Sunday, April 27, 2008

Oatmeal and Cofee for BreakFast

Well, what is new you might say. Nothing much really except that I apparently have some time on my hands? No, it is more like I do love it sooo and have yet to be bored with the way I take it that I simply had to record it. The actual method was arrived at by my husband yet I am the one who takes it regularly that way. My daughter loves it too and calls it “mommy’s food”.

What We Need

Oatmeal & Honey Cereal - ½ cup

Oatmeal (original plain) – 1 tbsp

Banana – ½ ripe

The Method

Mix the 2 oatmeals together in a small microwavable bowl and fill with water so all flakes are submerged. Now drain the water. Wait time is not necessary but will not harm the taste. Microwave for 40 seconds. Let sit for a minute. Remove and stir well with a spoon. Do any sharing at this time.

Using a spoon or knife, dice the banana into the bowl in circular shape. Mix together gently. Enjoy with coffee.

Easy Coffee

Fill a microwavable cup with milk. Use wholemilk for best results. Using reduced fat versions or half milk/half water is OK if you are not a milk fan but can affect the taste.

Microwave the milk for 130 to 145 seconds. Add 2 tsp of sugar & 1 tsp of Nescafe Classic Coffee. No other brand will do and this is available in all grocery stores I believe. If you need more exotic coffee taste then I have heard that Brookbonds from an Indian grocery store is rather good. I have yet to try this. Adjust sugar and coffee to your personal satisfaction. There! Your complete breakfast is ready!!!!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

VediIrachi (Hunted Meat) Preparation with Beef

I have not taken up hunting in case you are wondering:-) We just bought some beef to cook and HMom was interested in making it like they used to prepare hunted meat. In her childhood days her Dad – Paternal Great Gandfather to my kids – used to bring home meat from hunting trips to the backwaters. Mostly wild birds I think. We were all for making it this way. It does not need a lot of things to make it an extremely tasty concoction and therefore is assured of its place on our dining table.

In The Mix

Beef – 2 lbs

Fresh ground pepper powder – 1 tbsp

Whole dry red chilies – 9 to 10 torn lengthwise

Shallots - 2

Curry leaves -1 sprig

Turmeric - 1/4 tsp

Coriander - 1/2 tsp (optional)

That's it. I told you it can stand almost on its own. Didn't I?

How To Do

Cut beef into thin pieces and marinate with salt, lemon squeezed from a half and (2 tsp) pepper for a minimum of 2 hours. Cook the beef covered in a pan at first on hight heat and once water comes out on medium to low heat. No need to add water as water from the beef will be enough. Add 1 or 2 tbsp of water only if no water is forthcoming after a decent amount of waiting. Stir occasionally. Once cooked well, drain the juices and keep aside. Now fry the beef lightly in the pan it was cooked in. Add 2 of the torn chilies and some fresh curry leaves at this time.

In a separate pan heat oil, saute the sliced shallots and move a little to the side. Add rest of the chili, pepper powder and saute some. Add some curry leaves turmeric and coriander at this time and saute together. Add the meat, mix well, and add the juices set aside earlier. Dry well by frying in low heat. If there is a lot of juice, then start out at high heat and once the water subsides, turn to low heat. Do not cover during this time and also afterwards as the vapor on the lid will get onto the beef to render it less crisp. Towards the end make sure to remove from heat before it is entirely dried as the retained heat will continue the drying and we don't want the end product to be dried and shriveled up but slightly tender and crispy.

Er... only at this point I realised that I don't have any picture to go with this because I had deleted the ones I took. They didn't come out blogworthy. But, what is a food blog without a picture? So I have uploaded a rose from our garden till I get some pictures:-) I am planning to make some this week so it won't be long.

April 30:
I made it again yesterday and have uploaded the correct picture. I am leaving the rose here.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Shrimp Fry – Recipe adapted from a Small off the road Calicut Restaurant Courtsey Vanitha

When I get nostalgic for a Malayalam read I pick up a Vanitha from the Indian store. It usually has a whole lot of recipes too. One that caught enough of my attention to try out did not come in the form of a qualified recipe but rather in the story about a hotel in Calicut that started out serving fresh shrimp(konchu) and fish fry to truck drivers and others. They did not give the recipe out exactly but enough for me to want to try. I forgot the name of the restaurant too. A lot the taste was from the freshness of the fish itself probably but the shrimp fry turned out to be pretty tasty and so I am rather pleased to post this:


Shrimp – 1 lbs (shelled and de-veined)

Chili powder - ½ tbsp

Kashmiri chili powder - ½ tbsp

Turmeric powder - ¼ tsp

Curryleaves – 2 sprigs or more chopped

Green chili – 2 thinly chopped

Shallots – 1 thinly chopped

Salt to taste


Marinate the shrimp with the chili powders, salt, turmeric powder. Can add some lemon drops to the marinade if you are so inclined.

Heat oil in a pan and fry the marinated shrimp. There is an art to this. Add the shrimp at high heat to the pan and after 2-3 minutes or when you hear the first few shrimps break in oil, lower the heat to medium or below. Turn over 2 or 3 times and add the chopped curry leaves, onion and green chilies and fry all together. Not more than 2-3 minutes. Don't use the lid till here. Now turn off heat, close the lid and turn over once or twice to make sure the retained heat is not burning the shrimp. Serve hot with rice or enjoy as a snack.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


It took me a while to get the perfect Idli recipe. Story of my life:-) It took me even longer before I realized that I can use the idli batter that I developed to make Dosa and even Uthappams.
Gee, that sounds like a software script being developed!

Today I am posting about Uthappams. Again, we never had this at home and I had no idea how to make these. We did love eating it in the restaurants. Even my husband was doubtful of the outcome of making it at home. I searched the net and came across many impersonal Uthappam recipes but none where I usually look and so was not very confident in give it a try. Now that I have made them I can’t think of an easier and interesting way to eat plain old Dosa.

One day it so happened that I had some idli batter leftover from last time. I knew all of us were rather bored of the same combo of idli, sambhar and chutney. So I decided to make a Dosa version. When I poured the batter I wanted to try Egg Dosai and so plopped open an egg on top. Didn’t know how to turn it properly and so abandoned that after one attempt. Then I added some ginger, onion and curry leaves and made uthappam just like Dosa. This came out decent but the next time I officially made uthappam I went with just onion, green chili and curry leaves which I think tastes the best for us. Some add all kinds of vegetables to the mix which makes it a healthy and complete item. I add tomatoes sometimes in which case they need to be diced fine. If not it won’t cook well in the time it takes the rest to get cooked.


Dosa/Idli batter – enough for 6-8 dosas (this tells you how you get the batter)
Onion – 1/2 chopped (shallots are good too)
Green chilis – 3 chopped
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Tomato – 1 small finely diced
Salt to taste


Mix the ingredients including curry leaves with the batter. Set aside for a short time so the batter will imbibe the flavors of the additions. Heat a pan and pour the batter evenly. There is no need to spread it much further. Once one side is cooked, turn over and cook the other side. Uthappam is ready to be devoured with chutney or sambhar or both.

A friend at work says when her mom makes it, she covers the uthappam with a lid and so they don’t turn it over. In this case they pour the plain Dosa batter first and then spread the rest of the mix on top. The important things we discuss at work. Yeah! I haven’t tried this way since the turned over version itself found us in Uthappam heaven:-))

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lamb Biriyani

I am back to the cooking, taking pics and writing about it mode.

I always had the idea that a biriyani is a difficult item to make all by myself unlike fried rice or pulau. The name biriyani somehow conjures up delicate, elaborate and time consuming effort behind it. So when we visited a friend’s place and they had prepared biriyani for us I was quite wonderstruck that they would go to so much trouble for us. You see, we sort of forced an invitation on them because we were visiting their state and they graciously invited us for dinner even though both were sort of sick. So this was an extra surprise. When I expressed this feeling of awe at the extent of their hospitality, the friend sheepishly informed me that actually a biriyani is the most trouble free dinner preparation as it can stand on itself on the dinner table with the simple accompaniment of some raita, papad and pickle. I realized then that this is true because if you prepare plain or even fried rice, then you have to have at least one or two fish and meat items, a dry vegetable item, a gravied curry and other such accompaniments including cutlets or even appam and stew. At least that is how it goes in my head. Ever since that, I have dazzled many a group of friends and family at dinner with my “elaborately prepared” lamb biriyani:-) They are all probably onto it I know but are always kind to shower me with good words of praise.

My husband is not a great fan of chicken as I’d mentioned earlier and I don’t really look forward to seeing beef in a biriyani. So we settled in on lamb as the ideal meat for “our” biriyani. We don’t use any other meat but the lamb available in regular grocery stores. I did try it with the goat meat available from ‘halal’ stores but somehow did not come out as well as the lamb.

My recipe started out heavily dependent on KMM’s recipe for biriyani but evolved over time to a proper creation.

In The Lamb Mix
Lamb – 2 lbs, cut to decent sized pieces.
Cinnamon stick – 2” piece
Cardamom – 4 crushed
Cloves – 12 to 14
Ginger – 1 ½”
Garlic – 4 pods
Green chili – 2 (each sliced into 4 pieces)
Masala powder – ¼ tsp (this can be made in house by adding together cinnamon powder, cardamom powder and cloves powder together in equal or reasonable proportions)
Onion – ½ big red onion sliced thin lengthwise
Grated coconut – ¼ cup (mix with a little water to hydrate if dry – hydrating & coconut optional)
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Coriander powder – 2-3 tbsp
Kashmiri Chili powder – ½ tbsp
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Milk – 2 cups (warmed in microwave)
Water enough to cook lamb
Salt to taste
Oil – as needed (I use olive oil and find that 1 tsp of ghee will do a lot towards enhancing taste. Adding more ghee than this does not seem to benefit and rather gives the food a heaviness that we don’t prefer)

For Marinade:
Vinegar – 2 tbsp
Slat to taste
Chili powder – ¼ tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp

How To Do
Wash the lamb pieces and marinate 1 hour or more (in fridge if more) with salt, vinegar and the marinade powders.

Chop the ginger, garlic and green chili together. Heat oil in a large pan and roast cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Add masala powder here and fry for a short time before spices go burnt. Remove from heat when in doubt and keep sautéing. Add the chopped stuff and sauté on low heat for a while. Add onions, salt and curry leaves and stir together till onions give up looking stiff. Add the coconut and fry for a short time and add the remaining curry powders. Roast on slow heat till the mix rolls around or the aroma fills the air. This is an important part. Be patient while the gravy gets nicely roasted and you will be well rewarded in taste. Add the ghee at any point in the above steps.

Now add the lamb pieces and blend well together. Fry mildly for 5-6 minutes making sure the pieces are stirred for even exposure. Add the warm milk and enough water just to reach the top of the pieces and stir together. Check salt and add if needed. Wait till it boils at high heat and then cover and cook in medium heat. Lamb takes longer than the other meats which gives you time to do productive stuff like finishing off that half read paper or to down a glass of orange juice to hydrate yourself from all the proximity to heat:-)Cook about 18-23 minutes. Cook more if needed. Meat needs to be fully cooked. Make sure that gravy is concentrated rather than watery. The last step can be open and cook for 5 minutes or so to reduce water if needed. Remove from heat.

In the Biriyani Mix

Basmati rice – 6 cups
Black Raisins – 6-7 tbsp (only because I love them so! Add or remove as you please)
Turmeric powder – 2 tsp (add or remove based on your color preference)
Shallots – 10 sliced thin
Curry leaves – 1 or 2 sprigs
Ghee or olive oil – as needed
Salt to taste

How To Do

For Rice:
Cook the rice in a rice cooker following the exact water requirement for the cooker. Usually when I cook basmati rice I always add lots more water than recommended as otherwise I find the rice very dry and hard cooked for our palate. But for the biriyani preparation this non-sticking but cooked format is ideal. Don’t forget to add some salt to the water when cooking.

For Flavor:
Heat oil in a pan and sauté the turmeric powder, add sliced shallots and sauté some more and add curry leaves and stir together. Add the raisins and salt - remember the rice has some salt already - and sauté the whole mix till the raisins fluff up to a ball and the onions are an appetizing crispy brown. Remove from heat.

Take a large bowl and mix the prepared onion/raisin mix with the rice using a fork so as the rice gets colored evenly yellow. At this point my daughter likes to help herself to a healthy dose of the rice. She prefers it this way before the meat gets added on. My son is not into colors when it comes to rice and I make sure that I set aside some untouched white rice for him:-)

Layering and Oven
Preheat oven to 250 Deg. Take a baking pan and coat with melted butter. Place the lamb pieces first. Keep all the gravy and some small pieces for the next layer. Then add a layer of the prepared rice. Now spread the gravy and remaining lamb pieces and top off with another layer of rice. The oven step is just to bring out the flavors and blend. So cover with an aluminum foil and keep in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Turn off oven and keep inside till you are ready to serve. No need to mix the layers as that will happen on its own when serving. Enjoy with raita, papads and lime pickle for the full experience. Remember, only lime pickle goes with biriyani. OK, you are free to select a pickle of your own choice having toiled this far:-)

How to make this an easy and tasty task:
Marinate and prepare the lamb curry 2 or 3 days ahead. Keep in the fridge. Sitting in curried state makes it tastier. Make the flavor mix also 2 or 3 days ahead and keep in the fridge. May not necessarily increase the taste but reduces effort on D-Day.

Now all you need on the day you plan to make the biriyani is just cook the rice, heat up the lamb and flavor mix and do the layering and oven step from above. Raita is best prepared the day it is being served, but papads can be made as early as one day ahead if your climate is not humid.