Saturday, May 31, 2008

Small Mussel Fry /Kakka Irachi

This one is totally from my husband's household. Had not known that it could be made like this but once I saw how easy it was, I decided to keep it. We eat it more like a snack though:-)

In the Mix:

Mussel - 1/2 lbs ( can be bought in a Chinese store. 1 package will do)
Shallots : 2 or 3
ginger : 3/4" piece
green chili - 1 or 2
curry leaves - 1 or 2 sprigs
crushed chili - 1 tbsp
turmeric - 1/4 tsp
fresh ground pepper - 2 tsp
cloves powder - 1/4 tsp
cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
oil - 1 tbsp
salt to taste

How To Do

Chop shallots, ginger, green chili and curry leaves together. Set 1 tbsp of this aside.
Combine the chopped mix, mussels, crushed chili, turmeric, pepper, cloves and cinnamon together . Add salt to taste and cook till all the water is gone.

Heat oil in a pan and saute the set aside chopped mix. Add the cooked mussels and now fry well till dry. This will take some time and care must be taken not to burn the mix. If impatient then you can raise the heat and stay closeby to fasten the process. The color of the finished product should not be the fresh green it started with but a comfortable snacky brown.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

That Fresh Cup of Tea!

Ours was a coffee household. And I am a coffee girl. The only contact I had with tea is when we go on long road trips mostly to visit relatives or for shopping or to get things done and my Dad asks to stop the car in front of one of those roadside tea stalls in the pretext of getting the person who is driving a glass of hot tea while it truly is for him! I also used to try some and never really took to it. I did love all those trips with my Dad and cherish them all the more dearly now that he is no longer with us.

Guess who the tea boy is? That is right! My husband. So I have gingerly come to accept this drink as an item in the house. We always make coffee and tea in the microwave so there never is a problem drinking what we each crave:-)

All this changed a little when we visited India last time. My HDad always gets up early and is the one who makes tea. His tea is good! The kids having grown up a little I had a chance to observe his tea making and after coming back we decided to make tea the old fashioned way sometimes. Now this is a must for us on weekend evenings..

How do you make tea? It is easy and the only bad part would be cleaning up the bottom of the pan after tea is made. But if you have already fallen for the drink then this is not a problem.

This will make tea for two.

To prepare

water - 1 cup
milk - 1 cup
tea powder/leaves - 2 tbsp (we buy taj mahal or red label from the indian store)
sugar - 5 tsp

The Way
Boil the water and milk together. Wait near the pan lest you have a spillover mess. As soon as the milk boils up remove from heat. Will take around 3 minutes or more. If you were a little late and the milk keeps boiling over, then blow on top to keep it down. Add the tea powder and sugar and close with a plate/lid to cover completely. No need to stir.

Now you can go off and prepare your snacks in anticipation or just wait 5 minutes at the least. We used to joke that after closing the lid we should now checkout the garden or read the newspaper like HDad would do for proper timing:-) The longer it sits, the stronger the tea will be. You can also change the tea powder/sugar quantities based on your preference.

Open the lid and stir lightly with a spoon. Pour to cups through a small handheld collander and you are all done!

Number of cups should be the same as the number of people. Water to milk ratio is always 1:1.
Add as many table spoons of tea as there are people. Add 2times the number of people for sugar plus one more. So if you need to make tea for 5, that will be 2.5 cups of water, 2.5 cups of milk, 5 tbsp of tea and 11 tsp of sugar.

Potato Masala for Masala Dosa

We never used to make dosas at home growing up but later on due to popular demand I did master the art. I speak of the rice version in the footnote there as opposed to the 'cream of rice' version in the post. I have since discovered that the Dosa made with the 'rice' version is greatly preferred by my son the inhouse dosa critic. After taking a mouthful he pronounced "Hmm.. Mom this is almost as good as Amama's!" What more can I aspire for? The pics in this post are from the 'rice' version. Both versions can easily be used for idli and dosa depending on your time and 'work' tolerance.

The kids prefer plain dosa with sambhar and chutney on the side "just like at the dosa place" in my son's words meaning the Veggie Indian Restaurant we frequent. So the Masala version is just for my husband who adores it and is one contented person after a full course of home made Masala Dosas. I enjoy it too. I try to make the plain dosas into different shapes for the kiddos.

This one is for my Kannan

This one is for my Molu

Now to the Potato Masala. It is a no brainer, right? Boil some potatoes and do the seasoning and there you are. That is what I used to do too until HMom came on board. So this one is with all the little flavors she added to my original no-nonsense version. It is still easy as before, just a lot tastier.

In the Mix

potatoes - 2 large
tomato - 1 or 1/2 diced
ginger - 1/2" piece diced
green chili - 2 large sliced into thin circles
shallot - 1 or 2 sliced thin and long
lemon - 1/2 for squeezing
dry red chilies - 5 or six torn into small pieces
red chili flakes from the dry red chilies (crushed chili powder?) - 2 tsp
turmeric - 1/2 or 1/4 tsp depending on your color preference. I used 1/2 tsp in the pictures but I think somewhere b/n 1/2 and 1/4 tsp gives the right color.
olive oil - 2 tsp
raw rice - 1/2 tsp
urad dal - 1/2 tsp
salt to taste
curry leaves - 1 sprig or 2

How To Do

Start boiling the potatoes first.

Heat oil in a pan and break mustards. Add rice and urad dal and saute lightly taking care not to burn them. Add curry leaves and then add onion, ginger and green chilies and saute well.

Add torn dry red chili and mix well. Then add the crushed chili, turmeric and salt. Squeeze 4 or 5 drops of fresh lemon juice. Saute well and remove pan from heat if potato is not ready.

Peel the boiled potatoes and mash taking care to leave enough pieces for a good texture. Squeeze in a few drops of lemon and add salt. Mix gently together. Add to the seasoning and mix together. The potato masala is ready. Spoon as much as you want to the middle of the prepared dosa and fold together. Dip into sambhar and scoop up with chutney for a dosa fest of flavors in your mouth! Finish off with freshly prepared tea and now you just want to lie back and relax savoring the experience for a long time to come:-)

I folded in the plate for getting good pictures. It is best when the potato is spooned onto the dosa in the pan when done and folded there. Eat hot and crunchy for best results. I do this for weekend breakfasts or on weekday evenings.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Have you ever been sort of depressed and lethargic to blog anymore after the loss of a much loved draft? This is what happened to me. I had prepared a nice draft for my idiappam - my breakfast king of kings, mind you- and now it is not to be seen anywhere. I have searched hi and lo in my PC but it has gone for good. This somehow stopped me from writing again or moving onto the next one.

It doesn't last that long and I have to say a few comments here and there helped energize me again:-) So here I am and I still need to bring the idiappam to life so I can move on.

Idiappam has a special place in my heart. Like boiled eggs and fresh toasted cashew nuts, this one is a dear. It was not made that often in my home because it takes some hardwork to achieve the splendid results. After coming here, making 'idiappam' remained a dream. My few tries were futile due to lack of proper equipment and flour. The frozen ones were not that bad but somehow I was not satisfied with them. Then I started reading the food blogs and saw many bloggers making it as a matter of course. This gave me courage and hope. The delicious, melt in your mouth idiappams could be within my reach after all!

The one thing I asked for when my in-laws were coming was to bring me the best idiappam press they could find. Luckily for me my HMom's sister found a really nice one and here I am in idiappam land! The first time I tried it, I used regular rice. Those guys looked neat before cooking but melted together to an unrecognizable blob afterwards. Having seen how well the noodles came out of the press, I knew the culprit was the rice flour and so made a trip to the local Indian/Kerala store . My HMom had talked about 'Double Horse' brand being good in Kerala and this is exactly what I found at the store.. This time the result was astounding and the 3 batches I made disappeared really quickly and I couldn't wait to make another set in the space of 2 days!!!

I also wanted to say that while searching for an idiappam press I came across many sites that offer them commercially. The best one from which I also got a prompt response was this. It costs about $100 and I would have bought this if my in-laws weren't bringing one so soon.

The recipe follows the traditional steps. We make it a certain way though which my husband and kids enjoyed much.

In the Mix

idiappam flour - 1 cup (care must be taken that the flour you buy is pre-roasted for idiappam)
water - 1 1/2 cups (rule of thumb. use water time and half of the flour you take)
olive oil - 1 tbsp
salt to taste
coconut powder - 1/2 cup (fresh grated is best. if using the dried flakes, then hydrate with water sometime before you are ready make the idiappam)
sugar to taste

How To Do

Mix the hydrated coconut powder with sugar and set aside.

Boil water, salt and oil together. Remove from heat as it boils and add the flour little by little and mix well together with a wooden spoon. No need to mix with hand as the flour gets mixed well while under pressure inside the press:-) Discoveries laziness help you make!!

I use the idli thattu for this and so grease the idli pans lightly with oil. Fill the idiappam press with the prepared dough and press down so the noodles will fall onto the idli pans. After one or two layers, spoon some coconut sugar mix on top. Now add a few more layers to make the idiappam scoop. Repeat for all pans and steam cook just like you would for idli.

Best enjoyed with egg curry or stew and in dire circumstances, with kadala curry.

My husband says they don't put the coconut in between and that they use coconut milk as curry. But he is a total convert to this method and it is a pleasure to see his big hands and my daughter's little hands moving in unison towards the idiappam platter polishing them off methodically. Yours truly is not far behind either:-)

A quick fix that worked somewhat better than all others except the one mentioned above is to buy rice noodles from a chinese store and cook then in salted water. Drain well and then place them in the idli thattu with the coconut and all and steam cook a very short time. This is only if you have no way of getting to the real deal. OK? Tip is courtesy my eldest brother who also live in this part of the world.