Archive for the ‘Main Course’ Category

Pork Curry– Coorgi Style


2011
03.31

Many things about the Kodava community fascinated me right from when I was a child. Their gentle and good looking men and women folk, their intriguing customs, distinctive dressing and sweet sounding language always brought about great admiration in me. Even today this small community of Karnataka stirs in me great fondness for unknown reasons.   And like the community, the distinctive and exotic Coorgi cuisine has in me one of it biggest fan.

This pork fry recipe from  coorg uses kanchampuli (thick black extract from kudampulli-dried and smoked fruit rinds of the camboge tree) and the traditional coorgi masala. The only variation I made here is I sautéed the gravy to dry ‘cause that’s how Roy likes it. You could however leave it as a thick gravy and it pairs amazingly well with Indian wheat or Rice breads. Also, if you can’t get hold of kanchampuli you can substitute it with rice wine vinegar, the taste is almost close but you of course wont get the dark intense color.

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Ingredients

2 lbs pork cut into 1’’ cubes, like you would do for stew.
1  large onion finely sliced
5 –6 shallots finely sliced (replace with one red onion if you don’t have these)
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tbsp kanchampuli
3 – 4 tsp coorgi pork masala (ingredients and directions mentioned below) 
11/2 tsp red chili powder (base this on tolerable spice levels)
1 tsp black mustard seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 –3 sprigs of curry leaves(optional)
salt to taste
2 tbsp coconut oil/ refined vegetable oil

Ingredients/Directions for coorgi masala powder

3 tbsp coriander seeds 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp black pepper corns
4 cloves
1’’ of cinnamon bark  
seeds of 1 pod of cardamom

Dry roast all these ingredients separately to a dark brown color and  grind fine.

Directions

  • Mix turmeric,chili powder, coorgi pork masala  with kanchampuli and salt and marinate the meat pieces with this mixture for an hour or two.
  • Add 1/4 cup water, and pressure cook. After the first whistle reduce the flame and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes (slow cooking on a low fame is the key to cook the meat tender).
  • If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook the marinated pieces in a tightly closed pan with 1 cup of water on high for 5 minutes and then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes on low heat, till it is just about cooked.
  • Heat oil in a large sauté pan, add mustard and when they pop add in the curry leaves.
  • Add the onions and sauté until the onions are caramelized to a dark brown.
  • Add ginger-garlic paste to the onions, sauté until the oil separates.
  • Add the cooked pork to the pan till all the gravy completely dries out. If you want it with gravy cook only until the gravy thickens to the desired consistency.
  • Serve as an appetizer or with rice or rotis.
  • Vegetable Biryani- Chettinad Style


    2011
    03.31

    IMG_9199

    Known to be the spiciest and the most aromatic cuisine of India, the Chettinad cuisine is one of my favorites. I’ve spent many glorious evenings in Chennai wiping away plates of Biryani and sucking on spicy succulent crab meat while my totally vegetarian best friend V, looked on with great amusing interest. I’m sure her smirk would disappear in a tick had she only known the great void (tragedy) her vegetarian life had conferred on her.

    Anyway, coming back to serious cooking,  here’s a vegetarian version of the popular Chettinad biryani which is so flavorful that I’m sure even a die hard meat eater would easily go for a second helping :) .

    Ingredients
    1 lb veggies of your choice. (I used, cauliflower and broccoli florets, diced bell peppers and carrots, peas and  potatoes cut into long strip like fries)
    3 cups basmati rice
    1 large  or 2 medium sized red onions finely sliced
    3 large tomatoes, diced in chunks 
    2 tbsp chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
    11/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
    1 tbsp chopped mint 
    5 cloves
    4, 1/4 inch pieces of cinnamon
    2 bruised whole cardamom
    1/2 tsp red chili powder, alter this based on tolerable spice level
    2 tsp paprika, for color
    2 bay leaves
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder  
    refined vegetable oil
    2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
    3/4 cup coconut milk
    3/4 cup curd
    1 tsp lemon juice
    Salt to taste

    Spices for Grinding

    3 cloves
    2,1/4 inch pieces of cinnamon
    seeds from 1 cardamom
    1 tsp of fennel seeds

    Directions

  • Soak washed basmati rice with 4 cups of water and set aside for an hour. 
  • Dry roast the spices mentioned for grinding and grind to a semi coarse powder
  • Heat refined oil in a wide bottomed pan that can be fitted with a tight lid and doesn’t let steam escape and fry the veggies one at a time until almost cooked and set aside.
  • In the same pan add ghee and  add more oil if necessary,
  • When hot, add the whole cloves, cinnamon and cardamom and let them puff up.
  • Add the chopped onions and sauté until deep brown (the onions should look fried).
  • When the oil comes clear, move the onions to the sides of the pan and add turmeric and the ground spices to the oil accumulated at the center of the pan and sauté for 30 secs.
  • Add remaining ginger-garlic and sauté for a minute.
  • Add in the diced tomatoes, chili powders and sauté until oil separates.
  • Reduce the flame to low and add the coconut milk, curd, lemon, salt, cilantro and mint and let it simmer.
  • Add 1 tbsp of ghee, salt and cook the rice until the water boils and the rice is only  3/4 done.
  • Drop in the fried veggies into the masala mixture mix well and flatten it at he bottom of the pan
  • Pour in the boiling rice into the pan making the rice form a layer on top of the masala and veggie mixture and has no direct contact to the bottom of the pan.
  • Close the pan tight shut and let it sit on the very low flame for 15 – 20 min or until the rice at the top is done.
  • Remove from the stove and mix in the rice and masala
  • Serve with raitha and mango pickles.
  • Navratan Korma


    2011
    03.25

    Navratan Korma, meaning a mixture of nine gems is a delicious vegetarian dish from the Mughlai cuisine. The nine gems indicate the nine veggies, fruits and nuts that go into the dish. Influenced by the imperial kitchens of the Mughal empire this is as grand and as rich as any vegetarian dish can get.

    IMG_9085

    Ingredients

    10 oz of paneer/cottage cheese
    1/2 cup cashew nuts 
    1 large onion chopped
    1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    1/2 tsp cumin powder
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/2 tsp white pepper powder
    1 tsp punjabi garam masala
    1 1″ piece of cinnamon
    2 bay leaves
    1 pod of bruised cardamom
    4 cloves
    3-4 cups mixed veggies(I used cubed potatoes, chopped French beans, diced carrots,green peas,cauliflower florets, diced bell pepper)
    1/4 cup pineapple chunks
    10-12 raisins
    2-3 tbsp heavy cream
    2-3 tbsp refined oil
    Salt to taste

    Directions

  • Cut the paneer into slabs (not cubes) and toast them on both sides in a non stick pan in 1 tbsp of oil. Make sure you don’t over do it. Both the sides should have just a slight hint of brown to bring out the nutty flavor of the paneer.
  • When all the slabs of paneer are toasted cut them up into small cubes, sprinkle a little salt and set aside.
  • Grind 1/4th cup of the cashews along with the onions.
  • Parboil with salt all the veggies individually (cooking time for each varies) and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan.
  • Add turmeric and cumin powder and sautéfor 30 secs.
  • Add the remaining cashew nuts and the whole spices.
  • When the spices puff up add the cashew onion paste and the ginger garlic paste and sauté until oil separates.
  • Add the garam masala and pepper powder.
  • .Add one cup of water and bring to boil.
  • Add the the veggies, paneer, raisins and pine apple and let it simmer until the veggies are cooked.
  • Garnish with heavy cream
  • Server hot with Indian breads
  • What was that again?


    2010
    10.20

    Collages1

    The last one year for Nish who turned 4  in September has been profound in terms of mental maturity and verbal acquisitions. His preschooler sass, innocent fumbles, wise observations and insightful witticisms never fail to amuse us. Our days would definitely be dull without him.

    Here are some of his quips for some laughs—

    Ma, can you please leave the bathroom? I need some privacy.

    Pa, you need to listen to Ma, ok? him is the only grown up in this house.

    Ma, grow up!

    Hey Pa, can you turn on the lamp? I need some sun light in the room.

    Ma, when I was a baby in your tummy did I come out when you threw up?

    Ma, I don’t need a baby brother or a baby sister, can you make me a baby puppy instead?

    Reciting the Lords prayer – Our Father in heaven hallowed be thy name ……do not bring us to the test but deliver us from Eagle – Amen

    And these might be incriminating for my food blog, but nevertheless ….

    Ma, I only said it smells good, I didn’t say it tastes good.

    Ma, this tastes  funny. are you sure it is food?

    Aloo Gobi

    IMG_8647Well since I could never bend it like Beckham I chose the easier alternative and learnt to make a killer Aloo Gobi. I consider a bowl of Aloo Gobi perfect when the potatoes and the cauliflowers remain )…[read more]

     

     

     

     

     

     Methi Pulao/ Fenugreek Leaves Rice Pilaf

    IMG_8794Methi Pulao is something that I usually make when I’m entertaining vegetarian friends.  No reason in particular. But since I’m a big fan of the flavor of fenugreek leaf flavor I just assume every vegetarian out ….[read more]

     

     

     

     

     Kadai Paneer

    IMG_8663

    This all famous colorfully vibrant Punjabi dish goes perfectly well with all Indian breads. This is a very simple dish to make but can look very attractive on the table when you are entertaining. It is not just about the looks either, it tastes amazing too….[read more]

    Methi Pulao/ Fenugreek Leaves Rice Pilaf


    2010
    10.20

     

    IMG_8794

    Methi Pulao is something that I usually make when I’m entertaining vegetarian friends.  No reason in particular. But since I’m a big fan of the fenugreek leaf flavor I just assume every vegetarian out there will find it irresistible too.  And frankly every time I’ve made it I haven’t met anyone till date who hasn’t gone for a second helping of this. So like I always say, my assumptions are very rarely wrong ;).

    Ingredients

    1 cup Basmati/Long grained rice
    2 packed cups chopped fenugreek/methi leaves
    1 med onion, finely sliced
    1/2 cup fresh green peas
    1 med tomato cut into chunks
    2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
    1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
    1/2 tsp red chili powder
    4 cloves
    2, 1/4 inch pieces of cinnamon 
    1 crushed cardamom
    2 tbsp roasted cashewnuts 
    1 tsp lemon juice
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    1/4 tsp saunf/fennel seeds
    Salt as per taste
    ghee/oil

    Directions

  • Soak rice in water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside for 15 minutes.
  • Heat a tsp of ghee in a pan, gently roast the rice for a couple of minutes.
  • Pour two cups of water and cook the rice. When cooked fluff it up and set aside to cool.
  • Heat oil/ghee in a wide pan.
  • Add cumin, fennel, cloves,cinnamon, cardamom and let the spices roast.
  • Add onions and sauté until they are golden brown.
  • Add green chilies, ginger garlic paste and sauté for another 2 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, turmeric, chili powder and sauté until oil separates.
  • Add fenugreek leaves, peas, salt to taste and sauté until cooked.
  • Add rice and lemon juice and gently mix on low flame.
  • Kadai Paneer


    2010
    10.15

    This all famous colorfully vibrant Punjabi dish goes perfectly well with all Indian breads. It is a very simple dish to make but can look very attractive on the table when you are entertaining. It is not just about the looks either, the taste’s amazing too. The powerful Indian spices ignites a roaring flame of passion between the mild and sweet colorful peppers  and the nutty cubes of paneer. Just one bite and you’ll know exactly what I’m harping about.

    IMG_8663

     

    Ingredients

    2 cups mixed multicolored bell peppers
    14 oz of paneer/cottage cheese
    1 medium onion chopped fine
    1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    1 large tomato chopped into chunks
    1/2 tsp turmeric 
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    1 tsp katoori methi / dried fenugreek leaves
    1 tbsp coriander powder
    2 tsp chopped green chilies
    1 tsp red paprika/ kashmiri mirch
    1/2 tsp 3 Cs spice mix
    1 bay leaf
    1 star anise
    1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder
    1 tbsp cashew-almond paste -optional (cashew nuts and almonds in equal proportions ground to a paste with little water)
    2 tbsp chopped cilantro
    2-3 tsp fresh cream for garnish
    refined oil
    salt to taste

    Directions

  • Cut the paneer into slabs (not cubes) and toast them on both sides in a non stick pan in 1 tbsp of oil. Make sure you don’t over do it. Both the sides should have just a slight hint of brown to bring out the nutty flavor of the paneer.
  • When all the slabs of paneer are toasted cut them up into small cubes, sprinkle a little salt and set aside.
  • Heat a tbsp of refined oil, add star anise, bay leaf and cumin and sauté for a minute.
  • Add in the chopped onions, sauté till golden brown
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute
  • Add salt, chilies,paprika,  turmeric, coriander, spice mix, cashew-almond paste and tomatoes and sauté till the oil comes clear.
  • Add the bell peppers and kastoori methi and sauté till the veggies are cooked but yet crunchy.
  • Stir in the paneer cubes and let it cook for a couple of minutes till it all comes together.
  • Take off the flame. Garnish with heavy cream and cilantro
  • Serve hot with Indian Breads .
  • Aloo Gobi


    2010
    10.14

    Since I could never bend it like Beckham, I chose the easier alternative and learnt to make a killer Aloo Gobi. I consider a bowl of Aloo Gobi perfect when the potatoes and the cauliflowers remain intact in shape and size but are yet cooked thoroughly through. And of course the cauliflower florets shouldn’t be giving off that God-awful gaseous stench.  Over the years I figured the best way not to stink up your kitchen while cooking cauliflower and the like (cabbage, kohlrabi etc) was to cook them dry. And the easiest was to cook them dry is to deep fry them (tastier option) or broil/bake them (healthier option). You of course can cook them dry directly in the pan too. But that requires frequent stirring and totally depends on how patient you are willing to be. I’ve detailed all four techniques here. Follow what ever floats your boat.

    IMG_8647

    Ingredients

    2 cups cauliflower florets
    1 cup quartered potatoes
    1 small onion chopped fine
    1 tsp grated ginger
    1 medium tomato chopped into chunks
    3/4 tsp amchoor /dry mango powder
    1/2 tsp turmeric 
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    1 tsp katoori methi / dried fenugreek leaves
    pinch of asafoetida
    1 tbsp coriander powder
    1 tsp chopped green chilies
    1 tsp red chili powder
    1 tsp punjabi garam masala
    2 bay leaves
    2 tbsp chopped cilantro
    refined oil
    salt to taste

    Directions

    If deep frying – Heat refined oil in a deep pan. Sprinkle salt on the cauliflower and potatoes and deep fry them until they are cooked through and light golden brown in color.  Set them aside on paper towels to drain out the excess oil.

    If broiling – Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a shallow pan. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric. When the cumin seeds are roasted switch off the flame.  Spread out the cauliflower and potatoes on a flat dish. Sprinkle salt  and drizzle the hot seasoned oil on all the veggies. Broil until cooked through to a golden brown color tossing it every 8 minutes.

    If baking – Preaheat oven to 350 F. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a shallow pan. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric. When the cumin seeds are roasted switch off the flame.  Spread out the cauliflower and potatoes on a flat dish. Sprinkle salt  and drizzle the hot seasoned oil on all the veggies. Bake on 350F until the veggies are cooked through.

    If stir-frying in a shallow pan with no water – Follow the instructions below to make the masala. When done, add the veggies and mix well into the masala. Close the pan and let is simmer on medium heat. Stir every 5 minutes and close the pan with a tight lid when left to simmer.

    Making it all come together –

  • Heat 2 tbsp of oil in shallow pan
  • Add cumin seeds, asafoetida and turmeric, sauté until the cumin is roasted. (omit this step is broiling or baking)
  • Add bay leaf and saute for 30 secs.
  • Add ginger and onions and sauté until onions are golden brown
  • Add tomatoes, coriander powder, green chilies, red chili powder,garam masala,  kastoori methi, amchoor and sauté until oil separates. 
  • Add the cooked veggies and mix them well into the masala until they come together.
  • If adding uncooked veggies follow stir-frying directions.
  • Garnish with cilantro. Switch off the flame.
  • Server hot with Indian breads 
  • Mixed Sprouts and Potatoes in Coconut Gravy


    2010
    09.24

    IMG_8073

    Since I’ve already written about how I sprout my legumes early on and also droned about all the nutrition they provide in that same post, I shall hit straight to the recipe here.

    Though this dish has a touch of Kerala in it, I can see many snooty Mallus turn their noses the other way when I say this goes well with Kerala appams of any kind. So, I’d suggest you try it and decide for yourself.  And of course if the appams don’t do it for you, you’ll always have the basmati rice with cumin or the good old Indian breads to fall back on. About that, rest assured  no one will deny :).

    Ingredients

    1 cup sprouted black channa (black chickpea)
    1/2 cup sprouted green gram (whole moong dal)
    1/2 cup sprouted Red Chori/ Azuki Beans
    1 cup finely sliced shallots
    1 cup fresh grated coconut
    2 tsp coriander powder
    1 tsp red chili powder
    ½ tsp turmeric powder – ½ tsp
    ½ tsp kerala garam masala
    1 cup diced potatoes
    ½ cup chopped tomatoes
    2 sprigs of curry leaves
    salt to taste
    2 tsp coconut oil
    ½ tsp mustard seeds
    2- 3 green chilies
    1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

    IMG_8580 

    Directions

  • Cook the sprouts together and keep it aside.
  • Heat a tsp of oil in a pan. Add the grated coconut and sauté until it turns brown.
  • Add coriander, turmeric, chili powder and garam masala.
  • Stir all the ingredients in until it becomes brown. Make a paste of this and keep it aside.
  • Heat a tsp of oil in the same pan. Add mustard and when it pops add curry leaves, green chilies and sauté for 30 secs.
  • Add shallots sauté until translucent, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute.
  • Add tomatoes and sauté until it forms a mush.
  • Add potatoes and sauté until it is 3/4th cooked
  • Add the cooked sprouts, pour sufficient water and mix well.
  • Add the coconut paste and bring to boil.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
  • Spicy Paddu


    2010
    09.23

    IMG_8586

    I always loved the lunches my best friend L got to school. Her Mom was a very good cook and I made sure L reserved a major portion of her lunch box for me. She was/is one of my closest of friends and there is no doubt I loved her company and always wished to hang out at her place irrespective of the food, that is. But, the fact that her Mom was an amazing cook only amplified the desire a tad bit more ;).
    These fried dumplings called Paddu sometimes came in L’s lunches and were coveted by  not just me but, by many of  our other avaricious friends as well. So, my dearest pal L, bless her sweet sweet heart, always saved a few extra for me in a safe place before she opened her box to the wild hungry wolves around us. And though I knew that my portion existed elsewhere, I still fought with the rest to get my split in this share of the treat as well;).  You see, greed is a vice I’ve had tough timing dealing with all my life :(.  Anyway, what is worth mentioning here though is that, it was not just with food that L made sure that I got more than I deserve. She’s been there for me as a close confidant all through my life. My preteens, teens and now well into my adulthood. And though today we live across the globe from each other, every time either of us are having a plate of these yummy dumplings we never fail to think back of the good times we shared.

    L in the last few years has been having more than her warranted share of problems in life. And to all or any of you who have taken the pains to read through my monologue here, I’d be grateful if you could spare a moment to send over some good thoughts, spirits and prayers her way. Not because L is my friend but because she is a genuinely nice person and totally totally deserves it.

    IMG_8544 

    Ingredients

    1/3 cup urad dal/black gram
    1 cup raw rice
    1 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
    3 tbsp thin poha/parched (beaten) rice
    3 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
    2 sprigs of finely chopped curry leaves
    1 med sized onion finely chopped
    2 green chilies finely chopped
    salt to taste
    1/2 tsp finely chopped ginger

    Directions

  • Wash and soak dal, rice and fenugreek seeds for 5-6 hours.
  • Grind this mixture along with the parched rice to make a smooth batter.
  • Add salt and let the batter ferment overnight.
  • When adequately fermented the volume of the batter more than doubles its original volume
  • Add all the remaining ingredients into the batter and mix well.
  • On high flame grease the appakara (the mold used in making these dumplings) with oil.
  • Pour  1.5 tbsp full of batter  into each mold.
  • Reduce the flame to medium and let it cook for 3 – 4 minutes
  • When the bottom side is done, turn it over to the other side.
  • Drizzle a few drops of oil gain.
  • Let it cook for another 2 – 3 minutes
  • Remove from the pan and server hot with your choice of chutneys.
  • IMG_8591

    Meaty Pasta and Mushrooms in Pink Sauce


    2010
    09.16

    IMG_8044

    Like most American kids my boy too could live his whole life eating only macaroni and cheese. I do indulge him occasionally, most often at restaurants, where of late better sense has prevailed upon me and I have begun accepting the fact that once in a while, it is ok to refrain  from wrestling veggies down his throat. At home however, over a period of 3 years I gradually gave Mac & Cheese  a complete make over. Today my innocent little lad eats a version that looks and tastes like anything but Mac & Cheese. A variation of elbow pasta that has veggies, meat and way less cheese and cream, . But every time I serve him this, he delightfully screeches MAC & CHEESE and wipes out the entire bowl!  I know he’s going to call my bluff in a year or two. But I’m counting on the fact that by then he would have acquired a taste for all the intruders in his bowl and would care less about the deception his trusted mother put him through ;).  

    My two cents –

    1. Nish and most other young kids I have noticed don’t like too many surprises in their food. They love familiarity.

    When I introduced veggies into this dish I started with mushrooms. Mainly because mushrooms easily blend in with cheesy food and Nish always loved them. When I introduced meat, I started first by crumbling in his favorite chicken and bell pepper sausages. Over a period of time I’ve substituted the mushrooms with other veggies like zucchini, asparagus, artichokes, spinach, squash, broccoli etc and the sausages with minced or diced chicken, turkey, beef, shrimp etc.

    2. Kids don’t like too much happening in their food. Keep it simple.

    I always do only one vegetable and one meat at a time  Never a medley. Too many colors from the veggies and too many textures from the meats annoy them and they end up picking out everything that doesn’t look like a pasta noodle. Also, using single kind of different veggie and meat each time gives the dish different flavors every time you make it. A good thing for adults, since you know how easily we get bored. This same recipe when made with either spinach or zucchini tastes so different from the mushroom version that you could kind of give them their own individual names.

    3. And the most important of all. Kids love anything that other kids claim to love.  So always give your dish a popular name and make sure something in it resembles the actual dish ;). Now you know why most of my pasta dishes use elbow pasta noodle ;).

    IMG_8031

    Ingredients

    1/2 lb elbow/penne pasta
    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1 small onion finely chopped
    2 cups chopped cremini mushrooms
    meat stuffing from 2 links of sausages(I used 2 links(76g each) of Rocky brand roasted bell pepper and garlic chicken sausages)
    2 cloves garlic chopped and crushed
    1 can (15 oz)  pureed tomatoes (I used S&W vine ripe organic tomato sauce)
    white pepper to taste
    salt to taste
    2 tbsp fresh basil chopped
    1/3 cup heavy cream
    grated Parmesan cheese to taste

    Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sautè until onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add mushrooms, sausage meat, salt and pepper and sautè until sausage is slightly browned.
  • Add tomato sauce and 1/4 cup of water and bring to a simmer.
  • Turn heat to low and let simmer until the sauce is thickened.
  • Add basil and  stir into the sauce.
  • Add cream and let it continue to simmer on low.
  • While sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water with few drops of virgin olive oil to a boil and add the pasta. Cook uncovered over high heat until al dente.
  • Drain the pasta and toss into the sauce.
  • Garnish with cheese.
  • Serve hot.