Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prawn Masala Fry - When The Hubby Cooks

For those who relish seafood, prawns and crabs top the list. People who attempt eating seafood for the first time don't usually go wrong if they try prawns first. I know this for a fact as many of my North Indian friends gorge on prawns whenever they visit coastal places especially Goa. Being a fish eating Mangalorean, prawns should ideally be a part of my regular menu - but they are not. I gave up prawns (and crabs) during my school days as I developed a severe allergy which only aggravated over the years. The symptoms are many and a lot of people including hubby dear think that it's such a pity that I don't get to enjoy them especially when we eat out at restaurants that specialize in delicacies such as king prawn fry or tandoori crabs or lobsters even. I for one, have never regretted or missed not being able to eat the most prized catch. I can satisfy myself with the rest of what the seas have to offer. Or there's always chicken, isn't it? The safest bet in any restaurant almost anywhere in the world. 


It is just since last year that I have started popping a prawn or two in my mouth - to see if my body is ready to accept them yet. The first few attempts with crabs didn't go down too well, but I think in a couple of years I should be able to eat prawns although I don't relish them anymore. If not eat them, I wan't to be able to cook them for my boys. So now you know why prawns have never featured on my blog despite the fact that I simply love seafood. It's the man who buys, cleans, cooks and eats them alone - until the little boy was born. Now it's the two of them giving each other the much required company in the prawn eating paradise.


This is probably the only post where I cannot describe the experience of having cooked the dish myself or relished it simply because from start to finish the hubby was involved. However, I did let my other senses enjoy the experience. While touch & taste took a backseat, the aroma of the freshly fried prawns was simply wonderful and appetizing. The colour of the masala was a feast for the eyes and the sound of the prawns sizzling away signaled the taste buds to salivate. I am sure you will have a wholesome experience of enjoying these prawns to the last bite. I hope to try these sometime in the future. Till then it's just the pictures for me!

PS: 'A prawn recipe' got the maximum number of votes in a poll I conducted this week on my Facebook page when I asked what readers wanted to see next on the blog. Do join me there for some more interaction, chit chat & recipe requests!


Prawn Masala Fry
Preparation time: 5 mins | Marinating time: 10mins | Cooking time: 10mins | Serves: 2

You Need:

  • 15 medium sized prawns cleaned
  • 2-3 tsp (or to taste) bafat powder
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
  • 3/4th tsp ginger paste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp (approx) vinegar or 1 tsp thick tamarind juice
  • 2-3 tsp rice flour/powder (adjust according to the masala required)
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut oil
  • salt to taste
  • 3 sprigs (approx 30 leaves) kadipatta/curry leaves

Method:
1. Marinate the prawns with the salt, bafat powder, jeera powder, ginger-garlic paste, vinegar (or tamarind juice), rice flour, 1 tbsp oil and 1 sprig of curry leaves finely chopped. Keep aside for 10-15minutes.
2. In a frying pan put the marinated prawns with 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame to a medium high and let the prawns cook until the masala thickens. Leave the pan uncovered.
3. Transfer the prawns and its masala to one side of the pan and in the center of the pan pour the remaining 2 tbsp oil and the curry leaves (do not chop). Let the oil heat up a bit and then mix everything together and simmer for 2-3 minutes till the oil separates from the masala. When masala turns semi thick turn off the flame. If you don't need a thick masala continue to simmer/fry for another 2 minutes so that the masala fries some more.
4. Serve hot with rice or Neer Dosa


Above pic: Prawns sizzling away on the frying pan!

Note:
Another way of making the masala is to use meet-mirsaang (puli munchi). Ensure that you check for salt and vinegar before adding more as the meet-mirsaang is prepared with these two ingredients.
Instead of rice flour you can use rice batter (from left over neer dosa batter).
You may also pulse the mixture in a grinder along with the curry leaves instead of chopping them

Monday, May 28, 2012

Aloo Paratha (Whole Wheat Flatbread with a Potato Filling)

My earliest association with parathas (the delicious ones) was in Bangalore when I used to stay at a particular service apartment while on work in the city. The caretaker cum cook used to dole out such deliciously filling parathas for breakfast - each served piping hot straight from the tawa that I used to lose count of the number of parathas I stuffed myself with. I turned a blind eye to the copious amounts of ghee that was responsible for those extra kilos that tipped the weighing scale a few days later - such was the taste. Anyway, I always believe that if someone else is taking the effort of feeding you and all you have to do is walk into the dining room like royalty and wait for food to appear on your plate, then its ok to turn a blind eye and not worry about health sometimes.


If Biryani is a one pot meal paratha in my opinion is a one-tawa meal :-) The goodness of a mixture of ingredients give you a filling, nutritious meal. While the paratha used to be the domain of the North Indian kitchen a few years ago, it has now been accepted by almost every kitchen in India. Just like how the idli and dosa find themselves in the Punjabi kitchens and are relished at breakfast, the paratha has found a permanent place on my menu in my Mangalorean kitchen. Parathas are a quick way to get breakfast on the table - at least I think so. They also double up as a mid morning snack or a perfect lunch box item for kids. My son simply loves parathas and the only one I have attempted so far is the Nutritious Parathas with spinach, potatoes and carrots.


I am part of a food group on Facebook that hosts weekly recipe challenges and this week's challenge is different type of paratha recipes. I am so looking forward to all the delicious recipes that the members are going to upload this week. The credit for this recipe goes to one of the members - Reshma Chander who shares some fabulous recipes on the group. Thank you so much Reshma!!


Aloo Paratha
Prep time: 15mins | Cooking time: 15mins | Makes 6-7 parathas | Serves : 2-3 people

You Need:
For the dough
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup blend of flours (I used maize flour & soya flour)
  • 1/2 cup (approx) warm water to knead
  • salt to taste
For the filling
  • 2 (smallish) medium sized potatoes boiled, skinned & mashed
  • 1 inch ginger finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (packed) coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 1 pinch red chilli powder
  • 1 pinch cumin/jeera powder
  • 1/4 tsp amchur (dry mango) powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp chaat masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • salt to taste 
Method:
1. In a wide bowl add the flours and salt and mix well. Use half the water and incorporate. Keep adding the water and knead into a smooth pliable dough ball. Cover and keep aside for at least 20-30minutes - this helps in achieving an soft elastic dough.
2. In another bowl blend all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the filling'. Mix well and keep aside. You can make 8-10 lime sized portions/balls and keep it ready.
3. Dust a dry working surface/wooden board with a little flour. Pinch out 8-10 medium sized portions from the dough. Roll one into a smooth ball and flatten it on the board with a rolling pin into a medium poori size. Place the ball of filling in the centre of the dough leaving enough gap on the sides. Pinch the sides into a 'potli' and gently flatten. Dust extra flour if necessary and roll out carefully into a medium sized paratha.
4. Heat a tawa/skillet and fry the paratha till golden brown on both sides applying ghee or oil as necessary.
5. Serve hot with thick curd/yogurt or apply cheese spread or mayonnaise and serve as a roll.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coconut Burfi/Barfi

It's been a long wait for you readers isn't it? I mean, a long wait since my last post :P Yeah, the scorching Indian summers have arrested me and confined me into the four walls of my home. Summer vacations have finally begun for my little fellow and laziness has crept up on his mom. There is nothing better than to wake up at one's own time and not bother too much about what to make for breakfast and other sundry things which otherwise grip my mornings. I am too lazy to try out any new dishes and I guess when the man is away it is best to order in some food to feed two tiny appetites. 


I've been dilly dallying with this post since ages. Coconut burfi or barfi was on my list of things to make for a long time. However since I had never made it myself before (and only eaten what my mom used to make) I had a few flops before I perfected it. Although I used to find Indian sweets a tad too sweet for my liking all through my growing up years, I cannot help gorging on them since the time I delivered my son - talk about pregnancy playing havoc with my hormones and influencing my sweet tooth in such a big way. However, of late I have curbed this obsession and eat sweets only when it is totally unavoidable and even though R is not a sweet lover, the coconut burfi wins hands down!


Coconut Burfi
Preparation time 5 mins | Cooking time: 15mins | Cooling time : 45min-1 hour (approx)

You Need:
  • 2 cups or grated white flesh of 1 medium size coconut
  • 50gm (1/2 cup) cashewnuts coarsely powdered (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar (regular)
  • 3/4 cup water (approx)
  • 3-4 tsp ghee + extra for greasing the plate
  • 3-4 cardamom pods powdered
Method
1. If using, coarsely powder the cashewnuts and mix with the coconut. Grease a 8 or 9" steel plate with tall sides with ghee and keep it ready.
2. In a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai (wok) melt the sugar & water until you arrive at a thick syrup like consistency (the sugar granules have dissolved). Stir until the syrup has reached a one-string consistency. Add the coconut & cashewnut mixture and cook stirring continuously on a medium flame until the mixture thickens.
3. Add the ghee and continue to stir, reduce flame to avoid scorching. When the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan it is ready (takes about 10-12mins). If you cook beyond this point the mixture will begin to lose moisture and start to brown which we want to avoid.
4. Turn off the flame & quickly transfer the contents into the prepared pan - there is no need to smoothen the surface perfectly, just ensure that the mixture has been spread evenly.
5. Place the plate on a wire rack/metal mesh to cool. After about 7-8 minutes run a knife along the surface to make diagonal cuts (or whatever shape you desire). Let it cool completely before cutting out the pieces.

Notes:
Addition of cashewnuts brings in a nice nutty flavour to the burfi. Do ensure that you don't powder it too much. Just pulse them a couple of times in a dry grinder without any traces of moisture else it will turn into a paste and the mixture wont harden properly once spread onto the plate
What is one string consistency - Carefully scoop out the sugar syrup with a spoon and cool it a bit, dip your index finger into it and press the liquid between your index finger and thumb - the syrup should form a string without breaking.




Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maslyechi Rosa Khodi - Fish In Coconut Milk - Suitable for King Fish, Pomfret & Ladyfish

This is one of the first fish curries that I attempted making after I got married and moved to Mumbai. Actually almost one month into marriage, I realised how home sickness can catch up with even the busiest person. Adapting to a new environment and getting a grip of life in Mumbai kept me so busy that the first couple of months after moving here, I was barely able to find the time to keep in touch with friends or family. But reality sunk in sooner than I expected and there I was - fed up of eating the only things I knew to cook and missing mum's cooking like crazy. One day while I was sitting on the parapet near my window I decided that  the only way to stop missing home and my mum too much was to attempt making my most favourite dishes the way she made it. Thankfully I had started jotting down her recipes every now and then from the time I got to know I was going to be married soon. So I flipped through my note book and made this curry and relished it a lot that day.


Sadly, as the years rolled by I never got around making Roce (coconut milk) based curries too often. Not sure if I had messed up that curry that day or just the husband is not too fond of them, I didn't quite get around to making them. Yesterday after scratching my head, wondering what to prepare for lunch, I suddenly decided to make this curry once again and especially since he is travelling I thought it would be a good chance to eat it all by myself. Hehe! I wasn't disappointed at all. I thoroughly enjoyed eating the fish curry with piping hot rice and some home made mango pickle by R's cousin M. It was finger lickin' good!

My cousin P and I have a lot of memories associated with this curry. She remembers eating it whenever she came over to my place to stay during school vacations and recollects the awesome tasting curries including this one which my mom used to make. My mum still makes it and so does my grandma and my maternal aunts - but their level of tolerance to spice has been drastically reduced over the years. I upped the spice quotient a bit. I recommend you go ahead and throw in some extra chillies or bafat powder if you can brave it - but rest assured that the sweetness of the coconut milk will beautifully balance the spice. 


I have written down quite a few details to make this dish - it is not at all complicated, but thought that first timers may like the extra instructions. 

Maslyechi Rosa Khodi (Fish in Coconut Milk)
Curry suitable for: Seer Fish (Anjal/Surmai), White Pomfret, Black Pomfret (Maanji/Sorngul, Halwa), Lady Fish (Kane)
Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 15mins | Serves 3-4

You Need:
  • 2 large slices of Seer Fish/King Fish/Surmai cut into quarters or approx 350-400gm Pomfret or Ladyfish (Kane) or 1 big Black Pomfret
  • 2-3 small potatoes washed, skinned and quartered (optional)
  • 1 coconut (or 2-1/4 cups grated coconut) to extract thick and thin milk * see notes
  • 1/2-1tsp (or to taste) bafat powder * see notes
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar or juice of 1 small ball of tamarind
For the shindaap/seasoning:
  • 1 inch ginger scraped & finely chopped
  • 6-7 cloves of Indian garlic skinned & finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized green chillies *see notes
  • 2 medium size onions thinly sliced
  • 1 medium size tomato finely chopped * see notes
For garnishing
  • 1 tsp coriander leaves chopped (optional)
Method:
1. Clean the fish and allow it to drain on a colander - it is important that it is completely drained off before cooking or else the curry with turn watery. For the same reason ensure that the fish has been thawed completely if using frozen fish.
2. Extract thick and thin milk from the coconut and keep aside*see note below
3. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan and toss in half of the sliced onions. Fry for a couple of minutes till they turn slightly golden in colour. Add the chillies and half the chopped ginger, garlic and onions and fry well. 
4. Toss in the tomatoes and salt to taste (this helps to soften the tomatoes faster). Once the mixture turns mushy add the bafat powder and fry for a few seconds.
5. Add the thin coconut milk and stir well. Do not cover the lid as the milk will curdle and contents will overflow. Add the remaining sliced and chopped ingredients and bring the curry to a boil. Add the tamarind juice and stir. At this point you may add the potatoes if you wish and boil on a medium flame them till they are cooked.
6. Check salt to taste and add the thick coconut milk. Stir and bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame, add the fish pieces and cook for a couple of minutes. See notes
7. Turn off the flame, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice

Notes:
Extracting fresh coconut milk
Grate the flesh of one coconut and transfer it to a mixer grinder. Add about 1/2 cup of warm water and pulse the mixer grinder for a few seconds.
Line a bowl with cheese/muslin cloth and transfer the ground coconut into it. Cover the cloth into a bundle and squeeze to extract thick milk. Keep aside
Add a little water (depending on how much thin milk you desire) and repeat process. This is the thin milk.

Preparing coconut milk from coconut milk powder
To make approx 2 cups thin milk - Dissolve 6 tbsp coconut milk powder in 1-1/2 cups warm water
To make approx 1 cup thick milk - Dissolve 6 tbsp coconut milk powder in 3/4th cup warm water

*I use Maggi coconut milk powder

Using Chillies or Bafat powder
If you don't have bafat powder, you can skip it and simply increase the number of green chillies according to your taste.

Tomato or vinegar
Some traditional recipe books haven't mentioned using the tomato. You can skip it and use tamarind juice or vinegar to taste although I personally like the use of tomatoes as it gives body to the curry and adds a nice flavour.

Cooking the fish
1. Note that cooking time may vary depending on the type and size of the fish used so do not over boil as fish continues to cook in its steam. This curry is usually made with fish such as Kane/Pomfret which has delicate and tender flesh/meat, so over boiling will result in disintegrated meat. 
2. Use little of the thin milk and more of the thick milk as fish tends to release some juices which can make your gravy thin - and dilute the flavours. This won't taste very good.
3. Although the above instructions to make thick and thin milk are standard, use only as much milk as required for the quantity of fish you have. If you are pre-boiling the potatoes, then use only enough milk to cover the fish. If you are cooking the potatoes in the curry then you may need a little extra.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Bhakri (Pan Fried Rice Flatbread)

Sometimes the most delectable dishes are incomplete without a suitable accompaniment. Most Indian curries are often accompanied by a particular type of bread and taste best only when eaten as a combo. Sanna and Sorpotel would be one such Mangalorean combo that is so finger lickin' good. Although many Mangalorean Catholics prefer to eat Pork Bafat with Sanna, traditionally it used to be eaten with the Bhakri - a typical rice flatbread made thick or thin depending on what you wish to eat it with.

Flatbreads are simple breads made with flour, salt and water and usually don't make use of leavening (yeast or any dough rising agent) - there are a few exceptions like pita bread that is made with yeast. In India flatbreads are made with a variety of flours such as wheat, rice, bajra etc and are very healthy. Read more


My mum used to make Bhakris when I was a child and I remember them being a little thicker than what I ended up making. What gives the Bhakri its unique signature flavour is the smoky fragrance and flavour imparted by the banana leaves in which they are pan fried. Chappe (bland) Bhakri were usually eaten with savoury dishes and a mildly sweetened one (with the addition of jaggery and grated coconut) for tea. I have written at length about the various traditional tea time snacks that we used to have as kids and I often think that I missed out on many traditional ones as my mum stopped making them as the years rolled by. I am not sure how many people from my generation have eaten the sweet rice Bhakri for tea - this was way before the commercially sold bakery goodies made their way on our tea tables. 

Anyway, my blog would be so incomplete without this simple recipe - Bhakri that I made my way purely out of recollection - so traditional cooking experts and aunties who think it should be made differently please pardon me! :D On my next trip to Mangalore I shall catch hold of a senior & seasoned cook from my family (mom, MIL & grandma) and watch them make it for me. I promise!

Whoever has never made but only eaten Bhakri - I urge you to try it at home - it is dead simple and a nice accompaniment to Pork or any veg or non-veg dish. But the only catch is that you need to eat them fresh and hot. Unlike Panpole/Neer Dosa or Sanna they aren't party friendly (you cannot make them hours in advance as they turn chewy)


Bhakri
Soaking time: 3-4 hours | Preparation time: 5-10mins | Cooking time: 3-4 mins per Bhakri | Yields 10-12 Bhakris

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups boiled rice (ukda chawal/ukdo/katsambar) * see note
  • salt to taste
You will also need:
  • 5 large banana leaves cut into half * see notes
1. Wash & soak rice for 3-4 hours. Drain & grind to a fine paste using water sparingly to achieve a thick dry batter.
2. Wash & wipe the banana leaves to remove any traces of moisture. Cut each leaf into half. Remove the spine of the leaf so what you have are equal sized square pieces which don't fold while you are at work.
3. Place about 2-3 tbsp of batter in the centre of a square. Place another leaf over it (or fold in the centre if you haven't removed the spine of the leaf). Using a rolling pin roll out the batter thinly * see note#2



3. Fry the Bhakri on a hot cast iron (or non stick) skillet/tawa without edges on a medium high until the leaf is browned (almost burnt) on both sides. You may carefully remove the leaf to check if the pancake has cooked. Each side takes about 2 mins * see note#2. Remove the leaf and fry on the tawa till both sides are lightly browned.



5. Serve hot with Pork Bafat (Dukra Maas).



Notes:
1. Commercially sold banana leaves are already halved for ease of transportation. You will need 5 such pieces which you will need to cut again into four equal pieces
2. The traditional Bakri is much thicker than what I prepared. Thick Bakris are a result of very thick & dry batter which is ground in a traditional gatno (stone mortar & pestle) and is then patted down on the banana leaf by wetting one's fingers. Sometimes the mixer grinder is not thick-batter-friendly as you will need to add some water during the grinding process - this makes it difficult to pat the batter and spread it on the leaf using one's fingers. Hence the rolling pin method is applied to result in thinner Dosa like Bakri.
3. Do not roll out very thin Bhakri as they will turn hard and chewy as they cool.
4. If the batter is thick enough you can pat a thick bhakri of about 1/2 inch thickness and 5-6 inches in diametre . There is no need for a rolling pin in this case.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prawn Masala Fry - When The Hubby Cooks

For those who relish seafood, prawns and crabs top the list. People who attempt eating seafood for the first time don't usually go wrong if they try prawns first. I know this for a fact as many of my North Indian friends gorge on prawns whenever they visit coastal places especially Goa. Being a fish eating Mangalorean, prawns should ideally be a part of my regular menu - but they are not. I gave up prawns (and crabs) during my school days as I developed a severe allergy which only aggravated over the years. The symptoms are many and a lot of people including hubby dear think that it's such a pity that I don't get to enjoy them especially when we eat out at restaurants that specialize in delicacies such as king prawn fry or tandoori crabs or lobsters even. I for one, have never regretted or missed not being able to eat the most prized catch. I can satisfy myself with the rest of what the seas have to offer. Or there's always chicken, isn't it? The safest bet in any restaurant almost anywhere in the world. 


It is just since last year that I have started popping a prawn or two in my mouth - to see if my body is ready to accept them yet. The first few attempts with crabs didn't go down too well, but I think in a couple of years I should be able to eat prawns although I don't relish them anymore. If not eat them, I wan't to be able to cook them for my boys. So now you know why prawns have never featured on my blog despite the fact that I simply love seafood. It's the man who buys, cleans, cooks and eats them alone - until the little boy was born. Now it's the two of them giving each other the much required company in the prawn eating paradise.


This is probably the only post where I cannot describe the experience of having cooked the dish myself or relished it simply because from start to finish the hubby was involved. However, I did let my other senses enjoy the experience. While touch & taste took a backseat, the aroma of the freshly fried prawns was simply wonderful and appetizing. The colour of the masala was a feast for the eyes and the sound of the prawns sizzling away signaled the taste buds to salivate. I am sure you will have a wholesome experience of enjoying these prawns to the last bite. I hope to try these sometime in the future. Till then it's just the pictures for me!

PS: 'A prawn recipe' got the maximum number of votes in a poll I conducted this week on my Facebook page when I asked what readers wanted to see next on the blog. Do join me there for some more interaction, chit chat & recipe requests!


Prawn Masala Fry
Preparation time: 5 mins | Marinating time: 10mins | Cooking time: 10mins | Serves: 2

You Need:

  • 15 medium sized prawns cleaned
  • 2-3 tsp (or to taste) bafat powder
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera powder
  • 3/4th tsp ginger paste
  • 1/4 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp (approx) vinegar or 1 tsp thick tamarind juice
  • 2-3 tsp rice flour/powder (adjust according to the masala required)
  • 2-3 tbsp coconut oil
  • salt to taste
  • 3 sprigs (approx 30 leaves) kadipatta/curry leaves

Method:
1. Marinate the prawns with the salt, bafat powder, jeera powder, ginger-garlic paste, vinegar (or tamarind juice), rice flour, 1 tbsp oil and 1 sprig of curry leaves finely chopped. Keep aside for 10-15minutes.
2. In a frying pan put the marinated prawns with 1 cup of water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame to a medium high and let the prawns cook until the masala thickens. Leave the pan uncovered.
3. Transfer the prawns and its masala to one side of the pan and in the center of the pan pour the remaining 2 tbsp oil and the curry leaves (do not chop). Let the oil heat up a bit and then mix everything together and simmer for 2-3 minutes till the oil separates from the masala. When masala turns semi thick turn off the flame. If you don't need a thick masala continue to simmer/fry for another 2 minutes so that the masala fries some more.
4. Serve hot with rice or Neer Dosa


Above pic: Prawns sizzling away on the frying pan!

Note:
Another way of making the masala is to use meet-mirsaang (puli munchi). Ensure that you check for salt and vinegar before adding more as the meet-mirsaang is prepared with these two ingredients.
Instead of rice flour you can use rice batter (from left over neer dosa batter).
You may also pulse the mixture in a grinder along with the curry leaves instead of chopping them

Monday, May 28, 2012

Aloo Paratha (Whole Wheat Flatbread with a Potato Filling)

My earliest association with parathas (the delicious ones) was in Bangalore when I used to stay at a particular service apartment while on work in the city. The caretaker cum cook used to dole out such deliciously filling parathas for breakfast - each served piping hot straight from the tawa that I used to lose count of the number of parathas I stuffed myself with. I turned a blind eye to the copious amounts of ghee that was responsible for those extra kilos that tipped the weighing scale a few days later - such was the taste. Anyway, I always believe that if someone else is taking the effort of feeding you and all you have to do is walk into the dining room like royalty and wait for food to appear on your plate, then its ok to turn a blind eye and not worry about health sometimes.


If Biryani is a one pot meal paratha in my opinion is a one-tawa meal :-) The goodness of a mixture of ingredients give you a filling, nutritious meal. While the paratha used to be the domain of the North Indian kitchen a few years ago, it has now been accepted by almost every kitchen in India. Just like how the idli and dosa find themselves in the Punjabi kitchens and are relished at breakfast, the paratha has found a permanent place on my menu in my Mangalorean kitchen. Parathas are a quick way to get breakfast on the table - at least I think so. They also double up as a mid morning snack or a perfect lunch box item for kids. My son simply loves parathas and the only one I have attempted so far is the Nutritious Parathas with spinach, potatoes and carrots.


I am part of a food group on Facebook that hosts weekly recipe challenges and this week's challenge is different type of paratha recipes. I am so looking forward to all the delicious recipes that the members are going to upload this week. The credit for this recipe goes to one of the members - Reshma Chander who shares some fabulous recipes on the group. Thank you so much Reshma!!


Aloo Paratha
Prep time: 15mins | Cooking time: 15mins | Makes 6-7 parathas | Serves : 2-3 people

You Need:
For the dough
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup blend of flours (I used maize flour & soya flour)
  • 1/2 cup (approx) warm water to knead
  • salt to taste
For the filling
  • 2 (smallish) medium sized potatoes boiled, skinned & mashed
  • 1 inch ginger finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (packed) coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 1 pinch red chilli powder
  • 1 pinch cumin/jeera powder
  • 1/4 tsp amchur (dry mango) powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp chaat masala powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • salt to taste 
Method:
1. In a wide bowl add the flours and salt and mix well. Use half the water and incorporate. Keep adding the water and knead into a smooth pliable dough ball. Cover and keep aside for at least 20-30minutes - this helps in achieving an soft elastic dough.
2. In another bowl blend all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the filling'. Mix well and keep aside. You can make 8-10 lime sized portions/balls and keep it ready.
3. Dust a dry working surface/wooden board with a little flour. Pinch out 8-10 medium sized portions from the dough. Roll one into a smooth ball and flatten it on the board with a rolling pin into a medium poori size. Place the ball of filling in the centre of the dough leaving enough gap on the sides. Pinch the sides into a 'potli' and gently flatten. Dust extra flour if necessary and roll out carefully into a medium sized paratha.
4. Heat a tawa/skillet and fry the paratha till golden brown on both sides applying ghee or oil as necessary.
5. Serve hot with thick curd/yogurt or apply cheese spread or mayonnaise and serve as a roll.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coconut Burfi/Barfi

It's been a long wait for you readers isn't it? I mean, a long wait since my last post :P Yeah, the scorching Indian summers have arrested me and confined me into the four walls of my home. Summer vacations have finally begun for my little fellow and laziness has crept up on his mom. There is nothing better than to wake up at one's own time and not bother too much about what to make for breakfast and other sundry things which otherwise grip my mornings. I am too lazy to try out any new dishes and I guess when the man is away it is best to order in some food to feed two tiny appetites. 


I've been dilly dallying with this post since ages. Coconut burfi or barfi was on my list of things to make for a long time. However since I had never made it myself before (and only eaten what my mom used to make) I had a few flops before I perfected it. Although I used to find Indian sweets a tad too sweet for my liking all through my growing up years, I cannot help gorging on them since the time I delivered my son - talk about pregnancy playing havoc with my hormones and influencing my sweet tooth in such a big way. However, of late I have curbed this obsession and eat sweets only when it is totally unavoidable and even though R is not a sweet lover, the coconut burfi wins hands down!


Coconut Burfi
Preparation time 5 mins | Cooking time: 15mins | Cooling time : 45min-1 hour (approx)

You Need:
  • 2 cups or grated white flesh of 1 medium size coconut
  • 50gm (1/2 cup) cashewnuts coarsely powdered (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar (regular)
  • 3/4 cup water (approx)
  • 3-4 tsp ghee + extra for greasing the plate
  • 3-4 cardamom pods powdered
Method
1. If using, coarsely powder the cashewnuts and mix with the coconut. Grease a 8 or 9" steel plate with tall sides with ghee and keep it ready.
2. In a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai (wok) melt the sugar & water until you arrive at a thick syrup like consistency (the sugar granules have dissolved). Stir until the syrup has reached a one-string consistency. Add the coconut & cashewnut mixture and cook stirring continuously on a medium flame until the mixture thickens.
3. Add the ghee and continue to stir, reduce flame to avoid scorching. When the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan it is ready (takes about 10-12mins). If you cook beyond this point the mixture will begin to lose moisture and start to brown which we want to avoid.
4. Turn off the flame & quickly transfer the contents into the prepared pan - there is no need to smoothen the surface perfectly, just ensure that the mixture has been spread evenly.
5. Place the plate on a wire rack/metal mesh to cool. After about 7-8 minutes run a knife along the surface to make diagonal cuts (or whatever shape you desire). Let it cool completely before cutting out the pieces.

Notes:
Addition of cashewnuts brings in a nice nutty flavour to the burfi. Do ensure that you don't powder it too much. Just pulse them a couple of times in a dry grinder without any traces of moisture else it will turn into a paste and the mixture wont harden properly once spread onto the plate
What is one string consistency - Carefully scoop out the sugar syrup with a spoon and cool it a bit, dip your index finger into it and press the liquid between your index finger and thumb - the syrup should form a string without breaking.




Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Maslyechi Rosa Khodi - Fish In Coconut Milk - Suitable for King Fish, Pomfret & Ladyfish

This is one of the first fish curries that I attempted making after I got married and moved to Mumbai. Actually almost one month into marriage, I realised how home sickness can catch up with even the busiest person. Adapting to a new environment and getting a grip of life in Mumbai kept me so busy that the first couple of months after moving here, I was barely able to find the time to keep in touch with friends or family. But reality sunk in sooner than I expected and there I was - fed up of eating the only things I knew to cook and missing mum's cooking like crazy. One day while I was sitting on the parapet near my window I decided that  the only way to stop missing home and my mum too much was to attempt making my most favourite dishes the way she made it. Thankfully I had started jotting down her recipes every now and then from the time I got to know I was going to be married soon. So I flipped through my note book and made this curry and relished it a lot that day.


Sadly, as the years rolled by I never got around making Roce (coconut milk) based curries too often. Not sure if I had messed up that curry that day or just the husband is not too fond of them, I didn't quite get around to making them. Yesterday after scratching my head, wondering what to prepare for lunch, I suddenly decided to make this curry once again and especially since he is travelling I thought it would be a good chance to eat it all by myself. Hehe! I wasn't disappointed at all. I thoroughly enjoyed eating the fish curry with piping hot rice and some home made mango pickle by R's cousin M. It was finger lickin' good!

My cousin P and I have a lot of memories associated with this curry. She remembers eating it whenever she came over to my place to stay during school vacations and recollects the awesome tasting curries including this one which my mom used to make. My mum still makes it and so does my grandma and my maternal aunts - but their level of tolerance to spice has been drastically reduced over the years. I upped the spice quotient a bit. I recommend you go ahead and throw in some extra chillies or bafat powder if you can brave it - but rest assured that the sweetness of the coconut milk will beautifully balance the spice. 


I have written down quite a few details to make this dish - it is not at all complicated, but thought that first timers may like the extra instructions. 

Maslyechi Rosa Khodi (Fish in Coconut Milk)
Curry suitable for: Seer Fish (Anjal/Surmai), White Pomfret, Black Pomfret (Maanji/Sorngul, Halwa), Lady Fish (Kane)
Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 15mins | Serves 3-4

You Need:
  • 2 large slices of Seer Fish/King Fish/Surmai cut into quarters or approx 350-400gm Pomfret or Ladyfish (Kane) or 1 big Black Pomfret
  • 2-3 small potatoes washed, skinned and quartered (optional)
  • 1 coconut (or 2-1/4 cups grated coconut) to extract thick and thin milk * see notes
  • 1/2-1tsp (or to taste) bafat powder * see notes
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar or juice of 1 small ball of tamarind
For the shindaap/seasoning:
  • 1 inch ginger scraped & finely chopped
  • 6-7 cloves of Indian garlic skinned & finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized green chillies *see notes
  • 2 medium size onions thinly sliced
  • 1 medium size tomato finely chopped * see notes
For garnishing
  • 1 tsp coriander leaves chopped (optional)
Method:
1. Clean the fish and allow it to drain on a colander - it is important that it is completely drained off before cooking or else the curry with turn watery. For the same reason ensure that the fish has been thawed completely if using frozen fish.
2. Extract thick and thin milk from the coconut and keep aside*see note below
3. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed pan and toss in half of the sliced onions. Fry for a couple of minutes till they turn slightly golden in colour. Add the chillies and half the chopped ginger, garlic and onions and fry well. 
4. Toss in the tomatoes and salt to taste (this helps to soften the tomatoes faster). Once the mixture turns mushy add the bafat powder and fry for a few seconds.
5. Add the thin coconut milk and stir well. Do not cover the lid as the milk will curdle and contents will overflow. Add the remaining sliced and chopped ingredients and bring the curry to a boil. Add the tamarind juice and stir. At this point you may add the potatoes if you wish and boil on a medium flame them till they are cooked.
6. Check salt to taste and add the thick coconut milk. Stir and bring it to a boil. Reduce the flame, add the fish pieces and cook for a couple of minutes. See notes
7. Turn off the flame, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice

Notes:
Extracting fresh coconut milk
Grate the flesh of one coconut and transfer it to a mixer grinder. Add about 1/2 cup of warm water and pulse the mixer grinder for a few seconds.
Line a bowl with cheese/muslin cloth and transfer the ground coconut into it. Cover the cloth into a bundle and squeeze to extract thick milk. Keep aside
Add a little water (depending on how much thin milk you desire) and repeat process. This is the thin milk.

Preparing coconut milk from coconut milk powder
To make approx 2 cups thin milk - Dissolve 6 tbsp coconut milk powder in 1-1/2 cups warm water
To make approx 1 cup thick milk - Dissolve 6 tbsp coconut milk powder in 3/4th cup warm water

*I use Maggi coconut milk powder

Using Chillies or Bafat powder
If you don't have bafat powder, you can skip it and simply increase the number of green chillies according to your taste.

Tomato or vinegar
Some traditional recipe books haven't mentioned using the tomato. You can skip it and use tamarind juice or vinegar to taste although I personally like the use of tomatoes as it gives body to the curry and adds a nice flavour.

Cooking the fish
1. Note that cooking time may vary depending on the type and size of the fish used so do not over boil as fish continues to cook in its steam. This curry is usually made with fish such as Kane/Pomfret which has delicate and tender flesh/meat, so over boiling will result in disintegrated meat. 
2. Use little of the thin milk and more of the thick milk as fish tends to release some juices which can make your gravy thin - and dilute the flavours. This won't taste very good.
3. Although the above instructions to make thick and thin milk are standard, use only as much milk as required for the quantity of fish you have. If you are pre-boiling the potatoes, then use only enough milk to cover the fish. If you are cooking the potatoes in the curry then you may need a little extra.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Bhakri (Pan Fried Rice Flatbread)

Sometimes the most delectable dishes are incomplete without a suitable accompaniment. Most Indian curries are often accompanied by a particular type of bread and taste best only when eaten as a combo. Sanna and Sorpotel would be one such Mangalorean combo that is so finger lickin' good. Although many Mangalorean Catholics prefer to eat Pork Bafat with Sanna, traditionally it used to be eaten with the Bhakri - a typical rice flatbread made thick or thin depending on what you wish to eat it with.

Flatbreads are simple breads made with flour, salt and water and usually don't make use of leavening (yeast or any dough rising agent) - there are a few exceptions like pita bread that is made with yeast. In India flatbreads are made with a variety of flours such as wheat, rice, bajra etc and are very healthy. Read more


My mum used to make Bhakris when I was a child and I remember them being a little thicker than what I ended up making. What gives the Bhakri its unique signature flavour is the smoky fragrance and flavour imparted by the banana leaves in which they are pan fried. Chappe (bland) Bhakri were usually eaten with savoury dishes and a mildly sweetened one (with the addition of jaggery and grated coconut) for tea. I have written at length about the various traditional tea time snacks that we used to have as kids and I often think that I missed out on many traditional ones as my mum stopped making them as the years rolled by. I am not sure how many people from my generation have eaten the sweet rice Bhakri for tea - this was way before the commercially sold bakery goodies made their way on our tea tables. 

Anyway, my blog would be so incomplete without this simple recipe - Bhakri that I made my way purely out of recollection - so traditional cooking experts and aunties who think it should be made differently please pardon me! :D On my next trip to Mangalore I shall catch hold of a senior & seasoned cook from my family (mom, MIL & grandma) and watch them make it for me. I promise!

Whoever has never made but only eaten Bhakri - I urge you to try it at home - it is dead simple and a nice accompaniment to Pork or any veg or non-veg dish. But the only catch is that you need to eat them fresh and hot. Unlike Panpole/Neer Dosa or Sanna they aren't party friendly (you cannot make them hours in advance as they turn chewy)


Bhakri
Soaking time: 3-4 hours | Preparation time: 5-10mins | Cooking time: 3-4 mins per Bhakri | Yields 10-12 Bhakris

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups boiled rice (ukda chawal/ukdo/katsambar) * see note
  • salt to taste
You will also need:
  • 5 large banana leaves cut into half * see notes
1. Wash & soak rice for 3-4 hours. Drain & grind to a fine paste using water sparingly to achieve a thick dry batter.
2. Wash & wipe the banana leaves to remove any traces of moisture. Cut each leaf into half. Remove the spine of the leaf so what you have are equal sized square pieces which don't fold while you are at work.
3. Place about 2-3 tbsp of batter in the centre of a square. Place another leaf over it (or fold in the centre if you haven't removed the spine of the leaf). Using a rolling pin roll out the batter thinly * see note#2



3. Fry the Bhakri on a hot cast iron (or non stick) skillet/tawa without edges on a medium high until the leaf is browned (almost burnt) on both sides. You may carefully remove the leaf to check if the pancake has cooked. Each side takes about 2 mins * see note#2. Remove the leaf and fry on the tawa till both sides are lightly browned.



5. Serve hot with Pork Bafat (Dukra Maas).



Notes:
1. Commercially sold banana leaves are already halved for ease of transportation. You will need 5 such pieces which you will need to cut again into four equal pieces
2. The traditional Bakri is much thicker than what I prepared. Thick Bakris are a result of very thick & dry batter which is ground in a traditional gatno (stone mortar & pestle) and is then patted down on the banana leaf by wetting one's fingers. Sometimes the mixer grinder is not thick-batter-friendly as you will need to add some water during the grinding process - this makes it difficult to pat the batter and spread it on the leaf using one's fingers. Hence the rolling pin method is applied to result in thinner Dosa like Bakri.
3. Do not roll out very thin Bhakri as they will turn hard and chewy as they cool.
4. If the batter is thick enough you can pat a thick bhakri of about 1/2 inch thickness and 5-6 inches in diametre . There is no need for a rolling pin in this case.