Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Chicken Curry (Kerala Style)

This is a simple and delicious chicken curry dish. What makes it different though is the "coconut"and the pearl onions/sambar onions (trust me....even thought its a real pain to peel of the skins, it makes a lot of difference when you use pearl onions instead of the regular red or white onions).

I am sure whenever you hear the word south indian, coconut is the next thing that comes to your mind hehe.....(no offense meant; and none taken, i am a proud keralite). The best thing about this curry is, you can easily replace the chicken with even prawns or fish.


This recipe was passed onto to me by my mom. Well generally this is how she used to cook prawns (may be with a slight difference in the spices) and for chicken curry she would skip the coconut altogether. All i did was instead of prawns i used chicken. The coconut curry paste used for making this type curry is quite common in some parts of Kerala. The roasted coconut along with the spices gives this gravy a warm earthy taste. It also works best with any type of fish. 

So feel free to use either chicken, prawns or fish. 

You will need:
Chicken (cut into small pieces, cleaned and washed) - 1LB/half kg
Freshly grated coconut - Approx 1 cup
Pearl onions aka sambar onions - 1 cup chopped 
Dried Red chilli - 2 nos. 
Coriander seeds - approx 1 tbsp
Cloves - 5-6 nos
Peppercorns - 6-7 nos
Cinnamon stick - 1 - 2inch 
Bay leaf - 1
Star Anise - 1
Ginger-Garlic paste - 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Tomato - 1 (chopped)
Curry Leaves - 4-5 nos
Coriander Leaves & Mint leaves chopped - For garnishing
Oil for cooking - 3-4 tbsp
Salt to taste

Feel free to adjust the amount of spices depending on how spicy you want the gravy to be. My gravy turned out to be medium spicy.

Prep time: 45mins - 1 hr
Cooking time: 1/2 an hour

Method:

1) Clean, wash and cut the chicken into small pieces (or as desired).


2) Dry roast all the spices that is red chilli, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, bay leaf and star anise along with the grated coconut on a medium flame. Roast everything together until the coconut turns brown in color. Be careful enough to not burn the coconut. Let it cool down for some time and then grind it into a nice thick paste in a mixer grinder. 



3) Cut the pearl onions lengthwise and chop the tomatoes into cubes. I used coarsely minced ginger and garlic for this recipe but you can also use ginger-garlic paste.

4) In a deep pan heat about 3 - 4 tbsp of oil. When the oil is hot add the onions, ginger-garlic paste and curry leaves. Saute and cook until the onions become soft and translucent. Once the onions are cooked add the tomatoes and cook until they are nice and tender.


5) Now add the turmeric powder and the coconut paste. Take little water into the mixer bowl clear off any leftover coconut paste and add. Saute for few mins and then add the chicken pieces to it. Do not add any water at this point as the chicken releases water during cooking. You can add water later on if you think the gravy is too thick. Add salt for seasoning.

6) Cover the pan with a lid and cook the chicken on a low to medium flame (for about 15-20mins or until the chicken is nicely cooked) so that all the spices are nicely incorporated in the chicken.





7) Finally garnish with lots of fresh cilantro/coriander leaves and mint leaves.



Serve hot with rice, tandoori roti, bhakri or naan.




I hope you enjoyed this recipe.

Happy Cooking.


Friday, 9 May 2014

Breakfast Parfait - Super Quick and Easy

This delicious and scrumptious breakfast idea is definitely for people on the go. 

I knew parfait only as a frozen dessert. But never thought it could also be a great option for breakfast until i had one myself at a hotel and instantly fell in love with the idea. 

All you need is some fruits, yogurt and granola.....layer them up on a glass and tadaaaa.....breakfast is served....

This will be an instant hit with children as well. You can also add a little bit of nutella if you wish. But if you are on the health conscious side and also want your children to be, then just don't add the nutella. 

Today was one of those days when i wanted something different apart from the regular indian breakfast that i make everyday. And now i think i might end up eating this more often for breakfast than i thought :P

You can use any kind of fruits you like. I used raspberries, strawberries and banana. I purposely did not add any type of sweetener in here, cause the granola that i used was sweet enough for me. Feel free to drizzle honey on top if you want the parfait to be more sweet. 

Ingredients:
Fruits (chopped)
Granola (i used the gluten free, diary free, low sodium one from trader joe's) you can use any kind
Yogurt ( i used regular yogurt, you can use any type - low fat, greek or flavored ones)

Method:

Layer the bottom of a glass with yogurt, second layer - sprinkle some granola and third layer fruits. Repeat this till you reach the top. Thats its guys. 




Dig in and enjoy.


Friday, 2 May 2014

Beat the Heat with Mango Pulp a.k.a Aam Ras

What is the first thing for us indians that comes to our mind when the season of summer sets in?....Finally we get to eat "Mangoes" after a year of waiting. And not just any type of mango but Alphonso mangoes which is considered as the "king of fruits" in India. Alphonso mangoes are best enjoyed as is. But the pulp of this mango is also very well known and is devoured by everyone, especially in Maharashtra and Gujarat.




Aamras; literally means mango juice.....aam means mango and ras means juice. Aamras is popularly served with rotis or pooris and is also enjoyed as a dessert. Well i think it works best as a palate cleanser. 

The quickest and easiest method of preparing aamras is to peel the skin of good ripe mangoes, cut them and put them in a blender. And that is it, you have aamras ready. However traditionally the aamras is prepared by extracting the pulp and juice of the mangoes onto a muslin cloth/ cheese cloth. The pulp passes through the muslin cloth leaving behind the fibrous strands of the fruit. This way you will end up with a rich mango pulp sans the fibrous strands which can be very annoying when in your mouth. 

Being here in US, alphonso mangoes are very hard to come by. However that didn't stop me from making aamras. We happened to find a mango in a local grocery store which looks, smells, tastes and also sounds (somewhat) a lot like an alphonso mango. 

I made my very own homemade aamras with Ataulfo mangoes. I know that doesn't sound anything like alphonso but its name starts with an A and ends with an O. That should be good enough i guess :). These mangoes come from Mexico and are sweet as well as delicious. We have made peace with the fact that like last year we might not get any alphonsos this year as well. Sighhhh....

Anyhow....this is hands down the easiest dessert recipe ever. Like mentioned above you can easily prepare this in a blender however i opted for the traditional method. But instead of a muslin cloth i used a metal sieve. Its kind of a messy job but if you have kids at home i am sure they would love to help you out with it :)

Ingredients: Lots and lots of ripe mangoes.....i used about 12 ataulfo mangoes. You can use as much as you can. Based on how sweet the mangoes are you can also add sugar towards the end if required. Some people also add milk to intensify its flavor. 

First up select and buy good ripe mangoes. Make sure the mangoes are ripe before you start making aamras. If its not you will end up with a sour mango pulp. 

Method:

1) Wash all the mangoes thoroughly.




2) Take the sieve and place it on a big bowl. Set this aside.

3) Press the mango gently from the outside to loosen all the pulp inside. By the end of it the mango will be all wobbly.

4) Remove the head of the mango and press the mango gently from the bottom onto the sieve. The pulp along with the seed with come off. Squeeze of as much pulp by hand as possible. Also remove the pulp from the seed and throw the seed and the skin away once done.



5) Repeat the same procedure will all the mangoes. Once done squeeze the pulp in the sieve with the help of a spatula. All the pulp will fall onto the bowl through the sieve. Kee doing this for a couple of minutes and finally you will be left only with the unwanted fibrous strands of the fruit. The end result will be a thick and rich mango pulp.



6) The mangoes that i bought were quite sweet so i did not add any sugar. You may at this point add sugar or even milk if required.



7) Store it in the refrigerator in an air tight container and serve chilled.



Enjoy...


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