Thursday, December 31, 2009

Mushroom Stew and New Beginings

As I was getting ready to prepare this dish I was in for a surprise! I had plucked a sprig of curry leaves from my plant and was ripping of the leaves. I wondered why it was difficult to rip it off this time, since it usually very easily done. On taking a closer look I realised there was a pupa attached to the sprig! Am I glad I didnt stew it! Now I know why my curry leaves were looking eaten off. My little boy has a special nesting box for all the caterpillars and pupa we find on my plants. He was as usual delighted at this find and is waiting eagerly to see it become a butterfly. He takes a look at his box the first thing every morning and if there is a caterpillar checks every 10 minutes to make sure the caterpillar is eating well or done its poop!

As Joel looks forward to see his cocoon metamorphasise into a beautiful butterfly, I look foward to new beginings this new year. I wish all my readers, friends, foodie friends and relatives a year of new beginings. Some of you are newly married, some going to wed, some pregnant with new life within you, some at the begining of a new venture, some anxious about what the year has in store for you, some just waiting to break out from your cocoon. This post comes with special wishes for all the new beginings in your life this year. May this year bring you the fulfillment of the deepest longings of your heart!

For those of you who would like to introduce your kids to the life cycle of a butterfly, I found this cute site, check it out

Mushroom Stew

200 gms button mushrooms
1 onion sliced
5 cloves of garlic chopped
1green chilli
1sprig of curry leaf
1/2tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves
1small stick of cinnamom
2 cardamoms
ground coriander
1tsbs coconut milk
5tbs coconut milk powder(used for gravies)
1tbs wheat flour
1 1/2 cups water
salt to taste
  • Heat the water and add the coconut milk powder and stir well and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan, splutter mustard seeds.
  • Add the whole spices and stir till you get the aroma.
  • Saute onions, green chilli, curry leaves and garlic. Add ground coriander and stir.
  • Add the mushrooms, mix well, cover and cook.
  • Once the mushrooms are cooked add the wheat flour and stir till it is roasted.
  • Add the coconut milk and coconut milk powder mixture, salt and stir well.
  • When all the ingredients are well combined take off the heat.
  • Serve hot with rotis, rice or wholemeal bread.

This green cocoon turned into the most gorgeous Common Mormon Swallowtail! Read all about it in Spinach Burger and the Swallowtail.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fish Cutlets

Fish cutlets is another page from my mom's recipes and a hot favourite in my family through all generations. They are delicious and can be served as starters or snacks or finger foods for babies. They can also be included as part of a school lunch.
They are absolutely unforgettable and have you asking for more.
I have used Indian mackerels, you can use any fleshy fish, preferably with less thorns to save you the trouble.

3 Indian mackerels
1 onion
8-10 cloves of garlic
1 tsp ginger paste
1 potatoes
1 green chilli
1 egg
1/4 tsp ground red chilli
1/2 tsp garam masala
Juice of 1lemon
Fresh coriander chopped fine
Freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste

For Frying-
Bread crumbs/Rice flour

  • Steam/pressure cook the fish. when cool enough to handle, separate the thorns from the flesh and flake.
  • Boil potatoes, when cool enough to handle, peel and mash.
  • Mince garlic, onion and green chilli.
  • Heat oil in a skillet and saute the minced onion, garlic, chilli and ginger paste.
  • Mix all the ingredients together and combine well.

  • Here's what the mixture will look like. Taste and check for spice levels and salt and hint of sourness.
  • Shape into cutlets and roll in breadcrumbs and press firmly.
  • Heat oil in a skillet for frying and fry the cutlets on both sides till crisp.

  •  Serve hot with sauce.
Have you made fish cutlets? How do you serve them? Do share.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Spiced Fish Fry

Though I have been blogging for almost 5 months now, this is my first fish post. All of us in our family are mad about fish and no one has the patience to wait till I take the pictures. Well you wouldnt blame anyone when the fish looks that good and smells even better!

I have used the Indian mackerel or Rastrelliger kanagurta, our family favourite. I was delighted to find eggs in one of them and managed to extract them intact.

fish eggs
3 large Indian mackerels
1/4tsp ground tumeric
1/4tsp ground red chilli
1/4tsp ground coriander
1tsps ginger-garlic paste
juice of 1/2 lemon
freshly ground pepper
salt to taste

For frying

marinated mackerels
  • Wash clean and pat dry the mackerels.
  • Make diagonal slits on each on both sides.
  • Mix all the marinade ingredients except pepper and apply on the fish. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper over the fish on both sides and leave to marinate at least an hour.
  • Roll the fish in semolina and fry crisp in oil on both sides.
  • Serve hot with tartar sauce.
What is your favourite fish that you love to fry? Do share.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Bitter Gourd Flatbread/ Karela Paratha

Bitter gourd is a vegetable that is known for its health benefits. However you need to cultivate a taste to enjoy eating it. Thats easier said than done when it comes to kids who naturally prefer chocolates and candies. Bitter gourd is said to be the best kitchen remedy for stomach worms which children are so prone to.

I have attempted to create this recipe with best efforts to retain its nutrients and yet making it palatable for kids. The use of dill which is sweet in taste adds a natural sweetness and aroma to the stuffing. My son readily enjoyed his paratha. Let me know your inputs.

Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd/Karela

Bitter gourd or bitter melon is an excellent source of vitamin A, B1, B2, B3and C. It also contains minerals like magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorous, copper and manganese, and has high dietary fiber. It is rich in iron, contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and twice the potassium of a banana.
The medicinal properties of bitter gourd are beneficial in ailments like-

  • blood disorders
  • cholera
  • diabetes mellitus
  • poor stamina levels
  • eye problems
  • hangover
  • poor immunity
  • piles
  • psoriasis
  • respiratory disorders
  • stomach worms and
  • toxemia.
For Stuffing-

1/2 cup grated bitter gourd
1/2 onion minced
5 cloves of garlic minced
1 1/2 tbs grated coconut
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 sprigs of fresh dill chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Salt to taste
For roti
1cup wheat flour

water to mix
pinch of salt

For stuffing
  • Heat oil in a skillet, add the minced garlic and onions. Saute.
  • Add the bitter gourd, grated coconut, ground cumin, mix, cover and cook.
  • Add salt and freshly ground pepper and stir.
  • Take off the heat and add chopped fresh dill and stir. Your stuffing is ready.

For paratha
  • Roll out 2 rotis. Spread the stuffing evenly on one roti.
  • Place the other roti over it and press the edges firmly.
  • Heat the girdle and fry both sides.
  • Top with ghee or butter and serve hot.

Sending this for Bitter better health challenge.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chicken Stew For The Soul

I have not been able to blog recently since my little girl was a wee bit ill. As I kept awake at nights to nurse her to health, I couldn't help reflecting - some of my dear friends ask me "how do you manage two kids when I find it difficult with one?" and I wonder how my mom brought up four of us. And my grandmoms with six and seven kids each. Bearing in mind that they didnt have access to the conveniences and gadgets that I most often take for granted.
My mom is undoubtedly the best cook in our family. Her siblings, in-laws, nephews, nieces, children, grandchildren all love to eat anything prepared by her. We have a custom,- after a wedding in the family the newly wed couple gets invited to each extended family for a meal. A way of welcoming, getting to know and bonding with the new member of the family. By the end of all the visits, the couple put on loads of weight, with the best spreads topped with a lot of love! During these visits all the married members into the family have also become fans of mom's cooking at the first bite.
Mom's Chicken Stew is a served with delicious Palappams (which I promise to post soon). Like most traditional cooks, mom's recipes had no measures. Just a little bit of this and a little bit of that... Before I left home I was determined to record her recipes and managed to do so successfully and most importantly I learnt that the main ingredient was lots of love. I hope someday my kids will also join me in the kitchen, like many of my foodie friends are already doing a good job of it.
A big thank you to Kristy from My Little Space for this award. Will pass it on soon.

Sharing with you mom's Chicken Stew For the Soul.

1kg chicken

For marinade-
  • 1tsp ground tumeric
  • 1tsp ground red chilli
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 3tsps ginger garlic paste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

some marinated pieces
Mix all the ingredients and marinate for a couple of hours. For best results marinate previous day, place it in a ziplock and freeze overnight. Defreeze it before you are ready to prepare the stew.

For the stew-
  • 1tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1sprig curry leaves
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1cup coconut milk
  • 1/2tsp garam masala
  • salt to taste
  • fresh coriander
whole spices-
  • 1 cinnamon stick broken
  • 5 cardamoms
  • 5 cloves

  • Slice the onions, slit the chillies, cube the potatoes and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan or pressure cooker, splutter mustard seeds.
  • Add the whole spices and stir till you begin to get the aroma of the spices.
  • Add sliced onions,curry leaves and green chillies and saute.
  • Stir in the ground coriander and add the marinated chicken. Stir so that the chicken is covered well in the sauteed mixture.
  • Cover and let it cook. When it is half done add the cubed potatoes.
  • When the chicken is almost done add the garam masala,salt and coconut milk and stir.
  • When done put off the heat and garnish with chopped fresh coriander.
  • Have I forgotten the most important ingredient? Stir it with lots of love for the family and friends who will partake of the meal.
  • Serve hot chicken stew with freshly made appams.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chayote Sweet/Halwa

Since chayotes are available in our markets the whole year through I felt I should explore more ways of including it in our diet. Having prepared Chayote Thoran I was keen to try a dessert version of this fruit. Halwa refers to many types of dense, sweet confections, across the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, the Balkans, and the Jewish world. In case you are still unfamiliar with chayote and its nutritional benefits click here.
Needless to add, my attempt was quite a hit at home and I was quite happy with the outcome.
Have you tried preparing Halwa? What is your favourite halwa? Do share.

2 chayotes grated
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups milk
4 cardamoms
2tsps ghee/clarified butter
2tsps evaporated milk/khoya
Crushed cashews/almonds

  • Wash and grate the chayotes. Peel and crush the cardamom seeds in a pestle.
  • In a heavy bottomed pan heat 1tsp ghee, add grated chayote and cook for 5 mins.
  • Add milk, sugar (please adjust according to your levels of sweetness) and khoya. Stir and cook for around 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle cardamom powder, raisins, and crushed nuts. Make sure the milk has evaporated.
  • Serve warm or chilled. Enjoy anyways!
You can also check out Semolina/Suji Halwa


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