Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chemeen Biryani

It has been a year since I started blogging and after an initial flurry of activity, the frequency of my posts has reduced significantly. My son is now 20 months old and a very active little guy. He keeps me on my toes all day. There is very little that I can do when he is awake, and a lot to do while he naps. Plus, he now only naps once a day.

Since it was Eid-ul-Adha on the 8th, here's wishing everyone Eid Mubarak. Like we do back home, I make it a point to make biryani and Sheer Kurma for Eid. Our friends join us for the meal, we wear new clothes and the kids exchange gifts.

I don't make the typical Calicut biryani - Calicut is where my parents are from, Mumbai is where I was born and raised. Instead, I make a hybrid Calicut-Mumbai style biryani. The Mumbai style requires frying the onions until they are golden brown while the Calicut biryani requires sauteing the onions and marinating the meat/fish with the masalas(spices).

During Thanksgiving we had some friends visiting us and although they were here to have a fun time, we were all glued to our TV, watching the massacre take place in Mumbai. Mumbai is my home and will always be in my blood. In the past decade, I have had the opportunity to live in NYC, Sydney and Brussels. I love these cities but Mumbai is special. My father came to Mumbai from Calicut in his teens and was joined a few years later by my mother after they got married. My parents lived there for more than four decades. My two brothers and I grew up in this city and have such beautiful memories of our life there. For the three days that it took to get the situation under control, I was at the edge of my couch praying to God to end this, and hoping and praying that none of my dear friends would be in harm's way. I was also thankful that my parents no longer lived in Mumbai. Each time I see the picture of that terrorist at CST, I think about the times that my dad stayed late at the office to avoid the rush hour and took the 9:30pm train home - those murderers terrorized CST at about 9:30 in the evening.I pray for the families who have lost their loved ones in this horrible tragedy, and I pray for the survivors who have to live with the memories for the rest of their lives.

Mumbai is a great city, full of life and I LOVE Mumbai and always will.

On EId-ul-Adha we always make Beef/Goat/Lamb Biryani. But since I have been in no mood to cook, blog or blog hop, I am posting this recipe for Chemeen (shrimp) Biryani which I had made sometime ago.

Here is the recipe.

For the Kayam(marinade)
  • 1 Lb Chemeen/Shrimp(Use raw uncooked ones)
  • 3-4 Big Onions, sliced (2 onions fried till they are golden brown and crisp)
  • 4 Medium size Tomatoes, chopped
  • 15-20 medium hot chiles (more or less)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3-4 tsp roasted coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • small bunch of coriander leaves chopped
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (preferably whole milk)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon(US size) - Indian lemons tend to be smaller so you would need more.
Grind or pulse the green chiles.

Fry 2 sliced onions till they are golden brown and crisp. Fry a handful of raisins and cashews, till they are plump and golden brown respectively. You can fry them in ghee or oil.

Marinade the Shrimp for an hour or so with the turmeric, chili powder and salt. Lightly fry the shrimp in oil till it is half cooked, couple of minutes each sides. Do this in batches, keep it aside.

In the same oil saute 2 onions till it is translucent. Add the ground green chilies, tomatoes, fried shrimp, coriander, yogurt, ginger, garlic paste, lemon juice, turmeric, chili, and coriander powder. Crush one of the crispy fried onion with your hands and add to the marinade(this is the Mumbai part). This give a lovely brown color to the biryani. Add salt to taste and adjust seasoning.
For the Rice:

  • 2 1/2 cups Basamti rice (wash and soaked in water)
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 1-2 Bay leaf
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2-3' pieces of cinnamon
  • 3-4 cardamom
  • Salt to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp oil

In a pot add the oil, and add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom. The spices will pop a bit. Add the sliced onion and let it saute, till the onions turn opaque. Now add the saoked rice, fry the rice till it is well coated in oil 2-3 minutes. Now add 5 cups of water. Cook the rice on medium heat till it is not completely cooked(that is - if you take a grain of rice and break it in the middle it should be slightly raw). Drain the rice onto a colander. Keep aside.

Biryani Masala:

  • Cinnamon 2 sticks (1 inch each)
  • 5-6 green cardamon pods
  • 7-8 cloves
  • 1/2 nutmeg
  • 2-3 mace
  • 1-2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds

Lightly roast all of the above in a pan and grind it to fine powder. Store it in an air tight container. You will need only about 1 tsp or so.

Assembling the dish:

In a heavy bottomed pot, put the chemeen/shrimp kayam(marinade). Put half of the drained cooked rice on top of the shrimp. Pour a tbsp of oil on the rice, spread half of the golden fried onion, cashew, and raisins. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of the biryani masala over. I usually also use a pinch of saffron over the rice. Now put the other half of the rice over the layer of rice and do the same, that is with the onions, cashews, raisins, oil, biryani masala and saffron.

Cover the pot with aluminum foil and tightly close the lid. Cook for 10 -15 minutes on a medium flame or till your house can smell all the fantastic spices. Open the lid and serve hot mixing the shrimp masala with the rice. Serve with coriander chutney, raita and kerala pappadums.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Victory, Award, Chicken Istew and Ghee Rice

Chicken Istew and Ghee Rice

We recently got to know that my one and half year old is allergic to eggs, all tree nuts, shell fish, sesame seeds and believe it or not coconut. Imagine Kerala cuisine without coconut. We put coconut in everything, curries, side dishes, rice, condiments, even desserts.  Coconut is used in various forms such as coconut oil, grated coconut, dried coconut and coconut milk. I was horrified when the allergist told me about this.  For a few days I was so depressed.  I couldn't imagine my little ones life without appams, or coconut milk based curries, - a life without Malyali food.  I don't know if things are exaggerated a bit in the US or it is just matter of being safe then sorry? 
While in Kerala over the summer. I informed everybody at home, that whatever is given to my little one I have to know about it first. So everything was approved from moi first then given to him, even the kids started asking me - what they could give him.  Then slowly there were lit bits of the state nut introduced to him.  Now, he does have coconut in his diet, and has not developed any reaction.  Hopefully he will out grow his egg allergy too.  But the doctor says nut and shell fish allergies are pretty much life long. Poor fellow! 

Anyway, since everyone is celebrating President elect Barack Obama's victory  and since Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I thought I would post the recipes for Ghee Rice and Chicken stew. Dishes we often make back home when we celebrate.  Also a big thanks to Mallugirl of Malabar spice to give me the butterfly award.  I am truly touched and honored. Thank you once again. 

I am passing this award to :

Here are the rules for this award.
Put the logo on your blog. Add the link to the person who awarded you. Pass on the award to 10 others and add a link to their blogs in yours and drop a message at their blogs. 

Ghee Rice

For the Ghee Rice.
  • 1 cup Basmati Rice
  • 1/2 an Onion sliced
  • 3-4 Cloves
  • 1 Bay-leaf
  • 1' Cinnamon
  • 2-3 Cardamon
  • 1 -2 tsps Ghee/Unsalted Butter/ oil


Wash and soak the rice in water for 15 minutes.  In a heavy bottomed pot, melt the ghee add the bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamon and cloves. Let is splutter, add the sliced onions and saute till the onions are translucent.  Add the drained rice, and saute till the rice is well coated with ghee, add water around 1 1/2 cups.  Season with salt and close the pot with a lid, let the water boil on high heat, once the water starts to boil, rolling with bubbles, lower the heat and cook the rice for 15 - 20 minutes till all the water is absorbed by the rice.  Serve hot with Chicken Istew (recipe follows).

Chicken Istew

  • 1 medium size Onion
  • 1 medium size Tomato
  • 1 medium size Potato
  • 500 gms Chicken
  • 2-3 Cloves
  • 2-3 Cardamon
  • 1' Cianammon
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Ginger Garlic paste
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
  • 4-5 Green chilies chopped (or more)
  • 1/3 tsp of Turmeric powder (optional)
  • 2-3 tsps Coriander powder
  • Few turns of ground pepper from the pepper mill or 1/4 tsp of pepper powder
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Coconut fresh coconut milk 1 cup (I used maggie coconut milk powder)
  • 2-3 tsps oil


Heat the oil in a pressure cooker or a pot. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamon and cloves, let it pop, add the fenugreek seeds and let it sizzle. Add the onions and green chillies and saute till the onions are translucent.  Add the ginger garlic paste, saute for another minute or so. Add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric powder (if using) and coriander powder, saute for a few minutes or untill the tomatoes are mushy and the oil starts separating.  Add the chicken and potatoes.  Season with salt and add water, around a cup and half or so.  Cook till the chicken and potatoes are completely cooked. 

Mix the coconut powder according to the packet instructions and add the coconut milk to the chicken stew. Heat the stew and let it come to a gentle boil.  Add the lemon juice and the pepper.  Adjust seasoning to your taste. Add the chopped coriander and serve with Ghee Rice or Appams.

Friday, October 3, 2008

So, What is Charoli?

Growing up in India, this question never crossed my mind, until a dear friend asked me what it was when she had sheer kurma at my place.  Charoli is often found in some Indian desserts like sheer kurma, phirnis, kheers to name a few.  At times it is also used to add flavor and to thicken sauces, like in some meat stews or kurmas . Charoli has a nutty flavor and the inside part of the nut almost taste like pine nuts and the outside part like a pistachio.  Size wise, it is smaller then a pea.
picture courtesy :

Charoli's scientific  name is Buchanania Lanzan. It is a perennial and comes from a small ever green tree, around 15 meters or so. Its bark is grey/black in color.  The hard shell is cracked and the kernel inside the fruit is what Charoli is. The tiny seeds are dried are cultivated mainly in northwest parts of India.     

Charoli is not only used for flavoring and or garnishing indian sweets, but it also has many medicinal benefits, it is used in Ayuerveda and Unani system of medicine. In Ayuerveda it is used to cure blood disorders, fevers, thirst, ulcers, etc. In Unani medicine it is used for digestive, thirst, blood purification,expectorant, purgative etc. It is also an aphrodisiac.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sheer Kurma (Seviyan)

Growing up in Mumbai, every Eid my mom used to make Sheer Kurma.  Not something you would typically find in a Keralite home, this dish is similar to "paysam" but with a lot more different nuts to the list of ingredients.  While paysam is made with vermicili, milk, cashews, raisins and sugar/condensed milk. Sheer Kurma is made with all of the above plus other nuts like pistachios, almonds, dried dates, charoli and saffron.  For those who don't know what Charoli is - my next post will be on it.

As a kid, I remember my mom, getting ready to prepare this dish the day before Eid.  She would do so by soaking the pistachio, almonds and charoli. Then she would peel the nuts and sliver it.  She would be making a whole lot to serve the next day to eat after the Eid prayers and to serve it to guests who would stop by all day to exchange Eid greetings.  

Now, as the mother in my household, I am carrying on this tradition and my husband and kids love the post biryani sugar rush.

  • 1/2 gallon of milk
  • 1/4 cup almonds slivered
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup unsalted pistachios slivered
  • 1/4 cup charoli
  • 1/4 cup dried dates (optional)
  • 4 cardomon pods
  • 50 gms roasted vermicili
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • can of condensed milk
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted butter/ghee 


Soak the almonds(if using whole) in warm water for 20 minutes or so, peel and cut them. Soak the pistachios and do the same.  Soak the charoli in warm water for 20 minutes or so and drain them on to some paper towels, lightly rub them on the paper towels to remove the flaked skin.  Chop the cashews.  Lightly crush the dried dates and remove the pitt.

In a heavy bottom pot, melt butter/ghee, add the almonds, cashew, pistachios, raisins, charoli, dried dates and saute for a few minutes, until the nuts are lightly toasted.  Add the vermicili and saute for a 2-3 seconds.  Add the milk, sugar and condensed milk.  Add the saffron, crushed cardamon or cardamon powder and let it boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for  3 - 4 minutes.  Adjust the sweetness to your liking. Serve warm.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Farida's Zebra Cake

Zebra Cake

It has been a while since I blogged.  First, it was my three-week vacation that I extended to two and half months as we were having so much fun.  Then, the two little ones had to deal with jet lag when we returned and this was followed by my 5 year old starting kindergarten. I was more anxious about her first day then she. Just when we were getting into a routine...Ramadan started.  So although late, let me wish everyone Ramadan Kareem and also a very belated happy Onam!

During my vacation, I did absolutely nothing other than enjoy good food and time with my family.  I did jot down some new recipes to share with everyone here. With all the activities that my 5-year old is involved in, I hope to post at least one recipe a week or so.  Hopefully I can keep up.

As I was blog hopping before I went for my vacation, I came across Farida's excellent blog of Azerbaijani food - not something that I was familiar with.  I love her blog - there are some excellent recipes, photos and  some step by step instructions with photos.  The Zebra cake is from her blog.  Although she has corrected her recipe recently, I had made this cake before she had corrected and did reduce the amount of cocoa powder according to my judgement.  The cake came out perfectly and I was dying to cut it to see the zebra stripes.  I am definitely going to make this cake again; although I might experiment and tweak it a bit.  Maybe add lemon or orange zest or perhaps use almond extract instead of vanilla.  If these adjustments work out, I will surely update this post.  Until then, all I have to say is thank you Farida for posting and sharing the recipe for this beautiful cake.  

Like Farida says - Nush Olsun! Enjoy!

This photo is going to Jugalbandi for this months click event, the theme is crust

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup/8oz/250g granulated sugar
  • 1 cup/8 fl oz/250 ml milk, at room temperature
  • 1 cup/8 fl oz/250 ml oil 
  • 1/3 tsp vanilla extract/powder
  • 2 cups/10 oz /300g all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsps dark cocoa powder


Preheat the oven to 350F/180C

In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar.  Using a hand held electric mixer or wire whisk beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color.

Add milk and oil, and continue beating until well blended.
Add vanilla powder/extract and baking powder to the mixture.  Gradually add the flour and beat until the batter is smooth and the dry ingredients are mixed well.

Divide the mixture into 2 equal parts.  Keep one portion as it is and add cocoa powder to the other and mix well.

Lightly grease the cake pan with oil/butter or PAM for baking spray.

Next is the most time consuming part, but it is worth every minute.
Start with 3 heaped tablespoons of plain batter into the middle of the baking pan. Then scoop 3 tablespoons of the cocoa batter and pour it in the center and on top of the plain batter.  Do not tilt the pan, the mixture will spread on it's own and fill the pan.  Continue this way till you finish both batters.  There are some excellent step by step pictures in Farida's AZcooking blog check them here.

Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes  or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Farida says do not open the oven door at least for the first 20 minutes or the cake will shrink and not rise.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lemon Almond Tart

Lemon Almond Tart 

I had couple of friends come over for lunch.  As I was planning the menu for lunch, I realized that one didn't like chocolate and the other didn't like anything fruity for dessert.  I was stumped - what can I make for dessert that both of them will enjoy.  None of the recipes in my extensive collection gave me any ideas.  

Then as I was strolling in the supermarket to get some inspiration, I found this lovely book on tarts.  It is called TARTS written by Sarah Banbery.  The book was on sale and is worth every penny(look at the price here). I have baked few of the tarts and they have all been magnificent. There are savory tart, fruity tarts, a mixture of first course individual and cocktail size tartlets. There are some useful tips that apply to all recipes which help make your dough success every time.  Here are the tips...

  • Allow a little more butter and flour than the amount stated in the recipe, extra flour for rolling out the dough, and a little additional butter to grease the tart pan.
  • Always roll out the dough and line the pan before chilling, as this will stop the dough from shrinking.  In this way you can trim the dough edges before baking to give a neat finishing edge.  Always chill dough before cooking.
  • Keep the raw dough trimmings to plug any cracks or small holes, which may appear after baking the tart blind. Simply press a little of the raw dough into the crack and the heat of the cooked pastry will fix it in place.
  • Preheat the oven with a heavy baking sheet in it on which the tart shell can be placed. THis will cook the dough better and makes it easier to get the tart in and out of the oven.
  • To bake blind, use parchment paper, which you can scrunch up then smooth out to fit into the tart snugly.
  • Use large eggs
  • The butter and water for the dough should always be as cold as possible and the flour should always be shifted.
  • If not using the food processor simply sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and rub in the butter by hand.

This tart has a beautiful texture that comes from the almonds.  The almonds gives a nutty flavor to this otherwise tart tart.  It is different from the classic French Tart Au Citron, which has a smooth filling.  This tart is lovely with a hot cup of tea or coffee and can be served warm or cold.


Pie Dough
  • 11/8 cups of all purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 31/2oz/100g cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 tbsps superfine sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • cold water
  • 3 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cups superfine sugar
  • 11/2 cups ground almonds
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup water

Lightly grease a 9 inch/22 cm loose bottom fluted tart pan.  

Sift the flour and salt into a food processor, add the butter, process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. (I used my clean hands to do this)

Tip the mixture into a large bowl, add the sugar and egg yolk, and a little cold water, just enough to bring the dough together (most probably you won't need water, but if you do, then put only few drops at a time)

Turn out onto a counter dusted with flour and roll the dough 3 1/4 inches/8 cm larger than the pan.  Carefully lift the dough into the pan and press to fit. 

Roll the rolling pin over the pan to neaten the edges and trim the excess dough.  Fit a piece of parchment paper into the tart shell, fill with dried beans, and let chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F/190C

Remove the pastry shell from the refrigerator and bake blind for 10 minutes in the preheated oven then remove the beans and paper and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

Put the juice and finely grated rind of 3 of the lemons in a large bowl and the eggs, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the ground almonds, and the cream, whisking to combine.  Pour into the pastry shell and bake for 25 minutes.  

Remove the tart from the oven.  Serve warm or cold with whipped cream.


In the recipe, the author makes a topping with lemon slices and sugar.  I didn't do this as I didn't want to add more calories to the tart.  But you can take it a step further... here is how she did it.

Ingredients for the topping:

2 Lemons,
1 cup super fine sugar.


Thinly slice the remaining 2 lemons discarding the seeds and ends.  Put the remaining sugar and water in a pan and heat until the sugar is melted.  Let simmer for 5 minutes, add the lemon slices and boil for 10 minutes.   Arrange the lemon slices over the surface in a spiral pattern.  Drizzle the remaining lemon syrup over the slices.  Serve warm or cold.

The top most picture is going for Click the food photography event hosted by Bee and Jai @ Jugalbandi.  This months theme is yellow for Bri and is a fundraiser for food blogger Bri from Figs with Bri. (See my previous post)

Also this is my last post for this month, I am going on vacation and will be back by mid July.

Monday, June 9, 2008

For all things yellow...

Over the years, you hear more and more about the big C.  In the last 6 years I have lost my friends father, a friends sister, a family friend, and an aunt who have all suffered till their last breath from this deadly disease.  

They say that cancer not only kills the person diagnosed with cancer but also the people around physically, mentally and emotionally.   

Bee and Jai from Jugalbandi announced a special event for their monthly food photography event.  This months event is an appeal on behalf of a group of food bloggers who are friends of Briana Brownlow @ Figs With Bri.

Bri was diagnosed with breast cancer two and half years ago. A mastectomy, chemotherapy and two years of relatively good health later, the cancer is back. It has metastasized to other parts of her body. At the age of 15, Bri lost her 41-year old mother to the disease. Now, she’s waging her own war against breast cancer. More about it here.

She is going through intensive chemo and other treatments and needs to focus single-mindedly on healing and finding what treatment works best for her. Her health insurance, unfortunately, does not cover holistic alternatives which she would like to try. Bri and her husband Marc have enough on their plates right now in addition to worrying about her medical bills.

The team organising the JUNE edition of CLICK at Jugalbandi has organised a fundraiser to help Bri and her family meet her out-of-pocket medical costs for ONE YEAR.

CLICK is a monthly theme-based photography contest hosted by Jugalbandi. This month’s theme is: YELLOW for Bri

Yellow is the colour of hope. Through the work of the LiveStrong Foundation, it has also come to signify the fight against cancer.

The entries can be viewed HERE. The deadline for entries is June 30, 2008. The fundraiser will extend until July 15, 2008.

The target amount is 12,000 U.S. dollars. We appeal to our fellow bloggers and readers to help us achieve this. Bri deserves a chance to explore all options, even if her insurance company thinks otherwise.

There’s a raffle with exciting prizes on offer. After viewing the list, you may make your donation HERE or at the Chip-In button on any participating site.

Your donation can be made securely through credit card or Pay Pal and goes directly to Bri’s account.

This month’s photo contest also has some prizes. Details HERE.

You can support this campaign by donating to the fundraiser, by participating in CLICK: the photo event, and by publicising this campaign.

Everyone who reads this post please ChipIn for Bri.  Thanks.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Click:Beans and Lentils

Panchameel dal

Like I mentioned in my earlier post that I was late to submit for RCI:Rajasthan. This photograph was taken just before I was getting ready to make the Rajasthani panchmeel dal for the RCI:Rajasthan event. Panchameel dal is made by using 5 different lentils. Urad, moong, toor, chana & whole moong dal. Of the photos that I clicked I have short-listed these two. As usual I can't make up my mind on which one to finalize. Since my husband was busy traveling, I took the help of my 4 year old to help me make up my mind...and she made it even harder for me to choose. She said that, "Mama, I like the red color in the top photo, but I like the flower pattern on the bottom one". AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!! So which one should I send?

So before it gets too late for - Click the food photography event that takes place every month by Bee and Jai. This month’s theme is beans and lentils. Click here to see my entry...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chocolate raspberry trifle

I was thinking of participating for RCI:Rajasthan. I made the panchameel dal, from Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe. But we didn't like the taste of it as much, my husband and I thought that the recipe lacked something, I will try the dal again and also consult my Rajasthani friend for her advice to make it worth posting. She suggested to make gatte ki sabji which is a very popular dish in Rajasthan. By the time I got the recipe from her the deadline was way gone.
So I wanted to make it on time for AFAM:Raspberry. Raspberry is almost always there in our fridge or freezer. My 4 year old loves it. Since I had the main ingredient at home all I needed was an easy recipe to use the raspberries. This recipe is adapted from the latest BBC GoodFood magazine. The recipe mixes chocolate, raspberry yogurt and custard into one creamy layer. I have mixed the chocolate and yogurt into one layer and kept the custard separately. So it looks like a trifle. The only thing that you need to make in this recipe is the custard (people living in Europe don't even have to make the custard, as it is readily available in tetra paks in super markets there), rest is just mixing and assembling the dish.

  • 300g/10oz fresh/frozen raspberries (no need to thaw them)
  • 1tbsp brandy(optional) - I didn't use
  • 3 tbsp raspberry jam
  • 175g/6oz dark chocolate - I used semi sweet chocolate
  • 2 x 150g thick, creamy raspberry yogurt - I used light raspberry yogurt.
  • 300ml vanilla custard (cook the custard according to the packet instructions)

Mix the raspberries with the brandy, if using, and raspberry jam, then spoon into 6 glasses.

Break the chocolate and melt it in a microwave on high for 1-2 mintues, or place it over a pan of simmering water and stir until melted.

Stir the yogurt and custard into melted chocolate, then spoon on top of berries. ( I mixed the yogurt and chocolate to make one creamy layer. Then spooned the custard over the berries, then spooned the chocolate/yogurt mixture. )

Cover and chill until ready to serve, then top with grated chocolate ( I used white chocolate) and serve.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Malabar Erachi (Mutton) Pathiri (Paratha)

Erachi pathiri is a Northern Kerala (Malabar) dish. This dish has a meat stuffing. You will never rarely find this dish in a restaurant, it is always cooked at home. It is usually made during Ramadan, and also sometimes made a day after a wedding with a variety of other dishes for breakfast to welcome the groom. Mothers, sisters, aunts, nieces, all work together preparing a long list of breakfast for the groom and his friends. There is laughter in the kitchen, stories told from childhood, embarrassing situations unraveled, some are kneading the dough, some are slicing the vegetables, batters are being mixed to ferment for the next day, brick ovens are fired up and all this for the love of food, the groom and a building of a new relationship.

Erachi Pathiri is our all time favorite. You can substitute Maida(all purpose flour) for Wheat flour(atta), although the atta version may not be flaky.

This is also a good recipe if you have some mutton pieces left over from a curry. Then all you need to do is sauté some onions and chilies with ginger garlic paste, add the spices, scoop the mutton out from the curry and shred them - the stuffing is ready (you save time cooking the meat separately).

This dish is also lovely if you are going to a picnic and want to pack something from home. The meat, onions and spices give this dish the flavor of a meat curry and the pathiri gives a lovely crispy flaky texture to the dish.

I personally like this dish just as it is. But my husband likes it with a coating of egg, sugar and crushed cardamom pods. As it gives a hint of sweetness to the otherwise spicy filling. This is a true Malabar dish.

The pictures don't have the egg batter. I will update the pictures when I make this next at home with the egg batter.

Ingredients: For the Pathiri
  • 2 cups Maida (you could use atta for a healthy version, or use 1 cup maida and 1 cup atta)
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • Approximately 1-cup warm water
  • 1 tsp oil

Mix all of the above and knead it to a soft dough. Keep aside wrapped in cling wrap.

For the filling:
  • 2 large onions sliced finely,
  • 3-4 green chilies chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ chili powder
  • 2-3 tsp roasted coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup Mutton cooked and shredded (recipe below)
  • Handful of Coriander leaves chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil
Ingerdients for the Mutton:
  • 500gms/1lb Mutton/Beef
  • 1" Ginger and 2-3 big cloves of garlic (ground to a paste)
  • 4-5 Green chilies chopped
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp fennel powder
  • Few curry leaves
Method for cooking the Meat:

In a pressure cooker, add the mutton with all the other ingredients with 1 1/2 cups of water. Cook the meat for 10 minutes on a high flame and another 15 - 20 minutes on a low flame till it is tender. When the cooker cools down, open it, check the meat if it is tender. If there is gravy(there will most likely be some), keep the lid open and let the gravy evaporate on a high flame. Alternatively you can scoop out the mutton pieces and use the gravy for something else, maybe a soup. Either chop or shred the mutton pieces. You could also make this on heavy bottom pot and cook the meat for an hour till it is tender.

Method for the filling:

Heat oil in a pot and sauté the sliced onions and chilies till translucent.
Add ginger garlic paste, sauté for few minutes till you can get a lovely aroma from the ginger garlic and the caramelized onions. Add the turmeric, chili, fennel and coriander powders sauté for 3-4 minutes; add salt and the shredded mutton. Sauté till the onions, the masala(spice) powders and the mutton are all coated and mixed well. Add the chopped coriander leaves and adjust the seasoning. Keep aside to cool.

To assemble:

Divide the dough to 14-16 lime size balls.
Roll 2 lime size balls to around 6-7 " in diameter.

Spread the stuffing on to one of the rolled discs.

Put the other rolled pathiri on top of the stuffing, press and seal the edges with your fingers.

Next, lift the pressed edge of the pathiri and fold the dough towards the filling. Press and fold the edges of the entire pathiri in this way to make a pretty border.
Heat some oil in a shallow frying pan, fry the pathiri one at time till golden brown on both sides. You could serve it hot as it is or follow the next step.

In a bowl, beat 2 eggs, with 2 tbsps of sugar and cardamom powder(3-4 cardamom pods crushed). Dip the fried pathiri in the egg batter and re-fry the pathiri till the egg is cooked and gets golden brown specs. Serve hot.

This recipe is going for the Roti Mela hosted by Cooking 4 all Seasons.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Amazing control - Chocolate brownie cake

My 4 year old was so much into cakes, brownies, candies, chocolates, cookies, basically anything and everything sweet that it was next to impossible to control her. She used to cry for something sweet every time. She wanted a sweet fix so often - when she woke up, before she went to school after she came from school, at snack time, at bedtime - that we had started referring to her as the "cookie monster".

Whenever we went to our friends, she would somehow find their stocks of sweets, be it cookies, candies or even gummy bear (children's vitamins). It was embarrassing for me at times.

Last month, I took my 1 year old for his annual check up, while I was waiting for his turn at the waiting area, I came across this pamphlet about baby bottle tooth decay. I was reading about it and just happened to carry the pamphlet home. At home, my 4 year old came to me as usual for a sugar fix, when I showed her the pamphlet.
There were some pretty graphic pictures about the tooth decay; teeth that were very badly discolored, broken and the lips were stretched to show the teeth and gums. I told her that if you eat a lot of sugary things eventually your teeth will have a bad decay and may look like this. I expected her to say, Oh! whatever mum, but I still want candy. Instead I was very much surprised by her reaction.

She started sobbing! She vowed that she is never ever going to touch anything sweet. I was so sure that this reaction will last maybe half an hour, and she will forget all about it and come back for a sugar fix.

Guess what?

It has been more then a month and for a girl, who was always sugar high, has not asked for a sugar treat. Isn't that amazing! She has controlled herself so well that I started feeling guilty about the whole thing, and started telling her that it was okay to have some cookies or candies. So, now we have compromised and she has agreed to have something sweet on Saturdays after lunch. I wish I could be like her and control my sugar rush.

I made this chocolate brownie cake this weekend as we had some friends over. This cake is very dense; it is almost like a tart in that it is not spongy. It is fudgy, like a brownie should be and absolutely delicious. It is lovely as it is, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The method is also very simple; there is no need to beat the eggs a lot. Most of the ingredients are melted on the stovetop in one pot and then the rest of the ingredients mixed through and baked for 30 minutes. This is an easy, no fuss cake, and is just too good to resist.

So this one is for her - for her amazing control.

Love you dear,

  • 100g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 125g chocolate (semi sweet)
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract /essence
  • 100g plain flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
Heat oven to 350 F/180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.

Place the butter, caster sugar, brown sugar, chocolate and corn syrup in the pan and melt gently on a low heat until it is smooth and lump-free.
Remove the pan from the heat.

Break the eggs into the bowl and whisk with the fork until light and frothy.

Add the eggs, vanilla extract or essence, flour, baking powder and cocoa powder to the chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly.

Put the mixture into the greased cake tin and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before cutting into wedges and serving.

Serve with ice cream and or plenty of fresh fruit.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Click: Au Naturel

Click: Au Naturel - Vine Sweet Red Mini Pepper

This is my entry to Click the photo event. This months theme is Au Naturel. Click here to see other photos in the image gallery.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Yam side dish/Suran/Chenna upperi/thoran

Just like my mother, my mother in law is a fantastic cook. Over the years I have learned a lot of great recipes from her. And like me, she is a keen cook and is always trying out new recipes.

I grew up in Mumbai and most of my friends were north Indians. I loved eating north Indian food, be it the yummy street food, Mougali or Punjabi dishes. Other then popular south Indian dishes such as idlis, dosas and appams, I rarely ate south Indian food at restaurants and I didn't really care for rice (especially the naadan(Rose Matta rice/Kuthari) par-boiled rice) or the south Indian side dishes that were made at home. It was too coconuty for me. But after I got married to a guy who loves south Indian food, I started trying out the various south Indian side dishes. I now love the sweet crunchy taste of coconut and the sheer simplicity of these recipes.

I have never seen a better recipe for yam/suran/chenna than the one here. This dish, which my mom in law makes, is so lip smacking good that you wouldn’t want to make yam any other way. The dish gets its sweet taste and crunchiness from the grated coconut and the chopped coconut, its kick from the dry red chilies and its tartness from the touch of lemon. Add a chicken cube and this dish is transformed
. The chicken cube changes the dish to a whole new dimension(vegetarians can use vegetable cubes).

*I have used frozen yam, as the Indian grocery store that I go to doesn't have fresh yam. Ideally it is best to make it with fresh yam, but frozen also works. If using fresh yam, you will have to cook it first till just tender. If you are using frozen ones then you can heat the yam in the microwave for a minute or so depending on your microwave.

  • 1 ½ cup Chenna/Suran chopped & cooked*
  • 1-cup coconut grated
  • 1 chicken/vegetable cube bullion
  • 1-cup onions chopped
  • ½ tsp Chili powder
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • ½ tsp Mustard seeds
  • 2-3 red chilies
  • ½ tsp Urad dal
  • 3 green chilies
  • 1” ginger
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp jeera powder
  • ¼ cup coconut chopped
  • 1 – 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • Curry leaves a sprig

In a pot, put the oil and add mustard seeds, when they pop add the dry chilies, urad dal & curry leaves (Keep all this ready, otherwise you will burn either the urad dal or the chilies).

Add the chopped onions, green chilies and ginger. Sauté till the onions or translucent.

Add the grated coconut, turmeric, chili, coriander and jeera powder and sauté for a bit.

Add the chenna/suran/yam, sauté and mix well.

Then add the chopped coconut, chicken/veg. cubes (powder the cubes with your hands).

Add lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning.

Serve hot with rice or chappati and dal