Monday, 19 November 2018

Kerala fish biryani

Recipe adapted from here
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Fish- 500 gms (any firm, fleshy fish like salmon, tilapia can be used, but ideally King fish, which is what I've used)

To marinate
Kashmiri chilli powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- enough to shallow fry the fish

For fish masala
Ghee- 1 tbsp
Oil- 1 tbsp (use leftover oil from frying the fish)
Onions- 3 medium, thinly sliced
Ginger- 1 large piece, around 1/2 tbsp
Garlic- 6 to 8 pods
Green chillies- 2 to 3 (increase as per heat level)
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 tsp
Freshly ground black pepper- 1/2 tsp
Tomato- 1 1/2 finely chopped (if they are small use two, mine was pretty big)
Coriander leaves- 1/2 cup 
Mint leaves- 1/4 cup 
Yoghurt- 1 1/2 tbsp
Thick coconut milk- 1/4 cup (this is purely optional, i love the coconut milk taste)
Warm water-  3/4th cup
Salt- to taste

For the rice
Basmati rice- 2 1/2 cups
Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
Cardamom- 4 pods
Cloves- 4
Bay leaf- 1
Ghee- 1 tsp
Lemon juice- 1 tbsp
Water- enough to cook the rice
Salt- generously

To layer
Cashew nuts- a handful
Onion- 1 small, thinly sliced
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
Mint leaves- 1 tbsp
Ghee- 2 tbsp + enough to fry the cashew and onion
Coconut milk- 5 tbsp
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Cut the fish into relatively large slices and wash and clean with salt and vinegar to remove some of the smell.
Marinate with all the ingredients under the marinate section and keep aside for about 20 minutes.
Also wash the rice and soak in water for around 20 minutes.
Crush the ginger, garlic and green chillies in a blender or using a pestle and mortar.
Heat some ghee in a shallow pan and fry the cashew nuts first till golden brown followed by the onions, also to a golden brown and drain on to paper towels. Be careful to not burn them. (I used red onions which is why they look almost black, but they are not burnt :)
Heat oil in a pan and shallow fry the fish, in batches if needed. You dont need to completely cook the fish, just crisp them on the outside. Drain on to paper towel and keep aside.

Heat ghee and some of the oil from frying the fish in a large pan.
Saute the onions with a little bit of salt, till they turn light golden. Make sure you cook the onions properly or they will turn the curry sweet.
Add the crushed ginger garlic chilli paste and cook till the raw smell disappears.
In goes the turmeric, chilli, garam masala, pepper powder and salt. Cook them for a couple of minutes and add a dash of water if you feel the masala is dry.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup water and cook it covered till the oil slightly starts to appear around the edges. 
in goes the coriander and mint leaves, mix well.
Add the yoghurt and mix it all well.
Add the coconut milk and around 1/2 cup water and mix very well. Check salt and add if needed.
Slowly add the fish pieces and cover with the masala as carefully as possible without breaking the fish. Add a bit more water if you feel that the masala is too thick.
Cook for about 5 to 6 minutes uncovered, till the gravy has thickened and the fish pieces are smothered all over the fish.
Keep this masala aside while you sort out the rice.

While the fish is cooking in the masala, put enough water to boil along with the whole spices.
The pot used should be big enough and water quantity quite a bit.
Add salt in such a way that the water tastes salty, only then will the rice taste nice.
Once the water comes to a rolling boil, pour in the lemon juice and then carefully add the drained rice into it. Mix well.
Now this is the tricky part- cooking the rice till its only 3/4th done.
With the basmati rice i used, i got to this stage at 8 minutes. Do not over cook the rice and then it turns into a mushy biryani.
Add the ghee and give a good stir and then drain.
What i did was instead of draining it into the colander, i used a sieve to scoop the rice out of the water and put into the colander so there wasnt a lot of water that needed to be drained as i was time constrained.

Assembly:
Generously grease a large pan with ghee, up the sides as well and place a layer of the fish and masala (as even as possible).
Top with half the rice, again as evenly as possible and sprinkle half of the coconut milk on the rice.
Sprinkle half the mint and coriander leaves and the fried cashew and onion over the rice and finally drizzle half the ghee as well.
Top with the remaining fish and masala followed by rice layer with all the leftover toppings.
Cover with foil and close with a tight fitting lid.
You can either do the usual dum process on the stove top for about 20-25 minutes on low heat or do it in the oven, which is what i did, at 180c for 25 minutes. (While the rice is draining, you can preheat the oven)
Once done, keep to slightly cool for about 10 minutes and then dig in.

Notes: I made the fish masala the previous day and that made life so much easier. I also felt that the masalas were caught on to the fish much better.
I used my Le Creuset for the entire process and it was a breeze, it went from stove top to oven to table t refrigerator.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Broccoli-egg thoran

Serves 4 as part of side dish

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Minced broccoli- 300gms 

Garlic- 2 pods
Red chilli flakes- 1 tsp

Coconut oil- 2 tbsp + 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Dried red chilli- 2
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs + 4 leaves
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Desiccated coconut- 1/3rd cup
Eggs- 3
Salt- to taste

Into a food processor add broccoli florets and mince to resemble coarse bread crumbs. If you dont have a processor you can either grate the florets using a grater or chop them up really fine using a knife.
Crush together the garlic and chilli flakes using a pestle and mortar to a coarse mix. You can adjust the chilli as per your tolerance level.

Heat coconut oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds followed by dried red chilli and curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds and tip in the minced broccoli.
Stir well for a couple of minutes and then add the turmeric powder, cumin powder, crushed chilli-garlic and salt and cook covered on medium heat till the raw smell of the garlic disappears.
Open the lid and stir in the desiccated coconut, continue cooking for a few minutes till all the moisture has evaporated and the broccoli is cooked. (the broccoli mince doesnt take too long to cook)
Increase heat, separate the broccoli a bit to make a well in the centre of the pan and add in the eggs and scramble well, scraping the base to remove all the egg thats stuck to the bottom if any.
Mix well with the broccoli, add more salt if needed and finally sprinkle 3-4 curry leaves on top and drizzle the 1 tsp coconut oil on top, mix well and cover with lid. 
Remove from heat and keep aside for about 5 minutes and then serve with rice or chapathi.

Notes: We get ready made broccoli mince called broccoli rice. So i just used that.
You can do the same with cauliflower as well.
If its a small pan you are using then scramble the eggs one after the other instead of adding all three and then scrambling.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Special vegetable pulao

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Basmati rice- 1 1/2 cups

Baby corn- 1/4 cup, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
Carrot- 1/4 cup, peeled and cut into small cubes
Bell pepper- half of a medium pepper, chopped into small cubes
Green peas- 1/4 cup (I used frozen ones)

Ghee- 2 tbsp
Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
Cardamom- 2 pods
Cloves- 2
Bay leaf- 1
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
Soup cube- 1/2 of one cube (you can use chicken, beef or vegetable cube)
Kasoori methi- 1/2 tbsp
Milk- 2 tbsp (use cream for a richer taste or just use water as well)
Salt- to taste
Boiling water- 3 1/4 cups
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Coriander leaves- to garnish
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Rinse the rice well and soak till you slice and cook the vegetables.

In a wide pan, large enough to hold 3 cups of water, melt ghee and throw in all the whole spices-cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf and cumin seeds.
Once they splutter a bit and the aroma comes through, add the ginger garlic paste and saute continuously till the raw smell disappears. Keep heat on medium and make sure the paste doesnt burn.
Tip in all the vegetables, garam masala, pepper and salt and cook on high for a couple of minutes, till the vegetables have slightly wilted.
Sprinkle the soup cube and kasoori methi and give a good mix.
Add the milk and scrape the bottom of the pan and loosen all thats stuck to the base.
Cover and cook till the vegetables are about 1/2 done.
Drain the rice and add to the pan. carefully mix with the vegetables.
Pour in the boiling water, lemon juice and enough salt (the salt should be standing forward when you do the taste test and only then will your rice be perfectly seasoned) and mix well.
Increase heat to maximum, cover the pan, and let the mix come to a boil. Let it boil for about 3 minutes.
Open lid, give a good stir, close and then reduce heat to low.
Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or till all the water has been absorbed.
Once the time is up, using a fork, check that there is no water at the base.
Sprinkle the coriander leaves and drizzle about half tsp ghee over the top and cover and leave aside for about 1/2 hr.
When ready to serve fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

Notes: You can use any vegetable of choice. Just make sure they amount to about 1 cup in total for that quantity of rice. I have previously used beans, cabbage, sweet corn and even paneer.
The pulao has a very distinct taste with the addition of kasoori methi. If you are not a big fan of that taste omit it. 
You can also dilute the soup cube in the 3 cups water and use that to flavour the rice instead of adding it in the beginning. If diluting, then use an entire cube instead of half.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Roast potatoes (Indian style)

Recipe adapted from here (serves 3 to 4 as a side dish)
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Baby potatoes- 20-22 (around 500 gms)
Ginger garlic paste- 1 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste

Oil- 1 tbsp
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Double cream- 1/2 cup
Kasoori methi- 1 scant tbsp
Coriander leaves- 1/2 cup
Lemon juice- 1 tsp

Rinse the baby potatoes and leave the skin on.
Slice them in half if you think some of them are big. Try and get them in similar sizes.
Par boil in enough water till 3/4th done. Drain and keep aside to cool.
Once cool, marinate the boiled potatoes with ginger garlic paste, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt.
Keep aside for about half an hour.

In a large pan, heat the oil and on medium heat roast the potatoes till they turn brown.
This may take a while. Keep tossing in between and make sure you dont break/mash the potatoes. Try and use a pan that will hold all the potatoes in one layer.
It is very likely that the masalas will start sticking to the bottom of the pan, so just keep adding splashes of water if you feel they are getting burnt (a tsp or 2 at a time).
Once the raw smell of the ginger and garlic disappears, add the curry leaves and continue roasting till they turn golden brown. 
Pour in half the double cream, mix well and wait for it to be absorbed by the potatoes.
Follow with the the second half and continue to stir carefully.
Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, till the masalas are all coated on the potatoes.
Add the kasoori methi, 3/4th of the coriander leaves, and also salt if needed and give a final mix.
3 more minutes over medium heat and take it off the flame and stir in the lemon juice. 
Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with remaining coriander leaves and serve hot with either pulao, chapati or even as a side to to your favourite English Sunday roast.
Ive previously paired them with beef smore, roast chickenbeef chops, murgh mussalam, and roast poussin
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Notes: You can of course use large potatoes. Just make sure you slice them evenly into large pieces. Dont make them too tiny.
Its a very versatile dish in the sense it goes very well with Indian and non Indian dishes.
Replace lemon juice with aamchor for a distinct taste.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Tandoori chicken

Recipe adapted from here

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First marinade
Chicken 1kg, with bone (i used skinless leg and thigh pieces, comparatively large pieces))
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1/2 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste 1tbsp
Lemon juice 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste

Second marinade
Yoghurt- 200gms
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Black salt- 1/2 tsp
Mustard paste - 1 tsp (I used English mustard)
Kasoori methi- 1 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 2tbsp
Salt- to taste

Put slits in the chicken pieces and marinate with all the ingredients in the first marinade.Rub it into the pieces well and in between the slits.
Keep covered in the refrigerator for an hour.
Get the second marinade ingredients ready by whisking together all the ingredients in a small bowl.
Bring out the chicken after an hour and pour the second marinade over it. Nicely massage the marinade on to the chicken and keep covered in the refrigerator overnight for best results, or at least for 3 hours minimum.
When ready to cook, bring the chicken to room temperature and preheat oven to 250C (the highest on your oven).Line a baking tray with heavy duty foil and brush a thin layer of oil on it.
Place the chicken pieces and whatever marinade leftover on to the tray and place in the oven for 7 minutes.
Then reduce heat to 220C and cook for another 10 minutes.
Take the tray out, turn the pieces over and cook for another 10 minutes.
Remove the tray from the oven and change oven setting to grill/broiler mode on highest temperature.
Baste the chicken pieces with oil and place under the broiler for 5 minutes. (Watch well, as it could burn the chicken. Anytime between 3 and 5 minutes should be fine. This is just to char the chicken for that tandoori effect)
Remove and serve with coriander-mint chutney

Notes: Use thick drained yoghurt, so that the marinade sticks to the chicken. I used thick set yoghurt, but squeezed out the water content by hanging it in a muslin cloth.
You are using salt in the first marinade and black salt in the second, so taste before you add more salt.
If you cant find black salt, normal salt is fine.
Of course oven cooking times will vary depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Adjust a few minutes here and there accordingly. It should be anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes including broiler time.

Monday, 1 October 2018

Mutton sukka/chukka

Recipe adapted from here (serves 3 or 4 as part of main meal) 
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Mutton- 500gms (with bone)

To grind
Cumin seeds- 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds- 1 1/2 tsp
Peppercorns- 1 1/2 tsp
Dry red chilli- 2
Indian shallots- 4, small, roughly chopped
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste

Ghee- 1 tbsp
Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
Cardamom- 2
Cloves- 2
Fennel seeds- 1/2 tsp
Onions- 2 small/ 1 large- finely chopped
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
Ghee- 1 tsp (optional)

Grind together the cumin, coriander seeds, peppercorns and dry red chilli to a powder.
Add the shallots and ginger garlic paste, a tbsp or so of water and grind to a paste. Don't add too much water.
Marinate the mutton with the ground mix, turmeric and salt and keep aside for half an hour or more if you can.
Pressure cook the mutton with around 1/3rd 1/4 cup water till done(don't add too much water as you want a dryi-sh consistency once cooked).
If at all there is a lot of water, evaporate it off on high heat till about 1/4 cup is remaining.

In a frying pan, heat the ghee and infuse with cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and fennel.
Throw in the onions and half the curry leaves and saute on medium heat till they turn golden brown. Make sure its not too dark and burn. You need to saute the onions well, or else the curry would be sweet.
Pour in the mutton along with the stock and mix with the onions.
Add the coriander leaves and salt if needed and cook for a couple of minutes on medium heat till the mutton pieces are well coated in the masala and the oil starts to separate. Keep stirring in between.
Sprinkle the garam masala, a tsp of melted ghee and the remaining curry leaves, give a final mix and keep covered for a few minutes, after which you can serve with steamed rice, roti or even appam.

Notes: The original recipe required you to cook the mutton in coconut milk. I skipped it and it was just as good.
Increase the amount of pepper to 2 tsp and add one more chilli if you want it spicier. My version is mildly spicy, and the heat comes from the pepper mostly.
If you have enough shallots, cook the entire thing in that instead of onions. Tastes really good.
You would know how long your mutton would take to get cooked, but what i do is, cook on high heat in the pressure cooker till the first whistle and then reduce heat to medium and cook for another 20 minutes. I'd open the cooker only once the steam has completely died down on its own.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Prawn thokku

Recipe adapted from here

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Prawns- 250-300 gms
Onion- 1/2 cup, roughly chopped (use shallots for enhanced taste)
Garlic- 4 pods, peeled and roughly chopped
Green chillies- 2, chopped (add more for more heat)
Ginger- 1 1/2 inch piece, peeled and roughly chopped
Tomato- 1 big, roughly sliced
Black peppercorns- 1 tsp
Fennel seeds- 1/2 tsp
Grated coconut- 1 1/2 tbsp
Cinnamon- 1 inch piece
Cloves- 4
Curry leaves- 2 to 3 sprigs (the more the better)
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Kashmiri chilly powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Water- 1/4 cup
Oil- 4 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Coconut oil- 1 tsp (optional)
Lemon/ lime juice- approx. 1 tsp
Coriander leaves- to garnish 
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Place a pan over low-medium heat and add around 1 tbsp of oil.
Once hot, throw in the onion, garlic, green chillies and ginger and sauté till they turn golden brown, but not crisp brown. Keep stirring in between to avoid the onions getting burnt, which would affect the overall taste of the thokku.
Add the chopped tomato and continue cooking till they turn soft.
In goes the peppercorns, fennel seeds and grated coconut. Stirring continuously, cook the mix for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the contents into a bowl and leave aside to cool sufficiently.
Once cool, use a blender/ grinder to make a smooth paste. Try and avoid adding water, but if necessary a tsp or so wont do any harm.
Place the same frying pan back on medium heat and add the remaining oil.
Once hot, throw in the cinnamon, cloves and curry leaves. Stir for a couple of seconds till you get than nice aroma of spices.
At this stage tip in the ground ingredients and cook for a few minutes. It might splutter a bit in the beginning, so be careful.
Add the coriander, chilly, turmeric powders and salt, mix it all into the ground paste and cook, stirring on and off till the oil starts to surface.
This step is important and it needs to be done on medium heat. The masala must turn a deep red.
Throw in the prawns and mix well, so its all coated in the masala.
Pour the 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer till the prawns are cooked and the water has all been absorbed. 
At this stage, you can drizzle the coconut oil (if using) and roast the prawns for a couple more minutes, or till the masala becomes dark and completely dry. 
Stir in the coriander leaves, and just before serving squeeze some lemon juice over it and serve with some chilled beer or hot rice.

Notes: Add more green chillies to make this dish really spicy. Honestly, its much tastier with a bit of heat.
Make sure you dont overcook the prawns.