Thursday, 2 April 2020

Tandoori salmon

Serves two as a main meal

Salmon fillet- 500 gms
Thick yoghurt- 3 tbsp
Chickpea/ besan flour- 1 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste- 1 heaped tsp
Lemon juice- 1 tbsp
Chilli powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder- 1 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 1/4 tsp
Garam masala- 1/2 tsp
kasuri methi- 2 tsp, roughly crushed
Ajjwain/ Carom seeds- 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Whole pepper- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- 1 tbsp + enough to grease the tray

Crush together the ajjwain, mustard seeds and whole pepper in a pestle and mortar. It can be slightly coarse.
Into a bowl add all the other ingredients along with the crushed spices and mix well.
Add salt only after you do a taste test.

Line and grease a baking tray with silver foil and place the salmon fillet, skin side down.
Generously apply the marinade on to the fillet, covering the sides as well.
Pack it on a bit, but dont over do it, so that the marinade is spilling on to the tray.
Cover and marinate for about half hour. This step is purely optional as i think seafood doesnt really require a lot of marinating time. However, i did keep it refrigerated for about 45 minutes as i got side tracked with random chores.
When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180c.
Place the tray on to the middle shelf in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Then take the tray out, if your marinade has dried up, brush some oil all over the fillet.
Its highly likely that the oils from the fish would have collected on the tray, just use that same oil to moisten the fish.
Put the tray back into the oven and bake for a further 6 to 7 minutes.
Remove tray, then turn the broiler mode on your oven to maximum temperature.
Place the tray on the highest shelf, as close to the grill as possible and char the fish for about 3 to 4 minutes, to get that tandoori taste/effect.
Really you need to be careful here or you'd end up burning the fish altogether.
Serve with a side salad.

Notes: The cooking time mostly depends on the thickness of the fillet. Mine was a large 500 gms piece and so it look the time mentioned above.
If you are using individual fillets, it definitely wont take that long, maybe max 8 minuites and then grill for 2 minutes or so.
You can check if its done bu cutting a small slice and if it separates into flakes, you are good to go.
Over cooking salmon makes it dry and chewy i feel.
I had 2 tbsp of leftover marinade which i stored in the fridge and used for paneer tikka the next day.

Monday, 30 March 2020

Chinese red-braised ribs

Recipe adapted from Marion's Kitchen (serves 3 as part of main meal)

Baby back ribs- 1 kg, separated into individual ribs (I used the loin ribs from Waitrose)
Oil- 1 tbsp
Brown sugar- 3 tbsp
Dark soy sauce- 1 tbsp
Soy sauce- 2 1/2 tbsp
White vinegar- 3 tbsp
Chinese cooking wine- 2 tbsp (I only has Sake at had so used that instead)
Oyster sauce- 1/2 tbsp
Water- 1/4 cup
Ginger- 2 big slices, but thin
Garlic- 4 large pods, crushed
Spring onions- 3, white bit separated and the green bit finely chopped
Star anise- 2, small
Cinnamon stick- 1 inch piece
Cloves- 4
Dried red chillies- 2 (optional)
Salt- to taste (if necessary)
Maggi seasoning sauce- a few dashes (optional)
Sesame seeds- 1/4 to 1/2tsp

Place the ribs in a large saucepan and fill with room temperature water to cover them properly.
Bring to a continuous simmer over high heat and using a slotted spoon remove all the frothy bits from the surface of the water.
Simmer for a further 3 to 4 minutes and then drain the water.
Rinse the ribs well in clean water and transfer to a bowl.
Heat oil in a large wok and throw in the brown sugar. 
Wait for it to melt and caramelise a bit.
Add the pork ribs and give a good mix to coat them with the sugar.
Do so for about 3 to 4 minutes until the ribs are a light brown in colour.
Pour in all the liquids one after the other including water and then the ginger, garlic, spring onions, and whole spices.
Mix well and cover and cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes, making sure you give it a mix half way through.
If even after 25 minutes your ribs arent cooked through, continue cooking till the meat comes away from the ribs. Mine took about 35 minutes.

Remove the ginger and whole spices (whatever you can find), increase heat a bit (not too high) and stir the ribs till they are well coated with the liquid and starts to become sticky. 
Be careful not to burn them at this point. You need to keep an eye on them.
Once there is no more liquid, add the maggi seasoning, give a final mix and transfer on to a serving dish.
Garnish with the green bits from the spring onion and sesame seeds and serve warm.
Notes: The ribs in the original recipe are way shorter as she says shes sourced them from a Chinese store. I couldnt get hold of them, so the next best were these loin ribs.
Ive also tried them with the big ribs, but these are definitely better as the sauces get distributed well and coats them properly than the big ribs.
Salt- if your soy is salty enough then you wont need to add any. I did need to add a bit.
If you end up over cooking the ribs they become chewy and dry. Make sure that doesnt happen.
Ive tried the exact same recipe with pork belly and its absolutely fabulous, maybe even better than ribs :)

Friday, 27 March 2020

Appam batter (no soaked rice nor grated coconut)

Rice flour- 2 cups (not the roasted one)
Rava- 1 tbsp (not the roasted one)
Coconut milk powder- 3 tbsp
Cooked rice- 1/2 cup (any leftover rice even basmati is fine. I prefer matta rice though)
Instant yeast- 1 1/4tsp

Salt- to taste
Sugar- to taste
Mix all the first five ingredients together in a blender using lukewarm water. 
Add a little at a time and blend well till you get a smooth batter. 
Transfer to a large bowl, cover and keep to rise in a warm place, for about 4 to 5 hours or till the batter has almost doubled in quantity. It would be light and airy and would bubble up at this point.
Stir in the required amount of salt and sugar (i may have added around 1 1/2tsp salt and around 3 tsp sugar) and warm water to make it the consistency you prefer. 
Add a little at a time cos you dont want to end up with a really loose batter. I actually try one appam and adjust the consistency accordingly.
For palappam i think it will need to be looser in order to spread around the vessel.
To make appams, heat a tawa on medium heat (I have a flat ceramic hob so i cant use the traditional appam chatti due to its curved base).
Pour a ladle full of batter and wait for the bubble to slowly start showing.
Cover with a lid and cook for about a minute or so, till there is no raw batter visible.
Serve warm with curry of choice.
Notes: You can store this batter in the fridge for about 4 to 5 days and use as required.
You can also make the normal palappam as well with this recipe.
Since i live in a cold country, i sometimes adapt to methods to make the batter rise. I usually dont have any problem with this batter as it seems to rise after 4 hours without any prompting. But i do keep in a warm oven or an airing cupboard for the process to be quicker. Otherwise its mostly kept covered in a room which has the heater running or on a window ledge with sun directly on it.
I've mentioned not to use roasted rice flour and rava, but truth be told, i once did use roasted one and it came out fine. Dont take my word for it, just use the un roasted one :)

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Madurai kari dosa

Makes 6 to 7
Dosa batter- 1 to 1 1/2 cups (not too loose)
Ghee/ sesame oil- couple of teaspoons
Eggs- 2 small
Mutton kheema- around 3/4 cups
Salt- to taste
Pepper- to taste
Coriander leaves- 3 to 4 tbsp, finely chopped

Make the mutton kheema as per this recipe. Use mutton mince and omit the potatoes.
For the dosa, you wont need 500gms mince, so for me this is mostly a what-to-do-with-leftover-kheema kinda dish.

Beat the eggs till slightly frothy.

Place a dosa tawa on medium heat and pour in one ladle full of the batter. Dont spread it too much, it must be thick, like a kal/ thattu dosa.
Cover with a lid, and just when you start seeing the bubbles, drizzle some ghee/oil along the edges.
Reduce the heat a bit and add about 2 to 3 tsp of the beaten egg, spread it carefully.
Season with salt and pepper and top with 2 to 3 tsp of kheema followed by a sprinkling of coriander leaves.
Press the meat slightly using a spatula and cook for about a minute,
Carefully flip the dosa and cook for another minute or so.
Make sure you dont burn the kheema, it should be a fried consistency.
Serve hot with some empty gravy on the side.

Notes: When i had this at the legendary Konar Mess in Madurai as part of the food walk i did, they drizzle a bit of mutton curry as well on top of the egg and then top with the kheema.
Also, the dosa is really thick.
The kheema on the dosa must be slightly fried and not burnt. So when its flipped, make sure you dont keep it on for a long time.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Masala egg and vegetable butter sandwich

Recipe adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana (serves 2)
Eggs- 2 large
Onions- 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Tomato- 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Chilli powder- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Salt- to taste

Bell pepper- 1/3rd cup, julienned
Cabbage- 1/3rd cup, julienned
Carrot- 1/3rd cup, julienned
Mayonnaise- 2 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Pepper- to taste

Butter- 1 tbsp
Bread- 4 medium slices
Cheese- 3 to 4 tbs

Beat the eggs along with onions, tomato, chilli, turmeric and salt. Keep aside.
Mix together the sliced vegetables with mayo, salt and pepper. Keep aside.

Place a frying pan/tawa on medium heat, and melt 1/2 tbsp butter.
Dip (rather generously) 2 slices of bread into the egg mixture, both sides, and place on the pan. Top with a few scoops of the egg, tomato and onion mix.
Flip over after 2 minutes and top with about half the veg mix and half the cheese.
Close the sandwich with the other slice and continue grilling the sandwich till the cheese slightly melts.
Keep flipping the sandwich carefully so both sides are slightly crisp.
Remove from the pan, slice the sandwich into two and place on a serving plate.
Continue the same with the remaining slices of bread.
Serve with some tomato sauce on the side.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Chettinad pepper chicken (dry)

Recipe adapted from Rick Stein's India


To lightly roast and grind
Fennel seeds- 1 1/2 tsp
Whole peppercorn- 1 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds- 1 1/2 tsp

Chicken with bone- 700gms, cut into small pieces
Oil- 2 tbsp
Fennel seeds- 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon stick- 1, 2 inch piece
Onion/shallots- 1 1/2 cups, roughly chopped
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Salt- to taste

Lightly roast all the whole spices and once cool, grind to a powder. Keep aside.
In a large pan , heat the oil and throw in fennel seeds and cinnamon. 
Let it sizzle for a couple of seconds at which point throw in the onions and one sprig of curry leaves.
Cook till the onions turn a light brown. Make sure you take time and do this step or else your curry may end up being sweet.
Once the onions turn light brown, add the ginger garlic paste and cook till the raw smell disappears.
In goes the turmeric powder and chilli powder. and salt Saute for about 2 minutes.
Add the cleaned chicken pieces and mix well so its coated in the masala.
Stir in 1/4 cup water and cover and cook for about 20 minutes, or till the chicken is done.
Open lid and mix in the ground masala powder. Saute well to coat the chicken.
Cook till almost all the water has been evaporated, and you see oil along the sides.
Add the remaining sprig of curry leaves and coriander leaves and give one final mix.
Serve warm with rice.

Notes: The dish has a nice level of spice, but next time ill probably increase the peppercorns to about 2 tsp. The pepper didnt stand out enough i though.
Shallots definitely make a difference so try and use that if possible.
Rick Stein's India is one of my absolute favourite books. I can just sit and look at the pictures, if not anything else :)

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Meat pattichu varuthathu

Adapted from Mrs K. M Mathew's book Flavours of the Spice Coast
 Beef- 1 kg*, cut into medium size pieces

To roast and grind
Fennel seeds- 1 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon stick- 2 inch piece
Cloves- 6
Peppercorn- 2 tsp
Kashmiri chilly powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Coriander powder- 3 1/2 tsp

Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
Vinegar- 2 tsp
Salt- to taste

Coconut oil- 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Shallots- 10 to 12, roughly chopped
Ginger- 2 tbsp, sliced
Garlic- 5 cloves, sliced

Dry roast all the ingredients in the roast section for about 3 to 4 minutes on medium heat. Keep stirring continuously or else you will end up burning the spices.
Once slightly cool, grind them finely.
Remove 1 tsp of this powder and to the rest add the ginger garlic paste, vinegar and salt.
Marinate the meat with this mix, and keep aside for an hour or so. 
Transfer the meat to a pressure cooker and cook with about half cup water till done. 
(I close the lid and cook on high till steam comes after which i put on the weight and wait for the first whistle. Once the first whistle is out, i reduce heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes. For the beef we get here, this method works well).

Open the pressure cooker, and if there is a lot of liquid, evaporate most of it on high heat, leaving about a quarter cup of liquid with the meat.
Heat coconut oil in a large wok and add mustard seeds.
Once they splutter, add curry leaves, shallots, sliced ginger and garlic and cook till slightly brown and the raw smell from the ginger and garlic disappears.
Add the reserved tea spoon of masala powder to the onions and saute for a few minutes.
Finally, tip in the beef along with the gravy and fry on medium heat till dark and semi dry. I dont like my beef too dry, but with some wet masala smothering it.
The masalas will start leaving the sides of the pan, and there will be some oil visible around the pan. At this point, you can add some more fresh curry leaves, give a final mix and take it off the flame.
Serve hot with Kerala porotta or rice and moru kachiyahu.
Notes: The preparation is just moderately spicy, you can increase the pepper and red chilly powder to suit your taste
*The beef i used here is a roasting joint which has a nice layer of fat. Please do yourself a favour and use beef with a bit of fat, for this recipe. Trust me, it makes a difference.
I also added a few beef short ribs just to see what its like. I personally think it didnt make too much of a difference, however if it was a curry i was making, it would have amped up the taste. 
You can do the entire prep in a normal pot, but cooking time is longer and also make sure you add at least 2 to 3 cups of water to the beef while cooking, so it doesnt dry out.
You can try the same with mutton as well, and it tastes great.