Saturday, July 26, 2008

Vermicelli Pulau

Remember the vermicelli package that enticed me? I had two of those and this is what I did with the other one:-) The package had a recipe for pulau on it and that was just what I needed as a start. Lately my husband had been complaining a little more than usual about the successful marginalization of veggies on our dining table.

I am always open to veggies so long as they are not alone. So this turned out to be the perfect idea for a Sunday brunch. All steps except the veggie cooking details are as in the recipe. Since the experiment was successful, I followed the same steps albeit with the readily available cooked rice for many days till my husband went from pleasant surprise to shock to acceptance. And that was my cue to forget about veggies till next time:-))

In The Mix

vermicelli – 200gm

vegetables – any in the fridge. fresh or frozen. no need to thaw.

raw rice - 1/4 tsp

urad dal - 1/4 tsp

chopped onion - ¼ red red onion chopped

green chili – 3 sliced in thin circles

curry leaves - 1 sprig

water - 1 1/2 cup

salt to taste

oil - 3 tsp

How To Do

Cook veggies as follows: Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan. Stir in the veggies. Sprinkle salt and mix together. Cook by covering in high heat for 5 min. I had available frozen kovakka(tindora), beans, fresh carrots, and frozen cauliflower. They were languishing since I had good intentions but never got around to them. I put a handful of each in for the cooking. 5 or 6 minutes of covered cooking is more than enough. Don't add water.

Heat 1 tsp oil in another pan and fry the vermicelli for a minute or so or till golden brown. Remove the vermicelli and add remaining oil to the pan. Add rice and urad dal and saute lightly. Add the sliced chili and fry. Add curry leaves too and the cooked vegetables. Add the water to boil all together. Check salt and add as needed. Now mix in the fried vermicelli and cook covered for 5 minutes in medium heat. Stir occasionally to prevent clustering. Serve on its own or with yummy chicken masala .

The same process can be used with rice instead of vermicelli. I use cooked rice and so after the veggies are added no need to add water. Maybe 1 or 2 tbsp of water. Mix well and cover and cook for 1-2 minutes and you are all done!

Chicken Masala - from Live To Eat

When I have a chicken urge I take refuge in Malluspice's pages and had always been a satisfied customer. Armed with this confidence I tried out a chicken recipe from another blog - Live To Eat. The recipe was a little different from what I am used to and reminded me of a pork vindaloo recipe that we have tried sometimes. It came out very well with nicely blended flavors in an appealing color and goes totally with any kind of carb you have at home!!. I can see this will be a keeper. I am repeating the recipe here for my own reference. I scaled the measures up to go with the quantity I had.

In The Mix
chicken : 3 lbs cut into pieces
red onion - 2 chopped
tomatoes - 2 diced
cloves - 12
cardamom pods - 6
cinnammon stick - 3" thin stick broken to pieces
curry leaves - 1 sprig or 2
salt to taste
oil - 3 to 4 tbsp
water - 3 to 4 cups
To Grind: dry red chilies - 22
garlic pods - 12
ginger - 4" piece
mustard seeds - 2 tsp

How To Do

Grind the 'to grind' ingredients in a blender with little water. I was hesitant about using so much chili but the result was wonderful. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan to brown the onions and set aside. Heat 2 tbsp in the same pan, add cloves, cardamom and cinnamon and saute. After a minute add the ground mix and slow roast till oil separates. Add chopped tomatoes and stir till tomatoes are cooked. I added salt at this stage.

Add cut chicken pieces and mix well so the pieces are coated. Fry to brown. Now add onions and curry leaves and stir for another minute. Add 3 cups of hot water to the pan, mix well and cook covered in medium heat.

Goes with anything. Thanks to Live To Eat for a yummy recipe .

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fish Fry & Fresh Caught Trout

You don't always have to go fishing like my brother to eat fresh caught fish. But you need good neighbors who do and graciously share their bounty. This is how we came to get a foot and half long fresh trout the other day. Since my son complained that we haven't been making fried fish - his favorite form of fish - I decided to do just that. Fried fish will always turn out to be tasty if you follow a few simple rules regardless of what is in the marinade.

1. Never freeze fish after you buy it. If you have to then always thaw in the fridge.
2. Add enough salt to the marinade. This is usually a little more than your usual salt to taste.
3. Marinate overnight in the fridge after scoring the pieces well.
4. Fry to crisp.

In The Mix

Fish cut into pieces and scored with a sharp knife on both sides- I had about 8-9 pieces from the trout
oil - 1 1/2 cups or enough to cover half of the fish pieces

For Marinade

fish masala powder - 1 tbsp (any brand will be fine)
chili powder - 1 tsp
kashmiri chili powder - 1 tbsp
powder mix of equal amounts of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom - 1/4 tsp
shallots - 1 chopped
vinegar - 2 or 3 tbsp
salt to taste

How To Do

Mix the marinade items together and marinate the fish overnight in the fridge. The cinnamon, cloves, cardamom powder is optional. If you don't have it, just add 1/2 tsp of coriander powder. Heat oil in a flat bottomed pan in high heat. Put the fish pieces in and lower the heat to between medium and high. After 3-4 minutes turn over to the other side. Again after 3-4 minutes remove from oil and drain on paper towels. You can leave the fish till your desired crispiness is achieved. This can be done by waiting long enough or by sprinkling some salt water on both sides right before you remove from the oil. The latter is a tip from my husband that I was quite amazed to see work well.

Enjoy with plain rice, yogurt and papadam or enjoy on its own fresh off the fire.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Semiya Payasam - Vermicelli Pudding

Guess it is time for a dessert. I have pretty much come to the end of my humble recipe arsenal anyway:-) The ones that I make the most often I mean. Semiya Payasam is actually being made the first time. It all started when my eyes fell on the colorful package of vermicelli during one of our Indian store trips. I have had the payasam quite often in Kerala as well as here and knew it was rather easy to make. Only problem was when the mood struck me, there were no cashews or raisins at home and so I went with almonds instead. Not a bad choice for a substitute. Wished I had the raisins though as I have a soft corner for those in any food, be it biriyani or dessert.

Speaking of almonds, I remember this almond tree on the way to the church that had great fascination for us kids. Especially on the way back when we were all hungry for lunch. It had really large leaves akin to oak trees but what attracted us were the green/purple fruits that dropped on the ground when birds were trying to chip off the outer shell. I don't know how the birds could break that shell and maybe they were just eating the soft outer layer, but we could collect 2 or 3 per person as a result of their efforts. Then the hard work of finding good stones to be the breaker and the breakee so we could pop the heavenly delicious almonds into our starved mouths. It was never enough and always left a thirst for more..Sorry to go on but my kids love a childhood story and let me continue for them. The tree had long since been cut down and I didn't know what we knew as 'badam' is what is called tropical almond till much later. If my older sister who was then a botany student was with me then she would name the botanical names of the trees and plants on the way. I was fascinated by botanical names and russian full names and some of them stay with me till now. I don't remember the plant alongside the botanical name though and searching on an impulse I find that 'terminalia cattappa' is this almond. Read all about the almonds here. Some of the other names I remember are 'mimosa pudica', 'lucas aspera' and of course 'hibiscus rosa-sinensis'. These names stay with you not for any reason but they are there as part of your memory. Maybe like Kunta Kinte's 'gambi bolongo' this may evolve over time and morph into similar sounding but different names.

Recipe for Semiya Payasam sans cashew and raisins.

In the Mix

vermcelli - 200gms (cut into shorter pieces if long)
almonds - 5 or 6 diced and fried
sugar - 1 cup
milk - 6 cups (i use 2% )
water - 6 cups (could be more or less depending on how thick you want the payasam to be)
vanilla essence - 1 or 2 drops
cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
oil or ghee - 2 tsp

How To Do

Heat oil or ghee and fry the vermicelli till golden brown. Set aside.
Boil milk and water together. As always when heating milk be nearby to avoid boil overs and keep stirring. Add vermicelli and cook for 10-12 minutes. Keep the above caution about milk in mind. Add sugar, almonds, cardamom powder, vanilla essence and mix together for a few minutes. Remove from heat. Add more water or reduce as you like. This can be done at any stage so long as the payasam has not gone to room temp. Slurp on warm or cold depending on the mood.

I didn't have cardamom powder either. Before you wonder if I have anything at all of use in the kitchen let me disclose I indeed had regular cardamoms:-) Hmom to the rescue! Seeing our fashionably modern but quite useless pestle and mortar set from Williams-Sonoma, she packed off a "real" one that can do the deed with some friends as soon as she reached home.

So when you find you don't have a certain item in powdered form you can always go to the mortar. This worked out nicely and I even have extra for another time. Remember of course that with cardamom we need to remove the husks.