Friday, August 31, 2012

Cherry Cookies....Step by Step




Cherry cookies, buttery cookies filled with cherries....just the other day, while visiting the local bakery I bought some cherries on an impulse without thinking what I will make with it....for just Rs 20/ INR....some 50 gm or so....once I reached home I looked at the cherries and they back at me for I don't know how long....and thus these cherry cookies were born in my oven in my tiny weeny kitchen.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aval Vilayichathu ...step by step.



Aval or Rice flakes  vilayichathu is a simple teatime snack....a jaggery - coconut coated snack. Aval known as poha, is beaten, dried flakes of rice.

You can use any type of aval like brown rice or white rice....though brown rice aval is a bit thicker than the white rice aval.
Here I used brown rice aval.

This snack can be stored for up to 1 or 2 weeks at room temperature.

Most malayalies mix aval vilayichathu with ripe plantain or "pazham" ....you can even have it on its own.
It is supposed to be healthy with jaggery and coconut....well that's what my grandma (ammachi) used to say during my childhood....so I make this often for my kids...ofcourse they mix it with ripe plantain and have it as an after-school-snack.

Do check out aval nanachathu, a similar version of this snack which can be made instantly.

Ingredients:
Aval (brown or white rice): 1 kg.
Jaggery: 1/2 kg.
Water: 1/2 to 1 cup.
Cardomon: 4 or 5.
Roasted Jeera powder: 1/2 tsp.
Dry ginger powder: 1/4 tsp.
Coconut: 1 whole coconut scraped.
Fresh coconut oil: 1 tbsp.(or you can use ghee).

Method:
Since I make this and store I used 1 kg aval.....you can reduce the quantity by half.

Put the aval in a heavy bottomed kadai and dry fry it on low flame. The aval will shrink and become stiff...and when you take a handful it should crumble. Remove this on to a newspaper or another pan.

In another pan heat water and add jaggery (if your jaggery is not clean you have to strain it once it is melted, since the one I used here was clean I did not seive it). After the jaggery is melted allow it to simmer for sometime till you get a 1 string consistency (thread like).

Then add the scraped fresh coconut.

Mix well and allow it to simmer for another 3 or 4 minutes so that the moisture in the fresh coconut will be absorbed.



Add the roasted aval into this.

Mix well. Lastly temper coconut oil or ghee add cardamons and drizzle on the aval. Sprinkle jeera powder and dry ginger powder and again mix well. When it is completely cooled, store in a jar.

Serve with ripened plantains.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Onam!!


I had a brief visit to Kottayam this weekend and saw this "pukalam" or floral carpet at Kottayam Railway Station. Thought I will share this wonderful floral carpet.
Wishing all my friends and readers A Happy Onam.



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Friday, August 24, 2012

Chemmen Achar/Kerala Prawns Pickle.




I make cheemen (prawns) pickle often because my son just loves it.
He loves to take it school and "share" with his friends and I end up making 2 batches a week.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chana-Palak (chickpeas-spinach) Biriyani...Kids Special.



Yesterday night I made palak rice again and I added a cup of boiled chana (chickpeas) to it before adding the rice. Believe me...it was awesome.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pressure Cooker Semiya Payasam- Onam Special




Today is "Atham", people start Onam festivities by putting pookalam or floral carpet in front of their homes to welcome Mahabali.

I am sharing pressure cooker semiya payasam (kheer) for my friends today. Amma used to make this payasam since my childhood. This is entirely cooked in a pressure cooker and not with condensed milk, though the taste of the payasam makes you wonder if there is condensed milk in it.


This payasam have the same taste of ambalapuzha paal payasam or that's what those who taste this states. Since milk and sugar is pressure cooked for 30 min and opened after another 30 min, the milk will turn light pinkish in colour and slightly thicker.

I used homogenized milk and added only a teaspoon of ghee to lightly fry the cashewnuts and raisins. If you are using plain vermicili do not forget to fry them in a tsp of ghee, I used roasted vermicili.

From my experience, it is always better to use a bigger pressure cooker otherwise once the pressure builds up there is a chance of milk to be leaked out . I used 7.5 litre cooker also, I simmered close to about 40 minutes though a minimum of  30 minutes is a must.

It is also important to wait near the cooker while the steam builds up and when the whistle is about to go, simmer it for 30-40 minutes.

Begin onam festivities with this yummy payasam.


 Ingredients:
Milk: 1 1/2 liters.
Sugar: 1 cup.
Roasted vermicili: 1 cup.
Cashewnuts: 2 tbsp.
Raisins: 2 tbsp.
Cardamon: 3.
Ghee: 1 tsp

Method:
Get the ingredients ready.


Put sugar in the pressure cooker (preferably large cooker).


Add milk. Note the colour of milk is white before cooking.


Close the cooker and put the cooker on high flame. Do not go away, wait for the steam to come, immediately put the weight on the stub of the cooker and wait for the whistle. When the whistle is about to go....immediately simmer the fire for about 30-40 min. After 30-40 min switch off the fire and leave the cooker unopened for another 30-40 min.

Open the cooker after 30-40 minutes. You can see the colour of the milk has turned into light pink. Again switch on the fire and simmer it. Crush the cardamon and add to this.

Add 1 cup of roasted or fried vermicili. Simmer for 5 to 10 min or until the vermicili is cooked.

While the vermicili is getting cooked. In a kadai, heat a tsp of ghee and roast the cashew and raisins.


Pour this on to the payasam and serve hot.


Make this payasam for your loved ones and enjoy Onam.

Note: I had posted this paysam two years back minus the step by step pics.


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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Spring Chicken Fry.




Eid Mubarak to all!


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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Chiratta puttu-Step by Step.



Puttu is a traditional and filling breakfast paired with kadala curry. In olden days puttu was made in cut pieces of bamboo shell or in coconut shell. I love making in coconut shell, its ideal for those who do not own a puttu kutti or vessel used to make this ideal breakfast.

If you do not own a puttu kutti please do not deter from making this wonderful dish, I will show you how to use coconut shell to cook puttu without any trouble. All you have to do is poke one of the eye in the coconut shell and use a pressure cooker to steam it. Coconut shell is one of the most eco-friendly utensil, which you can throw away after sometime and get a new one.....



Puttu is made by slowly adding water to ground and roasted rice until it resembles breadcrumbs, then added to the puttu kutti and steamed with layers of coconut.

Puttu is usually served with kadala curry, beef ularthiyathu, chicken ularthiyathu, meen curry, fish pickle, cherupayar thoran, pappad....the list is endless.....you can even have it with a drizzle of honey or mix with ripe plantains or steamed bananas....

Other than rice flour you can also use wheat flour, ragi flour, oats etc.


So lets get cooking!

You will need about 1 cup of puttu podiPlease visit my older post to make puttu podi.

First, take an empty coconut shell, the part which has eyes, scrape off the inside remains with a spoon, rise in water. There are three eyes in the coconut, poke the flimsy eye with your finger or with a spoon.


Select shells which has the flimsy eye in the center..


Add a tablespoon of freshly grated coconut scrapings.


Top it with puttu podi (rub water into rice flower mixed with salt till it resembles breadcrumbs) and again sprinkle some coconut scrapings.


Pour little water into a 3 litre pressure cooker and do not put the weight, when steam comes, put the poked eye of the chiratta (coconut shell) on top of the cooker stub. Simmer the fire. Close with a small lid. It takes somewhere between 2 to 3 min once the steam comes.


See the puttu is getting cooked or rather steamed.


With a towel carefully take the hot chiratta and invert it into a plate.

That's it...rustic chiratta puttu is ready.

Just incase you are looking for ready-made puttu flour, try Eastern Puttu Podi and want to own a puttu mould....do check out the links.

Pottu and Kadala Curry.                                                             Bananna Puttu.
                                                                                                   
                                           
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Matka Biriyani-Fish----step by step.



Biriyani, baked in a sealed matka or earthen handi/pot/vessel and opened at the table.....subtle earthy flavor....the spices....the basmati rice.....this is my idea of serving biriyani.

Before writing this post I just goggled "matka biriyani" and could not find any post on this...really! just restaurants which serve this!

Low heating the layered biriyani is called dum biriyani. For heating, I use my oven and the matka which I use is a small earthen handi.

Though this is a lengthy post, making this is easy, you can always make the korma a day before and refrigerate it and then make the rice and layer the biriyani OR you can layer the  biriyani and keep when its time for serving, pop in the oven for 20 min and serve hot!

Biriyani is Nidhi's favorite so it has become a part of weekend cooking....as a rule I prefer to cut down oil when I am cooking for my family. So this biriyani is made with very less oil and ghee. Also I have not garnished with fried onions and fried dry fruits to cut down the oil. Of course when I make for an occassion or when someone is called over I will forgo this rule....but if it is just for family I maintain it. So guys when you are making it you can add ghee/fried dried fruits/caramelized onions etc in each layer and on top.....I just try to make it as healthy as I can.

Though I like to cook biriyani or pulav  in the pressure cooker....sometimes I love to bake in a Matka.


I make fish, chicken, and vegetable biriyani the same way and have taken photos and will update that.

In case you do not have an earthen pot/vessel (you can get it from roadside venders, which is so common in India), you have no other option other than using a steel vessel minus the earthy flavor.

I first make the korma or gravy, then layer boiled rice with the gravy in the matka.
Good quality aged basmati rice is a must for biriyani.
For fish biriyani I do not use garam masala powder, but use whole spices.
This is also called Dum Biriyani.

Let's get cooking!
Note: If you have saffron use 1 tsp in 1/4 cup of warm milk and sprinkle it in between the layers and on top. I use Kashmiri Red Chilly powder which has less heat and nice rich red color.

Ingredients:
Fish: 1/2 kg (use seer fish, butter (moda) fish, promfret etc).
Rice: 1/2 kg.
Onions: 2, sliced.
Tomatoes: 3, chopped.
Cinnamon: 1 stick.
Cloves: 5 or 6.
Star anise: 1.
Mace: 1/2.
Cardomon: 5 or 6.
Red Chilly powder: 1/2 tsp.
Coriander powder: 1/2 tsp.
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp.
Oil to make the korma and for frying the fish or you can use ghee to make the korma.
Salt as needed.

For Marination:
Chilly powder: 1 tsp.
Turmeric powder: A fat pinch.
Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp.
Salt: 1/2 tsp.

To Grind
Coriander leaves: A handful.
Mint leaves: 2 sprigs.
Ginger: 1 inch.
Garlic: 1 pod.
Green chilies: 3 or 4 (according to your tolerance level).

For Cashew Paste:
Chopped cashew nuts: 2 tbsp.
Scraped coconut: 2 tbsp.
khus khus: 1/2 tsp.
Kismis or dried grapes: 2 tbsp.
Soak all except coconut in water and grind to a coarse paste.

To garnish: (optional)
In ghee fry 3 tbsp of cashew-nuts and raisins and keep aside.
Fry in the same oil one sliced onion and keep aside.

To Cook Rice.
Take a pot and fill 3/4 water, add spices; 3 cardamon, 1 bay leaf, 1 stick cinnamon, 6 cloves, 1 star anise, half mace. While it is boiling, wash and clean the rice and put it on a sieve to drain. When the water is boiling add the rice and salt. When the rice is 3/4 cooked drain the water. Mix 1 tbsp of ghee (or more if you prefer)  and juice of 1 lime and keep aside.
You can also spread the rice on a thali or flat plate and sprinkle ghee and lemon juice, but I find it easier to mix in the pot itself....careful while mixing, you should not break the rice.



Method:
Marinate the fish with 1 tsp red chilly powder, a fat pinch turmeric, 1/2 tsp pepper powder. Keep aside for 10 min.


Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry the fish. This is just to lock the juices of the fish, so no need to fry for long.


Keep aside the lightly fried fish.

In another pan heat 2 tbsp oil and put in all the spices.....I love the aromatic flavor!

Add the sliced onion. Add salt  Allow it to lightly brown on low flame.

Meanwhile grind the coriander leaves, mint leaves, green chilies, ginger and garlic to a coarse.

The onion is just beginning to brown.

Add the coriander paste to it.

Add 1/2 tsp red chilly powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder. Mix well.


Add in the chopped tomatoes.


And a teeny bit of water to incorporate the tomatoes and saute till oil comes out.

Add the cashew coconut paste. Mix well and simmer for a min or two.

Add fried fish, but be careful so that the fish does not get broken....the korma is ready.

Grease the matka pot with a little bit of ghee or oil.

Put in a ladle full of the korma. Sprinkle coriander leaves. Drizzle a bit of ghee, sprinkle fried onion, nuts etc (optional, I did not use here).

Add another ladle-full of cooked rice....again sprinkle coriander leaves, ghee, dried fruits (if you are using).

Again put the fish korma on top.

Finally the rice should come on top. Garnish with a drizzle of ghee, fried dried fruits and onions or simply sprinkle coriander leaves. I covered the matka with aluminum foil, you can also make a dough with flour and cover with it....

Put it in a preheated oven for 20 min.

Remove the foil and enjoy the aromatic flavors.

Serve with raita and papad......


# I used both matka pot and steel incase you do not have access to matka, you can opt for steel but minus the earthy flavor.

Sharing with Full Plate Thursday.


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