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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Methi Pulao

So it's Blog Hop Wednesdays once again. This event makes sure that participants push themselves out of their comfort zones and try out something from another blogger's recipe collection, thus making an interesting choice of trying something new or completely unheard of. It is also a great way of getting to know new bloggers and making friends along the way.


For this week's Blog Hopping I have been paired with Divya Kudua of Easy Cooking. Divya needs no formal introduction as everyone on the blogosphere knows about this talented & versatile cook with an amazing collection of vegetarian recipes. Despite being a non vegetarian myself, I am always on the look out for vegetarian recipes as I totally love veggies and before being paired with her, I have had the opportunity to go through her recipes and try a couple of them. The one which I have tried, tested and loved (including my guests) is the Classic Chocolate Fudge Brownies. When I got paired with her, i immediately browsed through her entire collection of recipes and bookmarked a few which I am going to try one by one. For now it's her Methi Pulao recipe today.


By the way I was not much of a Methi fan until I made this pulao. I shrugged at the very thought of cooking & eating these bitter leafy greens and hence never cooked it at home. However, I am thrilled to tell you that not only did this Pulao transform my husband and me, our little fellow asked for second and third helpings too!

I made this pulao twice on the same day. I was a little obsessed with making a healthier version of this Pulao and so I made it for lunch with brown Basmati - since I have never cooked this variety of rice before I did a bit of a trial & error before the rice was fully cooked and boy! was it tasty! Yum yum yum! Brown rice imparts this nutty flavour to the whole preparation and I simply gobbled it up in no time. Luckily I had used just 1/2 a cup of rice and didn't stand the chance of overeating. Anyways, made it once again for the evening's meal and served it along with a simple Yoghurt & Cucumber Raitha and shallow fried Brinjal (thin slices marinated in Meet Mirsang). The Methi leaves give out a delicate flavour and you cannot sense the bitterness as in this recipe you need to use just the leave - whole, as they are, without chopping them (so the bitterness is not released).


Methi Pulao
Serves: 2
You Need:
  • 1 cup basmati rice * see note
  • 1-3/4th cups of water * see note
  • 1 packed cup of methi leaves
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 large/4-5small cloves of garlic without skin
  • 1 long green chilli finely chopped
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil or ghee
  • 1 tsp lime juice (optional)
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Wash and soak the rice for about 10-15minutes. Pluck and wash only the methi leaves (and not the stalks) and coriander leaves and allow to drain. Do not chop the methi leaves as the pulao will taste bitter. If the garlic cloves are medium size
2. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil or ghee and toss in the cloves and cinnamon, fry a little and then add the chopped onions, garlic cloves (whole or just cut into two) & green chilli. Fry well till the onions turn slightly golden
3. Toss in the methi and coriander leaves and fry for another 2 minutes.
4. Add the well drained rice and fry for 2-3 minutes till you feel the rice getting a bit heavy and hard to stir. Add freshly boiled water, mix well, add the lime juice and salt. Check taste and allow the rice and water mixture to come to a full boil. Cover the lid of the cooker and place the weight (whistle). Reduce the flame to sim and allow to cook for exactly 5 minutes (keep a timer!) - ensure that the fire is not strong enough to let off a whistle or doesnt even make a hissing noise. After 5 minutes, turn off the flame and allow to stand for a few minutes till the whistle turns completely loose.
5. Open the lid and fluff up the rice with a fork. Give it a gentle mix, close the lid for about a minute, re-open and serve Methi Pulao hot with Raita


Notes:
1. You can use brown basmati rice if you wish to make this pulao even more delicious & healthy. I tried making this pulao with 1/2 cup brown basmati and used about 1-1/2 cups of water (in the ratio of 1:3) and pressure cooked for 6 whistles - however it was by trial & error that I got it right - will repost the exact method soon.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sunday Special! Traditional Mutton Offal Curry - Bokryache Kaleez/Talvyechi Kadi

So one more week has gone by rather uneventfully and here I am typing out the post that has been sitting in my drafts for over 2 weeks. Like I mentioned in my previous posts, the Mutton Offal Curry was the outcome of an enthusiastic discussion (between hubs and me) of Mangalorean traditional delicacies that we both loved yet were hardly prepared in Mangalorean homes today. The reason being that half of Mangalore lives outside Mangalore (including us) and the other half has either abandoned making this tedious fare because it is time consuming or just because the fast food fad has caught up with this generation sooner than they expected.


Well, a great part of why I started this blog lies in the fact that I wanted to invest my time in learning to cook Mangalorean food, traditional or not. Later, as I went along, I realised that there were so many things that I didn't know about Mangalorean food and the different varieties of food that are part of our cultural heritage that is slowly dying down. This great awakening also happened when I read an article in the paper about the Slow Food Movement which lays emphasis on using locally available ingredients and traditional cooking methods to preserve culinary diversity. I was very interested in contributing my bit to this movement and I started exploring everything about my culinary heritage. The Slow Food Movement was started as a resistance to the opening of McDonald's in Rome in 1986 and was officially founded in 1989 "to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people's dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world" - read more


We all know that traditional food has being phased out as generations pass by. The recipes that were handed down from one generation to the other, often got lost as most of them were not written down. Things have gotten very simple today thanks to the internet, scores of recipes are available at the click of a mouse, but yet, many of us simply resort to fit only those foods that suit our fast paced life. Maybe it's time to wake up and smell the roses (not just the coffee), take it easy and prepare something that takes a little more time to cook, but the taste (and health benefits) of which cannot be compared with fast food.

Today's recipe is a typical Mangalorean delicacy loved by Catholics - the offal curry. I quote my friend Michelle of (Food Football and a Baby) who rightly said that we Mangaloreans are a thrifty and frugal lot when it comes to our meat. We use up all the parts (well almost!) of the sheep (mutton) or pig (pork) and the offal or boti as it's called is very popular amongst those who have eaten it. And it is not just us who love offal so much, there are a whole bunch of people and communities across the globe that eat all kinds of odd things. Well, one man's food is another man's poison!This preparation however makes use of just the heart, lungs, windpipe and liver of the sheep - one needs to book it in advance as R did when he went to buy other meat. He had to go again the next day - early in the morning to pick up the best stuff. The preparation time was not as much as I thought, infact, it was easier than making the Botyechi Kadi (Mutton Tripe Curry). My mum used to make excellent offal curry and it was always made during some occasion such as a feast or a birthday. Since I totally love coconut milk based curries, this one has always been one of my favourites.


Mutton Offal Curry (Kaleez/Talvyechi Kadi)
Serves: 5-6
Recipe Source: My mum

You Need:
  • 1 Sheep offal (only heart, lungs, windpipe and liver)
  • 3 medium size potatoes cut into small cubes
  • 1-1/2 coconuts (or about 4 cups freshly grated coconut) or 1 cup thick milk and 2 cups thin milk 
To be pre-cooked with the meat
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2" ginger minced
  • 4 green chillies slit
  • 1" cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • salt to taste
For the masala (to grind)
  • 8 long dry red chillies (Kumti/Bedgi or Kashmiri)
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp jeera/cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1-1/2" cinnamon 
  • 6-7 cloves
  • 6 cloves of garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 1 level tsp tamarind paste or 2 marble size balls
For the shindaap (cuttings to be fried)
  • 2 large onions finely sliced
  • 12-13 flakes of garlic minced
  • 1 big tomato finely chopped
For seasoning/tempering
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • ghee or oil
Method:
1. Wash the offal well (about 3 times) in clean water . Ensure that blood clots if any are removed (*see note#1). Allow to drain on a colander for at least 20 minutes
2. Cut into large chunks (about half a palm size) and put in a pressure cooker along with all the ingredients mentioned in the 'To be pre-cooked with the meat' section and sprinkle a little water. Close the pressure cooker and place the weight (whistle) and pressure cook on full flame till the first whistle goes off and reduce the flame to sim and continue to cook for a further 15minutes. Turn off the flame, open the cooker, mix well and keep aside till it is cool enough to be handled. Cut the meat into small cubes and keep aside.
3. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in the 'For the masala' section - to a fine paste. Retain the masala water from the mixer jar.
4. Prepare the coconut milk (*see note#2) - In a mixer jar, add the grated coconut and 1 cup warm water and grind it for a few seconds - not to a paste, but to a coarse consistency. Remove the contents onto a thin muslin or bairas cloth and squeeze out the thick milk. Keep aside. Add some more warm water to the coarse coconut and extract twice more to obtain thin milk.
5. In a large thick bottomed pan heat some ghee or oil and fry the shindaap - onions and garlic (mentioned in the 'For the shindaap' section). Allow the onions to turn translucent (pinkish and limp) - fry them on slow flame, take care not to burn them. Add the ground masala and fry for half a minute. Toss in the chopped tomatoes and add a little salt to help the tomatoes turn to paste soon. Fry this mixture on slow flame. Add the masala water from the mixer grinder.
6. Add the cubed offal/meat and mix well. Pour the thick milk milk and cook on slow flame - do not cover the pan (*see note#3). Add the potatoes and cook further. Finally add the thin coconut milk as required (as thick/thin as you need the gravy to be). Cook on medium flame till the curry comes to a full boil. Check salt to taste. Add a little tamarind juice if required.
7. For seasoning/tempering heat some ghee/oil in a small pan and when it is smoking hot toss in the sliced onions and fry till they turn golden brown (do not burn them) - Add this mixture to the gravy and close the cover immediately
8. Serve hot with rice (steamed white or brown/boiled)

Notes:
1. Ensure that while washing the heart and liver you run your fingers firmly over the surface - blood clots if any need to be removed/cleaned otherwise while you cook them, the blood will ooze out.
2. If you wish to make this curry in a jiffy you can simply substitute the whole coconuts with instant coconut milk - You will need 1 cup thick milk and 2 cups of thin milk which you can prepare as follows:
To make 1 cup thick coconut milk use 1 cup (240ml warm water)+6 tbsp instant coconut milk powder
To make 1 cup thin coconut milk use 1 cup (240ml warm water)+3 tbsp instant coconut milk powder
3. Important! While the thick milk is added, it has tendency to curdle quickly if the pan is covered. So cook with the pan uncovered (no lid).



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alun Dento (Traditional Curry of Colocasia & Leafy Greens Stalks) - Novein Jowaan Special

Now that all the festivities have kicked off I see a whole lot of recipes on different blogs pertaining to the celebrations. One can have a gala time in India irrespective of which religion/faith he/she belongs to - almost everybody is celebrating their respective feasts and most commonly the harvest feast is celebrated across most of South India. The first of the season's crop (new crop) is offered to God and a whole lot of celebrations are carried out. In Mangalore, the Catholic community celebrates the harvest feast on the 8th of September which is also the birthday of Mother Mary and is called as the Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). The term Nativity means 'birth' and hence is also used for the birth of Christ, also popularly known as Christmas. I won't get into the details of Christmas right now as I have a whole bunch of posts for my favourite season which will come in December. For now, let me tell you about the harvest feast as we celebrate it.


In preparation of the celebration (the Nativity of the BVM), nine days of prayers are held prior to the actual day. This is known as the Novena (pronounced as noh-veena) held every evening following the Mass. Small children take baskets full of flowers as an offertory to Mother Mary. When I was little, I would be so excited to come home from school, quickly finish my tea and run off to the garden to pluck the newly bloomed flowers - Jidde (Wild Balsams), Wild Violets, Roses, Glass Flowers (not sure of the botanical name) and Hibiscus to name a few. The entire church would be fragrant with so many flowers. Right after the mass, all of us would gather on the church grounds, form a circle as the choir would sing 'Sakked Sangatha Melyaan' (meaning 'let us all gather with flowers to honour Our Lady) and offer the flowers to Mary in tandem with the song 'Moriyek Hogolsiyaan' (meaning 'let us offer praises to Our Lady). Right after this ceremony, sweets would be distributed and we would eagerly wait for them. Mysore Pak (Mangalorean version), Maalpuri (similar to Mumbai's Malpua), Peda, Khadi, Mithai Laddoo (Boondhi Laddu), Saat, Penuri (a hybrid of the Saat and Jhangri) (see some pictures here) are among the sweets I loved most and those that got distributed. These sweets were usually donated by some kind donors (usually one of the wealthy people from our church) and if we were lucky we got individually wrapped Banana or Wheat Halwa.

Above Pic: Each of the items below are found right above in the curry

On the day of the feast - September 8th, we would rise early to go for Mass and the offering of flowers was held prior to the Mass. My dad used to get some special flowers from the market to fill our baskets with. Jasmine (Kaley, Mallige), Marigold (Shivnthi, Gonde), Crossandra (Abolein/Abbalige/Kanakambara), Daisies and Asters - all of which were sold for a bomb. Right after the Mass we had to assemble in the adjoining church hall or school where the season's fresh Kobu (Sugarcanes) were distributed to the kids. This Kobu Vaantche (distribution of Sugarcanes) programme would always be the most chaotic but also the best as each one of us would vying for the fattest and juiciest Sugarcane of all.

This was also the day when a complete vegetarian meal would be cooked at home. This is called the 'Novein Jowaan' (meaning new meal). Usually the items prepared would be in odd numbers - 5, 7, 9 or 11 items if the one who cooked got really enthusiastic. Cooking was also done in great fervour and before savouring the meal the entire family would gather for prayers - to thank the Almighty for a good harvest and seek His abundant blessings on the family members for the coming year - the prayers would be concluded by singing a hymn and taking a sip of the 'Novein' (which means 'new' in Konkani and also means 'tender or first paddy (rice) of the harvest season'). Novein would be prepared by pounding a few grains of paddy that were blessed and distributed in Church, and mixing them along with milk. I will update this post with the pictures of the Novein shortly.


My mother's menu used to consist of seven standard items such as the Alun Dento (Alun is pronounced nasally and Dento is pronounced 'Dhento'), Sanei Sukhe (Black Chana/Garbanzo beans), Ghosalein (Ridge Gourd) Thel Piau (Oil and Onion style), Karathein (Bitter Gourd) sweet and tangy (with jaggery and tomatoes), Benda Miriyapito (Ladies Finger Pepper), Sanna (Mangalorean Idli) and Jivo Roce (freshly extracted coconut milk sweetened with jaggery and cardamom). After this splendid meal, while the adults retired for an afternoon siesta, the kids used to sit on the porch munching the juicy Sugarcane. These are one of the fondest memories I have of my childhood in Mangalore. I could have thrown in a few more memories here, but I think I have already given you a feel of how this feast is celebrated by Catholics in Mangalore. So why don't we head straight to the recipe now?


Today's recipe is one of the items that is probably made by everyone who celebrate this feast. The Alun Dento is a very traditional vegetarian curry that is famously made on this day if not otherwise. Alun is one of the two varieties of Colocasia differentiated by the dark coloured stalks and leaves. The leaves are used in the preparation of Pathrade/Pathrode (Steamed Rice Cakes) as well. The Dento which essentially means 'stalk/stem' is the stalk of a particular variety of the leafy greens that grows 4-5 ft tall - Dento Baji as we call it. The Alun and the Dento together come to make this lovely gravy.

Alun Dento
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 3 stalks (Dente) of the leafy greens (approx 1-1/2 foot each) * see notes
  • 6 small Colocasia (Alun) stems (approx 1 foot each)
  • 3 small ambade (hog plums)
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (optional)ngy)
For the masala
  • 2 short dry red chillies (Harekala)
  • 3 long dry red chillies (Kumti/Bedgi)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 2 pinches of turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 level tsp mustard (rai)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1 small onion (lime size)
  • 1-1/2 - 2 packed cups of freshly grated coconut * see notes
  • salt to taste
For the seasoning
  • 2-3 tsp coconut oil (preferably)
  • 1 small onion finely sliced
Method:
1. Wash the stalks thoroughly. Remove the roots if any of the leafy green stalks (Dento). Remove the fibre (outer skin) of the Colocasia stalks and cut into pieces of about 1cm. Boil the Colocasia stalks with a little water, salt to taste and the hog plums for about 7-8 minutes - this is because the Colocasia is itchy and hence the pre-boiling with hog plums or tamarind. Cook the leafy green stalks in sufficient water and salt till tender. Place both these types of stalks in a vessel.
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala' to a paste. Add this masala to the pre cooked stalks. Add the masala water and bring the gravy to a boil. If you prefer a tangy gravy, add the tamarind paste and mix well. Cook for a few minutes
3. In another pan heat the coconut oil and toss in the sliced onion and fry till golden in colour. Add this seasoning to the boiling gravy. Turn off the flame and cover the pan
4. Serve hot with Sanna or Rice


Notes:
1. The size of the stalks of Alun and Dento are approximate. If you have prepared it earlier you will know the quantity that is required.
2. Ideally a fresh/tender coconut is used for this preparation. By tender, i do not mean the green one sold as tender coconut for its water. The one to be used here is ideally the one where the outer husk is greenish but not too tender and inside the white flesh is juicy and the water hasn't dried up (which means that the coconut is aged).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Uddina Vade / Medhu Vada (Black Gram Lentil Fritters)

Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on. ~ George Bernard Shaw


The above quote was just too cute to have not been shared although I have made a conscious effort to eat healthy. It is very important for a food blogger like me (who has a tendency to drool over recipes, try them immediately and gobble up most of it alone) to keep a tight watch on what I eat. I have battled with weight issues since I moved to Mumbai after my marriage and had a crazy work schedule to deal with which left me with no time for healthy cooking and I gave in to a lot of temptation (sweets & junk food). Then came motherhood which made sure the extra kilos stayed on forever. Staying healthy is also a big effort and challenge for a foodie like me who has led a carefree lifestyle in Mangalore - gorging on anything & everything and still being able to stay decently fit (if not slim). 

So now, thanks to a city life I have to be extra careful of the method and medium of cooking. I don't deep fry too often (maybe once a month at the most) but then a South Indian breakfast is incomplete without the Uddina Vade also famously known as Medhu Vada in the North. And what good is life if you cannot indulge in your favourite food once in a while? And while you are at it, you may as well enjoy it to the hilt, isnt it? 

Uddina Vade/Medhu Vadas are simply Black Gram Dal fritters. You can call them the Indian doughnut, savoury ones to be precise. Crispy on the outside and fluffy inside with an occasional bit of green chilli or curry leaf to bite into. These Vadas are my husband's favourite - especially the ones we get in small hotels in Mangalore. So crispy while they are hot and accompanied by the most delicious Sambhar. Sometimes they are even paired with Idlis making it the most delightful & complete breakfast! (Steamed (Idlis), Deep Fried (Vadas), Cooked (Sambhar) & Uncooked (Chutney))


It's funny how the Black Gram Dal is actually white - but this is just because this Dal is the split lentil and the whole lentil has a black skin to it. The use of Urad Dal is quite common in South Indian houses as it finds itself in the preparation of Idlis and Dosas, Papads (poppadums) besides being used for tempering/seasoning curries & other dishes. Urad Dal is a good source of protein, iron, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin B. 


Uddina Vada/Medhu Vada:
Yield 10-12 small vadas

You Need:
  • 1 cup urad dal/uddina bele/black gram dal
  • 1/3rd cup chana dal/kadale bele/bengal gram dal
  • 1 long green chilli finely chopped
  • 4-5 curry leaves/kadipatta finely chopped
  • 1 pinch hing/asafoetida
  • 2 pinches soda-bi-carb (baking/cooking soda)
  • salt to taste

Method:
1. Wash and soak the dals overnight (or for 6-8 hours). Drain all the water before grinding them to a almost fine paste (slightly coarse texture). Avoid using water to grind as your batter needs to be dry enough to enable you to make a hole in the centre before dropping them into the hot oil
2. Add the chopped chilli, curry leaves, hing, soda-bi-carb and salt to taste to the ground batter.
3. Heat sufficient oil for deep frying in a heavy bottomed wide pan or kadhai (wide enough to be able to fry at least 3-4 vadas at a time). When the oil is smoking hot, reduce the flame to medium high. 
4. Place approx lemon size portion of batter on your palm, wet your fingers with some cold water and gently make a hole in the centre of the batter using your thumb. Slowly slide this batter into the hot oil - place your palm comfortably close to the oil or else the hot oil will spash/splutter if you drop the batter from a height - so be careful! 
5. Repeat the process to make another 2-3 vadas (or as many as your pan can accommodate) as mentioned in step#4. Use a slotted ladle to gently flip the vadas over so that they fry well on both sides to a golden brown. This can take a minute or so.
6. Remove carefully and place it on a kitchen tissue. Do not cover immediately as the steam will turn them soggy. Serve hot with Sambhar and/or Coconut Chutney (especially the Coconut & Roasted Chana Dal Chutney)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dried Shrimp Chutney (Galmbyachi Chetni)

Dried Shrimp is quite a famous delicacy amongst fish lovers across the globe. So also in Mangalore where it is usually eaten during the Monsoons when fresh fish is unavailable as boats often do not venture out for fishing into the rough sea. While dried fish has it's own varieties, the most commonly available one being the dried Shark fish (which is chunky with a rubbery skin), Shrimp is just a class apart. We Catholic's call it Galmbo in Konkani and it is customary to make the Galmbyachi Chetni/Chutney at least once during the Monsoons. 

For those of you who are new to this, Shrimp is almost similar to Prawns but the difference is not in its size as commonly assumed, but in the gill structure. Dried Shrimp is nothing but Shrimp that is sun dried and shrunk to thumb size. It is frequently used in South East Asian cuisine and almost all of coastal cuisine, so little doubt that Mangalore loves it too. Shrimp Chutney tastes heavenly when eaten with Congee (Kanji/Rice gruel) and this is probably one of the simplest of all meals.


Today, we live in the era of refrigerators and deep freezers which help us store food for longer periods of time. Seasonal foods are no longer restricted to seasons as fresh food is imported from other places and made available to us in supermarkets. But in the olden days, people used to prepare for the Monsoons much  in advance. Fruits and vegetables that have a longer shelf life (especially Ash Gourds, Madras Cucumbers, Snake Gourds, Garlic and Onions) were often tied up in ropes and hung from the ceiling in a special area or hallway near the kitchen. In Konkani these long hallways are often called as 'Sopo' - houses were often similarly designed, so every house in Mangalore had an open portico, the beams and roof supported by two pillars at the entrance. The portico would be thin strips of seating area with parapets and the main door right in the centre that led to the main living room. The kitchen area, dining area, bathrooms, store rooms and the 'Sopo' would often be on the left side of the living room and the bedrooms on the right side of the living room. So you see, if you entered anyone's home, you knew exactly how the layout was and you could head straight to one's kitchen to see what was cooking!

First Pic: Dried Shrimp before being washed. Second Pic: Dried Shrimp, washed and then dry roasted on a griddle/tawa

It is also important to note that the earlier generations used to have a house full of people - a few adults and at least a dozen kids, so it was technically impossible to feed such a battalion of people grand things every day. Congee was served almost everyday for breakfast or at least dinner and Shrimp was also one of the accompaniments served along with it apart from a host of other condiments such as chutneys, pickles, preserves and papads (poppadoms). So, the dried Shrimp formed part of the condiments that were regularly stored and found in kitchens all year round.

We had a yummy and simple meal a couple of days ago - brown rice congee served with this chutney, the combination and taste was simply heavenly!


Dried Shrimp Chutney
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 50gm dried shrimp/jawla/galmbo
  • 3/4th small coconut grated (or about 1-1/4 packed cups of grated coconut) (*see note)
For the masala
  • 5-6 dry red chillies (*see note)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 2 pinches of turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 1/2 or 1 level tsp tamarind paste (or to taste)
  • salt to taste (just a little as the shrimp already has salt in it)
For the tempering/seasoning
  • 1 small onion finely sliced
  • oil for frying
Method:
1. Wash the shrimp carefully and squeeze it dry (or place on a fine slotted colander/sieve) and drain. Dry roast it for a couple of minutes on a tawa on a slow flame until it lets out a nice aroma. Keep aside. Dry roast the coconut the coconut on the same tawa till again it lets out a nice aroma and then mix the two.
2. Dry grind the red chillies, cumin and turmeric to a powder. Add the tamarind paste and the coconut and shrimp mixture and swirl the mixer for a few seconds. (Add just about 2 tsp water just to get the mixer jar moving). Do not grind it fine. It should remain coarse (shrimp should be coarsely crushed and not ground). Remove the chutney in a bowl.
3. Heat some oil in another pan and fry the sliced onions till golden brown. Add them to the shrimp chutney. Serve with piping hot Rice Congee/Kanji/Pez

Notes
You can increase the shrimps upto 100gm if you like a strong taste of shrimp. If you like it 'coconut-y' then add more coconut. Ideally for 50gm shrimps, 1 packed cup of grated coconut works fine. You can use the proportions as per your choice, just ensure you adjust the spice level accordingly



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Aate Ka Halwa (Whole Wheat Halwa)

Now that we are almost done with the Monsoons and the festivities have begun, there is going to be a whole lot of indulgence - mainly of sweets. While I have been browsing the lovely blogs of my fellow bloggers, I found a whole bunch of recipes which are keeping the festivities in mind. It is not only the Holy month of Ramadan that is being observed by Muslims right now but also several Hindu devotees are fasting in preparation of the upcoming festival season. This of course calls for some good and nutritious food and I found a lot of blog events (which I was excited to be a part of) that challenged bloggers to think of and post a whole variety of food ideas that would appeal to all. One such event is the Blog Hop Wednesdays hosted by Radhika of Tickling Palates where an interested participant is paired with a random blogger every alternate Wednesday and this pair has to pick one recipe from their partner's blog, try it out and post the recipe. This week I have been paired with Neha of 'From My Heart'. Neha is a new blogger on the block with a lovely collection of recipes. A Dentist by profession turned into a Stay-At-Home-Mom just like me to look after her little son. When I browsed through her collection I just couldn't decide which recipe I should try as they were a lot of yummy dishes on display but then you see, the sweet tooth won hands down!


Today's recipe is a simple, quick and tasty Halwa made out of whole wheat flour. Since I am a big fan of sweets (new fan to be precise - I've never liked sweets till the time I was expecting my son) I picked this healthy sweet dish that can be had guilt free (well almost) especially during this festive season. I say, almost guilt free because sweets by nature are not good if eaten in excess, but then what good is a feast if you cannot indulge in your favourite sweetmeats??

Whole wheat needs no introduction. It is extensively used in Indian cooking especially in the preparation of  Indian flat breads such as Rotis, Chapathis and Parathas to name a few. Although I had only heard about the Aate Ka Halwa, I had never eaten it before. Down South the Sheera or Sooji Ka Halwa as it's called in the North is very famous. Sheera is prepared with Semolina (Rawa - broken wheat) and since it is my favourite sweet preparation which I like to have for breakfast or tea I decided that Aate Ka Halwa was a must try! I was very impressed with the result. It is a wholesome and nutritious sweet especially for kids as it is loaded with the goodness of wheat, ghee and dry fruits. The sweetness is subtle so you wont feel so guilty :-)


Aate Ka Halwa
Yield: 8 mini tart moulds

You Need
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (aata)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water *see note
  • 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • 10-15 almonds slivered
Method:
1. Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and toss in the almond slivers. Fry well on a low heat and add the flour. Fry it for a few minutes, stirring continuously. Do not allow the flour to burn
2. Add the 2 cups of water and the sugar and stir. The mixture will thicken and come together in the form of a ball. Cook for about 2 minutes.
3. Serve in bowls or in tart moulds if you prefer a design. Garnish with almond slivers and serve hot


Note:
If you like it a bit rich you can use 1 cup of water and 1 cup of milk instead of 2 cups of water.



Monday, August 15, 2011

Independence Day Special ~ Carrot & Spinach Layered Rice

Aloft the banner's flying O'er ancient Hindustan
Ye Saffron, White and Green proclaiming freedom's sweetest morn
March on ye sons of freedom, unto your destiny
To build a glorious kingdom, of peace and happiness
To strive and build a kingdom where dwelleth righteousness
Arise, awake ye millions, ye sons of Hindustan
Keep on the constant vigilance to guard the freedom won
Wage on a ceaseless battle O'er hunger and on greed
Truth's splendour let bedazzle dark legions that surround
Silence the sabre's rattle yet fight the foes around

God bless the Indian Union, Bless thou our motherland
Grant us the help to serve the million Of this ancient land
Thou Lord of all creation, we praise Thy Holy Name
Preserve us as Thy nation to serve Thee ever more
Throughout all generations, to serve Thee ever more

These are the words from one of my school's anthems which we used to sing everyday during the morning assembly. I used to take great pride while we then sang the National Anthem right at the end of the assembly - Jana Gana Mana. My heart still swells up in pride when I listen to this anthem today - most of which is played in cinema halls of multiplex theatres before the movie begins. I am glad it is a mandatory thing - it is important not just to stand in attention listening to the soulful anthem being rendered out by competent singers, but also to remember the scores of freedom fighters - famous or not - those whose brave deeds are not remembered although they are very much a part of our history. It is also a moment to remember the thousands of soldiers in present times who still protect our borders and make it safe for us to have a good night's sleep. It is also to remember our country's leaders, special security forces and police, people who have taken India to greater heights ~ every person who in all earnestness makes us proud to be Indians.


Keeping this special day in mind, I tried the 3 layer rice from Tarla Dalal's website which I had bookmarked long ago but never got around trying it. The 3 colours represent the tricoloured flag of India - the three horizontal bands on the Indian National flag - Saffron, White and Green - that represent Courage and Sacrifice, Peace and Truth and Faith and Chivalry respectively. The Ashoka Chakra at the centre represents the Eternal Wheel of Law.


This colourful rice makes for a lovely meal. The Carrots that represent the Saffron colour of the flag is a rich source of vitamins for the skin, nails and eyes. The White Rice that represents the White colour of the flag is a wonderful comfort food and a great source of carbohydrates that gives us fast and instant energy to carry out our daily tasks. The Spinach and Peas that represent the Green colour of the flag are powerhouses of nutrition. Spinach is rich in vitamin C and K, fibre, calcium, folic acid and iron. Peas are high in lutein, protein, magnesium and fibre.


Carrot and Spinach Layered Rice
Serves 2-3

You Need:
For the Rice layer
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
For the Spinach layer
  • 2-1/4 packed cups of chopped Spinach (Palak)
  • 3/4 cups boiled green peas (I used frozen peas)
  • 3 medium sized green chillies chopped
  • 1/2 cup or a medium sized onion chopped
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
For the Carrot Layer
  • 1-1/2 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste 
For Baking
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese (optional) - I used grated Parmesan
Method:
To Make the Rice:
1. Cook the rice in sufficient water and salt to taste - cook till almost done (90%) - I use Kohinoor Basmati rice and I cooked it for about 8 minutes. Drain the water and keep aside
2. Heat oil in a wok or large pan and fry the jeera for a few seconds. Add the cooked rice, salt to taste and mix gently. Keep aside.



To Make the Spinach Layer:
1. Cook the spinach with 2 tbsp of water and when cooked, drain any excess water.
2. Heat oil in a wok or pan and fry the onions till they turn pink. Add the spinach, green peas, green chillies and salt to taste mix well and cook for a couple of minutes. Turn off flame and keep aside

To Make the Carrot Layer:
1. Heat oil in a pan and fry the caraway seeds. Add the grated carrots and 2 tbsp water. Add the curry powders and salt and fry a bit. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Turn off the flame and keep aside.

To Assemble:
1. Grease a 7" baking dish (I used Borosil glass bakeware) with 1/2 tsp olive oil. Layer the base with half the rice. Add the spinach and peas mixture as the second layer. Add another layer of the remaining rice and finish off with the carrot layer on top. Garnish with grated cheese.
2. Bake in a preheated oven at 220C for 20minutes
3. Serve hot with Raita





Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dalitoy/Dali Tove (Konkani Style Spiced Lentil Broth)

If you are a Mangalorean then the Dalitoy needs no introduction. But for those who are not, well, it is a quintessential Konkani style Dal made in almost every Konkani household without fail and savoured with a lot of passion - as much as Dal is loved in Northern India. When I talk of 'Konkani' cuisine, it is not to be confused with the Konkani language which is spoken in different dialects along the Coast of India (Konkan Region) and in Mangalore is spoken by the Catholics and Hindus (GSBs and non GSBs) - in dialects that slightly differ from each other. These Konkani speaking Hindus are popularly known as Konkanis or Konkanas in Mangalore.



The Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas) which is used to prepare Dalitoy is probably the most sought after type of Dal across the world. Almost every kitchen has a stock of it at least in small quantities. Also, irrespective of the type of cuisine and cultural, ethnic differences that span our country, the Lentils or Dals as they are called are probably the most common item to be found in a majority of houses. Even in South India, you are bound to find one type of Dal being cooked everyday especially if it's a vegetarian household.

Since I have grown with a whole bunch of Konkani neighbours and friends I have always liked the Dalitoy or Dali Tove (pronounced as 'Tho-way). The best tasting Tove is always home made, fresh and piping hot. A typical Konkani thali (meal plate) usually includes steamed white rice, Dalitoy, one or two types of vegetables (curry or stir fry style), occasionally seafood (fried or spicy dry dish), pickles and happal (Poppadums/Papads made of Urad Dal or Red Chillies) or shendige/sandige (Sabudana/Tapioca Pearl Vadis/Odis/Fritters)


What is distinctly different about the Dalitoy is the predominant fragrance and flavour of the Asafoetida (Hing) and the different flavours brought in by the green chillies, curry leaves and dry red chillies in a coconut oil seasoning - the combination of these flavours is so simple yet so mind blowing that every Konkani worth his salt loves this dish. While Turmeric is an optional ingredient, the natural colour of the Dal - a beautiful pale yellow is also what sets this Dal apart from other preparations.

While it is enjoyed every day as a part of a simple & delicious meals that are had at home, it is savoured in great delight and reverence to Lord Venkataramana during the annual Car Festival that takes place around January every year. The Car Festival called as Theru in Konkani and Rathothsava in Kannada revolves around the celebrations of placing the diety in a gigantic Ratha (a wooden palanquin or palkhi) decorated in red and white which is then hauled across the city by devotees. The celebrations which usually last for 5 days is partaken by devotees with great fervour & enthusiasm. Devotees from the length & breadth of the city & outskirts attend the celebrations and it is said that most of the matchmaking happens during the time. Well dressed men in their traditional dhoti attire are complimented by good looking women dressed in fine Sarees & gold jewellery looking all the more resplendent - as beautiful as brides. This is also a time for families to meet as even those living outside Mangalore tend to come to attend the celebrations.


During the Theru people participate in Pujas at the Sri Venkataramana temple situated at Car Street also formally known as Temple Square & partake of the Prasada Naivedya by way of meals that is similar to the Langar served at the Sikh Gurudwaras. Dalitoy that is one of the items that is served during the simple meal is believed to be the best. Little doubt then that the Dalitoy which has found its way on the menu of the Prasadam, must also be a favourite food of the Gods


Dalitoy
Recipe Courtesy: Vidya Nayak Shenoy
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 1 cup toor/tuvar dal (split pigeon peas/torichi daal, togri bele)
  • 1 button size ball of soft Hing (asafoetida)
  • 3 green chillies slit (adjust the number as per taste)
  • salt to taste
For the tempering/seasoning/tadka:
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 2 tsp oil (coconut oil preferably)
Garnishing (optional)
  • 2 tsp chopped coriander leaves
Method:
1. Wash the Toor dal well and pressure cook with sufficient water & 2 green chillies for about 15 minutes (on a slow flame). Turn off, wait for the whistle (weight) to turn loose, remove and churn the dal using a blender or food processor. Add a little water to adjust the consistency
2. Place the dal back on the fire, add salt to taste and the hing dissolved in a little water. Bring the dal to a boil
3. In another pan heat 2 tsp coconut oil and add the mustard, when they splutter add the curry leaves and broken red chillies and toss them about. Do not allow the chillies to burn. Immediately add this seasoning to the dal and cover. Turn off the flame and serve piping hot with rice.


Probably one of the best combinations in the world - White Rice, Dalitoy & Spicy Clam Sukka (click for recipe)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spicy Clam Sukka (Kube Sukhe - Mangalorean Protestant Style)

Now that my little fellow has started going to school I have finally been able to establish a daily routine at home. Something I was never able to do earlier was plan my weekly meals - I knew it would make a huge difference to the way my week unfolded, but I simply could not come up with meal ideas and put together a weekly plan. However, now that I need to not only plan what we eat everyday as a family, I need to rack my brains daily to figure out what healthy stuff goes into the little fella's lunch box (or mid morning snack - whatever!) I managed the first week by being typically lazy and packing off fancy stuff like biscuits and stuff and most of it promptly came back uneaten as if to rebel against a lazy mom. I realised pretty soon that there was no way I was going to wake up at 6.30am everyday and spend those precious minutes in the morning breaking my head over what to make for the day. Thankfully, now that I have forced myself to think ahead and chalk out the weekly menu keeping in mind our diet restrictions, favourites and healthy must-have's, I am able to shop accordingly, save time & minimise wastages. Once I have planned I then go about collecting recipes for what I plan to make. When I went to the market this time, I found Clams and I knew instantly what I was going to make with them as I had already collected recipes for the way. Life is so much simpler now!



This recipe yet again is given by my dear friend Jenifer and she makes the traditional way how it is made in Mangalore by Protestant Missionary Christians. Most of their food is a notch higher on the spice meter vis-a-vis Catholic cuisine which has a large influence of Goan/Portugues food where spice ranges from mellow to moderately spicy and has many a dish which is slightly sweet or bland


I have also mentioned in my previous posts that I do try & plan my weekly menu in such a way that I incorporate different cooking styles and cuisines, so I try & have a day for each type of cuisine. Mondays is usually a Mangalorean Food Day where I try out recipes from other communities of Mangalore - so this time it was Clam Sukka and Dalitoy (recipe to follow) which is a typical Konkani style thick Dal spiced with chillies, flavoured with asafoetida (hing) and seasoned with curry leaves & mustard - The whole combination of these two dishes was simply superb! The combo needs a standing ovation I must say. Lunch & dinner was finished off in no time - no conversations were held, none entertained - only complete concentration on what was on the plate, thorough enjoyment of a meal so simple - satisfaction guaranteed!


Spicy Clam Sukka (Kube Sukhe - Mangalorean Protestant Style)
Serves 2-3

You Need
  • 85-100 clams/cockles
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 onion finely sliced
  • 4-5 curry leaves/kadipatta
  • oil for frying
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 onion roughly chopped
  • 3 tsp bafat powder (* see note)
  • 1 level tsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic
Method:
1. Clean the clams well - If the shells are clamped up tight then just place them in the freezer for 30mins - 1hr after which bring it to room temperature and pour warm water over them. Keep aside for 15-20minutes - all of them will open up automatically. Discard the empty shell of each clam and rinse 2-3 times in clean water. Allow to drain.
2. In a non stick pan or tawa dry roast the the grated coconut, chopped onion till the raw smell goes away. Toss in the bafat powder (or spice) powders and give it a stir or two before turning off the flame. Grind these ingredients coarsely along with the tamarind, ginger & garlic and a little water (ensure that the masala is not finely ground - just a swirl or two for a few seconds and its done)
3. In a pan heat the oil and toss in the mustard, when they splutter add the curry leaves and stir it once before adding the sliced onions. Fry them till golden brown and add the coarsely ground masala and fry for another 2 minutes on a slow flame.
4. Add the clams (from the mixer jar) and check salt to taste - be moderate with salt as clams are usually salty. Cook on slow flame for 10-12 minutes adding the small quantities of water as required.
5. Serve hot with rice and dal

Note:
  • If you do not have bafat powder you can use a blend of red chilli powder (abt 1 tsp)+ coriander powder (3/4th tsp) + 2 pinches each of cumin powder, pepper powder & turmeric powder

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Breadfruit & Dal Curry (Deeviso Guzo Ani Dhal Ghaln Kadi)

The Breadfruit is almost an alien vegetable to those who live in the northern hemisphere of our country. It looks like a close cousin of the Jackfruit & belongs to the Mulberry family. It is found in tropical climate and a very famous and much loved vegetable at that in Mangalore. I am not sure if it is commercially grown today but as far as I know most of the Breadfruits found in Mangalore are usually sourced from people who still have the tree growing in their backyards and owing to this even the smallest of Breadfruits sell like hot cakes at exorbitant prices. Most times this fruit is destroyed by birds even before it can be plucked and does not have a long shelf life which makes it all the more dear. 

The Breadfruit unlike the Jackfruit is cooked when it is still raw (it doesn't ripen) and is counted amongst vegetables than fruits. The term 'bread' is probably given to it as it has this mealy potato like taste to it and is dense in texture that can be sliced like a bread and if baked can taste like freshly baked bread.


Breadfruit or Deeviso Guzo/ Jeev Kadgi as it's called in Konkani (Jeegujje in Kannada, Nirphanas in Marathi and Bakri Chajhar in Hindi) is not only relished in South India but is also much loved across South East Asia & the Pacific Ocean islands and its botanical name is Artocarpus Altilis (phew! - we are better off calling it the Breadfruit, aren't we?). 

It tastes best when fried - the breadfruit cut into vertical slices & coated in a simple Meet Mirsang (Salt & Chilli) marination. The fruit is also cut into cubes/chunks and cooked in a stir fry style with grated coconut, spice powders and tomato to flavour a dry dish which is eaten as a side dish/accompaniment to the main dish of the day. When I was a child we were often given free Deeviso Guzo by our generous Brahmin neighbours - the Bhats who had 2-3 trees in their yard yielding many fat & round Breadfruits enough to fulfill their family's needs and those of their neighbours. The master of the house would call out instructions every morning to his house help to go & pluck the best Breadfruits - they would then pluck them using a 'Thenkdi'/ Dhonti (A thin long Bamboo stick with a sickle tied at one end) which was an indispensable houshold tool with a variety of uses especially to pluck fruits in the garden. There was a lot of fun that was derived from this simple act, the more the merrier. Anyway, gone are those days.

Even today when I go to visit my mum, the kind old gentleman comes to say hello carrying a basket with at least 3-4 large Breadfruits which I carry back with me to Mumbai as if they were gifts of gold (although we do get tiny ones here occasionally which cost a bomb). The taste of fried slices of the Breadfruit is par excellence and is on the list of favourites of every Mangalorean I am sure. The vegetarians relish it as much as the fish eaters relish fried fish and the fish eaters of course relish it just as much. 


The best Breadfruit is the one which has a pale green colour on the outside with a rugged surface - almost like the Jackfruit skin but without the 'thorns' A good Breadfruit is one that makes a 'wholesome' noise when you tap it and is very mealy or 'Peet' (roughly meaning 'doughy') in Konkani. Breadfruits are best eaten when freshly plucked and when it is intact without any bruises caused by hungry birds trying to feed on it or if it has fallen during the plucking session. This is one reason why the Breadfruits I get here in Mumbai have already started to decline in taste and colour of its skin from the time it was plucked and sold in the markets. So I don't have the picture of the prettiest looking Breadfruit




Breadfruit & Dal Curry
Serves 5-6

You Need:
  • 1 small size breadfruit/deeviso guzo/Jee Gujje (about 300gm)
  • 100gm toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 1 level tsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 large onions sliced fine
  • oil or ghee for frying
For the masala
  • 6 long dry red chillies (Kumti/Bedgi)
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp chana dal (Bengal gram)
  • pinch of hing (asafoetida) (optional)
  • 1 cup grated coconut (or half a coconut grated)
For the seasoning/tempering
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 1 tbsp oil or ghee
Method:
1. Wash & cut the breadfruit into half (vertically) and remove the skin gently. Grease your palms with a little oil to help you work with the sap (if any) around the pith. Cut into quarters, remove the pith and cut into small chunks. Wash the Toor dal and pressure cook with sufficient water and a little salt for about 2 whistles. Set aside
3. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat some oil or ghee and roast the ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala'. Grind to a fine paste using a little water
4. In another pan add the tamarind water, breadfruit chunks, turmeric powder, sliced onions, salt to taste and some water & cook it on slow fire till the breadfruit is tender (but not mushy). Add to this the ground masala and the precooked Toor dal and the dal water if required to achieve a gravy consistency. Check salt and bring the curry to a boil
5. Season the curry with the seasoning for which you need to heat some oil in a pan and toss in the mustard - when they splutter, add the curry leaves and add this mixture to the curry.
6. Serve hot with rice




Friday, August 5, 2011

Coconut & Roasted Chana Dal Chutney

I love a hearty South Indian breakfast, so I go that extra mile to make the traditional breakfast that I've grown up eating - Idli, Dosa, Appam, Sanna, Panpolay, Mutli  - aah, what is life without them? But then if you want to have a proper breakfast then it is also important to team it up with the right accompaniment. South Indian breads (as mentioned above) are usually fermented (except Neer Dosa & Mutli/Dumplings) and when served with a piping hot Sambhar (spiced  & seasoned mixed vegetable broth) or a coconut chutney feels like a complete breakfast providing the body with the right nourishment to kick start one's metabolism. 


Since we usually rush through the mornings, I don't quite prepare both the Sambhar & the Chutney (although I'd love to do that someday), so usually I make a simple Coconut & Coriander Chutney or the Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) Chutney, but I recently tasted this Roasted Chana Dal Chutney that adds that extra taste that roasted gram imparts. It was made by my friend's Cook and we liked it instantly. I tried to make it at home by modifying the ingredients each time that I tried it and it has been my husband's favourite ever since so I find myself trying this more often these days - or until I find another new recipe :-)


Coconut & Roasted Chana Dal Chutney
You Need:
  • 1/2 cup or 1 fistful grated coconut
  • 1-1/2 tbsp chana dal (Bengal gram)
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 2 tbsp sour curds (yoghurt)
Method:
On a hot tawa lightly roast the chana dal - do not brown them too much or they will taste bitter. Grind all the ingredients above to a coarse texture. Add boiled & cooled water only to assist grinding or to adjust consistency.
Serve with dosa, appams, sanna or neer dosa




Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Methi Pulao

So it's Blog Hop Wednesdays once again. This event makes sure that participants push themselves out of their comfort zones and try out something from another blogger's recipe collection, thus making an interesting choice of trying something new or completely unheard of. It is also a great way of getting to know new bloggers and making friends along the way.


For this week's Blog Hopping I have been paired with Divya Kudua of Easy Cooking. Divya needs no formal introduction as everyone on the blogosphere knows about this talented & versatile cook with an amazing collection of vegetarian recipes. Despite being a non vegetarian myself, I am always on the look out for vegetarian recipes as I totally love veggies and before being paired with her, I have had the opportunity to go through her recipes and try a couple of them. The one which I have tried, tested and loved (including my guests) is the Classic Chocolate Fudge Brownies. When I got paired with her, i immediately browsed through her entire collection of recipes and bookmarked a few which I am going to try one by one. For now it's her Methi Pulao recipe today.


By the way I was not much of a Methi fan until I made this pulao. I shrugged at the very thought of cooking & eating these bitter leafy greens and hence never cooked it at home. However, I am thrilled to tell you that not only did this Pulao transform my husband and me, our little fellow asked for second and third helpings too!

I made this pulao twice on the same day. I was a little obsessed with making a healthier version of this Pulao and so I made it for lunch with brown Basmati - since I have never cooked this variety of rice before I did a bit of a trial & error before the rice was fully cooked and boy! was it tasty! Yum yum yum! Brown rice imparts this nutty flavour to the whole preparation and I simply gobbled it up in no time. Luckily I had used just 1/2 a cup of rice and didn't stand the chance of overeating. Anyways, made it once again for the evening's meal and served it along with a simple Yoghurt & Cucumber Raitha and shallow fried Brinjal (thin slices marinated in Meet Mirsang). The Methi leaves give out a delicate flavour and you cannot sense the bitterness as in this recipe you need to use just the leave - whole, as they are, without chopping them (so the bitterness is not released).


Methi Pulao
Serves: 2
You Need:
  • 1 cup basmati rice * see note
  • 1-3/4th cups of water * see note
  • 1 packed cup of methi leaves
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 large/4-5small cloves of garlic without skin
  • 1 long green chilli finely chopped
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil or ghee
  • 1 tsp lime juice (optional)
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Wash and soak the rice for about 10-15minutes. Pluck and wash only the methi leaves (and not the stalks) and coriander leaves and allow to drain. Do not chop the methi leaves as the pulao will taste bitter. If the garlic cloves are medium size
2. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil or ghee and toss in the cloves and cinnamon, fry a little and then add the chopped onions, garlic cloves (whole or just cut into two) & green chilli. Fry well till the onions turn slightly golden
3. Toss in the methi and coriander leaves and fry for another 2 minutes.
4. Add the well drained rice and fry for 2-3 minutes till you feel the rice getting a bit heavy and hard to stir. Add freshly boiled water, mix well, add the lime juice and salt. Check taste and allow the rice and water mixture to come to a full boil. Cover the lid of the cooker and place the weight (whistle). Reduce the flame to sim and allow to cook for exactly 5 minutes (keep a timer!) - ensure that the fire is not strong enough to let off a whistle or doesnt even make a hissing noise. After 5 minutes, turn off the flame and allow to stand for a few minutes till the whistle turns completely loose.
5. Open the lid and fluff up the rice with a fork. Give it a gentle mix, close the lid for about a minute, re-open and serve Methi Pulao hot with Raita


Notes:
1. You can use brown basmati rice if you wish to make this pulao even more delicious & healthy. I tried making this pulao with 1/2 cup brown basmati and used about 1-1/2 cups of water (in the ratio of 1:3) and pressure cooked for 6 whistles - however it was by trial & error that I got it right - will repost the exact method soon.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sunday Special! Traditional Mutton Offal Curry - Bokryache Kaleez/Talvyechi Kadi

So one more week has gone by rather uneventfully and here I am typing out the post that has been sitting in my drafts for over 2 weeks. Like I mentioned in my previous posts, the Mutton Offal Curry was the outcome of an enthusiastic discussion (between hubs and me) of Mangalorean traditional delicacies that we both loved yet were hardly prepared in Mangalorean homes today. The reason being that half of Mangalore lives outside Mangalore (including us) and the other half has either abandoned making this tedious fare because it is time consuming or just because the fast food fad has caught up with this generation sooner than they expected.


Well, a great part of why I started this blog lies in the fact that I wanted to invest my time in learning to cook Mangalorean food, traditional or not. Later, as I went along, I realised that there were so many things that I didn't know about Mangalorean food and the different varieties of food that are part of our cultural heritage that is slowly dying down. This great awakening also happened when I read an article in the paper about the Slow Food Movement which lays emphasis on using locally available ingredients and traditional cooking methods to preserve culinary diversity. I was very interested in contributing my bit to this movement and I started exploring everything about my culinary heritage. The Slow Food Movement was started as a resistance to the opening of McDonald's in Rome in 1986 and was officially founded in 1989 "to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people's dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world" - read more


We all know that traditional food has being phased out as generations pass by. The recipes that were handed down from one generation to the other, often got lost as most of them were not written down. Things have gotten very simple today thanks to the internet, scores of recipes are available at the click of a mouse, but yet, many of us simply resort to fit only those foods that suit our fast paced life. Maybe it's time to wake up and smell the roses (not just the coffee), take it easy and prepare something that takes a little more time to cook, but the taste (and health benefits) of which cannot be compared with fast food.

Today's recipe is a typical Mangalorean delicacy loved by Catholics - the offal curry. I quote my friend Michelle of (Food Football and a Baby) who rightly said that we Mangaloreans are a thrifty and frugal lot when it comes to our meat. We use up all the parts (well almost!) of the sheep (mutton) or pig (pork) and the offal or boti as it's called is very popular amongst those who have eaten it. And it is not just us who love offal so much, there are a whole bunch of people and communities across the globe that eat all kinds of odd things. Well, one man's food is another man's poison!This preparation however makes use of just the heart, lungs, windpipe and liver of the sheep - one needs to book it in advance as R did when he went to buy other meat. He had to go again the next day - early in the morning to pick up the best stuff. The preparation time was not as much as I thought, infact, it was easier than making the Botyechi Kadi (Mutton Tripe Curry). My mum used to make excellent offal curry and it was always made during some occasion such as a feast or a birthday. Since I totally love coconut milk based curries, this one has always been one of my favourites.


Mutton Offal Curry (Kaleez/Talvyechi Kadi)
Serves: 5-6
Recipe Source: My mum

You Need:
  • 1 Sheep offal (only heart, lungs, windpipe and liver)
  • 3 medium size potatoes cut into small cubes
  • 1-1/2 coconuts (or about 4 cups freshly grated coconut) or 1 cup thick milk and 2 cups thin milk 
To be pre-cooked with the meat
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2" ginger minced
  • 4 green chillies slit
  • 1" cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • salt to taste
For the masala (to grind)
  • 8 long dry red chillies (Kumti/Bedgi or Kashmiri)
  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1/4 tsp jeera/cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1-1/2" cinnamon 
  • 6-7 cloves
  • 6 cloves of garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 1 level tsp tamarind paste or 2 marble size balls
For the shindaap (cuttings to be fried)
  • 2 large onions finely sliced
  • 12-13 flakes of garlic minced
  • 1 big tomato finely chopped
For seasoning/tempering
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • ghee or oil
Method:
1. Wash the offal well (about 3 times) in clean water . Ensure that blood clots if any are removed (*see note#1). Allow to drain on a colander for at least 20 minutes
2. Cut into large chunks (about half a palm size) and put in a pressure cooker along with all the ingredients mentioned in the 'To be pre-cooked with the meat' section and sprinkle a little water. Close the pressure cooker and place the weight (whistle) and pressure cook on full flame till the first whistle goes off and reduce the flame to sim and continue to cook for a further 15minutes. Turn off the flame, open the cooker, mix well and keep aside till it is cool enough to be handled. Cut the meat into small cubes and keep aside.
3. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in the 'For the masala' section - to a fine paste. Retain the masala water from the mixer jar.
4. Prepare the coconut milk (*see note#2) - In a mixer jar, add the grated coconut and 1 cup warm water and grind it for a few seconds - not to a paste, but to a coarse consistency. Remove the contents onto a thin muslin or bairas cloth and squeeze out the thick milk. Keep aside. Add some more warm water to the coarse coconut and extract twice more to obtain thin milk.
5. In a large thick bottomed pan heat some ghee or oil and fry the shindaap - onions and garlic (mentioned in the 'For the shindaap' section). Allow the onions to turn translucent (pinkish and limp) - fry them on slow flame, take care not to burn them. Add the ground masala and fry for half a minute. Toss in the chopped tomatoes and add a little salt to help the tomatoes turn to paste soon. Fry this mixture on slow flame. Add the masala water from the mixer grinder.
6. Add the cubed offal/meat and mix well. Pour the thick milk milk and cook on slow flame - do not cover the pan (*see note#3). Add the potatoes and cook further. Finally add the thin coconut milk as required (as thick/thin as you need the gravy to be). Cook on medium flame till the curry comes to a full boil. Check salt to taste. Add a little tamarind juice if required.
7. For seasoning/tempering heat some ghee/oil in a small pan and when it is smoking hot toss in the sliced onions and fry till they turn golden brown (do not burn them) - Add this mixture to the gravy and close the cover immediately
8. Serve hot with rice (steamed white or brown/boiled)

Notes:
1. Ensure that while washing the heart and liver you run your fingers firmly over the surface - blood clots if any need to be removed/cleaned otherwise while you cook them, the blood will ooze out.
2. If you wish to make this curry in a jiffy you can simply substitute the whole coconuts with instant coconut milk - You will need 1 cup thick milk and 2 cups of thin milk which you can prepare as follows:
To make 1 cup thick coconut milk use 1 cup (240ml warm water)+6 tbsp instant coconut milk powder
To make 1 cup thin coconut milk use 1 cup (240ml warm water)+3 tbsp instant coconut milk powder
3. Important! While the thick milk is added, it has tendency to curdle quickly if the pan is covered. So cook with the pan uncovered (no lid).



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alun Dento (Traditional Curry of Colocasia & Leafy Greens Stalks) - Novein Jowaan Special

Now that all the festivities have kicked off I see a whole lot of recipes on different blogs pertaining to the celebrations. One can have a gala time in India irrespective of which religion/faith he/she belongs to - almost everybody is celebrating their respective feasts and most commonly the harvest feast is celebrated across most of South India. The first of the season's crop (new crop) is offered to God and a whole lot of celebrations are carried out. In Mangalore, the Catholic community celebrates the harvest feast on the 8th of September which is also the birthday of Mother Mary and is called as the Nativity of The Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM). The term Nativity means 'birth' and hence is also used for the birth of Christ, also popularly known as Christmas. I won't get into the details of Christmas right now as I have a whole bunch of posts for my favourite season which will come in December. For now, let me tell you about the harvest feast as we celebrate it.


In preparation of the celebration (the Nativity of the BVM), nine days of prayers are held prior to the actual day. This is known as the Novena (pronounced as noh-veena) held every evening following the Mass. Small children take baskets full of flowers as an offertory to Mother Mary. When I was little, I would be so excited to come home from school, quickly finish my tea and run off to the garden to pluck the newly bloomed flowers - Jidde (Wild Balsams), Wild Violets, Roses, Glass Flowers (not sure of the botanical name) and Hibiscus to name a few. The entire church would be fragrant with so many flowers. Right after the mass, all of us would gather on the church grounds, form a circle as the choir would sing 'Sakked Sangatha Melyaan' (meaning 'let us all gather with flowers to honour Our Lady) and offer the flowers to Mary in tandem with the song 'Moriyek Hogolsiyaan' (meaning 'let us offer praises to Our Lady). Right after this ceremony, sweets would be distributed and we would eagerly wait for them. Mysore Pak (Mangalorean version), Maalpuri (similar to Mumbai's Malpua), Peda, Khadi, Mithai Laddoo (Boondhi Laddu), Saat, Penuri (a hybrid of the Saat and Jhangri) (see some pictures here) are among the sweets I loved most and those that got distributed. These sweets were usually donated by some kind donors (usually one of the wealthy people from our church) and if we were lucky we got individually wrapped Banana or Wheat Halwa.

Above Pic: Each of the items below are found right above in the curry

On the day of the feast - September 8th, we would rise early to go for Mass and the offering of flowers was held prior to the Mass. My dad used to get some special flowers from the market to fill our baskets with. Jasmine (Kaley, Mallige), Marigold (Shivnthi, Gonde), Crossandra (Abolein/Abbalige/Kanakambara), Daisies and Asters - all of which were sold for a bomb. Right after the Mass we had to assemble in the adjoining church hall or school where the season's fresh Kobu (Sugarcanes) were distributed to the kids. This Kobu Vaantche (distribution of Sugarcanes) programme would always be the most chaotic but also the best as each one of us would vying for the fattest and juiciest Sugarcane of all.

This was also the day when a complete vegetarian meal would be cooked at home. This is called the 'Novein Jowaan' (meaning new meal). Usually the items prepared would be in odd numbers - 5, 7, 9 or 11 items if the one who cooked got really enthusiastic. Cooking was also done in great fervour and before savouring the meal the entire family would gather for prayers - to thank the Almighty for a good harvest and seek His abundant blessings on the family members for the coming year - the prayers would be concluded by singing a hymn and taking a sip of the 'Novein' (which means 'new' in Konkani and also means 'tender or first paddy (rice) of the harvest season'). Novein would be prepared by pounding a few grains of paddy that were blessed and distributed in Church, and mixing them along with milk. I will update this post with the pictures of the Novein shortly.


My mother's menu used to consist of seven standard items such as the Alun Dento (Alun is pronounced nasally and Dento is pronounced 'Dhento'), Sanei Sukhe (Black Chana/Garbanzo beans), Ghosalein (Ridge Gourd) Thel Piau (Oil and Onion style), Karathein (Bitter Gourd) sweet and tangy (with jaggery and tomatoes), Benda Miriyapito (Ladies Finger Pepper), Sanna (Mangalorean Idli) and Jivo Roce (freshly extracted coconut milk sweetened with jaggery and cardamom). After this splendid meal, while the adults retired for an afternoon siesta, the kids used to sit on the porch munching the juicy Sugarcane. These are one of the fondest memories I have of my childhood in Mangalore. I could have thrown in a few more memories here, but I think I have already given you a feel of how this feast is celebrated by Catholics in Mangalore. So why don't we head straight to the recipe now?


Today's recipe is one of the items that is probably made by everyone who celebrate this feast. The Alun Dento is a very traditional vegetarian curry that is famously made on this day if not otherwise. Alun is one of the two varieties of Colocasia differentiated by the dark coloured stalks and leaves. The leaves are used in the preparation of Pathrade/Pathrode (Steamed Rice Cakes) as well. The Dento which essentially means 'stalk/stem' is the stalk of a particular variety of the leafy greens that grows 4-5 ft tall - Dento Baji as we call it. The Alun and the Dento together come to make this lovely gravy.

Alun Dento
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 3 stalks (Dente) of the leafy greens (approx 1-1/2 foot each) * see notes
  • 6 small Colocasia (Alun) stems (approx 1 foot each)
  • 3 small ambade (hog plums)
  • 1/2 tsp tamarind paste (optional)ngy)
For the masala
  • 2 short dry red chillies (Harekala)
  • 3 long dry red chillies (Kumti/Bedgi)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 2 pinches of turmeric (haldi)
  • 1 level tsp mustard (rai)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (Indian) with skin
  • 1 small onion (lime size)
  • 1-1/2 - 2 packed cups of freshly grated coconut * see notes
  • salt to taste
For the seasoning
  • 2-3 tsp coconut oil (preferably)
  • 1 small onion finely sliced
Method:
1. Wash the stalks thoroughly. Remove the roots if any of the leafy green stalks (Dento). Remove the fibre (outer skin) of the Colocasia stalks and cut into pieces of about 1cm. Boil the Colocasia stalks with a little water, salt to taste and the hog plums for about 7-8 minutes - this is because the Colocasia is itchy and hence the pre-boiling with hog plums or tamarind. Cook the leafy green stalks in sufficient water and salt till tender. Place both these types of stalks in a vessel.
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala' to a paste. Add this masala to the pre cooked stalks. Add the masala water and bring the gravy to a boil. If you prefer a tangy gravy, add the tamarind paste and mix well. Cook for a few minutes
3. In another pan heat the coconut oil and toss in the sliced onion and fry till golden in colour. Add this seasoning to the boiling gravy. Turn off the flame and cover the pan
4. Serve hot with Sanna or Rice


Notes:
1. The size of the stalks of Alun and Dento are approximate. If you have prepared it earlier you will know the quantity that is required.
2. Ideally a fresh/tender coconut is used for this preparation. By tender, i do not mean the green one sold as tender coconut for its water. The one to be used here is ideally the one where the outer husk is greenish but not too tender and inside the white flesh is juicy and the water hasn't dried up (which means that the coconut is aged).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Uddina Vade / Medhu Vada (Black Gram Lentil Fritters)

Everything I eat has been proved by some doctor or other to be a deadly poison, and everything I don't eat has been proved to be indispensable for life. But I go marching on. ~ George Bernard Shaw


The above quote was just too cute to have not been shared although I have made a conscious effort to eat healthy. It is very important for a food blogger like me (who has a tendency to drool over recipes, try them immediately and gobble up most of it alone) to keep a tight watch on what I eat. I have battled with weight issues since I moved to Mumbai after my marriage and had a crazy work schedule to deal with which left me with no time for healthy cooking and I gave in to a lot of temptation (sweets & junk food). Then came motherhood which made sure the extra kilos stayed on forever. Staying healthy is also a big effort and challenge for a foodie like me who has led a carefree lifestyle in Mangalore - gorging on anything & everything and still being able to stay decently fit (if not slim). 

So now, thanks to a city life I have to be extra careful of the method and medium of cooking. I don't deep fry too often (maybe once a month at the most) but then a South Indian breakfast is incomplete without the Uddina Vade also famously known as Medhu Vada in the North. And what good is life if you cannot indulge in your favourite food once in a while? And while you are at it, you may as well enjoy it to the hilt, isnt it? 

Uddina Vade/Medhu Vadas are simply Black Gram Dal fritters. You can call them the Indian doughnut, savoury ones to be precise. Crispy on the outside and fluffy inside with an occasional bit of green chilli or curry leaf to bite into. These Vadas are my husband's favourite - especially the ones we get in small hotels in Mangalore. So crispy while they are hot and accompanied by the most delicious Sambhar. Sometimes they are even paired with Idlis making it the most delightful & complete breakfast! (Steamed (Idlis), Deep Fried (Vadas), Cooked (Sambhar) & Uncooked (Chutney))


It's funny how the Black Gram Dal is actually white - but this is just because this Dal is the split lentil and the whole lentil has a black skin to it. The use of Urad Dal is quite common in South Indian houses as it finds itself in the preparation of Idlis and Dosas, Papads (poppadums) besides being used for tempering/seasoning curries & other dishes. Urad Dal is a good source of protein, iron, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin B. 


Uddina Vada/Medhu Vada:
Yield 10-12 small vadas

You Need:
  • 1 cup urad dal/uddina bele/black gram dal
  • 1/3rd cup chana dal/kadale bele/bengal gram dal
  • 1 long green chilli finely chopped
  • 4-5 curry leaves/kadipatta finely chopped
  • 1 pinch hing/asafoetida
  • 2 pinches soda-bi-carb (baking/cooking soda)
  • salt to taste

Method:
1. Wash and soak the dals overnight (or for 6-8 hours). Drain all the water before grinding them to a almost fine paste (slightly coarse texture). Avoid using water to grind as your batter needs to be dry enough to enable you to make a hole in the centre before dropping them into the hot oil
2. Add the chopped chilli, curry leaves, hing, soda-bi-carb and salt to taste to the ground batter.
3. Heat sufficient oil for deep frying in a heavy bottomed wide pan or kadhai (wide enough to be able to fry at least 3-4 vadas at a time). When the oil is smoking hot, reduce the flame to medium high. 
4. Place approx lemon size portion of batter on your palm, wet your fingers with some cold water and gently make a hole in the centre of the batter using your thumb. Slowly slide this batter into the hot oil - place your palm comfortably close to the oil or else the hot oil will spash/splutter if you drop the batter from a height - so be careful! 
5. Repeat the process to make another 2-3 vadas (or as many as your pan can accommodate) as mentioned in step#4. Use a slotted ladle to gently flip the vadas over so that they fry well on both sides to a golden brown. This can take a minute or so.
6. Remove carefully and place it on a kitchen tissue. Do not cover immediately as the steam will turn them soggy. Serve hot with Sambhar and/or Coconut Chutney (especially the Coconut & Roasted Chana Dal Chutney)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dried Shrimp Chutney (Galmbyachi Chetni)

Dried Shrimp is quite a famous delicacy amongst fish lovers across the globe. So also in Mangalore where it is usually eaten during the Monsoons when fresh fish is unavailable as boats often do not venture out for fishing into the rough sea. While dried fish has it's own varieties, the most commonly available one being the dried Shark fish (which is chunky with a rubbery skin), Shrimp is just a class apart. We Catholic's call it Galmbo in Konkani and it is customary to make the Galmbyachi Chetni/Chutney at least once during the Monsoons. 

For those of you who are new to this, Shrimp is almost similar to Prawns but the difference is not in its size as commonly assumed, but in the gill structure. Dried Shrimp is nothing but Shrimp that is sun dried and shrunk to thumb size. It is frequently used in South East Asian cuisine and almost all of coastal cuisine, so little doubt that Mangalore loves it too. Shrimp Chutney tastes heavenly when eaten with Congee (Kanji/Rice gruel) and this is probably one of the simplest of all meals.


Today, we live in the era of refrigerators and deep freezers which help us store food for longer periods of time. Seasonal foods are no longer restricted to seasons as fresh food is imported from other places and made available to us in supermarkets. But in the olden days, people used to prepare for the Monsoons much  in advance. Fruits and vegetables that have a longer shelf life (especially Ash Gourds, Madras Cucumbers, Snake Gourds, Garlic and Onions) were often tied up in ropes and hung from the ceiling in a special area or hallway near the kitchen. In Konkani these long hallways are often called as 'Sopo' - houses were often similarly designed, so every house in Mangalore had an open portico, the beams and roof supported by two pillars at the entrance. The portico would be thin strips of seating area with parapets and the main door right in the centre that led to the main living room. The kitchen area, dining area, bathrooms, store rooms and the 'Sopo' would often be on the left side of the living room and the bedrooms on the right side of the living room. So you see, if you entered anyone's home, you knew exactly how the layout was and you could head straight to one's kitchen to see what was cooking!

First Pic: Dried Shrimp before being washed. Second Pic: Dried Shrimp, washed and then dry roasted on a griddle/tawa

It is also important to note that the earlier generations used to have a house full of people - a few adults and at least a dozen kids, so it was technically impossible to feed such a battalion of people grand things every day. Congee was served almost everyday for breakfast or at least dinner and Shrimp was also one of the accompaniments served along with it apart from a host of other condiments such as chutneys, pickles, preserves and papads (poppadoms). So, the dried Shrimp formed part of the condiments that were regularly stored and found in kitchens all year round.

We had a yummy and simple meal a couple of days ago - brown rice congee served with this chutney, the combination and taste was simply heavenly!


Dried Shrimp Chutney
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 50gm dried shrimp/jawla/galmbo
  • 3/4th small coconut grated (or about 1-1/4 packed cups of grated coconut) (*see note)
For the masala
  • 5-6 dry red chillies (*see note)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera)
  • 2 pinches of turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 1/2 or 1 level tsp tamarind paste (or to taste)
  • salt to taste (just a little as the shrimp already has salt in it)
For the tempering/seasoning
  • 1 small onion finely sliced
  • oil for frying
Method:
1. Wash the shrimp carefully and squeeze it dry (or place on a fine slotted colander/sieve) and drain. Dry roast it for a couple of minutes on a tawa on a slow flame until it lets out a nice aroma. Keep aside. Dry roast the coconut the coconut on the same tawa till again it lets out a nice aroma and then mix the two.
2. Dry grind the red chillies, cumin and turmeric to a powder. Add the tamarind paste and the coconut and shrimp mixture and swirl the mixer for a few seconds. (Add just about 2 tsp water just to get the mixer jar moving). Do not grind it fine. It should remain coarse (shrimp should be coarsely crushed and not ground). Remove the chutney in a bowl.
3. Heat some oil in another pan and fry the sliced onions till golden brown. Add them to the shrimp chutney. Serve with piping hot Rice Congee/Kanji/Pez

Notes
You can increase the shrimps upto 100gm if you like a strong taste of shrimp. If you like it 'coconut-y' then add more coconut. Ideally for 50gm shrimps, 1 packed cup of grated coconut works fine. You can use the proportions as per your choice, just ensure you adjust the spice level accordingly



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Aate Ka Halwa (Whole Wheat Halwa)

Now that we are almost done with the Monsoons and the festivities have begun, there is going to be a whole lot of indulgence - mainly of sweets. While I have been browsing the lovely blogs of my fellow bloggers, I found a whole bunch of recipes which are keeping the festivities in mind. It is not only the Holy month of Ramadan that is being observed by Muslims right now but also several Hindu devotees are fasting in preparation of the upcoming festival season. This of course calls for some good and nutritious food and I found a lot of blog events (which I was excited to be a part of) that challenged bloggers to think of and post a whole variety of food ideas that would appeal to all. One such event is the Blog Hop Wednesdays hosted by Radhika of Tickling Palates where an interested participant is paired with a random blogger every alternate Wednesday and this pair has to pick one recipe from their partner's blog, try it out and post the recipe. This week I have been paired with Neha of 'From My Heart'. Neha is a new blogger on the block with a lovely collection of recipes. A Dentist by profession turned into a Stay-At-Home-Mom just like me to look after her little son. When I browsed through her collection I just couldn't decide which recipe I should try as they were a lot of yummy dishes on display but then you see, the sweet tooth won hands down!


Today's recipe is a simple, quick and tasty Halwa made out of whole wheat flour. Since I am a big fan of sweets (new fan to be precise - I've never liked sweets till the time I was expecting my son) I picked this healthy sweet dish that can be had guilt free (well almost) especially during this festive season. I say, almost guilt free because sweets by nature are not good if eaten in excess, but then what good is a feast if you cannot indulge in your favourite sweetmeats??

Whole wheat needs no introduction. It is extensively used in Indian cooking especially in the preparation of  Indian flat breads such as Rotis, Chapathis and Parathas to name a few. Although I had only heard about the Aate Ka Halwa, I had never eaten it before. Down South the Sheera or Sooji Ka Halwa as it's called in the North is very famous. Sheera is prepared with Semolina (Rawa - broken wheat) and since it is my favourite sweet preparation which I like to have for breakfast or tea I decided that Aate Ka Halwa was a must try! I was very impressed with the result. It is a wholesome and nutritious sweet especially for kids as it is loaded with the goodness of wheat, ghee and dry fruits. The sweetness is subtle so you wont feel so guilty :-)


Aate Ka Halwa
Yield: 8 mini tart moulds

You Need
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (aata)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water *see note
  • 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter)
  • 10-15 almonds slivered
Method:
1. Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and toss in the almond slivers. Fry well on a low heat and add the flour. Fry it for a few minutes, stirring continuously. Do not allow the flour to burn
2. Add the 2 cups of water and the sugar and stir. The mixture will thicken and come together in the form of a ball. Cook for about 2 minutes.
3. Serve in bowls or in tart moulds if you prefer a design. Garnish with almond slivers and serve hot


Note:
If you like it a bit rich you can use 1 cup of water and 1 cup of milk instead of 2 cups of water.



Monday, August 15, 2011

Independence Day Special ~ Carrot & Spinach Layered Rice

Aloft the banner's flying O'er ancient Hindustan
Ye Saffron, White and Green proclaiming freedom's sweetest morn
March on ye sons of freedom, unto your destiny
To build a glorious kingdom, of peace and happiness
To strive and build a kingdom where dwelleth righteousness
Arise, awake ye millions, ye sons of Hindustan
Keep on the constant vigilance to guard the freedom won
Wage on a ceaseless battle O'er hunger and on greed
Truth's splendour let bedazzle dark legions that surround
Silence the sabre's rattle yet fight the foes around

God bless the Indian Union, Bless thou our motherland
Grant us the help to serve the million Of this ancient land
Thou Lord of all creation, we praise Thy Holy Name
Preserve us as Thy nation to serve Thee ever more
Throughout all generations, to serve Thee ever more

These are the words from one of my school's anthems which we used to sing everyday during the morning assembly. I used to take great pride while we then sang the National Anthem right at the end of the assembly - Jana Gana Mana. My heart still swells up in pride when I listen to this anthem today - most of which is played in cinema halls of multiplex theatres before the movie begins. I am glad it is a mandatory thing - it is important not just to stand in attention listening to the soulful anthem being rendered out by competent singers, but also to remember the scores of freedom fighters - famous or not - those whose brave deeds are not remembered although they are very much a part of our history. It is also a moment to remember the thousands of soldiers in present times who still protect our borders and make it safe for us to have a good night's sleep. It is also to remember our country's leaders, special security forces and police, people who have taken India to greater heights ~ every person who in all earnestness makes us proud to be Indians.


Keeping this special day in mind, I tried the 3 layer rice from Tarla Dalal's website which I had bookmarked long ago but never got around trying it. The 3 colours represent the tricoloured flag of India - the three horizontal bands on the Indian National flag - Saffron, White and Green - that represent Courage and Sacrifice, Peace and Truth and Faith and Chivalry respectively. The Ashoka Chakra at the centre represents the Eternal Wheel of Law.


This colourful rice makes for a lovely meal. The Carrots that represent the Saffron colour of the flag is a rich source of vitamins for the skin, nails and eyes. The White Rice that represents the White colour of the flag is a wonderful comfort food and a great source of carbohydrates that gives us fast and instant energy to carry out our daily tasks. The Spinach and Peas that represent the Green colour of the flag are powerhouses of nutrition. Spinach is rich in vitamin C and K, fibre, calcium, folic acid and iron. Peas are high in lutein, protein, magnesium and fibre.


Carrot and Spinach Layered Rice
Serves 2-3

You Need:
For the Rice layer
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
For the Spinach layer
  • 2-1/4 packed cups of chopped Spinach (Palak)
  • 3/4 cups boiled green peas (I used frozen peas)
  • 3 medium sized green chillies chopped
  • 1/2 cup or a medium sized onion chopped
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
For the Carrot Layer
  • 1-1/2 cups grated carrot
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste 
For Baking
  • 2 tbsp grated cheese (optional) - I used grated Parmesan
Method:
To Make the Rice:
1. Cook the rice in sufficient water and salt to taste - cook till almost done (90%) - I use Kohinoor Basmati rice and I cooked it for about 8 minutes. Drain the water and keep aside
2. Heat oil in a wok or large pan and fry the jeera for a few seconds. Add the cooked rice, salt to taste and mix gently. Keep aside.



To Make the Spinach Layer:
1. Cook the spinach with 2 tbsp of water and when cooked, drain any excess water.
2. Heat oil in a wok or pan and fry the onions till they turn pink. Add the spinach, green peas, green chillies and salt to taste mix well and cook for a couple of minutes. Turn off flame and keep aside

To Make the Carrot Layer:
1. Heat oil in a pan and fry the caraway seeds. Add the grated carrots and 2 tbsp water. Add the curry powders and salt and fry a bit. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Turn off the flame and keep aside.

To Assemble:
1. Grease a 7" baking dish (I used Borosil glass bakeware) with 1/2 tsp olive oil. Layer the base with half the rice. Add the spinach and peas mixture as the second layer. Add another layer of the remaining rice and finish off with the carrot layer on top. Garnish with grated cheese.
2. Bake in a preheated oven at 220C for 20minutes
3. Serve hot with Raita





Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dalitoy/Dali Tove (Konkani Style Spiced Lentil Broth)

If you are a Mangalorean then the Dalitoy needs no introduction. But for those who are not, well, it is a quintessential Konkani style Dal made in almost every Konkani household without fail and savoured with a lot of passion - as much as Dal is loved in Northern India. When I talk of 'Konkani' cuisine, it is not to be confused with the Konkani language which is spoken in different dialects along the Coast of India (Konkan Region) and in Mangalore is spoken by the Catholics and Hindus (GSBs and non GSBs) - in dialects that slightly differ from each other. These Konkani speaking Hindus are popularly known as Konkanis or Konkanas in Mangalore.



The Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas) which is used to prepare Dalitoy is probably the most sought after type of Dal across the world. Almost every kitchen has a stock of it at least in small quantities. Also, irrespective of the type of cuisine and cultural, ethnic differences that span our country, the Lentils or Dals as they are called are probably the most common item to be found in a majority of houses. Even in South India, you are bound to find one type of Dal being cooked everyday especially if it's a vegetarian household.

Since I have grown with a whole bunch of Konkani neighbours and friends I have always liked the Dalitoy or Dali Tove (pronounced as 'Tho-way). The best tasting Tove is always home made, fresh and piping hot. A typical Konkani thali (meal plate) usually includes steamed white rice, Dalitoy, one or two types of vegetables (curry or stir fry style), occasionally seafood (fried or spicy dry dish), pickles and happal (Poppadums/Papads made of Urad Dal or Red Chillies) or shendige/sandige (Sabudana/Tapioca Pearl Vadis/Odis/Fritters)


What is distinctly different about the Dalitoy is the predominant fragrance and flavour of the Asafoetida (Hing) and the different flavours brought in by the green chillies, curry leaves and dry red chillies in a coconut oil seasoning - the combination of these flavours is so simple yet so mind blowing that every Konkani worth his salt loves this dish. While Turmeric is an optional ingredient, the natural colour of the Dal - a beautiful pale yellow is also what sets this Dal apart from other preparations.

While it is enjoyed every day as a part of a simple & delicious meals that are had at home, it is savoured in great delight and reverence to Lord Venkataramana during the annual Car Festival that takes place around January every year. The Car Festival called as Theru in Konkani and Rathothsava in Kannada revolves around the celebrations of placing the diety in a gigantic Ratha (a wooden palanquin or palkhi) decorated in red and white which is then hauled across the city by devotees. The celebrations which usually last for 5 days is partaken by devotees with great fervour & enthusiasm. Devotees from the length & breadth of the city & outskirts attend the celebrations and it is said that most of the matchmaking happens during the time. Well dressed men in their traditional dhoti attire are complimented by good looking women dressed in fine Sarees & gold jewellery looking all the more resplendent - as beautiful as brides. This is also a time for families to meet as even those living outside Mangalore tend to come to attend the celebrations.


During the Theru people participate in Pujas at the Sri Venkataramana temple situated at Car Street also formally known as Temple Square & partake of the Prasada Naivedya by way of meals that is similar to the Langar served at the Sikh Gurudwaras. Dalitoy that is one of the items that is served during the simple meal is believed to be the best. Little doubt then that the Dalitoy which has found its way on the menu of the Prasadam, must also be a favourite food of the Gods


Dalitoy
Recipe Courtesy: Vidya Nayak Shenoy
Serves 3

You Need:
  • 1 cup toor/tuvar dal (split pigeon peas/torichi daal, togri bele)
  • 1 button size ball of soft Hing (asafoetida)
  • 3 green chillies slit (adjust the number as per taste)
  • salt to taste
For the tempering/seasoning/tadka:
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 2 tsp oil (coconut oil preferably)
Garnishing (optional)
  • 2 tsp chopped coriander leaves
Method:
1. Wash the Toor dal well and pressure cook with sufficient water & 2 green chillies for about 15 minutes (on a slow flame). Turn off, wait for the whistle (weight) to turn loose, remove and churn the dal using a blender or food processor. Add a little water to adjust the consistency
2. Place the dal back on the fire, add salt to taste and the hing dissolved in a little water. Bring the dal to a boil
3. In another pan heat 2 tsp coconut oil and add the mustard, when they splutter add the curry leaves and broken red chillies and toss them about. Do not allow the chillies to burn. Immediately add this seasoning to the dal and cover. Turn off the flame and serve piping hot with rice.


Probably one of the best combinations in the world - White Rice, Dalitoy & Spicy Clam Sukka (click for recipe)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spicy Clam Sukka (Kube Sukhe - Mangalorean Protestant Style)

Now that my little fellow has started going to school I have finally been able to establish a daily routine at home. Something I was never able to do earlier was plan my weekly meals - I knew it would make a huge difference to the way my week unfolded, but I simply could not come up with meal ideas and put together a weekly plan. However, now that I need to not only plan what we eat everyday as a family, I need to rack my brains daily to figure out what healthy stuff goes into the little fella's lunch box (or mid morning snack - whatever!) I managed the first week by being typically lazy and packing off fancy stuff like biscuits and stuff and most of it promptly came back uneaten as if to rebel against a lazy mom. I realised pretty soon that there was no way I was going to wake up at 6.30am everyday and spend those precious minutes in the morning breaking my head over what to make for the day. Thankfully, now that I have forced myself to think ahead and chalk out the weekly menu keeping in mind our diet restrictions, favourites and healthy must-have's, I am able to shop accordingly, save time & minimise wastages. Once I have planned I then go about collecting recipes for what I plan to make. When I went to the market this time, I found Clams and I knew instantly what I was going to make with them as I had already collected recipes for the way. Life is so much simpler now!



This recipe yet again is given by my dear friend Jenifer and she makes the traditional way how it is made in Mangalore by Protestant Missionary Christians. Most of their food is a notch higher on the spice meter vis-a-vis Catholic cuisine which has a large influence of Goan/Portugues food where spice ranges from mellow to moderately spicy and has many a dish which is slightly sweet or bland


I have also mentioned in my previous posts that I do try & plan my weekly menu in such a way that I incorporate different cooking styles and cuisines, so I try & have a day for each type of cuisine. Mondays is usually a Mangalorean Food Day where I try out recipes from other communities of Mangalore - so this time it was Clam Sukka and Dalitoy (recipe to follow) which is a typical Konkani style thick Dal spiced with chillies, flavoured with asafoetida (hing) and seasoned with curry leaves & mustard - The whole combination of these two dishes was simply superb! The combo needs a standing ovation I must say. Lunch & dinner was finished off in no time - no conversations were held, none entertained - only complete concentration on what was on the plate, thorough enjoyment of a meal so simple - satisfaction guaranteed!


Spicy Clam Sukka (Kube Sukhe - Mangalorean Protestant Style)
Serves 2-3

You Need
  • 85-100 clams/cockles
  • 1/4 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 onion finely sliced
  • 4-5 curry leaves/kadipatta
  • oil for frying
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 onion roughly chopped
  • 3 tsp bafat powder (* see note)
  • 1 level tsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic
Method:
1. Clean the clams well - If the shells are clamped up tight then just place them in the freezer for 30mins - 1hr after which bring it to room temperature and pour warm water over them. Keep aside for 15-20minutes - all of them will open up automatically. Discard the empty shell of each clam and rinse 2-3 times in clean water. Allow to drain.
2. In a non stick pan or tawa dry roast the the grated coconut, chopped onion till the raw smell goes away. Toss in the bafat powder (or spice) powders and give it a stir or two before turning off the flame. Grind these ingredients coarsely along with the tamarind, ginger & garlic and a little water (ensure that the masala is not finely ground - just a swirl or two for a few seconds and its done)
3. In a pan heat the oil and toss in the mustard, when they splutter add the curry leaves and stir it once before adding the sliced onions. Fry them till golden brown and add the coarsely ground masala and fry for another 2 minutes on a slow flame.
4. Add the clams (from the mixer jar) and check salt to taste - be moderate with salt as clams are usually salty. Cook on slow flame for 10-12 minutes adding the small quantities of water as required.
5. Serve hot with rice and dal

Note:
  • If you do not have bafat powder you can use a blend of red chilli powder (abt 1 tsp)+ coriander powder (3/4th tsp) + 2 pinches each of cumin powder, pepper powder & turmeric powder

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Breadfruit & Dal Curry (Deeviso Guzo Ani Dhal Ghaln Kadi)

The Breadfruit is almost an alien vegetable to those who live in the northern hemisphere of our country. It looks like a close cousin of the Jackfruit & belongs to the Mulberry family. It is found in tropical climate and a very famous and much loved vegetable at that in Mangalore. I am not sure if it is commercially grown today but as far as I know most of the Breadfruits found in Mangalore are usually sourced from people who still have the tree growing in their backyards and owing to this even the smallest of Breadfruits sell like hot cakes at exorbitant prices. Most times this fruit is destroyed by birds even before it can be plucked and does not have a long shelf life which makes it all the more dear. 

The Breadfruit unlike the Jackfruit is cooked when it is still raw (it doesn't ripen) and is counted amongst vegetables than fruits. The term 'bread' is probably given to it as it has this mealy potato like taste to it and is dense in texture that can be sliced like a bread and if baked can taste like freshly baked bread.


Breadfruit or Deeviso Guzo/ Jeev Kadgi as it's called in Konkani (Jeegujje in Kannada, Nirphanas in Marathi and Bakri Chajhar in Hindi) is not only relished in South India but is also much loved across South East Asia & the Pacific Ocean islands and its botanical name is Artocarpus Altilis (phew! - we are better off calling it the Breadfruit, aren't we?). 

It tastes best when fried - the breadfruit cut into vertical slices & coated in a simple Meet Mirsang (Salt & Chilli) marination. The fruit is also cut into cubes/chunks and cooked in a stir fry style with grated coconut, spice powders and tomato to flavour a dry dish which is eaten as a side dish/accompaniment to the main dish of the day. When I was a child we were often given free Deeviso Guzo by our generous Brahmin neighbours - the Bhats who had 2-3 trees in their yard yielding many fat & round Breadfruits enough to fulfill their family's needs and those of their neighbours. The master of the house would call out instructions every morning to his house help to go & pluck the best Breadfruits - they would then pluck them using a 'Thenkdi'/ Dhonti (A thin long Bamboo stick with a sickle tied at one end) which was an indispensable houshold tool with a variety of uses especially to pluck fruits in the garden. There was a lot of fun that was derived from this simple act, the more the merrier. Anyway, gone are those days.

Even today when I go to visit my mum, the kind old gentleman comes to say hello carrying a basket with at least 3-4 large Breadfruits which I carry back with me to Mumbai as if they were gifts of gold (although we do get tiny ones here occasionally which cost a bomb). The taste of fried slices of the Breadfruit is par excellence and is on the list of favourites of every Mangalorean I am sure. The vegetarians relish it as much as the fish eaters relish fried fish and the fish eaters of course relish it just as much. 


The best Breadfruit is the one which has a pale green colour on the outside with a rugged surface - almost like the Jackfruit skin but without the 'thorns' A good Breadfruit is one that makes a 'wholesome' noise when you tap it and is very mealy or 'Peet' (roughly meaning 'doughy') in Konkani. Breadfruits are best eaten when freshly plucked and when it is intact without any bruises caused by hungry birds trying to feed on it or if it has fallen during the plucking session. This is one reason why the Breadfruits I get here in Mumbai have already started to decline in taste and colour of its skin from the time it was plucked and sold in the markets. So I don't have the picture of the prettiest looking Breadfruit




Breadfruit & Dal Curry
Serves 5-6

You Need:
  • 1 small size breadfruit/deeviso guzo/Jee Gujje (about 300gm)
  • 100gm toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 1 level tsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 large onions sliced fine
  • oil or ghee for frying
For the masala
  • 6 long dry red chillies (Kumti/Bedgi)
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp chana dal (Bengal gram)
  • pinch of hing (asafoetida) (optional)
  • 1 cup grated coconut (or half a coconut grated)
For the seasoning/tempering
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 1 tbsp oil or ghee
Method:
1. Wash & cut the breadfruit into half (vertically) and remove the skin gently. Grease your palms with a little oil to help you work with the sap (if any) around the pith. Cut into quarters, remove the pith and cut into small chunks. Wash the Toor dal and pressure cook with sufficient water and a little salt for about 2 whistles. Set aside
3. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat some oil or ghee and roast the ingredients mentioned in 'For the masala'. Grind to a fine paste using a little water
4. In another pan add the tamarind water, breadfruit chunks, turmeric powder, sliced onions, salt to taste and some water & cook it on slow fire till the breadfruit is tender (but not mushy). Add to this the ground masala and the precooked Toor dal and the dal water if required to achieve a gravy consistency. Check salt and bring the curry to a boil
5. Season the curry with the seasoning for which you need to heat some oil in a pan and toss in the mustard - when they splutter, add the curry leaves and add this mixture to the curry.
6. Serve hot with rice




Friday, August 5, 2011

Coconut & Roasted Chana Dal Chutney

I love a hearty South Indian breakfast, so I go that extra mile to make the traditional breakfast that I've grown up eating - Idli, Dosa, Appam, Sanna, Panpolay, Mutli  - aah, what is life without them? But then if you want to have a proper breakfast then it is also important to team it up with the right accompaniment. South Indian breads (as mentioned above) are usually fermented (except Neer Dosa & Mutli/Dumplings) and when served with a piping hot Sambhar (spiced  & seasoned mixed vegetable broth) or a coconut chutney feels like a complete breakfast providing the body with the right nourishment to kick start one's metabolism. 


Since we usually rush through the mornings, I don't quite prepare both the Sambhar & the Chutney (although I'd love to do that someday), so usually I make a simple Coconut & Coriander Chutney or the Curry Leaves (Kadipatta) Chutney, but I recently tasted this Roasted Chana Dal Chutney that adds that extra taste that roasted gram imparts. It was made by my friend's Cook and we liked it instantly. I tried to make it at home by modifying the ingredients each time that I tried it and it has been my husband's favourite ever since so I find myself trying this more often these days - or until I find another new recipe :-)


Coconut & Roasted Chana Dal Chutney
You Need:
  • 1/2 cup or 1 fistful grated coconut
  • 1-1/2 tbsp chana dal (Bengal gram)
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 2 tbsp sour curds (yoghurt)
Method:
On a hot tawa lightly roast the chana dal - do not brown them too much or they will taste bitter. Grind all the ingredients above to a coarse texture. Add boiled & cooled water only to assist grinding or to adjust consistency.
Serve with dosa, appams, sanna or neer dosa