Archive for April, 2010

A Birdie’s Nest


2010
04.26

Idiyappams or little pockets of steamed rice noodles that Nish often refers to as birdie’s nest, is one of Roy’s favorites :D. Yes, I can’t suppress a grin (smirk?) when I refer to the favorites of a person, who eats almost everything and anything with the same gusto like he were eating the best meal of his life! Here’s what I mean- Idlis and Dosas he hates. But, can/will eat about 8-10 of them. Idiyappams and Paalappams he loves and can/will eat about 10 – 12 of them. So, would you call me a nag if I said to him, Kanna do you really think you need to go for that 12th appam?  My sister Sonia, thinks so. According to her, even though there is the term of endearment ‘Kanna‘ in the sentence, my voice modulation and pitch decibel makes it sound more like – you jerk, you really think you can afford another of those onto to your ever growing waistline?

IMG_7061

OMG you are going to drive him crazy just like Mummy did Papa., OMG leave the poor guy alone., OMG I wonder how he still continues to live with you., OMG you’ve really lost it., ….*eyes rolling*, is all  I’ve heard, ever since I unloaded my bags in Bangalore, 3 weeks back having just arrived from SFO. Any accusations I can bear. But telling a girl that she is turning into her mother is gut wrenching and the worst kind of name-calling in my opinion. I know my sister means well and however convoluted and twisted like Idiyappams, her logic might sound, I’ve decided to try and not become my mother.

So, as I served Roy, this morning, his nth idiyappam that Mini chechi, my sister-in-law, made for breakfast, and as usual,  when Roy pretended to refuse, in the typical Indian style with his hand on his tummy indicating he was full, but his plate evidently thrust forward to be served more, I sweetly chimed, Go ahead Kanna it is not everyday that you get to eat Mini chehi’s Idiyappams, I’m sure you could find a tinsy bit more space for just another one. Now, how is that for NICE, Sony???

Idiyappam/Steamed Rice Noodles

IMG_7056I like these best when served with lamb/chicken stew or boiled eggs in coconut gravy. But if you are a thorough vegetarian and don’t do even eggs, then, the best alternative would be to eat these with some Kerala style Kadala Curry… [read more]

 

 

 

 

 

 Motta Curry / Eggs in Coconut Gravy

IMG_7061

This easy to make dish is a variation of my kerala chicken curry. I’ve simply replaced chicken with eggs here… [read more]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Birdie’s Nest


2010
04.26

Idiyappams or little pockets of steamed rice noodles that Nish often refers to as birdie’s nest, is one of Roy’s favorites :D. Yes, I can’t suppress a grin (smirk?) when I refer to the favorites of a person, who eats almost everything and anything with the same gusto like he were eating the best meal of his life! Here’s what I mean- Idlis and Dosas he hates. But, can/will eat about 8-10 of them. Idiyappams and Paalappams he loves and can/will eat about 10 – 12 of them. So, would you call me a nag if I said to him, Kanna do you really think you need to go for that 12th appam?  My sister Sonia, thinks so. According to her, even though there is the term of endearment ‘Kanna‘ in the sentence, my voice modulation and pitch decibel makes it sound more like – you jerk, you really think you can afford another of those onto to your ever growing waistline?

IMG_7061

OMG you are going to drive him crazy just like Mummy did Papa., OMG leave the poor guy alone., OMG I wonder how he still continues to live with you., OMG you’ve really lost it., ….*eyes rolling*, is all  I’ve heard, ever since I unloaded my bags in Bangalore, 3 weeks back having just arrived from SFO. Any accusations I can bear. But telling a girl that she is turning into her mother is gut wrenching and the worst kind of name-calling in my opinion. I know my sister means well and however convoluted and twisted like Idiyappams, her logic might sound, I’ve decided to try and not become my mother.

So, as I served Roy, this morning, his nth idiyappam that Mini chechi, my sister-in-law, made for breakfast, and as usual,  when Roy pretended to refuse, in the typical Indian style with his hand on his tummy indicating he was full, but his plate evidently thrust forward to be served more, I sweetly chimed, Go ahead Kanna it is not everyday that you get to eat Mini chehi’s Idiyappams, I’m sure you could find a tinsy bit more space for just another one. Now, how is that for NICE, Sony???

Idiyappam/Steamed Rice Noodles

IMG_7056I like these best when served with lamb/chicken stew or boiled eggs in coconut gravy. But if you are a thorough vegetarian and don’t do even eggs, then, the best alternative would be to eat these with some Kerala style Kadala Curry… [read more]

 

 

 

 

 

 Motta Curry / Eggs in Coconut Gravy

IMG_7061

This easy to make dish is a variation of my kerala chicken curry. I’ve simply replaced chicken with eggs here… [read more]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Idiyappam / Steamed Rice Noodles


2010
04.25

IMG_7056

I like these best when served with lamb/chicken stew or boiled eggs in coconut gravy. But if you are a thorough vegetarian and don’t do even eggs, then, the best alternative would be to eat these with some Kerala style Kadala Curry  (black chickpeas in coconut gravy).

I also like to make my own rice flour for all kinds of appams. The store bought flour, I find, does not give the texture that the appams need. The process of making rice flour, though popularly believed to be cumbersome, isn’t all that tough in this modern age of high tech kitchen gizmos. It simply calls for – soaking raw rice in water, draining, drying, roasting and eventually grinding it to a smooth powder. If you are the kind who use a lot of rice flour you could make it in bulk and store for later use. However, if making appams are a once-in-a –blue-moon  type of activity for you, then I’d suggest you go for the store bought kind. One recommendation would be to add a little bit of nicely ground grated coconut to the flour to give that missing texture I talked about earlier.

Ingredients
1 cup rice flour
1 cup water
½ cup grated coconut
1 tsp ghee/coconut oil
salt to taste

Directions

  • Mix rice flour with hot water, ghee and salt
  • Knead it into a smooth dough.
  • Make fist size balls and fill it into an idiyappam press.
  • Press it onto a slightly greased  idli pan .
  • Sprinkle a little grated coconut on top of each appam
  • Steam for 5-10 minutes.
  • Serve hot with stew, egg or kadala curry.
  • Motta Curry / Eggs in Coconut Gravy


    2010
    04.24

    IMG_7061

    This easy to make dish is a variation of my kerala chicken curry. I’ve simply replaced chicken with eggs here. This makes a great accompaniment for rotis or appams.

    Ingredients

    6 boiled eggs each cut into half
    1 medium sized onion, finely sliced
    2 -3 shallots finely sliced
    1/4 tsp kerala garam masala
    1/2 tsp coriander powder
    1 tsp chili powder (base it on tolerable spice level)
    2 tbsp coconut Oil
    1/2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
    1/4 cup canned coconut milk ( use 1 cup thick coconut milk if you are making fresh from scratch)
    salt to taste
    one sprig Curry Leaves
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
    1/4 tsp whole black pepper corns

    Directions

  • Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in cooking pan, splutter 1/4 tsp mustard seeds, add cumin, pepper corns and onions and sauté till the onions are nicely caramelized. The onions have to attain a deep brown color.
  • Add ginger-garlic to the pan and continue sautéing until the oil separates.
  • Add turmeric, chili, coriander, garam masala powders and salt and mix well for 4 – 5 minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup of water reduce heat and let it simmer covered for 10 – 15 mins,  stirring occasionally.
  • Add coconut milk, mix it thoroughly and let it remain on very low flame for a couple of minutes.
  • Finally, shallow fry shallots with 1 tbsp of coconut oil remaining mustard seeds and curry leaves and season the curry.
  • Serve with Appams or Indian breads.
  • From Pala with Love


    2010
    04.19

    IMG_7075As Benny Chetan, my cousin, drives us to the scores of relatives from my side of the family, living in and around Pala, looking at the rubber plantations on either sides of the serpentine roads, I feel a lump in my throat. The more I clear my throat in an effort to  get rid of it, the bigger I sense it grow. It has been seven years since my last visit. Pretty long for a life that has seen only 3 decades. Yet, not long enough.

    As I feel the wind whistling and hear the cicadas call, memories of 7 years back, 10 years back, 20 and 30, flood my mind. Seems like yesterday when my sisters and I, carried our flimsy thorthu and walked bear foot to the near by thoodu, for a bath and and fun fishing. Yesterday, as Amma balled large grains of boiled rice with nai and onaka-meen and tossed them into my 3 year old mouth, that reluctantly opened as wide as her eyes did at my slightest refusal to eat. Yesterday, when Chachan and Amachi  married me off from the tharavad, with kisses and blessings to a nice boy from Delhi. Kerala, sure does bring about mixed feelings within me. I’m still not sure what tugs the chord. Is it the thick family ties? Or is it the exhilarating smell of the rich soil and brassy green around me?

    IMG_7036

    We arrived yesterday at Poovarani, my dad’s home. It is Roy’s first visit here. This trip was long over due. Traditionally, we were supposed to do this 7 years back as the manavati and manavalan. Then, circumstances and Roys work commitments had us flying back to SFO the very next day of our wedding, much to the disappointment and score keeping of my extended family all over the terrains of Pala. I’m glad now, though 7 years late and 3 year old Nish on the side, we are here. I had been waiting desperately all these years to show Roy this major part of my past in the people and the land around here.

    He was slightly taken aback when we first stepped in though. Wasn’t prepared I guess, for the overly dramatic hugs, sloppy kisses and tears. But, when all the hullabaloo of the initial meeting had died down and we had settled in, and when one of the the maids in the scullery enquired about my mishap with the hair, he realized just how deep rooted my attachment and belonging to this place was. He understood why I could spend hours over the phone with these people thousands of miles away from me, discussing family politics and drama of every day life. People who had not seen me in years, still knew why my hair looked freaky and what Nish’s favorite food was.Though popularly denied, for us it does feel like blood is thicker than water.

    Chukka Puzhukku

    chukkaLike most other South Indians, Keralites too, eat a minimum of 5 good meals a day, and the lavish evening kaapi is one of them. To help Roy build up an appetite ( or to burn up the millions of calories he had devoured just a couple of hours before) [read more]

     

     

     

    Small Fried Fish

    IMG_7214

    The smaller the fish the tastier they come. Don’t ask me the hows and whys. It is just my personal opinion and I think I couldn’t be more right ;).

    The smaller fishes are a popular sell in Kerala too. Now and even as a child, I could eat just about anything with these! [read more]

     

     

     

     

     Kanni Manga / Pickled Tender Mangoes

    IMG_7209 Coming Soon

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Kerala Fish Fry


    2010
    04.16

    The smaller the fish the tastier they come. Don’t ask me the hows and whys. It is just my personal opinion and I think I couldn’t be more right ;).

    The smaller fishes are a popular sell in Kerala too. Now and even as a child, I could eat just about anything with these!

    IMG_7229_2

    Ingredients
    1 lb small fish like parava/false trevally (my favorite) or killi meen/threadfin bream cleaned and whole
    1 tbsp of fresh ginger garlic paste ( ginger and garlic in a 1:1 ratio)
    1/2 tsp shallot paste
    1 tsp chili powder (base it on tolerable spice levels)
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/2 tsp black ground pepper
    salt to taste
    1 tsp of lime juice (optional) 
    2 sprigs of curry leaves
    coconut oil/refined vegetable oil for roasting.

     

    Directions

  • Make a couple of slits on either side of each fish and marinate them with a tsp of lime juice and set aside.
  • Mix all the spices with ginger-garlic, shallot and salt  to make a thick smooth paste. The marinade should be slightly on the saltier side.
  • Apply the paste on all the fishes making sure all sides are completely coated by a thin layer of marinade.
  • Set it aside for 30 mins or so.
  • Heat oil in a shallow non stick pan and  slide in the fishes one at a time.
  • Roast on medium heat and flip the fishes to other side after 2-3 min or when you see the fish is 3/4 cooked from the bottom.
  • The time you let to roast on each side depends on the size of each piece and how crisp you would like it to be.
  • When done place the pieces in paper towel to soak up any extra oil.
  • Garnish with  ground pepper and fried curry leaves.
  •  

    IMG_7214

    Chukka Puzhukku – Spiced Raw Jackfruit


    2010
    04.14

    IMG_7229

    Like most other South Indians, Keralites too, eat a minimum of 5 good meals a day, and the lavish evening kaapi is one of them. To help Roy build up an appetite ( or to burn up the millions of calories he had devoured just a couple of hours before) for these unaccustomed meals I dragged him along while I sauntered around the paramb and mittam. And, as I showed off the trees, the walls, the rocks and other stuff that seemed at present insignificant and trivial but yet, in my childhood were treasured with greater value than life itself, Mini Chechi, my sister-in-law, whipped us some yummy Chukka Puzhukku and meen for the evening kaapi. It was the first thing I asked for when I entered home and sniffed jack fruit in the air!

    Chukka Puzhukku made with raw green jack fruit is a staple for breakfast or an evening snack in the south of Kerala during summers. Though I didn’t care about it much as a child, I now miss it like a lovelorn soldier does his sweetheart :(.

    Ingredients:

    1 lb deseeded segments of raw jack fruit
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/3 -1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
    1/2 tsp cumin seeds
    2 cloves of garlic
    2 green chilies
    2 sprigs of curry leaves
    2 –3 finely sliced shallots
    salt to taste
     

    Directions:

  • Chop the raw jack fruit segments julienne style and cook in half a cup of water. (if using a pressure cooker allow it to cook for one whistle).
  • Grind together coconut, cumin,,green chilies,garlic, curry leaves, shallots and turmeric powder into a smooth paste.
  • Add the ground mixture to the cooked raw jack fruit and mix well.
  • Serve with pickles and Kerala chicken, beef or fish.
  • Chukka Puzhukku – Spiced Raw Jackfruit


    2010
    04.14

    IMG_7229

    Like most other South Indians, Keralites too, eat a minimum of 5 good meals a day, and the lavish evening kaapi is one of them. To help Roy build up an appetite ( or to burn up the millions of calories he had devoured just a couple of hours before) for these unaccustomed meals I dragged him along while I sauntered around the paramb and mittam. And, as I showed off the trees, the walls, the rocks and other stuff that seemed at present insignificant and trivial but yet, in my childhood were treasured with greater value than life itself, Mini Chechi, my sister-in-law, whipped us some yummy Chukka Puzhukku and meen for the evening kaapi. It was the first thing I asked for when I entered home and sniffed jack fruit in the air!

    Chukka Puzhukku made with raw green jack fruit is a staple for breakfast or an evening snack in the south of Kerala during summers. Though I didn’t care about it much as a child, I now miss it like a lovelorn soldier does his sweetheart :(.

    Ingredients:

    1 lb deseeded segments of raw jack fruit
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    1/3 -1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
    1/2 tsp cumin seeds
    2 cloves of garlic
    2 green chilies
    2 sprigs of curry leaves
    2 –3 finely sliced shallots
    salt to taste
     

    Directions:

  • Chop the raw jack fruit segments julienne style and cook in half a cup of water. (if using a pressure cooker allow it to cook for one whistle).
  • Grind together coconut, cumin,,green chilies,garlic, curry leaves, shallots and turmeric powder into a smooth paste.
  • Add the ground mixture to the cooked raw jack fruit and mix well.
  • Serve with pickles and Kerala chicken, beef or fish.
  • India, 24 Hours Away


    2010
    04.01

    IMG_6013

    At the SFO airport. Six overweight bags checked in. Will be boarding in an hour. Decided to post the recipes for Chole and Aloo Tikkis while waiting. That should help shake away the jitters and keep me from gnawing out the last traces of what used to be my nails.The irrepressible excitement has turned me into a walking time bomb, ready to throw up on one of these unsuspecting travelers at the drop of a hat. Can’t help it, excitement and vomit have always been a team for me.  Can throw up on an empty stomach too. That’s why, even for a joke, you wouldn’t want to tell me, I won a billion bucks and will not have to work for the rest of my life!!! At least, not with your favorite jeans on.

    Anyway, when the menu for the weekend Chaat potluck at a friends’ was decided, I quickly pounced on the easiest stuff to make. Chole. One of the last few things I cooked before locking up the  Tharakan household kitchen. Made extras to freeze too. Roy’s returning sooner than us, and I being the thoughtful (thrifty?) wife,  made all his favorites. Chole, Rajma and the kind, he can thaw and reheat whenever he feels like a home cooked meal in the  months that I won’t be around. He’s going to be having  a lot of beans in his system for a while, and will definitely have a blast (literally and figuratively) nevertheless. Poor neighbors though!! Since I was not able to sneak some nose clips under their door,  I did plant 2  new trees in the backyard. My penance for being (in)directly responsible for Roy’s green house emissions. . I know puke and farts are the last things you want to hear when you come looking for recipes. But, I hope you can forgive me. I’m at my wits end with anticipation and I can’t think straight when I know I’ll be back home in less than 24 hours.

    Punjabi Chloe

    IMG_5987 Garbanzo beans/chickpeas are prepared in a variety of ways all over the Indian subcontinent. Each preparation exhibits the distinct characteristics of the regional cooking [read more]

     

     

     

     

     

    Aloo Tikkis

    IMG_5985

    These are just about the easiest patties to make. They make amazing appetizers when served with a combination of meetha chutney (tamarind and sugar),  green chutney (cilantro and lime) and chole [read more]

     

     

     

     

     

    Aloo Tikki / Spicy Potato Patties


    2010
    04.01

    These are just about the easiest patties to put together. They make amazing appetizers when served with a combination of meetha chutney (tamarind and sugar),  green chutney (cilantro, green chilies and lime) and chole.

    IMG_5985 

    Ingredients

    3 large potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed
    1 tsp corn flour
    1/4 cup green peas, boiled
    2 green chilies, chopped
    3 tbsp lemon juice
    1 tsp cumin powder
    1 tsp red chili powder
    salt to taste
    2 tbsp chopped cilantro
    1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
    pinch of asafoetida
    refined vegetable oil for frying

    Directions

  • Thoroughly mix all the ingredients except the oil.
  • Divide into 10 to 12 equal portions and shape them into flat patties
  • Heat oil in a fry pan and shallow fry over medium heat until golden brown and crisp on both sides.
  • Drain and pat dry on absorbent paper.
  • Serve hot with chutneys and chole.