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Kerala Style Sardine Curry (Mathi Curry) Recipe

25 Apr

sardine currySardines are one of the cheapest and healthiest fishes available in India. They contain plenty of unsaturated fat, Omega-3 fatty acids and minerals and hence extremely good for your health when consumed in steamed or curried form and not as fried fish – although fried ones taste exceptionally good. In the state of Kerala, the fish curry made out of Sardines (Mathi or Chaala in the native language) is probably the most common lunch dish among non-vegetarians that comprise of some 90% of the Kerala population.

Fish curry in Kerala style comes in three or four close variants and they are fairly easy to make. The secret to making lip-smacking fish curry lies in the quality of ingredients used – primarily the coconut and the fish itself that has to be fresh and cleaned really very well (Read: Not like how your vendor does it).

Let us now head over and see how my variant of Sardine curry recipe looks like.

Ingredients

  1. Indian Sardines (aka Indian Oil Sardines) – 1Kg, cleaned & cut into 2-3 pieces
  2. Mustard Seeds (big) – One pinch
  3. Shallots – 1 cup, finely chopped
  4. Ginger – 1/2 inch, sliced lengthwise into 3-4 pieces
  5. Garlic – 4 to 5 cloves, sliced lengthwise
  6. Green Chillies – 2, split (once lengthwise)
  7. Curry Leaves – 10-12 leaves
  8. Salt – 1 teaspoon
  9. Cambodge (Kokam) – 3-4 pieces (Soaked in water for 15 mins)
  10. Coconut Oil – 2 tablespoons
  11. Kashmiri Chilli Powder – 1 teaspoon
  12. Regular Chilli Powder – ½ teaspoon
  13. Coriander Powder – 1 teaspoon
  14. Turmeric Powder – ½ teaspoon
  15. Fenugreek Powder – One pinch
  16. Fresh Coconut – ½ portion, scraped

Note: Ingredients from 11 to 15 can be replaced with 3-4 teaspoons of Eastern or Nirapara brand of Fish masala powder. I personally use the Eastern brand

For decoration & seasoning:
– Curry leaves – 1 string
– Shallots – 2, vertically sliced to make thin separable rings
– Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon

Preparation

Grind ingredients 11 to 16 (Kashmiri chilli powder to coconut) into a fine paste after adding adequate water.

Heat a seasoned earthen pot (or non-stick pan) and add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil to it. When the oil is really hot, add mustard seeds and wait till they crackle.

Add chopped shallots to it and sauté it in high flame till it turns light brown and soft. Add ginger-garlic slices, green chillies and curry leaves and stir fry for about 30 seconds.

Add the ground paste to it, about 1½ cups of water and soaked cambodge (along with the water used for soaking), salt and mix very well.

Add fish pieces and make sure that they are immersed well in the masala. Cook in high heat till it starts boiling and cook in medium flame further for about 8-10 minutes occasionally (every two minutes or so) shaking the content by holding the edges of the earthen pot rather than using a ladle to stir.

Turn of the flame and add the string of curry leaves on top to garnish.

For seasoning, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in the seasoning tawa and add the shallot rings to it. Stir fry till they are dark golden brown and add it along with the oil to the fish curry.

Serving Suggestion

Mathi Curry can be served hot with steamed white rice or boiled red rice while another popular combination is Kappa (Steamed Kasava or Tapioca) which is one of the staple foods in Kerala.

Bonus Tips:
Sardines need to be cleaned really well even after your fish vendor has done a decent job. It has to be without any stain or blackspots on the inside part and no scales whatsoever outside. Rub them and wash well with crystal salt for extra cleaning.

Coconut used should be really fresh, slightly sweet and full of milk and that makes all the difference.

Instant Cut Mango Pickle (Kerala Style) – Recipe

23 Mar

I have prepared this type of cut mango pickle numerous times in the past but got the chance to post the recipe only today – thanks to some pictures clicked during the process. So, without much blabber, let’s get into the act.
cut mango pickle - kerala style

Ingredients

Raw mangoes – 2 medium sized
Green chillies – 10, sliced diagonally into 3 or 4 pieces
Curry leaves – 4 to 5 twigs
Garlic (optional) – 8 to 10 cloves sliced lengthwise
Gingelly oil (Sesame oil) – 2 tablespoon
Red chilli powder – 1 teasooon
Kashmiri chilli powder (Paprika) – 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
Big mustrard seeds – ½ teaspoon
Vinegar – 2 tablespoon
Fenugreek powder – 1 teaspoon (1 tsp seeds fresh toasted and powdered)
Asafoetida powder – ½ teaspoon (solid asafoetida toasted and powdered)
Salt – 1.5 teaspoon, or as per the tartness of the mangoes

Preparation

Clean mangoes well, wipe it with a cloth and let it dry for a few minutes. Cut them into small pieces (ideally ¾ cm cubes) with the skin on. This recipe of instant Kerala mango pickle (nadan manga acchar) needs very good raw mangoes with thick skin.

In a pan, heat 2 tablespoon of gingelly oil. When the oil is really hot, add mustard seeds and let them crackle for a few seconds. Add curry leaves, garlic, sliced green chillies (beware, never add whole green chillies to heated oil as they may explode and splash hot oil) and stir fry it for about 30 seconds. Lower the heat and add chilli powder, Kashmiri chilli powder and turmeric, salt and stir well for another 30 seconds. Turn off the stove and add vinegar when the pan is still hot. This helps in vaporizing some water content in the vinegar.

After five minutes and when the pan is still warm, add mango pieces and mix it all together very well. Yes, in this variety of pickle, we don’t cook the mangoes but it’s consumed rather raw. Sprinkle asafoetida and fenugreek powder and mix again. The mango pickle is almost ready!

In about an hour, this hot mouthwatering mango pickle can be transferred to an airtight bottle. You can start consuming this instantly though it tastes better after a couple of days. If garlic is used, it tastes good typically in a week or so.

By the way, while salt and gingelly oil are good preservatives, whatever little moisture the ingredients hold is good enough to spoil the pickle in a few days. Hence, if you can’t consume it within 4-5 days, you may have to refrigerate it.

Postscript: Gingely oil, Fenugreek powder and Asafoetida are the three most important ingredients that make irresistible South Indian pickle! Hence, never miss any of these ingredients nor pick any substitute oil.

In Pictures

cut mangoes

curry leaves, chillies and garlic

chilli powder, turmeric powder, fenugreek powder, asafoetida

gingelly oil

mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chillies and garlic

chilli powder and turmeric powder added

add mango pieces and mix well

cut mango pickle - almost ready

Kerala style cut mango pickle

(This picture is shot by Aditya Edassery. He wanted all that decoration around the pickle bottle)

cut mango pickle recipe

Papaya Halwa Recipe (Indian Dessert)

7 Jan

Last Sunday – having completed all my blogging tasks for the week – I was wondering what to do for the rest of the afternoon. Since we were already heavily loaded with healthy salads and fish based lunch, preparing some dessert sounded like a good idea. However, all that was left in the fruit basket was a lonely semi-ripe papaya which is something I hate a lot because back home in Kerala we had them aplenty and was part of daily menu in various forms.

Anyhow, I decided to experiment with Papaya to make some dessert. The initial, idea was to eat it as raw fruit but then I just remembered seeing something on the TV long ago. Hence without following any specific recipe, I started off with my Papaya Halwa preparation which finally turn me into a papaya lover.

Papaya Halwa Recipe

Here’s my variant the basic papaya halwa without milk or milk powder.

Ingredients

Semi-ripe Papaya – 1, weighing around 1 Kg

Sugar – 150 grams – You may add more based on your tastebuds

Pure ghee – 3 to 4 tablespoons.
(I used homemade ghee that our maid had prepared a while ago from leftover milk-skin)

Almonds – 20 to 30

Cardamom powder – Quarter teaspoon

Cloves – 3 or 4

I didn’t use cashew nuts which is one of the main ingredients in many Indian halwas mainly because I prefer almonds to that fatty nut. Further no milk, milk powder or condensed milk was used either in this recipe.

Method of preparation

I didn’t manage to shoot a video or use my DSLR, because I didn’t quite know final outcome could be. However, I managed to click some mobile pics and let me add them here – not that they cover all stages of cooking.

papaya fruit

1. Remove the papaya skin and seeds and chop it into small pieces. You may want to keep wiping the burning papaya milk during the peeling process – That’s what I hate the most about papayas.

2. Heat Ghee in a non-stick pan and add the papaya pieces. Keep stirring in medium flame for about 12-15 minutes. By now, the papaya would have started softening and you can mash it into a nice thick paste while on the stove.

Papaya mashed

3. Leave it for a longer time say for another five to ten minutes on low flame if it’s still watery or juicy. You can add the cloves at this point and stir occasionally.

4. Add 100 to 150 grams of sugar and stir well again for a couple of minutes. You can go for reduced sugar levels based on your taste and how sweet the papaya is. I, for one, like to have very less sugar in my halwa.

Sugar

5. Add cardamom powder and crushed almonds once you see Ghee formation around the halwa. This is when the halwa clearly move around the pan swiftly as a single ball. That’s when you know that it’s ready!

cardamom and almonds

Tip: Just in case you feel that your halwa’s consistency is going to be thin, you may sprinkle a spoon of fine rice floor during step 4. It’s not a crime to do so and the rice flour is a healthier option than Maida or corn flour.

Another tip: Once it’s done and the pan is still very hot, you may tilt the pan and remove excess ghee from it right away using a teaspoon. I managed remove half of the ghee that I added in this fashion because I just hate oil dripping halwas and similar desserts.

papaya halwa

That’s my papaya halwa recipe which is rather lean compared to majority of halwa varieties because we didn’t add a lot of sugar, milk or other fatty stuff. It tastes fantastic and doesn’t taste as boring as raw papaya.

I am a Papaya lover again!

How to make Kerala Porotta? (Video Recipe)

11 Sep

I had some tough luck with my previous attempts of mastering the art of making Kerala Porotta’s at home. But not any longer! This time the experience was better and my porottas turned out to be really good and delicious. (Well, it could be still better…)

So here’s how you go about making Kerala Porottas or Malabar Porottas (Alternatively you could directly jump into our Kerala Porotta making Video)

kerala porotta

Ingredients (to make 8-12 porottas)

Maida (All purpose flour): 500gms

Salt: ½ to ¾ tsp

Sunflower oil or your favorite Vegetable oil: About 100ml

Egg: 1 (Beaten)

Baking soda: ½ tsp (if you like more leavening, I avoid this)

Warm water: As required

Some people like with a tinge of sweetness and in that case you may add a teaspoon of sugar as well. I personally do not do this

Method of Preparation

The complete step-by-step instruction to make Kerala Porotta is available in the following video that I recorded recently.

However, if you want a written recipe, here is how you go about making Kerala Porottas.

Step 1: Take half a kilo maida in a wide mouth bowl and make a well in the centre. Add half (or as per taste) a teaspoon salt, about three tablespoons of oil, one beaten egg to this and mix well. Add warm water and mix thoroughly and evenly for about 4-5 minutes to make a soft and rubbery ball of dough. You may keep adding more water and oil during this process.

Step 2: Apply some oil on this dough ball and keep it covered with a wet cotton cloth for about 60 minutes.

Step 3: After an hour, split the big ball of maida dough into smaller sized (about the size of a very small orange) dough balls and keep them aside. Half a kilo of maida will usually make about 10 such dough balls. Apply some more oil on them and keep them covered with the wet cloth again for about 10 minutes.

Step 4: Now for the difficult part. Take each of these dough balls, flatten on your clean kitchen counter and lift and beat them on the counter as demonstrated in the video. You have to lift (not so high) the flat dough with your left hand, beat on the counter while supporting from the top with the right hand. Do this till the dough becomes a flat long dough mat. This process needs some expertise, in fact, I am still mastering it. If you can’t get it completely flat and thin, help with your hand to spread it further.

(The above process is what earned Kerala porotta the name ‘Veeshu porotta’ because it’s just like you are using a paper fan)

Step 5: Now, lift from one of the broader sides of this dough towel and fold it towards the other side to make pleats (refer to the video) to make a long pleated length of dough. Further, this length has to be coiled into a dough spiral and tuck in the the other end nicely down. That’s it and we have to repeat (Step 4 and what we just did for all other dough balls)

Step 6: Now, it’s time to toast the porottas. Heat a tawa or skillet and pour about one teaspoon of oil in it. Reduce the flame into medium to low. Flatten the dough spirals on the counter with bare hands to make it to a 5-6” diameter porotta. Place this in the tawa and you have to toast it for about 3-4 minutes occasionally (every 30 seconds) flipping it. It’s better to use a large tawa that can accommodate 4-5 porottas.

Step 7: The last step is the fluffing up process. When 4-5 porottas are ready from the tawa (and when they are still hot), stack them up on the counter and tap them firmly using your palms from the sides (refer to video). This fluffs up the porotta layers making them soft and nice. And that’s what make them quite unique from other types of rotis or parothas in India.

That is it! Delicious Kerala porottas are ready!!

Kerala Porottas are best enjoyed with protein rich spicy curries such as Kerala style beef curry (non beef eaters, please excuse), Chicken or Mutton curry, Egg masala or even Green peas masala. One of the hot favorites in Kerala road side shops (thattukadas) is beef fry or beef chilli with Kerala porottas.

Health tips

Kerala porotta is not exactly a good habitual food, health-wise. Since it is made of white flour and drinks a lot of oil, it’s bad on your intestines. White flour tend to increase your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels as well. I recommend that you eat a lot of onion salad (Sliced onions rubbed with salt and vinegar) along with porottas and beef to help with your health. Also, make it a habit to drink a lot of hot water after eating porottas to help with the digestion process and ease stickiness.

Please note that your favorite roadside shops may be using Dalda (Vanaspati or Margarine) for making Kerala porottas. Though this is tastier, it’s extremely harmful for health

…and let me know how your Kerala porotta making experiment turned out to be.

Make Your Own Orange Liqueur At Home – Recipe

29 Jun

To make those perfect Margaritas you need very good quality Orange Liqueurs such as Cointreau. Unfortunately, a bottle of Cointreau costs around Rs.3000/- in India which is really atrocious. During our last outing with friends, we had some amazing stock of Tequila but no Cointreau ( and the outcome was cocktails with fruit juices alone that spoiled good grade Tequila)

That’s when I decided to make my own Orange liqueur at home. I found a lot of recipes for homemade orange liqueur or triple sec and after a couple of trials with them, this Indianised version was derived.

Orange Liqueur Recipe

Here’s how you make orange liqueur at home for less than Rs. 300/- for a bottle.

What you need?

  1. A glass jar with a tight lid (I got the one in picture for just Rs.70/- from SPAR)
  2. Two or three Navel Oranges
  3. Cloves – 2
  4. A quarter bottle of Vodka (Smirnoff) – 180ml
  5. A quarter bottle of Brandy (Mansion House works well) – 180ml
  6. Sugar – 1½ cups
  7. Water – 1¼ cup (300ml)

Preparation

Warning: The whole process takes very less effort but the wait is about 24 days. But I got to tell you that the stuff is worth the wait.

Day 1

navel oranges
Wash the oranges very well in lukewarm water (rub well while doing so) to de-wax them. If you are abroad you can use veggie wash. It is very important to wash oranges thoroughly since you are going to use the zest of oranges in this recipe. Wipe them thoroughly with a clean towel and let the remaining moisture dry off naturally for the next 20 or 30 minutes.

Orange zesting

Next, you have to remove the zest from the orange by using a vegetable peeler, zester or grater. I used a vegetable peeler though I had a zester. Basically, you need to take care of NOT including the white part of the peel which may make the liqueur very bitter at the end.

orange zest

Next throw the zest into the clean (and dry) glass jar and pour the vodka into it followed by the brandy. Close the jar tight and shake lightly so that the zest is all immersed well in the spirit.

(By the way, I used Romanov brand of cheap Vodka this time though Smirnoff is better. You don’t need to go for other expensive brands as the orange zest will anyhow change the spirit’s taste)

Orange zest in glass jar

orange zest in vodka

For the next three weeks you have to store it in a dark place taking it every other day and gently shaking to help the orange zest flavor mix in the spirit well.

Brandy, Vodka, Orange Zest

After 3 weeks (22nd day)

Add a couple of cloves into the jar and keep it back in the dark place for another day.

cloves

23rd day

Filter the jar content well and pour it into an empty spirit bottle (e.g. An empty brandy or whiskey full bottle but NOT washed). The best way to filter is to first filter it via a clean and dry strainer and further via a coffee filter paper. If you don’t get (i.e. Indian context), you may even use a couple of tea bags (with tea emptied) and placed in the strainer to filter the content very well without any remains of zest whatsoever.

sugar

Next, we have to make sugar syrup. In a clean pan pour water and add the sugar. Bring it to a boil while stirring occasionally. Let it boil for about 3-4 minutes and then allow it to cool naturally.

make sugar syrup

Using a funnel add this syrup into the spirit bottle, close the bottle and shake well.

Sugar syrup and orange zest extract in spirit mixed

Your Orange Liqueur is almost ready. You have to let it rest for a day before you can use it. This liqueur has a shelf life of at least three to four months and you don’t need to refrigerate it (As per many recipe sites. By the way, I am yet to verify the shelf life)

Our orange liqueur

The color of the liqueur will be golden orange provided you use clear sugar (brands such as Parry’s).

Day 24

Let’s party! This liqueur prepared at home is extremely good to mix the classic 3-2-1 Margarita. The alcohol strength will be around 25% and 600 ml liqueur prepared using this recipe should be good enough for mixing around 20 Margaritas. Not bad huh? I in fact, mixed a good one tonight with a cheap brand Tequila, still it was heavenly.

Cheers! And let me know how your experiment went. In fact, it is very very easy to make this orange liqueur at home though my explanation probably made it sound like rocket science. By the way, there are other easier recipes as well.