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.