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Friday, August 31, 2012

Green Olive Dip

Another month has come to an end and we are slowly racing towards the end of this year. Racing - well yes, before we know it the jubilation will begin and we'll be celebrating Christmas and preparing to usher in another brand new year. This realisation struck me when I was going through my drafts and came across many simple recipes that I had not yet posted. So I think it's time to do just that. 


The green olive dip is simply a delight to make and serve because it uses readily available ingredients and doesn't take a lot of time to put together. Olives are stocked round the year in my refrigerator as they are great as a snack and taste lovely in any fresh salad. As they say, great things come in small packages - Mother Nature has proved just that. Each olive is a tiny package of a ton of goodness. Olives contain a plethora of health benefits. They contain mono unsaturated fats that fight bad cholesterol and keep our hearts healthy. They are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that gives us greater immune power to fight against free radicals (the little rascals that destroy body cell structure and cause a host of diseases). However, olives that are available to us undergo a curing process they contain a lot of salt and hence we need to be mindful of the quantity we consume.

Olives taste wonderful in salads, sandwiches and soups. A dip/chutney is just another way to get the goodness of olives in your diet. This dip goes well with warm home made bread or with nachos/tortilla chips.


Recipe source: BBC Good Food India

Green Olive Dip
Prep time: 10mins | Cook time: Nil | Serves 2

You Need:

  • 250gm pitted olives, chopped
  • 2 green chillies (or to taste) chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime + zest
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
  • 4 small garlic cloves without skin
  • 2 sprigs of coriander leaves chopped
  • salt to taste (only if required)

Method:
Pulse all the ingredients to a coarse paste in a mixer. Serve in a bowl garnished with mint leaves.

Note:
If you are buying bottled olives (stored in salt water) - rinse them in clean, fresh water and then grind, else the dip will be too salty.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kori Rotti Chicken Curry (Bunt Style Spicy Chicken Curry)




Hello folks, I am back with another tantalizing Mangalorean dish - Kori Rotti - from one of Mangalore's sub cuisines - Bunt cuisine which is one of India's most desirable and delicious cuisines. Well, as you know 'Kori Rotti' is a combo dish. Its a spicy chicken curry eaten with flat, crispy and wafer thin rice crepes. Traditionally, these rice crepes used to be prepared by ladies in their own homes, however due to mechanization and modernization, they are manufactured and sold commercially. Since a pack of 'Rotti' is available at a nominal price in Mangalore, people resort to using store bought stuff these days.

You may be wondering why I have kept this particular recipe under wraps for so long. Although I have eaten and tried making the curry for Kori Rotti at home several times I never got around posting it on the blog. I think it happened for a reason. When Sailaja of Sailu's Kitchen contacted me and requested me to write a guest post on for her lovely blog, I was more than delighted and decided that it was time to bring out the Kori Rotti recipe out of the closet and put it on a pedestal along with other traditional Mangalorean recipes.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Peas & Mushroom Kurma

After the festivities, it is definitely time to detox :-) Time to bring back the simplicity and routine in our lives - at least as far as food is concerned. So why not try a new vegetarian dish this week?

This simple recipe that was tried a couple of months ago has been in my drafts has been patiently waiting to see the light of day. My co-sister Sumana in Mangalore made it when we were invited to their place for dinner. Sumana is a great cook and her spectacular star recipes are - well, I just can't decide whether they are vegetarian or non vegetarian - I like them all. But since I have a super special corner for vegetarian dishes, I simply loved this one for its sheer simplicity. 


This is a dish you can put together under 30 mins and there are no special ingredients required if you have mushrooms and frozen peas handy. It tastes great with hot chapathis and if you fancy you can give it a twist of your own by adding additional ingredients (if you have the time to elaborate on it). So why don't you give it a try while I go and finish all my pending work? (When routine hits back - it hits hard! - sigh!)

Peas & Mushroom Kurma
Prep time: 10mins | Cooking time: 10 mins | Serves 2

You Need:
  • 100gm green peas shelled (I used frozen ones)
  • 150gms button mushrooms
  • 1 big tomato
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 " fresh ginger
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of red chilli powder
  • pinch of garam masala powder
  • a sprinkling of fresh pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 2tbsp butter or oil
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Wash and cut mushrooms into quarters. Grind the tomato, onion, ginger, green chilli and coriander leaves into a fine paste. Reserve the masala water
2. Heat butter or oil in a pan , toss in the bay leaf and fry for a couple of seconds. Add the ground masala and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms, peas, salt & sugar. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved water and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the gravy is of coating consistency.
3. Sprinkle pepper powder, chilli powder, garam masala and stir. Serve immediately with chapathis

Monday, August 20, 2012

Red Chicken Biryani

 Well, it's time for another biryani recipe! I realised that somehow I have stayed away from cooking and eating biryanis this year. I wonder how I was able to do that!! This is one indulgence I cannot resist. If I am eating out at Indian restaurants, biryanis are a must have. If I have not eaten a good biryani for a long time, then I make I cook it at home at least once in 2-3 months. Preparing dum style biryanis is a mammoth task - from start to finish plus the amount of utensils required for this entire programme is often mind boggling. However, biryanis in general can be less cumbersome to make with a little prior planning and organising. You will agree that the end result will always be worth the effort. There is nothing more satisfying than wolfing down a good biryani on a Sunday afternoon and then heading for a nice siesta, is there?


Today was the perfect occasion to post this recipe - Eid brings to mind a lavish spread - all made with the finest ingredients - each one more delectable than the other - be it rice items, meat dishes or desserts. The star of every Eid celebratory menu is the biryani - be it mutton, chicken or beef. Since I love to soak in the celebrations of every festival celebrated in India, I usually scout for recipes that suit the occasion. Normally, Eid calls for Sheer Khurma (Vermicelli Kheer/Payasam) at my place. It is yummy & simple and perfect for the occasion. However, this time I thought of trying out my friend Jenny's simple chicken biryani.


Jenny makes this biryani almost every 3-4 weeks with mutton and is so generous as to parcel some to my place. God bless such friends!! If it comes without prior notice, everything that has been cooked in my kitchen that day is instantly abandoned as we dig into this yummy biryani. I am going to try this with mutton soon and I am sure it will taste even better. I call it the Red Chicken Biryani simply because it has no other particular name. It is the kind of biryani you will love to make because it does not involve any grinding (of masalas). 


Marinating the meat is recommended although not compulsory (if you are running short of time). Red chillies impart the dominant flavour and colour here, hence the name. Do make sure you use fresh chilli powder that can help pack in all the flavour. I would recommend the use of Kashmiri chilli powder if you want a non spicy biryani. 


Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim readers & friends!! May the Almighty shower you with all good things - good health, happiness, peace & prosperity. Have a joyous celebration today!!

Red Chicken Biryani
Marinating time: 2 hours or overnight | Prep time: 30mins | Cooking time: 20 mins+45mins (to cook on dum)

You Need:
  • 1 kg chicken,  mutton or beef on the bone 
  • 2 big potatoes (optional)
  • salt to taste
For the marinade
  • 2 tablespoons red chilli powder* see note#1
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • hung curd made out of 400gm thick curds/yogurt * see note#2
  • 2 medium sized onions sliced, browned & crushed (or ground to paste) * see note#3
  • juice of 1/2 lime (optional)
  • salt to taste (approx 1 level tsp)
For the rice
  • 3 cups basmati rice * see note#4
  • 8-9 cups of water
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 inch piece cinnamon
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp shah jeera (black cumin seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp saunf (fennel seeds)
  • 1 bayleaf
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 pinches of sugar
  • salt to taste
For the layering
  • 2 large onions finely sliced
  • 1 fistful (approx 3/4 th packed cup) mint leaves
  • 1 fistful (approx 3/4th packed cup) coriander leaves
  • a few strands of saffron soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
  • 2-3 drops of red food colouring dissolved in 3 tbsp rose water  or kewra (screw pine essence) *see note#5
  • 6-7 tsp melted ghee (or as required) (optional)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (kishmish) (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cashewnut halves (optional)
Method:
Soak the rice
Wash rice 2-3 times until the water runs clear and soak for at least 30 minutes if you are using superior quality rice. I used Lal Quila Basmati rice which is an aged rice.

Prepare the marination
Cut chicken or mutton into medium sized pieces, wash, drain and keep aside. Marinate it with all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the marinade'. Cover the pan/bowl with cling film/wrap or aluminium foil and refrigerate it overnight or at least for 1-2 hours.

Prepare the garnishing
Heat ghee in a large heavy bottomed pan (the one to be used to make the rice) and on a low flame fry the raisins until they puff up (do not burn), remove and add the cashewnuts and fry until golden. Remove and keep aside. Fry the sliced onions till golden brown and remove.
Soak the saffron in the warm milk and the food colouring the rose water or kewra. If you wish you may use red and green food colouring dissolved in separate bowls.

Prepare the rice * see notes for alternate method.
In the same pan toss in the whole spices mentioned under 'For the rice' and fry half a minute. Add the rice, reduce the flame and fry for another two minutes. Add the water (plenty of it), salt to taste, juice of 1/2 a lime and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the flame and cook until the rice is 3/4 th cooked (this will take approx 5 mins) - to check, crush a grain of rice between your thumb & index finger, if it breaks into 3 parts, its done just right.
If you wish, you can skim the whole spices that are floating on top before you drain off the water. After draining spread the rice on large plates.

Prepare the chicken/Mutton
In another heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 tsp ghee and add the marinated chicken and 1 cup water. Cook on a medium flame till the chicken is done (you may add the potatoes halfway through the cooking time). Check taste and add salt and/or lime juice if required. Turn off the flame and keep aside. If you are using mutton, you can transfer the marinated meat to a pressure cooker instead of a pan and pressure cook on a high flame till the first whistle goes off. Reduce flame to sim and continue to cook for 12-15mins (cooking time may vary depending on the quality and tenderness of the meat) or 15-18mins - please use your judgement here - do not over cook the meat as it will continue to cook when placed on dum.

Layering & cooking on dum
Use the same large pan that was used to prepare the rice. Grease the sides and base with ghee. Add a first layer of cooked rice. Next sprinkle the coloured water, roughly torn mint and coriander leaves, chicken (or mutton) pieces and curry, saffron milk, raisins, cashewnuts and fried onions. Drizzle 2 tsp ghee all over the surface. This is the first layer.
Repeat the process to make another two layers. Seal the mouth of the pan with aluminium foil (or you may use dough) so that no steam can escape. Place a lid that fits perfectly over it and place the pan on a tawa/skillet which has been placed on a very slow fire. Cook for 40-45minutes on dum

Serving
Open the pan after 45mins and carefully fluff up the rice with a fork. Garnish with fried onions, raisins, cashewnuts, a sprig of mint and serve hot with raitha, salad and/or papad


Notes:
1.  Adjust the use of chilli powder to your taste. For a moderately spicy biryani you may use Kashmiri chilli powder which is low on spice but gives a great colour. You can use Theeka Lal (by MDH Masalas) for a real spicy flavour. I suggest that you marinate the meat with 1 tablespoon of chilli powder and add more if desired once the meat is cooking. You can always add more later and do a taste check.
2. 400 grams of yogurt yields about 200-250 grams (approx 1 cup to 1-1/4 cups of hung curd). Adjust the curd during the cooking stage if you desire.
To make hung curd - Place a thin muslin cloth (bairas) over a bowl, transfer 1 tub (400gm) curd/yogurt onto the centre of the cloth and gather the ends of the cloth together to form a potli. Secure the ends (put a knot) and hang it from a small height so that the extra whey (water) dribbles down - place a bowl underneath to collect this. Keep for 45 mins-1hour so that all the water drains away. This is hung curd.
3. If you are not marinating the meat in advance then you can crush the browned onions - otherwise you will need to make it separately the previous day and crush/grind them to a paste for best results. Alternatively, if you don't have the time to fry and crush the sliced onions, skip this step and fry the onions directly at the stage of cooking the meat (in a pan or pressure cooker)
4. For dum biryanis always use the best quality basmati rice so that you have an evenly cooked (not overcooked) grains of rice that don't stick to each other.
5. Usage of artificial food colouring is not recommended if you have small kids, you may skip the colour altogether and use just the rose essence or kewra essence. Kewra can be quite strong, so use your judgement here.

Updated Notes - To make biryani without 'dum' technique
If you want to make a more flavourful and yet a less elaborate biryani, you can skip the 'dum' technique as given above (where you need to cook rice in plenty of plain water and then layer it with the meat and finally place on a slow fire till the rice is fully cooked). Instead, just prepare the meat first and when it is done, retain about 1-1/2 cups of gravy in the pan along with the meat. Remove the rest of the gravy and measure it. Add a balance of plain water - this is your total liquid mixture. Liquid mixture should be double the quantity of the rice used. For example, for this recipe if you are using 3 cups of rice, then you need 6 cups of water or liquid to cook that rice. So if you have got like 2 cups of gravy, add 4 cups of plain water to arrive at 6 cups of liquid mixture. If you have chicken or vegetable stock you may use that in the place of plain water, it will make your biryani even more flavourful.

Cook the rice by frying it in a little ghee, whole spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves etc and then add the freshly boiled liquid mixture. Give the whole rice+liquid mixture a good stir and let it come to a rolling boil. Then cover the mouth of the pan with aluminium foil and place a well fitting lid over it. Reduce the heat to a complete sim and keep a timer for 5 minutes. After exactly 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the pan sit undisturbed for a further 15 minutes. Then remove the lid, stir the contents gently with a fork, cover the pan again for 2 minutes and then your biryani is ready to serve! Enjoy!



Friday, August 10, 2012

Pork Indad (Spicy, Sweet and Sour Pork) - When Hubby Cooks

Weddings in Mangalore are often synonymous with tag 'The Great Indian Wedding' as there is as much shoo-shaa around it due to the presence of all weddingy features such as a whole band of relatives - uncles, aunts, cousins and friends who attend it, amazing spread of food, music and dance, grand clothes, jewellery & other wedding finery. Much like their North Indian counterparts, Mangalorean weddings especially Catholic style weddings are highly celebrated occasions. We have the Roce function which is similar to the Mehendi or the Haldi ceremony and involves the 'purification & preparation' of the bride and the groom for the sacred nuptial ceremony. This is done by way of application of freshly extracted coconut milk by the close family members of the bride and the groom in their respective homes. Since the coconut tree is considered to be the 'kalpvriksh' (divine tree that fulfills wishes) in India especially in South India, this local tradition has woven itself with the pre-wedding ceremony as well. The coconut tree and its many medicinal and other practical uses has given it the significance and importance that it richly deserves and hence besides being known for the great wonders it can do to one's skin, the coconut milk is considered to be the most pure form of cleansing. 

While the mood is jubilant and casual on the day of the Roce ceremony, the wedding is a more formal celebration with the guest list that includes not just the close relatives and friends of the bride and groom but distant relatives, neighbours, business associates and acquaintances as well. To suit these occasions, traditionally the Roce and wedding dinner spreads are different. Traditionally, Mangalorean Catholic occasions are usually known to serve a standard variety of delicacies but today a few of them have been knocked off the menu to make way for contemporary dishes that include Indo-Chinese dishes with a Mangalorean twist


Today's recipe is traditionally served on the wedding day as it is considered to be 'rich' or 'fit for a banquet'. Owing to its Portuguese influence on Mangalorean and Goan food, this dish is prepared in both the places with slight variations - so the recipes will vary. The signature flavour of this dish is a blend of sweet and sour married to spice - no single flavour dominating the other, yet creating a medley of flavours bite after bite. Not just the meat, but even the bits of fat are a joy to savour.

 Since it has been ages since I attended a typical Mangalorean Catholic wedding, I am not sure if it is still considered good enough to share space on the wedding banquet menu, but when I was little, it was one of the items that was served alongside Sanna, Sweet Pulao & Plum Chutney, Tendli Sukhe, Chicken Curry and Mutton Biryani. A cucumber salad completed the spread and people wolfed it down with great pleasure. Two decades ago, you were actually happy to savour a wedding meal. Not so much today as everyone cooks these delicacies at home plus during the wedding season you have a million weddings to attend that you actually dread the spread! Most people I know have simple meals at home and attend the drill (wedding if you please) just because attendance is important.


Honestly, I could give anything to actually attend one of these weddings where the food is good. A good wedding spread in Mangalore doesn't come cheap (but the per plate price is not as ridiculous as it is in the cities either) and if the caterer is willing, he will suggest a few off beat dishes that is bound to leave your guests licking their fingers. However, nothing can beat the traditionally cooked banquets that held the hands of Mangalorean weddings for decades before weddings became a large affair and outsourcing the food to wedding caterers became the need of the hour. Just in case you are wondering what I am blabbering about - well, maybe my parents' generation was the last to have tea parties for their weddings. Right after the nuptials the wedding entourage assembled in the party hall, usually the church hall and everyone was served a hot cuppa and some biscuits. And our grand parents' generation was the lucky enough to partake of wedding banquets held at the bride's home with meals lovingly cooked by relatives and friends especially from the neighbourhood. Each family (from the neighbourhood) was given the responsibility of preparing one dish in bulk and pork was supplied by one of the neighbours. One well fed pig was enough to feed everyone. 

On the wedding day the guests were served whilst seated in rows on mandhryo (thin long carpets woven out of reed) and eating out of shirothyo (banana leaves). The beauty and charm of such traditional weddings and banquets has faded long ago, what remains are the delicacies - I hope they don't vanish completely from the wedding menu of our next generation.


Pork Indad
Recipe credit: Roshan Sequeira
Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 25 mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 800gm-1kg Pork (with fat/'wob')
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 sprigs mint leaves
  • 1 tsp (or to taste) vinegar
  • 2-3 tsp (or to taste) sugar
  • salt to taste
  • ghee or oil
For the masala:
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin/jeera
  • 7-8 long red chillies (I used Byadge) (adjust to taste)
  • 15 peppercorns (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 6-8 flakes of garlic
  • 1 marble sized ball of tamarind
  • 4 medium sized onions
Method:
1. Wash and drain the pork and cut into thin slices (i.e 1-1/2 inch squares along with the fat on each piece). Boil/cook the meat without covering the pan until all the water has evaporated * see note#1. Heat ghee/oil in a pan and fry these pieces on a medium flame till golden and the fat leaves the sides of the pan.
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala'. Reserve the masala water from the mixer grinder *see note#2
3. Add the ground masala and continue to fry for about 8-10 minutes on a slow flame.  Add the reserved masala water if you require more gravy. Finally add the cinnamon, cloves, mint leaves, sugar, vinegar & salt. Allow to simmer for another 5-7 minutes.
4. Serve hot with sanna, polay, pan polay, chapathi or rice

Notes:
1. Unlike other recipes where the masala is fried first and then the meat is added, this recipe calls for the frying of the pork first for that extra rich flavour and then the masala is fried along with the meat. So cook the meat uncovered and then fry it. Pork tends to leave a lot of water when cooked, so we need to remove all the excess water by evaporation first. The more you fry the meat on a slow flame, the tastier the end result. Just ensure that the frying takes place on a slow fire and the meat is not burnt.
2. The reserved masala water is used only if you need extra gravy. Indad is meant to have a thick gravy so that it can be eaten with Indian breads such as Neer Dosa, Sanna, Appam or Dosa. If you wish to eat it with rice, then go ahead and add the reserved water.
3. If you desire you may add peeled & sliced potatoes just before adding the ground masala.
4. Indad is meant to have thickish gravy with a fine balance of sweet, sour & spice - adjust all these elements according to your taste.


Post updated on 13th Aug 2012 with detailed explanation in the 'Notes' section

Monday, August 6, 2012

Polay / Polo/ Dosai (Yeasted Rice Batter Pancakes)

Our humble South Indian dosa has gone global, thanks to the well marketed masala dosa that has now become the world's favourite any time snack. The dosa adapts itself very well to whatever you wish to serve it with - chutney, sambhar or a masala filling that can range between a simple spiced mashed potato to a chicken schezwan. However the ever popular masala dosa has in many ways overshadowed the other varieties of dosas - neer dosa, set dosa & the Catholic style yeasted dosa. And these are just dosas that are made of rice batter. The variety owes itself to the difference in the proportion of the ingredients used.

The yeasted dosa or polo as we call it is prepared with the sanna batter - the only difference between the two is that sanna are steamed and polay (plural of polo) are pan fried. You need to take care that the polay are fried as soon as the dough has risen. If you let an hour or two pass by, the fermented dough may 'fall' leading to flat polay. Also, since the polay batter makes use of yeast as a fermenting agent, the dough can turn sour if left outside for too long.


I learnt to make them just recently as Roshan simply loves them and they taste awesome with any non vegetarian curry. A few months ago I attempted them for the first time and was pretty pleased with the results. We had them with Pork Bafat and yesterday I made them again to be teamed up with Pork Indad (recipe to follow). I call them the 'pughre polay' (fluffy dosai) because the term 'polay' is generic and can mean any kind (made of various ingredients). 

I wish I was able to click more pictures of these lovely, fluffy and fragrant polay - alas! they disappeared before I could get my camera ready. Maybe I'll update this post with some more pictures the next time I make them. 


Polay (Yeasted Rice Batter Pancakes)
Soaking time: 3hrs or overnight | Prep time: 15mins | Cooking time: 15-20mins Yield: 17-18 medium sized pancakes

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups boiled rice (ukda chawal)
  • 1/2 cup raw rice * see notes
  • 1/4 cup urad dal (split black gram)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tsp (or to taste) sugar
To prepare the yeast solution
  • 1 tsp dried yeast 
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp warm water
Other ingredients
  • oil for frying
Method:
1. Wash & soak the boiled rice, raw rice and urad dal in plenty of water in separate bowls for at least 3 hours (or overnight). Grind the urad dal to a fine paste first and remove. Next, grind the two types of rice with very little water to yield a thick dryish batter of dosa batter consistency. Mix this batter along with the urad dal paste, salt to taste and sugar. Transfer the mixture to a pan that is large enough to contain dough that doubles.
2. In a small bowl mix the warm water with the yeast and sugar and allow to rest for 10 mins till the mixture turns frothy - this is active yeast which must then be mixed to the batter well. Check salt and sugar proportion and add more if required.
3. Cover the pan with a thin muslin cloth and keep in a warm place undisturbed. The dough will take anywhere between 1-1/2 - 2 hours to double (in a favourable warm weather). Gently stir the dough once but not too much or you will kill the fermentation.
4. Heat a flat cast iron tawa/skillet or a flat non stick pan. Grease it evenly with oil and pour approximately 2 ladles of dough in the centre. Using the base of the ladle carefully spread the dough in a circular fashion to form a dosa. Cover and allow to cook on a medium flame for a minute - or until the surface of the dosa looks fluffy and cooked and the base is golden brown.
5. Remove carefully with a flat steel spatula and serve hot with any non vegetarian or vegetarian curry of your choice or with chutney or sambhar.

Note:
1. If you don't intend to use up all the dough to make polay, you can simply pour it into ramekins (gindlaa) and steam them to make a batch of sanna. If you don't have ramekins, just pour out the dough into a lightly greased steel plate with tall edges (thaali/boshi) and steam it in one go. You can cut up this large sanna and serve it.
2. Alternately, if you do not wish to steam up the remaining batter into sanna but wish to eat some polay for dinner/refrigerate them for the next day then I suggest you fry up the entire batch and just steam them in a steaming pot/thondor for 5-7 minutes before serving them - they become absolutely fresh and soft.
3. Take a look at my sanna recipe for more tips on how to prepare the perfect batter

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Churmundo (Konkani Style Whole Wheat Laddoos)

Today is Raksha Bandhan - a day that is set aside as per the Hindu calendar to honour & celebrate the timeless & beautiful bond between a brother and his sister. Tradition is followed and in a special ceremony the sister ties a 'rakhi' or a sacred thread around her brother's wrist symbolic of their eternal bond that binds him to protect her if any harm should befall her. As a sign of his love and respect and to seal the deal (of protecting his sister) the brother then hands over a gift to her in cash or kind, ranging from simple to extravagant. This is my opinion is one of the most beautiful customs celebrated all over India.


Weeks before this special day one can see a whole variety of rakhis on display in shops that sell them. Sometimes there are special stalls/shops that crop up just for the occasion. If you visit a well stocked shop you will find pretty much what you desire - every conceivable rakhi in every shape and size and colour. Creative, traditional, contemporary, simple -take your pick. While the most traditional ones come in bright orange or reddish orange threads, you have the funky and trendy ones too that will just make you go 'wow'!


This special 'rakhi' is accompanied by several types of sweetmeats to sweeten the occasion and the mood is celebratory. There are no dearth of sweets in India - every region, state and cuisine has a dozen different sweets that range in texture, colour, aroma and taste. Ladoos, pedas, halwas & kheers are just large umbrellas under which a thousand varieties take shelter. Then throw in another few hundred regional varieties and what you have is a mind boggling platter of sweets.

Speaking of laddoos - these are my favourite type of Indian sweets. I simply love laddoos and while in Mangalore I never fail to buy my favourite mithai ladoos or boondi laddoos (made of deep fried chick pea batter). When I was little my Konkani (GSB) neighbours used to prepare the 'Churmundo' very often and I remember eating them whenever I used to visit their place. I was one of the youngest and most loved among all the neighbourhood kids, so I always used to get some extra TLC (tender, love & care) at their place. Today, when one of my new friends on Facebook - Mrs. Vidya Nayak Shenoy posted a picture of these laddoos, my mouth watered and I had a rush of old memories. Vidyakka as I fondly call her has been so kind as to share many of her priceless recipes with me in the past. DalitoyKhotto, Chane Ghashi and Coconut Burfi are a few that have been tried & tested in my kitchen so far. I have another couple to try and post, but the Churmundo beat all of them to the blog. Her recipes have never failed me and she is more than happy to give me accurate measurements and patiently answers all my queries no matter how many times I bug her. So this post is dedicated to you dear Vidyakka. Thank You!! We may have never met, but I am glad I found a sister in you. Happy Rakshabandhan!



Churmundo
Prep time: nil | Cook time: 20mins + 15mins | Yield: 17-18 lime sized laddoos

You Need:
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan/kadlehittu)
  • 1/4 cup semolina (fine rava/bombay sooji)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • a few raisins (approx 1/8th cup) optional
  • 1 few broken cashewnuts (approx 1/8th cup) optional
  • 2-3 powdered cardamoms
Method:
1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed kadhai/wok and add the chick pea flour, stir to avoid lumps and fry for half a minute on a slow flame. Add in the whole wheat flour and semolina and fry for 15-20minutes. Take care to ensure that the mixture does not burn.
2. Remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool completely. Add the powdered sugar, cardamom powder and the optional items - raisins & cashewnuts and mix thoroughly to ensure that there are no lumps. The mixture will resemble fine bread crumbs/rawa after a point.
3. Lightly grease your palm if required and take a fistful of the mixture and compress well, release excess mixture and proceed to shape the mixture into lime sized balls. Roll between palms if necessary for a smooth round finish.
4. Store in an airtight container for upto 2 weeks (if they last that long!)

Notes:
If you wish to store the ladoos for longer, you will need to fry the raisins and cashewnuts as well. Do this right after the ghee is heated. Remove and keep aside until you require to shape the laddoos.
Don't be tempted to add the sugar before the flour mixture has cooled completely. You don't want the heat to melt the sugar and make a mess of the situation, do you?
Don't be alarmed at the quantity of ghee used here - don't skimp, don't use oil - ghee is necessary to form perfectly shaped laddoos that are moist too. If you reduce the ghee, the laddoos will crumble or taste very dry


Friday, August 31, 2012

Green Olive Dip

Another month has come to an end and we are slowly racing towards the end of this year. Racing - well yes, before we know it the jubilation will begin and we'll be celebrating Christmas and preparing to usher in another brand new year. This realisation struck me when I was going through my drafts and came across many simple recipes that I had not yet posted. So I think it's time to do just that. 


The green olive dip is simply a delight to make and serve because it uses readily available ingredients and doesn't take a lot of time to put together. Olives are stocked round the year in my refrigerator as they are great as a snack and taste lovely in any fresh salad. As they say, great things come in small packages - Mother Nature has proved just that. Each olive is a tiny package of a ton of goodness. Olives contain a plethora of health benefits. They contain mono unsaturated fats that fight bad cholesterol and keep our hearts healthy. They are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that gives us greater immune power to fight against free radicals (the little rascals that destroy body cell structure and cause a host of diseases). However, olives that are available to us undergo a curing process they contain a lot of salt and hence we need to be mindful of the quantity we consume.

Olives taste wonderful in salads, sandwiches and soups. A dip/chutney is just another way to get the goodness of olives in your diet. This dip goes well with warm home made bread or with nachos/tortilla chips.


Recipe source: BBC Good Food India

Green Olive Dip
Prep time: 10mins | Cook time: Nil | Serves 2

You Need:

  • 250gm pitted olives, chopped
  • 2 green chillies (or to taste) chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime + zest
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
  • 4 small garlic cloves without skin
  • 2 sprigs of coriander leaves chopped
  • salt to taste (only if required)

Method:
Pulse all the ingredients to a coarse paste in a mixer. Serve in a bowl garnished with mint leaves.

Note:
If you are buying bottled olives (stored in salt water) - rinse them in clean, fresh water and then grind, else the dip will be too salty.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kori Rotti Chicken Curry (Bunt Style Spicy Chicken Curry)




Hello folks, I am back with another tantalizing Mangalorean dish - Kori Rotti - from one of Mangalore's sub cuisines - Bunt cuisine which is one of India's most desirable and delicious cuisines. Well, as you know 'Kori Rotti' is a combo dish. Its a spicy chicken curry eaten with flat, crispy and wafer thin rice crepes. Traditionally, these rice crepes used to be prepared by ladies in their own homes, however due to mechanization and modernization, they are manufactured and sold commercially. Since a pack of 'Rotti' is available at a nominal price in Mangalore, people resort to using store bought stuff these days.

You may be wondering why I have kept this particular recipe under wraps for so long. Although I have eaten and tried making the curry for Kori Rotti at home several times I never got around posting it on the blog. I think it happened for a reason. When Sailaja of Sailu's Kitchen contacted me and requested me to write a guest post on for her lovely blog, I was more than delighted and decided that it was time to bring out the Kori Rotti recipe out of the closet and put it on a pedestal along with other traditional Mangalorean recipes.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Peas & Mushroom Kurma

After the festivities, it is definitely time to detox :-) Time to bring back the simplicity and routine in our lives - at least as far as food is concerned. So why not try a new vegetarian dish this week?

This simple recipe that was tried a couple of months ago has been in my drafts has been patiently waiting to see the light of day. My co-sister Sumana in Mangalore made it when we were invited to their place for dinner. Sumana is a great cook and her spectacular star recipes are - well, I just can't decide whether they are vegetarian or non vegetarian - I like them all. But since I have a super special corner for vegetarian dishes, I simply loved this one for its sheer simplicity. 


This is a dish you can put together under 30 mins and there are no special ingredients required if you have mushrooms and frozen peas handy. It tastes great with hot chapathis and if you fancy you can give it a twist of your own by adding additional ingredients (if you have the time to elaborate on it). So why don't you give it a try while I go and finish all my pending work? (When routine hits back - it hits hard! - sigh!)

Peas & Mushroom Kurma
Prep time: 10mins | Cooking time: 10 mins | Serves 2

You Need:
  • 100gm green peas shelled (I used frozen ones)
  • 150gms button mushrooms
  • 1 big tomato
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 " fresh ginger
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of red chilli powder
  • pinch of garam masala powder
  • a sprinkling of fresh pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • 2tbsp butter or oil
  • salt to taste
Method:
1. Wash and cut mushrooms into quarters. Grind the tomato, onion, ginger, green chilli and coriander leaves into a fine paste. Reserve the masala water
2. Heat butter or oil in a pan , toss in the bay leaf and fry for a couple of seconds. Add the ground masala and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms, peas, salt & sugar. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved water and simmer for 3-4 minutes until the gravy is of coating consistency.
3. Sprinkle pepper powder, chilli powder, garam masala and stir. Serve immediately with chapathis

Monday, August 20, 2012

Red Chicken Biryani

 Well, it's time for another biryani recipe! I realised that somehow I have stayed away from cooking and eating biryanis this year. I wonder how I was able to do that!! This is one indulgence I cannot resist. If I am eating out at Indian restaurants, biryanis are a must have. If I have not eaten a good biryani for a long time, then I make I cook it at home at least once in 2-3 months. Preparing dum style biryanis is a mammoth task - from start to finish plus the amount of utensils required for this entire programme is often mind boggling. However, biryanis in general can be less cumbersome to make with a little prior planning and organising. You will agree that the end result will always be worth the effort. There is nothing more satisfying than wolfing down a good biryani on a Sunday afternoon and then heading for a nice siesta, is there?


Today was the perfect occasion to post this recipe - Eid brings to mind a lavish spread - all made with the finest ingredients - each one more delectable than the other - be it rice items, meat dishes or desserts. The star of every Eid celebratory menu is the biryani - be it mutton, chicken or beef. Since I love to soak in the celebrations of every festival celebrated in India, I usually scout for recipes that suit the occasion. Normally, Eid calls for Sheer Khurma (Vermicelli Kheer/Payasam) at my place. It is yummy & simple and perfect for the occasion. However, this time I thought of trying out my friend Jenny's simple chicken biryani.


Jenny makes this biryani almost every 3-4 weeks with mutton and is so generous as to parcel some to my place. God bless such friends!! If it comes without prior notice, everything that has been cooked in my kitchen that day is instantly abandoned as we dig into this yummy biryani. I am going to try this with mutton soon and I am sure it will taste even better. I call it the Red Chicken Biryani simply because it has no other particular name. It is the kind of biryani you will love to make because it does not involve any grinding (of masalas). 


Marinating the meat is recommended although not compulsory (if you are running short of time). Red chillies impart the dominant flavour and colour here, hence the name. Do make sure you use fresh chilli powder that can help pack in all the flavour. I would recommend the use of Kashmiri chilli powder if you want a non spicy biryani. 


Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim readers & friends!! May the Almighty shower you with all good things - good health, happiness, peace & prosperity. Have a joyous celebration today!!

Red Chicken Biryani
Marinating time: 2 hours or overnight | Prep time: 30mins | Cooking time: 20 mins+45mins (to cook on dum)

You Need:
  • 1 kg chicken,  mutton or beef on the bone 
  • 2 big potatoes (optional)
  • salt to taste
For the marinade
  • 2 tablespoons red chilli powder* see note#1
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • 2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • hung curd made out of 400gm thick curds/yogurt * see note#2
  • 2 medium sized onions sliced, browned & crushed (or ground to paste) * see note#3
  • juice of 1/2 lime (optional)
  • salt to taste (approx 1 level tsp)
For the rice
  • 3 cups basmati rice * see note#4
  • 8-9 cups of water
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 inch piece cinnamon
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp shah jeera (black cumin seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp saunf (fennel seeds)
  • 1 bayleaf
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 pinches of sugar
  • salt to taste
For the layering
  • 2 large onions finely sliced
  • 1 fistful (approx 3/4 th packed cup) mint leaves
  • 1 fistful (approx 3/4th packed cup) coriander leaves
  • a few strands of saffron soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
  • 2-3 drops of red food colouring dissolved in 3 tbsp rose water  or kewra (screw pine essence) *see note#5
  • 6-7 tsp melted ghee (or as required) (optional)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (kishmish) (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cashewnut halves (optional)
Method:
Soak the rice
Wash rice 2-3 times until the water runs clear and soak for at least 30 minutes if you are using superior quality rice. I used Lal Quila Basmati rice which is an aged rice.

Prepare the marination
Cut chicken or mutton into medium sized pieces, wash, drain and keep aside. Marinate it with all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the marinade'. Cover the pan/bowl with cling film/wrap or aluminium foil and refrigerate it overnight or at least for 1-2 hours.

Prepare the garnishing
Heat ghee in a large heavy bottomed pan (the one to be used to make the rice) and on a low flame fry the raisins until they puff up (do not burn), remove and add the cashewnuts and fry until golden. Remove and keep aside. Fry the sliced onions till golden brown and remove.
Soak the saffron in the warm milk and the food colouring the rose water or kewra. If you wish you may use red and green food colouring dissolved in separate bowls.

Prepare the rice * see notes for alternate method.
In the same pan toss in the whole spices mentioned under 'For the rice' and fry half a minute. Add the rice, reduce the flame and fry for another two minutes. Add the water (plenty of it), salt to taste, juice of 1/2 a lime and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the flame and cook until the rice is 3/4 th cooked (this will take approx 5 mins) - to check, crush a grain of rice between your thumb & index finger, if it breaks into 3 parts, its done just right.
If you wish, you can skim the whole spices that are floating on top before you drain off the water. After draining spread the rice on large plates.

Prepare the chicken/Mutton
In another heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 tsp ghee and add the marinated chicken and 1 cup water. Cook on a medium flame till the chicken is done (you may add the potatoes halfway through the cooking time). Check taste and add salt and/or lime juice if required. Turn off the flame and keep aside. If you are using mutton, you can transfer the marinated meat to a pressure cooker instead of a pan and pressure cook on a high flame till the first whistle goes off. Reduce flame to sim and continue to cook for 12-15mins (cooking time may vary depending on the quality and tenderness of the meat) or 15-18mins - please use your judgement here - do not over cook the meat as it will continue to cook when placed on dum.

Layering & cooking on dum
Use the same large pan that was used to prepare the rice. Grease the sides and base with ghee. Add a first layer of cooked rice. Next sprinkle the coloured water, roughly torn mint and coriander leaves, chicken (or mutton) pieces and curry, saffron milk, raisins, cashewnuts and fried onions. Drizzle 2 tsp ghee all over the surface. This is the first layer.
Repeat the process to make another two layers. Seal the mouth of the pan with aluminium foil (or you may use dough) so that no steam can escape. Place a lid that fits perfectly over it and place the pan on a tawa/skillet which has been placed on a very slow fire. Cook for 40-45minutes on dum

Serving
Open the pan after 45mins and carefully fluff up the rice with a fork. Garnish with fried onions, raisins, cashewnuts, a sprig of mint and serve hot with raitha, salad and/or papad


Notes:
1.  Adjust the use of chilli powder to your taste. For a moderately spicy biryani you may use Kashmiri chilli powder which is low on spice but gives a great colour. You can use Theeka Lal (by MDH Masalas) for a real spicy flavour. I suggest that you marinate the meat with 1 tablespoon of chilli powder and add more if desired once the meat is cooking. You can always add more later and do a taste check.
2. 400 grams of yogurt yields about 200-250 grams (approx 1 cup to 1-1/4 cups of hung curd). Adjust the curd during the cooking stage if you desire.
To make hung curd - Place a thin muslin cloth (bairas) over a bowl, transfer 1 tub (400gm) curd/yogurt onto the centre of the cloth and gather the ends of the cloth together to form a potli. Secure the ends (put a knot) and hang it from a small height so that the extra whey (water) dribbles down - place a bowl underneath to collect this. Keep for 45 mins-1hour so that all the water drains away. This is hung curd.
3. If you are not marinating the meat in advance then you can crush the browned onions - otherwise you will need to make it separately the previous day and crush/grind them to a paste for best results. Alternatively, if you don't have the time to fry and crush the sliced onions, skip this step and fry the onions directly at the stage of cooking the meat (in a pan or pressure cooker)
4. For dum biryanis always use the best quality basmati rice so that you have an evenly cooked (not overcooked) grains of rice that don't stick to each other.
5. Usage of artificial food colouring is not recommended if you have small kids, you may skip the colour altogether and use just the rose essence or kewra essence. Kewra can be quite strong, so use your judgement here.

Updated Notes - To make biryani without 'dum' technique
If you want to make a more flavourful and yet a less elaborate biryani, you can skip the 'dum' technique as given above (where you need to cook rice in plenty of plain water and then layer it with the meat and finally place on a slow fire till the rice is fully cooked). Instead, just prepare the meat first and when it is done, retain about 1-1/2 cups of gravy in the pan along with the meat. Remove the rest of the gravy and measure it. Add a balance of plain water - this is your total liquid mixture. Liquid mixture should be double the quantity of the rice used. For example, for this recipe if you are using 3 cups of rice, then you need 6 cups of water or liquid to cook that rice. So if you have got like 2 cups of gravy, add 4 cups of plain water to arrive at 6 cups of liquid mixture. If you have chicken or vegetable stock you may use that in the place of plain water, it will make your biryani even more flavourful.

Cook the rice by frying it in a little ghee, whole spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cloves etc and then add the freshly boiled liquid mixture. Give the whole rice+liquid mixture a good stir and let it come to a rolling boil. Then cover the mouth of the pan with aluminium foil and place a well fitting lid over it. Reduce the heat to a complete sim and keep a timer for 5 minutes. After exactly 5 minutes, turn off the heat and let the pan sit undisturbed for a further 15 minutes. Then remove the lid, stir the contents gently with a fork, cover the pan again for 2 minutes and then your biryani is ready to serve! Enjoy!



Friday, August 10, 2012

Pork Indad (Spicy, Sweet and Sour Pork) - When Hubby Cooks

Weddings in Mangalore are often synonymous with tag 'The Great Indian Wedding' as there is as much shoo-shaa around it due to the presence of all weddingy features such as a whole band of relatives - uncles, aunts, cousins and friends who attend it, amazing spread of food, music and dance, grand clothes, jewellery & other wedding finery. Much like their North Indian counterparts, Mangalorean weddings especially Catholic style weddings are highly celebrated occasions. We have the Roce function which is similar to the Mehendi or the Haldi ceremony and involves the 'purification & preparation' of the bride and the groom for the sacred nuptial ceremony. This is done by way of application of freshly extracted coconut milk by the close family members of the bride and the groom in their respective homes. Since the coconut tree is considered to be the 'kalpvriksh' (divine tree that fulfills wishes) in India especially in South India, this local tradition has woven itself with the pre-wedding ceremony as well. The coconut tree and its many medicinal and other practical uses has given it the significance and importance that it richly deserves and hence besides being known for the great wonders it can do to one's skin, the coconut milk is considered to be the most pure form of cleansing. 

While the mood is jubilant and casual on the day of the Roce ceremony, the wedding is a more formal celebration with the guest list that includes not just the close relatives and friends of the bride and groom but distant relatives, neighbours, business associates and acquaintances as well. To suit these occasions, traditionally the Roce and wedding dinner spreads are different. Traditionally, Mangalorean Catholic occasions are usually known to serve a standard variety of delicacies but today a few of them have been knocked off the menu to make way for contemporary dishes that include Indo-Chinese dishes with a Mangalorean twist


Today's recipe is traditionally served on the wedding day as it is considered to be 'rich' or 'fit for a banquet'. Owing to its Portuguese influence on Mangalorean and Goan food, this dish is prepared in both the places with slight variations - so the recipes will vary. The signature flavour of this dish is a blend of sweet and sour married to spice - no single flavour dominating the other, yet creating a medley of flavours bite after bite. Not just the meat, but even the bits of fat are a joy to savour.

 Since it has been ages since I attended a typical Mangalorean Catholic wedding, I am not sure if it is still considered good enough to share space on the wedding banquet menu, but when I was little, it was one of the items that was served alongside Sanna, Sweet Pulao & Plum Chutney, Tendli Sukhe, Chicken Curry and Mutton Biryani. A cucumber salad completed the spread and people wolfed it down with great pleasure. Two decades ago, you were actually happy to savour a wedding meal. Not so much today as everyone cooks these delicacies at home plus during the wedding season you have a million weddings to attend that you actually dread the spread! Most people I know have simple meals at home and attend the drill (wedding if you please) just because attendance is important.


Honestly, I could give anything to actually attend one of these weddings where the food is good. A good wedding spread in Mangalore doesn't come cheap (but the per plate price is not as ridiculous as it is in the cities either) and if the caterer is willing, he will suggest a few off beat dishes that is bound to leave your guests licking their fingers. However, nothing can beat the traditionally cooked banquets that held the hands of Mangalorean weddings for decades before weddings became a large affair and outsourcing the food to wedding caterers became the need of the hour. Just in case you are wondering what I am blabbering about - well, maybe my parents' generation was the last to have tea parties for their weddings. Right after the nuptials the wedding entourage assembled in the party hall, usually the church hall and everyone was served a hot cuppa and some biscuits. And our grand parents' generation was the lucky enough to partake of wedding banquets held at the bride's home with meals lovingly cooked by relatives and friends especially from the neighbourhood. Each family (from the neighbourhood) was given the responsibility of preparing one dish in bulk and pork was supplied by one of the neighbours. One well fed pig was enough to feed everyone. 

On the wedding day the guests were served whilst seated in rows on mandhryo (thin long carpets woven out of reed) and eating out of shirothyo (banana leaves). The beauty and charm of such traditional weddings and banquets has faded long ago, what remains are the delicacies - I hope they don't vanish completely from the wedding menu of our next generation.


Pork Indad
Recipe credit: Roshan Sequeira
Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 25 mins | Serves 4

You Need:
  • 800gm-1kg Pork (with fat/'wob')
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 sprigs mint leaves
  • 1 tsp (or to taste) vinegar
  • 2-3 tsp (or to taste) sugar
  • salt to taste
  • ghee or oil
For the masala:
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin/jeera
  • 7-8 long red chillies (I used Byadge) (adjust to taste)
  • 15 peppercorns (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 6-8 flakes of garlic
  • 1 marble sized ball of tamarind
  • 4 medium sized onions
Method:
1. Wash and drain the pork and cut into thin slices (i.e 1-1/2 inch squares along with the fat on each piece). Boil/cook the meat without covering the pan until all the water has evaporated * see note#1. Heat ghee/oil in a pan and fry these pieces on a medium flame till golden and the fat leaves the sides of the pan.
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the masala'. Reserve the masala water from the mixer grinder *see note#2
3. Add the ground masala and continue to fry for about 8-10 minutes on a slow flame.  Add the reserved masala water if you require more gravy. Finally add the cinnamon, cloves, mint leaves, sugar, vinegar & salt. Allow to simmer for another 5-7 minutes.
4. Serve hot with sanna, polay, pan polay, chapathi or rice

Notes:
1. Unlike other recipes where the masala is fried first and then the meat is added, this recipe calls for the frying of the pork first for that extra rich flavour and then the masala is fried along with the meat. So cook the meat uncovered and then fry it. Pork tends to leave a lot of water when cooked, so we need to remove all the excess water by evaporation first. The more you fry the meat on a slow flame, the tastier the end result. Just ensure that the frying takes place on a slow fire and the meat is not burnt.
2. The reserved masala water is used only if you need extra gravy. Indad is meant to have a thick gravy so that it can be eaten with Indian breads such as Neer Dosa, Sanna, Appam or Dosa. If you wish to eat it with rice, then go ahead and add the reserved water.
3. If you desire you may add peeled & sliced potatoes just before adding the ground masala.
4. Indad is meant to have thickish gravy with a fine balance of sweet, sour & spice - adjust all these elements according to your taste.


Post updated on 13th Aug 2012 with detailed explanation in the 'Notes' section

Monday, August 6, 2012

Polay / Polo/ Dosai (Yeasted Rice Batter Pancakes)

Our humble South Indian dosa has gone global, thanks to the well marketed masala dosa that has now become the world's favourite any time snack. The dosa adapts itself very well to whatever you wish to serve it with - chutney, sambhar or a masala filling that can range between a simple spiced mashed potato to a chicken schezwan. However the ever popular masala dosa has in many ways overshadowed the other varieties of dosas - neer dosa, set dosa & the Catholic style yeasted dosa. And these are just dosas that are made of rice batter. The variety owes itself to the difference in the proportion of the ingredients used.

The yeasted dosa or polo as we call it is prepared with the sanna batter - the only difference between the two is that sanna are steamed and polay (plural of polo) are pan fried. You need to take care that the polay are fried as soon as the dough has risen. If you let an hour or two pass by, the fermented dough may 'fall' leading to flat polay. Also, since the polay batter makes use of yeast as a fermenting agent, the dough can turn sour if left outside for too long.


I learnt to make them just recently as Roshan simply loves them and they taste awesome with any non vegetarian curry. A few months ago I attempted them for the first time and was pretty pleased with the results. We had them with Pork Bafat and yesterday I made them again to be teamed up with Pork Indad (recipe to follow). I call them the 'pughre polay' (fluffy dosai) because the term 'polay' is generic and can mean any kind (made of various ingredients). 

I wish I was able to click more pictures of these lovely, fluffy and fragrant polay - alas! they disappeared before I could get my camera ready. Maybe I'll update this post with some more pictures the next time I make them. 


Polay (Yeasted Rice Batter Pancakes)
Soaking time: 3hrs or overnight | Prep time: 15mins | Cooking time: 15-20mins Yield: 17-18 medium sized pancakes

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups boiled rice (ukda chawal)
  • 1/2 cup raw rice * see notes
  • 1/4 cup urad dal (split black gram)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tsp (or to taste) sugar
To prepare the yeast solution
  • 1 tsp dried yeast 
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp warm water
Other ingredients
  • oil for frying
Method:
1. Wash & soak the boiled rice, raw rice and urad dal in plenty of water in separate bowls for at least 3 hours (or overnight). Grind the urad dal to a fine paste first and remove. Next, grind the two types of rice with very little water to yield a thick dryish batter of dosa batter consistency. Mix this batter along with the urad dal paste, salt to taste and sugar. Transfer the mixture to a pan that is large enough to contain dough that doubles.
2. In a small bowl mix the warm water with the yeast and sugar and allow to rest for 10 mins till the mixture turns frothy - this is active yeast which must then be mixed to the batter well. Check salt and sugar proportion and add more if required.
3. Cover the pan with a thin muslin cloth and keep in a warm place undisturbed. The dough will take anywhere between 1-1/2 - 2 hours to double (in a favourable warm weather). Gently stir the dough once but not too much or you will kill the fermentation.
4. Heat a flat cast iron tawa/skillet or a flat non stick pan. Grease it evenly with oil and pour approximately 2 ladles of dough in the centre. Using the base of the ladle carefully spread the dough in a circular fashion to form a dosa. Cover and allow to cook on a medium flame for a minute - or until the surface of the dosa looks fluffy and cooked and the base is golden brown.
5. Remove carefully with a flat steel spatula and serve hot with any non vegetarian or vegetarian curry of your choice or with chutney or sambhar.

Note:
1. If you don't intend to use up all the dough to make polay, you can simply pour it into ramekins (gindlaa) and steam them to make a batch of sanna. If you don't have ramekins, just pour out the dough into a lightly greased steel plate with tall edges (thaali/boshi) and steam it in one go. You can cut up this large sanna and serve it.
2. Alternately, if you do not wish to steam up the remaining batter into sanna but wish to eat some polay for dinner/refrigerate them for the next day then I suggest you fry up the entire batch and just steam them in a steaming pot/thondor for 5-7 minutes before serving them - they become absolutely fresh and soft.
3. Take a look at my sanna recipe for more tips on how to prepare the perfect batter

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Churmundo (Konkani Style Whole Wheat Laddoos)

Today is Raksha Bandhan - a day that is set aside as per the Hindu calendar to honour & celebrate the timeless & beautiful bond between a brother and his sister. Tradition is followed and in a special ceremony the sister ties a 'rakhi' or a sacred thread around her brother's wrist symbolic of their eternal bond that binds him to protect her if any harm should befall her. As a sign of his love and respect and to seal the deal (of protecting his sister) the brother then hands over a gift to her in cash or kind, ranging from simple to extravagant. This is my opinion is one of the most beautiful customs celebrated all over India.


Weeks before this special day one can see a whole variety of rakhis on display in shops that sell them. Sometimes there are special stalls/shops that crop up just for the occasion. If you visit a well stocked shop you will find pretty much what you desire - every conceivable rakhi in every shape and size and colour. Creative, traditional, contemporary, simple -take your pick. While the most traditional ones come in bright orange or reddish orange threads, you have the funky and trendy ones too that will just make you go 'wow'!


This special 'rakhi' is accompanied by several types of sweetmeats to sweeten the occasion and the mood is celebratory. There are no dearth of sweets in India - every region, state and cuisine has a dozen different sweets that range in texture, colour, aroma and taste. Ladoos, pedas, halwas & kheers are just large umbrellas under which a thousand varieties take shelter. Then throw in another few hundred regional varieties and what you have is a mind boggling platter of sweets.

Speaking of laddoos - these are my favourite type of Indian sweets. I simply love laddoos and while in Mangalore I never fail to buy my favourite mithai ladoos or boondi laddoos (made of deep fried chick pea batter). When I was little my Konkani (GSB) neighbours used to prepare the 'Churmundo' very often and I remember eating them whenever I used to visit their place. I was one of the youngest and most loved among all the neighbourhood kids, so I always used to get some extra TLC (tender, love & care) at their place. Today, when one of my new friends on Facebook - Mrs. Vidya Nayak Shenoy posted a picture of these laddoos, my mouth watered and I had a rush of old memories. Vidyakka as I fondly call her has been so kind as to share many of her priceless recipes with me in the past. DalitoyKhotto, Chane Ghashi and Coconut Burfi are a few that have been tried & tested in my kitchen so far. I have another couple to try and post, but the Churmundo beat all of them to the blog. Her recipes have never failed me and she is more than happy to give me accurate measurements and patiently answers all my queries no matter how many times I bug her. So this post is dedicated to you dear Vidyakka. Thank You!! We may have never met, but I am glad I found a sister in you. Happy Rakshabandhan!



Churmundo
Prep time: nil | Cook time: 20mins + 15mins | Yield: 17-18 lime sized laddoos

You Need:
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan/kadlehittu)
  • 1/4 cup semolina (fine rava/bombay sooji)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (atta)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • a few raisins (approx 1/8th cup) optional
  • 1 few broken cashewnuts (approx 1/8th cup) optional
  • 2-3 powdered cardamoms
Method:
1. Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed kadhai/wok and add the chick pea flour, stir to avoid lumps and fry for half a minute on a slow flame. Add in the whole wheat flour and semolina and fry for 15-20minutes. Take care to ensure that the mixture does not burn.
2. Remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool completely. Add the powdered sugar, cardamom powder and the optional items - raisins & cashewnuts and mix thoroughly to ensure that there are no lumps. The mixture will resemble fine bread crumbs/rawa after a point.
3. Lightly grease your palm if required and take a fistful of the mixture and compress well, release excess mixture and proceed to shape the mixture into lime sized balls. Roll between palms if necessary for a smooth round finish.
4. Store in an airtight container for upto 2 weeks (if they last that long!)

Notes:
If you wish to store the ladoos for longer, you will need to fry the raisins and cashewnuts as well. Do this right after the ghee is heated. Remove and keep aside until you require to shape the laddoos.
Don't be tempted to add the sugar before the flour mixture has cooled completely. You don't want the heat to melt the sugar and make a mess of the situation, do you?
Don't be alarmed at the quantity of ghee used here - don't skimp, don't use oil - ghee is necessary to form perfectly shaped laddoos that are moist too. If you reduce the ghee, the laddoos will crumble or taste very dry