October 15, 2017

Besan Laddu

I am a proud Indian. I do not live in India now but that does not make me any lesser an Indian. It hurts me to see Indians fighting in the name of religion, state, caste and anything you can possibly think of. How better a country we would be once we start appreciating the uniqueness of the country. Where else can you find a country so diverse - just imagine the number of dance forms even within a state! The state of Kerala for example boasts of Mohiniyattam, Kathakalli, Ottam thullal, oppana, Thiruvathira, Marghamkali and many more to go. If this is the story of one state in India, summing up that of all states together will have dance forms that is beyond math I can do now! The festivals , the religions, languages, food, culture also follow the same swing. India is a country that defines the spirit of UNITY IN DIVERSITY! Let that not go waste due to the selfish intents of a handful who stand to gain. I am proud I belong to a country like this and our heritage is something that needs to be preserved and not washed away. If we do end up fighting amongst ourselves, we are just heralding another era of the British invaders divide and rule policy which can be of no good - zilch economic development coupled with brain drain!

Having said that, Diwali ( I am inclined to say - the most celebrated festival in India) is just a few days away. Being a Christian, I have no religious affiliation with this festival but I do take part in the celebrations since I am an Indian. There was a time in childhood were crackers were part of my household too during Diwali - well gone are those days!  You can't take cooking away from me though - so here is our Diwali recipe. 

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I loved the tiny Besan laddu at the bakeries in India which comes in small boxes and easy to gulp down. I just tried making a replica of the same. I cannot say I got it exactly the same but I would say its somewhere close!

A Very Happy Diwali to you all!

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Ingredients
  1. Besan/ Gram Flour - 1 cup tightly packed
  2. Ghee - 1/4 cup
  3. Semolina/Rava - 4 tbsp
  4. Powdered sugar - 1/4 cup
  5. Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Method
  • In a thick bottomed pan, heat 1 tbsp of ghee. Add the semolina and roast it until color begins to lightly change. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Keep aside 2 tbsp of ghee and pour in the rest into the same pan. Add the gram flour and roast until fragrant and the color begins to change to brown. Ensure that the flame is either on low or medium low else the flour tends to burn from the bottom or get roasted unevenly.
  • Turn off the flame and add the roasted rava and once the mix is warm enough to handle with bare hands, add in the powdered sugar along with cardamom powder. Combine this mix well using your hands. In case you need more ghee, use the ghee set aside at this stage.
  • Make balls out of this mix and set on a plate. Give it about half an hour to set well before gobbling it down:)
You may also note -
  1. It takes about 20 minutes to roast the gram flour. A bit of patience goes a long way here:)

October 6, 2017

Fish Cutlet

Time flies by in Dubai - yet another winter is peaking over the horizon. I love winters. If only I could do away with the occasional flu that tends to interrupt the weekend outing plans. We are done with the first flu of the winter which I would like to call the 'change of season flu' that has so become ingrained in our lives for the past three years. Looking forward for a blissful few months that includes a vacation home and not to forget the impending festival season.


On that note, we head over to the new recipe on the blog - Fish cutlet. The type of fish you choose is absolutely your choice - the lesser the bones the easier the task of mincing it. Cutlets can make your weekday dinner cooking a little easier. Just prep a batch over the weekend and freeze it!

Here goes the recipe - 


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Ingredients
  1. Fish - 1 kg
  2. Potato - 2 medium sized
  3. Ginger - 1 tbsp grated
  4. Green chilli - 4 to 5 finely chopped
  5. Onion - 2 medium finely chopped
  6. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  7. Pepper powder - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
  8. Egg - 2 beaten
  9. Bread crumbs
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Oil for frying
Method
  • Clean and pat dry the dry the fish. Marinate the fish in turmeric powder, salt and pepper (1 tbsp). Steam the fish until cooked through.
  • Let the fish cool and separate the flesh from the fish bones. Using fingers crumble it to smaller flakes/ mince them and set aside.
  • Boil potatoes in water. Skin them and mash them coarsely.
  • In a pan, heat oil and add the onions. Let it sweat before adding in the ginger and green chilly. Saute till the ginger is cooked well.Add in required salt and pepper powder.
  • Add the minced fish to this masala and give it a good mix. Turn off the flame and add the mashed potato. Mix them well.
  • When it is warm enough to handle. Roll them into desired shape.
  • Freeze them for about half an hour.
  • Dip them in beaten egg and roll in the bread crumbs so that it is coated well.
  • Freeze them for atleast half an hour before frying.
  • You could either deep fry the cutlets or shallow fry them until golden brown and crisp on both the sides.
You may also note - 
  • Ensure to freeze them for a while before frying, it helps the bread crumbs to stick on.
  • Ensure the oil is hot enough before dropping in the cutlets, lest they tend to separate.
  • The cutlets once rolled in bread crumbs can be frozen up to 2 weeks.

September 20, 2017

Meen Peera| Kerala style fish in grated coconut

Dubai can sometimes be a lonely place. Things took a huge turn a few weeks ago when the Malayalees of the firm which Shibin works for announced an Onam - Eid get together. That was something to look forward for. I got all the more excited when I was asked to join for Thiruvathira. Old traits seldom die:) I love dancing and this opportunity was just so perfect for me. What started off as a mundane Thiruvathira for the ladies and oppana for the kids geared up all the ladies who had let go off all the inhibitions and decided that they wanted to do more. As luck would have it Jimki Kammal Dance Challenge was going places and we decided to do our part as well. It was a simple suggestion by one of the ladies and others were more than eager to join in. The practice that started off in a single song, finally ended in a fusion of three. Despite stage fear, chances of forgetting steps and also the melodrama of having to dance in a saree - we did it! It may not have been the most perfect dance but there is no denying that we perfectly enjoyed every moment of it. We carry no regrets and we are proud our practice paid off!  The Onam celebrations started off with a pookalam, maveli varavelppu and continued to the cultural programs, sadya, tug of war, singari melam to name a few. Every event had its charm but it was the enthusiasm of the people that undeniably made an otherwise normal weekend - a one to remember for months to come. Age was not a bar as everyone present joined the singari melam ensemble and danced away into the evening. As for the employees of the company, 'hi-bye-smile' relationships turned more meaningful and for me I made some wonderful friends!

It is a week now, we still longingly look at the photos and videos that are being circulated. Having said that, it is time to post our next recipe - Meen Peera which is traditional to Kerala. It is a dry fish preparation usually using small fish varieties and grated coconut that serves as a side dish to the meal.


kitchenspells.blogspot.com

Ingredients
  1. Fish - 1 kg ( preferably the smaller fish like Natholi/Anchovy, Mathi/Sardines, Cheriya Aila/Small Mackerel)
  2. Coconut grated - 1.5 cup loosely packed
  3. Ginger - 1 tbsp grated heaped
  4. Shallots/ cheriya ulli - 8 to 10  can be replaced with onions
  5. Kudampulli - 2 -3 pieces
  6. Tumeric powder - 1 tsp
  7. Green chilli - 5-6
  8. Curry Leaves - 2 sprigs
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Water
Method
  • Clean the fish and drain off any excess water.
  • Coarsely grind together coconut, ginger, shallots, green chilly and turmeric. This can be done on a grinding stone, mortar and pestle or in a mixer pulsing it just once or twice.
  • Add this coarsely ground coconut masala to an earthen pot, add the fish along with curry leaves and kudampulli. Sprinkle salt and add half a cup of water.
  • Cook this on low flame for 15-20 minutes until the fish is almost done and leave it open for 5 minutes for any excess water to drain off.
  • Best when served along with rice.
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You may also note- 
  • Avoid stirring, this tends to break the fish. Using a kitchen towel, hold on to both the sides of the pot and gently toss if need be.
  • Earthen pot has a very high smoking point, hence cooking on low flame ensures that the bottom does not burn.

September 4, 2017

Pineapple Rava Payasam

Festivities seem to gain more vigour and valour when you are away from your home country. Onam is one such festival and you can find onam celebrations happening till it is time for Christmas celebrations. Every weekend for the next two months in the UAE you are sure to find atleast one person in the traditional Kerala kasavu mundu/saree heading for Onam celebration somewhere. Pookalam ( floral designs), Thiruvathira (traditional dance form),vadam vali (tug of war), sadya (the grand meal) all form a part of this rich festival. This year is no less and I am counting on 3 sadyas this year.

Just like Cake is to Christmas, Payasam is to Onam!

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Make a sadya or not -payasam is inevitable. This year I wanted to try some milk based payasam other than the semiya payasam. That is when my cousin suggested pineapple. I googled up a few recipes but wasn't quite convinced to try it out myself. Pineapple Rava Kesaribath is one of my favorite food - that is when it struck me to incorporate rava also into the payasam. This payasam just happens to be a modified milky version of the Kesaribath.

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Ingredients

  1. Pineapple - 1 cup
  2. Rava/Semolina - 1/4 cup
  3. Milk - 2 cups
  4. Water - 1 cup
  5. Sugar - 1/4 cup
  6. Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
  7. Raisins 
  8. Cashewnuts
  9. Ghee - 3-4 tbsp
Method
  • Heat ghee in a deep bottom pan and fry the cashew nuts and raisins till it turns golden brown and fluffs up respectively.
  • In the same pan, add the chopped pineapples and fry till the color begins to slightly change color. 
  • Remove the pineapples from the ghee and add semolina/rava. Fry till the color begins to change. Ensure not to burn it.
  • Add 1 cup of water along with sugar and let this cook on low flame for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Pour in the milk and keep stirring for 5 to 10 minutes until the payasam reduces and thickens.
  • Add the cardamom powder along with the pineapples.Cook for another 2 minutes before finally adding the raisins and cashew nuts and switching off the flame.
You may also note
  • Keep stirring the payasam inorder to prevent it from burning at the bottom.
  • Pineapples can be added at two stages. Either along with water at the beginning or at the end. Some bloggers have mentioned curdling of milk if the pineapples are added at the beginning. However mine did not curdle although I added it along with water right at the beginning. If you are skeptical, you could always add it at the end like mentioned in the recipe above.

September 3, 2017

Padavalanga Parippu Charu/Curry

kitchenspells.blogspot.com

Onam is here again and it is inevitable that my blog gets adorned with atleast one recipe for the season. I am , as my ex-boss called me NRK - Non Resident Malayalee!! I have spent most of my life in Karnataka and wee bit in Dubai now. I used to look forward to Onam falling on weekends. Only then would I be able to catch all the new movies on Asianet and Surya TV. Vegetarian food was not something I was fond of so sadya was not something that I looked forward to. Occasionally, my sister and I, plucked flowers from my mom's garden and made a small pookalam in our porch. Things changed when I moved to college. With more malayalees, Kerala Kasavu Saree on Onam became a mandate, pookalam a necessity and sadya the inevitable.

I slowly began appreciating the vegetarian delicacies on the leaf and eventually falling in love with them. It took a couple of more years to familiarize with the sadya dishes and the last three onam sadyas have been eventful! Looking forward to another one this year as I post this recipe.

This recipe was shared by my cousin Vinitha - we made it twice so far and the plate was wiped clean!

Here is the recipe for Padavalenga Parippu Charu - 

kitchenspells.blogspot.com

Ingredients

  1. Padavalenga/Snake gourd - 700 gms cubed
  2. Toor Dal - 1/2 cup
  3. Onions - 1 thinly sliced
  4. Green Chilly - 2 slit
  5. Ginger - 1/2 tsp grated
  6. Garlic - 1/2 tsp grated
  7. Coconut - 1/2 cup grated tightly packed
  8. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  9. Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  10. Curry Leaves - 2 sprigs
  11. Coconut Oil - 1 tbsp
  12. Salt to taste
  13. Water
For Tempering:
  1. Curry Leaves - 2 sprigs
  2. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  3. Red chilly- 2
  4. Coconut - 2 tsp grated
  5. Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
Method
  • Wash toor dal in water, drain and set aside.
  • Add oil into a pressure cooker. Saute chopped onions, ginger, garlic, green chilly and curry leaves for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • To this, add salt and turmeric powder. Saute for another minute before adding the toor dal and snake gourd. Add enough water to just cover the ingredients.
  • Cover and pressure cook on high flame for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release before opening the cooker.
  • Coarsely grind together coconut, turmeric powder and cumin seeds. Add this to the pressure cooker. Let it boil for another 5 minutes and turn off the flame.
  • For tempering, heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds. Once it splutters add grated coconut , red chilly and curry leaves. Fry this till the coconut begins to brown.
  • Add the tempering to the curry.

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