Welcome aboard!

Indian cuisine is a riot of colours, flavours, and spices. Every state has its own unique culture- ingrained taste bud. And, to many of us staying within familiar tastes is a sacrosanct act. Of course an occasional trip to a speciality restaurant that serves another fare is ok. But, as a matter of routine ...at home...NO!

One of the benefits of being born to parents who dared an interstate marriage (am talking about India of the 70's) was being able to widen a regional taste bud to accept, experiment and, relish eclectic cuisines :-)

I love food! Be it traditional or fusion, cooking is all about turning out fare that is tasty and healthy.I welcome all lovers of good food to come on aboard and share your kitchen adventures.

If you like what you see, do leave a comment. If you don't, please leave a suggestion to help me make this better.

You can also request for any recipe you want. Just leave a note in a comment box.

Happy cooking!


Friday, August 30, 2013

Simple chicken curry using fresh, home-ground masala

It's been quite a while since I last posted here. I do go through occasional pangs of guilt when I see how deligently some of my food blogger friends keep their blogs going. So much care goes into the high resolution pictures, the side panels with their up to date blog tools and apps etc etc. Well, well... here is a quick one while the guilt trip lasts.

This recipe is inspired by my eldest paternal aunt, my dad's eldest brother's wife (valiya peramma). She was the one from whom I learnt that the 'readymade chicken masalas' that throng the supermarket aisles were in no way necessary to get that 'authenic kerala kozhi curry' (chicken curry) taste. Since then, i've experimented with fresh spices and slowly my taste buds learnt to despise the store bought masala as inferior.

No dificult elbow grease required for this one (have I told you what a LAZY cook I am). Happy cooking, buddies...

Fresh chicken pieces - 1 Kg
Tomatos - 2 medium sized (Cubed)
Onions - 2 medium sized (chopped fine)
Fresh Ginger - a large piece (  2-3 inches or so)
Garlic - 10 cloves
Tomato paste - 2 dessertspoons
Red chilli powder - 2 teaspoons
Salt to taste
Sugar - 1/2 teaspoon

Grind the ginger and garlic to paste.

Dry spices to be ground
Cloves - 4 Nos
Cinnamon - 1/4 inch stick
Nutmeg - a little piece ( I bring back whole nutmeg from my mom in law's garden, if you cant get whole, use powdered)
Mace - a couple of strands
Poppy seeds (khus khus) - 1/2 teaspoon
Fennel - 1/4 teaspon
Cumin - 1/4 teaspoon
Pepper corns - a few
Star anise - 1 No
Mustard seeds - a few
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 dessertspoon

Dry roast all the whole spices, on low flame, till an aroma emanates. Add in the turmeric owder and teh coriander powder and dry saute for another minute. Cool and blend to smooth powder using a chutney mixie jar or coffee grinder.

For the tempering (tadka)
Gingelly/coconut oil - 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - a few sprigs

Heat a heavy bottomed pan ( I skip non stick pans and prefer heavy guage steel, dutch oven models). Add the oil and the mustard seeds and allow the seeds to crackle well Add in the curry leaves and then the ginger-garlic paste. Saute till golden and then add the chopped onions, sprinkle the sugar and saute till golden. Add teh tomatoes and saute a couple of minutes. Add in the chicken pieces, the powdered spice masala, and the chilli powder. Add a cup of water. Put the lid on and simmer cook on very low fire, stirring once in a while. Once the chicken in almost done, add the tomato paste plus another cup of water if you want a slightly runny gravy. Once done, add salt to taste and simmer a minute.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Arachuvitta sambhar with sambhar cheera (waterleaf greens/Talinum fruticosum)

Sambhar Cheera (Waterleaf/Talinum fruticosum) is found growing with wild abundance in the backyards of my native town. The succulent plant is a nutritional treasure trove - Vit A, Vit C, iron, and calcium.

I've used a variation of the archuvitta sambhar (where fresh coconut and whole spices are light roasted and ground to make sambhar masala) to add the fresh bunch of waterleaves I chanced upon in the market. Having a little girl who is allergic to diary fat I'm constantly looking at different vegetarian sources of calcium to be included into her diet. Traditional cuisine that emphasises on the need to cook from whole and fresh ingredients, I've found, is the best guide.

Sambhar cheera (waterleaf) - a large bunch
Tomatoes - 3-4 meium sized, ripe ones
Small onions (shallots) - 6-8 Nos
Garlic - 6-8 cloves
Ginger - 1/4 inch piece
Green chillies - 2 Nos
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Sambhar parippu (Toor dhal/yellow pigeon peas) - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups

Rinse out the toor dhal well and pressure cook it with everything except the waterleaves added. About 5 whistles on medium flame is what I do.

For the masala

Fresh, grated coconut - 2 dessertspoons
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 teaspoon
Pepper corns - a few
Cumin (jeera) - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1 dessertspoon
Asafoetida - a small piece (I use teh block variety). else, substitute with 1/4 teaspoon of powder.

Dry roast everything, except teh coriander powder, till the coconut begins to turn lightly golden, add teh coriander powder and saute till an aroma arises. Switch off flame and grind to very fine paste adding little water.

Rinse and chop the waterleaf bunch. Throw into a thick bottomed pan and add 1/2 a cup of water. Add in teh ground masala and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove the cooked toor dhal mix from teh pressure cooker and using a ladle blend the dhal and tomatoes well. Add into teh simmering masala. Add more water if the gravy is too thick. Add salt to taste.

For tempering

Warm a pan and add a couple of teaspoons of sesame oil. Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds and allow them to crackle. Add a couple of dry red chillies and curry leaves. When roasted, top teh sambhar with this.

PS: I add additional vegetables to this sambhar, at times. This time I added a couple of carrots. I pressure cooked them along with the lentils.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easy, tangy tomato chutney (dip)

Here is a quick, tangy dip with enough verve and vigour to pep up even a dull meal. I served it as side to the Tamil Nadu tiffin speciality, 'paniyaram'. Now, a paniyaram requires an aappa kal (aebleskiver/unniyappa chatti) so in case you don't possess one, just serve this chutney with dosas, plain appams, or idlis. Just as yum!

Ripe, firm tomatoes - 2 (medium sized. Skip the hybrid, seedless varieties)
Garlic cloves - 2
Dry red chillies - 2
Sea salt - to taste
Virgin coconut oil - 1 teaspoon

Deseed and cube the tomatoes. Put everything except the oil into the chutney jar of your mixie and blend till almost smooth. Pour it into a thick bottomed vessel and simmer till the raw garlic smell goes away. Drizzle on the virgin coconut oil and voila! you've a winner on your menu.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Smooth as chocolate and totally guilt free :-)

Here is a recipe that I modified from the No-GMO recipe site. Totally yummy and completely guilt free. Happy Valentine's Day :-)

Ripe bananas - 4 medium sized
Unsweetened cocoa powder - 2 dessertspoonfulls
Organic Honey - according to your preferred sweetness level
Fresh vanilla - from 1/4 a pod

Blend everything together in an electric blender or mixie jar till smooth and creamy, and glossy :-) Serve topped with dry roasted almonds.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Wholewheat Coconut and cashew muffins made in virgin coconut oil

My little girl has started playschool and with that has also started the endless bouts of cold, cough, infections and what not! Today she was going to school after a break necessitated by an ear infection. "I want cake in my snack box", she demanded late yesterday evening. I had run out of vanilla, extra virgin olive oil (my subsititute for butter), and over ripe bananas (my substitute for eggs). But like any true blue mallu, my refrigerator was stocked with fresh grated coconut and as bonus, my pantry had a huge bottle of virgin coconut oil. So, this recipe was born:

Caster sugar - 1/2 cup (if you dont have caster sugar , just run your regular sugar in the mixie to powder it)
Whole wheat flour - 1/2 cup + dessert spoonfull
Fresh grated coconut - 3 dessertspoons (about 30 gms)
Unroasted cashewnuts - 10 Nos
Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon (I use aluminium free)
Virgin coconut oil - 1/4 cup
Egg - 1 large
Cardamom - 4-5 pods

Place the sugar, coconut, and cashews in the chutney jar of your mixie or the coffee grinder and pulse a few times to powder together. Add the egg, cardamom seeds, and oil and whisk again. Using a flat ladle mix together the baking powder and flour. Pour in the wet mixture and fold in well. Add a few drops of water if necessary to form a thick cake batter. Preheat oven to 200° for 10 minutes. Pour batter into cupcake moulds and bake till a tooth pick poked in the centre comes out clear. I have a basic OTG and it took me 40 minutes at 150° to get the muffins done.

Update on the previous fund drive post

A heartfelt thank you to all of you who cared enough to do you bit for the Vaidehi ashram for destitute girls (Refer my previous post). Mr. Somesh from Hyderabad won the raffle prize I had sponsored. Congrats Mr.Somesh, if you are reading this.
Click here for the fund drive update.

Herbs and veggies pull apart bread

Yeast bakes and deep fried goodies are my personal cooking waterloos...in simpler terms, they scare the daylights out of me since I rarely get them right :-) This is one of the main reasons I jumped into the 'We Knead to Bake' group on Facebook, started by fellow foodblogger and ace baker, Aparna. I rarely retract once I give someone my solemn word and so joining the group ensured that I will have to compulsively face my yeast fear and  cannot afford to get cold feet :-D what a yarn to introduce a bread, please excuse the verbiage, I blame it on my excitement in having got a tolerable, edible bread made. All thanks to Aparna's fool proof recipe to which I added minor tweaks.
The theme chosen for the month was a Herbs and Cheese pull apart bread. The original recipe was given by Aparna to which I have made personal modifications. I will write down the original dough recipe and my minor modifications will be provided alongside within brackets. The filling I chose is different to that of the original and it is my version that I give here. The method followed is identical to original.

For the Dough:
1/2 cup warm milk
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1:1 propotion of whole wheat flour and APF)
1 tsp salt 25gm butter, soft at room temperature (I used 40 ml of sesame oil, instead)
3/4 to 1 tsp garlic paste
3/4 cup milk (+ a couple of tbsp to brush over the bread)
(2 teaspoons red rice flour for dusting)

For the Filling:
Sesame oil - 1 tablespoon
Finely shredded purple cabbage and carrots - 1/2 cup
Steamed fresh corn kernels - 1/2 cup
Sunflower seeds - 1 tablespoon
Sesame seeds - 1/4 cup
Dill leaves, finely chopped - 1/4 cup
Fresh Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 teaspoon
Zaatar spice mix - 2 teaspoons + 1/2 teaspoon to sprinkle above
Salt to taste (Zaatar is salty and so use salt sparingly)
Saute the ginger garlic paste. Dry roast the sunflower and sesame seeds seperately. Mix all ingredients together.

In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar and the yeast in the 1/2 cup of warm milk. Keep aside forabout 5 minutes till the yeast mixture bubbles up. Put 2 3/4 cup of flour, salt, oil, and garlic paste in a large bowl. Then add the yeast mixture and the 3/4 cup of milk and knead till you have a soft, smooth and elastic/ pliabledough which is not sticky. Add a little extra flour (I used red rice flour for this)if your dough is sticking,but only just as much as is necessary. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat itcompletely with oil. Cover and let it rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours or untilalmost double in volume. Dust your work surface lightly with flour. Deflate the dough, shape it into a square and roll the dough out into a larger square that is about 12’ by 12”. Brush the surfaceof the square with oil. Evenly sprinkle the filling, topped with Zaatar. Use a rolling pin to very lightly press the topping into the dough to ensure the topping doesn’t fall off when you are stacking the strips. Using a pizza cutter, slice the dough from top to bottom into 6 long and even strips – they do nothave to be perfect. Lay each strip on top of the next, with the topping facingupwards, until you have a stack of the strips You can put the 2 strips cut from the sides in the middle of the stack so it looks neater. Using a pastry scraper or a sharp knife, cut straight down through the stack dividingit into 6 equal pieces (6 square stacks). Grease and lightly flour a 9” by 4” (or 5”) loaf tin. Butter and lightly flour a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Layer the square slices, cut sides down into the loaf tin. Cover the loaf tin dough with a towel and allow the dough to rise for an hour. I topped this with a little of the filling mixture and some zaatar. Then, lightly brush some milk over the top of the loaf. Bake the dough at 180C (350F) for about 30 to 40 minutes until it is done and the top is goldenbrown. This recipe bakes one 9” by 5” loaf.

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