Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Banana Fritters

Everyone and everything here awaits Christmas now. It gets dark around 5pm and wherever you turn, you see cute little lights and candles, adorning huge and small christmas trees. The shops, malls, houses, railway stations and even my office has got the new Christmas look now. In Germany, Advent is celebrated as a tradition awaiting Christmas. It marks the four weeks before Christmas. Every week, one of the four candles in the advent wreath is lighted until Christmas. You can find more info in It is really fascinating to know such things about the traditions and cultures in the lives of people in different countries.

Now, coming to the post, this is yet another entry for the Blog Hop Wednesdays, an event by Radhika of Tickling Palates. This time, I got the chance to visit Jabeen's Corner. I have been following her space for quite some time now and I really find her space interesting. The way she narrates things sometimes makes me feel as if I'm hearing her in person and the liveliness in her tone is contagious. I'm glad I got a chance to try something from her blog. As always, we (I and my husband) were browsing through her posts and when we saw Banana Fritters, we at once knew - that's it.

Banana Fritters, known as 'Pazham Pori' regionally, is a famous tea-time snack in Keralite households. As I'm writing the post, it brings me some of the unforgettable memories in my life. I very well remember where I first tasted these gorgeous snack. During our final year Engineering studies, we, a group of four friends were staying at one of our Keralite friend's house in Trivandrum, for doing our Project Work. Her mother is a wonderful cook. Inspite of her full time job, she passionately cooked varieties of tasty dishes for us all. Every evening, after we return tired from our day's work, we would find something special and tasty awaiting us in the dining table, along with tea. We used to savour these as hungry birds, chit-chatting and drinking tea. One such evening was when I got to taste these. It was wonderful that even banana can be fried and it tasted really awesome.

After that, it was in my in-laws place where I tasted them again. My husband's native is a town located quite close to the Kerala border in Tamilnadu and strongly influenced by Kerala cuisine. Every often, my mother-in-law would prepare these simple delicacies. It would all vanish within a few minutes, as everyone in family likes them. I, myself, have never prepared these and it's quite been some time sinced we ate them last. Well, now you could imagine my husband's enthu on seeing this in Jabeen's Corner.

I went ahead straight away and prepared these last Sunday. The recipe is so so simple, that there is really no need to repeat it. You can find it here. Just prepare the batter, dip the banana pieces and fry. You'll be surprised at the number of pieces easily going into your mouths within minutes.

  • The banana should be really ripe enough for a good taste. Long yellow coloured variety (Yethampazham) is well suited.
  • I did not use turmeric, as like my mother-in-law's recipe.
  • The amount of sugar can be adjusted according to the sweetness of the banana. It can very well be replaced with honey or maple syrup.
Thanks again Jabeen for the recipe. Happily sharing this with Tickling Palates' Blog Hop Wednesday - Week 10.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Meen Kuzhambu

Hurrayy!! I have spotted the first snow of the year. The sight of fresh snow is always a delight to me. A thin layer of soft white powder is seen over roof tops of houses, on car glasses,  on the pavement, on every single blade of grass and on every single grain of sand. When I tread over the snow covered pathway, I can feel the softness even under the thick boots. I wonder how it would feel if I touch it with my barefoot. Even the thought brings a chill to me. Ooohhh! Shivers!!

Most of us would love to watch the rain through a windowpane. It brings an unexplainable pleasure on watching the rain drops dance and drizzle. Where the beauty of rain is in the rustle, the beauty of snowfall is in its elegant hush. Sitting on the couch, cuddling on a soft pillow, a cup of tea in the hand, seeing the gentle snow silver everything outside the window - believe me,  it is a very serene moment. If you have got  snow where you live,  go get yourself a break and don't miss to enjoy what nature offers you.

This weather brings a never ending craving for warm and spicy foods. Last weekend, my husband brought home some fresh fish. My only thought went to the spicy tangy tasty fish curry my mom prepares. Ever since the day I was old enough to appreciate the tastes of food, I am in love with my Amma's Meen Kuzhambu (Fish Curry). I have tasted other lovely preparations of fish too, but this one always tops my favorites list.

Though I could not attain the 100% perfect taste (Amma's Kai manam), I think my preparation was almost as tasty. I'm giving the recipe here and feel free to try and adjust to your tastes.

Serves: 3-4
Preparation Time: 30 mins

Fish - 1/2 kg
Onions - 2 big, chopped
Tomatoes - 2, diced
Green chillies - 2, slit lengthwise
Fresh Coconut - 1/2, grated or diced into small pieces
Red Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice - from 1/2 lemon
Tamarind - marble sized
Salt - to taste

Cooking Oil - 2 Tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad Dal - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - from 2 twigs

Clean the fish and cut into pieces. Take 1 tsp of chilli powder, a pinch of turmeric, enough salt and the lemon juice in a bowl. Mix and rub the mixture over the fish pieces gently and keep aside.

Soak the tamarind in warm water in a small bowl. Keep aside.

Blend the grated coconut in an electric blender with little amount of water. Extract the juice out of it. Save this as the first milk. Blend the same coconut again with some more water. Extract the juice out of it and save this as the second milk.

Heat oil (I used gingelly oil) in a wide shallow vessel. Add mustard seeds and urad dal. When the mustards crack, add the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Now, add the chopped onions and green chillies and sauté well. When the onions have become soft and translucent, add the diced tomatoes. When the tomatoes are well cooked, lightly mash them and add 1 tsp of chilli powder, coriander powder and enough salt. Cook the spices for a few minutes without burning them.

Now add the fish pieces and one cup of first coconut milk. Close the vessel with a lid and cook in medium heat. Meanwhile, extract the juice out the soaked tamarind. After about 10 mins of cooking, add the tamarind juice and one cup of second coconut milk. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for a few more minutes.

When little droplets of oil separates out of the curry, it means completely cooked and switch off the heat. Enjoy with fresh steamed rice.

  • Depending upon the size of the coconut, you would get 2-3 cups of milk. I got 1 cup of first milk and two cups of second milk, out of which I used one cup only. 
  • My mother blends the coconut in a stone grinder until it get so soft that she adds the coconut directly to the curry instead of extracting the milk. 
  • Always use a wide shallow vessel for fish curries. Do not mix the curry often with a ladle while cooking, as it might break the fish pieces easily.
  • Depending upon the type of fish used, the cooking time might vary. So, keep a careful eye while cooking. I used Red fish / Ocean Perch. You can use any solid fish suitable for curries.
  • The curry tastes better when cooked in an earthen vessel. It tastes even better when served on the next day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chicken Sukka

Before I could realise, my Blog has turned one. For the past one year, blogging has been more than just a hobby for me. I haven't written a hundred post. However every single post is dear to me and I'm just glad that I'm writing them. It gives me immense pleasure on seeing the growth of my blog with a good number of committed readers. However, I must confess that I'm not writing regularly due to time constraints :( Many ideas still remain just ideas. I hope, the new year would bring a good swing in my blog. Lets hope for the best.

This is yet another post for Blog Hop Wednesdays. This time I got to visit Charishma's blog - Cheri's Stolen Recipes. It is a blog she writes together with her mom. So I expected some traditional recipes and I got more than I wanted. Being a Mangalorean, she has posted a lot of traditional Mangalorean recipes. Every dish was awesome and I was literally drooling at the pictures. My husband and I were sitting selecting the recipes and we really had a tough time choosing one, since we had opened five to six tabs just of her Mangalorean recipes. Finally it was agreed that I make Chicken Sukka this time and the rest later one by one. Believe me, I'm not exaggerating!! Thanks Cherie for such awesome dishes :)

The original recipe be found here. I made very little changes and here is what I used. You are free to change the measurements to suit your taste buds.

Preparation Time: 1 hour
Serves: 3 to 4

Chicken - 1 kg

Cloves - 4
Cinnamon - 2 small sticks
Onion - 1 thinly sliced, 1 finely chopped
Turmeric - a pinch

Cumin seeds - 2 tsp, roasted
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp, roasted
Coriander seeds - 2 Tbsp, roasted
Pepper corns - 20, roasted
Red chillies - 5, roasted
Garlic pods - 4 (with skin)

Coconut - 1 cup, grated
Cumin seeds - 1
Garlic - 2 pods

Salt - to taste
Oil - to saute

For seasoning:
Shallots - 4 big, finely chopped
Ghee - 2 Tbsp
Cashews - a few

Cut the chicken into grob pieces. Wash and clean with salt and turmeric and keep aside.

In a wok on medium flame, heat some oil. Add the cloves, cinnamon, thinly sliced onions and turmeric and saute till the onions turn soft. Now, add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, pepper corns, garlic pods and the red chillies one by one and saute for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool down. After it is cooled, blend this spice mixture to a coarse paste with little water.

Dry roast the coconut with cumin seeds and 2 garlic pods. Preserve this aside.

Heat a wide bottomed pan and add cleaned chicken to it. Now add three fourths of the spice mixture, salt and 1 chopped onion to it, mix and cook with the lid closed for about 10 minutes.

Blend the rest of the spice mixture with the coconut mixture, again to a coarse paste, with enough water. Now, add this to the chicken, close the lid again and cook again until the chicken is well cooked and soft.

For seasoning, heat the ghee and saute the finely chopped shallots and cashews till light brown. Add to the curry and switch off the flame. Chicken Sukka is now ready to be enjoyed.

Just Fingerlicking good!! The relatively clean plates after the meal stand testimony to the taste of the curry. At first, I was quite surprised by the number of red chillies Cherie has used in the recipe, but however later realised that she has used the mild spiced ones. I was still apprehensive, yet I found that the coconut added reduces the heat of the chillies and increases the taste of the curry multifold.

I have observed that in many of the dishes, she has not used any pre-prepared curry powders. Instead, she roasts and blends the spices freshly before using in the curry. Of course it might be time consuming. But, believe me, it is really worth the effort. I could really feel the freshness of the spices in the curry. The taste reminded me of the curries my mother prepares. My mom blends spices every time for most of the curries in a traditional stone grinder (Ammi in Tamil) even to this day.

  • I did not have the mild spicy Kashmir red chillies. So, I was a little conservative with the use of the red chillies.
  • A combination of boned and breast pieces of the chicken would be fine for the dish.
  • I blended the spices in an electric blender. I recommend blending in a stone grinder for better results.

Garnish the dish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with roti or steamed rice.Sending this as an entry to Blog Hop Wednesday-Week 9 event by Radhika of Tickling Palates.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Kadhi Palak

Goldene Oktober (Golden October). I have fallen in love with this phrase which perfectly describes the Fall in Germany. The temperature drops. It is chill everywhere, yet not sharp as a knife. Poets associate the season with the mood of meloncholy. However, to me, the season brings an elegant serenity with it.

I make a stroll in the morning through the parks and fields, to take a whiff of fresh air. The leaves on the trees gradually turn into different shades of green, yellow, orange, red and brown - pale and bright. Some could no longer hold on to the trees and with a heavy heart fall off to the ground, just to  make a soft bed over the wet grass below. There is still a mild fog. I hug on to the warmth of the pullover and I can see my own breath. Piles of pumpkins and dozens of apples are stacked over for sale by the farmers along the fields. The sun shines lazily through the branches of the trees, pouring its golden rays through the branches and coloured leaves, elevating their beauty to a splendid grandeur. Is this not a golden October?

Well, this is something I wanted to share with you before October ends, but I couldn't make it. Now that it is November, winter is on the doorsteps and trees are becoming more naked with every passing day. I got to prepare myself to face the winter.

In the recent past, I have seen many blog posts with lots of sweets and savouries marking the festive season in India. I hope everyone had a memorable and safe Diwali. Now, coming to the purpose of the post, it is yet another entry to the exciting fortnightly event - Blog Hop Wednesdays, organised by Radhika of Tickling Palates. As per the rule of the game, I got the opportunity to visit Anamika of Taste Junction. Oh, I really wonder why I have missed her blog so long. Not just the food and the photography is amazing, but also her write ups give me an interesting read. I'm especially fond of her musings in the Scribbles page. Her blog reflects in a way the wonderful personality she is. Thanks again to Radhika for giving this chance to know such lovely blogs and bloggers.

Choosing a single dish was again a challenge. Baking was a big no and so I searched in Cooking. She has many dishes up her sleeves which are new to me. Finally, I settled down to Kadhi Palak, which was also the lunch menu on last Sunday.

The original recipe can be found here. I followed it almost exactly except the following small changes.
  • I added two large chopped shallots while sauteing.
  • I added few sprigs of flat-leaf parsley at the end. 
  • I forgot to add the Kasuri methi.
I had never prepared any Kadhi before, so this was my first attempt. I was afraid if the yogurt might curdle or if the besan would get more thick than necessary. Nothing of the kind happened. It tasted so delicious and creamy, that I would definitely be making it again and often. My husband too liked it a lot. The spinach and parsley are green leafy vegetables, which are a good source of antioxidants, iron and vital vitamins. This does not take much time and effort to prepare, yet makes a satisfying and healthy meal.

Sending this as an entry to Blog Hop Wednesday-Week 8 event by Radhika of Tickling Palates, Only Curries event by Pari of Foodelicious, guest hosted by Janaki's Kitchen and to Fast Food NOT Fat Food by Priya of Now Serving.