Mutton Liver Roast, Naadan Style

There is something infinitely comforting about warm, spicy, peppery food. Just the thought of non-vegetarian food cooked with black pepper is enough to get me salivating. Today, I am posting my version of a naadan mutton liver fry. There are several version of the same dish. This dish, when cooked at our relatives houses, tastes wholly different, though the ingredients remain the same, much like the love that goes into its making. Feel free to adjust the level of spices according to your tolerance. I will mention now that the spice tolerance in our house is very high (except poor ol' dad, who by the end of the meal, sweats buckets and goes charging for the ice-cream tin! :D )

Without further ado, I present to you my version of naadan mutton liver fry!

























This recipe serves 4-6 people.
Cooking time: about half an hour
Preferred equipment: Non-stick kadai
Best served with naadan matta rice.

Mutton liver (washed, drained and cubed) - 1/2 kg
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp.
Saunf (dry-roasted and ground) - 1/2 tsp.
Pepper powder - 1 tsp. + to taste
Coriander seeds - 2 Tbsp.
Dry red chillies - About 10 (or to taste) + 2-3 extra
Ginger-garlic paste - about 4 Tbsp. (preferably freshly ground)
Curry leaves - a big handful
Coconut oil - as required
Salt - to taste

Method:
Mix the liver with turmeric and about 1 teaspoon of pepper. Set on a medium flame. (Please remember that no salt or water is to be added at this stage, since the liver will release water as it cooks, and adding salt at this stage makes the liver tough and rubbery). Cover and let it cook.

Meanwhile, dry roast the coriander seeds and dry red chillies, and grind to a coarse powder. Add this powder to the cooked liver. Mix and set aside. In the same kadai, heat some oil, and add the ginger-garlic paste, curry leaves, and 2-3 torn dry red chillies. Fry this on medium flame till fragrant. Now add the liver to this, and roast well, then mix in the . Add in salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Notes:
- When roasted to perfection, the liver will get a dark brown colour, bordering black.
- To take this recipe a notch up, fry a few cloves of slivered garlic till lightly browned and add this to the mixture and combine before serving.


Meen Peera

This recipe serves 3 to 4 people

Cooking time - About 20 minutes

Preferred equipment - Mannchatti (Flat earthen pot)

Best served with boiled rice

    

      Key ingredients

 Kozhuva/Netholi (Anchovies) - 250 Gms 
 Garlic (Skinned & Crushed) – 4 cloves
 Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
 Kudampuli - 2 big pieces
 Salt to taste 


To be ground coarsely:
Grated coconut – ½ cup
Green Chillies – 6 to 8
Ginger - 1 big piece
Shallots – 5 to 8
Chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric Powder – ¼ teaspoon


To garnish:
      Coconut oil - 2 Tablespoons


      Method

1.    Add the key ingredients and the coarsely ground mix to the mannchatti; Sprinkle about ¼ cup water and set on stove at medium to low heat. Cover with a lid for 5 to 10 minutes. Open the lid and check every few minutes to make sure it doesn't get burnt!

2.    Once the fish is cooked, stir the mix slowly so as not to mush up the fish too much. The fish may break here and there, but that’s okay as long as it doesn't get mashed up.

3.   
Add the garnish over the dish. Serve hot. 

Cold chocolate milk



Cold chocolate milk is any man's comfort drink. And a homemade one is even better.

Ingredients:
Milk - 3/4th cup
Sugar - 3/4th tbsp
Marshmallows - 4-5
Hot chocolate mix - 1 tbsp

Method:
• Add all the ingredients to a microwave safe cup.
• Heat for 30 seconds; take the cup out of the microwave and stir well.
• Heat for another 30 seconds; take the cup out and stir well till all the ingredients are well blended.
• Refrigerate for couple of hours. Serve chilled.

Ayala Varuthathe - Mackerel fry, Malabar style



It's funny how people come up with some terms. I've been learning a few new terms ever since I moved to Cochin. 'Chill-mode' is one of those. On a chill-mode day we stay at home all day lazying around, mostly with some very precious bottles of Bacardi breezers. Ya, that's right, breezers are pretty precious for us Kochites, we don't get them here, b'coz of some government regulation, and have to request our friends visiting from Bangalore and Hyderabad to get us some. The past 2 years that I have been here I've had the hope that someday they're gonna start selling it here. But now, thanks to new rules, that hope is dead. I really have no idea how the Mallu alcoholics are gonna survive this. Doesn't make a difference to us breezer drinkers, since we never did get it here to begin with.

Anyway back to food, so as I was saying, tonight's chill-mode for us, my friend Parvathi and me. And since we were gonna be downing some breezers, we got some fish to fry as "touchings" with the breezers. Touchings is something spicy that's eaten as a side-dish with alcohol, I know breezers aren't much to call alcohol, but technically they are. So, tonight's touchings was Ayala Varuthathe, Mackerel Malabar style. A very simple recipe, but thought I'll put it up for some of my friends who are upcoming Malabary cookers ;)

Ingredients for Ayala Varuthathe


  1. Ayala - 2, cut, cleaned and striped
  2. Chilli powder - 1 ½ Tbsp.
  3. Turmeric powder - ½ Tsp.
  4. Pepper powder - 1 Tsp. 
  5. Salt - ½ Tbsp. or as per your taste
  6. Lime juice - 1 Tsp.
  7. Coconut oil - To shallow fry, about 3 Tbsp. on a non-stick pan.


Method:

  • Cut and clean the fish, and give it 5-6 stripes horizontally over the entire length, so that the marinade can seep in well. 
  • Mix the ingredients 2 to 6 in a bowl, add a few drops of water if required and make a slightly thick paste and marinate the fish in it for about half an hour. 
  • Heat a flat pan, add the oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, place the marinated fish on it. Fry on a medium-slow heat for about 5 minutes on each side or till you feel its cooked to your liking.
  • Ayala Varuthathe is ready!



Kayi curry, raw plantain slices cooked in coconut milk gravy


I've always wanted to be a vegetarian, if not for anything else, at least to help me lose some weight. But who am I fooling.. the minute I set eyes on some delicious fish curry or chicken fry, I lose all control. I've decided not to give up so easily though.. am on a path of research now, discovering new recipes with vegetables that resemble their non-vegetarian counterparts. And hopefully, I'd be able to cut down on the meat and fish gradually, at least, that's the plan. This is one such discovery, not my invention though.. this one is a specialty of our cook. Upon first look, it can fool you into believing that it's fish curry and tastes equally good too.

For this curry you'll need,

Raw banana, preferably plantain 1, sliced thinly, diagonally
Tamarind juice 1 cup
Shallots 10, sliced thinly (can be supplemented with 1 onion)
Tomato 1, sliced
Ginger 1" piece, chopped
Green chillis 2-3, slit in half
Turmeric 1tsp.
Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste

Boil all the above together, till the plantain is cooked. This shouldn't be over-cooked, b'coz the plantain slices should be intact and not mashed up.

Coconut milk, 1 1/2 cups
Coconut oil 1 tbsp
Garlic 3 cloves, crushed
Curry leaves 1 sprig

Pour the coconut milk in and when the gravy starts to boil and thicken, add the coconut oil, garlic and curry leaves. Serve hot with rice.

Pazhampori/Banana Fritters. One of the many popular evening snacks in Kerala



Nice and ripe plantain slices coated with lightly sweetened white flour batter and deep fried, it just melts in your mouth after each bite… My love for Pazhampori started since the time I could trace back my memory, we had a neighbor, who made Pazhampori every single day, and she would get me a few... every single day. There came a point when I kind of got addicted to it, then mom stepped in and told me I couldn't have em regularly, with the promise that she would make it for me once in a while, she kept her promise, but still, I wasn't too happy about foregoing my daily share of Pazhampori, and was quite sour at that point... it took me a few years from there to put together things like hogging on fried items, putting on weight, the troubles of losing that weight, the health issues and so on and on. I got over the craze gradually, and settled down to rejoicing at the occasions when  Mom made em at home. Later on, when I was on a train journey once, I happened to pass through Palakkad railway station, amongst many other noises around the station, one in particular caught my attention, the monotonous calls of one food vendor, it was none other than the one selling Pazhamporis. Not that you don’t get Pazhampori elsewhere, but I had heard from many that the ones you get at Palakkad railway station are yumm. I had my hubby running for the Pazhampori guy... It is quite good for the store bought standards, but definitely nowhere close to the homemade ones, but I still loved it nevertheless. 

For homemade Pazhampori 

You’ll need…

Ripe plantains – 2; sliced slanted or lengthwise into ½” thick, and about 2-3” long pieces
Maida/All-purpose flour – 1 cup
Rice flour – 2 tbsp.
Sugar – ¼ cup
Cardamom – 1; powdered
Salt - 1 pinch
Egg – 1 (optional)
Baking powder – 1 pinch (Optional)
Water – 1 cup (just enough to make a thick batter)
Oil – for deep frying

Heat the oil in a deep bottomed pan, on a medium flame. While that is getting heated, you can prepare the batter.
In a bowl, mix all the ingredients, except the plantains. Add the water gradually; the batter should be of thick but pourable consistency.
Dip the plantain slices into the batter to coat it well, and immediately drop it into the hot oil, you could fry 4 or 5 at one time, turn them around to fry both the sides, till they turn to a golden color.
Strain out of the oil onto a tissue paper to remove excess oil.  
Serve hot!


Sausage Rolls




Ingredients:
3 cups warm water
3 tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup honey
5 cups Maida/All-purpose flour
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, plus 2 or 3 cups if necessary
Sausages, for as many rolls as you are making
1 to 2 tbsp. melted butter for brushing

Method:
  • Mix warm water, yeast, and half the honey. Add the all-purpose flour, and mix well. Set aside for 30 minutes, or till it has risen a little.
  • To the above, add 3 tbsp. melted butter, remaining honey, and salt. Add the whole wheat flour; knead until it’s just pulling away, but still slightly sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 or 3 cups of whole wheat flour. Grease the entire surface of the dough with a little butter or oil. Cover with a soft cloth and keep it in a warm place. Leave it aside till it has risen and doubled in size, this may take about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Once it has risen well, pat it down, and divide into small balls in the size of the rolls that you prefer - small, medium or large. I made small ones.  Flatten out each ball to about an inch thickness, place half of a regular sized sausage, or 1 cocktail sausage, in the middle and roll it up, making sure the ends are stuck firmly and does not come loose.
  • Place in greased baking pans, and leave it until dough has risen to at least about half an inch.
  • Bake at 350°F /175°C for 20 to 30 minutes; do not over bake. Lightly brush the tops of rolls with melted butter when done to prevent the crust from getting hard. Serve warm.





Prawn Roast

A worldwide favorite and definitely the most versatile seafood.... the vote would most certainly go to Shrimp/Prawn. Shellfish usually are more popular than other kinds of seafood, for most people mainly due to the ease of cooking, versatility, the ease of eating, since there's no bones to worry about (with the exception of crab of course!) and more than anything, the taste! 
I don't really wanna go on to the part where I'd have to admit to prawn being high in cholesterol... for now we'll jus skip that and get to the interesting part...


For the Prawn roast, we'll need

Prawn or shrimp - 1/2 kg
{Marinated for 30 minutes in 1/2 tsp chilli powder, a pinch of turmeric powder, a tsp of lemon juice and 1/2 tsp salt}
Onion - 1 big, chopped
Tomato - 1 big, chopped
Green chillis - 1, chopped
Garlic - 5-6 cloves, crushed and chopped
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Hot red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Kashmiri chilli powder (for color) - 1 tsp
Pepper - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Coriander leaves, chopped - 2 tbsp
Coconut oil - 3 tbsp
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a shallow pan and fry the prawns just until they turn white. Remove and keep aside. 
In the remaining oil, add the onions and sauté till they turn pink. Add the tomatoes, green chilli and garlic, sauté till the tomatoes are softened and the oil starts to rise through. Add salt, turmeric and both the chilli powders. Fry for a minute, just enough to get rid of the raw smell of the powders. Add the prawns and mix it in well, so that the masala is well coated on the prawn. Throw in the curry leaves and the coriander leaves. Prawn roast ready to serve!!

Tomato jam


The most easiest, and my personal favorite of all homemade jams. Its simplicity is probably its best part.

Ripe red tomatoes, chopped – 4 cups
Sugar – 4 cups
Juice of 1 lemon
Cloves – 3 to 4

Add all the ingredients to a heavy bottomed non-stick pan and cook till it’s mashed and turns into a sticky dropping consistency. When it cools, store in jars. It’s as easy as that!

Tagging the recipe with the event "Any One Can Cook: Series 38" @ Taste of Pearl City hosted by 


Raspberry Cheesecake, with a little twist





Cheese cakes are a pleasure indeed, combine that with raspberries, its just amazing. And that’s exactly what I did. I find the crunchy, fruity, cheesey combination a treat for the mouth. I couldn’t get my hands onto any fresh raspberries to decorate, so  I decided to make do with something I had around—Willy Wonkas Gobstoppers.. I know its silly.. but I thought that adding one more ingredient which I love to something that’s already so lovable was harmless, and anyhow since there were no fresh raspberries, this seemed like a fun replacement.


Bottom layer – the crunchy biscuit layer:
Digestive biscuits – 100 gms, crushed finely
Butter – 50 gms
Take a shallow, loose bottom, microwavable cake dish, around 6” in diameter, put the butter into this, heat it up, in a microwave oven till the butter has melted, this takes just around 20 seconds. Add the crushed biscuits to this, stir it in, and press it down  evenly around the base of the cake dish. Heat on high in a microwave oven for 1 minute. Keep aside.

Middle layer – the cheesy layer:

Philadelphia cheese (or any soft and full fat cheese) – ½ cup
Cottage cheese – ½ cup
Egg – 1, beaten
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Powdered sugar – 3 ½ tbsp
Raspberry essence – ½ tsp
·         
     Add all the ingredients to a bowl and beat lightly till its all well combined. Pour it through a seive into another bowl. You will have to press the mixture down to help it pass through the seive.
·        Place the bowl in a microwave oven on high for about half a minute. Take it out, whisk it with a wire whisk, put it back into the oven and cook for another 30 to 40 seconds, remove and repeat the process of whisking and cooking once more. The mixutre would be thickened now, whisk once more and pour over the biscuit layer in the cake dish.
·       Place it into the microwave oven and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Keep turning the dish a bit after every half minute. Keep aside till it cools down.
·       Now store the dish in the chiller section of the refrigerator till the remaining parts for the cheese cake are done.

Top layer – the fruity layer:

Canned raspberries in syrup – 1 can, about 250 gms  
Corn starch – 2 tbsp  

·         Strain canned raspberries and keep the raspberries aside. Pour the syrup into a bowl.
·         Mix the corn starch with equal amount of water to make a loose paste. Mix this with the raspberry syrup and cook in a double boiler for a few minutes, stirring continously, till the mixture thickens up to a dropping consistency.
·         Add the raspberries to this mixture and stir it in. Keep it aside for 5 minutes.
·         Now pour it evenly over the chilled cheesecake and put it back into the refrigerator.
·         Let it chill for atleast 4 to 5 hours.


You can decorate it with whipped cream and fresh raspberries, which is your typical cheesecake deco, or you could get whacky and use something you have on hand, like Gobstoppers.. ;-)

Tagging the recipe onto the event "ABC Series: DESSERTS" @ Ramya's recipe... hosted by Ramya

Black Forest Cake for Dad's 50th birthday

Black forest cake or gateau is originally a German dessert, which is now popular around the globe. It’s called ‘Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte’ in German, which literally translated, means Black forest cherry torte.
Usually it consists of two or more layers of chocolate cake separated by cherry filling and whipped cream, and decorated with whipped cream and chocolate shavings and finally topped with whole cherries. There are quite a few versions for this cake, but most of them rotate around this basic combination. I did a quite a bit of research before setting out to make my first Black forest cake. The base recipe is derived from my sister’s recipe journal. She learnt it at her ECA class at school. I did a little improvising to the original recipe. It’s an assembled combination of 4 parts – chocolate cake, cherry filling, whipped cream, chocolate ganache and finally the icing. The decoration is up to your imagination, although it usually consists of whipped cream, a good amount of chocolate shavings and whole cherries.




 This is my first Black forest cake. I made it for my Dad’s 50th birthday. We gave him a surprise party too by the way.

The first part, the chocolate cake,

All-purpose flour – 1 ¾ cups
Baking powder – 1 ½ tsp
Baking soda – 1 ½ tsp
Cocoa powder – 1 cup
Castor sugar – 2 cups
Salt – ¾ tsp
Eggs - 2
Milk – 1 cup
Vegetable oil – ½ cup
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Vanilla sugar – 1 tsp (If you can’t find this, you can double the essence instead)
Hot water – 1 cup

·        Pre-heat the oven.
·        Sift all the dry ingredients together. Keep aside.
·        Add the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla essence and vanilla sugar to a bowl and mix very slowly with a wire whisk.
·        Add the dry ingredients to the bowl. Mix gently, without forming any bubbles.
·        Add the water and blend it into the batter.
·        Pour the batter equally into two 8” baking dishes.
·        Bake this at 180C for 35-45 minutes or till a skewer inserted comes out clean. I kept it for 45 minutes.
·        Once it’s done, tilt it onto a wire rack and let it cool. I made the cake the previous night so that it cooled completely.

Now for the cherry filling, though the original recipe asks for ‘Kirschwasser’ rum, a clear liquor distilled from tart cherries. Apparently other liquors are also used such as rum, which is common in especially common in Austrian recipes. I used ordinary rum as I couldn’t get my hands on Kirschwasser. In the United States, Black Forest cake is most often prepared without alcohol but German statutory interpretation states Kirschwasser as a mandatory ingredient; otherwise the cake is legally not allowed to be marketed as Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. If you do not prefer to use alcohol, you can skip it. It’ll make a difference to the taste, but I can guarantee that it would still taste great.

For the chocolate cake,
Icing sugar – ¾ cup
Instant coffee powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – 1 pinch
Butter – 2 tbsp
Canned pitted cherries - ¼ cup (drained)
Rum or Kirschwasser, if you have it – 3 tbsp

·        Add all the ingredients except the rum to a bowl. Mix slowly till all the ingredients are well combined.
·        Finally add the rum and combine. Keep aside.

The next part is the Whipped cream. This is used for the filling as well as for the icing.
Whipping cream – 1 ½ cups
Icing sugar – ¼ cup
Vanilla sugar or vanilla essence – ½ tsp
Kirschwasser rum – 1 tbsp

·        Whip the cream, sugar and vanilla sugar (or essence) at high speed, till it thickens and becomes light and fluffy. Keep aside.

For the ganache,
Bitter chocolate (grated) – ½ cup
Sweet chocolate (grated) – ½ cup
Rum – 1 tbsp
Heavy cream – ½ cup

·           Add both the grated chocolates and the rum to a bowl and set it aside.
·        Add the cream to a heavy sauce pan, and heat it over a low flame. Turn off flame as soon as it starts to boil. Do not let it boil completely, as it will spill out of the saucepan.
·        Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and rum and whisk it with a wire whisk, till it turns into a smooth mixture. Set aside and let the mixture cool completely.

When all the parts are ready, you can assemble the cake.
·        Start by placing one of the cakes on a cake plate.
·        First spread half of the ganache on the cake evenly.
·       Then add a layer of whipped cream to cover the top portion of the cake layer, saving the rest for icing the cake.
·        Next add all of the cherry filling and spread it evenly.
·        Now place the second cake on top, aligning it well with the first layer.
·        Pour the remaining ganache over this layer and let the cake soak it up a little.
·        When the ganache hardens, start the icing.
·        Spread the whipped cream all over the cake neatly.
·        Once that’s done, decorate with the chocolate shavings as per your imagination. I patted it up around the cake, leaving the top portion; you need to be careful not to spoil the whipped cream coating.
·        Next you can use an icing cone to make small mounds with the whipping cream on the top and place some cherries around, all this is upto your imagination. You could spread some chocolate shavings too on top.
·        
   Finally, when you’re done with the decoration, refrigerate the cake for a couple of hours before serving. Enjoy your cake!!

Corn flour Halwa

Halvas are amongst some of the most popular of Indian sweets. Saying that, Indians are not the only ones who make halvas, it is popular with the Greeks, and most parts of the Middle East. Each region has their own versions. The word 'halva' has Arabic roots and means 'sweet'. Halvas are sweet, have a thick texture and are mostly translucent with any color depending on the food coloring used. It can be made of maida, wheat flour, corn flour, semolina and so on.  They could be made solely from fruit pulps too. Some of the very popular ones amongst fruit halvas are jackfruit (known as 'chakka varattiyathe') and plantain (banana halva). Both use jaggery instead of sugar. These are especially popular around the Malabar region. A bakery called "Malabar Bakery" in Kannur makes some of the best banana halvas. My Achamma (Grandmom) used to stock these along with cream colored Barley biscuits and 'Tea cakes' (plain sponge cake pieces, cut into about palm 's length, 2 inches in width and 1 inch in thickness, with a thin layer of baby pink colored icing along the length in the middle and wrapped like a toffee, in parchment paper) at home, at all times and they used to be a regular item, amongst others, as tea time snacks and for any guests who appear every now and then, mostly some relative or the other. 
Coming back to halvas, the varieties are endless. They can be flavored artificially or with real fruits. Most halvas are time consuming and a bit of hard work.  The version I have made is not too sweet, has much less oil (ghee) compared to most halvas, and is one of the easiest ever  to make. I have used Raspberry essence to flavor the halva, and pink food color to match the flavor, but you can experiment with different flavors and colors that compliment the flavor,  as you like. For instance, you could use yellow color and mango essence or red color and rose essence. If you don't prefer to use essence, then you could replace it with some fresh or dry  fruits like pineapple, dates, kiwi, figs etc. Or you could use elachi for a very Indian touch.


Corn flour halva has a jelly like texture once it sets. This preparation requires very little ghee, hence making it a healthy halva. I have made it just sweet enough without being sickly and overbearing. I chose to serve it cold, cut it into cubes, but it can also be be served hot, if you prefer it that way. And instead of cutting it into cubes, you could leave it to set in tiny (greased) moulds, in any shape and empty onto plates.


Corn flour - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1 1/2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Raspberry essence - 1/2 tsp
Pink food color - A pinch
Ghee - 1 tbsp
Cashews - 4-5, broken into pieces
Golden raisins - 6-8
Almonds - 3-4, slivered




1.  Mix corn flour, sugar, water and food color in a microwavable bowl. Mix well to dissolve any lumps.
2.  Microwave this on high power for 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave and stir the mix well with a wire whisk (do not whisk). Microwave again for another 2-3 minutes, remove and stir again with the wire whisk. The mixture will start getting thicker after the second time. Repeat the process, till the mixture becomes a thick (halva) consistency, stirring well after each microwave session.
3. Meanwhile, in a small pan, heat the ghee and slightly brown the cashews. Next add the raisins and when they swell up turn off heat and add the almond slivers.
4. Add this to the halva, mix well. Move into greased moulds.
5. Keep aside for sometime till it sets. Cut into cubes, or if you have set it in moulds, turn it out onto a plate.


As I said earlier, this can be served hot or cold, as per your choice.