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. 

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Kerala pork roast/masala

Recipe adapted from here 
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To pressure cook
Pork- 1 kg, cut into slightly big pieces, say about 1-1/1/4 inch cubes* (refer notes)
Sliced onion- 1/4 cup, sliced into thin juliennes
Ginger garlic paste- 1/2 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 1 /2 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp (add more if you would like it spicier)
Coriander powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste
Curry leaves- 1 sprig

To roast
Coconut oil- 2 tbsp
Onion- 1 cup, sliced into thin juliennes
Curry leaves- 1 big sprig
Ginger garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri Chilli powder- 1/2 tsp (add more if you want it spicier)
Pepper powder- 1 tsp (add more to enhance the taste, but remember it would make the dish spicier)
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste

To dry roast
Coconut oil- 1/2 tbsp
Meat masala- 1 tsp
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Into a pressure cooker add the sliced pork along with all the other ingredients listed below.
Mix well (get in there and use your hands), till the masalas are almost evenly coated on the pork pieces.
Add 1/4 cup water and cook on high till the first whistle comes and then reduce heat to medium and cook for another 15 minutes*. Take off heat and open only after the steam subsides.
There should be some gravy along with pork, but not a lot. If you feel its too much, place the cooker back on heat and cook on high heat till a bit of the water evaporates.
Give a good stir and keep aside.

In another deep, heavy bottomed pan, heat the coconut oil and throw in the onions and curry leaves.
Keep heat on medium and saute till the onions turn light golden (not to crisp consistency, but still cooked well), at which point you add the ginger garlic paste.
Cook till the raw smell disappears.
Add the turmeric powder, stir for a few seconds, followed by coriander powder, chilli powder and pepper powder. If you feel that the pan is too hot and the masalas would burn, add a splash of water or the gravy from the cooked pork.
Tip in the entire contents of the pressure cooker into the pan and on high heat, mix everything together.
Reduce heat to medium, mix in the garam masala, and close and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. The oils would start to surface.
Open, check for salt, add more if needed. Give a good mix and take it off the heat.
The pork would be a semi gravy consistency at this point and absolutely perfect if you want to have it with appam and chapathi. I refrigerate or freeze it in this consistency.

Since i like mine a bit more drier with rice, this is what i do. (the first and third images are of this version)
I take out the required quantity, saute on high in coconut oil and sprinkle some meat masala towards the end (you can also add freshly ground pepper powder). Give one final stir and serve hot with rice and other sides.
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*Notes: Puleezee do yourself a favour and add fat to your pork dishes. Trust me it makes a world of a difference. Don't do any of that lean pork shit on its own with any Kerala pork recipe, it will not come out well. We don't get to buy fat separate, so i use 500 gms of pork belly and 500 gms of shoulder or leg (which you can sub with lean meat to even out the cholesterol aspect:). If you do get to buy fat separately, then do around 700 to 750 of lean meat and the rest fat.
Cooking pork, the method and timing works for me, but your meat may be different, so cook accordingly. You can always let the steam off and open to check if its done and if not put it back on for a couple more whistles.
The original recipe sounded way more spicier and I'm sure it would be fantastic. We have ended up with weak tummies over the years and so have reduced the spice levels significantly. If you can handle spice, add more pepper powder for sure.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Moru kachiyathu (without coconut)

Recipe adapted from here (serves 3 as part of main meal)
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Yoghurt- 1 cup
Water- around 1/2 cup
Salt- to taste

Coconut oil- 1 tbsp
Curry leaves- a generous sprig
Shallots (cheriya ulli)- 3 to 4, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic- 4 pods, peeled and finely chopped
Ginger- 1 tsp, finely chopped
Green chilly- 1, roughly chopped or slit in half (add more if you want it spicier)
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp

To temper
Coconut oil- 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Dried red chilly- 2
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Fenugreek seeds- a pinch
Fenugreek powder- a pinch
Cumin powder- a generous pinch
Chilly powder- a generous pinch
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Mix together the yoghurt, salt and water using a whisk till smooth. You can whizz it in a blender as well.
The yoghurt mix shouldn't be too thick, so add more water to thin it out if you feel its still too thick. Keep aside.
In a deep pan, heat the coconut oil.
Add the curry leaves, shallots, garlic, ginger and green chilly. Saute till the onion becomes a light brown and the garlic and ginger no longer smell raw. About 3 to 5 minutes on medium flame.
Add the turmeric powder and cook till the raw smell from the turmeric disappears.
Reduce heat a bit and pour in the yoghurt mix.
Keep stirring continuously till the yoghurt heats up, but don't by any means let it boil, or the yoghurt will split.
Also, make sure the pan is not really hot or else when you pour in the yoghurt it will split immediately.
Lift the spoon in between and if you can see steam lift off the spoon then the yoghurt has warmed through.
Transfer to a serving bowl immediately.

In a small pan, heat the oil. Keep it on medium heat.
Add the mustard seeds and once they crackle add all the other ingredients one after the other. Keep stirring and making sure the spices don't burn, but at the same time the spices shouldn't be raw.
Pour over the yoghurt, mix well and keep covered for about 5 minutes before serving with rice.

Notes: The yoghurt thickens as its sits, loosen with a wee bit of warm water if it really becomes too thick.
If your moru curry doesn't look yellow enough, you can add a bit of turmeric along with the tempering ingredients.
If you feel there isn't enough salt, you can add it in at the very end as well.
Do not warm the curry in a microwave, instead take it out of the refrigerator an hour or so before serving. Make the rice really hot, so it doesn't feel unpleasant to eat the cool curry.
I do have another similar version here

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Fishy fry

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King fish- 250 gms (2 medium size steaks)

Marinade
Chilli powder- 3/4th tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Fennel seeds- 1/4 tsp
Peppercorns- 1 tsp
Coriander powder-2 tsp
Lemon juice- 1 tsp
Ginger- 1 inch piece, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic- 4 medium pods, peeled
Indian shallots- 4, peeled and roughly chopped
Curry leaves- 6 to 8 leaves + enough to garnish
Salt- to taste

Oil- to shallow fry

Into a blender add all the marinade ingredients and blend to a fine paste, without adding any water.
Its ok if the garlic and ginger haven't been ground to bits, some pieces here and there are fine.
Check for salt, add if needed.
Generously rub both sides of the steak with the marinade and keep covered in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Heat oil in a frying pan, and fry the fish on medium heat, about 2 minutes on each side, or depending on the thickness of the steak. Don't over cook it, or else the fish becomes hard.
Towards the end of the frying time, add some curry leaves into the oil for added flavour.
Scoop them out and crumble on top of the fish before serving.
I served mine with a side of pickled onions and a squeeze of lime juice.
You can use this marinade for any fish, mackerel, anchovies, tuna steak, any oily fish.


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Chettinad chicken biryani

Recipe adapted from here
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Chicken- 1 kg, without skin, but with bone and cut into medium size pieces

To marinate
Greek yoghurt- 1/2 cup
Ginger garlic paste- 1 heaped tsp
Green chilli- 1, finely chopped
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste

For the rice
Basmati rice- 3 cups, washed till water runs clear (refer notes)
Coconut milk- 2 cups
Water- 3 cups
Lime juice- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste

For the masala
Ghee- 3 tbsp
Cardamom- 4 pods
Cinnamon- 2 inch stick
Cloves- 4
Bay leaf- 1
Star anise- 1
Onions- 3 medium, finely chopped
Thai green chilly- 2, slit in half (add more if you want it spicy)
Ginger garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Tomato- 2 medium, finely chopped
Chilli powder- 2 tsp
Coriander powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Mint leaves- 1/4 cup, roughly chopped
Coriander leaves- 1/2 cup, roughly chopped
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Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients in that section for a minimum of at least an hour. I marinated it the previous night.
Mix together the coconut milk and water and soak the washed rice in  it when you begin to start prepping the biryani.

For the gravy, heat a large pot over medium heat and melt the ghee
Into it add the whole spices and when they start smelling great, throw in the onions and green chilly.
Saute and cook till the onions turn a light golden brown at which point you add the ginger garlic paste.
Mix well and cook till the raw smell disappears.
Add the tomatoes, cover with a lid and cook till the oil starts appearing around the edges. 
In goes the chilli, coriander and turmeric powder. Add a dash of water if needed and cook for about 2 minutes.
Mix in the mint and coriander leaves and then tip in the marinated chicken. Mix well.
Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, till water starts coming out. Don't add any water.
Pour in the coconut milk mix from the rice into the pot (without the rice of course), mix well, increase heat to high and bring the mix to a boil.
After boiling for about 5 minutes, add the rice, lime juice and enough salt into the water. The salt should stand out a bit, as only then will your biryani have the right amount of salt once cooked.
Close with a tight lid, reduce heat to low and cook for about 25 minutes.
Make sure no steam escapes. If you don't have a tight lid, wrap the lid with foil so it fits tightly.
Once the time is up, and all the water has been absorbed, do a taste test from the rice right on top. If its cooked then remove from heat, if not, cook for a further 5 minutes.
Drizzle some ghee on top and cover with lid and keep aside for about 10 minutes and then serve hot with a side of raita, pickle and pappadom.

Notes: I use a variety of basmati rice called golden sella which is more resilient to cooking and doesn't break or become mushy as easily as basmati. I always end up with a mushy mess when i use basmati for biryani and so started using sella after i tasted a really good biryani using this rice at the famous Kadiris in London.
If using basmati, follow same method, but you would know the cooking time for your rice and amount of water, so adjust accordingly. I know this is pretty vague info, so ill try it with a normal basmati next time and update.
Use good quality coconut milk, the thick creamy one, as coconut milk powder will not bring out the taste that well.
I need to perfect this recipe a bit more, as the flavour hasn't come out the way i expected. I shall update it as and when i try it again.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Labneh dip with garlic and za'atar

Recipe adapted from here
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Labneh- 1 cup (I used Greek yoghurt)
Salt- to taste
Mint leaves- 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Pistachios- 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Olives- 1 tbsp, pitted and finely chopped
Za'atar spice- 1 tbsp
Garlic powder/ granules- 1 tsp
Chilli flakes- 1 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil- 4 tbsp
Pomegranate arils- to sprinkle on top

If using Greek yoghurt, transfer it to a muslin cloth, squeeze out as much water possible and keep it hung for about an hour or so to grain the whey and get really thick curd. 
Add enough salt to the labneh and keep aside.
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In a bowl mix together the mint leaves, pistachio, olives, za'atar, garlic powder, chilli flakes and olive oil till well combined.
Spread the labneh on to a flat plate, so its about 1/2 inch thick and spoon the topping over as evenly as possible and letting the oil drip around the sides.
Garnish with pomegranate and some mint leaves if needed and dig into it with oven toasted pita bread or crisps.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Oats upma

Recipe adapted from here
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Oats- 1 cup
Ghee- 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp to drizzle
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Dried red chillies- 2
Cashew nuts- 1 tbsp (optional)
Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Onion- 1 medium, finely chopped
Green chilly- 1 large, roughly chopped or slit
Ginger- 1 tbsp, crushed and finely chopped
Green beans- 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Carrots-1/4 cup, grated or finely chopped
Green peas- 1/4 cup (I used frozen ones)
Desiccated coconut- 1/4 cup (optional)
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste
Water- 2 cups (refer notes)
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup plus enough to garnish
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Dry roast the oats in a pan for about 4 to 5 minutes, on medium heat and stirring continuously. The oats should be slightly crisp. Keep aside.
Into the same pan melt the ghee and splutter the mustard seeds.
Add the dried red chilly, cashews and curry leaves and saute till the cashews turn a light golden colour.
In goes the onions, ginger and green chillies. Cook till the onions become soft, they need not become brown.
Stir in the beans, carrot and green peas, add enough salt and cook covered. You don't need to add any water to cook it, just the steam would do. It wouldn't take more than 5 minutes, of course depending on how finely you have chopped the vegetables.
Open the lid and add the desiccated coconut (if using) followed by roasted oats and turmeric powder. Mix well.
Pour 1 cup water and mix the oats, wait for the oats to absorb all of the water and then add the second cup, give a good stir, check for salt and add if needed and cover and cook till most of the water is absorbed.
If you do find that there is still a bit of water, open lid and cook it off.
Add a generous dollop of ghee and sprinkle the coriander leaves and give one final mix.
Garnish with remaining coriander if needed and serve warm with pickle or chutney.

Notes: I actually hate oats with a vengeance but was pleasantly surprised at how nice this tasted.
You can of course skip the ghee and make it in any vegetable oil of choice.
The 2 cups of water i used gave me a mushy upma. We like it that way but if you prefer a drier version, then reduce the water to say 1 1/2 cups. 
Its best to eat it as soon as its cooked as it clumps up to a mass if not.