ALOO PARATHAMy brother is my first best friend. Inspite of a big age difference we share that unique bond – sometimes protective, sometimes possessive, sometimes mocking and irritating, most times a comfortable camaraderie full of memories… Yesterday I was thinking of my brother and that part of brain which is the memory bank, instantly produced a Polaroid image – me in the kitchen cooking Aloo Parathas and my brother standing right next to me with a plate in hand. The steaming parathas disappeared as soon as they hit the plate with nothing but a dollop of butter that melts into little streams of succulence on the golden surface of the parathas. He never had the patience to let it cool down to an edible temperature… mouth burns did not matter and keeping track of the number of Aloo Parathas consumed was a waste of time. They remain a family favorite, although my brother is their biggest fan to date. Every time he visits from Jordan, the old parathas sneak into the menu with no need for special requests or mention and continue to disappear with the same speed.BEEF CUTLETSIn Kerala, cutlets are very popular appetizers, a must-have at all occasions. Somewhat like meat balls, but served without gravy, cutlets are most commonly prepared with beef or fish. These flavorful appetizers, get gobbled up very soon… and so it is advisable to make in substantial batches!BHINDI MASALA / SPICY OKRAI have said before, that bhindi / okra is one of the commonly cooked vegetables at home. Everyone likes it, and it is always a good addition to a whole Indian meal. Since it is such a versatile vegetable, you can cook it in several different ways. And if you are not a big fan of bhindi by itself as a vegetarian dish, you could always dunk in a handful in meat stews, soups or sambar simply for its health benefits.BHINDI RAITA / FRIED OKRA IN YOGHURTTrust me when I say, I used to run away from vegetables till a few years back. I was, (and still am) an ardent meat lover. However, now I love to cook and eat all kinds of vegetables. Thanks to my father-in-law who is an amazing cook (his mutton korma is to die for); I learnt how delicious and diverse vegetables can be…so many vegetables out there and so many ways to cook them. When he was staying with us, every meal constituted of atleast one vegetable. And that’s how I started eating most veggies… I also learnt to cook many vegetables from him and over time, I have adapted them in my own way.BIDARI PARATHAThis is a super easy Indian bread…. A bit heavy on your waistline perhaps but extremely easy on your palate and you wouldn’t know how they disappear. I am not really sure about the origins of this Indian bread or which part of Indian cuisine it falls under. Not much information could be found on the internet. However, it is rather popular with rich gravies such as spicy chicken masala or chole masala.CABBAGE THORAN / CABBAGE WITH COCONUTLet me start by explaining what a thoran is. Ideally I should have done this when I posted the colourful carrot, beetroot and tendli thoran when I just started the blog. Nevertheless, it is never too late… thoran is basically the Kerala version of a stir-fry. We Keralites love our thorans and they accompany almost all regular and festive meals. You will see them at traditional weddings, sadhyas, onam meals or on any given day at any regular meal. You will find them on the menu of any typical Kerala restaurant and if you happen to walk into a one and order a quick “thaali” or meal of the day, you will find atleast one thoran amidst the wide array of dishes on your plate.
A true Keralite can probably cook up thoran with any vegetable you give them!! While thoran made of cabbage, green beans, carrots, beetroot, spinach, tendli, cauliflower are the more common ones, I have also heard of and tasted thorans made of jackfruit, kale leaves, yam, papaya, mushrooms and even only onions. Have you ever cooked up a thoran with a not-so-common ingredient??
Whatever vegetable is being used, is finely chopped (which is the most tedious and time-consuming process while making any thoran), and cooked for a little while alongwith coconut, curry leaves, mustard seeds, green chilies and turmeric powder. That is the basic concept. Variations are totally subjective.
So here is one of the most common thoran recipes – cabbage thoran. It is literally ubiquitous in the malayalee world. It is made quite often at my place, sometimes part of a simple meal accompanying dal and rice or sometimes part of an elaborate sadhya – festive meal. Now there are several ways of making a good cabbage thoran. This is just the way I make it… it is basic, simple and very easy.CARROT, BEETROOT AND TENDLI THORAN / MIXED VEGETABLES KERALA STYLEThere are times when you go grocery shopping and the refrigerator is overstuffed with fresh stock of meat and poultry and fresh vegetables and all sorts of things that you buy in a flash of creative enlightenment (or perhaps it was just the promotional offer!), irrespective of whether you later put them to good use or not. Then sometimes you open the refrigerator and all you see sitting in there is bits of leftovers… a piece of this and chunk of that and then you really have to create something with your imagination.. Well there is always the tempting takeaway option… but it is always rewarding to create something out of nothing, and be proud that you didn’t copy the recipe from anywhere, and managed to bring all the odd tid-bits together so well…(and of course you cleaned out the refrigerator and didn’t even waste food. Brownie points for that!)CHAKLI / MURUKKUI would like to wish everyone a very Happy Diwali!
In India irrespective of what religion one follows, everyone gets caught up in the excitement, brightness and sweetness of Diwali. One of the most popular festivals of India, it is celebrated all over the country. It is like being in one gigantic firework with the sound of firecrackers filling your ears, the sky full of spectacular display coming from different directions and kids running about with different kinds of sparklers. Diwali is all about fun, family, firecrackers and food especially sweets. People tend to eat a lot of sweets and savory snacks. When I was a kid, moms of all my Hindu friends would set to work a week in advance making snacks and sweets for Diwali. Same would be the case at my place during Christmas… traditionally everyone exchanges these home-made sweets and snacks with each other in the spirit of the festival. One of the popular snacks this season is Chakli. The Malayalam name for it is Murukku. These light, crisp, slightly spicy, rice flour snack look like Catherine wheels and disappear in no time.CHERRY TARTRecipe adapted from www.joyofbaking.com
This is a recipe I’ve been planning to post for quite some time now. Coincidentally it has come up just as summer is arriving here, and the markets will soon be filled with cherries… those gleaming blood red fruits, plump and bursting with juices that stain your fingers and white tabletops. Well, in the supermarkets here, I’ve seen cherries throughout the year, thanks to a globalized world and superior agricultural skills. But there is something about waiting for seasonal fruits, looking forward to purchase the very first produce after a long time… just increases the value of those fruits and vegetables and you enjoy them even more. Anyone shares my sentiments?CHICKEN BIRYANIBiryani is one of the most widely traveled Indian dishes. I say widely traveled because, just like butter chicken, and chicken tikka, it is not only well known across the world, but it also picks up nuances and transforms itself slightly wherever it goes adjusting to the taste of the region. It may not be originally Indian, as it was brought to the subcontinent by the Moghul / Persian rulers. But just as India became home to the Persians, it also became home to this one pot royal delicacy of mixed flavors and cultures.
Biryani is one of the dishes I mastered quite early in my cooking days. Back then, I used to make it at home, in India, on some special weekend and I remember my Dad being so excited about it. He loves it and could never have enough of my Biryani. Not much has changed, as now my husband greets it with equal or more enthusiasm. In my house, Biryani is not a meal; it is a ritual characterized by feverish excitement, loud cheering, applause and even some boogie woogie if it is made after a long time.
Since it has been a long time since I got the chance to make this for my Dad, I’d like to dedicate this post to him!CHICKEN CHILI / SPICY SHREDDED CHICKENCaution! – This is not a Chinese recipe… don’t let the name fool you as it fooled me. One evening when we were in the grips of hunger and there was no food at home, we decided to order from a small restaurant right across the house, as the travel time would be cut short and the food would arrive quickly. It is one of those small Indian restaurants that serve Moghlai, South Indian and Chinese cuisine…where the Chinese food is with a very obvious spicy Indian touch. Along with other things, I ordered for Chicken Chili thinking it is the Chinese side-dish that I love. Instead I got a spicy dry dish made of shredded chicken that I had never eaten before. Nevertheless I loved it, and eventually learnt (after repeated clarification from the restaurant employee who took the orders) that ‘this is “Chicken Chili” not “Chili Chicken” madam.’CHICKEN LIVER MEATBALLSAlthough it comes every year, it still hits us unexpectedly and in full force. Summer! Yes it is here, scorching, humid, blindingly sunny and so long. It is just starting and already I want it to end. But it’s a long way from respite, so I will stop dreaming about winter, snap out of this warm daze and share my next recipe.
This is one of the instant creations with bits of whatever I had at hand, and it just turned out so well. Although I avoid, cooking chicken liver too often, due to its high cholesterol content, it can be a good treat sometimes. Something I didn’t know before, and stumbled across while doing a random research on this ingredient for this post, is that livers are rich source of various nutrients – iron, zinc and vitamins. Not a complete waste after all!
This recipe is very similar to the absolutely delicious beef cutlets which are so popular in Kerala. However, the liver makes it a bit heavier on the palate and tummy, so we usually go easy on these.CHICKEN SEEKH KEBABS WITH MINT & CORIANDER DIPThis is ideally a recipe for winter season. In Dubai, winters are so special. The weather is pleasant – sunny, not too hot and not cold… just right… everyone is out taking in the perfectly balanced natural elements. Parks are full with families barbecuing… the smell of grilled meats mingled with charcoal in the air…. Sighhh…. I am dreaming about winter, while sweltering in this heat. Temperature has hit 45 degrees and above and it is humid and sweaty and you have to think twice before stepping out during the day. - But I wanted to eat kebabs and so I made them. -
I love seekh kebabs and every-time I would eat them out, I used to think about trying them at home. Finally around a year back, I did another experimental session and came up with these. In India, seekh kebabs are commonly made of red meat. But I prefer to make it with chicken as it is easier to cook and healthier as compared to red meats. They are perfect with the mint and coriander dip which is so refreshing in this heat!CHICKEN VARATTIYATHUHardly a week that goes by without chicken being served for atleast one meal in my house. There are hundreds of different ways one can cook chicken…. Tiny little variations to age-old recipes or completely new creations, chicken is a great ingredient to experiment with. This recipe is not an experimental though, Chicken Varattiyathu or roast is one of the most commonly made dishes in Keralite homes. Although it is not really roasted in the oven, that is what the translation works out to be. The same recipe is used for boiled eggs, mutton and beef (red meat is usually pre-cooked in pressure cooker). This is one of the easiest Indian recipes for chicken. No marinating, no dry roasting, grinding… no long winding methods of cooking. Just simple, spicy, easy-to-make, yummy chicken!CHOLE MASALA (CHICKPEAS CURRY)Chickpeas curry or Cholé as more commonly known in India is another favorite at home. I end up making this almost every fortnight on popular demand. Chickpeas again belonging to the legume family are high in protein and minerals. I am beginning to think, my family has some affinity for legumes with high mineral content. Some recent studies have also shown that Chickpeas may help in lowering cholesterol. So all those people out there looking for high protein diet or suffering from cholesterol, sit up and discover a delicious way to cook these healthy legumes. A word of caution – Excessive consumption may lead to build up of stomach gas. Ahem!
Although Chole Masala can be eaten with plain parathas, or rice, we love to have it with Aloo Paratha as the combination is absolutely killer!CREAMY CHEESY VEGGIESThere is something about cheese and cream and how they melt together to make luscious, scrumptious, yumminess… It is also a great way to make vegetables more appetizing especially for kids…Everytime I am confronted by tidbits of different vegetables in the refrigerator I am a little worried about what to do with them… As a mother, I have to always think about recipes that my daughter would enjoy as well.CRISPY FRIED FISHThe Dosas and Potato Sabji and Chutney were barely digested and I was already onto lunch. Got my hands on some really fresh Pomfret fish the previous day and I couldn’t wait to cook them. I make fish curry a lot but I absolutely love to fry fish when it is fresh and new and firm. I wanted to try something different for my little girl… that she would also enjoy.EGG CURRY WITH COCONUT MILKAppams are incomplete without this egg curry. The spicy-coconut-ty flavor of the curry blends well with the rice flour pancakes and the combination is simply amazing.
EGGLESS CHOCOLATE TOFU CAKEYou know that Tofu got on my radar a while ago, and I was in this phase when I was experimenting with it. Well, that was a good healthy phase… (sigh!) Around that time, one of our friends asked if I have ever tried baking eggless cakes, as those are hard to come by here in Dubai. Eggless cakes are very common in India, due to a huge vegetarian population. Since the friend had put the query to me, I had to try an eggless cake… didn’t I? And since it was the Tofu phase, some tofu had to feature in it…didn’t it? So I did some research, on baking with tofu, browsed many recipes and decided to try this one from egglesscooking.com. I have made my own adjustments to this recipe.FISH CHILLIIndo-Chinese food has come a long way… everyone has a different take on it. It is common now for Indians to use a bit of soy sauce or chili sauce in their contemporary cooking. Most Indian households will have a basket of Chinese sauces and pastes used commonly in “Chinese” fried rice, Manchurians and Schezwan. I posted Chicken Chili when I first started blogging… an Indian dish with an Indo-Chinese name…. I know, it is confusing… doesn’t matter… as long as the end result is tasty!
This Fish Chili is slightly similar to the Chicken Chili. It was born one day when I had some marinated fish in the refrigerator to fry and some plain white rice. But the combination would have been too dry, so I thought of adding some masala and spicing it up! It is a great way to eat fish, especially if you want to avoid the bones. It goes well with rice, breads and rotis and can even be served as a spicy appetizer.GAJAR KA HALWA / CARROT PUDDINGRarely do I cook just for myself… Since I have a husband and a kid, I have to think about their tastes and take their likes and dislikes into consideration… But as I was in the mood to cook a camel on Thursday, and I was really missing my mom for some reaso, I made a teeny bit of Gajar ka Halwa. I love this typical North Indian dessert made primarily with carrots and milk. As it is not much liked by my family here (strange!), I haven’t made it in a long time… Mostly, I just satisfy my craving for it, by either looking for restaurants that serve good gajar halwa (very rare) or praying everytime we go to some friend’s house for dinner that they will serve it for dessert.
Luckily it turned out as good as ever. Only wished I could have shared it with my Mom.HUMMUS / CHICKPEAS DIPLooking for a great dip to go with breads and veggies for your next dinner party? Or maybe a healthy dip to snack on at work? Or perhaps just a simple vegan spread for your sandwiches and wraps? Enter the hummus! A versatile Middle Eastern dip, made from simple, handy ingredients, which goes well with just about anything. Its popularity speaks for itself and I guess it is available almost everywhere around the world.INDO-CHINESE CHILI CHICKEN WITH GRAVYChili chicken is another one of those dishes that no one knows the origin of, but it is such a rage in India. Many innocent, naïve children grow up crazy about Chicken Lollypop, Chili Chicken and Chicken Manchurian unaware for a long time that these dishes are not exactly part of authentic Chinese cuisine – myself included. I remember looking forward to those occasional eat outs at the little roadside “Chinese” food stand called Salty (for some strange reason). It was a one man show, with the Chinese looking man cooking up a variety of mouth-watering Chinese dishes in his huge wok – tossing and flipping on dangerously high heat, concocting sauces and noodles that we had never tasted before. Salty is where I fell in love with Chinese food, and the Chinese looking man made his little fortune!
It was many years later that I came to know that the man is Burmese not Chinese, and the food he made is definitely not Chinese! More like Indo-Chinese as it used many Chinese ingredients. That didn’t diminish my love for this variety… Thankfully Dubai has many Indian restaurants that serve up this skewed line of cuisine. And often I make many of the dishes at home. One of the all-time favorite Indo-Chinese food for many people is Chilli Chicken.KAPPA VEVICHATHU / SPICED TAPIOCAIn Kerala, the Red Fish Curry (or Meen Curry – Meen meaning Fish) goes with Kappa / Tapioca almost by default. From Amoomas (grandmothers) at home, to small Kallu shaap (toddy shop) owners on the roadside, all serve a steaming plate of spicy red fish curry with this tapioca preparation on the side. Not to mention, I love this combination and my mouth starts to water at the mention of it. Kappa is quite high in starch content and can make you feel bloated. Definitely not a combination for the feint hearted (the spicy fish curry is known to bring tears in your eyes)!
So I made kappa the other day with the red fish curry. I was too stuffed after eating it to blog both the recipes. Managed the fish curry… and had to keep this for later…Also, been quite busy with more food exploration and my little one – as she is on summer vacation now. Right now, writing this recipe makes me want to have more of it… I am hungry now!KERALA CRAB ROAST MASALAI am not really a crab person. You won’t find me ordering any form of crab meat in a seafood restaurant, or experimenting with crabs in my kitchen. But I will definitely clean up the plate and lick my fingers everytime my mom cooks this crab roast masala. Infact, I barely ever make this myself. It is just one of those dishes that taste great when my mother cooks! Like the mutton stew made by her! Yummm… the thought of it makes me drool. But that is a recipe for another day.
This is a spicy Kerala style recipe, excellent with rice or roti.KERALA FISH CURRY WITH COCONUT MILK AND MANGOI was born and brought up in Pune. Being a city kid, going to Kerala for summer holidays meant small adventures with the native cousins, going back to nature and a lot of delicious traditional food. Everyday, there was something new and fun to try out like feeding the goats, cows and chickens, scurrying through the little paddy fields – balancing ourselves on the narrow mud pathways that criss-cross through the fields, and plucking fresh mangoes and cashew apples from the trees.
I remember going fishing in the canal waters with my cousins. No fancy equipment or fishing rods. The only gear we needed to catch the tiny flitting fish was a thin cotton Kerala towel. Two of us holding the two ends of the traditionally white towel beneath the surface of the water… watching the fish dart against the white background. Waiting patiently for the right moment… until we were confident that here was an easy catch; lifting the towel up in a single coordinated movement only to find it empty. The fish were often faster than us… then repeating the process again determinedly until there was atleast one prized catch. Those unlucky fish were then transferred into a dirty transparent leaky plastic bag with some water and paraded around town excitedly! The games we were upto as kids! The whole world and all our happiness fit into that little plastic bag with the fish.
This fish curry brings so many good memories from childhood and Kerala and especially my mother. Normally, I am a big fan of the red fish curry made in South Kerala, but this one that my mother makes has a treasured place in my heart and in my recipe diary. It was an absolute must at family gatherings and special occasions. Everytime I make this, it makes me nostalgic.KERALA STYLE SPICY PORKHello, I am back after a long vacation. It has been such a long time since I blogged and I have truly missed it. My vacation seemed to have lasted forever, India after Germany and when I got back, I dived right into daily routine. Well, vacation season in UAE is over, and it is back to business for everyone. And I am really glad to get back to blogging.
Pork is not made often in our house, but when it is made, it is eaten with a lot of enthusiasm and cleaned out in no time. I never used to eat pork in India due to a bad experience when I was a child. My love for this meat started when I was tricked into eating it by a family friend in Dubai. I thought that the spicy preparation was beef, and only after I had chowed down the food, did they disclose the secret! This is my version of that same dish that I ate at my friends place all those years ago.KUMBLANGA MORU CURRY/ WINTER MELON / ASH GOURD WITH YOGHURTThe summer heat is rising in Dubai…. And as the temperature goes up, so does the consumption of yoghurt in my house… Moru Curry is simply beaten yoghurt that is tempered. It is an integral part of Kerala cuisine and there are as many varieties as the regions in the state of Kerala. The base is always yoghurt or sour curds and then different vegetables maybe added and thus the several varieties are born. This Moru Curry with Kumblanga i.e Winter melon or Ash Gourd (it goes by several names) is something I learnt from my mother-in-law. The combination of Ash Gourd, coconut and yoghurt is simply amazing… a bit tangy and a bit sweet. Always great as a simple, healthy, cooling meal…MALABARI RED CHICKENFirstly I would like to wish everyone a very happy new year! I hope for everyone that this year brings positive changes, success, good health and lots of yummy food
So my first recipe of 2014 is going to be of my favourite ingredient – Chicken! I have mentioned earlier that I am a big fan of poultry and love to try different variations with chicken. Everytime I taste some chicken dish I like, I try to get the recipe from the person who made it, or try to recreate it myself and luckily a couple of attempts yield successful results. This chicken recipe was given to me by a friend in Kuwait. It is simple and very easy to make in 4 steps. It is one of those home-made dishes that don’t really have a name. Since it is red in colour and since I am from Kerala and I use coconut oil in it, I called it Malabari Red Chicken!!METHI ALOO SABJI / FENUGREEK LEAVES WITH POTATOESAs a child, I used to hate healthy leafy greens, or any vegetables for that matter! As far as I know, most kids don’t like vegetables like Methi/Fenugreek or Palak/ Spinach. Most mothers try to convince, cajole and even force-feed their children to eat these greens leading to tantrums, quarrels and in some cases even spanking, I suppose. However much you hate these vegetables as a child, very often, you grow up to absolutely love them… perhaps it is to do with your developing taste buds… or maybe you do grow older and wiser, realizing the many benefits of adding some greens to your diet.
Fenugreek is such a versatile food. You can use it on its own in a vegetarian preparation, in dals, with meats, and with poultry. Methi seeds are used in tempering and dried Methi leaves (Kasuri Methi) is used to add a distinct flavor to some dishes such as Butter Chicken. Once you develop a taste for it, you can’t have enough of it… besides it has a long list of health benefits including, reducing cholesterol, controlling diabetes, aiding in digestion and increasing breast milk production in nursing mothers.MIXED PULSES CURRY / DALWe Indians have a fascination for pulses and lentils. Various pulses are consumed in various forms all over India…from the humble sambar to the world famous dal makhani, legume preparations are part of daily diet and eaten with rice or rotis. Like any typical Indian household, my kitchen is always stocked with an assortment of all the imaginable dried pulses. So, on one of my grocery shopping expeditions, I was delighted to find a pack of mixed dried pulses. It looked so colorful; I had to have it as my brain started whizzing with possibilities.MUSHROOM AND CARROT PULAOI must admit that I have been a bit lazy the past few weeks and blogging was put on the backburner. Fishing from that dusty bag of good recipes in one corner of my brain, while also rummaging through image folders on my computer for corresponding pictures…. Phew a lot of hardwork!! But I am once again back with a gusto and plan to finish my backlog of recipes soon. Perhaps I should start blogging as I cook… Any advice from seasoned bloggers??
My dad loves biryani and different types of vegetarian pulao preparations. I guess it stems from a general love of rice. This is a pulao I made on his last birthday. He likes a simple home-made fare… and such vegetable pulao one pot dishes with some raita or papad are high on his favorites list.
Really, you can add whatever vegetables you like. I prefer to keep it simple with a combination of few select vegetables. Here, I only had mushrooms and carrots; the carrots certainly adding a hint of brightness to the rice. It is a humble, light, satisfying meal with a touch of aromatic spices.MUTTON CHILLIIndian cuisine is so full of variety and flavors. So many different cultures, all with their unique ways of using the same ingredients, and different methods of cooking – there is always a lot to experiment and learn. This is a Goan – Manglorean recipe given to me by one of our old family friends.
The original recipe was prepared using pork, but I have often made it with Mutton simple because I love it!! For those of you who are not familiar, Mutton is same as lamb but a more mature meat – Goat or an older sheep basically. But somehow that makes the picture of a cute white goat pop up in front of my eyes, and makes me feel bad… So we will stick to Mutton.PALAPPAM / RICE FLOUR PANCAKESChristmas season is the season of engagements, weddings, baptisms, house-warming ceremonies and other such family festivities amongst Keralites (people from Kerala). Since it is an auspicious season and the weather is cool, the entire month is always packed with many family functions…. That means loads of shopping, travel, food and stress. It is again that time of the year when you find me running about crazy trying to manage more than I should be doing. Needless to say, the best part about this crazy time of the year is the food…. You can eat and keep eating all sorts of sweets, fatty, unhealthy, greasy food and blame it on Christmas, or Santa for bringing in this sweet-treat tradition! I have been in Kerala for the past 15 days, and have not been able to take pictures of what I am cooking, stuck in the middle of constant flow of relatives and guests. Christmas day was the usual traditional food-fare with all sorts of non-vegetarian preparation laid out. For me, the best part of the day is the breakfast, I love the traditional appam and egg curry that is made in almost every Malayali Christian household. I have fond memories of 25th morning breakfasts at home… we would go to church early in the morning; come back starving and mom would dish out hot appams with mutton stew or egg curry…. Yummm and it was Merry Christmas!!PASTA WITH CHICKEN AND VEGETABLES IN WHITE SAUCEMy first encounter with pasta was strangely in Kuwait. I moved there after my wedding and lived there for a brief period, during which I tried a number of cuisines for the very first time in my life! Honestly I never kept a count… There was this shopping mall that we used to frequently visit. At the food court in the mall was a pasta joint with a live kitchen. The chef mixed the ingredients and the sauces in front of the customers and always cooked and served with a smile as if he really cooked from his heart. The pasta soon became my staple everytime I went to that mall not just for the food but also for the friendly chef. I would watch intently as he mixed, and tossed the different types of pasta and topped it with a smile.
I did my research from the vast stream of online information and for the very first time made pasta with white and red sauce. Amazingly… it turned out very similar to the one our smiley chef used to make. I was thrilled with the results and soon started to try various combinations depending on what was at hand.
Just like her mother, my six year old loves pasta – she likes hers plain with a huge dollop of butter. My husband loves pasta in almost any given form.PITA BREAD / ARABIC KHUBUZI find nothing more enticing than the aroma of fresh bread baking at home… Although baking bread takes a bit of practice, it is totally worth it. Fresh, warm bread served with dips, sauces or soups, is a classic comfort food – simple and satisfying! Here is a recipe of Pita bread or Arabic Khubuz as it is known in the Middle East.POTATO/ ALOO SABJIHappy Weekend to my Middle East friends!
Since yesterday I have been on a cooking spree… The day started with dosas paired with Potato sabzi and Tomato and Coconut Chutney. Although I didn’t get the time to click snaps of the dosas, I did manage to get shots of the accompaniments. This Potato sabzi is one of the first recipes I learnt to cook and mastered while still at school. So it is as old as my cooking skills I can say… It is quick and easy. You can hardly go wrong with it. It is great as breakfast with dosas or as a meal with chapattis or puris.PURAN POLI WITH AMTI / FLATBREAD WITH SWEET STUFFING AND TANGY SAUCEGrowing up in Pune, neighbouring city to Mumbai and the cultural capital of Maharashtra, it is almost impossible to not fall in love with traditional Maharashtrian cuisine. Marathi influence is very strong in Pune, as it was once the bastion of Maratha Empire and local cuisine is easily available everywhere. Lot of Marathi friends and neigbours means traditional mouth-watering food is just a heartbeat away. One of my favorites since I was a kid is Puran Poli. These are similar to rotis but with a sweet stuffing- called Puran; the outer cover or the Poli is made from all-purpose flour or a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flour.
Although, traditionally served as dessert, on occasions and festivals such as Gudi Padwa; personally, I’ve always found them perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Puran Polis are quite heavy and could easily pass off as a full meal. They are quite popular in different regions of India and are served either with sweet milk, or tangy sauce called Amti, or just with slightly warm ghee (clarified butter).
I love to eat these with Amti, the tangy sauce which is prepared using a bit of the stuffing for the polis. So in this post I am sharing the recipe for both.RAVA LADOOThis is one of the recipes that have been in my backlog for a while. I actually made the ladoos during Diwali because this is one of the easy sweets traditionally made during Diwali and Ganesh Chathurthi; but missed out putting up the recipe. Well it is never too late… Infact, this was the first time ever I tried making these ladoos at home and I was happy with the result. The best part is it barely takes any time or pre-preparation and all the ingredients are very easily available in most Indian homes or can be easily bought at the grocery.SIMPLE FRIED OKRA / BHINDI / VENDAKYAOkras are extremely common in most Middle Eastern and Far Eastern regions. They are a popular part of Indian cuisine. Unlike western and Middle Eastern countries, where okras are typically cooked along-with meat; in India they mostly constitute a vegetarian meal. Whether stir-fried, cooked in spicy gravy, or used in raita, Okras are extremely diverse and it is entirely unto your imagination how you choose to use them.
Typically as in any Keralite household, at my place also Okra or Lady’s Fingers are consumed in different forms all round the year. Since my daughter also loves them, this super healthy veggie – rich in protein, vitamin C and anti-oxidants, are a frequent addition to our meals. This fried Okra recipe is so simple you can breeze through it and be guaranteed of delicious result.
A good Bhindi sabzi begins with selecting good fresh Bhindis. Unless you are absolutely sure that the grocer stocks the best quality, which is not very likely, I would suggest take some time for this process since the rest is relatively simple. Check for firmness. Test by holding a Bhindi in your fist upside down and try to snap off the tail using your thumb. If it breaks with a firm snap, toss it in your basket, if it doesn’t, chuck it and move to the next.SIMPLE YELLOW DALThis weekend one of my close friends came over to spend the evening at our place. The highlight of the evening was the Chicken Biryani which she had been lusting after ever since she saw it here. So she self-invited herself and we over-stuffed ourselves over conversations about food! When it comes to food we never know when to stop… eating as well as talking about it. So inevitably the blog came up and she asked me what I plan to put up next… I had not really thought about it, but I vaguely mentioned that I was planning to make Dal the next day after a weekend of heavy food. Her eyes immediately lit up as she exclaimed that it is perfect and started telling me how everyone loves a good Dal. Apparently every-time she takes this simple lentil preparation to office, there is a mad scramble amongst the European colleagues. So that settled it – Dal was going to be up next!
I have never understood this love for Dal, but I must say I can’t go too many days without it either. I always attributed it to Indian eating habits as it is a staple in all Indian homes. Since we eat so much rice, there always has to be some sort of curry to go with it and this is the simplest “go to” dish for all Indian moms. Also it accompanies all vegetarian and non-vegetarian sides perfectly.
Although, Indian restaurants all over the world serve the famous Dal Fry, let me tell you, that is not the Dal most Indians eat on daily basis at home. It is way too heavy, fatty and greasy. We prefer a more simple concoction which is healthy and light on the stomach. I mostly use toor dal, but other types of lentils such as masoor and moong are also good and healthier choices.SOYA AND VEGETABLE CUTLETSWhen I think about vegetarian food, I feel the need to be more creative and try new things with vegetables. This is often so that my daughter also enjoys the food and does not throw tantrums about having to eat vegetables! I prepare Soya chunks from time to time… not too often, but it is a nice change from meat. Usually I prepare it as spicy gravy but this time I thought of trying something new. So I added a few other vegetables – an extra dose of ‘healthiness’ and made some cutlets. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture. It turned out pretty well. I have shared the recipe for beef cutlets before, this is quite similar in method.SPICY CHICKEN MASALAThere is no dearth of chicken recipes out there….the web world is swarming with so many poultry recipes that you can almost hear the clucking of numerous chickens!! And how can it not be, since it is one of the easiest, most delicious, accessible and affordable meats on the market. Not to mention the versatility of chicken, and the fact that you can hardly go wrong with it (unless you have never entered a kitchen before).
It is exactly this versatility of chicken that encourages me to try something different every time. Rarely do I follow the exact same recipe. There are almost always minor or major tweaks to tried and tested recipes, or sometimes my hands lead the way and cook up something completely new.
This is one such recipe that came out of one of the experimentation sessions. The marinated chicken is shallow fried first and then simmered in spicy sauce. As it is fried, I don’t make it very often, but when I do make it, it is guaranteed to vanish pretty soon! So here is another contribution to the web world clucking!SPICY RED FISH CURRYWhy is it that when we are kids we love to spend all our time at our next-door friend’s house? Why do we love the food cooked at their house, rather than the food cooked by our mothers, no matter how good it is?? I was that kid; impervious to my mother’s calls, I would play all day long at my neighbor’s house, eat there and sleep there. Well, as they say, history repeats itself. Now it is the same with my daughter. Hats off to my mother who put up with my tantrums (and all the mothers who go through the same on daily basis).
I remember how much I used to love the fish curry made by my neighboring friend’s mom. Aunty used to make a super spicy red fish curry commonly made in south India. Everytime she would make it, she would surely keep some for me. My mom is a great cook and I still take guidance from her for some Kerala recipes, but we are from north Kerala and typically the fish curry made in this region is with coconut milk… for which I have shared the recipe earlier… However, I have always preferred this red version that aunty used to make. Once I started to cook, I promptly took the recipe from her (which she never shared in the authentic form with anyone). Today I am sharing with you this traditional red fish curry made commonly in south Kerala. You can use any chunky sea fish for this curry. I normally use Pomfret or King Fish.TOFU BHURJEE / SPICY TOFU SCRAMBLEYou know my discovery of tofu is fairly recent and I fell in love with it when I made the Tofu Mattar. Ever since I have been stocking up tofu in my refrigerator and trying to integrate it into different foods. Even tried it in a plain eggless cake and I was thrilled with the results. However since it was my first attempt, and I was not sure of the results, I did not take any pics. But that recipe will come up soon as I am eager myself to bake the eggless tofu cake once again!
This is another very simple, insanely popular recipe where I substituted eggs with tofu. ‘Anda bhurjee’ or spicy egg scramble is a very common dish in India. It is popular for breakfast with chapattis, bread or puris. An absolute hit in college canteens amongst cash strapped students! In some places, hot anda bhurjee is sold with bread at road-side tapirs / kiosks just like vada pav or hot dogs!TOFU MATTAR / TOFU N’ PEAS GRAVYFirstly I would like to wish everyone Ramadan Kareem. Although I am not Muslim, having lived in Dubai for many years now and before this in Kuwait, I can’t help but join in the spirit of the season. So here is wishing everyone a blessed Ramadan!
I have been meaning to put up some authentic Arabic dishes but haven’t gotten around to making any yet. But I will soon… Just like I have been wanting to try cooking with Tofu for a long time… and just never got to it somehow… probably it is the apprehension of trying a completely new ingredient… or just wanting to avoid the situation where you stand in your kitchen with the ingredient in front of you wondering what to do with it.
So anyway, I did buy this ingredient that I’ve heard so much about, but never really cooked with it. I know, I know – I am too late… the Tofu fad caught on years ago…
But it is never too late where food is concerned… atleast for me. Since Tofu doesn’t really have any taste of its own, I figured I will use it in spicy Indian gravy and play safe since it is my first time. Voila! Mattar Paneer… ooppss… Mattar Tofu! Now I love Tofu and I am sure to use it very often.TOMATO AND COCONUT CHUTNEYAs I mentioned in the Potato Sabji post, also made Tomato and Coconut chutney to go with the dosas yesterday. Chutneys have a special place in Indian cuisine. They are our equivalent to the West’s dipping sauces. In different parts of India, a varied mix of ingredients goes into the making of numerous types of chutneys through ingenious permutation and combination. They are normally spicy, sometimes sweet and spicy, and are accompanied with different foods from breakfast to dinner, to add that extra zing to the meal. Although chutneys are popular everywhere in the world nowadays thanks to the bottled stuff you get at supermarkets, these have been adapted and mutated to suit local market tastes, to such an extent, that an Indian grandmother would refuse to even call it chutney.
Chutneys are reminiscent of times when grandmothers used to grind them on mortar and pestle, and made them the truly traditional way. Even as we recreate the same in our electric mixers, they are slowly losing their popularity amongst the younger generation.TUNA WITH VEGETABLESCanned fish is not really popular in India as yet. We Indians love our fresh catch of the day, from market to kitchen, cooked (and often consumed) on that day itself. I was introduced to canned tuna when I came to Dubai. Since, it has been an indispensable part of my pantry – tuna pasta, tuna pizza or a simple tuna sandwich. For me, this is an ideal go to food if you run out of fresh groceries or forget to stock up – canned tuna to the rescue!UNNIYAPPAM/RICE FLOUR FRITTERSWhen we were kids, we didn’t have to make difficult choices of what to snack on from the hundreds of choices available in the market or which cafeteria to visit for a quick bite. We binged on home-made goodies made in bulk and stored in air-tight containers by Mom. One of my all time favorite munchies cum festive food is Unniappams. There must hardly be a Keralite who has not heard of or tasted these delectable little fritters. They are a staple in Malayali households especially during festivals.
Schools in UAE have closed for vacation and my little one is at home. So I made a batch of these for her and her next door friends. They are supposed to be stored for a couple of days, but here they disappear in no time at all.
Unniappams are made from rice flour… typically rice is soaked for a couple of hours, drained and then ground. The flour is then roasted and used for different delicacies. This is long and tedious process…definitely worth it if you are game for it…Or you can just use store bought rice flour. I play it smart and carry sacks of homemade rice flour everytime I go to Kerala!WAFFLESFinally my vacations have started! I have left behind the sweltering heat, humidity, sand storms and a load of daily life stress back in Dubai. I am visiting the cousins in Germany – my most favorite place to go for vacation. I cannot tell you how eagerly I had been waiting for this break, but applying for the visa was a long tedious process riddled with difficulties and conspicuous incompetence displayed by the accredited agency that handles all European visas in Dubai. In some matters I can be a wee bit superstitious and I didn’t want to tell anyone that I am going to Germany until I saw the visa stamped in my passport. After some clashes, several phone calls and visits to the agency, I had almost given up on the visa; and that’s when in memory of my favorite vacation destination, I made waffles.
I was first introduced to waffles in Germany and I instantly fell in love with them. I prefer the German ones that are soft and crispy and not too sweet or dense unlike the Belgian waffles. So as I dreamt about Germany and all the amazing authentic German food, I dished out these waffles, much to my daughters delight, who is as much in love with them as her mother.
However, I guess it worked its magic not only in our mouths but also on the visa process as I got the visa the very next day and now here I am in Dusseldorf.
I will be running crazy in this place visiting new places and stuffing myself silly with all sorts of food. I am not yet sure what the German cousins have planned for us but we will definitely have a packed itinerary. I probably won’t be cooking much, but I will try to write about my favorite foods and places here.WHITE PEAS CURRYSince my mother was my first inspiration, instructor and motivation to cook, I would like to start with one of her simple recipes. Dried white peas dishes are not as common as fresh green ones. Especially because they take time to cook. However on one of those days, where your supply of fresh vegetable and meat has run out and you feel too lazy for grocery shopping, a pack of dried white peas can come to the rescue. These little bean / lentil family members may take some time to cook but they are extremely high in fibre content and other minerals mainly iron. It is highly recommended for people with iron deficiency.