Monday, July 30, 2012

Kombi Bafath (Chicken Bafat Curry)

Chicken is one of the sources of protein that we greatly rely on in my house. It comes next only to fish. But of late the two have switched places and I end up cooking a lot more chicken than fish - mainly because the latter is not easy on the pocket these days, involves a lot more hard work in the cleaning department and doesn't go down Junior's throat that easily. But then, kids go through different phases when it comes to choice of food. Chicken however wins hands down because of its taste and versatility. One can cook it in various ways and forms - whole chicken, with and without bone and minced/ground chicken are some common ways I use. I don't grill a lot although I think I should slowly increase the use of that technique mainly for health reasons.



Being Mangaloreans it generally means that we cook a lot of curries suitable to eaten with rice, especially boiled rice. Thanks to the abundance of cook books I own I find myself flipping through them almost on a daily basis, bookmarking this recipe or that (if I am recipe specific) or simply seeking ideas to create my own recipe. I am not much of a recipe creator, Roshan is and he loves to experiment. These days I insist that he writes down the recipe right after the cooking session is over. So in the next few days I hope to delight you with some recipes that are straight from his kitchen.


I found this recipe in Isidore Coelho's book called 'Ranpi' which is the Konkani version of his widely popular book 'The Chef', however, the latter has a lot more recipes in English while the Konkani version has only traditional (and mostly forgotten) recipes.

The Bafat style chicken is typically Mangalorean as Bafat powder is a blend of spices that is common to Mangalorean cuisine. Although it is regarded as a seasoning for pork, it can be used for a whole variety of recipes ranging from vegetables to fish to meat. You can make your own bafat powder if you have a good quality spice grinding mixie/food processor. Alternatively you can give the spices to a mill for powdering. 

In Mangalore, Bafat powder is available at most grocery shops and Catholic owned bakeries. In Mumbai, it is mostly available at Mangalore Stores outlets.

If possible I suggest you make your own Bafat powder - cost wise it may not make much of a difference but you can certainly have a blend that is more fresh and aromatic. Click here for the recipe.


Kombi Bafath (Chicken Bafat Curry)
Preparation time: 15mins | Cooking time:20mins | Serves 4-5

You Need:
  • 1 kg chicken on the bone
  • 1 coconut to extract thick & thin roce (milk) * see notes for substitute
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil or ghee for frying
For the shindaap (sliced ingredients)
  • 2 medium size onions thinly sliced
  • 3 small green chillies slit (adjust to taste)
  • 12 small flakes of garlic minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger minced
For the bafat masala (to be powdered)
  • 8-9 Kashmiri chillies
  • 20 peppercorns (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
  • 2 cloves *see notes
  • 1/2 inch piece cinnamon *see notes
Method:
1. Cut chicken into medium sized pieces, wash and drain on a colander. Keep the sliced ingredients (shindaap) ready. Make a fine powder out of all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala' using a dry grinder
2. In a heavy bottomed kadhai or pan heat the ghee or oil and fry the sliced onions till they turn golden pink - this takes about 5-6 minutes on a medium flame. Next add the chicken pieces and the rest of the 'shindaap' (green chillies, garlic, ginger) and mix well. Fry for a couple of minutes.
3. Toss in the masala powder, mix well so that all the pieces are coated with it. Add salt to taste. Let the chicken fry over a slow flame for another 2-3 minutes before you add the thin coconut milk. Cover and cook till half done.
4. Add the thick coconut milk (add only as much as required), add the vinegar & check taste. Simmer until done without covering the pan.
5. Serve hot with rice (preferably red/brown rice)

Notes:
a) Making the coconut milk
To make thin coconut milk
Dissolve 3 tbsp coconut milk powder in 1-1/2 cups of warm water

To make thick coconut milk
Dissolve 6tbsp coconut milk powder in 3/4th cups of warm water

b) Bafat powder:
You may add 2 tsp coriander powder while grinding the bafat powder. This will add to the flavour and tone down the spice. However, I didn't add it as the recipe did not ask for it.
You can skip the cloves and cinnamon if you don't like the taste of garam masala. Alternatively, prepare the powder without these two ingredients and add garam masala (about 1/2 tsp) separately during the cooking stage if you wish to.
If you don't wish to grind the bafat powder, you can skip it and use ready made bafat powder - about 2-3 tbsp (or to taste)


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Egg Stumbler (Scrambled Eggs with Bread Bites)

One of my fondest childhood memories involve this dish. I have eaten the Egg Stumbler for as long as I can remember. My mum used to make this for us very often and it served as a breakfast cum anytime meal which could be put together in a jiffy. As you know scrambled eggs by themselves are a nutritious snack, add to it a handful of cubed bread pieces and what you have is a complete meal in itself. So filling, tasty and nutritious. 


While in Mangalore I used to live in the vicinity of 'Vitthi's Sugarcane Shop' - a shop which was so famous among school students for the amazing sugarcane juice, Maggi and egg stumbler that Mr. Victor used to dole out everyday. Who is Vitthi then? Well, we Mangalorean Catholics have this habit of reducing fine English names to a rubble. We snip the ends and localize them and the final result of a person's most respected name does not even remotely sound like the original, save maybe for the first initial. For example Victor becomes Vitthi, Elizabeth becomes Elize or Lizzie, Gregory becomes Gigu, Dominic or Domingo becomes Doonnga, Philomena becomes Minna, Dulcine becomes Docchi, Steven or Stephen becomes Itti  (for goodness sakes!!!). The surnames are not spared either! The list is endless and if you are a Mangalorean Catholic reading this, I bet you are smiling - for you know another dozen names to lengthen this list. Trust me, the list is endless, the best names have either gone through a metamorphosis over the decades or some of our Konkani singers have successfully ruined their credibility by crooning them over & over again. Remember, "Belaaaaa, Isabella"? So people from my generation hesitate to christen their children with some of these fine names for the fear of being ridiculed in public with these songs. Or maybe I am the only one with this fear. When it was time for us to name our son, we had gone through this painful process of vetoing every name that could be reduced to something else in Konkani, had a song to its credit or simply had double meaning. Sigh!


Ok, so back to Mr. Victor a.ka Vitthi's shop - I am sure that beside the usual crowd in Mannagudda (the area where I lived) who savoured it, even students who came regularly to Mangala Stadium for sports got the chance to eat the egg stumbler. Most passersby entered his 'cafe' on getting just a whiff of his heavenly scrambled eggs. The word 'stumbler' probably came into being because most people could not pronounce 'scrambled' - they either said 'scrumbled' or 'stumbled' - so you can use your imagination here. 

The way Mr. Vitthi made his Maggi was very different from the package instructions - so much so that people in my neighbourhood started to replicate it in their homes. Sugarcane juice was another among his 3 crown jewels and I don't really recall tasting it there because I had another favourite shop in the local veggie cum fish market at Urwa. These three items on Vitthi's menu card were by far the most famous 'healthy' street snacks that I can think of. They satisfied many a student during a meal break. I wish Vitthi's shop was still around (a small open hall with 6-7 long 'baank' (wooden benches) that could fit in 7-8 youngsters at one go, each one hungrily devouring his snack while Vitthi would squeeze the life out of the sugarcanes in the juice extractor and serve you a tall glass of chilled sugarcane juice) but sadly it closed down after his death and remains so till date. 

May his soul rest in peace.


Egg Stumbler (Scrambled Eggs with Bread Bites)
Prep time: 5-10mins | Cooking time: 10mins | Serves 2

You Need:
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 slices of bread 
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized green chilli finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder * see notes
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin/jeera powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves finely chopped (for garnishing)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Break the eggs in a bowl and beat well. Snip the hard edges of the bread and cut them into cubes. Keep aside
2. In a heavy bottomed pan/kadhai, heat the oil and toss in the chopped green chilli and onions and fry till the onions are almost golden. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a couple of minutes till mushy (add salt at this stage to speed up this process).
3. Add the turmeric, red chilli, pepper and cumin powders and fry on a low heat. Pour in the beaten egg mixture and stir on a medium low flame for about 2-3 minutes taking care to see that they don't get scorched.
4. When the eggs have cooked just right *see notes, add in the bread cubes and mix gently.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.

Notes:
  • You may use white or brown bread as per your choice, ensure that it is fresh but not crumbly. 
  • Adjust all the spice elements (green chilli, red chilli powder & pepper powder) as per your taste. You can skip the chilli powder if you have low tolerance to spice.
  • Eggs need to be cooked just right - neither undercooked nor too dry as the bread needs to absorb the juiciness slightly to give the right taste.
  • Make sure you had a wee bit of extra salt because once the bread is added the whole mixture could taste bland - It will be harder to adjust the salt after the bread has been added as the bread can turn soggy soon. 
  • This dish needs to be prepared and served fresh and piping hot as the bread can turn soggy if prepared in advance.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dal Khichdi (Lentil Porridge) with Spinach & Carrots - A Complete Meal

They say that there are challenges at every stage of a child's growth. This is so true. When little Yu was still a baby he ate well yet there were other problems to deal with. As soon as he stepped into his Terrible Threes the worst problem we had to face as parents was his depleting food intake. I failed to understand how a child who was so active all day could survive with little or no food. The doctor said it was normal and I should stop banging my head against the wall. But the mother in me would not bear to see a hungry child or the one who would come to me at odd times begging for food that I didn't see as healthy or nutritious at all. But I think God is merciful. He has thrown in some small mercies at every stage of a child's upbringing. There are bound to be some things that a child will want to eat and in Yu's case it has been curd rice and dal khichdi, the only two mushy foods that he is still willing to eat without twitching his nose.


From the time he was a baby I have safely fed him dal khichdi - a porridge of lentils and rice with little flavouring making it a complete and nutritious meal. It goes perfectly well with anything you want to team it with. Babies will love it with lots of ghee or curds and older kids will like it served with a bowl of curds or kebabs on the side. Adults like me love it too - although not everyone will take it to it. I have prepared this khichdi so many times in the past 4 years that I can make it with my eyes closed. Only this time I thought of adding both carrots and spinach to it as a way to sneak in some vegetables without Yu's knowledge.



I was introduced to dal khichdi when I first came to Bombay. We ate out a lot with friends on weekends. The typical dinner and a movie. Whenever we ordered North Indian fare we would order a whole lot of grilled and tandoori non veg items and wound up the meal with a nice piping hot serving of dal khichdi. After hogging all those starters there was no way we could even look at a biryani, so dal khichdi it was. I am still not sure how they make it in the restaurants but I am guessing that the lentils and rice are cooked to perfection on a very slow flame for hours - a luxury I cannot afford in my house. The pressure cooker comes to my rescue every time. 

A major part of the flavour in a dal khichdi is credited to the quality of dals/lentils and liberal amounts of ghee used. These along with the other spices make for a beautiful dish that can nourish even the most battered soul. This is also one reason why I prefer cooking it whenever Yu is unwell. It's probably the most palatable dish after our good old rice congee (pez/ganji)

You can make it without the spinach and carrots. Even plain khichdi made with 2-3 lentils tastes just as good. I have included the vegetables just to make it more nutritious for my son.


Dal Khichdi with Spinach & Carrots
Soaking time: 45 mins-1hr (optional) | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 10-15mins | Serves 2 

You Need:
  • 2 tbsp toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 tbsp masoor dal (split red lentils)
  • 2 tbsp moong dal (split green gram without skin)
  • 4 tbsp raw rice (any small grained rice) *see notes
  • 3 cups water (approx) *see notes
  • salt to taste (approx 1 level tsp)
Optional
  • 5-6 spinach (palak) leaves finely chopped
  • 1/2 carrot (1/4 cup) grated
For the seasoning
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 2 pods of cardamom
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
  • 1 small green chilli slit (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped/grated ginger (optional)
  • 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
  • 1/4 of a lime - juice extracted or 1/2 juicy tomato chopped
For garnishing
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp ghee
Method:
1. Wash and soak the dals/lentils and the rice together for 45 mins-1hr (if you are running short of time you can skip the soaking). Drain and keep aside.
2. Heat the ghee or oil in a pressure cooker and toss in the cumin seeds and fry for a couple of seconds. Add the cardamoms, cloves & cinnamon stick and fry. Add the green chilli & fry till transparent. Add the chopped ginger, sliced onions and fry until golden.
3. Reduce the flame, add the turmeric powder and drained lentils & rice and fry for half a minute. If you wish to add the palak & carrots you can do so at this stage. Mix well.
3. Add the water, salt to taste, lime juice (or tomatoes) and stir well. Bring the contents to a boil, fasten the lid and place the weight. Cook on a full flame for about 5-6 whistles*see notes.
4. Remove from flame and let the cooker cool down completely before loosening up the whistle. Stir once and serve with a dollop of ghee and curds/yogurt.

Notes:
1. You can use any kind of raw rice - small grained like sona masoori, kolam or ghee rice or even basmati rice. However you may be required to increase the amount of water if you are using superior quality of rice (like basmati). The ratio of 1:3 (lentils to water) results in a perfectly mushy khichdi.
2. If you have skipped soaking the lentils and rice you will need a little extra water and probably a couple of more whistles in the pressure cooking time. I have tried the same with both types of rice (small grained & basmati) and with and without soaking the grains. Please use your judgement here. When in doubt use a little extra water as the khichdi is meant to be mushy anyways, but you don't want to scorch the base of your cooker with burnt lentils in case of insufficient water. Watery khichdi can be rectified by cooking further without covering the pan.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mangalorean Fish Mole (Fish in Vinegar/Fish Preserve) When Hubby Cooks

It's not everyday my heart brims with happiness while writing a post. I touch upon a myriad of moods with each post - most of which I express in letters and a majority of it is still hidden within me but today I want to express wholesome happiness. And gratitude. To you - to each one of you who voted for me last year and through the first quarter of this year while I was nominated on Babble.com's list of Top 100 Mom Food Bloggers for 2012 and guess what? The results have been declared and Babble.com has ranked Ruchik Randhap at #87!  


Babble.com has also honoured my blog by giving the winners a badge that I now proudly display on the blog.

Thanks to each and every one of you who has voted for Ruchik Randhap and popularized it in your own special way. For those of you who were unable to vote, thank you for your continued support, encouragement, love & appreciation that makes blogging worth it. Thanks especially for your lovely emails that are so heart warming, honest and generous. They truly make me feel very special.

Ruchik Randhap is close to my heart as something which started as a channel to divert my boredom into something productive has slowly transformed itself into a full fledged passion and a new platform to express my thoughts and get the creative juices flowing. Besides just showcasing or recording my tried and tested recipes my goal has evolved into one where I attempt to preserve the culinary diversity of Mangalore and I hope to succeed in that. Every new recipe helps me learn new things - about ingredients, flavours, cooking techniques and not to forget the myriad diversities within Mangalorean cuisine - so many cultures in Mangalore bring with them a variety of sub cuisines - so distinctive, yet so similar. Like Babble.com has put it, I am determined to put this town on the culinary map.


What could be a better ode to 'preserving our culinary diversity' than a recipe that comes close to representing that? Fish Mole of course! A simple and quick to make fish preserve or simply put, fish in vinegar. This is not to be confused with Fish Molee which is a preparation that beside other ingredients includes onions and coconut milk and is more of a curry than a preserve. Fish Molee is typically part of Keralan cuisine and Fish Mole (or Moal) is the Mangalorean way of preserving fish temporarily in a medley of spices and vinegar. Again, this should not be confused with fish pickle which is prepared using different varieties of fish, a lot more ingredients and a different technique that helps preserve it for upto a year.


The full credit of this recipe goes to Roshan- I think it's time I started calling him by his full name instead of just his initial 'R', Mr.Sequeira, Hubbykins and other terms of endearment that I have often used in this blog. So yes, this recipe was born after an argument - I claimed that he did not like the fish mole and he argued that he did. I was wrong in the end, because I guess I had simply confused the fish mole with the fish molee (he doesn't dig coconut milk based fish curries you see). To put all doubts to rest he cheerfully prepared this mole over the weekend and the taste has just gotten better after each passing day.

When you make it don't be so tempted as to eat much of it right after it has been prepared. It will taste awfully tangy and may put you off completely. Instead I suggest you to wait for a couple of days by which time the fish pieces would have absorbed the spices & vinegar and aged beautifully. 


Fish Mole
Prep time:20mins | Cooking time: 45mins | Yield: Fills up a 500ml jar (approx)

You Need:
  • 4 palm sized slices of King Fish (Surmai) or 10 Mackerels (Bangde) or 15-25 Sardines (Tarle) depending on the size)
  • 15 long dry red chillies deseeded (mix of Byadge and Kashmiri chillies)
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 5-6 tbsp of vinegar (ready to use)
  • 3/4th cup of boiled & cooled water +extra to grind the masala 
  • 1-2 whole bulbs of garlic chopped
  • 1 inch ginger chopped
  • 4-5 green chillies chopped
  • salt to taste
 Method:
1. Clean and allow the fish to drain on a colander. If required cut the fish into smaller pieces. Pat dry. Marinate it with turmeric powder, salt and half tsp of vinegar for 30 mins. Fry the fish lightly on both sides and keep aside to cool. If you can, debone the fish. 
2. Grind the red chillies, cumin seeds, turmeric powder in 2 tbsp of vinegar and a little boiled & cooled water to a fine paste
3. Mix the masala, chopped garlic, ginger, chillies with 3-4 tbps of vinegar with 3/4th cup boiled water and cook for 30-40 minutes on a slow fire. Turn off the flame and keep aside to cool.
4. Mix the fried fish with the masala so that every piece is well coated with the masala. Store in an airtight glass or ceramic jar (not plastic). Fish mole will last for 8-10 days without refrigeration and for longer under refrigeration.


Sepia Memories
This picture somehow reminds me of how fish mole may have looked if my grandma had made it and handed me some old pictures. 


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tharlyanchi Khodi (Sardine Curry)

A weekend special just for you all - a fiery red spicy curry that is so typically Mangalorean and so perfect for  sardines (or mackerels), so perfect when the weather outside is bleary and dull. I know it sounds a bit odd when I say this - but eating this curry with fresh, piping hot rice actually refreshes me! Oh the joys of having a simple meal consisting of fish curry, rice and a vegetable on the side! I bet every Mangalorean will agree with me on this one - that there is nothing as lovely as a satisfying afternoon meal on an uneventful day. A meal that will lure you into snoozeville. 

In my personal opinion sardines are best eaten when you have like minded company and when you have the time to leisurely pick through the bones and enjoy every bit of the meal. This fish is certainly not for the unadventurous, not for those who cry at the thought of picking through fish filled with bones - so I think most of the current generation of people can safely skip this fish although I would urge you to try it - Sardines are rich in nutrients that are essential for good health. They contain Omega 3 fatty acids that reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease. Fatty acids may also help lower blood sugar levels and because they are lower on the food chain, sardines are very low in contaminants. So the next time you visit the supermarket do buy yourself some canned sardines or better still if you can bargain them off a fisher woman at your local market.


I know that come monsoons, Mangaloreans in Mangalore often crib about the non availability of other types of fish and end up buying only sardines or mackerels. "Bangude bale, boothai bale" (meaning Come! mackerels and sardines on offer!) often rings in one's ears when you step into the typical Mangalorean fish markets. The whole experience of wading through the icky muddy rain water and finding the best bargain whilst holding onto the umbrella in a downpour is something else. Then to come home, clean the fish and quickly cook them in a fiery hot curry or marinate them to be fried on a hot griddle while the rain continues to pour outside with vengeance is something that only a few people from my generation will ever experience. Really, there is something charming about tile houses in Mangalore with kitchens that smell divinely of sardine curry and freshly boiled brown rice.

The best way to eat sardines they say is to fry them - crisp or not so crisp its your call. R likes them crisp and I like to dig into the flesh. But best of all is the red curry that creates perfect harmony with the flavours of the fish.

Note: The same curry can be made in the preparation of Mackerels (Bangde in Konkani/Bangude in Tulu), Pony Fish/Silver Belly (Khampi in Konkani), Hilsa (Pedi in Konkani /Sodi in Tulu)


Tharlyanchi Khodi (Sardine Curry)
Prep time: 15mins | Cooking time: 10mins | Serves 2 *see note#1

You Need
  • 14-15 medium sized sardines
  • 1 tbsp oil 
  • vinegar to taste *see note#2
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 6 long dry red chillies (Byadge) *see note#3
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic with skin
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 marble size ball of tamarind * see note#2
  • 1/8th tsp fenugreek/methi seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
For the seasoning/shindaap *see note#2
  • 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped or left whole
  • 1/2 inch ginger finely chopped
Method:
1. Descale and clean the sardines thoroughly and drain on a colander.
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala' to a fine paste. Reserve the masala water.
3. In a heavy bottomed pan heat the oil and if you using the seasoning, add them at this point and fry for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the ground masala paste and fry for half a minute and then add the reserved water and a little more to achieve desired consistency. Add salt to taste and add a few drops of vinegar if required. Bring the gravy to a boil
5. Gently drop the sardines into the curry and simmer for a half a minute *see note#4. Turn off the flame and serve hot with rice.

Notes:
1. Preparation & cooking time mentioned above pertains only to the curry and doesn't include time taken to clean the sardines
2. You may make the curry without the seasoning/shindaap - in this case use the tamarind while grinding and skip the vinegar. The Shirko-Shindaap method of making fish curry involves the items for seasoning and also uses vinegar instead of tamarind as a souring agent. If you wish to use both, use them according to taste. You may also use green chillies in the Shindaap - I have skipped it in this recipe.
3. Adjust the dry red chillies as per taste. This kind of curry doesn't yield in a lot of gravy, so if you wish to reduce the spiciness, just use the same number of chillies without their seeds and a bigger onion instead of a small one - this will give you sufficient gravy for 2-3 people.
4. Use your judgement while simmering the curry once the fish has been added. Depending on the variety and size of the fish used you may be required to adjust the cooking time. Do not over cook fish as the flesh of fish is very delicate and continues to cook in its steam well after the flame has been turned off.
5. The same curry can be made in the preparation of Mackerels (Bangde in Konkani/Bangude in Tulu), Pony Fish/Silver Belly (Khampi in Konkani), Hilsa (Pedi in Konkani /Sodi in Tulu)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Garlicky Spaghetti & Vegetable Clear Soup

So I am back after yet another mini break. This time I was busy with my brother and his family who are in town and came over to spend some quality time with us. The kids had a blast, the adults relaxed at home and ate out a lot - mostly at tried and tested restaurants and I thoroughly enjoyed all the Italian fare I had at Cafe Mangi, Versova - so much so that I am actually looking forward to eating out again this weekend. 

After all the heavy duty eating (a.k.a hogging), we decided that our systems needed a break and so I pulled out some ingredients from my fridge and pantry to make this lovely soup. I haven't posted many soup recipes, simply because I don't click any pictures when its soup time for us. Secondly, I hate clicking pictures at night with no natural light around, so I chuck the entire plan of doing a photo shoot. However, this soup was just so simple and delicious that I had to grab a picture before the soup vanished. 

R & I  are soup people - especially clear soups. The addition of pasta and vegetables or chicken is always welcome as it adds more substance to an otherwise plain clear soup. This soup goes really well with some plain slices of bread especially multi-grain bread - even better if you can toast them a bit before serving. There's nothing like a hot soup accompanied by a warm slice of bread (buttered or not) when it is pouring cats, dogs & donkeys outside, is there?


Garlicky Spaghetti & Vegetable Clear Soup
Prep time:15 mins | Cooking time: 10mins | Serves: 2-3

You Need
  • 1/2 pod (about 12-13 cloves) garlic finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tbsp paprika/chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup boneless chicken cut into tiny pieces * see notes
  • 1/2 a yellow or green zucchini cut into small cubes * see notes
  • 50-75gm spaghetti (or use pasta of your choice)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups (approx) water
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley or coriander (optional)
Additional flavouring if required
  • 1/2 a stock cube (I used maggi)
  • 1 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
Method:
1. Cook spaghetti or pasta as per instructions on the package (*see notes). Drain, refresh with cold water & keep aside.
2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat the olive oil and toss in the garlic and chicken pieces. Fry for a couple of minutes before adding the paprika & zucchini and continue to fry for another minute.
3. Add the water and bring the soup to a boil. Add salt to taste or the additional flavouring items as mentioned above. Mix in the spaghetti and simmer for half a minute. Garnish with chopped coriander/parsley and serve hot.

Notes:
If you like you can skip the chicken and replace it with any other vegetable like french beans,carrot or potato.
Do not add too much cheese as you don't want it to mask the flavour of garlic which should be dominant.
If you intend to use the stock cube then use salt sparingly.
To cook spaghetti, place water in a large pan and bring it to a boil, add the spaghetti, salt to taste & a few drops of oil and continue to cook for 7 minutes and then drain. This gives you spaghetti that is al-dente (90% cooked)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kombi Bafath (Chicken Bafat Curry)

Chicken is one of the sources of protein that we greatly rely on in my house. It comes next only to fish. But of late the two have switched places and I end up cooking a lot more chicken than fish - mainly because the latter is not easy on the pocket these days, involves a lot more hard work in the cleaning department and doesn't go down Junior's throat that easily. But then, kids go through different phases when it comes to choice of food. Chicken however wins hands down because of its taste and versatility. One can cook it in various ways and forms - whole chicken, with and without bone and minced/ground chicken are some common ways I use. I don't grill a lot although I think I should slowly increase the use of that technique mainly for health reasons.



Being Mangaloreans it generally means that we cook a lot of curries suitable to eaten with rice, especially boiled rice. Thanks to the abundance of cook books I own I find myself flipping through them almost on a daily basis, bookmarking this recipe or that (if I am recipe specific) or simply seeking ideas to create my own recipe. I am not much of a recipe creator, Roshan is and he loves to experiment. These days I insist that he writes down the recipe right after the cooking session is over. So in the next few days I hope to delight you with some recipes that are straight from his kitchen.


I found this recipe in Isidore Coelho's book called 'Ranpi' which is the Konkani version of his widely popular book 'The Chef', however, the latter has a lot more recipes in English while the Konkani version has only traditional (and mostly forgotten) recipes.

The Bafat style chicken is typically Mangalorean as Bafat powder is a blend of spices that is common to Mangalorean cuisine. Although it is regarded as a seasoning for pork, it can be used for a whole variety of recipes ranging from vegetables to fish to meat. You can make your own bafat powder if you have a good quality spice grinding mixie/food processor. Alternatively you can give the spices to a mill for powdering. 

In Mangalore, Bafat powder is available at most grocery shops and Catholic owned bakeries. In Mumbai, it is mostly available at Mangalore Stores outlets.

If possible I suggest you make your own Bafat powder - cost wise it may not make much of a difference but you can certainly have a blend that is more fresh and aromatic. Click here for the recipe.


Kombi Bafath (Chicken Bafat Curry)
Preparation time: 15mins | Cooking time:20mins | Serves 4-5

You Need:
  • 1 kg chicken on the bone
  • 1 coconut to extract thick & thin roce (milk) * see notes for substitute
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp oil or ghee for frying
For the shindaap (sliced ingredients)
  • 2 medium size onions thinly sliced
  • 3 small green chillies slit (adjust to taste)
  • 12 small flakes of garlic minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger minced
For the bafat masala (to be powdered)
  • 8-9 Kashmiri chillies
  • 20 peppercorns (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
  • 2 cloves *see notes
  • 1/2 inch piece cinnamon *see notes
Method:
1. Cut chicken into medium sized pieces, wash and drain on a colander. Keep the sliced ingredients (shindaap) ready. Make a fine powder out of all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala' using a dry grinder
2. In a heavy bottomed kadhai or pan heat the ghee or oil and fry the sliced onions till they turn golden pink - this takes about 5-6 minutes on a medium flame. Next add the chicken pieces and the rest of the 'shindaap' (green chillies, garlic, ginger) and mix well. Fry for a couple of minutes.
3. Toss in the masala powder, mix well so that all the pieces are coated with it. Add salt to taste. Let the chicken fry over a slow flame for another 2-3 minutes before you add the thin coconut milk. Cover and cook till half done.
4. Add the thick coconut milk (add only as much as required), add the vinegar & check taste. Simmer until done without covering the pan.
5. Serve hot with rice (preferably red/brown rice)

Notes:
a) Making the coconut milk
To make thin coconut milk
Dissolve 3 tbsp coconut milk powder in 1-1/2 cups of warm water

To make thick coconut milk
Dissolve 6tbsp coconut milk powder in 3/4th cups of warm water

b) Bafat powder:
You may add 2 tsp coriander powder while grinding the bafat powder. This will add to the flavour and tone down the spice. However, I didn't add it as the recipe did not ask for it.
You can skip the cloves and cinnamon if you don't like the taste of garam masala. Alternatively, prepare the powder without these two ingredients and add garam masala (about 1/2 tsp) separately during the cooking stage if you wish to.
If you don't wish to grind the bafat powder, you can skip it and use ready made bafat powder - about 2-3 tbsp (or to taste)


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Egg Stumbler (Scrambled Eggs with Bread Bites)

One of my fondest childhood memories involve this dish. I have eaten the Egg Stumbler for as long as I can remember. My mum used to make this for us very often and it served as a breakfast cum anytime meal which could be put together in a jiffy. As you know scrambled eggs by themselves are a nutritious snack, add to it a handful of cubed bread pieces and what you have is a complete meal in itself. So filling, tasty and nutritious. 


While in Mangalore I used to live in the vicinity of 'Vitthi's Sugarcane Shop' - a shop which was so famous among school students for the amazing sugarcane juice, Maggi and egg stumbler that Mr. Victor used to dole out everyday. Who is Vitthi then? Well, we Mangalorean Catholics have this habit of reducing fine English names to a rubble. We snip the ends and localize them and the final result of a person's most respected name does not even remotely sound like the original, save maybe for the first initial. For example Victor becomes Vitthi, Elizabeth becomes Elize or Lizzie, Gregory becomes Gigu, Dominic or Domingo becomes Doonnga, Philomena becomes Minna, Dulcine becomes Docchi, Steven or Stephen becomes Itti  (for goodness sakes!!!). The surnames are not spared either! The list is endless and if you are a Mangalorean Catholic reading this, I bet you are smiling - for you know another dozen names to lengthen this list. Trust me, the list is endless, the best names have either gone through a metamorphosis over the decades or some of our Konkani singers have successfully ruined their credibility by crooning them over & over again. Remember, "Belaaaaa, Isabella"? So people from my generation hesitate to christen their children with some of these fine names for the fear of being ridiculed in public with these songs. Or maybe I am the only one with this fear. When it was time for us to name our son, we had gone through this painful process of vetoing every name that could be reduced to something else in Konkani, had a song to its credit or simply had double meaning. Sigh!


Ok, so back to Mr. Victor a.ka Vitthi's shop - I am sure that beside the usual crowd in Mannagudda (the area where I lived) who savoured it, even students who came regularly to Mangala Stadium for sports got the chance to eat the egg stumbler. Most passersby entered his 'cafe' on getting just a whiff of his heavenly scrambled eggs. The word 'stumbler' probably came into being because most people could not pronounce 'scrambled' - they either said 'scrumbled' or 'stumbled' - so you can use your imagination here. 

The way Mr. Vitthi made his Maggi was very different from the package instructions - so much so that people in my neighbourhood started to replicate it in their homes. Sugarcane juice was another among his 3 crown jewels and I don't really recall tasting it there because I had another favourite shop in the local veggie cum fish market at Urwa. These three items on Vitthi's menu card were by far the most famous 'healthy' street snacks that I can think of. They satisfied many a student during a meal break. I wish Vitthi's shop was still around (a small open hall with 6-7 long 'baank' (wooden benches) that could fit in 7-8 youngsters at one go, each one hungrily devouring his snack while Vitthi would squeeze the life out of the sugarcanes in the juice extractor and serve you a tall glass of chilled sugarcane juice) but sadly it closed down after his death and remains so till date. 

May his soul rest in peace.


Egg Stumbler (Scrambled Eggs with Bread Bites)
Prep time: 5-10mins | Cooking time: 10mins | Serves 2

You Need:
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 slices of bread 
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized green chilli finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder * see notes
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin/jeera powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves finely chopped (for garnishing)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Break the eggs in a bowl and beat well. Snip the hard edges of the bread and cut them into cubes. Keep aside
2. In a heavy bottomed pan/kadhai, heat the oil and toss in the chopped green chilli and onions and fry till the onions are almost golden. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a couple of minutes till mushy (add salt at this stage to speed up this process).
3. Add the turmeric, red chilli, pepper and cumin powders and fry on a low heat. Pour in the beaten egg mixture and stir on a medium low flame for about 2-3 minutes taking care to see that they don't get scorched.
4. When the eggs have cooked just right *see notes, add in the bread cubes and mix gently.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.

Notes:
  • You may use white or brown bread as per your choice, ensure that it is fresh but not crumbly. 
  • Adjust all the spice elements (green chilli, red chilli powder & pepper powder) as per your taste. You can skip the chilli powder if you have low tolerance to spice.
  • Eggs need to be cooked just right - neither undercooked nor too dry as the bread needs to absorb the juiciness slightly to give the right taste.
  • Make sure you had a wee bit of extra salt because once the bread is added the whole mixture could taste bland - It will be harder to adjust the salt after the bread has been added as the bread can turn soggy soon. 
  • This dish needs to be prepared and served fresh and piping hot as the bread can turn soggy if prepared in advance.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dal Khichdi (Lentil Porridge) with Spinach & Carrots - A Complete Meal

They say that there are challenges at every stage of a child's growth. This is so true. When little Yu was still a baby he ate well yet there were other problems to deal with. As soon as he stepped into his Terrible Threes the worst problem we had to face as parents was his depleting food intake. I failed to understand how a child who was so active all day could survive with little or no food. The doctor said it was normal and I should stop banging my head against the wall. But the mother in me would not bear to see a hungry child or the one who would come to me at odd times begging for food that I didn't see as healthy or nutritious at all. But I think God is merciful. He has thrown in some small mercies at every stage of a child's upbringing. There are bound to be some things that a child will want to eat and in Yu's case it has been curd rice and dal khichdi, the only two mushy foods that he is still willing to eat without twitching his nose.


From the time he was a baby I have safely fed him dal khichdi - a porridge of lentils and rice with little flavouring making it a complete and nutritious meal. It goes perfectly well with anything you want to team it with. Babies will love it with lots of ghee or curds and older kids will like it served with a bowl of curds or kebabs on the side. Adults like me love it too - although not everyone will take it to it. I have prepared this khichdi so many times in the past 4 years that I can make it with my eyes closed. Only this time I thought of adding both carrots and spinach to it as a way to sneak in some vegetables without Yu's knowledge.



I was introduced to dal khichdi when I first came to Bombay. We ate out a lot with friends on weekends. The typical dinner and a movie. Whenever we ordered North Indian fare we would order a whole lot of grilled and tandoori non veg items and wound up the meal with a nice piping hot serving of dal khichdi. After hogging all those starters there was no way we could even look at a biryani, so dal khichdi it was. I am still not sure how they make it in the restaurants but I am guessing that the lentils and rice are cooked to perfection on a very slow flame for hours - a luxury I cannot afford in my house. The pressure cooker comes to my rescue every time. 

A major part of the flavour in a dal khichdi is credited to the quality of dals/lentils and liberal amounts of ghee used. These along with the other spices make for a beautiful dish that can nourish even the most battered soul. This is also one reason why I prefer cooking it whenever Yu is unwell. It's probably the most palatable dish after our good old rice congee (pez/ganji)

You can make it without the spinach and carrots. Even plain khichdi made with 2-3 lentils tastes just as good. I have included the vegetables just to make it more nutritious for my son.


Dal Khichdi with Spinach & Carrots
Soaking time: 45 mins-1hr (optional) | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 10-15mins | Serves 2 

You Need:
  • 2 tbsp toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 2 tbsp masoor dal (split red lentils)
  • 2 tbsp moong dal (split green gram without skin)
  • 4 tbsp raw rice (any small grained rice) *see notes
  • 3 cups water (approx) *see notes
  • salt to taste (approx 1 level tsp)
Optional
  • 5-6 spinach (palak) leaves finely chopped
  • 1/2 carrot (1/4 cup) grated
For the seasoning
  • 2-3 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 2 pods of cardamom
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
  • 1 small green chilli slit (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped/grated ginger (optional)
  • 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
  • 1/4 of a lime - juice extracted or 1/2 juicy tomato chopped
For garnishing
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tbsp ghee
Method:
1. Wash and soak the dals/lentils and the rice together for 45 mins-1hr (if you are running short of time you can skip the soaking). Drain and keep aside.
2. Heat the ghee or oil in a pressure cooker and toss in the cumin seeds and fry for a couple of seconds. Add the cardamoms, cloves & cinnamon stick and fry. Add the green chilli & fry till transparent. Add the chopped ginger, sliced onions and fry until golden.
3. Reduce the flame, add the turmeric powder and drained lentils & rice and fry for half a minute. If you wish to add the palak & carrots you can do so at this stage. Mix well.
3. Add the water, salt to taste, lime juice (or tomatoes) and stir well. Bring the contents to a boil, fasten the lid and place the weight. Cook on a full flame for about 5-6 whistles*see notes.
4. Remove from flame and let the cooker cool down completely before loosening up the whistle. Stir once and serve with a dollop of ghee and curds/yogurt.

Notes:
1. You can use any kind of raw rice - small grained like sona masoori, kolam or ghee rice or even basmati rice. However you may be required to increase the amount of water if you are using superior quality of rice (like basmati). The ratio of 1:3 (lentils to water) results in a perfectly mushy khichdi.
2. If you have skipped soaking the lentils and rice you will need a little extra water and probably a couple of more whistles in the pressure cooking time. I have tried the same with both types of rice (small grained & basmati) and with and without soaking the grains. Please use your judgement here. When in doubt use a little extra water as the khichdi is meant to be mushy anyways, but you don't want to scorch the base of your cooker with burnt lentils in case of insufficient water. Watery khichdi can be rectified by cooking further without covering the pan.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mangalorean Fish Mole (Fish in Vinegar/Fish Preserve) When Hubby Cooks

It's not everyday my heart brims with happiness while writing a post. I touch upon a myriad of moods with each post - most of which I express in letters and a majority of it is still hidden within me but today I want to express wholesome happiness. And gratitude. To you - to each one of you who voted for me last year and through the first quarter of this year while I was nominated on Babble.com's list of Top 100 Mom Food Bloggers for 2012 and guess what? The results have been declared and Babble.com has ranked Ruchik Randhap at #87!  


Babble.com has also honoured my blog by giving the winners a badge that I now proudly display on the blog.

Thanks to each and every one of you who has voted for Ruchik Randhap and popularized it in your own special way. For those of you who were unable to vote, thank you for your continued support, encouragement, love & appreciation that makes blogging worth it. Thanks especially for your lovely emails that are so heart warming, honest and generous. They truly make me feel very special.

Ruchik Randhap is close to my heart as something which started as a channel to divert my boredom into something productive has slowly transformed itself into a full fledged passion and a new platform to express my thoughts and get the creative juices flowing. Besides just showcasing or recording my tried and tested recipes my goal has evolved into one where I attempt to preserve the culinary diversity of Mangalore and I hope to succeed in that. Every new recipe helps me learn new things - about ingredients, flavours, cooking techniques and not to forget the myriad diversities within Mangalorean cuisine - so many cultures in Mangalore bring with them a variety of sub cuisines - so distinctive, yet so similar. Like Babble.com has put it, I am determined to put this town on the culinary map.


What could be a better ode to 'preserving our culinary diversity' than a recipe that comes close to representing that? Fish Mole of course! A simple and quick to make fish preserve or simply put, fish in vinegar. This is not to be confused with Fish Molee which is a preparation that beside other ingredients includes onions and coconut milk and is more of a curry than a preserve. Fish Molee is typically part of Keralan cuisine and Fish Mole (or Moal) is the Mangalorean way of preserving fish temporarily in a medley of spices and vinegar. Again, this should not be confused with fish pickle which is prepared using different varieties of fish, a lot more ingredients and a different technique that helps preserve it for upto a year.


The full credit of this recipe goes to Roshan- I think it's time I started calling him by his full name instead of just his initial 'R', Mr.Sequeira, Hubbykins and other terms of endearment that I have often used in this blog. So yes, this recipe was born after an argument - I claimed that he did not like the fish mole and he argued that he did. I was wrong in the end, because I guess I had simply confused the fish mole with the fish molee (he doesn't dig coconut milk based fish curries you see). To put all doubts to rest he cheerfully prepared this mole over the weekend and the taste has just gotten better after each passing day.

When you make it don't be so tempted as to eat much of it right after it has been prepared. It will taste awfully tangy and may put you off completely. Instead I suggest you to wait for a couple of days by which time the fish pieces would have absorbed the spices & vinegar and aged beautifully. 


Fish Mole
Prep time:20mins | Cooking time: 45mins | Yield: Fills up a 500ml jar (approx)

You Need:
  • 4 palm sized slices of King Fish (Surmai) or 10 Mackerels (Bangde) or 15-25 Sardines (Tarle) depending on the size)
  • 15 long dry red chillies deseeded (mix of Byadge and Kashmiri chillies)
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 5-6 tbsp of vinegar (ready to use)
  • 3/4th cup of boiled & cooled water +extra to grind the masala 
  • 1-2 whole bulbs of garlic chopped
  • 1 inch ginger chopped
  • 4-5 green chillies chopped
  • salt to taste
 Method:
1. Clean and allow the fish to drain on a colander. If required cut the fish into smaller pieces. Pat dry. Marinate it with turmeric powder, salt and half tsp of vinegar for 30 mins. Fry the fish lightly on both sides and keep aside to cool. If you can, debone the fish. 
2. Grind the red chillies, cumin seeds, turmeric powder in 2 tbsp of vinegar and a little boiled & cooled water to a fine paste
3. Mix the masala, chopped garlic, ginger, chillies with 3-4 tbps of vinegar with 3/4th cup boiled water and cook for 30-40 minutes on a slow fire. Turn off the flame and keep aside to cool.
4. Mix the fried fish with the masala so that every piece is well coated with the masala. Store in an airtight glass or ceramic jar (not plastic). Fish mole will last for 8-10 days without refrigeration and for longer under refrigeration.


Sepia Memories
This picture somehow reminds me of how fish mole may have looked if my grandma had made it and handed me some old pictures. 


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Tharlyanchi Khodi (Sardine Curry)

A weekend special just for you all - a fiery red spicy curry that is so typically Mangalorean and so perfect for  sardines (or mackerels), so perfect when the weather outside is bleary and dull. I know it sounds a bit odd when I say this - but eating this curry with fresh, piping hot rice actually refreshes me! Oh the joys of having a simple meal consisting of fish curry, rice and a vegetable on the side! I bet every Mangalorean will agree with me on this one - that there is nothing as lovely as a satisfying afternoon meal on an uneventful day. A meal that will lure you into snoozeville. 

In my personal opinion sardines are best eaten when you have like minded company and when you have the time to leisurely pick through the bones and enjoy every bit of the meal. This fish is certainly not for the unadventurous, not for those who cry at the thought of picking through fish filled with bones - so I think most of the current generation of people can safely skip this fish although I would urge you to try it - Sardines are rich in nutrients that are essential for good health. They contain Omega 3 fatty acids that reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease and the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease. Fatty acids may also help lower blood sugar levels and because they are lower on the food chain, sardines are very low in contaminants. So the next time you visit the supermarket do buy yourself some canned sardines or better still if you can bargain them off a fisher woman at your local market.


I know that come monsoons, Mangaloreans in Mangalore often crib about the non availability of other types of fish and end up buying only sardines or mackerels. "Bangude bale, boothai bale" (meaning Come! mackerels and sardines on offer!) often rings in one's ears when you step into the typical Mangalorean fish markets. The whole experience of wading through the icky muddy rain water and finding the best bargain whilst holding onto the umbrella in a downpour is something else. Then to come home, clean the fish and quickly cook them in a fiery hot curry or marinate them to be fried on a hot griddle while the rain continues to pour outside with vengeance is something that only a few people from my generation will ever experience. Really, there is something charming about tile houses in Mangalore with kitchens that smell divinely of sardine curry and freshly boiled brown rice.

The best way to eat sardines they say is to fry them - crisp or not so crisp its your call. R likes them crisp and I like to dig into the flesh. But best of all is the red curry that creates perfect harmony with the flavours of the fish.

Note: The same curry can be made in the preparation of Mackerels (Bangde in Konkani/Bangude in Tulu), Pony Fish/Silver Belly (Khampi in Konkani), Hilsa (Pedi in Konkani /Sodi in Tulu)


Tharlyanchi Khodi (Sardine Curry)
Prep time: 15mins | Cooking time: 10mins | Serves 2 *see note#1

You Need
  • 14-15 medium sized sardines
  • 1 tbsp oil 
  • vinegar to taste *see note#2
  • salt to taste
For the masala
  • 6 long dry red chillies (Byadge) *see note#3
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin/jeera
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic with skin
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 marble size ball of tamarind * see note#2
  • 1/8th tsp fenugreek/methi seeds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp grated coconut (optional)
For the seasoning/shindaap *see note#2
  • 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic roughly chopped or left whole
  • 1/2 inch ginger finely chopped
Method:
1. Descale and clean the sardines thoroughly and drain on a colander.
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala' to a fine paste. Reserve the masala water.
3. In a heavy bottomed pan heat the oil and if you using the seasoning, add them at this point and fry for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the ground masala paste and fry for half a minute and then add the reserved water and a little more to achieve desired consistency. Add salt to taste and add a few drops of vinegar if required. Bring the gravy to a boil
5. Gently drop the sardines into the curry and simmer for a half a minute *see note#4. Turn off the flame and serve hot with rice.

Notes:
1. Preparation & cooking time mentioned above pertains only to the curry and doesn't include time taken to clean the sardines
2. You may make the curry without the seasoning/shindaap - in this case use the tamarind while grinding and skip the vinegar. The Shirko-Shindaap method of making fish curry involves the items for seasoning and also uses vinegar instead of tamarind as a souring agent. If you wish to use both, use them according to taste. You may also use green chillies in the Shindaap - I have skipped it in this recipe.
3. Adjust the dry red chillies as per taste. This kind of curry doesn't yield in a lot of gravy, so if you wish to reduce the spiciness, just use the same number of chillies without their seeds and a bigger onion instead of a small one - this will give you sufficient gravy for 2-3 people.
4. Use your judgement while simmering the curry once the fish has been added. Depending on the variety and size of the fish used you may be required to adjust the cooking time. Do not over cook fish as the flesh of fish is very delicate and continues to cook in its steam well after the flame has been turned off.
5. The same curry can be made in the preparation of Mackerels (Bangde in Konkani/Bangude in Tulu), Pony Fish/Silver Belly (Khampi in Konkani), Hilsa (Pedi in Konkani /Sodi in Tulu)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Garlicky Spaghetti & Vegetable Clear Soup

So I am back after yet another mini break. This time I was busy with my brother and his family who are in town and came over to spend some quality time with us. The kids had a blast, the adults relaxed at home and ate out a lot - mostly at tried and tested restaurants and I thoroughly enjoyed all the Italian fare I had at Cafe Mangi, Versova - so much so that I am actually looking forward to eating out again this weekend. 

After all the heavy duty eating (a.k.a hogging), we decided that our systems needed a break and so I pulled out some ingredients from my fridge and pantry to make this lovely soup. I haven't posted many soup recipes, simply because I don't click any pictures when its soup time for us. Secondly, I hate clicking pictures at night with no natural light around, so I chuck the entire plan of doing a photo shoot. However, this soup was just so simple and delicious that I had to grab a picture before the soup vanished. 

R & I  are soup people - especially clear soups. The addition of pasta and vegetables or chicken is always welcome as it adds more substance to an otherwise plain clear soup. This soup goes really well with some plain slices of bread especially multi-grain bread - even better if you can toast them a bit before serving. There's nothing like a hot soup accompanied by a warm slice of bread (buttered or not) when it is pouring cats, dogs & donkeys outside, is there?


Garlicky Spaghetti & Vegetable Clear Soup
Prep time:15 mins | Cooking time: 10mins | Serves: 2-3

You Need
  • 1/2 pod (about 12-13 cloves) garlic finely chopped or grated
  • 1 tbsp paprika/chilli flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup boneless chicken cut into tiny pieces * see notes
  • 1/2 a yellow or green zucchini cut into small cubes * see notes
  • 50-75gm spaghetti (or use pasta of your choice)
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups (approx) water
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley or coriander (optional)
Additional flavouring if required
  • 1/2 a stock cube (I used maggi)
  • 1 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
Method:
1. Cook spaghetti or pasta as per instructions on the package (*see notes). Drain, refresh with cold water & keep aside.
2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat the olive oil and toss in the garlic and chicken pieces. Fry for a couple of minutes before adding the paprika & zucchini and continue to fry for another minute.
3. Add the water and bring the soup to a boil. Add salt to taste or the additional flavouring items as mentioned above. Mix in the spaghetti and simmer for half a minute. Garnish with chopped coriander/parsley and serve hot.

Notes:
If you like you can skip the chicken and replace it with any other vegetable like french beans,carrot or potato.
Do not add too much cheese as you don't want it to mask the flavour of garlic which should be dominant.
If you intend to use the stock cube then use salt sparingly.
To cook spaghetti, place water in a large pan and bring it to a boil, add the spaghetti, salt to taste & a few drops of oil and continue to cook for 7 minutes and then drain. This gives you spaghetti that is al-dente (90% cooked)