy Gourd Pepper) or the Fon style (recipe to follow), this special type used to be served only during Mangalorean Catholic weddings on a menu along with Sweet Pulao. Tender cashewnuts called as 'Pokaan' are usually used for this dish as it was the custom in olden days when almost all families had access to Cashew trees in their own yards, but regular cashewnuts can also be blanched and used. This dish is very palatable for anyone - the young and old alike due to minimum spices used. Unless you hate nuts in your food, I'm sure you'll love this preparation.



      Tendli Ani Moi
      (Print Recipe)
      Recipe Source: Sambardo by J.B Lobo


      You Need:
      • 250gms Ivy Gourd (Tendli)
      • 1 handful of whole cashewnuts halved (you can use broken cashewnuts which are sometimes available)
      • 1/2 - 1tsp sugar (or about 1/2 tbsp jaggery to taste)
      • 2 long dry red chillies
      • 1/2 tsp mustard
      • 1 tsp black gram dal (udad dal)
      • 2-3 tbsp grated coconut
      • 2 tsps oil
      • salt to taste
      Method:
      1. Wash the Tendli well and snip off the ends. Slit them lengthwise in quarters (four parts of 1 Tendli)
      2. Wash the cashewnuts and blanch them in boiling water and a pinch of salt for about 8-10minutes. Remove, refresh with cold water and set aside
      3. In a pan cook the Tendli with the sugar, salt to taste, cashewnuts & a little water till tender (alternatively you can put all these ingredients in a pressure cooker, put the weight (whistle) on and keep it on a high flame till you start hearing the hissing noise. Turn off immediately before the whistle goes off, wait for a few seconds before removing the weight. Stir and your Tendlis will be cooked much faster - saves time & energy). Add the grated coconut and cover the pan - the heat will help the coconut to 'cook'
      4. Heat oil in a smaller pan (separate one for tempering) and when its hot toss in the mustard and wait till they splutter, add the udad dal and stir gently till they turn pale brown - dont allow them to burn, reduce flame if required. Toss in the broken red chillies and stir a bit till the oil seeps into them & they release a nice fragrance, colour & flavour to the oil. Immediately pour this mixture into the Tendli. Stir & cover the lid immediately
      5. Serve hot with white or boiled rice. Goes best with rice and Bangda Masala (recipe to follow)



      Friday, March 25, 2011

      Thandhlache Laadu (Rice Laddus) - Christmas Goodies - Kuswar


      The Rice Laddus are by far one of Mangalore's most favourite sweets which has been around for ages. While it is made by people of all religions, it has a special place in the 'Kuswar' made by Mangalorean Catholics for Christmas. Kuswar is an assortment of sweets & savouries - I will dedicate a separate post for them shortly. Not too many people make the entire Kuswar (the whole range of sweets & savouries) anymore as it's easily available at bakeries & sweet shops in and around Mangalore. However, the Rice Laddu is something that many people prefer to make in small quantities at home so that it can be consumed fresh & finished before they turn hard & stale. Although my mom joined the bandwagon of making just the basic sweets & buying the rest from the famous M.D'Souza & Sons - Bakers, Confectioners & Caterers of our times, she would never fail to make the Rice Laddus.

      My mum-in-law who taught me to make this lovely sweet tells me that in the olden days it was made at home by the rich & poor alike - even by those who couldn't afford to make expensive sweets at home would at least make the humble Rice Laddus made out of unpolished rice, jaggery & coconut - staple items in every poor man's house. 

      The roasting of the rice helps the grains to fluff up & lends a nutty flavour to the Laddus. This along with the mild taste of jaggery soaked with shreds of fresh & juicy grated coconut just melts in the mouth. The sesame provides the surprise factor when you get to bite into a couple of them when you are busy munching the Laddu. The pinch of salt should not be underestimated as it brings out all the lovely flavours. The mild fragrance of cardamom blended with roasted & powdered rice is something that lingers on - not just in your kitchen, but on your taste buds too! So try this anytime - it hardly takes 15-20 minutes to make it!


      Thandhlache Laadu
      (Print Recipe)

      Prep time: 30 mins | Cook time: Nil | Yield 10-12 laddus

      You Need:
      • 250 gms boiled rice (preferably brown unpolished rice as it lends a nice colour)
      • 150 gms jaggery (adjust to taste)
      • 1/2 grated coconut (1 vole as it's called in Konkani)
      • 2-3 pods of cardamom
      • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (Til)
      • pinch of salt
      Method:
      1. Wash the rice and dry it well.
      2. Roast it on a hot tawa on a slow flame till the grains fluff up a bit - this takes about 10mins
      3. Powder the rice along with the cardamom to an almost fine texture - like very fine sand (leave it slightly grainy - this avoids the laddu flour from turning into a paste when you eat it & stick to the roof of your mouth which is not a pleasant experience). Reserve 1 tbsp of flour for rolling the laddus
      4. Pound the jaggery to remove lumps or use the dry jar of mixer grinder - you can grind the jaggery & coconut together to achieve a coarse consistency - do not grind it to a paste, just swirl the two for about 3-4 seconds

      5. Mix the jaggery & coconut mixture with the rice powder. Add the sesame seeds & pinch of salt. Mix everything well so all the flavours get incorporated.
      6. Take a portion of mixture in your palm and compress in your fist to make a tight ball. The tighter the ball the better you will be able to shape it into a round laddu. If you don't make it tight enough, when you roll it into a laddu the mixture will crumble.
      7. Roll each laddu in the reserved flour & serve.


      8. Store laddus in an airtight container & eat them within 3-4 days (if stored outside). They will last longer if you refrigerate them


      Monday, March 21, 2011

      Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) Chutney

      Are you often lost when it comes to chutney ideas? Idlis, Dosas, Sannas or Neer Dosas - all set to be steamed/fried and the chutney is missing - aah! This scene pretty much unfolds itself almost everytime I make something for breakfast. But thanks to my mother-in-law who has arrived from Mangalore - her ideas seem to be flowing like water out of the tap! 

      Like I mentioned in my previous post she arrived with bags full of goodies, sweets, vegetables, meats and even plants! (that have found home in my kitchen garden). She brought loads of Kadipatta (Bevaso Palo as it's called in Konkani, Kari Bevina Soppu in Kannada) or Curry Leaves as it's called in English. The fresh and tender Mangalorean variety of curry leaves were a welcome change from the thicker and darker shade available in Mumbai (and sometimes slightly wilted)

      Kadipatta is undoubtedly the wonder plant of India especially South India. Used mainly for tempering (seasoning/tadka) a dish - fish, meat, vegetables or other preparations like chutneys, raita, soups, upma, vadas etc. It is even used to flavour spiced buttermilk. It aids digestion and is very beneficial for people who have diabetes. 

      When I was little, I didnt quite like the taste of the Kadipatta, but as I grew up I took to it's flavour strongly and love the fragrance of fresh leaves. While it was unthinkable to add a whole handful of leaves into a chutney, the taste was balanced quite nicely by the grated coconut that went into it. So here's the recipe - highly recommend you to try it at least once in a month or two - just so you & your family can reap the benefits of this rich source of good health!


      Kadipatta Chutney

      Recipe source: My mum-in-law

      You Need:
      • A handful of kadipatta leaves (stalks removed, washed & air dried)
      • 1 green chilli (increase it to 2 chillies if you prefer it spicy)
      • 1/2 cup grated coconut
      • 1 inch ginger
      • 1 small slice of raw mango (or you can even use 1/2 a marble size ball of tamarind - or to taste)
      • salt to taste
      Method:
      1. Heat a tawa/non stick pan and gently toast the kadipatta without using any oil. Dont burn them, just toast them on a slow flame till you get a nice aroma. 
      2. Grind the rest of the ingredients together with the leaves by adding about 1 tbsp water or slightly more if required. Grind it thick enough to achieve the consistency of a chutney (it should feel coarse if you rub the chutney between you index  finger & thumb)
      3. Serve it with idlis, dosas, sannas, neer dosas or as a dip :-)

      Wednesday, March 16, 2011

      Scrumptious Mangalorean Delights - Only Pictures, No Recipes!

      Hey all! Thought I'd share the pictures of some of my most favourite Mangalorean sweets! My mother-in-law arrived from Kudla (Mangalore) with lots & lots of Mangalorean goodies including these lovely sweets which I've eaten all my life (and never put on even a gram of weight while in Mangalore) - but that wont be the case now, but a little indulgence is okay as they are simply irresistible! 

      While I am busy spending quality time with my family, take a look at these beauties and do watch this space for some authentic Mangalorean recipes which I'll be posting shortly (I am busy learning to make them at the moment :-)

      Mithai Laddu

      Every die hard Mangy will have their own favourites, mine being the 'Mitai Laddu' (Boondi Laddoo) - I can easily gobble up 3-4 in less than 2 minutes :-) The lovely golden yellow Laddoos are made with a thousand tiny balls of deep fried gram flour paste dropped into piping hot oil through a colander. The resultant 'boondi' is then shaped into Laddus which are probably the most popular kind of sweets across India. The taste & colour will vary but Laddus will remain Laddus :-)




      Mysore Pak

      The Mangalorean version of the Mysore Pak is probably found only in Mangalore - not the pure ghee variety that is famously sold by Sri Krishna sweets in Chennai (which is superb too) or the pure ghee Mysore Pak sold by Nandini sweets in Mangalore at specific milk booths (which made an entry maybe just a couple of decades ago) - the real Mysore Pak is a beautiful brown in the centre with the edges fading into a lighter brown or the colour of butterscotch. The centre portion has always been my favourite as it has this very mealy taste of Besan (chana atta/roasted chick pea flour) and has the mild burnt taste which is so yum!


      Saat

      What typically means 'Sixty' in Hindi is actually a sugary sweet in Mangalore. Made of Maida flour & rolled in powdered sugar with a hint of cardamom. When I was little, I always liked to chip off the base of each 'saat' which is thickened sugar before gobbling up the 'blandish' sweet - I simply loved it. The same practice is followed even today :-)



      Maalpuri

      Another one of my favourites which is the distant cousin of the 'Maalpua' famously made in Mumbai during Ramadan as one of the sweets prepared for the Iftaar (breaking of fast). Whenever I used to pass by mountains of Malpuas piled on top of each other by sweetmakers setting shop outside the railway stations (of local trains) I would instantly be reminded of the dear Maalpuri that I left behind in Mangalore. I don't miss to grab a few during each trip. These deep fried babies don't have a long shelf life so they are best refrigerated & microwaved before eating.


      Want to see your favourite Mangalorean sweet here? Lemme know what your favourites are and I'll probably make them & post the recipe too!!

      Tuesday, March 15, 2011

      Zebra Cake

      Time for another cake! announced the cuckoo bird...well, not really, since I love to bake as often as I can, I thought of trying out this cake which my friend Rinku highly recommended. Since there was a pot luck party at the Women's Day celebration for all mommies at my son's playschool, I decided it would be good to try it out once before the actual day. There are no lengthy stories in this post :-) I will come straight to the point and   allow you to enjoy the pictures as much as I enjoyed making this cake. The only problem with the way my cake turned out was that the surface browned a bit cuz i have such a teeny tiny OTG (Oven Toaster Grill) in which the heating elements on the top can be a bit too harsh if you don't cover the cake with parchment paper (which I ran out of during the second time I tried it). During the first try I was too lazy to click the pictures cuz my family of three just wolfed it down to the last crumb on a lazy Wednesday two weeks ago. I intend to try it again sometime this week, cuz this cake is simply delicious! So, better pictures will follow. I simply had to post it now on request. 


      It's an anytime cake & keeps well in an airtight container for upto 3 days without refrigeration. My hubby dubby who loves simple cakes initially thought I was whipping up a chocolate cake (which he doesn't like to eat beyond a bite) when he saw me preparing the batter. But when I started to make the design he was convinced that this was going to be a marble cake with a twist :-) Its a breakfast, post lunch & tea time cake and a visual treat especially for little darlings like my son who cant have enough of the 'Zebra Cake' - he has a pillow in the same design :-) 


      Zebra Cake

      You Need:
      • 300gms flour (maida)
      • 300gms sugar
      • 250 ml oil (preferably odourless)
      • 130 ml warm milk
      • 1tsp vanilla essence
      • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
      • 2 tbsp dark cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed Hintz cocoa powder)
      • 4 eggs
      Method:
      1. Prepare a 9 inch round cake tin by greasing & dusting it with flour. You can also line it with parchment/butter paper.
      2. In a large bowl beat the eggs & sugar till well incorporated (I always powder the granulated sugar in a dry grinder after measuring it).
      3. Add the oil to the eggs & sugar mixture & mix till it is well incorporated. The original recipe required the milk (250ml) also to be added along with the oil  - which actually makes the batter very runny & it is suggested to add extra flour which then makes the cake less sweet - so I add the milk after the flour has been incorporated and just about 130 ml is enough to achieve the right consistency which should neither be runny nor too thick. A runny batter will take slightly longer time to cook in the centre (fails the skewer test) hence the changes in the proportion of milk.
      4. Sift the flour & baking powder and set aside - these are your dry ingredients
      5. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in three parts - alternating between flour & milk. Add the milk upto the point till you get a creamy (but not runny) consistency. You can add more than 130ml of milk if required.
      6. Divide this batter into two equal parts. I weighed the batter on a weighing scale & I divided it equally into 550gms each. 



      7. To one portion add the cocoa powder & mix well until incorporated. Leave the other as it is. So you get two different colours. See note below
      8. Now you will need to measure 3 tbsps of batter each of (brown & white batter) and drop them into the baking dish. To make things easier & faster (as you need to work quickly), use a ladle which can exactly contain 3tbsp of batter. 3tbsp of batter per colour ensures your zebra stripes turn out just right in thickness. Ideally use separate spoons for the two batters as you want to avoid mixing of colours (I used an icecream scoop & another ladle - both measuring 3 tbsp)
      9. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (I preheat my OTG to 8 minutes)
      10. Scoop out a ladleful (of 3tbsp) of white batter & drop it in the centre of the dish. Quickly take the brown batter & place it in the centre of the white batter. Do not shake the tin - the batters will move by themselves. Alternate between with the two batters till everything is used up. You will get a beautiful design in a circular form.
      10. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or till the skewer comes out clean.
      12. Remove from the oven & allow the cake to cool in the tin  for about 10minutes. Invert it onto a wire rack & cool off completely.
      13. Cut into pieces & serve - it is simply a delight to look at the beautiful design before munching it down to the last crumb!

      Note: I have seen some cute & creative Zebra cakes with brown & pink stripes...so you can add a few drops of food colouring to the plain portion of batter. But it's totally upto you.




      Saturday, March 12, 2011

      Grape Wine

      What's better than spending a weekend with some great friends, food & drinks? To those who politely decline 'hard' drinks, the Wine is the first thing that comes to mind of the host and is immediately offered. Who can refuse this mildly intoxicating & delightful drink?


      In India the most popular alcoholic drink after Whiskey, Rum & Brandy has been the Wine. Cocktails and mocktails became popular only a couple of decades ago when the pub and party culture grew. At least in Mangalore, Wine was offered to ladies by default (even if they would have wanted to have a peg or two of some other kind of alcohol) :-) because it was the socially accepted and permissible drink where the alcohol content was almost negligible (or so it was assumed!). It was unladylike to ask for anything else and the only ladies who grabbed a 'hard' drink were grannies who needed a 'dose' to be in the best of spirits and probably get a good night's sleep too.


      Wine has been very popular in the Mangalore Catholic culture as it has a Eucharistic significance (although it is never served to people in the church) and is also served (although a namesake - usually grape juice) along with a piece of cake (usually plum cake) to guests during weddings. As soon as the Toast Master (the person who wishes well to the newly weds) finishes his rather lengthy speech of  introducing the bridal couple, their education, their families, the extended families, family background and how each of them is related to all & sundry and their domestic pets (phew!) he/she raises his/her wine glass in honour of the happy couple and wishes them a great beginning to a happy married life.


      Wine has a longstanding history and is probably one of the first things that man ever created. Made of fermented fruit juice (usually grapes) to which yeast is added which helps the conversion of sugars present in the juice into alcohol. Wines can be made from different sources ranging from fruits (grapes, apples), berries, roots (ginger) and grains such as barley & rice. Wine has not only acquired a significant place in religion (Christianity/Judaism) it is also greatly valued in the art of cooking. 

      Viticulture in India is also traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization during which it was believed to have been introduced from Persia. So it's really not a valid argument when people say that it is not Indian culture to have a little wine (or any alcoholic drink)

      Wines can also be of different types, the most popular being the Red & White wines. 

      My relationship with Wine has been minimal. It was never made in my home as my mom never ventured out to make any kind of preserved foods/beverages (which require a great deal of time & patience) as she had her hands full taking care of the young and old besides running a house & a plant nursery and a couple of pets thrown in for good measure. My maternal grandma has always dabbled with making pickles, jams, preserves, wines and what not beside making all kinds of seasonal eats such as Patholis (rice cakes sweetened with jaggery & coconut & steamed in Teak leaves of Turmeric leaves), Pathrades, Gariyos etc. This particular recipe belongs to her which she lovingly gave me last year, six months before she had a fall & an injury. Not sure if she can make it any time soon to taste some of my wine, but nevertheless this post is especially dedicated for my dearest Nana.

      Grape Wine

      Recipe Source: My grandmother

      You Need:
      • 1/2 kg sour black grapes (over ripe is better)
      • 350gms sugar (increase it upto 500gms if you like sweet wine - I like my wine less sweet)
      • 1 tbsp sugar (to make the caramel)
      • 1 litre water (boiled & cooled)
      • 1 tsp yeast dissolved in 2 tbsp warm water
      • 2 tsp rum or brandy (as a preservative)

      Method:
      1. Wash the grapes well & allow to drain. In a large pan crush them along with the sugar (350gms) and make a paste out of them (messy? enjoy it :-)
      2. Add the water and stir well with a wooden ladle. Pour this mixture into a sterile glass jar (see note below) and add the dissolved yeast. Stir and close the jar (place the lid over it loosely or just cover it - DO NOT fasten it or the jar will burst during the fermentation process). Keep it for 21 days stirring once a day.
      3. After the time is up, open the jar and strain out the grapes using a muslin cloth (or bairas) into a steel vessel. Reuse the grapes to make more wine.
      4. Leave the strained liquid for 2 days for the sediment to settle down. After two days slowly pour into a bottle and place the cork loosely over it. Leave it for a week
      5. Repeat the process of straining the residue grapes again and pour it back into the bottle for another 8 days.

      Making the Caramel
      Place a heavy bottomed vessel over a slow flame and add 1 tbsp sugar. Do not add any water. It will slowly melt and turn brown. Do not allow it to burn, turn off the flame, remove.

      6. Pour the wine into a steel vessel and mix the caramel into it. Stir well so that all the caramel is incorporated.
      7. Add 2 tsp rum or brandy which acts as a preservative.
      8. Pour the wine back into the bottle, fasten the cork & store.
      9. Enjoy a glass of wine with some great food & great company!

      Note: Make sure you use sterile jar (which is washed well & dried) and vessels. The last thing you want is Mr. Bacteria (Acetobacter) to infect your wine & turn it into vinegar.


      What good is this post if I don't come to my favourite topic? Health benefits ofcourse! Despite many debates, recent evidence shows that moderate consumption of wine may actually benefit you. While Red wine contains much higher levels of antioxidants like reservatrol than White wine, drinking either type of wine will increase the HDL or good cholesterol. 

      However....here's a STATUTORY WARNING!!!

         Too Much Wine........


      Can Kill....!



      Wednesday, March 9, 2011

      Hyderabadi Biryani

      I dont know how the past week just flew by....aah, yeah, most of the last two weeks went by in taking care of my lil one who was down with a viral fever. It can be such a mood killer especially  if you have to stay indoors even during a weekend. So after almost ten days of illness & boredom (which comes free with illness when you have nothing else to do) and battling with a three year old to take his medicines, we thought we should celebrate with a Biryani for lunch or dinner as soon as we could. Sure enough, Sunday came trotting along and without too much thought or prior planning, I set out to prepare the Biryani - this time it was a recipe from  a book that I had gifted hubbykins when we dated and which he had never made use of even once :-( I had picked up the book from a book exhibition in Bangalore eons ago and it was sitting pretty on my bookshelf all these years. I thought that the book deserved a chance, at least once. I am glad I wasn't disappointed. I was amazed at the huge collection of rice recipes the author has put together with a special focus on Moghul, Lucknowi, Awadhi & Hyderabadi recipes - all categorised under Chicken, Meat, Fish & Vegetarian. I am yet to try some more recipes from that book and so I'll save the review for later.

      At this point I think it is imperative that we know the difference between a Biryani & a Pulao (or Pilaf). The difference between the two is the technique used in cooking the rice. The Pulao is made by cooking the rice in exactly measured water, starting by frying the rice in ghee (clarified butter) along with whole spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise etc) and then adding preboiled water or broth/stock and cooking the rice completely. It is then layered or mixed along with the main ingredient (chicken, fish, meat, vegetables).

      Biryani on the other hand uses par boiled (cooked three fourth) rice boiled in plenty of (unmeasured) water and then assembled with the main ingredients. This method involves the par boiled rice to be placed over the almost cooked meat. The vessel is then sealed with aluminium foil or tightly sealed with dough and put on a 'dum' (cooked on slow fire for 30-45 minutes so that all the flavours amalgamate well). This process helps the rice to cook completely. Once done, the pot is allowed to sit for 5 minutes before it is opened & served.

      So technically while the Pulao uses the 'absorption' technique of cooking the rice, the Biryani uses the 'draining' technique.



      The success of a Biryani always depends on the quality of rice used, so always try to use the best quality. Use of desi ghee and good quality spices also help bring out the best flavours. The process also involves preparation of the 'Birista' which is finely sliced onions that are deep fried to golden brown which impart a unique richness & flavour to the Biryani.

      For now, try this heavy duty Biryani (with all its richness & royal splendour) and you will be surprised at how this mildly spiced fragrant rice exudes such delicate flavours. So much better than ordering a greasy Biryani from your local restaurant. Most of them taste so similar that it's hard to tell each one from the other. No wonder Royalty always made sure their recipes were always well guarded secrets and were treated as family heirlooms passed down only to daughters-in-law and never to the daughters.

      Hyderabadi Biryani
      Recipe Source: Pulaos and Biryanis by Katy Dalal
      You Need:
      For the rice:
      • 500gms basmati rice
      • 3 crushed green cardamoms
      • 2 pieces of cinnamon (about 1" each)
      • 3 bay leaves
      • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
      • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera/black cumin)
      • 1 cup milk
      • 1/2 gram saffron (kesar)
      • salt to taste
      • juice of 1/2 lime
      For the marination:
      • 800 gms mutton (goat meat) *see notes
      • 250 gms thick curd
      • 1tbsp ginger garlic paste (I used freshly ground paste)
      • 1/2 tbsp red chilli powder (increase it to 1 tbsp if you can tolerate spice)
      • juice of 2 large limes
      • 2"raw papaya finely ground (I skipped this as I didnt have any)
      • 4 medium size onions sliced fine
      • A pinch of garam masala
      • Ghee for frying
      For the masala:
      • 2 star anise
      • 1 tsp fennel seeds
      • 1/2 tbsp carraway seeds
      • 3 green cardamoms (seeds only)
      • 10 peppercorns
      • 1" piece cinnamon
      • 3 cloves
      • 2 mace flowers (javitri)
      • 3 medium onions sliced
      • 3 green chillies deseeded
      • 1 fistful of coriander leaves
      • 1/2 a cup (about 4 stalks) mint leaves


      Method:
      Marinating & cooking the Mutton:
      1. Cut the mutton into medium size pieces, wash & drain well
      2. Make a marinade of thick curd, red chilli powder, ginger garlic paste, lime juice and salt (to taste) and apply it to the mutton pieces well. Keep it aside for at least 2 hours.
      3. In a wok/kadai heat some ghee and fry the sliced onions well till golden brown. Drain well & remove on an absorbent kitchen towel. Allow to cool for a few minutes - they will turn crispy. Sprinkle a pinch of garam masala. Crush them in a mixer grinder and add them to the marinating meat.
      4. Next grind all the dry ingredients of the masala and add the wet ingredients & swirl it into a fine paste. Add this masala to the marinating meat.
      5. It is ideal if you can cook the meat on slow fire, but this could take over an hour and half. To cut short the cooking time, I pressure cooked the marinated mutton as follows:
      In a sufficiently large cooker, heat some ghee and fry the mutton pieces for about 2 minutes & add all the masala which was marinating along with it and mix well. There is no need to add additional water - if you wish you can add 1/2 a cup of water and mix again. Close the lid of the cooker, place the weight (whistle) and pressure cook on full flame for 10minutes or till the first whistle goes off. Reduce flame & cook for another 15-20 minutes (if you get tender meat) or till meat is done.

      Cooking the rice:
      1. Wash the rice and soak it for 10-15 minutes. Drain & keep.
      2. Warm up the 1 cup of milk. On a hot tawa toast the saffron (kesar) slightly till crisp (do not burn it)- do this on a slow flame & toss it around gently using a clean kitchen towel. Crumble this saffron into the warm milk. It will turn yellow as the strands leave a beautiful colour & fragrance.
      3. In a large pan boil plenty of water (you can measure double the water and throw in an extra couple of cups - but remember that you will need to drain the water so it has to be plenty or the rice wont cook and fluff up properly). When the water comes to a boil, toss in the spices - cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, fennel seeds, caraway seeds.
      4. Add the rice, stir well. Add salt to taste. Cover with a tight lid so that no steam can escape. Cook till the rice is done three fourths - to check this, take a grain of rice and press it between your index finger & thumb, if it breaks into three parts, your rice has cooked just right. Turn off flame and drain the rice in a colander. Spread it out on large thalis (plates) and allow to cool. Sprinkle some lime juice & the saffron milk & mix gently.

      Assembling the Mutton & Rice:
      1. In a handi/wok with a wide bottom transfer the cooked meat from the pressure cooker and then place the par boiled rice on top of the meat. Seal the pan with foil and then place a lid over it or you can cover the pan with a lid & then use dough along the rim. (knead the dough & roll it into a thin coil & use it to seal the edges)

      2. Place a large iron tawa on the flame & the sealed pan on top of the tawa. Cook on sim for 30-40minutes. Turn off flame after 40minutes and allow to settle for 10-15 minutes before opening it. Open and cover with silver vark (optional). Serve hot with raita!


      Sunday, March 6, 2011

      Randhaichi Kadi - Valchebaji Ani Guley (Vegetable Gravy with Spinach & Black Eyed Peas)

      One of the most versatile Mangalorean specialities is the Vegetable Gravy which is usually made during the week to break the monotony of eating seafood. Many Mangy Catholics make it most often during the Lenten Season when they abstain from eating meat. We have a designated day for vegetarian preparations - which is usually a Friday. It's neither for religious nor health reasons (err...partially, yes), but just to take a break from making non vegetarian food. This veg gravy can be made with a variety of vegetable combos. Usually in the form of leafy greens with legumes or root vegetables with legumes. My most favourite is the Valchebaji (Mangalore/Malabar Spinach) and Guley (Black Eyed Peas). You can also make this gravy with Soorn (Yam) and Black Chana (Bengal Gram) or Black Eyed Peas, Green Gram Sprouts (Moong Sprouts), Potato & Toor Dal, Mogem (Field Marrow) and Toor Dal/Moong/Black Eyed Peas (any of these three with Field Marrow) - so it's really upto you what combination you like best.

      The Vegetable Gravy is best eaten with brown rice (unpolished boiled rice) and whatever's remaining can be reheated & served with chapathis for breakfast the next morning.


      So, here's a little about my favourite type of Spinach - The Mangalore/Malabar Spinach does not actually belong to the Spinach family and is botanically called the Basella Alba. It thrives in hot tropical climate and growns on a vine. In Coastal India especially Mlore & Kerala you can see this Spinach being grown on make shift pendals in almost every home which has a backyard.

      When this spinach is ready to be plucked, the vine is wound in the form of a wreath (round in shape) and sold or passed on to neighbours & friends if it has grown in excess. Every Mangalorean housewife will claim that she has grown the best Valchebaji and will go to great lengths to ensure it has the best manure ranging from kitchen waste including vegetable peels to dried cow dung & water in which fish is cleaned. So you see, in many homes it's a great source of free & organic leafy greens that are high in Vitamins C & A, Iron & Calcium

      Named after the famous music band (ha ha, just kidding), the Black Eyed Peas are also my favourite among legumes. It is also called as the Black Eyed Beans (which is why if you Google 'black eyed peas' you'll get loads of information about the music band and not the legume :-) which is again a heat loving crop and hence is in great partnership with the Malabar Spinach in a gravy made by heat resistant people in sun kissed Mangalore :-)

      Black eyed peas or Chawli (and Guley/Alsando in Konkani) as they are called in India are of great significance in the Jewish tradition and is apparently eaten on New Year's day as a part of a good luck tradition which also involves bottle gourds, leeks, beets & dates.

      Black eyed peas are rich in the best sort of fiber which is soluble fibre which helps to eliminate cholesterol from the body. They are an excellent source of Folate, Calcium and Vitamin A. So why don't we include this rich source of good health more often into our diet?



      Vegetable Gravy
      Recipe Source: My mom's cookbook


      You Need:
      • 5 dry red long chillies
      • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
      • 1/2 tsp jeera (cumin)
      • 1/4 tsp mustard
      • 4-5 peppercorns
      • 1 small onion
      • 2-3 cloves of garlic (with skin) for grinding
      • 2 cloves garlic for tempering
      • 1/2 grated coconut (about 1 cup)
      • 1 marble size ball of tamarind
      • salt to taste
      • oil for frying
      • 1/2 cup black eyed peas soaked overnight
      • 1 bunch malabar spinach with the stalks (in Konkani one batch of valche baji/spinach is called 'mouli', so if you are using a batch freshly plucked, you can use 1/2 of a large mouli of baji)
      Method:
      1. Pluck the leaves from the stems, wash thoroughly & drain well. Set aside.
      2. Select the very tender stalks and use them to cook along with the leaves. Select the not so tender ones and cut into finger size pieces. Pressure cook them with a little water & salt for about 3-4 whistles.
      3. Dry roast the red chillies, coriander seeds, pepper, cumin, mustard one by one on a tawa till you get a nice aroma. Be careful not to burn it. Remove & let these ingredients cool off a bit before grinding them to a fine powder using the dry grinding jar of your mixie (mixer grinder). Next dry roast the coconut, garlic & onion together on very slow fire till most of the moisture in the coconut has vanished. This also helps to eliminate the raw taste of the onion & garlic. Add this to the powdered spices and grind along with the tamarind & a little water. This method of grinding the spices to powder first & then adding the wet ingredients ensures that your grinding process (if you are using a mixer grinder) is fast. If you toss in all ingredients together most times the mixie gets a little stubborn and the masala wont turn out into a fine paste.
      5. In a large pan heat add the ground masala. Stir for a few minutes and then add the Spinach (there is no need to chop them as they will wilt anyways). Cook on slow flame adding a little water only if required. The leaves will take about 10 minutes to wilt and they will release some water too. Now, add the pressure cooked black eyed peas and the stock (the water in which they have been cooked). Add the Spinach stalks which were also pressure cooked & add the stock if required. Check salt & add more if required. Cook till leaves have softened. Remove from flame.
      6. In a smaller pan heat 2 tsps oil and toss in the 2 cloves of garlic that have been mashed up a bit. Stir for a few seconds and then add this to the gravy. Gravy is done!
      7. Serve hot with brown (unpolished) boiled rice and fish fry (optional). Slurp!


      The gravy thickens the next day which makes it ideal to be served with chapathis for breakfast the following morning. We reheated the gravy & had it with steaming hot rice & sizzling fish fry :-) Take a look!


      Thursday, March 3, 2011

      Moong Dal Ke Cheelay (Split Green Gram Pancakes)

      I was first introduced to Cheelas (a kind of dosa made out of mixing one or more flours - famous in Northern India) when I moved to Mumbai. To me it was a hybrid between the South Indian dosa and an Omlette. A base & a topping - a complete meal by itself, you can either have it by itself or with a chutney or sauce. The base can be made of different kinds of flours used individually or in a blend with two or three other flours. My most favourite & regular blends are Ragi & Soya flour as I stock these all through the year. The topping again can be anything you can think of, but the most standard of them all being a mixture of onions & tomatoes. While I had tried Cheelas which required mixing of flours (mind you, as tasty as they are - they are very slow to cook - especially those containing Ragi flour) I had never tried anything which required an ingredient to be soaked & ground. Although I had seen this recipe some time back, I was never inclined towards actually making it. I am glad I gave it a try this time!



      Since I wasn't so much into different types of Dals before I got married, I saw Moong Dal in a new avatar once my son was in the weaning stage. I tried lots of dishes with Moong Dal, all of them turned out good & baby friendly. I then realised that it was time to introduce this into our diet as well. Just recently while I was using up stuff from my pantry while doing a routine clearance, I ended up with some Moong Dal on my hands which required to be put into a proper use - so here it was, a delicious and nutritious breakfast option with little effort. It was definitely an alternative to an Omlette (which I end up making every so often when my brains refuse to kick start for a brand new day and ideas don't tumble out - making it extremely difficult to decide the first item on the day's menu).

      Since it is said that the breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why not make it interesting & healthy? A good breakfast is said to help you overcome binge eating throughout the day as it provides all the necessary nutrients for your body - so you can pardon yourself if you skip any other meal during the day but never skip your breakfast.


      As usual I skipped through my collection of recipe books (I have vowed not to buy new cookery books till I've tried at least 90% of the recipes in the books I own after which they will be donated to make space for new ones - ha ha!)

      Moong Dal Ke Cheelay

      You Need: 
      • split green gram, skinless (moong dal) - 1 cup
      • jeera (cumin seeds) - 1tsp
      • green chillies - 2 (or 1 if you prefer less spicy)
      • asafoetida (hing) - a pinch
      • salt to taste
      • cottage cheese (paneer) - 100gms
      • chopped onion - 1/2 cup
      • chopped tomato - 1/2 cup
      • chopped coriander leaves - 2 tbsp
      • red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
      • oil for frying
      1. Clean the Moong dal and soak it in 2 cups of water for about 2 hours.
      2. Grind it to a fine paste with cumin seeds & green chillies. Dissolve hing in 2 tbsp water and mix it into the dal. Add salt to taste & mix well.
      3. Grate paneer and mix chopped onions, tomatoes & coriander. Add salt to taste & chilli powder. Set aside
      4. Heat 1 tsp oil on a tawa/frying pan and spread 1 ladleful of batter in the centre and gently spread to make a palm size pancake. Let it cook for half a minute on medium heat.
      5. Spread 2 tbs of paneer topping over the cheela. Sprinkle some oil to the sides and cook for about 15-20 seconds and flip over. Cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle some more oil to the sides of the Cheela and turn it over again. Cook for another minute or so and then remove
      6. Serve hot with mint chutney or Tomato Garlic Chutney.

         

      Tuesday, March 1, 2011

      Khadgi Sukhi (Tender/Raw Jackfruit Sukka)

      Can you think of some Mangalorean specialities that you were probably never interested in when you lived in Mangalore (assuming you were born & brought up there) but now that you live outside Mangalore/India you have found a sudden liking towards this dish? I can think of many such dishes - Pathrade for example or the Ponsache Patholi (Steamed Jackfruit & Rice Cakes) - I was never really fond of them during my growing up years. Somehow I felt that these were two unavoidable delicacies which were done to death during the Summer. Every household had some saved up ESPECIALLY for you if you happened to visit them. "Patholi kelya...zai gi?" (Made some Patholi.... would you like to have some?) would be the first question hurled at you and it was hard to politely decline even if you had stuffed yourself with one or two whole Patholis for tea that evening (I know, I know have always been a glutton :-)). It was always the in-your-face (and in your fridge too) kind of foods which you had to have a bite of whether you liked it or not just because it was being religious & abundantly prepared during the season. I would always run miles away from the Jackfruit Patholis and the Haldikolyanche Patholis (Rice & Jaggery Cakes Steamed in Turmeric Leaves) were the more bearable variety.

      Sigh! Today I can only dream about them. It's probably only the older generation (mommies & grandmas) that can still make them the authentic way, cuz I havent seen too many people from my age group who know to make it or who have the inclination to make this time consuming & tedious fare. 

      Now that I am away I crave for these goodies all the more. The sole purpose of starting this blog with a focus on Mangalorean cuisine is to revive the lost & forgotten (or soon to be forgotten) and dying flavours of our cuisine. I know, I know, sometimes Mangy food can be a big chore when you have to to cook up a meal in a jiffy. Who has the time to slave over grating coconuts & grinding them along with a thousand ingredients into a perfect masala? And how do you find all those rare ingredients when in a foreign land? Totally agree, which is why even I abandoned making some of these delicacies at some point when I was turning into a Mumbaikar. But my roots came a-calling when my son was born & I slowly transitioned into being a dutiful stay at home mom & wife (ha!). I felt that the least I could give my child during his growing up years is a part of his cultural heritage which he would otherwise miss out on if I dont even make the effort. Ofcourse, I do all this when time permits & when ingredients are available. Also, its wonderful to learn all the techniques of making Mangalorean food and pass them on to die hard Mangies who would kill for some delicacies and may want to try their hand at it themselves but dont know how to or havent got the right sources for learning.

      Last but not the least, a certain article that came in the newspaper captured my attention. It was called the Global 'Slow Food' movement which as per Wikipedia is being "promoted as an alternative to fast food, it strives to preserve traditional and regional cuisine and encourages farming of plants, seeds and livestock characteristic of the local ecosystem".

      So now you know why I even thought of trying my hand at raw jackfruit (and getting my hands all sticky) when it was easier to call for a big Mac for less than 30 bucks in less than 30minutes! - Fast food may be a form of instant gratification but never a healthy option!




      Similar to the Coconut Tree, the Jackfruit Tree is found in almost all Mangalorean gardens/backyards. Hence people make the most of these two trees. The Jackfruit is best enjoyed when it is ripe - the pods in a lovely yellow give out a fragrance that marks the beginning of Summer. Just as how one would associate the Mango and its fragrances with Summer elsewhere in India. The Jackfruit is surprisingly the national fruit of Bangladesh - should have been the national fruit of Mangalore :). The seeds of the Jackfruit called as 'Bikna' in Konkani are often roasted & eaten or added to gravies. Mangies will know that the Bikna are also the butt of many jokes :). The leaves of the Jackfruit tree are used to make little pockets in which idli batter is poured & steamed and is called as the 'Kottige' in Mangalore. 

      Khadgi (sounds like 'Curd'-'ghee' said quickly without stressing on the 'urd' of the curd) phew! as it's called in Konkani, the tender/raw Jacfruit often finds itself in savoury dishes like gravies. This particular recipe is the favourite of my dear Hubby and so I let him do the major part of cooking the dish the way he loves it.


      Khadgi Sukhi

      Recipe Source: My hubby dearest


      You Need:
      • 500gms raw jackfruit (cleaned of its skin & pith)
      • 1/2 cup Black Chana (Kadala/Chickpea/Bengal Gram/Garbanzo) soaked overnight
      • 1 tsp jeera/cumin powder
      • 2 tbsp tamarind juice (extracted from about 1 lime size ball of tamarind soaked in 2 tbsp water for 15mins)
      • 1 handful grated coconut
      • 1 medium onion finely sliced
      • salt to taste
      • oil for frying
      For the tempering (tadka/bagaar/fon):
      • 4-5 curry leaves (kadipatta)
      • 2 long dry red chillies
      • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
      • 2 cloves garlic
      • 1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnishing (optional)
          Method:
          1. Remove the skin, pith (called as mav or mau in Konkani) & seeds of the raw jackfruit. Take care to see that you oil your hands using coconut/vegetable oil while handling this as the whole process can get messy with the sticky white gum (sap) oozing out of the Jackfruit that can be hard to get rid of. Shred the cleaned chunks of jackfruit and soak the shreds in water mixed with a little tamarind juice immediately or else it will turn black.

          2. Pressure cook/boil the black chana with a little salt till well cooked. Retain the stock (even if you dont utilize this stock for this preparation, never throw away stock in which vegetables have been cooked. You can convert them into a delicious & nutritious broth/soup.


          3. Pressure cook the Jackfruit shreds with a little salt & water (sufficiently upto the level of the jackfruit - not more as you are just preventing the jackfruit from getting burnt) for about 10-15minutes. Use a weight (whistle) and count about 5 whistles. Let the weight loosen up before you open the cooker to mix the contents well .
          Cooking the Raw Jackfruit 

          Before

          After

          4. In a large wok/pan heat some oil & fry the sliced onion to golden. Add 2 tsps of vegetable powder & fry on slow fire. Add the jeera powder & fry some more.
          5. Toss in the grated coconut and fry till you get a nice aroma. Add the tamarind juice and the Chana & Jackfruit along with the stock of each. Mix well and adjust salt if required (remember - both the vegetables have been pressure cooked with salt, so you wont really need to add again)
          6. Cook on slow fire for about 10 minutes, stirring every now & then and adding. Ensure that the water has been absorbed by the vegetables and the gravy has thickened. Turn off the flame.


          7. For the tempering - heat some oil in a smaller pan & add the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, add the curry leaves and stir quickly for about 2-3 seconds before tossing in the red chillies. Fry till you get a fantastic flavour (my most favourite!) but dont let the chillies burn! Add the garlic cloves slightly mashed up. Let the garlic blend along with the rest of the ingredients. Immediately add this to the vegetable. Garnish with chopped coriander.
          8. Serve hot with rice (preferably boiled rice). Enjoy!