Sunday, February 24, 2008

Egg Curry Recipe -The Real McCoy!

When I was at home one thing I hated eating was rice. I wondered why people would want to eat rice when they can have breakfast all the time. Why would someone want to go to the trouble of making rice and curries when at the same time they could just make puttu or idli or idiappam. I used to throw away the rice curries in my lunchbox almost on a regular basis since I couldn't tolerate the smell when I opened it at lunchtime. Such ignorant and heartless was I of the toils of the kitchen!! There came a time when some of my classmates started being afraid for my health and complained to our classteacher about the fate of my lunch. Bless their hearts, little did they know how heartily I ate breakfast and gobbled up tapicoa and the likes up to the nose in the evenings and therefore had nothing to fear for:-) Anyway the teacher asked to see my lunchbox before I could take it to wash and the only way I could satisfactorily get out of the dilemma was by bringing breakfast items for lunch which I had no problems with at all. My Mom was surprised at first to see a docile rice eating me once I got here. It is true that we take many things for granted. Don't we? But even at the time there was one combo that I could not resist regardless that it came with rice in our home. Nice seasoned buttermilk and my Mom's egg curry. So this curry was the one I put my whole heart into learning while declaring to my Mom that I doubt if I'll ever make any other curry in my life. I have made this egg curry many times here which was always well liked by friends and foes alike. It must be the love!!

In The Mix:
Eggs – 6 to 8 (boiled, shelled & halved)
Onion – 1 big onion sliced lengthwise - Keep a few slices aside for seasoning. (5-6 shallots are best instead of the onion but then that is too much trouble.)

Coriander powder – 5 tbsp
Chili powder – 2 tsp or more or less depending on your heat tolerance
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Mustard – ¼ tsp
Curry leaves – 1-2 sprigs
Coconut milk – 1 can (dilute 2/3 can with 1 ½ cups to 2 cups water)

How To Do:
1. Heat oil in a pan, add onion and salt to taste. Sauté till onion turns brown and slightly crisp. Remove from pan.
2. Break mustard in remaining oil, add the set aside fresh onion, curry leaves and sauté.
3. Make a mix of the 3 powders with water and add to the pan.
4. Roast in low heat till aroma fills the air and the gravy begins to roll into soft balls. Keep stirring so it won't stick to the pan.

5. Add the diluted coconut milk and stir well. Add salt if needed.
6. Add eggs and the sautéed onions from step 1.
7. Boil all together once. Then cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or more depending on the desired gravy thickness.

8. Add remaining 1/3rd can coconut milk. Stir gently once so it blends and remove from heat.
9. Enjoy!

Note1. Coconut milk can be substituted with warm milk for a lighter curry.
Cubed potatoes can be added at step 7 if you are in the mood for a more wholesome curry. Just increase the cooking time accordingly. I did this for the curry in the picture.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Puttu - Steamed Rice Flour/Cake

Puttu is one of the first things I managed to make properly thanks mainly to my Mom's ingenuity. She visited me after I started working and was astounded at the lack of appliances in the kitchen even to her own cooking just to eat kind of outlook which obviously I had fully absorbed and taken to a much greater level:-) So one day, bored out of her depths while I was at work she had a surprise waiting for me. Steamed yummy puttu albeit barely 3-4 spoonfuls!! Now how did she do it? Well, she found that the hitherto discarded steam plate that had come with my rice cooker will fit in nicely with a small all purpose sauce pan - the one and only- which also had a fitting lid.

Bravely she goes mixing for puttu with rice flour and coconut powder etc ., put water in the pan, placed the small steam plate on top, closed the lid and waited. Boy, was she gratified by the familiar aroma of puttu wafting through the kitchen! So both of us continued to have these spoonfuls of puttu whenever the craving hit us for the rest of her stay. Only when she left and the duty now fell on me that I realized the work involved was too much:-) Off I go looking for an easier way to get to the puttu as now I know the familiar cylindrical shape while good for the eye did not really matter so long as the taste buds agree. One day while browsing in one of the Department stores I discovered the perfect appliance I was looking for and from then on making puttu was a smooth sail. My Mom was glad to find this on her second visit. Even my husband's Aunt who later on gave me many tips for things I can get here was pleasantly surprised to see my puttu that I had mastered in my bachelorette days!

And then getting into food blogs I saw that I was not the only one who had clued in on this easier way to make puttu... For that and a wonderful post on puttu in general, click here.

In the Mix

rice flour - 2 cups
dry coconut powder - 1 cup (this should be of the smallest grain found in Indian stores)
salt to taste and enough water.

How To Do:

Mix the rice flour, coconut powder and salt together by adding water little by little. 1/4 cups at a time will do. Mix them well together till you see small balls persistently form which usually mean the mix is getting over damp. The balls will form from the beginning which we must try and strain as much as can be with fingers but when they just begin to get one too many is time to stop.

At this stage I apply a trick from my beloved sister -the only real cook in our family- for the softest resulting puttu. Use a sieve/strainer/large collander - I use one from India with the largest eye- and filter out all the 'ballies' as my little one calls them whom as you can see can't get enough of them:-)

Keep on sieving and straining the balls on the sieve till no balls remain or only a few.
Now take the steamer, fill the bottom pan with water up to the recommended level, close the scenter which has no use in this process and fill the top container with the prepared puttu mix.

Turn the timer on for 40-45 minutes and voila! steaming puttu is ready for consumption with kadala curry or egg curry or even beef fry. Add banana, honey or sugar to the mix to make it an extra treat. My husband's joy knows no bounds if I also make papadums to go with it!

Before steaming, I sometimes keep the whole thing except the bottom part that has the water, in the fridge to be made another day. Wet a paper towel with water and spread it on top of the puttu to keep it moisturized over a few days before closing the lid. This is good when you have visitors so you can surprise them with puttu while all they could see you do was just steaming something in the kitchen provided you have some freshly prepared side dish in the fridge to go with it:-))

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tomato Rice - Thakkali Choru

I used to enjoy eating freshly diced tomatoes mixed with sugar as a snack long time back. Having never seen or eaten Tomato Rice I didn't think that one day I'll use those plum red tomatoes this way. But food blogs can do that to you. Encountering the thousands of possible Indian recipes that is being cooked in homes across the globe everyday you just can't bring yourself to eat that plain old rice without giving it a spin:-) I tried many variations and this is the one that was enjoyed the most and so made often. Having no idea as to how it should taste our household is blindly content with the current version. Very good for leftover rice and a wonderful way to use all those tomatoes kind friends or colleagues bring you from their garden.

In the Mix

cooked basmati rice - 3 cups
cloves - 4
cardamom - 4 to 5
cinnammon - 1 large piece broken into many
big red onion - 1/2 chopped (the big red onion is very flavorful and has completely replaced the regular yellow onions in my home)
green chillies - 2 or 3
ginger - 1" piece
garlic - 3-4 pods
tomatoes - 4 or 5 chopped very small
curry leaves - a sprig or two
kashmiri chili powder - 1 tsp
turmeric - a pinch
chili powder - 1/4 tsp
oil - 2-3 tsp
salt to taste
water - 1 tbsp
Mint leaves

How To:

Cook the rice the usual way or use leftovers.

Heat oil in a pan. Crush cardamom, cloves and cinnammon slightly with a pestle. This is not a must but it brings out the masala flavor I think. Add this to the heated oil and saute for a short while. Add chopped onions and salt - include enough salt for rice too here-and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the curry leaves. Chop green chilies, ginger and garlic together in a chopper and add to the mix. Saute these on low heat. I find that chopping them together somehow feels better! These can be added after just slicing them too if you are not up to chopper washing:-)

Mix for a while till nicely blended. Now add the tomatoes. Keep on stirring and add the chili and turmeric powders. Add the water if needed to mix it all well. Continue till the mix looks sauteed well and not so watery. the mix is ready now and can be removed to a bowl.

Put the rice into the pan that made the tomato mix and stir in low heat. Add the mix and stir all together for 1-2 minutes. Add the washed mint leaves as is or chopped and spread on top of the tomato rice. Cover to let the mint flavor soak in and turn of the heat. Now all it needs is a few servings of yogurt and the meal is complete! Don't forget to check the salt after adding rice and add more as needed. I find that it goes very well with any veggies or meat dishes you have at the moment.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

An Egg Curry with a Story

It was a Saturday evening and not a curry was found in the fridge. It was a busy day for all and one thing led to another with no time to be had for grocery. A heavy depression surrounded all – esp Mom & Dad – who didn't want to go out again just for grocery on this cold, cold rainy day. Dad who was suffering from an onslaught of seasonal cold allergies decided to sleep it off with a nap and make do with toasted bread for the whole family when the time came. After giving it some thought, Mom decided to investigate the fridge. And there it was! A lonely, lonely egg all by itself in the egg carton. Egg is a favorite ingredient of Mom's and this provided the inspiration for a curry.

With added zest Mom was able to discover the following:

A 2/3 piece of green bell pepper.

Some (8-9) small red potatoes – the kind that does not need to be deskinned!

2 pathetic looking but still alive carrots

½ a head of cabbage

1 big onion – this item was plentiful but only one was needed

Other stuff deemed necessary to make it into a curry:

coriander powder – 4 tbsp

chili powder - ¼ tbsp

kashmiri chili powder – 2/3 tbsp

turmeric powder - ¼ tsp

garam masala powder - ¼ tsp

½ cup milk

2 ½ cup water

salt to taste

What happened:

A pan was out on the stove with oil to heat.

The onion was sliced and added to the oil. Salt was added and stirred well together.

All powders were added and mixed together by adding little water. At this point Dad woke up from the heady aroma of roasted curry mix in the air and remembered the frozen thinly sliced beef in the freezer. This he thawed in the microwave with new found vigor and added to the pan. The meat was saute'ed in the mix for 3-4 minutes. 2 ½ cups of warm water was added and after boiling once, diced and sliced veggies except cabbage were added. After boiling once the pan was covered and allowed to cook for 10-15 minutes. Once the all the ingredients were cooked, the one lonely egg which was behind all this was broken into the boiling water and scrambled to join the rest of the crowd. As you can see from the pic it all but disappeared!! Cabbage was added last and mixed well. Then ½ cup of warm milk was added and after boiling once, removed from heat.

This was heartily enjoyed by the whole family with fresh cooked rice and a dollop of yogurt. The wonderful meal with the things found in the fridge was surprisingly tasty and wholesome!

The whole thing reminded me of a story I remember reading in a Children's Magazine (Poompatta?) long time back. There was this man who liked to spring visits on families just as they were having their meal so they'd have no choice but to invite him to join them. One day it so happened that the family who spotted him from far away finished their meal rather fast and informed him of this “sad” fact. Not to be fazed in adversities the guy said that they could still have some dessert. When the family mentioned that they have no ingredients for any dessert he said “ but you don't need any ingredients to make vellarankallu payasam/kheer and it is so tasty you'd want more” Vellarankallu are small white stones/rock pieces that can be found anywhere in the land. This of course raised the familiy's interest and the visitor generously offered to make some for the family as a favor. In no time he got them to boil a pot of water to which he added the cleaned stones the kids brought in. After a while he tasted the “payasam” and said that it would have been even better if only he had some milk. The family by now fully vested in the making of this extraordinary payasam brought out the milk. After a while he tasted again and in similar fashion got them to provide him with jaggery, coconut and other “normal” payasam ingredients without the family catching on!! The 'vellarankallu payasam” was finally ready and the eager family tasted to find that they were conned into making a payasam for their cunning guest after all... The visitor left after having his fill of the wholesome payasam!

So here it is, my “Egg” Curry:-)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Moru Kachiyathu – Seasoned Buttermilk

My most favorite accompaniment of all times for rice, I used to tell my Mom that this is probably the one of the ones I will actually want to know how to make. So despite being kitchenphobic I was her ready helper when it came to preparing this. Mostly the seasoning part. Yet, it took years to get to master the real tricky part and that too after several mishaps. One reason it took so long was that it is not a favorite of my husband and I like making something that both of us will enjoy. But once the craving took hold of me I had to get it down before being able to let go

In The Mix

Yogurt - 1 container
Water – 1 cup
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Curry Leaves – a sprig or 2
Shallots – 4 or 5 diced into large pieces
Shallots – ¼ thinly sliced.
Dry coconut powder – 2 tbsp
Green chilies – 2 or 3 – can substitute with dry red chili for a different color
Oil – 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Mix shallots, turmeric, green chilies and coconut powder in a little water and pour into a blender. Blend the yogurt with salt and water, add to the above and mix for 1-2 minutes.

Check salt. Add fresh curry leaves to the mix and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan and break mustards. Add curry leaves and thinly sliced onions and sauté.
Add the blended mix to this and stir on medium to low heat. From now on we have to be very careful. If you turn our head for a moment, I won’t be responsible for the disastrous results Needs constant stirring so the mix won’t separate which spoils the texture and taste altogether.. After stirring 3-4 minutes or to your satisfaction remove from heat and keep on stirring till it cools. Best enjoyed together with Rice, Red Fish Curry and Beans Thoran. Can also be had as a drink if you are crazy about it like me! Is very close to ‘Sambharam’ the good old buttermilk drink of hospitality that all visitors and passers by can expect from homes on hot summer days.

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