Wednesday, August 27, 2014

JHINGA VINDALOO

JHINGA VINDALOO
We absolutely love anything Vindaloo! I've tried Pork Vindaloo, Chicken Vindaloo and now, Jhinga Vindaloo. All of them are loved by us,equally!Jhinga is the Hindi word for Shrimp / Prawns and I love the how rustic it sounds. It makes the dish feel so exotic and delicious,just how it turned out to be. I am a big Shrimp lover but I don't like it when it's served cold.Same is the case with other seafood. I like seafood to be spicy,juicy,fiery hot and full of flavour.
JHINGA VINDALOO
Whenever I hear the word Vindaloo, it reminds me of Goa. Amma used to make Pork Vindaloo very often at home so we never order it at any restaurant. A few years back when I visited Goa, Tia, my cousin, took me to one of her favourite restaurants there. I don't remember what I ordered but I know Tia ordered a vindaloo. I was really excited to try it out but somehow it wasn't to my liking. It was just not how Amma made it.
JHINGA VINDALOO
That experience made me realize that every household makes it different. So does the restaurants.It's just not the same anywhere.There might be one or two common ingredients but other than that, nothing is common.The most common ingredient is white vinegar. So, when I decided to try this recipe out, I was visualising it in my mind how the end result would be. This Jhinga Vindaloo is orangish-yellow and the curry has a kick from the vingear and spices used in it and I really loved it! Love all of Mr. Raghavan Iyer's recipes from 660 Curries!
JHINGA VINDALOO
JHINGA VINDALOO
JHINGA VINDALOO Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon coriander seeds,ground
1 teaspoon cumin seeds,ground
10 raw cashewnuts, ground
1 teaspoon cayenne / red chili powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup white vinegar, warmed in the microwave for 15 seconds
1 pound shrimp,cleaned & peeled but with tails on
2 tablespoons canola oil
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Method: Mix together all the ingredients from coriander seeds through vingear to make a thin paste. Pour this over the shrimp and toss well. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 15 minutes.
In a wide pan, heat the oil on medium high and add the shrimp in one layer. Let it sear for 1 minute on each side. Pour the remaining marinade over and reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 3-5 mins or until the sauce is almost absorbed. Serve garnished with cilantro.
Ian loved the curry and was asking for 'Chemmen', a new word that is. He is a sport when it comes to food, I think he is more like Jobin that way. I am a little reserved. I always have a list of things that I would never eat :)
This curry is so good and perfect for weeknight dinner.If you do try this out, don't forget to come back and tell me how you liked it!
 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN

THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN
We eat out a lot and one of my favourite cuisines to try is Thai.If you ask me what's so Thai about this Ginger Chicken,kindly wait until you listen to the whole story. So, on Saturday night we found ourselves driving to our most favourite Thai restaurant in town and I found myself ordering the same old thing we order every. single. time.I don't like certain things to change and that order I place there,never changes!I may add a few things more, but, their Thai fried rice remains on the order.
THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN
We brought back the leftovers and Jobin had it for a snack two days back. There must have been only a few tablespoons worth of fried rice and even I took a bite from it. Only after having that did I realise that I shouldn't have had it because it was late in the night and too late to go out to have some more. Ian was fast asleep by then! I watched Jobin relish every grain of it and like always,I wondered how they manage to flavor each grain of rice,so well!

I went to bed having a fried rice on my mind. I even told him that we would be having fried rice with some chicken tomorrow. He was happy to hear that bit of good news before dozing off and I was happy that I have decided on something to cook for tomorrow!
THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN
Now that fried rice was fixed,what about the chicken? I scanned through my navy blue diary for recipes and other handwritten notebooks I have. Nothing felt worth trying at that point. So,during my daily conversation with Amma,I told her I was planning on something like a Ginger Chicken. That's when she mentioned about the Ginger Chicken in Bhanu's book. Bhanu Ravindran's cookbook has been a life saver in my family for years now. My Mamma bought the first copy which became the most wanted cookbook in our family that she bought many more. Everybody in my family or my extended family who loves to cook has this book with them. When Mamma passed away, Ammai,Appan's sister handed over Mamma's copy to me telling me that it should be with me since I am the one who loves to cook. That copy is a treasure of mine.

THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN
THE BEST GINGER CHICKEN Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 pound / 454 grams boneless skinless chicken breast / thighs cut into 2 inch cubes
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon lime juice
a pinch of red food colour

50 grams ginger
4 cloves garlic
150 grams onion

3-4 tablespoons tomato ketchup (or as you like)
1 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
a pinch of red food colour

Oil
Cilantro

Method: In a small bowl, marinate the chicken pieces with soy sauce, salt and lime juice for 2 hours,covered in the refrigerator.Grind together ginger,garlic and onion to a smooth paste.

Heat about 1/2 cup of oil in a large saute pan and fry the chicken pieces until they are cooked and turn brown here and there.Drain them from oil and set aside.Into the same oil(add more if needed),add the ground paste and saute for 8-10 minutes or until the raw smell vanishes. If there were any pieces of chicken bits stuck to the pan, mix it along with the paste as it adds a whole new level of flavour.
Add the remaining ingredients to it and mix well.Add the fried chicken pieces,1/2 cup of water and simmer till the gravy thickens up and coats the pieces. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro and serve with rice or noodles of your choice!

This is the best ginger chicken I have ever tasted! All the ginger chicken I've tasted so far in my life hardly has a flavour of ginger but a big touch of cornstarch in the sauce and that turns into a semi-solid jiggly mass when cooled.I hate to eat such kind of food.
The ground paste in this recipe proves to be the best base and the sauce clings to the chicken pieces so well. You should try this if you like Ginger Chicken or atleast just to see what's it all about.

I am usually done with cooking by the time Jobin is back from work for two reasons. 1) I want to the kitchen and the house in general to look neat when he walks in because I hate to walk into a dirty, messy house and kitchen. 2) We get to spend more time together and I won't be standing by the stove stirring and trying to do dishes at the same time.
All 3 of us enjoyed our dinner last night and I was very very pleased when Ian voluntarily brought me back my linens,plates etc., after I finished photographing this dish. I usually occupy his play area for it and maybe he wanted to get my stuff out of his area :-)
  

Monday, August 18, 2014

GRILLED SPICY PANEER SANDWICH

SPICY GRILLED PANEER SANDWICH
This sandwich is amazing! There, I said it. What's not to love about a grilled cheese sandwich? Comfort food at it's best,right? This recipe uses Paneer and that's another way I eat the mild Indian cheese.I have had this on my mind for so long because we used to eat a Paneer Cheese Sandwich from a joint opposite St. Joseph's College of Commerce, Bangalore.It was delicious. I used to pack that as my dinner for the overnight bus journey's to Kannur.
SPICY GRILLED PANEER SANDWICH
SPICY GRILLED PANEER SANDWICH

The crisp buttery bread which acts as the base for the sandwich filling plays a big role. So chose the bread you love the most. I used to be a white bread lover but now, I've developed a liking for multigrain breads and enjoy them as much I would enjoy a slice of white bread. Having said that, nothing beats the Kannur bakery breads! What are they made of? Clouds? It is super soft and  so yum!
SPICY GRILLED PANEER SANDWICH
I've used an 8 grain bread here but you could use whatever kind you like. Just don't forget to forget the calories a few spoonfuls of butter can carry. You need some good buttered slices of bread to have them grilled to perfection.And then when you slice the sandwich into two triangles,it should make a crisp noise which eventually would make you drool! A big thanks to Monica for sharing this delicious recipe!
GRILLED SPICY PANEER SANDWICH
SPICY GRILLED PANEER SANDWICH Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 tablespoon oil
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 serrano chili, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups grated paneer
Salt & pepper

8 slices of bread
1 medium sized green bell pepper,roasted and sliced thin
Plenty of butter

Method: Heat the oil in a medium sized saute pan on medium-high heat and once hot, add the sliced shallots,garlic and chili and saute for 2 minutes.Add this to the grated paneer and season with salt and pepper.  Take 4 slices of bread and divide the paneer mixture equally over it. Top each of them with strips of roasted bell pepper. Cover it with another slice of bread and apply some butter over it. Heat a grill pan on medium heat and place the sandwich buttered side down. Cook till they are golden nnd crisp with grill marks. Apply some butter on the slice of bread that's facing you and flip the sandwich over. Grill till golden on side two and repeat with the remaining sandwiches. Slice into two and enjoy it with some chilled Blueberry Lemonade.

I've lost the number of times I've this sandwich last week.The texture is so good that you wouldn't miss the meat !Since I am so choosy about Paneer dishes, I am so glad I went out of my comfort zone to taste it at that restaurant in Bangalore. This is an awesome sandwich! Like any grilled cheese sandwich,it tastes best straight off of the grill pan.
 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TARIDAAR COPRAY CHI MUCHEE

Taridaar Copray Chi Muchee
Guess what? I am posting another recipe for a simple fish curry! Ian enjoys fish as much he enjoys his veggies,poultry and meat.So I enjoy frying fish and making curries with it for him. He calls is 'Mee Mee' fry and waits for me to finish mixing rice, yogurt and fish for him to start eating. Every time he sees me draining freshly cooked rice, he would ask me for 'Mee Mee' fry :-) It melts my heart...every single time!
Taridaar Copray Chi Muchee
Ian has grown so much after he turned two. He talks a lot and loves to sing. If you ever come home and need something from the kitchen, you know whom to ask. He know where everything is kept and helps me put away things when we get back home after grocery shopping. I love to see the look on his face when I ask him to do things...he really feels important then!The other day, he saw me put away some story books and asked me to give him one. When I did, he said 'Thank you, Amma!'. I was shocked and couldn't breathe for a second or two. He also blesses us every time we sneeze.His version is,'Bless La Amma!'.Yesterday, we were at the mall for Toddler Tuesdays, and met a reader's cousin for lunch. Someone at the restaurant we were eating sneezed, and I heard a small voice saying, Bless La ! next to me. I wonder how they learn how to connect things!
Taridaar Copray Chi Muchee
Getting back to this delicious simple curry. This is another favourite from Mr. Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries. It is super easy to make and very very tasty! The recipe calls for Kokum and I  have substituted it equally with Gambooge / Kudampuli. Also, this curry uses raw rice as an ingredient! I've never heard of it before and that's one reason why I tried this dish.I've made slight changes to certain ingredients and I have given the measurements accordingly.

Taridaar Copray Chi MucheeTARIDAAR COPRAY CHI MUCHEE
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds skinless catfish filets, cut up
1/2 cup shredded fresh coconut
2 tablespoon long- grain white rice
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 dried Thai or cayenne chilies, stems removed
5 pieces dried black kokums/gambooge, each roughly 2 inches long and 1 inch wide
1/4 cup boiling water
2 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup finely choppped red onion
3 fresh green Serrano chili,chopped fine

Method:
Sprinkle salt over the fish,spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and let them chill in the fridge,covered,for 30 minutes.Meanwhile pour 1/2 cup water into a blender jar and add the coconut,rice, coriander seeds,peppercorns, turmeric and dried chilies. Puree, scraping as needed,to make a thick paste.
Combine kokum with the boiling water and let it steep for 10-15 mins. Squeeze the fruit to extract the pulp and discard the fruit.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat .Add onions and chilies and stir fry until the onion is light brown around the edges and the chilies smell pungent,2-3 minutes. Ad the ground coconut paste and stir-fry until the spices and coconut form a thin yellow film on the bottom,1-2 minutes. Pour 1 1/2 cup water into the blender jar and swish it around to wash it out. Pour this to the skillet and scrape the bottom to deglaze it. Submerge the fish filets,in a single layer,in the sun-yellow sauce and cover the skillet. Poach gently, turning the fish halfway through cooking once,12-15 minutes.Add the kokum water,swirl the pan gently to get it mixed in.Adjust salt,simmer for a minute or two and serve hot!

This curry pairs well with Kerala Matta Rice,Basmati Rice or even Sona Masoori rice. We like to eat fish curries with Kerala Matta Rice mostly because how the mouth feel is. The grains are bigger, chubbier and starchy. It is truly a delectable fish curry with a twist from my usual ones. Jobin thinks this curry is delicious and I agree to it 100%!

Friday, August 8, 2014

FISH MOLEE

FISH MOLEE
This curry is a Malayali Special,no matter where you are! It is always there on wedding menu's, evening dinner parties, lunch buffet etc., Which ever good restaurant you go to, it will be there. It is sometimes spelt as Fish Moilee too. I prefer to call it Fish Molee because that's how we refer to this curry at home. Moreover, my paternal Grandmother Mamma, was fondly known as Molly!When I was little I used to think if this curry had the same name as hers!
FISH MOLEE
To be honest, whenever I go for weddings in South Kerala and I see the usual nadan spread for lunch, I am truly dissapointed. This could be the Northern Kerala effect. There, it's either a full fledged Sadya or an aromatic, flavourful 'Koyi' Biriyani (Chicken Biriyani) or Mutton /Kuttan Biriyani followed by an a spread of desserts. I like our regular fare for our daily meals and special something for special occasions.
FISH MOLEE
We bought some Salmon filet over the weekend and I was wondering what to make with it other than our usual Meen Vevichathu, Creamy Tomato & Coconut Fish Curry or the Kannur Meen Curry. I wanted something simple because heavy masala can mask the flavour of Salmon. After flipping through my cookbooks, I saw this recipe in Ente Tharavaadu Pachakam by Aswathy Mathan. I have cooked so many dishes from that book already and  Easy Chicken Masala is one of them. That book is a real gem, I tell ya!
FISH MOLEE
This curry is super easy to make,like most fish curries. Fish gets cooked fast so it's a quick one to rustle up especially if you have all the ingredients on hand. I used tinned coconut milk this time and the recipe calls for extracting your own. Go with whatever you generally do. It will be delicious! There was no need for any modification because the recipe is just perfect!
FISH MOLEE
FISH MOLEE Serves 6

Ingredients:
500 grams seer fish,cleaned & cut up
4 tablespoon coconut oil
2 cup sliced red onion
5 serrano chilies,slit
6 cloves garlic,slit
1 inch piece of ginger, julienned
2 sprigs curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 cup grated coconut
1 large tomato,cut into 1/4 inch circles
1 tablespoon vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Method: Extract milk from the coconut. You will need 1 cup of thick milk and 2 cups of thin milk. If you are using canned, like me, use a 13 oz can of coconut milk. Measure 1 cup from it and add water to the remaining to make 2 cups.
In a large pan, heat the oil . Dilute turmeric powder with 2 tablespoon water and add it to the oil. Add the fish pieces to it a few at a time and fry just until they are yellow in colour,turning once. Do not let it brown.We just need to get the colour onto the fish, that is all.
Remove the mildly fried fish to a plate and to that same oil, add onions,garlic,ginger, serrano chilies, curry leaves and saute till the onions are soft on medium high, about 5 minutes.Add the thin coconut milk and vinegar to it and let it come to a boil. When it starts to boil, slide in the fish carefully and reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook till the fish is done, 8-10 minutes.After the fish is cooked,place the tomato slices over the curry and cook for a minute or two. Add the thick coconut milk and let it heat through completely. Do not let it boil. Serve hot with appam or white bread.

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind while making a Fish Molee. Amma told me to. It's about chopping your tomatoes and sauteeing the onions. Tomatoes have to be cut into 1/4 inch thick circles and cooked just until they are soft and loses their bright red colour. Same is the case with onions,slice them and not a dice as they need to be soft and not cooked down so much that they melt into the sauce.It seems they are the main thing you should notice when you look at a Fish Molee!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

FRESH BLUEBERRY LEMONADE

FRESH BLUEBERRY LEMONADE
I love love love LOVE Lemonade! Is there anyone who doesn't like it? My first stint with it was in our Kerala form, Naranga Vellam ( Lime water). It is my drink of choice to date. It's such a refreshing thirst quencher. Even if I am not thirsty, I would stillorder one just so that I can enjoy my Lemonade no matter where I am.
FRESH BLUEBERRY LEMONADE
I didn't know that there was anything beyond a Naranga Vellam until I started reading Enid Blyton's Secret Seven Series. Janet and Peter would make lemonades with the lemons and sugar their mom gave them, in that old garden shed just before their meeting started. Do you remember the stale rock buns? Isn't it so funny that even the word stale would get my appetite going when I was little, now, not so much. I really don't know how Janet's lemonade tasted like because she used to make it with a jug of water,some sugar and some lemons,which, while squeezed would squirt into Peter's eyes!
FRESH BLUEBERRY LEMONADE
I've always wanted to try making some different kind at home,from the usual lemon-sugar-water. Last year around this time,Appan's best friend and wife visited us and we took them to an Italian store for a quick bite and Chandini aunty ordered a fresh Basil Lemonade for us.It was so,so good! Yes, basil and lemon are like best friends,they are awesome together.I am quite tired of the boxed mixes they sell at most restaurants so don't quite order it that frequently now.Two weeks ago, when we went to our Farmers Market, I stopped by the Lemonade stand as they were selling freshly squeezed ones.Not to mention, it was delicious and Ian drank most of it. He had to fight with me for it, to be honest. It was a hot day, you know ;-)
FRESH BLUEBERRY LEMONADE
So, I bought some Blueberries after seeing Kevin's recipe on Closet Cooking.The best part of it is that, you can make the syrup ahead of time and stir up a jar full of fresh Blueberry Lemonade just before you feel like drinking some,or, like in our case,just before our friends came in for an impromptu Monday night dinner. I had made some Quick Appams & Fish Molee, so thought of calling our friends over to share the dinner with. Sharing makes everything taste so good!
FRESH BLUEBERRY LEMONADE
FRESH BLUEBERRY LEMONADE Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
Blueberry syrup
1 cup blueberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 a lemon, juice

Lemonade
1 cup blueberry syrup
1 cup lemon juice
4 + cups water
Ice cubes

Method:
Blueberry syrup: Place the berries, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.Reduce the heat and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Strain the syrup and reserve the solids.Mix the lemon juice to the syrup and use as needed. You can top your ice cream or yogurt with the reserved solids.

Blueberry lemonade: Stir all the ingredients together in a large jug. Serve chilled.

All I can say is that it was such a refreshing drink. Also, I know what exactly went into it,so, I don't have to think twice before I serve it to my family,especially Ian.
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