Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mooli Paratha (Whole Wheat & Radish Flat Bread)

The last couple of months saw a 'mooli' obsession in me. A vegetable that never makes its appearance on my dining table was given a chance - by all three of us. I had found a nice recipe for a paratha (flatbread) that is a great way to disguise veggies that have no takers. It makes for a great breakfast option too - nutritious, delicious and quick. It is fairly mess free and keeps longer (in terms of shelf life) - a great option for those who want a snack on the move. 

Parathas are a much loved breakfast option in my home - we just wolf them down with a generous layer of mayonnaise or cheese spread. However, I had never tried making these before and was quite apprehensive as both Roshan and I have never liked this vegetable especially because of its pungent smell and mediocre taste (which I now realise was mainly because of the way it was prepared).


Post mooli paratha I have decided to give every vegetable a second chance. If something is prepared differently - in at least 3-4 different ways and still doesn't get any 'likes' we will then veto it. I am glad I tried out this recipe and have one extra option for breakfast. Thanks to my friend Anupama Michael from a food group on FB for this lovely recipe!


Mooli Paratha
Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 10-12mins | Yield 6-7 medium sized parathas | Serves 2 (or 3)

You Need:
  • 1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour * see notes
  • 1/4 cup grated radish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • salt to taste
  • water to knead the dough (approx 1/2 cup)
  • oil or ghee for frying
Method:
1. Place all the ingredients in a large flat bowl (meant for kneading dough) and mix to resemble bread crumbs. Keep aside for a few minutes as the radish and onions will leave some water.
2. Using sufficient water knead into a soft dough. Dust with some extra flour if the dough is too sticky. Keep aside for 5 minutes
3. Pinch out lemon sized balls of dough and on a clean working surface roll out each ball into a flat paratha. Fry on a hot skillet/tawa till golden brown on both sides. Drizzle ghee or oil to aid frying.
4. Serve hot with thick curds or pickle (traditional serving suggestions) or cheese spread or mayonnaise. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nalli Nihari - When Hubby Cooks!

'When Hubby Cooks' was a random line I used for one of the first recipes I posted that my husband Roshan had prepared - now it has almost become a monthly series of recipes that he lovingly creates with his expert hands much to the delight of the mouths he feeds at home (and also the readers who end up trying his recipes). Well, thanks to Roshan for putting his passion to good use - our Sunday meals have become a lot more fun and our dining table is a place for great meal time conversations - all revolving around the dish of the day and cuisines of the world.



Well, although you may have heard of the Nalli Nihari did you know that this dish is the National Dish of Pakistan? Our neighbouring country that is always at logger heads with ours and is in the eye of a storm almost all the time is also a place where great food and great music comes from. Beautiful women too :-) Just recently we were introduced a little more to their food culture through an article in BBC Good Food magazine's September edition and that made us explore some more of Pakistan's food heritage via the internet. Being primarily a muslim country, Pakistan is famous for their delectable meat dishes especially mutton - which also happens to be our favourite (mine at least) and I am always up for a new experiment with this meat. Mutton is often synonymous with goat meat in India as that's what is available most times at our local butchers. So since the mister had picked up some extra portion of nalli (marrow bones) on his last visit, he began to search for a good recipe to put it to use.

Apparently Nihari was eaten early in the morning during the Mughal era and was a breakfast dish. The word Nihari is derived from the term 'Nihar' which means 'morning after sunrise'. Nihari was often cooked overnight or sometimes even buried underground while it cooked so the resultant dish would have very tender morsels of meat. Nihari was prepared with either beef or mutton although the leg of lamb is more popularly served today.


When Roshan started preparing the dish without using the pressure cooker I was rather tensed. Would we get our afternoon meal on time? I asked him, knowing that here in India the red meat available takes forever to cook without at least the partial use of a pressure cooker. But surprisingly the whole dish - from start to finish - was done under 50 mins or so and was devoured in less than 5 mins. A man who does not like too much of garam masala (blend of spices) in his food was actually making some from scratch - when I saw this, I rolled my eyes and made a quick exit out of the kitchen. You see, we are opposites in our nature and while I totally adore the aroma of fresh garam masala he detests it. Anyway, I waited for the final dish to make its appearance. It quickly got plated and a few hurried clicks later made it to the dining table. The combination of Nalli Nihari with piping hot plain parathas (we buy the ready to fry variety from Al-Kabeer) was out of the world. I wish we had some home made kuboos or a more traditional accompaniment to go with it. As each of us took bites of the paratha dipped in this luxurious curry, we were quickly transported into a different level of gastronomic bliss - nirvana, if you please. Succulent pieces of meat drenched in an aromatic spice rich gravy - a delicacy waiting to be experienced, enjoyed and loved.

The most mind blowing part was the subtlety of the garam masala - not overpowering in any way, yet bold enough to make its presence felt and lend that unique taste and aroma to the meat and make Nalli Nihari what it is.


Verdict: This whole dish was so melt-in-the-mouth and finger licking good that we didn't need any side dish or accompaniment to the meal. I am also sure that we may have even over eaten if we didn't run out of parathas that day. By the way, this dish tastes just as fabulous with simple steamed rice. If you wish you can use ready made Nihari masala powder available in stores. However, I strongly believe that a freshly made blend will lend so much more aroma and flavour to your dish. So go right ahead and make it and tell us how you liked it!

(And please don't ask me if you can make this with chicken - it would be in my opinion, sacrilege!)

Nalli Nihari
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time 45mins (approx - depends on the quality/tenderness of meat) | Serves 3-4

Ingredients -
  • 1 kg lamb/goat meat leg pieces (Nalli) 
  • 3 tbsp pure ghee
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 cups lamb stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp lime/lemon juice
  • 1 inch ginger cut into thin strips (for garnishing)
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves chopped (for garnishing)
  • salt to taste
To make the Nihari Masala powder:
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 1/2tsp fennel seed (saunf)
  • 3 long dried red chilies (laal mirch)
  • 8 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • 3 green cardamoms (elaichi)
  • 1 black cardamom (badi elaichi)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder (jhaiphal)
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder (sunth)
  • 1/2 bay leaf (or a small one) (tej patta)
  • 1 blade of mace (javitri)
  • 4 cloves (laung)
  • 1/2 inch stick of cinnamon or cassia bark (dalchini)
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds (khus khus)
  • 1 tsp roasted bengal gram (chana dal)
Method -
1. Dry roast all the each of the ingredients for the Nihari Masala powder and grind it to a fine powder.
2. In a large heavy bottomed pan heat the ghee and fry the onions till they are well browned. Remove and keep aside till required.
3. To the same ghee, add the lamb and fry along with half of the nihari masala power till the meat becomes nice and brown. Add half the fried onions, salt to taste and 4 cups of water and cook till the meat is tender (should take about 45 minutes).  
4. Add the lamb stock, remaining nihari masala and fried onions.
5. Make a thick paste of wheat flour with 5 tablespoon of water (make sure there are no lumps) and add this to the lamb and continue to simmer till the gravy thickens.
6. Sprinkle lemon juice and garnish with ginger strips and coriander leaves and serve hot with plain parathas (made of maida) or Kerala Parota/Plain Rice/Pulao/Bread

Monday, October 22, 2012

Basic Coconut Chutney

Pan polay ani chetni (Rice crepes/Neer Dosa & Coconut Chutney) is probably the most popular and humblest on the Mangalorean breakfast menu. Since I completely love a hearty breakfast I prefer to have a typical South Indian breakfast and the Neer Dosa makes it to the breakfast table almost every week.


Among the host of chutneys that South Indians can rustle up in a jiffy, the coconut chutney seems to be the most common one. Just a blend of freshly grated coconut, chillies, tamarind/raw mango/lime juice, onion and ginger makes for a delicious accompaniment to a variety of idlis or dosas. 

You can use this chutney as a spread for your sandwiches and pep up the colour a bit by adding fresh coriander and/or mint leaves. If you wish you can season this chutney with mustard and curry leaves or a couple of slightly bruised garlic flakes. 

The thick version of this chutney is called as 'gatti chutney' in Kannada where 'gatti' means 'hard', however you can dilute the chutney a bit and then add the seasoning to make it slightly flowing in consistency. Enjoy it the way you like!


Basic Coconut Chutney
Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: Nil | Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 3/4 th cup grated coconut (only the white flesh)
  • 1 small onion (or 1/2 a medium sized one) chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger chopped
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp raw mango 
  • 1 small piece (1/4 tsp) of tamarind (optional)
  • 3-4 curry leaves/karipatta (optional)
  • salt to taste
Method:
Grind all the ingredients with very little water to yield a thick coarse paste (don't grind it too fine). Transfer into a bowl & serve.

Notes:
1. 1 tbsp raw mango is about 1 slice of a lemon sized raw mango - adjust to taste especially if you intend using the tamarind as well.
2. Instead of the curry leaves you may use mint leaves (approx 1 tbsp) or use both for an added flavour.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mutton Methi Biryani (Muslim Style)

Beautiful food to celebrate your happiest occasion - that's what all of us like don't we? In my case, a well made biryani makes any day a happy day. I totally love home made biryanis as I find them to be more flavourful even if it does not come out perfect as far as the rice goes. I know that most of us struggle with the rice and getting it right every time is a mammoth task. 

My first biryani which I prepared after my marriage was a disaster. I prepared it in the brand new pressure cooker which we received as our wedding gift - my mother is an expert in preparing tons of biryani rice in the cooker. I followed her method except for the most important instruction about the quanity of water to be used. I have no clue what actually went wrong with me that day when I was expecting my husband's friends over for dinner. I added an additional cup of water than required (shows my total ignorance at the technique of pressure cooking) and as expected the rice was a mushy mess. It was far less flavourful too and I was in tears. However, since these friends were (and still are) the jolly good types, they ate the biryani or porridge if you please, without any complaints. 


I abandoned making that biryani that day as I wanted to try it again only when I had mastered the art of making biryanis with perfectly cooked rice - with grains that didn't stick to each other but came out separate and long even after a grueling 'dum' cooking session. I cannot claim that I have 'mastered' the art of making biryanis because I still have those occasions when the rice gets slightly overcooked especially if I don't find my trusty Lal Quilla Basmati rice. 


So far I have never tried my hand at making biryanis or pulaos with any other variety of rice than basmati. I have heard a lot about the small grained rice that is popularly used down South especially in the Malabar regions of Kerala. I have eaten those biryanis long long ago and have got loads of rave reviews that biryanis made of small grained rice are simply to die for! Even though I sent Roshan on a mad hunt to find the jeera rice / ghee rice (nei choru ari as its called in Malayalam) I could not find any and ended up making this lovely biryani with regular long grained basmati rice and it turned out just fine. 

This recipe is nothing unusual but the lady who gave it to me Mrs. Lilly Lobo from Chikmagalur says that it is popularly made by her muslim neighbours from whom she learnt to make it. The addition of fenugreek (methi) leaves adds a lovely-yummy-super delicious taste to the preparation. She also suggests using freshly powdered Kashmiri chillies that add to the taste - so make sure you grind your own Kashmiri chilli powder if what is commercially available is not fresh. 

Among all the biryani recipes that I have tried, this one proved to be the most simple as there is no grinding of masalas involved (unless you make your own chilli powder!). So go make this biryani if you crave for some this weekend!!

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Mutton Methi Biryani (Muslim Style)
Prep time: 30mins | Cook time: 30mins+15mins (dum cooking) | Serves 6

For the rice
  • 600 gms (3cups) basmati rice * see note #1
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1 inch stick cinnamon or cassia bark
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • 5-1/2 cups of liquid (includes plain water+mutton gravy/stock+lime juice)
For the mutton curry
  • 1-1/2 kg Mutton on the bone
  • 5 long green chillies left whole (adjust to taste)
  • 250ml oil
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 inch stick cinnamon or cassia bark
  • 2-3 cardamoms
  • ¼ kg / 4 onions sliced fine
  • ¼ kg / 4 tomatoes chopped
  • 50gm ginger paste
  • 50gm garlic paste
  • 2 small bunches of mint leaves (approx 3/4th tightly packed cup)
  • 3 small bunches of coriander leaves (approx 1 tightly packed cup)
  • 1 fistful fenugreek (methi) leaves (approx 1/2 tightly packed cup)
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp curd (or 2 tbsp sour curd)
  • 1 stock cube (Maggi) - optional - for additional flavour
Optional (items for garnishing)
  • 2 medium sized onions finely sliced for browning (barian)
  • 15-20 cashewnut halves
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • ghee or oil as required
Method:
1. Wash and cut the mutton into big pieces (slightly bigger chunks than your regular curry cuts). Wash the rice in plenty of water 2-3 times or till the water runs clear. Soak for 15-20mins. 
2. In a large pressure cooker (at least 7.5 litres) heat the oil and toss in the whole green chillies (do not slit or cut) and fry for half a minute. Cover the pan just so they don't pop/splash hot oil on your face. Add the cloves, cardamoms and cassia bark and fry for a few seconds till you get a nice aroma. 
3. Add the sliced onions and fry till they turn golden. Toss in the ginger and garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste and fry till they turn mushy and the oil starts leaving from the sides.
4. Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and mix well. Add the mint, coriander and fenugreek leaves and the mutton and mix well. Bring the mixture to a mild boil and then check salt to taste, lime juice and curd. Add just about 1/2 cup of water.
5. Cover the lid, place the weight and cook on a full flame till the first whistle goes off. Depending on the quality (tenderness) of the meat used you may need to cook it anywhere between 10-15mins. I cook mutton for about 12minutes. Turn off the flame and let the pressure cooker cools down to room temperature and the weights loosens up. Open, stir (check if meat is cooked - if not, back it goes on the flame!) and keep aside.
6. In a large pan, heat some ghee and fry the star anise, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cassia bark for a few seconds. Drain the soaked rice and add it to the pan and fry on a medium flame till the rice begins to feel heavy.
7. In another pan bring the 5-1/2 cups of liquid to a rolling boil and pour this into the pan with the rice. Stir, adjust salt to taste and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the mouth of the pan with aluminium foil and a well fitting lid so that no steam escapes. Reduce the flame to very very low (sim) and cook for approx 8-10 minutes (cooking time will depend on the brand/quality of rice used). Turn off the flame and allow the rice to sit for 4-5 minutes. Open the pan and gently fluff up the grains with a fork. see note#2
8. In a serving dish layer the rice and meat in alternate layers until both are used up. Sprinkle the garnishing if desired and serve hot with raita

To make the garnishing
Heat oil/ghee in a large kadhai/wok and fry the raisins till then swell up (don't wait for them to burn), remove and fry the cashewnuts till golden, remove and then fry the onions till golden brown, drain the excess oil/ghee and transfer onto an absorbent kitchen tissue till they turn crisp. Sprinkle during garnishing or layering

Notes:
1. In South India a small grain variety of rice is used to prepare biryanis that takes longer to cook and hence can even be added to the mutton gravy and cooked on a slow fire till done. The moisture in the mutton gravy suffices and no additional water is required. If you are comfortable with this method you may go ahead with the same.
2. If you want to use the 'dum' technique, then you will need to use lesser water to cook the rice (perhaps cook it in water and not use the mutton gravy) - so that it remains 90% cooked. Then layer it in a large pan along with the meat and place it on dum (with pan tightly covered) for about 20-25 minutes.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gosalem Thel Piyao (Ridge Gourd Oil & Onion Style)

Today's recipe is probably one of the simplest things that one learns in Mangalorean cuisine - so much so that there is no real recipe for it. It is just a method of 'dumping' all the ingredients together in a pan and letting them cook together. I don't think there is anything more simple than this method - perfect for lazy people like me and perfect for those who like their veggies cooked in a minimum amount of spices and in a dead simple way. It is also probably the only way in which many people in Mangalore knew to cook their veggies before they left the place or got more adventurous in the kitchen. 


The 'thel piyao' or o'il & onion' style of preparing a vegetable applies to a variety of vegetables from ivy gourd (tendli), string beans (sango/chawli), french beans/double beans, spinach (red or green), bottle gourd (boblem/badane kai) and many others. Maybe that is why many Mangalorean Catholics never bothered to learn any new recipes as they apply the 'one size fits all' theory to preparing veggies. Add to it the fact that not many Catholics eat veggies religiously. We are essentially fish/meat eaters and hence these two items figure on our lunch and dinner plates on a daily basis. However, all through my growing up years my mother used to prepare a kilo of vegetable everyday - a kilo to cater to a large joint family and just for the love of it - a legacy she has passed on to me. I love veggies in any form, shape and size. Any preparation, any cuisine. So yes, I learnt to make the oil and onion style first and then proceeded to learn to make vegetable fugad ('phonn' - seasoning) method. The fugad method is applicable for lentils especial like black garbanzo beans, chick peas (kabuli chana) or sometimes french beans, pumpkin, yam etc.


You can prepare this dish when you crave for something really simple. It tastes great with chapathis (love the sweetness of the vegetable that goes so well with freshly made chapathis) and also with rice and fish/meat curry.

Ridge gourd is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in dietary fibre, vitamin C, zinc, iron to name a few. It has blood-purifying properties and is found to be good for eyes as it has high beta carotene (ok, I didn't know this before!). It is known to aid weight loss and is used in skin treatment against eczema and psoriasis. A glass of ridge gourd juice every morning can help strengthen your immune system against any infection. 

So there! You have enough reasons to include this simple vegetable in your menu! If you've twitched your nose whenever you were presented this vegetable on your plate before, just suck it up and eat it now! Your body will thank you for it!



Gosalem Thel Piyao
Prep time: 5-8mins | Cook time: 10-12 mins | Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 250-300gm tender ridge gourd / gosalem / hirekai / turai
  • 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
  • 1-2 small green chillies slit (adjust to taste)
  • 1 small tomato chopped or 3-4 solam or 1 hog plum (ambado)
  • 1-2 tbsp oil to drizzle
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly grated coconut to garnish (optional)
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Wash and peel the ridges off the gourd - do not discard the peel as you can make a chutney out of it (recipe coming up). Cut the gourd vertically and then make thin slices out of it.
2. Transfer the ridge gourd pieces into a pan and add the rest of the ingredients, give it a quick toss and sprinkle just a little (1/4 cup approx) water, cover and cook till the pieces are tender. Stir and sprinkle the grated coconut and allow to boil for a minute or two.
3. Serve hot as a side dish to any main meal.

Note:
To speed up the cooking time you may prepare this dish in a pressure cooker. Just ensure that you place the weight (whistle) and turn off the flame when the hissing sound starts - just before the whistle goes off. If you let the whistle blow the vegetable will overcook. Allow the cooker to cook down and loosen up the weight a bit before you open it. Stir once and then add the coconut (if desired), cover for a couple of minutes and allow the steam to cook the coconut a bit. Then you may serve it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chicken Manchow Soup

It is said that change is the only constant and I totally agree. No matter how much one wants to remain the same, one evolves, over a period of time and truly so in my case too. For example, I never thought that I would try my hand at making Chinese (or Indo-Chinese) food. I never thought I would get it right and I am glad I was wrong.


Just recently one of my readers, a Singaporean lady wrote to me and after a few mail exchanges we became friends. She was kind enough to share her lovely fried rice recipe and I was just waiting for an opportunity to try it. Since Roshan and I LOVE eating out, especially at Chinese restaurants, we decided that we should try making it at home and enthusiastically set out to plan a proper meal - with a starter, a main course and a side. I was so happy that the two of us set out to do this as it was a success for first timers like us and it only reinforced our love for Chinese food. 


Since we are complete foodies and eat out a lot, most often than not we end up eating at one of the many nice Chinese restaurants in our locality. China Gate is our utmost favourite place to dine out. Good and quick service and amazingly delicious food that is oh-so-comforting. We enjoy catching up with our good friends too over a meal there as good food is always something that acts as mood lifter and adds to the camaraderie shared between people. Chicken Manchow soup is something that we usually order although Crab Meat Soup is Roshan's favourite - but since I am a no crab woman, he can't share it with me, so that's how Manchow lands up on our table. Add to it the need to satisfy a 4 year old who loves the crispy noodles that are served along with it.

This soup was Roshan's experiment and it turned out very good and has hence made it to the blog. I do hope you try it and enjoy it too. I have a couple of more Chinese dishes lined up for you, so if you are going to stock up a few condiments (sauces & spices) essential in the preparation of Chinese cooking, you won't be disappointed, I promise you.



Chicken Manchow Soup
Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 20 mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 5 cups of stock (chicken or veg)
  • 1-2 green chillies finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tbsp garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger finely chopped
  • 2 spring onion whites finely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup carrots finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cabbage finely shredded 
  • 6-7 french beans finely chopped
  • 5 button mushrooms finely sliced or chopped
  • 1 chicken breast shredded
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp dark soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp red chilli sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) dissolved in 2-3 tbsp water
  • 2 egg whites lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar (or regular diluted white vinegar will do)
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 50 gms hakka noodles (for garnishing)
  • 2-3 tbsp spring onion greens chopped (for garnishing)
  • salt to taste
 Method:

1. In a big bowl mix the chicken or vegetable stock, soya sauce, red chilli sauce & vinegar - this will help you to check the taste and adjust the flavours/ingredients if required)
2. Boil the hakka noddles in sufficient boiling water (or as per the instructions on the packet), drain and when cool deep fry and keep aside. This is to garnish the soup.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan and on medium heat saute the ginger, garlic & green chillies for a minute.
4. Add the shredded chicken and white pepper and saute till the chicken is cooked.
5. Next, add the vegetables - carrots, cabbage, french beans, mushroom, spring onion whites and saute for about half a minute. Add the prepared stock mixture, salt to taste and bring it to a boil
6. Add the corn flour/cornstarch paste and stir continuously to avoid lumps. The soup will thicken. Reduce the flame.
7. Add the egg whites slowly and continue to stir for a minute or two. Remove from the heat.
8. Pour soup into individual soup bowls and garnish with chopped spring onion greens and deep fried noodles. Serve hot 

Note: 
You may use homemade chicken or vegetable stock at home or use ready to use canned stock. Alternatively you can dissolve 2-3 stock cubes (I use maggi) in 5 cups of warm water to make instant stock. Do check the instructions on the packet. Always check the salt content in the stock before you add some more to the soup as commercially prepared stock/stock cubes has a lot of salt added to it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Banana Bread

This weekend my baking marathon consisted of two types of cakes - a simple tutti fruitti cake and a banana bread. Well, I love baking in loaf pans these days as it is easier to slice the cake and store it. I guess I am making up for all the months during the first half of this year that saw no baking in my kitchen. I totally love baking and baking a real good banana bread was on my wish list for long. Do not be misled by the word 'bread'. This one is actually a cake but because it is baked in a loaf pan it takes on the title of 'bread'. 


Baking with bananas usually happens when there are those blackened bananas sitting out on the counter (or in the deep freezer) that have absolutely no takers. I am not much of a milkshake person, so such bananas almost never make it to the blender. They are usually used up in cakes and muffins or maybe an Indian deep fried snack such as the banana podi - but then deep frying is taboo in my house and I allow just an occasional indulgence. Lately, to avoid wastage (leading to unnecessary baking) I have started buying just enough bananas to last for two days. But then sometimes even such a small stock remains uneaten (aaaarghhh!) So yeah, that's the story behind the lovely banana bread I ended up making. I found the recipe from here and modified it a bit - included a bit of whole wheat flour to make it more healthy. 


You can add the chocolate chips or just skip them (or just replace them with raisins if you fancy), although adding them gives you the little bits of yummy goodness in your mouth. Walnuts or hazelnuts add that lovely nutty taste and makes it a package deal - whole wheat, fruit, nut & chocolate - all in a single bread. 

Banana Bread
Prep time: 10 mins | Bake time: 1 hour 

You Need:
  • 1 + 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used a mix of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used melted butter)
  • 3 large very ripe bananas, mashed (or 1-1/4 cup mashed banana - about 6-7 fat elaichi bananas)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream (I used hung curd)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease a 8x4 inch loaf pan with butter and dust with flour (you may also line it with parchment paper.
2. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt) twice. In a large bowl beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy. Add the oil/melted butter and continue to beat.
3. Add the mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture and add the chocolate chips and most of the nuts, save a handful to garnish the top of the loaf.
4. Pour batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle nuts over top and bake about 55-60 mins or till the toothpick inserted comes out clean

Notes
1. This recipe calls for regular white granulated sugar, I used dark muscovado which I wanted to finish up and hence the darker shade of brown.
2. To make 2 tbsp hung curd, place about 4 tbsp of thick yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it from a height for about 30-45mins until all the whey dribbles away. What remains is a thick cream which can be substituted for sour cream

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Avocado & Coconut Popsicles

Hello my lovelies! Just when I thought that Mumbai was getting ready for the Indian 'winters' it has gotten so bloody hot! Afternoons are unbearable if you plan to take a siesta without switching on the AC. Nobody knows what happened to this year's monsoons as we hardly had any showers, save for a few a couple of weeks ago. Now it feels like we are on the threshold of summer - Ack! Anyway, what better time than to indulge in some refreshing beverages to keep the body temperature down? 


I had never tried my hand at making popsicles before despite having bought different sizes of moulds.  But when my 'e-friend' Ansh Dhar of Spice Roots posted the picture on one of the food groups on Facebook, I was drooling all over the place (yeah yeah, i know..'drooling' has become a very common term in the blog world. But in my case I was genuinely doing so!). E-friend you may ask! Yes, Ansh  is a darling of a person I got to know via the 'blogosphere' and through several interactions over food groups on Facebook. Although we have never met and have only spoken over the phone, it feels like I have known her for ages. Friendly, vibrant, cheerful and delightful is how I would describe her personality - a bunch of qualities that are rarely found in a single person. 


Ansh or Anshie as she calls herself is a sort of cook who can put together a meal with an available set of ingredients - a skill I really appreciate as I usually go brain dead when I see random ingredients and cannot think of a known recipe to put them together into a dish. It is an art I am yet to learn & master. Do check out her blog for such brilliantly simple recipes and a whole lot from Kashmiri cuisine which is her home turf. 

Thanks to you Ansh, my little fellow enjoyed these popsicles a lot (his mum n dad did too!)




Avocado & Coconut Popsicles
Prep time: 5-10 mins | Freezing time 5 hours or overnight | Yield: 4 popsicles

You Need:
  • 1 large ripe avocado (butter fruit)
  • 3/4 cup thick coconut milk * see note
  • 3-4 tbsp caster sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp lime juice or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Method:
1. Transfer the avocado to a bowl and mash well. Add the coconut milk & sugar and use a blender to form a soft puree. Add the lime juice or vanilla extract
2. Using a spoon pour in the mixture into popsicle moulds and freeze between 5 hours or overnight
3. When done, remove and serve immediately. To ease out the popsicles out of the moulds keep them under hot running water for a minute or two.

Notes:
To make thick coconut milk you may use 3 tbsp coconut milk powder dissolved in 1/3 rd cup lukewarm water.
Recipe adapted from Muy Bueno Cookbook

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chicken Molagu Masala (Spicy Chicken Masala)

The best part about social networking sites is the million food groups that you can be a part of - those that help you discover so many things about food that you weren't aware of before and those that help you discover many like minded people who become your virtual friends. For a home maker turned blogger like me it is very important that I get my daily dose of Facebook - 3 doses a day at least to maintain sanity and to keep a sharp mind. Well, no, I don't hold on to Facebook to comment on random things and keep a tab on people's lives, but it is a pleasure to be an active part of quality food groups and understand food a little better. Everyday there is something new to explore and most often than not, I am driven to hunt for recipes that eventually become the day's menu. 


Planning meals in advance is not always possible and many times it is a relief to find easy to make recipes contributed by seasoned cooks - those that have been tried and tested in their own kitchens a million times leaving very little scope for mistakes to happen in your own. Today's recipe is one such contribution by a lovely lady - Anupama Michael on one of the food groups that I am part of. I have tried this recipe thrice already and loved it every time. Deliciously simple and fragrant, thanks to the curry leaves and fennel seeds (saunf) that lend a bit of a royal aroma to your kitchen. It goes perfectly well with chapathis or rice and dal/tomato saar or even dosa/neer dosa. My fussy 4 year old was actually vocal about how tasty and 'yummy' it was, so do give it a try! Thank you Anu for your lovely recipe!


Chicken Molagu Masala
Prep time: 8-10mins | Cook time: 15-20mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 1 kg chicken on the bone
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1-1/2 tsp saunf/badi shep (fennel seeds)
  • 4 medium sized onions finely chopped
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes chopped or thinly sliced
  • 5-6 sprigs of curry leaves (about 30-35 leaves) (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tsp spicy red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (for the colour)
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp oil/ghee (or as required)
  • 1 loosely packed cup of chopped coriander leaves
Method:
1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadhai/pan and fry the cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and fennel seeds on a slow flame till you get a good aroma. Add the chopped onions and fry till golden brown. Toss in the curry leaves and fry for a minute. Reserve 2 tbsp of this mixture for garnishing (optional).
2. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a couple of minutes and then add the chopped/sliced tomatoes and fry on a medium high flame till they turn slightly mushy. Add the powders, salt to taste and continue to fry for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the chicken and half a cup of water and mix well. Cover and cook till half done. Stir well and add the pepper powder and about half of the chopped coriander, cover again and cook till done (till the masala coats the chicken and excess water evaporates - you should get a thick masala.
4. Garnish with the reserved fried onion & curry leaves mixture and serve hot with chapathis, dosa or as a side dish with rice

Friday, October 5, 2012

Masala Pou (Mildly Spiced Beaten Rice)

A simple yet filling breakfast is what keeps me going. I totally love breakfasts that follow after a long fast - ie if I've had my dinner a tad too soon the previous night, then I am usually starving and ready to eat an elephant the next morning. I am a complete breakfast person and can never get tired of trying out new breakfast recipes, so much so that the same item is rarely repeated in my kitchen - ok! I am exaggerating Roshan! (I can almost see you nod in disagreement, hee hee). Well the point is that the husband and son get pampered with lots of new options but I keep repeating the 'new menu' until they get sick of it. The current favourite is the Masala Pou (beaten rice) which has been prepared a few hundred times already and I can't get enough of its simplicity and the fact that it can actually keep my energy levels roaring till lunchtime (without having to dip into a mid morning snack)


I have never given beaten rice its due during my growing up years. I never liked it - so it didn't matter how my mum prepared it - sweet or savoury. Prepare she did - for my brother who loved it so much. I was always an idli-dosa fan. It is only after I got married and ran out of ideas for breakfast that I slowly gave in and began to experiment with the humble beaten rice. So far the Godaso (Sweet) Pou (beaten rice with fresh coconut & jaggery) and Theek (spicy) Pou (beaten rice with tempered spices) have nourished and sustained my family for many mornings. Now I have this new entry into my kitchen that tastes even better (Thanks to Mrs. Lilly Lobo for her simple recipe)


What makes this dish a winner is that the tempering of basic spices is followed by browning of onions to a golden brown that lends a lovely sweetish flavour to an otherwise spicy dish. If you love the 'bariyan' (fried onions used to garnish biryanis) then you'll definitely love this pou. You can skip the grated coconut if you run out of it or are not a fan of it (or any random reason). Make sure you use the thin/light flakes of beaten rice, not the thick variety or you'll regret it.


Masala Pou (Mildly Spiced Beaten Rice)
Prep time: 5mins | Cook time: 8-10 mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 4 - 4-1/2 cups beaten rice * see notes
  • 2 large onions finely sliced
  • 2 long green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3-4 sprigs (25-30 leaves) of curry leaves / kadipatta
  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp (or to taste) sugar
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan and toss in the mustard seeds, when they pop, add the cumin seeds and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the curry leaves and then the green chillies and fry for a bit. 
2. Toss in the sliced onions and fry on a medium flame till golden brown. Add the turmeric powder and remove from fire.
3. Add the sugar, salt to taste, grated coconut and the beaten rice. When it is cool enough to handle, mix well giving the beaten rice a little squeeze. Sprinkle a little water (about 1/4 cup) into the mixture and mix once again - do this when you are ready to serve as the beaten rice can turn soggy if you do it a lot in advance.
4. Serve with piping hot tea or coffee.

Notes:
You need to use the thin variety of beaten rice that is popular in Mangalore. The thicker version is used in the preparation of Maharashtrian Poha that requires soaking and is hard if used otherwise.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pineapple Peel Wine

October has barely begun and I am already in the mood to celebrate Christmas :-) Indian winters are nothing to be excited about but the season brings with it a lot of cheer and warmth. Speaking about cheer - the last quarter of the year is always the best time of the year. Infact, the festive season here usually starts around mid August and ends when a brand new year is ushered in. I am so looking forward to all the festivities, colour and cheer that will soon follow. 


In preparation for Christmas and all the goodies that will soon follow on my blog, I thought it was an ideal time to post this recipe of the pineapple peel wine that I tried making early this year. Although it is a quick wine that is ready in less than two weeks, I allowed it to take its own sweet time to mature and now, after several months it is ready to face the world. Err, it has gone through stringent quality tests though and has been served to a few guests who have given it the thumbs up - so technically it has already faced the world.


The best part about this wine is that it is made with an ingredient that is usually considered a waste  - the peel of the pineapple that is discarded without a second thought as soon as the fruit is cut. Sugar is the only ingredient that contributes to the 'cost' of this wine - since it makes a small batch it is ideal for consumption at a simple family gathering than a large party.


So the next time you buy a pineapple, don't discard the peel - make some wine out of it, wait for a couple of months before you serve this golden wine that exudes the warmth and colour of the shining sun! Go make some for Christmas, pour a little for yourself and enjoy some home made cheer!!


Pineapple Peel Wine
Prep time: 10 mins + 13 days | Cook time: Nil | Yield: approx 1.25 litres

You Need:
  • peel of 1 medium sized pineapple (discard the crown)
  • 3 cups sugar * see notes before proceeding
  • 3 cups potable/drinking water (boiled and cooled water)
  • 1/8th tsp yeast
  • 1 egg white well beaten
Method:
1. Transfer the peel into a large (approx 2 litres) glass/ceramic jar and add the water, sugar, yeast, egg white and stir well. 
2. Cover with the lid, do not fasten it (alternatively just cover the mouth of the jar with a thick cloth). Keep undisturbed in a clean, dry place of your kitchen for 3 days.
3. After 3 days, strain the liquid through a clean muslin cloth into a clean vessel. Discard the peel and transfer the liquid back into the jar and cover. The wine will be ready for consumption after 10 days. 
4. If you wish to keep it longer, fasten the lid of the jar and keep in a cool, dry place till you are ready to serve. Decant before serving.

Notes:
1. Do ensure that the pineapple is washed thoroughly before peeling it. It is a waste of precious juices and flavours if you wash the peel afterwards.
2. Egg whites is normally used in winemaking as it is one of the fining agents used for the purpose of clarifying the wine. Egg whites, clay or other compounds help precipitate dead yeast cells or other unwanted solids out of a wine. 
3. A lot of people have written in saying that the wine turned out too sweet. I believe this has a lot to do with the sweetness of the pineapple used. Before you use the sugar, do taste the pineapple. If it is extremely sweet, reduce the sugar to 2 cups instead of 3. If the pineapple is sour then you can use 3 cups of sugar. If the wine still turns out too sweet for your tastebuds, the only way of adjusting the sweetness (that I can think of) is to make another fresh batch of wine minus the sugar this time. While serving, mix the two into a glass and adjust accordingly.


Post updated on 2nd Oct, 2012 with the second note
Post updated on 19th Oct, 2012 with the note on potable/drinking water
Post updated on 9th Jan, 2016 with note on adjusting sweetness

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mooli Paratha (Whole Wheat & Radish Flat Bread)

The last couple of months saw a 'mooli' obsession in me. A vegetable that never makes its appearance on my dining table was given a chance - by all three of us. I had found a nice recipe for a paratha (flatbread) that is a great way to disguise veggies that have no takers. It makes for a great breakfast option too - nutritious, delicious and quick. It is fairly mess free and keeps longer (in terms of shelf life) - a great option for those who want a snack on the move. 

Parathas are a much loved breakfast option in my home - we just wolf them down with a generous layer of mayonnaise or cheese spread. However, I had never tried making these before and was quite apprehensive as both Roshan and I have never liked this vegetable especially because of its pungent smell and mediocre taste (which I now realise was mainly because of the way it was prepared).


Post mooli paratha I have decided to give every vegetable a second chance. If something is prepared differently - in at least 3-4 different ways and still doesn't get any 'likes' we will then veto it. I am glad I tried out this recipe and have one extra option for breakfast. Thanks to my friend Anupama Michael from a food group on FB for this lovely recipe!


Mooli Paratha
Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 10-12mins | Yield 6-7 medium sized parathas | Serves 2 (or 3)

You Need:
  • 1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour * see notes
  • 1/4 cup grated radish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 small green chillies
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • salt to taste
  • water to knead the dough (approx 1/2 cup)
  • oil or ghee for frying
Method:
1. Place all the ingredients in a large flat bowl (meant for kneading dough) and mix to resemble bread crumbs. Keep aside for a few minutes as the radish and onions will leave some water.
2. Using sufficient water knead into a soft dough. Dust with some extra flour if the dough is too sticky. Keep aside for 5 minutes
3. Pinch out lemon sized balls of dough and on a clean working surface roll out each ball into a flat paratha. Fry on a hot skillet/tawa till golden brown on both sides. Drizzle ghee or oil to aid frying.
4. Serve hot with thick curds or pickle (traditional serving suggestions) or cheese spread or mayonnaise. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nalli Nihari - When Hubby Cooks!

'When Hubby Cooks' was a random line I used for one of the first recipes I posted that my husband Roshan had prepared - now it has almost become a monthly series of recipes that he lovingly creates with his expert hands much to the delight of the mouths he feeds at home (and also the readers who end up trying his recipes). Well, thanks to Roshan for putting his passion to good use - our Sunday meals have become a lot more fun and our dining table is a place for great meal time conversations - all revolving around the dish of the day and cuisines of the world.



Well, although you may have heard of the Nalli Nihari did you know that this dish is the National Dish of Pakistan? Our neighbouring country that is always at logger heads with ours and is in the eye of a storm almost all the time is also a place where great food and great music comes from. Beautiful women too :-) Just recently we were introduced a little more to their food culture through an article in BBC Good Food magazine's September edition and that made us explore some more of Pakistan's food heritage via the internet. Being primarily a muslim country, Pakistan is famous for their delectable meat dishes especially mutton - which also happens to be our favourite (mine at least) and I am always up for a new experiment with this meat. Mutton is often synonymous with goat meat in India as that's what is available most times at our local butchers. So since the mister had picked up some extra portion of nalli (marrow bones) on his last visit, he began to search for a good recipe to put it to use.

Apparently Nihari was eaten early in the morning during the Mughal era and was a breakfast dish. The word Nihari is derived from the term 'Nihar' which means 'morning after sunrise'. Nihari was often cooked overnight or sometimes even buried underground while it cooked so the resultant dish would have very tender morsels of meat. Nihari was prepared with either beef or mutton although the leg of lamb is more popularly served today.


When Roshan started preparing the dish without using the pressure cooker I was rather tensed. Would we get our afternoon meal on time? I asked him, knowing that here in India the red meat available takes forever to cook without at least the partial use of a pressure cooker. But surprisingly the whole dish - from start to finish - was done under 50 mins or so and was devoured in less than 5 mins. A man who does not like too much of garam masala (blend of spices) in his food was actually making some from scratch - when I saw this, I rolled my eyes and made a quick exit out of the kitchen. You see, we are opposites in our nature and while I totally adore the aroma of fresh garam masala he detests it. Anyway, I waited for the final dish to make its appearance. It quickly got plated and a few hurried clicks later made it to the dining table. The combination of Nalli Nihari with piping hot plain parathas (we buy the ready to fry variety from Al-Kabeer) was out of the world. I wish we had some home made kuboos or a more traditional accompaniment to go with it. As each of us took bites of the paratha dipped in this luxurious curry, we were quickly transported into a different level of gastronomic bliss - nirvana, if you please. Succulent pieces of meat drenched in an aromatic spice rich gravy - a delicacy waiting to be experienced, enjoyed and loved.

The most mind blowing part was the subtlety of the garam masala - not overpowering in any way, yet bold enough to make its presence felt and lend that unique taste and aroma to the meat and make Nalli Nihari what it is.


Verdict: This whole dish was so melt-in-the-mouth and finger licking good that we didn't need any side dish or accompaniment to the meal. I am also sure that we may have even over eaten if we didn't run out of parathas that day. By the way, this dish tastes just as fabulous with simple steamed rice. If you wish you can use ready made Nihari masala powder available in stores. However, I strongly believe that a freshly made blend will lend so much more aroma and flavour to your dish. So go right ahead and make it and tell us how you liked it!

(And please don't ask me if you can make this with chicken - it would be in my opinion, sacrilege!)

Nalli Nihari
Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time 45mins (approx - depends on the quality/tenderness of meat) | Serves 3-4

Ingredients -
  • 1 kg lamb/goat meat leg pieces (Nalli) 
  • 3 tbsp pure ghee
  • 2 medium sized onions
  • 2 cups lamb stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp lime/lemon juice
  • 1 inch ginger cut into thin strips (for garnishing)
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves chopped (for garnishing)
  • salt to taste
To make the Nihari Masala powder:
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 1/2tsp fennel seed (saunf)
  • 3 long dried red chilies (laal mirch)
  • 8 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • 3 green cardamoms (elaichi)
  • 1 black cardamom (badi elaichi)
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg powder (jhaiphal)
  • 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder (sunth)
  • 1/2 bay leaf (or a small one) (tej patta)
  • 1 blade of mace (javitri)
  • 4 cloves (laung)
  • 1/2 inch stick of cinnamon or cassia bark (dalchini)
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds (khus khus)
  • 1 tsp roasted bengal gram (chana dal)
Method -
1. Dry roast all the each of the ingredients for the Nihari Masala powder and grind it to a fine powder.
2. In a large heavy bottomed pan heat the ghee and fry the onions till they are well browned. Remove and keep aside till required.
3. To the same ghee, add the lamb and fry along with half of the nihari masala power till the meat becomes nice and brown. Add half the fried onions, salt to taste and 4 cups of water and cook till the meat is tender (should take about 45 minutes).  
4. Add the lamb stock, remaining nihari masala and fried onions.
5. Make a thick paste of wheat flour with 5 tablespoon of water (make sure there are no lumps) and add this to the lamb and continue to simmer till the gravy thickens.
6. Sprinkle lemon juice and garnish with ginger strips and coriander leaves and serve hot with plain parathas (made of maida) or Kerala Parota/Plain Rice/Pulao/Bread

Monday, October 22, 2012

Basic Coconut Chutney

Pan polay ani chetni (Rice crepes/Neer Dosa & Coconut Chutney) is probably the most popular and humblest on the Mangalorean breakfast menu. Since I completely love a hearty breakfast I prefer to have a typical South Indian breakfast and the Neer Dosa makes it to the breakfast table almost every week.


Among the host of chutneys that South Indians can rustle up in a jiffy, the coconut chutney seems to be the most common one. Just a blend of freshly grated coconut, chillies, tamarind/raw mango/lime juice, onion and ginger makes for a delicious accompaniment to a variety of idlis or dosas. 

You can use this chutney as a spread for your sandwiches and pep up the colour a bit by adding fresh coriander and/or mint leaves. If you wish you can season this chutney with mustard and curry leaves or a couple of slightly bruised garlic flakes. 

The thick version of this chutney is called as 'gatti chutney' in Kannada where 'gatti' means 'hard', however you can dilute the chutney a bit and then add the seasoning to make it slightly flowing in consistency. Enjoy it the way you like!


Basic Coconut Chutney
Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: Nil | Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 3/4 th cup grated coconut (only the white flesh)
  • 1 small onion (or 1/2 a medium sized one) chopped
  • 1 inch piece ginger chopped
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tbsp raw mango 
  • 1 small piece (1/4 tsp) of tamarind (optional)
  • 3-4 curry leaves/karipatta (optional)
  • salt to taste
Method:
Grind all the ingredients with very little water to yield a thick coarse paste (don't grind it too fine). Transfer into a bowl & serve.

Notes:
1. 1 tbsp raw mango is about 1 slice of a lemon sized raw mango - adjust to taste especially if you intend using the tamarind as well.
2. Instead of the curry leaves you may use mint leaves (approx 1 tbsp) or use both for an added flavour.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mutton Methi Biryani (Muslim Style)

Beautiful food to celebrate your happiest occasion - that's what all of us like don't we? In my case, a well made biryani makes any day a happy day. I totally love home made biryanis as I find them to be more flavourful even if it does not come out perfect as far as the rice goes. I know that most of us struggle with the rice and getting it right every time is a mammoth task. 

My first biryani which I prepared after my marriage was a disaster. I prepared it in the brand new pressure cooker which we received as our wedding gift - my mother is an expert in preparing tons of biryani rice in the cooker. I followed her method except for the most important instruction about the quanity of water to be used. I have no clue what actually went wrong with me that day when I was expecting my husband's friends over for dinner. I added an additional cup of water than required (shows my total ignorance at the technique of pressure cooking) and as expected the rice was a mushy mess. It was far less flavourful too and I was in tears. However, since these friends were (and still are) the jolly good types, they ate the biryani or porridge if you please, without any complaints. 


I abandoned making that biryani that day as I wanted to try it again only when I had mastered the art of making biryanis with perfectly cooked rice - with grains that didn't stick to each other but came out separate and long even after a grueling 'dum' cooking session. I cannot claim that I have 'mastered' the art of making biryanis because I still have those occasions when the rice gets slightly overcooked especially if I don't find my trusty Lal Quilla Basmati rice. 


So far I have never tried my hand at making biryanis or pulaos with any other variety of rice than basmati. I have heard a lot about the small grained rice that is popularly used down South especially in the Malabar regions of Kerala. I have eaten those biryanis long long ago and have got loads of rave reviews that biryanis made of small grained rice are simply to die for! Even though I sent Roshan on a mad hunt to find the jeera rice / ghee rice (nei choru ari as its called in Malayalam) I could not find any and ended up making this lovely biryani with regular long grained basmati rice and it turned out just fine. 

This recipe is nothing unusual but the lady who gave it to me Mrs. Lilly Lobo from Chikmagalur says that it is popularly made by her muslim neighbours from whom she learnt to make it. The addition of fenugreek (methi) leaves adds a lovely-yummy-super delicious taste to the preparation. She also suggests using freshly powdered Kashmiri chillies that add to the taste - so make sure you grind your own Kashmiri chilli powder if what is commercially available is not fresh. 

Among all the biryani recipes that I have tried, this one proved to be the most simple as there is no grinding of masalas involved (unless you make your own chilli powder!). So go make this biryani if you crave for some this weekend!!

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Mutton Methi Biryani (Muslim Style)
Prep time: 30mins | Cook time: 30mins+15mins (dum cooking) | Serves 6

For the rice
  • 600 gms (3cups) basmati rice * see note #1
  • 1/2 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1 inch stick cinnamon or cassia bark
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • juice of 1 large lime
  • 5-1/2 cups of liquid (includes plain water+mutton gravy/stock+lime juice)
For the mutton curry
  • 1-1/2 kg Mutton on the bone
  • 5 long green chillies left whole (adjust to taste)
  • 250ml oil
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 inch stick cinnamon or cassia bark
  • 2-3 cardamoms
  • ¼ kg / 4 onions sliced fine
  • ¼ kg / 4 tomatoes chopped
  • 50gm ginger paste
  • 50gm garlic paste
  • 2 small bunches of mint leaves (approx 3/4th tightly packed cup)
  • 3 small bunches of coriander leaves (approx 1 tightly packed cup)
  • 1 fistful fenugreek (methi) leaves (approx 1/2 tightly packed cup)
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp curd (or 2 tbsp sour curd)
  • 1 stock cube (Maggi) - optional - for additional flavour
Optional (items for garnishing)
  • 2 medium sized onions finely sliced for browning (barian)
  • 15-20 cashewnut halves
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • ghee or oil as required
Method:
1. Wash and cut the mutton into big pieces (slightly bigger chunks than your regular curry cuts). Wash the rice in plenty of water 2-3 times or till the water runs clear. Soak for 15-20mins. 
2. In a large pressure cooker (at least 7.5 litres) heat the oil and toss in the whole green chillies (do not slit or cut) and fry for half a minute. Cover the pan just so they don't pop/splash hot oil on your face. Add the cloves, cardamoms and cassia bark and fry for a few seconds till you get a nice aroma. 
3. Add the sliced onions and fry till they turn golden. Toss in the ginger and garlic paste and fry till the raw smell disappears. Add the tomatoes and salt to taste and fry till they turn mushy and the oil starts leaving from the sides.
4. Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and mix well. Add the mint, coriander and fenugreek leaves and the mutton and mix well. Bring the mixture to a mild boil and then check salt to taste, lime juice and curd. Add just about 1/2 cup of water.
5. Cover the lid, place the weight and cook on a full flame till the first whistle goes off. Depending on the quality (tenderness) of the meat used you may need to cook it anywhere between 10-15mins. I cook mutton for about 12minutes. Turn off the flame and let the pressure cooker cools down to room temperature and the weights loosens up. Open, stir (check if meat is cooked - if not, back it goes on the flame!) and keep aside.
6. In a large pan, heat some ghee and fry the star anise, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, cassia bark for a few seconds. Drain the soaked rice and add it to the pan and fry on a medium flame till the rice begins to feel heavy.
7. In another pan bring the 5-1/2 cups of liquid to a rolling boil and pour this into the pan with the rice. Stir, adjust salt to taste and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the mouth of the pan with aluminium foil and a well fitting lid so that no steam escapes. Reduce the flame to very very low (sim) and cook for approx 8-10 minutes (cooking time will depend on the brand/quality of rice used). Turn off the flame and allow the rice to sit for 4-5 minutes. Open the pan and gently fluff up the grains with a fork. see note#2
8. In a serving dish layer the rice and meat in alternate layers until both are used up. Sprinkle the garnishing if desired and serve hot with raita

To make the garnishing
Heat oil/ghee in a large kadhai/wok and fry the raisins till then swell up (don't wait for them to burn), remove and fry the cashewnuts till golden, remove and then fry the onions till golden brown, drain the excess oil/ghee and transfer onto an absorbent kitchen tissue till they turn crisp. Sprinkle during garnishing or layering

Notes:
1. In South India a small grain variety of rice is used to prepare biryanis that takes longer to cook and hence can even be added to the mutton gravy and cooked on a slow fire till done. The moisture in the mutton gravy suffices and no additional water is required. If you are comfortable with this method you may go ahead with the same.
2. If you want to use the 'dum' technique, then you will need to use lesser water to cook the rice (perhaps cook it in water and not use the mutton gravy) - so that it remains 90% cooked. Then layer it in a large pan along with the meat and place it on dum (with pan tightly covered) for about 20-25 minutes.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gosalem Thel Piyao (Ridge Gourd Oil & Onion Style)

Today's recipe is probably one of the simplest things that one learns in Mangalorean cuisine - so much so that there is no real recipe for it. It is just a method of 'dumping' all the ingredients together in a pan and letting them cook together. I don't think there is anything more simple than this method - perfect for lazy people like me and perfect for those who like their veggies cooked in a minimum amount of spices and in a dead simple way. It is also probably the only way in which many people in Mangalore knew to cook their veggies before they left the place or got more adventurous in the kitchen. 


The 'thel piyao' or o'il & onion' style of preparing a vegetable applies to a variety of vegetables from ivy gourd (tendli), string beans (sango/chawli), french beans/double beans, spinach (red or green), bottle gourd (boblem/badane kai) and many others. Maybe that is why many Mangalorean Catholics never bothered to learn any new recipes as they apply the 'one size fits all' theory to preparing veggies. Add to it the fact that not many Catholics eat veggies religiously. We are essentially fish/meat eaters and hence these two items figure on our lunch and dinner plates on a daily basis. However, all through my growing up years my mother used to prepare a kilo of vegetable everyday - a kilo to cater to a large joint family and just for the love of it - a legacy she has passed on to me. I love veggies in any form, shape and size. Any preparation, any cuisine. So yes, I learnt to make the oil and onion style first and then proceeded to learn to make vegetable fugad ('phonn' - seasoning) method. The fugad method is applicable for lentils especial like black garbanzo beans, chick peas (kabuli chana) or sometimes french beans, pumpkin, yam etc.


You can prepare this dish when you crave for something really simple. It tastes great with chapathis (love the sweetness of the vegetable that goes so well with freshly made chapathis) and also with rice and fish/meat curry.

Ridge gourd is low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in dietary fibre, vitamin C, zinc, iron to name a few. It has blood-purifying properties and is found to be good for eyes as it has high beta carotene (ok, I didn't know this before!). It is known to aid weight loss and is used in skin treatment against eczema and psoriasis. A glass of ridge gourd juice every morning can help strengthen your immune system against any infection. 

So there! You have enough reasons to include this simple vegetable in your menu! If you've twitched your nose whenever you were presented this vegetable on your plate before, just suck it up and eat it now! Your body will thank you for it!



Gosalem Thel Piyao
Prep time: 5-8mins | Cook time: 10-12 mins | Serves 2-3

You Need:
  • 250-300gm tender ridge gourd / gosalem / hirekai / turai
  • 1 medium sized onion finely sliced
  • 1-2 small green chillies slit (adjust to taste)
  • 1 small tomato chopped or 3-4 solam or 1 hog plum (ambado)
  • 1-2 tbsp oil to drizzle
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly grated coconut to garnish (optional)
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Wash and peel the ridges off the gourd - do not discard the peel as you can make a chutney out of it (recipe coming up). Cut the gourd vertically and then make thin slices out of it.
2. Transfer the ridge gourd pieces into a pan and add the rest of the ingredients, give it a quick toss and sprinkle just a little (1/4 cup approx) water, cover and cook till the pieces are tender. Stir and sprinkle the grated coconut and allow to boil for a minute or two.
3. Serve hot as a side dish to any main meal.

Note:
To speed up the cooking time you may prepare this dish in a pressure cooker. Just ensure that you place the weight (whistle) and turn off the flame when the hissing sound starts - just before the whistle goes off. If you let the whistle blow the vegetable will overcook. Allow the cooker to cook down and loosen up the weight a bit before you open it. Stir once and then add the coconut (if desired), cover for a couple of minutes and allow the steam to cook the coconut a bit. Then you may serve it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Chicken Manchow Soup

It is said that change is the only constant and I totally agree. No matter how much one wants to remain the same, one evolves, over a period of time and truly so in my case too. For example, I never thought that I would try my hand at making Chinese (or Indo-Chinese) food. I never thought I would get it right and I am glad I was wrong.


Just recently one of my readers, a Singaporean lady wrote to me and after a few mail exchanges we became friends. She was kind enough to share her lovely fried rice recipe and I was just waiting for an opportunity to try it. Since Roshan and I LOVE eating out, especially at Chinese restaurants, we decided that we should try making it at home and enthusiastically set out to plan a proper meal - with a starter, a main course and a side. I was so happy that the two of us set out to do this as it was a success for first timers like us and it only reinforced our love for Chinese food. 


Since we are complete foodies and eat out a lot, most often than not we end up eating at one of the many nice Chinese restaurants in our locality. China Gate is our utmost favourite place to dine out. Good and quick service and amazingly delicious food that is oh-so-comforting. We enjoy catching up with our good friends too over a meal there as good food is always something that acts as mood lifter and adds to the camaraderie shared between people. Chicken Manchow soup is something that we usually order although Crab Meat Soup is Roshan's favourite - but since I am a no crab woman, he can't share it with me, so that's how Manchow lands up on our table. Add to it the need to satisfy a 4 year old who loves the crispy noodles that are served along with it.

This soup was Roshan's experiment and it turned out very good and has hence made it to the blog. I do hope you try it and enjoy it too. I have a couple of more Chinese dishes lined up for you, so if you are going to stock up a few condiments (sauces & spices) essential in the preparation of Chinese cooking, you won't be disappointed, I promise you.



Chicken Manchow Soup
Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 20 mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 5 cups of stock (chicken or veg)
  • 1-2 green chillies finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tbsp garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger finely chopped
  • 2 spring onion whites finely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup carrots finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cabbage finely shredded 
  • 6-7 french beans finely chopped
  • 5 button mushrooms finely sliced or chopped
  • 1 chicken breast shredded
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp dark soya sauce
  • 2 tbsp red chilli sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch) dissolved in 2-3 tbsp water
  • 2 egg whites lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar (or regular diluted white vinegar will do)
  • 2-3 tbsp oil
  • 50 gms hakka noodles (for garnishing)
  • 2-3 tbsp spring onion greens chopped (for garnishing)
  • salt to taste
 Method:

1. In a big bowl mix the chicken or vegetable stock, soya sauce, red chilli sauce & vinegar - this will help you to check the taste and adjust the flavours/ingredients if required)
2. Boil the hakka noddles in sufficient boiling water (or as per the instructions on the packet), drain and when cool deep fry and keep aside. This is to garnish the soup.
3. Heat oil in a saucepan and on medium heat saute the ginger, garlic & green chillies for a minute.
4. Add the shredded chicken and white pepper and saute till the chicken is cooked.
5. Next, add the vegetables - carrots, cabbage, french beans, mushroom, spring onion whites and saute for about half a minute. Add the prepared stock mixture, salt to taste and bring it to a boil
6. Add the corn flour/cornstarch paste and stir continuously to avoid lumps. The soup will thicken. Reduce the flame.
7. Add the egg whites slowly and continue to stir for a minute or two. Remove from the heat.
8. Pour soup into individual soup bowls and garnish with chopped spring onion greens and deep fried noodles. Serve hot 

Note: 
You may use homemade chicken or vegetable stock at home or use ready to use canned stock. Alternatively you can dissolve 2-3 stock cubes (I use maggi) in 5 cups of warm water to make instant stock. Do check the instructions on the packet. Always check the salt content in the stock before you add some more to the soup as commercially prepared stock/stock cubes has a lot of salt added to it.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Banana Bread

This weekend my baking marathon consisted of two types of cakes - a simple tutti fruitti cake and a banana bread. Well, I love baking in loaf pans these days as it is easier to slice the cake and store it. I guess I am making up for all the months during the first half of this year that saw no baking in my kitchen. I totally love baking and baking a real good banana bread was on my wish list for long. Do not be misled by the word 'bread'. This one is actually a cake but because it is baked in a loaf pan it takes on the title of 'bread'. 


Baking with bananas usually happens when there are those blackened bananas sitting out on the counter (or in the deep freezer) that have absolutely no takers. I am not much of a milkshake person, so such bananas almost never make it to the blender. They are usually used up in cakes and muffins or maybe an Indian deep fried snack such as the banana podi - but then deep frying is taboo in my house and I allow just an occasional indulgence. Lately, to avoid wastage (leading to unnecessary baking) I have started buying just enough bananas to last for two days. But then sometimes even such a small stock remains uneaten (aaaarghhh!) So yeah, that's the story behind the lovely banana bread I ended up making. I found the recipe from here and modified it a bit - included a bit of whole wheat flour to make it more healthy. 


You can add the chocolate chips or just skip them (or just replace them with raisins if you fancy), although adding them gives you the little bits of yummy goodness in your mouth. Walnuts or hazelnuts add that lovely nutty taste and makes it a package deal - whole wheat, fruit, nut & chocolate - all in a single bread. 

Banana Bread
Prep time: 10 mins | Bake time: 1 hour 

You Need:
  • 1 + 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (I used a mix of all purpose flour and whole wheat flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used melted butter)
  • 3 large very ripe bananas, mashed (or 1-1/4 cup mashed banana - about 6-7 fat elaichi bananas)
  • 2 tbsp sour cream (I used hung curd)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Method:
1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C (350 degrees F). Grease a 8x4 inch loaf pan with butter and dust with flour (you may also line it with parchment paper.
2. Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt) twice. In a large bowl beat the eggs and sugar until fluffy. Add the oil/melted butter and continue to beat.
3. Add the mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture and add the chocolate chips and most of the nuts, save a handful to garnish the top of the loaf.
4. Pour batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle nuts over top and bake about 55-60 mins or till the toothpick inserted comes out clean

Notes
1. This recipe calls for regular white granulated sugar, I used dark muscovado which I wanted to finish up and hence the darker shade of brown.
2. To make 2 tbsp hung curd, place about 4 tbsp of thick yogurt in a muslin cloth and hang it from a height for about 30-45mins until all the whey dribbles away. What remains is a thick cream which can be substituted for sour cream

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Avocado & Coconut Popsicles

Hello my lovelies! Just when I thought that Mumbai was getting ready for the Indian 'winters' it has gotten so bloody hot! Afternoons are unbearable if you plan to take a siesta without switching on the AC. Nobody knows what happened to this year's monsoons as we hardly had any showers, save for a few a couple of weeks ago. Now it feels like we are on the threshold of summer - Ack! Anyway, what better time than to indulge in some refreshing beverages to keep the body temperature down? 


I had never tried my hand at making popsicles before despite having bought different sizes of moulds.  But when my 'e-friend' Ansh Dhar of Spice Roots posted the picture on one of the food groups on Facebook, I was drooling all over the place (yeah yeah, i know..'drooling' has become a very common term in the blog world. But in my case I was genuinely doing so!). E-friend you may ask! Yes, Ansh  is a darling of a person I got to know via the 'blogosphere' and through several interactions over food groups on Facebook. Although we have never met and have only spoken over the phone, it feels like I have known her for ages. Friendly, vibrant, cheerful and delightful is how I would describe her personality - a bunch of qualities that are rarely found in a single person. 


Ansh or Anshie as she calls herself is a sort of cook who can put together a meal with an available set of ingredients - a skill I really appreciate as I usually go brain dead when I see random ingredients and cannot think of a known recipe to put them together into a dish. It is an art I am yet to learn & master. Do check out her blog for such brilliantly simple recipes and a whole lot from Kashmiri cuisine which is her home turf. 

Thanks to you Ansh, my little fellow enjoyed these popsicles a lot (his mum n dad did too!)




Avocado & Coconut Popsicles
Prep time: 5-10 mins | Freezing time 5 hours or overnight | Yield: 4 popsicles

You Need:
  • 1 large ripe avocado (butter fruit)
  • 3/4 cup thick coconut milk * see note
  • 3-4 tbsp caster sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp lime juice or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Method:
1. Transfer the avocado to a bowl and mash well. Add the coconut milk & sugar and use a blender to form a soft puree. Add the lime juice or vanilla extract
2. Using a spoon pour in the mixture into popsicle moulds and freeze between 5 hours or overnight
3. When done, remove and serve immediately. To ease out the popsicles out of the moulds keep them under hot running water for a minute or two.

Notes:
To make thick coconut milk you may use 3 tbsp coconut milk powder dissolved in 1/3 rd cup lukewarm water.
Recipe adapted from Muy Bueno Cookbook

Monday, October 8, 2012

Chicken Molagu Masala (Spicy Chicken Masala)

The best part about social networking sites is the million food groups that you can be a part of - those that help you discover so many things about food that you weren't aware of before and those that help you discover many like minded people who become your virtual friends. For a home maker turned blogger like me it is very important that I get my daily dose of Facebook - 3 doses a day at least to maintain sanity and to keep a sharp mind. Well, no, I don't hold on to Facebook to comment on random things and keep a tab on people's lives, but it is a pleasure to be an active part of quality food groups and understand food a little better. Everyday there is something new to explore and most often than not, I am driven to hunt for recipes that eventually become the day's menu. 


Planning meals in advance is not always possible and many times it is a relief to find easy to make recipes contributed by seasoned cooks - those that have been tried and tested in their own kitchens a million times leaving very little scope for mistakes to happen in your own. Today's recipe is one such contribution by a lovely lady - Anupama Michael on one of the food groups that I am part of. I have tried this recipe thrice already and loved it every time. Deliciously simple and fragrant, thanks to the curry leaves and fennel seeds (saunf) that lend a bit of a royal aroma to your kitchen. It goes perfectly well with chapathis or rice and dal/tomato saar or even dosa/neer dosa. My fussy 4 year old was actually vocal about how tasty and 'yummy' it was, so do give it a try! Thank you Anu for your lovely recipe!


Chicken Molagu Masala
Prep time: 8-10mins | Cook time: 15-20mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 1 kg chicken on the bone
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 cardamoms
  • 1-1/2 tsp saunf/badi shep (fennel seeds)
  • 4 medium sized onions finely chopped
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes chopped or thinly sliced
  • 5-6 sprigs of curry leaves (about 30-35 leaves) (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 2 tsp spicy red chilli powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (for the colour)
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper powder (adjust to taste)
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp oil/ghee (or as required)
  • 1 loosely packed cup of chopped coriander leaves
Method:
1. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadhai/pan and fry the cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and fennel seeds on a slow flame till you get a good aroma. Add the chopped onions and fry till golden brown. Toss in the curry leaves and fry for a minute. Reserve 2 tbsp of this mixture for garnishing (optional).
2. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a couple of minutes and then add the chopped/sliced tomatoes and fry on a medium high flame till they turn slightly mushy. Add the powders, salt to taste and continue to fry for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the chicken and half a cup of water and mix well. Cover and cook till half done. Stir well and add the pepper powder and about half of the chopped coriander, cover again and cook till done (till the masala coats the chicken and excess water evaporates - you should get a thick masala.
4. Garnish with the reserved fried onion & curry leaves mixture and serve hot with chapathis, dosa or as a side dish with rice

Friday, October 5, 2012

Masala Pou (Mildly Spiced Beaten Rice)

A simple yet filling breakfast is what keeps me going. I totally love breakfasts that follow after a long fast - ie if I've had my dinner a tad too soon the previous night, then I am usually starving and ready to eat an elephant the next morning. I am a complete breakfast person and can never get tired of trying out new breakfast recipes, so much so that the same item is rarely repeated in my kitchen - ok! I am exaggerating Roshan! (I can almost see you nod in disagreement, hee hee). Well the point is that the husband and son get pampered with lots of new options but I keep repeating the 'new menu' until they get sick of it. The current favourite is the Masala Pou (beaten rice) which has been prepared a few hundred times already and I can't get enough of its simplicity and the fact that it can actually keep my energy levels roaring till lunchtime (without having to dip into a mid morning snack)


I have never given beaten rice its due during my growing up years. I never liked it - so it didn't matter how my mum prepared it - sweet or savoury. Prepare she did - for my brother who loved it so much. I was always an idli-dosa fan. It is only after I got married and ran out of ideas for breakfast that I slowly gave in and began to experiment with the humble beaten rice. So far the Godaso (Sweet) Pou (beaten rice with fresh coconut & jaggery) and Theek (spicy) Pou (beaten rice with tempered spices) have nourished and sustained my family for many mornings. Now I have this new entry into my kitchen that tastes even better (Thanks to Mrs. Lilly Lobo for her simple recipe)


What makes this dish a winner is that the tempering of basic spices is followed by browning of onions to a golden brown that lends a lovely sweetish flavour to an otherwise spicy dish. If you love the 'bariyan' (fried onions used to garnish biryanis) then you'll definitely love this pou. You can skip the grated coconut if you run out of it or are not a fan of it (or any random reason). Make sure you use the thin/light flakes of beaten rice, not the thick variety or you'll regret it.


Masala Pou (Mildly Spiced Beaten Rice)
Prep time: 5mins | Cook time: 8-10 mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 4 - 4-1/2 cups beaten rice * see notes
  • 2 large onions finely sliced
  • 2 long green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3-4 sprigs (25-30 leaves) of curry leaves / kadipatta
  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • 1 tbsp (or to taste) sugar
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan and toss in the mustard seeds, when they pop, add the cumin seeds and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the curry leaves and then the green chillies and fry for a bit. 
2. Toss in the sliced onions and fry on a medium flame till golden brown. Add the turmeric powder and remove from fire.
3. Add the sugar, salt to taste, grated coconut and the beaten rice. When it is cool enough to handle, mix well giving the beaten rice a little squeeze. Sprinkle a little water (about 1/4 cup) into the mixture and mix once again - do this when you are ready to serve as the beaten rice can turn soggy if you do it a lot in advance.
4. Serve with piping hot tea or coffee.

Notes:
You need to use the thin variety of beaten rice that is popular in Mangalore. The thicker version is used in the preparation of Maharashtrian Poha that requires soaking and is hard if used otherwise.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pineapple Peel Wine

October has barely begun and I am already in the mood to celebrate Christmas :-) Indian winters are nothing to be excited about but the season brings with it a lot of cheer and warmth. Speaking about cheer - the last quarter of the year is always the best time of the year. Infact, the festive season here usually starts around mid August and ends when a brand new year is ushered in. I am so looking forward to all the festivities, colour and cheer that will soon follow. 


In preparation for Christmas and all the goodies that will soon follow on my blog, I thought it was an ideal time to post this recipe of the pineapple peel wine that I tried making early this year. Although it is a quick wine that is ready in less than two weeks, I allowed it to take its own sweet time to mature and now, after several months it is ready to face the world. Err, it has gone through stringent quality tests though and has been served to a few guests who have given it the thumbs up - so technically it has already faced the world.


The best part about this wine is that it is made with an ingredient that is usually considered a waste  - the peel of the pineapple that is discarded without a second thought as soon as the fruit is cut. Sugar is the only ingredient that contributes to the 'cost' of this wine - since it makes a small batch it is ideal for consumption at a simple family gathering than a large party.


So the next time you buy a pineapple, don't discard the peel - make some wine out of it, wait for a couple of months before you serve this golden wine that exudes the warmth and colour of the shining sun! Go make some for Christmas, pour a little for yourself and enjoy some home made cheer!!


Pineapple Peel Wine
Prep time: 10 mins + 13 days | Cook time: Nil | Yield: approx 1.25 litres

You Need:
  • peel of 1 medium sized pineapple (discard the crown)
  • 3 cups sugar * see notes before proceeding
  • 3 cups potable/drinking water (boiled and cooled water)
  • 1/8th tsp yeast
  • 1 egg white well beaten
Method:
1. Transfer the peel into a large (approx 2 litres) glass/ceramic jar and add the water, sugar, yeast, egg white and stir well. 
2. Cover with the lid, do not fasten it (alternatively just cover the mouth of the jar with a thick cloth). Keep undisturbed in a clean, dry place of your kitchen for 3 days.
3. After 3 days, strain the liquid through a clean muslin cloth into a clean vessel. Discard the peel and transfer the liquid back into the jar and cover. The wine will be ready for consumption after 10 days. 
4. If you wish to keep it longer, fasten the lid of the jar and keep in a cool, dry place till you are ready to serve. Decant before serving.

Notes:
1. Do ensure that the pineapple is washed thoroughly before peeling it. It is a waste of precious juices and flavours if you wash the peel afterwards.
2. Egg whites is normally used in winemaking as it is one of the fining agents used for the purpose of clarifying the wine. Egg whites, clay or other compounds help precipitate dead yeast cells or other unwanted solids out of a wine. 
3. A lot of people have written in saying that the wine turned out too sweet. I believe this has a lot to do with the sweetness of the pineapple used. Before you use the sugar, do taste the pineapple. If it is extremely sweet, reduce the sugar to 2 cups instead of 3. If the pineapple is sour then you can use 3 cups of sugar. If the wine still turns out too sweet for your tastebuds, the only way of adjusting the sweetness (that I can think of) is to make another fresh batch of wine minus the sugar this time. While serving, mix the two into a glass and adjust accordingly.


Post updated on 2nd Oct, 2012 with the second note
Post updated on 19th Oct, 2012 with the note on potable/drinking water
Post updated on 9th Jan, 2016 with note on adjusting sweetness