Kees – a Maharashtrian raw mango preserve

In our childhood, the excitement over the mango season began when the mango tree in our grandma’s garden started flowering. That was a sign of a good harvest, the promise of delicious summer meals that featured mangoes in their raw or ripe form – in curries, pickles, preserves, or even to enjoy in their green tart state with a sprinkle of salt and chilli powder.

The season for raw mangoes is fleeting, giving way to the more robust sweetness of the Alphonso (aka Hapus) or the juicy Paayri in Maharashtra, or indeed to one of the many varieties that are found across India. The kees is a raw mango preserve that lets you enjoy the tangy flavours for the rest of the year, depending on how well you are able to manage your portions of course!

Kees literally means grated or julienned. Raw mangoes are grated and cooked with liberal amounts of sugar and a few spices to make the preserve – a bit like making a raw mango marmalade.

The Gujarati Chundo is a close cousin but the spices differ as does the process. The chundo sits in the blazing sun and marinates in the spices and syrup while the kees is cooked over a flame.

So this recipe is the version that my family has made for generations and one that I have grown up eating, often just with a hot roti, and a side of more mangoes!

There is no such thing as overdoing it where this fruit is concerned.

Prep for Kees

Ingredients:

350 grams grated raw mangoes (from about 500 grams of whole raw mango, peeled and deseeded)

300 grams sugar

seeds of 3-4 cardamom pods, pounded to a powder

a pinch of nutmeg (optional)

a generous pinch of saffron

Texture of Kees – doesn’t it look like a mango marmalade?

Method:

  1. Weigh all ingredients. Usually the sugar is about 75% of the weight of the mangoes but this can vary depending on the tartness of the mangoes and personal preference.
  2. Heat a wide pan. Add in the grated mango and sprinkle with a couple of teaspoons of water. Cover and steam cook for 3-4 minutes, just enough to soften the mango a bit.
  3. Next add sugar and stir through. Cook till the sugar has melted and the mixture has started to thicken and get a bit jammy.
  4. Sprinkle over with cardamom and the saffron. Stir and let sit for an hour or so.
  5. Taste the kees. If it is still too tart for your liking, add in some powdered sugar and give it a stir on a mild flame. Make sure the sugar doesn’t start to crystalise. The end result you are looking for is a marmalade like consistency.
  6. Cool and bottle.

This goes perfectly with hot rotis. But what’s to stop you from jazzing up your breakfast? Go ahead and and add it to a slice of toasted sourdough bread, if you like.

Either way, I hope this kees brings you joy for months to come!

Kees bottled and ready to be stored

 

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Paandhra Varan aka ‘No Turmeric’ dal

Dal without any turmeric is inconceivable, yet here is proof that it can be equally delectable.

One from the Goan side of the family this time.  It remains a firm childhood favourite and still features on the request list for aai during my visits home.

Simple ingredients complement the simple looks of this dal. Don’t be deceived though – the chilli and garlic can pack a mean punch!

It’s best paired with rotis, along with a plain-ish side that won’t distract you from the taste of this dal.

Paandhra varan aka No Turmeric Dal

Ingredients:

3 fistfuls of moong dal, 1 per person (approx 3/4 cup)

1-2 green chillies, slit in half

4-5 pods of garlic, slivered

1/4 cup coconut milk

3 + 1 tablespoons oil*

1 onion, finely sliced ( OR 3-4 tablespoons of fried onions)

salt, to taste

Method:

  1. Wash and soak the moong dal in warm water for about an hour.
  2. Pressure cook or boil, till mushy.
  3. In the meanwhile, take a thick bottomed pan and heat 3 tablespoons of oil.  Fry the sliced onion till it is nicely caramelised and crispy.
  4. Drain the onions on a paper towel and keep aside for later.
  5. In the same pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoons of oil and heat it.
  6. Add the green chillies and let them sizzle.
  7. Next add the garlic to the hot oil but don’t let the slivers brown. Reduce the heat and swirl them around the pan for a couple of minutes until the oil is seasoned with the chillies and garlic.
  8. Your pressure cooker should be cool enough to be opened, by now. Mash the moong dal until it is pasty. Add a little water, if required. What you are aiming for is the consistency of porridge.
  9. Now add this dal to the pan with chillies and garlic. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Moong dal tends to thicken easily so add a little water, at this stage, if you need to.
  10. Season with salt.
  11. Now add in the coconut milk and simmer for another 5-7 minutes on low heat, stirring often to prevent the dal from turning lumpy.
  12. Give it a final swirl and turn off the heat. Add the fried onions.
  13. Serve immediately.

If you are making the dal in advance, add the onions as garnish, just before you eat. This will ensure that they add a lovely texture to the otherwise smooth dal.

I like to add them to the dal about 10 mins ahead of serving, like mum does, so the dal soaks in the flavours of the caramelised onions.

Serve with hot rotis. I like to eat this with some potatoes, but then, of course, I would!

This is certainly an unusual dal and it certainly lifts the spirits and the mood.

Bon apetit!

Posted in Goan cuisine, Varan, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Moong dal 101

This is a simple dal with basic ingredients found in all Indian kitchens. It is, in fact, simple enough for a teenager to make with no prior cooking experience. That was me, at 14 and this dal is the very first thing I ever ‘cooked’.

As part of our initiation into the Girl Guides’ Association, we were to ‘camp’ overnight in our school grounds. That was the exciting bit but soon enough a bombshell landed – we were also expected to cook a meal in our mini groups. Basic ingredients needed to be brought in and cooked over a ‘campfire’ of sorts. We didn’t know any 14 year olds who were let loose in the kitchen without supervision and yet here we were! Terrifying doesn’t even begin to describe it and most of us had visions of ourselves crawling home starving.

After a series of near disasters with the campfire and a few disagreements over whether the rice was cooked or not, we did manage to produce a palatable enough meal that consisted of this dal, nearly-done rice and some semi-charred potatoes. All polished off by a bunch of hungry Girl Guides, accompanied by whoops of delight and bolstered by a generous dose of accomplishment.

The simplicity of the dal is its strength. It uses very basic ingredients and no fancy spices. It’s perfect for a quick and comforting meal whether you’re a novice or a veteran in the kitchen.

Do give it a go. I’d love to know what you think.

 

Moong dal with garlic and green chill

Ingredients:

2 fistfuls (approx. 1/2 a cup) Moong dal

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

1 medium tomato

1 sharp green chilli, slit in half

3-4 large pods of garlic, cut into slivers

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

8-10 curry leaves

2 tablespoons of oil

a pinch of asafoetida

salt to taste

1 tablespoon chopped coriander (optional garnish)

Method:

  1. Wash the moong dal and soak it in water for about 30 minutes to an hour. Pressure cook for 1 whistle. If cooking without a pressure cooker, campfire style, boil the moong dal until it is cooked through but not completely mushy.
  2. Heat the oil. Add asafoetida and the cumin seeds. When they splutter, add the chilli and the curry leaves.
  3. When the chilli is seared in the oil, add the onion and cook till transparent.
  4. Add the slivers of garlic and saute until fragrant.
  5. Now add the chopped tomato. Saute for a minute.
  6. Add in the cooked dal, turmeric and salt.
  7. Give it all a good mix and cook for about 5 minutes on a medium flame so that all the flavours meld together.
  8. Turn off the heat. Garnish with chopped coriander.
  9. Serve hot with rice or chapatis. I like mine with a wedge of lime on the side.

Notes:

The garlic and chillies are what flavour the dal. Do adjust the quantities depending on the varieties you are using. What you are aiming for is a lovely garlicky flavour with a punch of chilli.

I usually serve mine with rice or chapatis and a side of mildly flavoured potatoes so that they don’t take the focus away from the dal.

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Firecracker peanuts – baked not fried

Masala peanuts (or spicy peanuts) are popular as a ‘bar snack’. My earliest memories of these are of parties at home: watching the adults scoff down vast amounts while we little ones were restricted to tiny bowls. That adults only rationing made this spicy snack even more desirable. We longed to grow up and, one day, match the adults in their seemingly limitless consumption.

Alas! Now that I am free of these parental controls, I find myself chasing so-called healthy food instead, trying to find ways to limit oil and spice levels.

My search for a ‘oil-controlled’ version that I could make at home was finally rewarded by this recipe, from Cook with Manali. I tried a batch and it tasted good. But I wanted something a little more reminiscent of the bright colours and tangy taste of my childhood. So I leapfrogged off Manali’s recipe, making this one up with a surprising addition.

I would recommend that you try both versions. I still firmly believe that you can never have too many masala peanuts!

Ingredients:

1 cup peanuts with skins on

2 tbsp oil

1/2 cup besan (gram flour)

2 tbsp rice flour

2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder

1/8 tsp haldi (turmeric)

1/4 tsp hing

1/2 tsp amchur powder

1 tsp pavbhaji masala*

2 tbsp water

salt to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees.
  2. In a mixing bowl, toss the peanuts with oil making sure that they are evenly coated.
  3. In a second bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Whisk together to make sure there are no lumps.
  4. Toss the dry ingredients in with the peanuts.
  5. Use your fingers to mix so that the peanuts are coated with the spice paste.
  6. Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
  7. Line a baking tray with some foil. Add the coated peanuts in a single layer.
  8. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until a bright russet colour.
  9. Cool and store in an airtight jar.

You might want to make a double batch if you want them to last till the following weekend.

Notes:

  1. I have used pav bhaji masala instead of the chaat masala in the original recipe by Cook with Manali.
  2. Amchur is dried and powdered raw mango and adds a tangy citrusy flavour.

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Sai bhaji

Sai bhaji is a traditional Sindhi dish made with greens, veggies and lentils. It is packed with proteins and iron and makes for a healthy and delicious meal when served with steamed rice.

I was first introduced to Sai bhaji through sharing my friend Pinky’s lunchbox at school. Her mum indulged us by sending us a bowl of it each time she made some for the family. To this day it brings back memories of a very happy and foodie childhood.

Pinky and I traded recipes of our favourite foods (she loved my mum’s crispy okra) a few years ago and this post is dedicated to her and our friendship.

I might have tweaked the recipe over the years to suit our little man’s palate.

Sai bhaaji

Ingredients

250 grams spinach, washed and chopped

2-3 tablespoon of fresh fenugreek leaves

1/4 cup fresh dill

2-3 fistfuls, chana dal, soaked for a few hours

1 large onion, rough chopped

1 tablespoon of ginger-garlic

1 small potato, peeled and roughly chopped

2 tomatoes, roughly chopped

1-2 baby aubergines, chopped

1/2 a cup of red pumpkin, chopped

1/3 teaspoon turmeric

1/3 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder (optional)

salt to taste

1-2 tablespoons, ghee

2 tablespoons, lemon juice

Method:

  1. Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Add the onions and saute till pink. Add the ginger-garlic and saute on high for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add the potatoes, pumpkin, aubergines and tomatoes.
  3. Now add the turmeric and chilli powder and mix well.
  4. Cook for a few minutes and add the chana dal.
  5. Now add the greens – spinach, fenugreek leaves and dill.
  6. Mix and add just enough water to cover the veggies.
  7. Pressure cook for 3 whistles. Turn down the heat and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  8. Turn off the heat and let the cooker cool down.
  9. When you are able to open the lid of the cooker, add salt, cumin-coriander powder (if using).
  10. Mash the mixture roughly or blend with a hand blender, as I do.
  11. Adjust seasoning. Add the lemon juice.
  12. Serve with hot steamed rice.

Notes:

I blend the sai bhaji since the little man likes a soupy version of the sai bhaji to cover his rice. You can leave it roughly mashed.

My friend’s mum used to serve this with ghee rice which makes for a deliciously indulgent meal. Any which way, it’s finger licking good!

 

 

 

 

Posted in A-Z 2018 | 2 Comments

Rajma pulav

Rajma pulav is the ultimate one-pot comfort food for the six year old who can eat rajma any number of times in a week.  This was an accidental recipe. I was trying to do half a dozen different things one evening and ran out of time to wash the pot I normally use to cook rice. I ended up sauteing the rice in a frying pan and then throwing it all into the pot of rajma I was making. The result got a huge thumbs up from the rajma fan and is now a regular feature on the list of ‘things I want to eat this week’.

I love serendipitous recipes! Don’t you?

Rajma pulav

Ingredients:

400 grams of rajma (kidney beans), soaked and lightly pressure cooked

1 large onion, chopped fine

2 large tomatoes, blanched and pureed

1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste

2 tablespoons yoghurt

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2-3 cloves

1″ cinnamon

1 star anise

4-5 peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon amchur powder or chaat masala (optional)

salt to taste

1 1/4 cup rice, washed and drained

1 tablespoon ghee

2-3 tablespoons oil

a tablespoon mint leaves, chopped

chopped coriander, to garnish

Method:

  1. In a preheated pan, add the ghee. Then add the whole spices – cumin, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and peppercorns. Saute briefly and then add the washed and drained rice. Saute until the rice is fragrant for about 4-5 minutes. Take off the heat and keep aside.
  2. In a deep pan, heat the oil. Add the chopped onion and saute till pink. Then add the ginger- garlic paste and saute for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric, chilli powder and cumin-coriander powder and amchur powder (if using). Mix well.
  3. Add the partly cooked rajma. Add the tomato puree, salt and cook for a few minutes. Now add the rice and mix well.
  4. Add enough water to cover the rice-rajma mixture. Stir in the yoghurt and add the mint leaves.
  5. Cover and cook until the rice is done.
  6. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Quick cooker dal (oil free)

This recipe is courtesy of a friend and former neighbour who had introduced me to the wonders of oil free cooking. I must confess this one is all I retained in my memory. I found it hard to believe that a dal cooked without a tadka would be worth committing to memory, let alone making every week. This recipe, however, proved me wrong and it now makes a frequent appearance on the menu.

Give it a go – it makes for a light, healthy and delicious addition to your evening meal.

Quick cooker dal (zero oil)

Ingredients:

3 fistfuls of whole moong (I use a fistful per person)

1/4 + 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon amchur powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 tomato chopped

2-3 tablespoons, crispy onions (or 1/2 an onion, finely chopped)

salt to taste

1 tablespoon chopped coriander

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method:

  1. In a pressure cooker, add the moong with about 600 mils of water with 1/4 teaspoon turmeric and the asafoetida. Cook for about 10-12 minutes. After 2-3 whistles take off the heat.
  2. When the cooker is cool enough to open, add all the dry spices (turmeric, chilli powder, cumin-coriander, amchur and garlic powder). Add the salt and mix well.
  3. Next add the chopped tomato, onions, grated ginger and lemon juice. Mix well.
  4. Garnish with coriander leaves just before serving.
  5. Serve hot with rice or chapatis.
Posted in A-Z 2018, Quick Weeknight Recipes, stews, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Potatoes for Puri-bhaaji

Potatoes made this way have always been our favourite side dish with puris and shrikhand, and still is. This is part of a classic Maharashtrian lunch. As anyone who has grown up in India will testify, variations of the puri-bhaaji combination are dotted all over the Indian sub continent. This is also perfect travel food, if you prefer to rely on a home-cooked meal that can withstand long hours of travel.

The potato bhaji is simple to rustle up and is one that the little man loves too. I tend to serve it with chapatis for a weeknight meal. It’s best to leave the puris for a weekend when the husband is around to help fry them.  There are no free meals around here!

Puri-bhaji chi bhaji

 

Ingredients

500 gms potatoes, boiled, peeled and cubed (about 5-6 potatoes)

2-3 tablespoons oil

a pinch of asafoetida

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon garlic, chopped fine

1 green chilly, slit lengthwise

8-10 curry leaves

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

Salt to taste

Chopped coriander leaves, for the garnish

Method

  1. Heat oil on a high flame. Throw in the mustard and wait till it splutters. Add hing (asafoetida), garlic, curry leaves and the chopped green chilli.
  2. Once the chilli sizzles, add in the potato cubes. Add the turmeric and salt.
  3. Mix well until the oil and turmeric coat the potato cubes.
  4. On a high flame, stir gently, for about 2-3 minutes.
  5. Turn off gas and let rest for 10 -15 minutes so that the potatoes can absorb all the flavours.
  6. Sprinkle with coriander leaves before serving.

Serve hot with chapatis (or puris, if you have the inclination).

Note:

If the potatoes are too floury, you may need an extra tablespoon or so of oil so that they don’t turn to mush.

Posted in A-Z 2018, Batate (Many ways to cook potatoes), Potatoes, Quick Weeknight Recipes, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Okra Pachadi

The words crunchy, indulgent and more-ish are rarely associated with weeknight meals but every one of these can be used to describe this okra pachadi. Add a few notches of excitement to a mid week dinner and serve these crispy okra bites in spiced yoghurt with plain and simple steamed rice.

Traditionally, the okra are fried but this recipe uses the oven to save time and turn out an oven baked version. All credit to my sister in law for introducing me to this awesome pachadi and for sharing her family recipe.

Okra pachadi

Ingredients for the okra:

350 grams okra, washed, dried and cut into small pieces

2-3 tablespoons oil

salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder

a pinch of turmeric

Ingredients for the spiced yoghurt:

1 cup yoghurt

salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon cumin coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon chaat masala*

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven at 220 C for 10 minutes.
  2. Cover an oven proof tray with parchment paper. In a bowl, add the oil, salt, chilli powder, turmeric and cumin-coriander powder. Add the okra pieces and mix till the okra is covered with the marinade.
  3. Pop the okra into the oven until crispy (about 15- 20 minutes at 220 C).
  4. In the meanwhile, add the salt, cumin -coriander powder and chaat masala to the yoghurt.
  5. Mix the crispy okra into the yoghurt and serve immediately.

Notes:

  1. Chaat masala is a popular spice mix in India and is easily available in most grocery stores selling Indian spices.

 

 

Posted in A-Z 2018, Quick Weeknight Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nachni and rava pole

Nachni (finger millets) and rava (semolina) pole are very similar to uthappams except for the fact that they do not use a rice-lentils base. They make for a quick meal without the hassle of soaking and fermenting the rice-lentils batter that you need for uthappams.

They also make for an excellent addition to a brunch menu.

Ingredients:

1 cup nachni flour

1/2 cup semolina

1/2 cup yoghurt

1 1/2 cup water

1 onion, chopped fine

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted (optional)

5-6 curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 a green chilli, finely chopped (optional)

salt to taste

3-4 tablespoons oil

Nachni-rava pole

Method:

  1. Mix the nachni and semolina. Add the salt and pepper and mix well so it’s evenly distributed.
  2. Add the yoghurt and mix into the dry ingredients. Add the water gradually until you have a batter the consistency of pole (pancake) batter.
  3. Add the chopped onion to the batter and mix well.
  4. In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the cumin seeds, curry leaves. When the cumin seeds splutter, add the ginger and the green chilli (if you are using it) and saute for 2 mins. Add this to the pole batter.
  5. Heat a pan and smear with some oil. Add a pinch of sesame seeds and drop a ladleful of the pole batter. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Flip and cook the other side until done.
  6. Serve hot with ketchup or some green chutney.

This makes 6-10 pole or pancakes depending on the size you choose.

Posted in A-Z 2018, Quick Weeknight Recipes, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mushroom soup

Mushrooms are top on the list of divisive foods in our household and the battle lines are very clearly drawn. The little man and I can have mushrooms intravenously whereas the better half would much rather be clubbed on the head than have to eat these fungi.

I was delighted when the six year old asked for mushroom soup for dinner and ‘with some pieces left in’, please.

So here’s the dairy free version of mushroom soup I make. It has only a handful of ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to get to the table.

You can leave out the butter if you prefer a vegan version.

Ingredients:

250 grams mushrooms, chopped

2 large shallots, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil (I used one infused with rosemary and garlic)

1 tablespoon butter

1 hearty tablespoon, chopped garlic

salt to taste

750 mls water

Mushroom soup

Method:

  1. Heat the olive oil and saute the garlic for a couple of minutes. Then add the shallots and saute till lightly caramelised.
  2. Add the butter and then the chopped mushrooms. Saute for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the pepper and salt. Add the water and simmer for about 10-12 minutes.
  4. Reserve 1/2 a cup of the broth along with the mushrooms and onions. Blitz the rest in a blender.
  5. Pour the blended soup back into the pot with the reserved mushroom and onion pieces. Mix well.
  6. Ladle into soup dishes and serve hot.
  7. For a pop of colour, I serve with some avo toast on the side.

 

Posted in A-Z 2018, Soups | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lentil soup

Lemony lentil soup is one of my must order dishes at a Turkish or Anatolian restaurant. The creamy lentils with a hint of spices and herbs and a generous kick of lemon juice are a wonderful way to start the meal. Sometimes this soup can be a satisfying meal in itself, served with some pita bread.

This is my version of lentil soup, inspired by many visits to a handful of restaurants, but using ingredients I had in the store cupboard.

It’s my dinner equivalent of camomile tea – calming, refreshing and nourishing. A perfect antidote to a particularly busy and chaotic workday.

Ingredients:

3 fistfuls of red lentils (masoor dal) – I use a handful per person

1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 medium potato, chopped

1 red pepper, diced

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 tablespoon of garlic

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin-coriander powder

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 bouillon cube

salt to taste

750 mls water (approx.)

1 sprig mint leaves (optional)

a few slices of lemon

2 tablespoon chopped coriander (optional)

Lentil soup

Method:

  1. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil. Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute until the onion is pink.
  2. Next add the chopped carrots, pepper, potato, celery, tomato and saute for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the paprika and cumin-coriander powder. Mix well.
  4. Add the lentils and 750 mils of water and turn up the heat.
  5. Now add the bouillon cube and the mint leaves, if using them.
  6. Pressure cooker for 2 whistles. Turn off the heat.
  7. Once the cooker cools, open the lid, add the salt and tomato paste while the soup is still hot. Simmer on medium heat for 3-4 minutes and until the soup is as thick as you like it.
  8. Ladle into bowls. Add a squeeze of lemon and some more cumin-coriander powder, if required.
  9. Garnish with chopped coriander and a couple of slices of lemon.
  10. Serve hot.
Posted in A-Z 2018, One Pot Meals, Soups, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kokum amti with steamed rice

Kokum is a sour fruit belonging to the mangosteen family. It is native to the Western Ghats region of India and is widely used in Maharashtrian and Konkan cuisines. The combination of kokum, garlic, cumin and chilli powder give this amti its distinctive taste that is quite unlike other coconut based curries.

My favourite way to eat this kokum amti is with steamed rice and crispy potatoes, just the way Aji (my grandmother) used to serve it.

This recipe has a very special place in my heart. When I was new to cooking, Aji would often include recipes in the letters she would write me. I have preserved these hand written letters ever so carefully along with the fond memories of this amti.

Aji’s recipe for Kokum amti

Ingredients:

1 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup grated coconut

2-3 pods garlic

1/4 teaspoon Cumin seeds

4-5 peppercorns

1/4 teaspoon Chilli powder

Salt to taste

2 pieces of Kokum

1/4 teaspoon rice flour

1 tablespoon oil

Kokum amti

Method:

  1. Blend together the grated coconut, garlic pods, peppercorns, chilli powder and salt until you have a smooth and velvety paste. Keep aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pan. Add the asafoetida and cumin seeds. Saute till cumin seeds splutter.
  3. Now add the paste of coconut and spices and saute on medium heat until it changes colour to turn a mild pink.
  4. Turn down the heat and add the rice flour. Add the coconut milk and stir to avoid lumps. Simmer on medium heat until it reaches a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
  5. Turn down the heat. Add the kokum and stir briefly. Take the pan off the heat and let the kokum soak in the coconut curry for at least an hour or so.
  6. Heat on a mild flame and serve with steamed rice and crispy potatoes or a spicy prawn pickle.

Notes:

  1. I have modified Aji’s recipe slightly. Instead of blending the cumin seeds with the cocounut, I like to saute them lightly.
  2. I also use rice flour instead of chickpea flour as I am allergic to besan (chickpea flour).
Posted in A-Z 2018, Curries (Kaalvan, varan, sambhare etc.), Quick Weeknight Recipes, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Jardaloo chicken

Apricot chicken makes for a change from the usual chicken curries. It is an unusual combination and the sweetness of the apricots balances the spices beautifully.

It’s one of the little one’s favourite chicken curries and served with steamed rice makes weeknight dinners a simple affair.

Jardaloo chicken

Ingredients:

250 – 300 grams boneless chicken

1 big onion, finely chopped

a handful of coriander, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon, turmeric

1 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon Pathare Prabhu sambhar masala*

6-8 jardaloo (apricots), deseeded

salt to taste

2 tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste

Method:

  1. Marinade the chicken with salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, Pathare Prabhu sambhar and ginger garlic paste. Keep aside for 10-15 minutes.
  2. In the meanwhile, in a flat bottom pan, add the oil, finely chopped onion and coriander. Crush with your fingers until you have a coarse paste. This should take about 10 minutes.
  3. Put the pan on medium high heat. Add the marinaded chicken pieces and mix so that they are covered with the onion-coriander paste.
  4. Add 1/2 cup water, put the lid on and cook till the chicken is almost cooked.
  5. Add the jardaloo (apricots) and simmer till done. Make sure that the apricots do not turn to mush.
  6. Serve hot with steamed rice.

 

Note:

  1. This serves two.
  2. If you don’t have the Pathare Prabhu sambhar, use the rest of the spices and do not substitute with cumin-coriander powder for this recipe.
Posted in A-Z 2018, Chicken, curries, Gravy dishes, Meat and Poultry, Quick Weeknight Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hummus and carrot sandwiches

Hummus and grated carrots might sound like a strange sandwich filling. I discovered this combination while exploring a newly opened cafe near work. They had peri peri hummus and carrots in some delicious brown bread. This is the inspiration for this ‘no recipe’ post. I, however, am partial to sourdough and that’s what I have used here.

It makes for a light and health dinner, served with some soup or a salad and dinner can be on the table in under 15 minutes.

It also makes a handy travel snack and it’s been a life saver on quite a few flights when the 6 year old turned up his nose at the kids’ meal.

Ingredients:

150 grams hummus

2-3 teaspoons of peri peri spice powder or 1-2 teaspoon of peri peri sauce (depending on how spicy it is)

4-6 slices of sourdough

2 tablespoons of salted butter (optional)

1 large carrot, finely grated (approx 1 cup)

salt to taste

 

Method:

  1. Lightly butter the slices of bread.
  2. Mix the carrot, hummus and the peri peri powder or sauce. Add salt, if required.
  3. Spread the desired quantity of the carrot-hummus mix on a slice of bread and top with another slice of bread.
  4. Serve with soup or salad for a light and delicious evening meal.

Notes:

  1. Do not toast these sandwiches. It results in an unbelievable mess.
  2. Baguettes are also a great alternative to the bread.
  3. For a vegan version, omit the butter or use an olive oil spread.
Posted in A-Z 2018, Quick Weeknight Recipes, Savoury snacks, Teatime snacks or Brunch ideas, Vegan | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment