Friday, January 29, 2010

Mushroom-Peas Chinese Fried Rice

I am a big Rice fan. Of late, I have begun eating Brown Rice or Paez/Paej. It is healthy and wholesome. I also like the combination of any Konkani/ Konkan dish with rice. I made this on a whim, came out well. It is a simple recipe, but thought would blog about it for the benefit of my readers.

I would be cooking more of Low-calorie recipes, which have loads of health benefits. For this one, I chose Olive Oil and Mushrooms. Added Peas and Onion Greens for extra taste and health.

Preparation time: 60 minutes

Rice - 3 cups
Mushroom (sliced) - 3 cups
Peas - 1/2 cup
Spring Onion/ Green Onions (chopped - only the greens) - 1 bunch or 3/4th cup
Onions (diced and sliced) - 1 cup
Olive Oil - 3 tablespoon
Soya Sauce - 2 tablespoon
Salt - as per taste

Cook rice in water with 1:1 1/2 proportion. Add a spoon of oil and salt while cooking. Drain once cooked, and spread on a large plate. Separate with a fork if required. This will enable any moisture to go away and cool the rice.
Heat a stock pot, add few spoons of Olive oil, saute and add mushroom and peas. Add Soya Sauce, adjust salt.
Add the cooked rice and give a gentle shake. Do not stir too much as the rice would turm lumpy. Serve hot with any Manchurian sauce based side dish. Garnish with chopped Onions greens.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Okra In Spicy Coconut Gravy ~ Udupi Style (Bhendaa Saggley/ Bhendaa Saglayn/ Bhendaa Saggle)

A popular Konkani curry in our house - Bhendaa Sagley (Okra curry in spicy Coconut gravy). I wonder who came up with this curry, the thoughtful use of Ginger, Onions and Green Chillies sauted together in oil, then bathed in a rich and spicy gravy of coconut-red-chillies-coriander seeds-tamarind, further seasoned with a tadkaa/ phanna (konkani term for tadka) of Curry leaves and Mustard seeds. The catch to this dish is that it neither has a running consistency like Kolambo (konkani term for thick Sambhar) nor does it have dry coarse consistency like Sukke (konkani term for dry side dish with vegetable of choice). The curry gravy is somewhere in-between, very thick and concentrated yet soulful and wholesome!

My Mom's signature recipe wins hands down - I know I brag a lot about my mother's cooking, but hey! I am making no bones here. This recipe is a tweaked version of the curry, with her personal touch of Ginger, Onions and Green Chillies which are not part of the original one. She is an awesome chef! (ignore my excessive enthusiasm here). I made this dish with few instructions I was given by Mom. I always felt that this is a complex dish in its own essence and cannot be home cooked till you have multiple trials and errors, also disasters if you wish to be brutal.
Now, the interesting thing is the manner in which the Okra is chopped. For some strange reasons unknown, it has to be chopped in bite-sized pieces of 1" each. The Okra has to be tender (tarney in Konkani), the over-hydrated ones, which are chewy and lack pulp are called joona in Konkani. The curry was nice, simple but little strong with rich concentration for a laymans palate, works well for me because I like spicy food. :)

A sweet blogger friend has passed on a cute award. Thanks Deepa from Food Lyrics! Its humbling and special! I do not know if I deserve it, thanks nevertheless for these tiny bouts of encouragement which compel us to share more, give more and enjoy the small joys life has to offer.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 servings

Okra (chopped in 1" bite-sized pieces) - 4 cups
Green Chillies (chopped) - 2
Ginger (minced) - 1" piece
Onion (very finely chopped) - 3/4th cup
Water - For curry consistency

Curry paste -
Coriander seeds - 2 tablespoon
Grated Coconut - 1 cup
Red Chillies - 4-6
Tamarind - 1 teaspoon paste or 1" inch pulp

For seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Oil - For frying

Heat oil in a medium deep-dish saucepan. Once the oil is heated up, add Ginger and Green Chillies. Saute till they wilt and brown. Add Onions and saute till its browned and fried. Add the chopped Okra pieces. This helps in eliminating sliminess of the texture and adds much-required crispness. Saute till the vegetables are crisp (approx. 5 minutes)
While the vegetables are getting sauted, roast red chillies and coriander seeds in one teaspoon oil. Take care not to burn them. Allow to cool. Grind coconut-red chillies-tamarind. Towards the last spin in blender, add coriander seeds. Grind to a coarse gravy consistency with less water. Save the washed water from blender for diluting or concentrating your curry.
Add this ground gravy to the fried vegetables. Adjust salt and water. Even if you add water, after simmering the broth will be very thick. So add just enough water for boiling vegetables, bring to boil and simmer on low flame for 15 minutes. Once Okra is completely cooked, turn off flame and pour a seasoning of mustard seeds and curry leaves (konkani we call it phanna) seasoned and treated in oil. Serve hot with warm rice.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Malabar Spinach Soup (Vaali Bhaajji Soup)

Cold winter, being confined to warm indoors and a bowl of soup to slurp is certainly indispensable. I cherish the warmth and nutrition value a soupbowl brings to the table. I'd a pound of Malabar Spinach which I had bought from Indian store recently. Amongst all the greens, Malabar Spinach is one of my favorites. Basella Alba is the scientific name, Vaalchi Bhaaji in Goan-Konkani, Vaali Bhaajji in GSB Konkani, Basale Soppu in Kannada and Mon Thoi in Vietnamese. Its large stemmed laden with leaves, thick and sturdy, semi-succulent one upon cooking with expansive heart shaped leaves. I enjoy this plant-protein. Upon washing they render a slimy texture to the surface. These are great for Vaali Bhaaji Ambat, a common dish made out of Malabar Spinach in Konkani homes. Malabar Spinach is known to be an excellent soluble fiber and plays a pivotal role in eliminating toxins from the body. The Spinach soup packs all the goodness which health requires. Since, the noodles dissolve and give a great texture and body to the soup, its a good Kiddy Brunch-time soup as well. The tiny tots in my extended family love this to the core.
This recipe was passed on to me by a dear Aunty, who specialises in Anglo-Indian Catholic preparations. A descendant from South Africa, she made this soup with different vegetables as a brunch-time eat for kids. I used to happily slurp spoonful of this soup, rather gobble a bowl and run back home, pestering my mom to learn from her.

Preparation + Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6 individuals

Malabar Spinach (finely chopped) - 4 cups
Water or Vegetable stock - 6 cups
Onions (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Maggie Soup Buillion or Maggi Veg Cube - 1
Salt - As per taste
Oil - For frying
Noodles (Uncooked) - 1/2 cup

Heat oil in a saucepan and saute onions till they are browned and fried well. Add the chopped Spinach, let them wilt a little for 5 minutes. Add the soup cube, salt, water and noodles which are not cooked. Do not add too much salt as cubes essentially carry sodium. Bring to boil and simmer on low flame for 15 minutes. Turn off flame after the vegatable and noodles are completely done and cooked. You will notice a profound color change in the Spinach once its cooked, the broth would have a dark mossy green color. Turn off flame and serve hot with Crackers or warm Italian Bread.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lemon Rice (Nimkaaya Annaa)

Lemon Rice - This is a simple dish which I enjoy a lot. Lemon Rice, Tamarind Rice, Tomato Rice to name a few. Change the seasoning and the vegetable and you have variety of Rice dishes at your disposal. In Bangalore, India, I was amazed at how the road-side and pavements would be dotted with various Darshini's and Sagar's, these are small stand-and-eat restaurants which cater to the mobile and office going population of Bangalore. Best part is a plate full of this rice bowl is a hearty meal to keep going for the entire 9 hour slot of your work timings. Slowly, when I began cooking I enjoyed taking this for my afternoon lunchbox. I used cooked rice from previous day for my Lemon Rice. Since it has less moisture and is more sturdy, it tastes good. Use them at room temperature and you have a lemony, tangy, spice-seasoned rice ready to-go.

Most of the rice dishes originate from Karnataka and are consumed for morning breakfast or as brunch time "Tiffin Meals" or as afternoon lunch dishes. I was surprised when I came to know that the word "Tiffin" originated from the British era. In my home, Tiffin would comprise of Dosa, Idli Fry or simply put any light 1-cup rice dish like Lemon Rice, Tamarind Rice or Puliyogarey. The seasoning used in the case for Lemon Rice is known as Vagraney in Kannada. With a mild change in the seasoning, you could have a different dish of choice with rice, for e.g Tamarind Rice (Pulihora or Puliyogarey), Brinjal Rice (Vaangi Bhaat or Baath), Tomato Rice. Mom used to make this dish when we used to have family picnics and visits which take 4-5 hours of travel. These are a delight to make, take very less time and are great for short distance travels and most important - Office Lunchbox.
Happy Republic Day to all my Indian friends!! My heart lingers in the Republic Day parades, floats and scenic dances, school speeches & skits and umpteen memories we have bundled up together and grown to be proud as an Indian. Today is the day when Indian constitution came into force, erstwhile on January 26, 1950.

Preparation + Cooking time ~ 20 minutes

Basmati Rice (cooked) - 3 cups
Lime Juice - 3 teaspoons
Urad dal - 1 teaspoon
White Sesame Seeds (optional) - 1/3rd teaspoon
Peanuts (pre-roasted in microwave or stove for 2-4 minutes) - 1 tablespoon
Chana dal - 1/2 teaspoon
Green Chillies (sliced) - 2
Ginger (minced or grated) - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/3rd teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 3-4 leaves
Red Chilli (optional) - 1
Salt - As per taste
Oil - For frying

Heat 2 teaspoon oil and add mustard seeds in a heated saucepan. Once they begin to pop, add green chillies and allow to sear in oil. Be careful as they splutter, you could injure yourself. Have the flame on low-to-medium. Add Urad dal , Sesame Seeds and Chana dal and stir for few minutes. Add curry leaves as well. Add rice and give a gentle stir. Add Turmeric powder and adjust salt as per taste. Add Peanuts and mix in. Do not stir too much as rice would turn soggy. Best would be to shake the pan with a gentle hand. Simmer on low flame for couple of minutes. Turn off the flame. Pour fresh lime juice and serve warm.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mushroom Do Piaza ~ An Ancient North Indian dish

Mushroom Do Piaza - supposedly the royal dish hailing from the Mughal era. This dish gets its name from Mulla Do Piaza or Abul Hassan who was one of the nine gems in Akbar's court. I recall reading some of the interesting tales from high school history books. He was called as Mulla Do Piaza owing to his liking for Do Piaza series of dishes which is made from mutton and onions.

I found this beautiful recipe on Indian Relish. One of my friends from Delhi had told me about the subtle gravies like the Do Piaza combination. Do Piaza with a literal translation means 2 Onions. Most of these would have a gravy which gathers the pulp from 2 Onions, sauteed with spices and herbs of choice. I made few changes to this dish; I also wanted a subtle flavour, so toned down the spices, added less water to get a sukhi consistency and made it very mild flavoured one with less spices.

Preparation time + Cooking time: 30 minutes

Onions (chopped) - 2
Tomatoes (chopped) - 1
Whole Button White Mushroom (diced) - 1 pack
Cashew nuts (peeled and chopped to bits) - 1/3rd cup
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Red Chili powder - 1/3rd teaspoon
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 6-7 sprig
Garlic (finely chopped) - 5-6 cloves
Turmeric powder - Just a pinch
Oil - For frying

Wash the Button Mushrooms and dice them and set aside. Blend half of the chopped mushrooms along with cashew nuts with little water and set aside. Saute garlic, tomatoes and onions in a deep dish saucepan with 2 teaspoon oil and once browned, add the ground onion-cashew paste with less or no water. Once oil starts leaving sides, add the spice powders. Add Mushrooms and adjust salt and bring to a boil. Simmer on a low flame for 10-15 minutes till completely cooked and done. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve warm with Malabari Parathas or any bread of choice.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ridge Gourd Vegetable/ Bhaaji (Ghosaale Upkari)

I am delighted to see lot of winter vegetables of different hues and varieties for a change. Of late, lot of winter vegetables are invading the produce scene. I opted to make a dish which I absolutely detested eating as a child - Ghosaale Upkari. In Konkani, Ridge Gourd is called as Ghosaale. I think sometimes going out of the comfort zone and eating vegetables which are good for health works wonders on your palate.

This year, I have decided to eat atleast one vegetable for which I do not have a liking atleast once every week. At the nutrition level, its wholesome because of the beta-carotene in vegetables. At the spiritual level, I think it enables and empowers to be more tolerant and resilient. The vegetables which I absolutely detest are - Beetroot, SnakeGourd, Ridge Gourd etc. Lets see how it goes by.

Upkari, a stir fried form of vegetables of choice is a staple at my home and that of my aunts and uncles. I like the simplicity and the no-jazz associated with it. This recipe is little different for a change. My cousin's mom hails from Shimoga, a small town now famous for Jog falls one of the prettiest water fall I have ever seen. She is a phenomenal cook and even the simplest of the dishes she makes taste out of the world. There is thought, caring and detail which goes into her menu-planning. She shared her secret of adding 2 tablespoon of milk while boiling vegetables to retain the color and crispness. I tried the trick and there was a subtle difference so to say. I also loved the manner in which the Ridge Gourd seeds interspersed with the vegetables to create a nice medley.

Cooking time + Preparation time: 30 minutes

Ridge Gourd (chopped) - 3 cups
Red Chillies - 2
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 5-6 leaves
Milk - 2 tablespoon ~ my secret ingredient
Oil - For frying
Grated coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1 tablespoon
Salt - As per taste
Water - for boiling

Chop Ridge Gourd, remove the ridges or retain them as per wish. I retained them for the nutritional value. Heat 2 teaspoon oil in a saucepan, add mustard seeds and once they begin to pop, add red chillies and curry leaves. Give a gentle stir. Add the chopped Ridge Gourd pieces. Add enough water to dunk 2/3rd of vegetables in water. Bring to a boil, add 2 tablespoon of milk. Stir well and simmer on low flame for 15 minutes till it gets completely cooked. The milk added will offer slight curdled look. But do not bother, the flavour becomes yummy. Garnish with grated coconut and serve warm as a side dish.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teasel Gourd in Spicy Coconut Curry (Phaagla Saasam)

Teasel Gourd is a most sought after vegetable during season amongst Konkanis. I discovered this recipe by chance during a recent conversation with my mother. I liked to dig into her wish-list of Konkani lunch and dinner preparations. This is one of her favorite recipes which I attempted trying in my kitchen - Teasel Gourd Saasam.

My mom makes a spicy coconut curry based dish with fried Teasel Gourd bits and pieces pre-sauted in oil. The gravy comprises of red chillies, coconut, tamarind and mustard seeds. We call this Saasam in Konkani. Saasam in Konkani stands for Mustard seeds. My guess here is may be this dish is meant to be prepared with mustard seeds. Mom usually makes 2 kinds of Saasam - Bittergourd and Teasel Gourd. This curry requires absolutely no cooking and everything is ready by grinding, frying and mixing together. Best with warm rice. She makes this everytime I am at home especially for Sunday lunches over elaborate conversation with friends and family. I took a liking for this dish owing to the no-cooking-required technique which I found very amusing.

Preparation + Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Teasel Gourd or Phaagil (finely chopped) - 3 cups
Red Chillies - 4-8
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Grated Coconut - 1 cup
Salt - As per taste
Turmeric powder - Just a pinch
Tamarind - 1" piece or 2 teaspoon paste
Ginger (optional) - 1 " piece
Oil - For frying

Apply salt to the chopped Teasel Gourd bits and set aside for 15 minutes. I added the seeds as well for the extra crunch, choose to retain or discard them as per choice. Squeeze out the juice and saute the bits in one teaspoon oil. Stir fry till they reduce in size to tiny bits which are crispy and fried.

Roast red chillies on low flame in 1/2 teaspoon oil. Allow to cool, grind with grated coconut and tamarind. For the last spin in the blender, add mustard seeds and grind to a smooth paste. It took quite some time in my blender, but the results were good and satisfactory. Do not add too much water, the curry should be thick in nature. Saute minced ginger in oil and add to this.

Add the fried Teasel Gourd bits to this and serve with warm rice. Since, this dish is concentrated in nature, smaller quantity of this curry goes well with greater quantity of rice.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Punjabi Rajma

I have begun to cook North Indian food of late, thanks to my dear husband who is quasi self-proclaimed Punjabi and relishes Punjabi food quite a lot. My North Indian cooking has never crossed the boundary of good old Punjabi Chole. In hindsight, I am glad I am doing so because its exposing me to the goodness and simplicity of so many North Indian dishes that I feel - I should have begun long back. I have Lucknowi recipes which boast of the succulent Keema Kebabs and Awadhi Biryanis. The Kashmiri fare which the 'yakhee' style of cooking; Amritsari Kulchas and Amritsari Macchi which is much talked about. Hey, I cannot afford to miss Delhi here, the land of history where umpteen battles have been fought, given birth to many a stalwarts. Paratha-Chanaa on Delhi-Gurgaon road, Mathree with Imli chutney and the good old Rajma-Chawal.

So my kitchen has stealthily amassed Kasuri Methi powder, Rajma (canned ones), Stuffed Parathas, Delhi Namkeen Parathas. This from a time when we used to eat the good old lentil-packed Sambhar and Rice along with crispy fried Poppadum and Appalams. Life teaches you so many times in so many ways. I have embraced it with open arms and rightly so. One of my dear friend recently threw her pearls of wisdom and some she aptly dusted on me - Food is a noble way of expressing your love. I cannot agree more with that. A transition is always great if embraced with open arms and taken positively.

I came across Sanjeev Kapoor's recipe for Rajma Rasmisa. Made few changes in the proportion, toned down the spices. I used semi-tangy tomatoes, those less red ones which offer a good flavour unless you want the Rajma a little more sweeter, in that case you could use the plump red ones. Thanks to Sanjeev Kapoor, I felt I was in Delhi, taking nonchalant walks around Karol Bagh, shopping at Sarojini market and tucking in some yummy fare from the lip-smacking dishes of Old Delhi.

Cooking time: 30 minutes
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Rajma or Red Kidney Beans - 1 1/2 cup or 1 can of Red Kidney Beans
Onions (finely chopped) - 2
Tomatoes (finely chopped, preferably the plump red ones) - 2
Corainder powder - 1 teaspoon
Cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Oil - For frying
Salt - As per taste
Turmeric powder - Just a pinch
Garam Masala powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Bay leaves - 2-3

Pressure cook Rajma Beans in water with little salt till are well cooked, soft and tender to eat. I used canned Red Kidney Beans. They are ready-to-use for gravies and curries.
In a deep dish saucepan, heat 2-3 tablespoon of oil, add bay leaves, once the oil gets the bay leaf aroma, add the onions and saute them till they are well fried. Add tomatoes and mash the gravy lightly with hand to get a saucy consistency. Add add the spice powders, adjust salt and garam masala powder and cook till the oil leaves. This is essential as the gravy forms the base for the flavour. Once done, add cooked Rajma and bring to boil. Simmer on low flame for 15 minutes. Turn off the flame. This dish goes extremely well with Rice.

Notes: Rajma can also be made with canned Tomatoes in a puree-d form. I prefer the home cooked ones so I added tangy ready-to-use tomatoes which offer a good flavour.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Banana Walnut Muffins

Have you had a fetish for a particular food type as a kid? Well, I had one and big time for Cupcakes. The simple, soft, ones with tutty-fruity in them which pull you to the Bakery especially when you are wandering around and your Mom holds you tight clasping her hands lest you run away helter and skelter. I was a Numero Uno naughty child. No prizes for guessing that one!

The nice Bakeries dotting the roadside were my favorites. I distinctly remember few which I visit even today - Menezes Bakery and Cafe Central - Goa for the most moist and delicious Cupcakes I have ever eaten, Kayani Bakery - Pune for their Shrewsberry Biscuit and Naankatai, Iyengar Bakery in Bangalore for their Sweet Buns and Tea cakes, Karachi Biscuit from Karachi bakery - Abids, Hyderabad.
This recipe has been on my mind for quite some time. As I have mentioned many a times in my blog before that I got inspired into baking by the Muffin Queen - Raaga of The Singing Chef fame. I baked my first home made cake looking at the delicious recipes which she had lined up. My first try was pretty good and I have gobbled up half the Muffins, needless to say. For cakes and bakes, Raaga's blog has been my go-to place. I made the Muffins based on her Banana-Walnut Recipe for Muffins. Thanks Raaga as always!

Now, what is the difference between a Muffin and a Cupcake? I researched and was surprised to know that indeed there is a difference.

Muffins are the daily plain-jane simple cupcake, quite heavier and more dense. Cupcakes are the ones which are lighter, smaller with a frosting, ganache or a decor done up for special occasions.

Recipe Source: Raaga - The Singing Chef
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 ~ 2 1/2 " Muffins

All Purpose Flour - 3/4th cup
Overripe peeled Banana (mashed) - 2
Walnut (toasted and chopped) - 1/4th cup
Brown Sugar or Confectioners Sugar - Almost 1/2 a cup
Oil - 1/4 cup
Egg - 1
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Baking soda - Just a pinch
2 1/2 " Cupcake liners - 6

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Line the Muffin pan with Muffin liners (6 liners ~ 2 1/2 " each)

Mix the dry ingredients together first. Add the powdery ones first and mix well. Blend the wet ingredients - Banana, Egg, Oil together with blender. Add and slowly add into the dry ingredients. Fold in the walnut bits and mix well.

Pour the micture into each of the Muffin liners. Do not fill it to the brim. The cake would anyways expand once done. Leave room for atleast 4-5 mm space while filling the batter.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven after 20 minutes and check for doneness with the help of a toothpick. If it comes out clean, its done and ready for a chow. Allow them to cool and then eat them or you could eat them warm. I prefer to keep them for the whole night and eat them the next day around. The Muffins taste good the next day around.

Plating: While plating the Muffin, plate them in party Muffin liners, pop in a Raisin/Walnut bit and sprinkle some sugar for that extra dazzle.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Fish Fry in Racheado Paste (Tilapia in Racheado Paste)

Goan Portuguese dishes are something I relish. I specially love the vast varieties of curry sauce, paste and traditional cuisine which have been passed on from generations to generations. Few of my favorite Goan-Portuguese Non-Vegeterian food items are Cafreal (very similar to Chicken Tandoori), Xacuti (Chicken or meat of choice cooked in green gravy which is spice and coconut based) and Racheado (red paste dominant with pepper, garlic and vinegar, applied to the meat as a stuffing and pan-fried). The curry pastes are spicy and hot. They have garlic, vinegar and spices as the main ingredient. Infact, these 3 ingredients form the base for most of the Goan-Portuguese dishes. Recently, I watched a TV show hosted by Madhur Jaffrey which showcased Goan-Portuguese delicacy, she aptly mentioned the origin of the word - Vindaloo in Portuguese which is a combination of vin + aloosh = vinegar (wine) + garlic (aloosh).

Traditionally, Fish Rachaedo is made as a red curry paste, applied first to the slits made on the fish, below the bone. Pomfret or Baangdaa is a local delicacy for Rachaedo in Goa. One of our close friends makes this amazingly well, when she cooks her kitchen wafts with aroma of Rachaedo masala everywhere. Pomfret/ Baangdaa Rachaedo is pan-fried wherein the Pomfret (whole fish) is cleaned, slits made below the bone, Racaedo masala stuffed, the fish is then dredged in a batter/ rava and shallow fried.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Fish fillet pieces - 15-20 pieces
Rice Rava - 5 tablespoons
Oil - For frying

For Rachaedo paste -
Onion - 1/2 Onion
Garlic - 5-6 pods
Ginger - 1 " piece
Red Chillies - 6-10
Pepper corns (whole) - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt - as per taste
Vinegar - 1 tablespoon (optional)
Grind all of the above to a fine paste.
** This is very spicy paste, tone down as per choice **

Thaw the fish and get them to room temperature. Once thawed completely, wash the fillet well. Make bite sized pieces and apply the Rachaedo paste. Keep aside for 20 minutes.
Dredge each piece in rice flour and pan-fry with oil on the sides. Turn them over after 5 minutes and fry well till they crispy and the meat is well cooked. Serve hot with lime wedges.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stuffed Masala Okra Fritters (Stuffed Masala Bhindi Fritters/ Masala Bhendaa Phodi)

A simple dish which is truly delightful and soul warming. Okra is an excellent vegetable, fosters effect digestion, aids in quick stomach relief, keeps the stomach bacteria (bad) free. Okra is either loved by many or hated by many. Its one vegetable which if consumed, offers plenty of health benefits to the individual. I pepped this dish up by adding a spice powder stuffing to it. It tasted nice and crispy.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Okra (sliced horizontally) - 5
Rice flour/ Rava - 3 tablespoon
Oil (approx ~ 2 tablespoon) - For frying
Salt - as per taste

Spice powder -
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Cumin powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Pepper powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Mix all of them together

Wash the Okra thoroughly and slice them horizontally. Apply some salt and keep them aside for 5 minutes. Pick each of the piece and stuff the spice powder, dredge them in Rava/ Rice Flour and pan-fry with oil on the sides. Fry both the sides completely, as the Okra needs to be cooked completely on all the sides. Serve hot as a side dish.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ridge Gourd's Ridge Curry with Coconut (Ghosale Shire Tambuli/ Tambli)

Of late, we are getting fresh and crisp vegetables at our local Indian store. Seeing the fresh vegetables certainly brings a glint to my eyes as opposed to the drab dull ones which I see always. I love fresh vegetables and experimenting with them rather than sticking to conventional recipes of Upkaris (stir fries in Konkani) or Daals. It also enables me to learn new recipes and try out new dishes.

Ridge Gourd Shire Tambuli is a nice dish made of the Ridge acquired by chopping the ridges of Ridge Gourd. Ridges are the sharp edges which you notice on the outer surface of Ridge Gourd. They are quite sharp and hard to deal with. In Konkani, the ridge is termed as Shire. You can saute the ridges with spices and coconut and that gives rise to a cold soupy broth which goes extremely well with Rice. We term this as Tambuli or Tambli. If you wish to make this dish on some other chosen day, you could chop off the ridges and store them in a zip lock for future use. They easily stay well upto 3-4 days with their natural crispness. This dish can be spicy for some, so if not used to the spice level, you could blend in some yogurt for coooling effect.
In Konkani, Ridge Gourd is called Ghosale. Hence, Ghosale Shire Tambuli. Some also address it as Tambli.
Tambuli style of preparation is something which is cherished by many a folks in my household. It is a cold soupy version amongst Konkani cuisine, however unlike a soup, you cannot slurp it just like that. Owing to heavy coconut content, its advisable to team it up with loads of rice.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Ridge Gourd - Ridge - 1 cup
Grated coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies - 2
Pepper corn (whole) - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Tamarind - 1" piece
Salt - as per taste
Oil - for frying

Chop off the ridges off the ridge gourd. Heat oil in a saute pan, and add pepper (whole) and cumin seeds. Once they begin to pop add the ridge pieces and saute till they wilt and are almost fried. Add Green Chillies and fry till the chillies adopt a charred and grilled look. Add grated coconut and saute for just a minute and turn off the flame. Allow to cool.
Once cooled, grind to a gravy which is not too thick so add water just enough for blending purpose. Serve cold with hot rice. If you find the dish spicy, blend in some yogurt for a more subtle and sobre flavour.

Notes: If you prefer the curry concentrated with Ridge flavour, then add more ridges. If you are making larger quantities of this curry, you could use a different procedure. After adding all ingredients, add little water and bring them to boil. Once cooked, turn off flame and grind with coconut. This helps to retain the shelf life of this curry for a longer duration. The frozen coconut I used was sweet, hence it overpowered the taste of the curry. Use your discretion while adding frozen coconut, if its very sweet use lesser quantity.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Parval Fritters (Parval Phodi or Ghointaa Phodi)

I recently found Parval at the local market. My joy knew no bounds. We also call it as Ghointaa in Konkani and Pointed Gourd in English. For some reasons amusing, I prefer to call them Parval. This is a very tasty vegatable and many a dishes can be made out of it. These gourd when store bought should be firm and well seeded. Care should be taken while frying them since the seeds have a tendency to burst and sometimes the oil can spurt and cause injury as well.

I enjoy them deep fried dipped in rice and red chilli batter. We address it as Parvala Phodi or Ghointaa Phodi. They become crisp and are extremely tasty. We make Parval Fritters in during important festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi etc. I rarely find Parval here so when I get them, I just grab them and get greedy to try out simple variations. We also make Parval Saasam, wherein Parval tit-bits and deep fried in oil and added in red chilli-grated coconut paste and mustard seeds. The combination is an awesome treat with warm rice.

There are other combinations of Parval available which are stir fried mixed with Potatoes which I believe find a prominent place in Bengali cuisines. In Bengali, they are known as Potol and Aloo-Potol is a regularly made dish amongst many a Bengali friends of mine.

Serves: 2-3 individuals
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Parval (sliced into thin slices of 3-4 mm each) - 8-15 pieces
Salt - as per taste
Vegetable Oil - for frying

For Batter:
Rice (pre-soaked) -1 Cup
Red Chillies - 6-10
Asafoetida - 1/10 teaspoon
Water - For accomodating grinding consistency

Pre-soak washed rice in water for 5-6 hours. Grind it to a batter after draining water along with red chillies and asafoetida, salt and very less water.
Peel off the skin of Parval. They render a rather odd and chewy flavour if retained on the vegetable. Apply salt to slices/ pieces and set aside for 1/2 hour. Heat oil in a deep dish pan. Once oil heats up (should not be smoking hot as fries would burn) dip the pieces in batter and deep fry. Serve hot as a side dish.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Aloo Methi

Something quick and easy - Aloo Methi. As a kid I used to despise eating Potatoes, and even now I do :); best way for parents to trick kids into eating vegetables is to make the dish more glamorous and appetizing. I recall Mom picking the freshest of Methi leaves (Fenugreek leaves) from the market and picking the tender shoots for curries and gravies. Methi leaves are something I love eating so it was aptly combined with Potatoes. Quite a simple dish.
Preparation time ~ 30 minues

Potatoes (Boiled and Diced) - 2-3
Onion (chopped) - 1 small
Cumin powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - Just a pinch
Asafoetida - Just a pinch
Oil - For frying
Kasuri Methi powder - 3 teaspoons or Methi Leaves (chopped) - 1/2 cup

Boil and dice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Do not make large pieces as they could be semi-boiled or raw. I do it in pressure cooker as its easier. Heat 2-3 teaspoons of oil in a saucepan. Saute Onions till turn translucent. Add chopped Methi leaves (if using the same) at this stage and allow to wilt. Add all the spice powders. Give a good stir. Simmer for 5 minutes on low flame. Crush Kasuri Methi leaves (if using the same) on the palm and sprinkle. Stir well and turn off the flame. Serve hot with Chapatis or Rotis.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Masala Dosa

Masala Dosa. The name spells everything about Udupi, hot steaming coffee and the famous Udupi Krishna Temple. I have grown on abundant doses of Masala Dosa and even to date love this Dosa. It can be quoted that Masala Dosa is the King of Dosa's. What better way of admonishing this crispy crepe full of spicy potatoes sauted in Onion, than crowning it with the prestigious title of "National Dish of India". Yes, Outlook India had recently surveyed across India and Masala Dosa has emerged as the National Dish of India, close to heels is Rosogulla which is crowned as the National Dessert of India (Thanks ISG of Daily Musings for this news).

Keeping up with the celebration spirit and the double bonanza of Masala Dosa being the chosen one I thought it would be apt to try this Dosa myself. My Ammamma (my maternal Grandmom) makes the most delicious Dosa on the earth. She is very choosy about the ghee used to fry, the foodgrains chosen for the Dosa and the Potatoes, Chillies, Onions and finally Garlic have to be fresh and crisp. No wonder no one in my family can dish out the crispy Dosa as good as her. Mom follows the same recipe so I blindly copied the one which Mom had. I wanted it to be end-to-end Masala Dosa, especially the way they serve it at Bangalore Sagar's and Darshini's. So spruced up my pantry planning and made the Garlic Red Chutney spread alongwith Potato Bhaaji. The final outcome was deliciously well! We both enjoyed our morning breakfast with a hearty Dosa which is our favorite.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Serves: 10-12 Dosa

Masala Dosa Batter -
Rice (Sona Masoori Rice or Dosa Rice) - 2 cups
Urad Dal - 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds - 1/3 teaspoon
Chana Daal - 2 teaspoon
Salt - As per taste
Oil - For frying

Potato Bhaaji -
Potatoes (Large - Boiled and Chopped/ Mashed) - 2
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Green Chillies - 1-2
Onions (sliced) - 1
Chana Daal - 1/3 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - as per taste
Oil - For frying
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Asafoetida - Just a pinch

Garlic Red Chutney -
Garlic pods - 5-6
Red Chillies - 6-8
Salt - as per taste
Water - for Grinding consistency

Wash all ingredients throughly and soak for 4-6 hours. Grind to a fine batter which is of a thick consistency and allow to ferment for 4-8 hours. After, 8 hours, add Turmeric powder ( A pinch) and Salt, stir well and get the batter ready.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a saucepan and add mustard seeds, curry leaves and green chillies. Add onions and saute till they turn translucent. Add mashed potatoes and adjust salt, turmeric powder, etc. Bring to a boil with little water and cook till completely done. Turn off the flame.

On a hot dosa pan, pour a large spoonfull of batter and pour ghee on the sides. Allow to cook. Flip the dosa and once done, smear the red chutney on a side, add Bhaaji and serve by flipping the side of Dosa covered. Serve with Grated Coconut chutney. Some also love it with Mulagapodey Pitti.