Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mum's Special Coconut Milk Pidi

At times i feel the best moments in my life begin and end in a cup of coffee. that sounds like the beginning of a mumbo-jumbo. so let me snip it off right here. over to this wonderful...hmm..tea time delicacy (as it is in Kerala). but i would prefer it as a breakfast dessert; not the cold dessert but the hot one. why a breakfast dessert...i don't know. maybe as most of our traditional breakfast is rice/rice powder-based. if you have the coconut milk ready nothing can be simpler than this. and it looks so...naive and adorable when you finally get it into a bowl. it tastes wonderful only for those who like coconut milk-based dishes. and i'm yet to see someone who doesn't.

rice powder-1 cup + 1 tsp
salt-1/2 tsp
boiled water-3/4 cup (close to)
ghee-1 tbsp
grated coconut-11/2 cup (to extract the milk)
first milk of the coconut (thala pal)-1 cup
second milk-11/2 cup
sugar-1/4 cup
cardamom powder to flavour-1/2 tsp

Boil the water and add the boiling water to the rice powder. add the salt and the ghee and knead softly to make a smooth dough. make tiny balls with it (comes to around 40 balls). you can either steam the balls by way of cooking it or drop the raw balls directly into the second coconut milk and cook them in the milk. if you steam and cook then you can use the first milk alone which reduces the labour of extracting milk (that is if you're not using the readymade coconut milk to begin with). when it is almost cooked add sugar; stir to dissolve and add 1 tsp rice powder to thicken the stuff. add the first milk and a pinch of salt. do not let it boil too much as the taste reduces. after the intial boil switch it off and flavour with adequate cardamom powder. serve hot or otherwise.

You can buy readymade rice powder which is fried and stored for use. same goes for coconut milk. readymades are available and pretty good ones but for this i suggest you extract the milk by...well, breaking the coconut, grating and then extracting the milk...too cumbersome? OK then go for the readymade one and use on discretion :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baji Chilli Vindaloo

The dish is a great accompaniment to biriyani along with the raita. i guess the recipe works out fine with brinjals too though i haven't tried it. my mum made it. otherwise i would have had to make the vindaloo the previous day. the whole combo is a pricey package. when i start my own stall later, later in life, God-willing, the biriyani will come along with a modicum of vindaloo and raita!

baji chilli-1/4 kg
salt and turmeric powder-as reqd
oil-3/4-1 cup (don't frown; read the whole thing)
chopped onions-1/4 kg
ground garlic-1 tbsp

mustard seeds-1 tsp
red chilli powder-1 tbsp
cumin (jeera)-2 tsp
fenugreek seeds (methi)-1 tsp (grind this combo)

chopped tomato-2 big
ground ginger-1 tbsp
sugar-1 tsp
vinegar-1 tbsp

Cut the baji chilli lengthwise or slit the tips and marinate in salt and turmeric powder for fifteen min. fry this in oil and keep aside. brown the onion in this oil nicely and keep aside. fry the ground garlic in the same oil followed by the ground mustard-chilli powder-cumin-methi. fry well. add the tomato and ground ginger and fry really well till the oil separates. add the already fried onion to it together with adequate water and salt. when this boils add the fried chilli, sugar and vinegar. stir and remove from fire.

This is a spicy (not too spicy) dish. If you have doubts about the baji chilli you can de-seed them and reduce the red chilli powder. it goes well with roti, plain rice and pulao.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quick (Beef) Biriyani

The biriyani goes out for my sis and lybucha who're one of the most spontaneous biriyani-lovers i've come across. and GC, you too, for embracing Islam. i too love it; one of the few food that you want to go on eating but cannot coz you sadly recognise you're full...way too full for a morsel more. the only problem i've encountered with my biriyani is that it's too heavy and then i start burping...and burp my way to the following day. well, the only solution i've found is to use oil and not ghee. it does wonders...just like the salted-and-dried-fish-stink-(or-fragrance)-is-neutralised-by-brewing-coffee wonder. and let me tell you this is the easiest and the best biriyani recipe i've come across. on second thoughts it's my friend priya who makes the best biriyani and i still haven't been able to pinch her recipe!!

beef or chicken or mutton-1/2 kg
basmati rice-2 cups
tomato-1-11/2 cup finely chopped
onion (sliced lengthwise)-2 cups
water-4 cups(including the stock)
green chillies-3-4 (slit lengthwise)
garlic-2 pods (don't make it any less)
ginger-2 1" pieces
cinnamon-6 pieces or bits
all-spice leaves (dried)-1-2 (absolutely optional; taste doesn't suffer by its absence)
coriander leaves-1 bunch
mint leaves-1/2 bunch
oil or ghee-1/4-1/3 cup
vinegar-11/4 tbsp
chicken masala (any brand)-1 tsp
pepper powder-1/2 tsp
garam masala-1 tsp
cinnamon powder-1/4-1/2 tsp
turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
biriyani essence (optional)-1/2 tsp
salt to taste

Soak rice in water for 30 min. then strain it and keep. boil meat with salt and vinegar (20 min on sim after the first whistle on full flame for beef; 15 min on sim after the first whistle on full flame for mutton; 1 whistle on full flame for chicken). add the ghee or oil in the pressure cooker and splutter the spices in the oil. then add the onions, green chillies and turmeric powder. fry it well. add the ground garlic and ginger paste. fry again for sometime and then add the tomato. fry it well. add the masala powders and the all-spice leaves if you're using them. fry for some time. drop the meat pieces in it. fry again for a while. pour 2-3 cups (max 31/4 cups) water including the meat stock and when the water boils add the coriander and mint leaves and rice. add the essence and the required salt. close the cooker and keep on full flame. turn it off after the first whistle and let it release the pressure naturally. garnish with fried onions, cashew nuts, raisins and dribble some ghee on it. serve with onion-tomato raita, pickle and papad. follow the steps exactly; don't be complacent and do it your way. it makes a difference.

When you add salt make sure you add the adequate final amount into the cooker before closing it. taste the water to make sure. it's OK if you feel the water is a little too salty. it'll be fine when it is absorbed by the rice.

I noticed something funny which can be the contribution of the rice. when i used four cups of rice i used including the meat stock 71/2 cups of water. i made chicken biriyani today with five cups of rice and found 9 perfect. i guess the various types of basmati rice has an effect in this.

Making a biriyani may sound cumbersome. so do it in steps. fry the masala and the meat and keep. and an hour or two before the meal time do the rice part. beef needs an extra bit of vinegar and tomato. for chicken and mutton the tomato can be one cup and the vinegar 1 tbsp. this biriyani doesn't have the boiled eggs that some people relish. that goes for dum biriyani recipe. but you can always boils two eggs and after you tranfer the pressure cooker content to a dish, bury the eggs and pile the matter, keep it closed with a lid that the eggs remain in the steam and go in for the garnish finally. i love those eggs. oh i love everything about biriyani and tomorrow i'm making chicken biriyani (thomas loves it too). the one made with ghee is defo tastier but heavier too.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


(Image revamp by Anoop Negi)
Don't they look divine!! and they absolutely are. i wouldn't say it's easy nor too difficult. and it's going to be sure-shot successful the first time you try it. who ever has baked them has been convincingly delighted by it. there you go.

maida-2 cups
eggs-2 (room temp)
butter (softened)-125 gm
baking powder-2 heaped tsp
soda bicarb-1/2 tsp
powdered sugar-7 heaped tbsp
milk-1-1 1/4 cup
vanilla essence-1 tsp
salt-one pinch

Sieve the maida, baking powder and soda bicarb twice and keep aside. beat the butter and powdered sugar till frothy. add the eggs one by one and beat again. add half the maida mix gradually to this and mix well without lumps. add the milk gradually and the remaining flour along with the vanilla essence. mix well and bake it. once the cake is ready and a little cooled and off the cake tin cut them into reasonably big and fat square pieces.

Chocolate icing

cocoa-3 heaped tbsp
icing sugar-2 1/2 cups
vanilla essence-1/2 tsp
cherry-15 nos
dessicated coconut-2 cups
water-1/2 cup
butter-1 1/2 tbsp

Mix the cocoa and icing sugar. boil the half cup water. as it boils add the 1 1/2 tbsp butter to it. once the butter melts add the cocoa-icing sugar mix to it along with the 1/2 tsp essence and the resulting mix will be viscous. if it is too thick you can add some more hot water.

Butter icing

butter-50 gm
icing sugar-1/2 cup
(mix both well)

Using a fork dip each sliced piece of cake in the chocolate icing and hold it up to drop the excess icing from each slice. roll the pieces in the dessicated coconut spread on a plate and be done with the cake slices this way.

Cut each piece in the middle lengthwise (but not completely; just quarter way through) and fill the gap with the butter icing and spread some butter icing atop the slice. finally top it with a cherry.

Dessicated coconut: if you don't want to invest in ready made dessicated coconut (considering the inflation, boy!!) grate some coconut; run it in the grinder once and remove the moisture in the microwave.

I did it along with my mum the first time i made them. i didn't use the fork but my hands. use one hand for dipping and the other for rolling or else the white of the coconut gets coloured by the chocolate icing. i made them recently by myself and used the fork. it was a breeze.

Believe me it's not difficult and do not be deterred by the long steps of direction in the entry. bake the cake one day and do the rest the following day. it cannot be simpler then and you feel so proud to have baked something that looks so professional without being one!!

Aside: i didn't do the butter icing but my fren did and it turned out well. you can actually let go of it if lazy...it will still remain lamington :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Signature BBQ chicken

You should be familiar with times when you DON'T want to follow a recipe meticulously...you feel vaguely confident that it may turn out well and you're not risking your time, effort and money. for our BBQ night i did exactly this. i had the solace: well, it's finally going to be bbqed. our major chunk of it was chicken coz we're familiar with it and not expensive as fish and beef is a no-no in most Indian communities except among Christians. ah i have to note down here that Hindu women don't like their men biting into this meat though most of the men concerned here can die for it. so the whole thing is a little delicate (you know the way women bring in the delicateness) and we completely abstain from beef preparations in a mixed crowd. and the chicken here (3/4 kg; can't remember why 3/4 now) was marinated with

coriander powder and chicken masala-1 tbsp each
brown sugar-1 tbsp
ground ginger-1 tsp
sunflower oil-1 tbsp plus extra for cooking
honey, BBQ sauce, 8 to 8 sauce, pepper, fish fry masala and lemon (all of which was an antaaza; so don't ask me now how much of it)

mix all together in a bowl and lovingly (anyone reminded of the Chicken Soup Series, boy) smear the chicken pieces with it. men...duty calls....relish it when it's still hot.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Herb and Garlic Prawns

I CANNOT get enough of this high-cholesterol beauty!! i can binge on it. i still remember with nostalgia the delicious baked prawns cooked by an elderly lady from Korea. they were so good and it's only the fear of falling sick (coz they're actually dicey) that made me stop myself. i love the prawns biryani my mom makes and the Kerala preparation my mum in law does. my mouth waters coz i've been restricted from prawns intake in this my confinement period.

So when thomas' frens came over to stay in goa with us in the pleasant month of January we decided to have a BBQ night. and let me tell you i don't know what got into me but in my third month of pregnancy i invaded my kitchen in a frenzy. i cooked and cooked and cooked. and i offered to do the major chunk of marination. i was doing prawns for the first time and i followed a recipe with some moderation from a book called Practical Barbecue. it was a huge success and Rana (thomas fren) refused to share it with anyone! i got a bite or two :)

Here goes the recipe.

prawns-350 gm
fresh parsley-1 tbsp
fresh coriander-2 tbsp
lemon juice-4 tbsp
olive oil-2 tbsp
butter-5 tbsp
garlic cloves-2 chopped
any fish fry masala-1-2 tbsp (depending on how spicy you want it)
salt and pepper

Place the prepared prawns in a non-metallic dish with the parsley, coriander, lemon juice, fish fry masala, salt and pepper. leave the prawns to marinate in the herb mixture for at least 30 mins.
Heat the oil and butter with the garlic until the butter melts. stir to mix thoroughly.
With a slotted spoon remove the prawns from the marinade and add them to the pan with butter/garlic. stir the prawns into the garlic butter until well coated and thread them onto the skewers and barbecue (my job was only marination; BBQing was a stag affair :)

Once the kebabs are served onto the plates drizzle over any remaining garlic butter. (Obviously i used a larger quantity as indicated in the photo.) it was out-of-the-world.