Archive for the ‘Kerala Cuisine’ Category

All About Dosas


2011
05.06

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Dosas are yummy crêpes made from fermented batter of rice and black gram. These can be made and eaten in a gazillion different forms. I plan on updating this post as and when I make the different kinds and combinations of them. That’s why the title “All About”. The basic batter for most of them can be made using the below proportions. It is eventually what else you add into this batter and how you make the crêpes that give the various forms and names to this wonderful delight.

Ghee Roast – This golden brown super thin crisp crêpe roasted to perfection in ghee and served right off the flame with mouth watering coconut chutneys is probably the most simple dosa of all and my favorite. So, obviously it goes first in my list of recipes

Ingredients

3 cups idli /parboiled rice (if you don’t have it go ahead and use raw rice)
1 cup urad dal(skinned black gram)
1 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
2 tbsp channa dal
1 tbsp mung dal
3 tbsp cooked rice(can be replaced with poha/beaten rice)
salt to taste
ghee for roasting the crepe

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Directions

  • Soak the rice, methi and the dals together in sufficient water for about 6 hours.
  • Drain the water and grind to a smooth and soft batter. Add the drained water a little at a time while grinding is necessary. 
  • Transfer the  batter to a bowl.  Add water if the batter is too thick.  Add salt and mix well.The final consistency of batter should thickly coat a spoon when dipped into it.
  • Set to ferment in a warm dark place.
  • Time to ferment depends on the room temperature. Usually take 6 – 8 hours on a warm day.
  • The quantity more than doubles upon fermentation.
  • Mix the batter well.
  • Heat a skillet at low flame and smear it with 1/2 a tsp of  ghee (I use an onion cut horizontally into half, to smear oil on the skillet. This tends to give a nice aroma to the dosas).
  • Pour batter on to the center of the hot skillet, and gently spread towards the outside in concentric circular movement using the base of the ladle to form a circular very thin crêpe.
  • Increase the flame to high.
  • When you start noticing a golden brown color on the sides and the top surface has the lost the wet look, Turn the dosa over.
  • Allow to roast for half a minute or so on this side.
  • Fold and take of the flame.
  • Reduce the flame and repeat the process to make the next dosa
  • Serve hot with coconut chutneys or sambar.
  • Vendakka Curry – Okra In Spicy Coconut Milk Gravy


    2011
    05.03

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    This easy to make Kerala style curry pairs amazingly well with rice. The only tedious step involved in this recipe is extracting the coconut milk. But if you use canned coconut milk like I do then this sure is a recipe to list among your quick fix curries.

    Ingredients

    1 lb lady’s finger/okra cut into bite sized pieces
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds 
    2 – 3  green chilies, slit 
    1 medium onion, sliced
    1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste 
    1 cup  tomatoes cut into big chunks
    1 –2 sprigs of curry leaves
    1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    1 tbsp coriander powder
    1/2 tsp Kerala Garam masala
    1 cup coconut milk 
    2 tbsp sour curd
    salt – to taste
    2 tbsp coconut/ refined oil

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    Directions

  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter add curry leaves and green chilies.
  • Add turmeric, garam masala and coriander powder and saute for 30 secs.
  • Add onions and sauté the until they begin to sweat.
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and  sauté until it turns soft. 
  • Now add okra pieces, mix well and allow it to cook on medium heat.
  • When it is completely cooked, stir in the curd and coconut milk ,mix well and let it simmer for 2-3 more minutes or until it all comes together.
  • Remove and serve with steamed rice.
  • Vendakka Curry – Okra In Spicy Coconut Milk Gravy


    2011
    05.03

    IMG_9409 

    This easy to make Kerala style curry pairs amazingly well with rice. The only tedious step involved in this recipe is extracting the coconut milk. But if you use canned coconut milk like I do then this sure is a recipe to list among your quick fix curries.

    Ingredients

    1 lb lady’s finger/okra cut into bite sized pieces
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds 
    2 – 3  green chilies, slit 
    1 medium onion, sliced
    1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste 
    1 cup  tomatoes cut into big chunks
    1 –2 sprigs of curry leaves
    1/4 tsp turmeric powder
    1 tbsp coriander powder
    1/2 tsp Kerala Garam masala
    1 cup coconut milk 
    2 tbsp sour curd
    salt – to taste
    2 tbsp coconut/ refined oil

    IMG_9416 

    Directions

  • Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter add curry leaves and green chilies.
  • Add turmeric, garam masala and coriander powder and saute for 30 secs.
  • Add onions and sauté the until they begin to sweat.
  • Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and  sauté until it turns soft. 
  • Now add okra pieces, mix well and allow it to cook on medium heat.
  • When it is completely cooked, stir in the curd and coconut milk ,mix well and let it simmer for 2-3 more minutes or until it all comes together.
  • Remove and serve with steamed rice.
  • April 22nd – Happy Birthday Papa


    2011
    04.22

    Recently Updated1

    The heart monitor beeped steadily. The morning nurse gently tapped the half full IV bag as she checked in on my Father. She nodded and left the room. The room reeked of disinfectant. I hesitantly looked at Mom, my forehead  shrunk into a frown. “So? He looks ok, right? Why did you wake me up?” I complained, annoyed at being shaken awake in the wee hours of the morning. I’d spent the night with Mom at the hospital. My Father, Papa as we called him, lay in the post operative ward at the National Institute of Mental Sciences, Bangalore, recovering from a brain surgery performed the previous day. I hadn’t slept well and my groggy self grumbled more than usual. Mom moved closer to me. “Papa opened his eyes this morning. He asked for you – first thing,” she whispered. “Asked for me? How come?” I said shifting on my feet, my discomfort made obvious. Mom shrugged. “Ok? What do I do now?” I continued, uncertain. Mom’s gaze dropped down at him. He stirred under the white sheets. His eyes struggled open as I looked down. He gave me a wan lopsided smile and raised his hand. I diffidently reached for it and curled my fingers around his big palm. He gripped it tight. As tight as a sick man could.  His eyes swelled up in tears. I tried to control mine. Eventually I relented, pursed my lips tight, and let it flood down my cheeks. I Bent down and kissed his ashen forehead. He heaved a long sigh of relief.

    As a fall out from years of being (or thought to being) ignored  by my Old man I grew up feeling very indifferent towards him. Though on rare occasions the apathy turned 180 and churned into strong emotions of resentment and frustration, most of the time I remained smug and  complacent around him with very little interaction and totally avoiding conversations beyond a yes, no or a maybe. I simply considered my Father to be my material provider which no doubt he did a pretty good job at. He definitely made sure We, his four girls – a niece and three daughters, received adequate mental and physical stimulation. We were allowed to take as many classes as we were interested, attend as many camps as we liked, had all the sporting goods and games sufficient to engage a battalion.  But obviously, there was a problem. With my 20-20 vision of envy, I saw my Father dote a tad bit more on his first-ling, my sister Sony, saw that he had immense appreciation for his bright child, Sophie and a soft corner for his niece, Jasmine. I realized I couldn’t forgive him because he was almost exhausted when it came to me.

    That early morning, in the summer of 1999 when Papa called for me I welcomed it with greedy, wide opened hands. I was glad he had though of me first. I know I was unhealthily needy  and I’m embarrassed of admitting it too. But truth be told, I was in a really dark place and desperately could do with some healing. I so wanted to stop criticizing what I didn’t understand. In my subconscious mind I knew Papa had very little time and I didn’t want to spend the rest of it looking away when people praised his liberal thinking, graceful humility and generosity. I needed to admit he was a noble man of whom I had every reason in the world to be proud of.  And so that morning when Papa trumped me, when despite  his pain and sufferings he thought it necessary to show his deprived child that she was important, that gesture was my catharsis and at long last it brought about the much necessary change in my perception of him.

    I realize my Father was just a human being like all of us.  Born with flaws and mortality. But in his short but exemplary life he helped me see that greatness could be achieved in spite of them.

    Four years later from that day, my Father lost his battle with cancer and died leaving behind many who dearly loved and missed him. And I, was one of them.

    Ragi Roti – Spiced Finger Millet Flat bread

    IMG_9355This gluten free South Indian flatbread is made with the most healthiest of grains – Millet. Rich in minerals, vitamins and proteins Millet is worth acquiring a taste for. Apart from all the nutrition it provides it also helps maintaining those svelte curves for you ;)! ..[read more]

     

     

     

     

     Vendakka Stew – Okra in Coconut Milk Gravy

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    Coming Soon

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Ghee Roast – Plain Dosa

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    Medu Vada / Uzhunnu Vada – Spicy Black Gram Dumplings


    2011
    04.11

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    My Mom makes the best uzhunnu vadas I’ve eaten. Unfortunately I’ve never get to watch her make them since very rarely can we stand each other in the same room let alone a kitchen. Very often as I am gulping down some of her tasty delights, there occurs brief lapses in my senses and in the bliss of ecstasy I find my self proclaiming the usual foot-in- the-mouth/call-it-on-yourself declarations like: I’ve got to learn this from you !! And then of course I find her smirking and hear her insinuating, PRETEND under the breath remark(loud enough for the next door neighbor to hear): Oh that will need your butt to forsake the couch. Of course that sends me eating more than my stomach can handle and I walk away making sure my eyes reveal what my tongue so desperately wants to lash out, but dare not say: My ass will never leave the couch Ma and you forever will end up cooking for me ‘cause I’m going to make sure you outlive me and manipulated by me, your motherly instincts will continue to feed my greed whether you like it or not. Long story short, this IS my mothers recipe but I learnt it from my sister who, God bless her- has all the patience in the world to bear my mothers taunts.

    The two main points to remember in order for the vadas to be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside is: 1> Use as little water as possible for grinding. 2> Aerate the batter thoroughly using a fork after grinding.

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    Ingredients:
    IMG_93142 cups urad dal/ black gram
    1 tsp crushed pepper 
    1 tsp grated and crushed ginger 
    2-3 green chilies finely chopped
    2- 3 tbsp chopped cilantro 
    10-12 torn curry leaves
    1 tbsp diced coconut (optional. I don’t add this my mother does) 
    1/2 cup chopped onions   
    salt to taste 
    refined oil for deep frying

     

    Directions

  • IMG_9296Soak urad dal in water for 5 –6 hours.
  • Grind it to a smooth batter without adding too much water.
  • Use a fork or a mixer and aerate the batter thoroughly.
  • Now add all the other ingredients except oil and mix well into the batter.
  • Heat oil in a deep pan.
  • Immerse the front of your palm in water and scoop a hand full of batter and shape it into a ball.
  • IMG_9305Use your thumb to make a hole at the center of the ball like a doughnut.
  • Flip your palm back side up on top of the hot oil and let the doughnut slump down smoothly on its own into the hot oil.
  • Fry each side for about a minute until deep golden brown and crispy on the outside.
  • Serve hot with sambar and coconut chutney.

     

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    Chutneys Galore


    2010
    10.07

    2010-08-30

    Well it is a day over a over a month since I bought my new toy and evidently I’m not yet bored with it like I thought I would be (or should be) by now. And since the Wife/Mother has shown no signs of curbing herself, the Husband and Son have stopped making efforts to hide their annoyance as well. The boys hopelessly voice out their oh-no! not again shrieks while the obsessive and unrelenting South Indian in me serves them yet another variation of a fermented crêpe or a mutant version of some fried or steamed dumpling they just had a day before.

    The only saving grace for both the parties involved have been the savory chutneys. These spicy and tangy dips always manage to get the boys excited and hence lessens the burden of guilt for me, though obviously I don’t seem as bothered as I should be ;). In any case, when I see my boys serve themselves big mounds of these chutneys, which again is so not the right way of doing it and I have had to dig my nails into the wall and eat my own hair to refrain myself from lecturing them about the correct or rather the traditionally allowed proportions, I’m glad I look less evil than what I actually am.  When your boys act like the dinner or at least a part of the dinner you served was finger licking good you definitely can pass for a good Mother/Wife. Can’t you?? 😉

    Green Chili Coconut Chutney

    IMG_8613This mildly sweet, delicately spicy, greenish tinged elegance pairs very well with dosas and idlis. This chutney is my Mom’s recipe and something that I absolutely love..[read more]

     

     

     

     

     

    Shallot Chutney/ Ulli Chammanthi

    IMG_8601This is another one of those chutneys that you continue to lick off of your plate even when the dosas and idlis are long gone..[read more]

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Onion and Garlic Chutney

    IMG_8598 This chunky,mouth watering, finger licking chutney is for those who crave for that hint of sugar in every spicy bite. This is one of my most favorite chutneys. It has a really long shelf life and actually never goes stale on you[read more]

     

     

     

     

     

    Shallot Chutney / Ulli Chammanthi /Vengaya Chutney


    2010
    10.07

    This is another one of those chutneys that you continue to lick off of your plate even when the dosas and idlis are long gone.

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    Ingredients
    1 cup shallots chopped
    4-5 dried red chilies  
    1tsp black gram dal/urad dal 
    1 tsp channa dal / bengal gram 
    1/4 tsp tamarind paste or marble sized pitted tamarind
    small pinch of asafoetida
    salt to taste
    2-3 tsp of sesame oil (cold pressed)

    Directions

  • Heat oil in a pan, add asafoetida, dals, dried chilies and shallots and sauté until the shallots are golden brown.
  • Add tamarind and sauté for a few more minutes. 
  • Switch off the flame and let the mixture cool.
  • Grind to a smooth paste.
  • Serve with dosas or idlis.
  • Green Chili Coconut Chutney


    2010
    10.07

    This mildly sweet, delicately spicy, greenish tinged elegance pairs very well with dosas and idlis. This chutney is my Mom’s recipe and something that I absolutely love.

    IMG_8613

    Ingredients
    1 cup grated fresh coconut
    2 green chilies
    2 tbsp chopped shallots
    salt to taste
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
    1 sprig of curry leaves
    2 tsp of coconut oil or refined vegetable oil

    Directions

  • Grind together coconut, shallots and green chilies with 1/2 cup of water. Add more water after grinding to get desired consistency.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves and let the mustard pop.
  • Pour the seasoning over the ground mixture and mix well.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Serve with dosas or idlis.
  • Mixed Sprouts and Potatoes in Coconut Gravy


    2010
    09.24

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    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

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    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.
  • Mathi Vattichathu – Sardines Poached To Dry –Kerala Style


    2010
    08.18

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    Acclaimed author of many cook books, Food and Wine editor of  Town&Country for over two decades, James Villas wrote in an article called Unsung Sardines – Ounce for ounce, sardines provide more calcium and phosphorus than milk, more protein than steak, more potassium than bananas, and more iron than cooked spinach.  Now, even if I hadn’t read that, I still would assume that these little silver slender beauties had to have high authority in terms of nutrition in order to find their way to my health freak sister Sony’s table every other day ;).  Frankly for me, the nutrition aspect is just an added bonus. I simply love them for their unparalleled flavor.

    Fresh sardines are found in plenty in Kerala and hence are cooked very often, usually poached or grilled. Fresh sardines however have been hard to find for me over here. But I do manage to get some good ones at Whole Foods or at my local Chinese market. All my recipes use fresh sardines and since I’ve never used the canned kind I cannot comment about how my recipes might turn out with them.This recipe can of course be tried with any other fish too. Sardines are only ‘my’ preference :).

    Ingredients

    1 lb sardines cleaned and slit a couple of times on the sides
    2 tsp red chili powder (base it on tolerable  spice levels)
    1 tsp paprika (mainly for the red color) 
    1/4 tsp fenugreek seed powder
    5- 6 shallots finely sliced  
    1.5 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
    2 kudampulli (camboge fruit rinds)
    1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    2 sprigs of curry leaves
    1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
    2 –3 tbsp coconut oil /any vegetable refined oil
    salt to taste

    Directions

  • Soak kudampulli in a cup of hot salt water and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add black mustard seeds, when they pop add in the curry leaves and powdered fenugreek seeds
  • Add sliced shallot and sauté till golden brown.
  • Add  ginger -garlic paste and sauté till oil separates.
  • Mix together chili powder, paprika and turmeric powder in a little warm water to make a smooth paste, add to the pan and sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add soaked kudampulli along with the water and allow it to boil for a few minutes.
  • Add the fish pieces.
  • Add salt, close the lid and let it boil again.
  • Once the water boils, reduce the flame and let it simmer for about 15– 20 minutes until all/most of the water evaporates and the gravy thickens.
  • Season again with 2 finely sliced shallots fried deep in 1 tsp of coconut oil, mustard and curry leaves if desired.
  • Serve with Rice or Kappa