Thursday, February 16, 2006

Braided n baked fish

A healthy, easy lunch with plenty of twists to make it interesting- that’s braided and baked fish fillets. Together with a simple salad inspired by Ashwini’s colorful salad, it was a pleasing, light meal. Ever since learning how to braid a bread, I've been trying it on various things. Braiding the fish fillets is fun, and the result is quite dramatic:)


Fish Fillets cut into thin long strips, as much as you need. (I used whiting. A 10lb bag of whiting is taking up our freezer space, so whiting it is until we get tired of it)
Marinate these strips in a mix of lime juice, soya sauce, fresh ginger paste and salt, for half an hour .

Pre heat oven to 375 F.

Take three strips and braid them, just as in a braided breaded. Tuck in the ends.

Place them carefully on a greased baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes.

Heat a little, (I mean very little) oil in a pan and season with a few crushed green chilies. Pour this oil over the baked fish, and serve hot. (You can cut out this step , but I think that wee bit of seasoned oil adds a nice touch to the fish)

For the salad, mix grated carrots, sliced grapes, oranges, red onions , and sprinkle a dash of salt and lime juice.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

chicken everything in my crisper

Somedays I am confronted by that monstrous question ‘what do I cook?’ Yesterday was one of them. I gaped at the contents of my fridge for inspiration, but they reciprocated with a cold, blank stare. My otherwise cherished recipe notebook lost its appeal; I wanted something simple, easy and tasty. Dinner time was fast approaching, and the gnawing hunger added to the dilemma. Usually on such days I ring up one of my friends, ‘What are you cooking?’, and somehow that would do the trick. Yesterday, I turned to my latest obsession, food blogs . Browsing through all the fabulous recipes with their tempting pictures was not an easy task , especially with a growling stomach, but proved to be very fruitful, or very chickenful. And the moment I saw Anthony’s Chicken masala dry, my puzzle was solved. Anthony’s recipe sounded easy and versatile, I was willing to play with it.

The crisper emptied a bunch of fresh fenugreek leaves , a tiny piece of purple cabbage, and my onion basket gave me two onions which had been lying there so long that they had nice green sprouts. I have never used fenugreek leaf in a non-vegetarian dish, well there’s always a first time. To make the long story short, it was fun cooking this one!

Recipe :

Chicken : 2 lbs
Yogurt : 2 T
Juice of one lime, and a little bit of its zest if you care
Crushed black pepper : 2 t
Ginger –garlic paste : 1 t
Turmeric : ¼ t
Green chili , crushed : 2

Mix all of this and marinate chicken in this, while you assemble the rest of the stuff.
Corriander powder : 2 t
Onions, chopped : 2
Fenugreek leaf, minced: 2 cup
Water : 2 cup
Cabbage, onion sprouts or any thing you care to throw in, sliced.

Heat around 2 T oil in a pan, add onions and sauté until golden. Add the coriander powder, fry for a few seconds. Add the chicken, and fry for a couple of minutes.Pour enough water to cook the chicken, (about two cups or less). Cover and cook on medium heat .
Once the chicken is well done, add the fenugreek leaf, and stir fry for another 4 to 5 minutes, Throw in the cabbage, onion sprout at the end and salt if needed.
You are done!We had it with those flaky frozen parathas.

Lesson learnt, slightly bitter fenugreek takes on a new avatar in a chicken curry. The sourness of lime-yogurt and the bitterness of fenugreek combined to a very interesting flavor. I am looking forward to my left-over lunch today ;)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Yucca root with Fish Curry (kappa -meen varattiyathu)

Yucca root is called kappa or kollikizhangu in Malayalam. This vegetable is widely grown in Kerala; being inexpensive and an excellent source of dietary fiber and carbohydrates it is a boon to the poor. Kappa and sardine curry is one of the most popular dishes of Kerala, from a poor man’s hut to a five star hotel, this combo has won hearts always.

The very first meal I shared with my other half was a kappa and sardine curry from a small roadside eatery at Waynad, on our first date. The scenery was mesmerizing; mist covered blue hills in the distance, meandering streams, refreshing greenery- the perfect setting to fall in love. And we did, both of us fell head over heels in love with kappa and sardine curry. Today we tried yucca root with a whiting fish curry, and learnt that yucca root can never disappoint you when paired with any fiery fish curry. Here's my entry to Meenakshi's 'from my rasoi-february' event.

Yucca root
When life’s steely edge gash you,
You can Lean on me .

Kappa (for two)

Yucca root: about 2 lb ,remove the hard skin and cut into small pieces
mustard seeds : 1/4 t
Scraped coconut: 1 T
Dry red chilies: 3/4
Curry leaf: 4/5
A little turmeric powder and salt
Oil : 1 t

Take the cut yucca in a pot, fill enough water to cover the yucca, add turmeric and salt and let boil, until the pieces are thoroughly cooked, and can be easily pierced by a fork.
In another pan, season oil with mustard seeds, dry read chilies, and curry leaves. Add this to the yucca along with the coconut, and mix well.

Fish Curry / Meen varattiyathu

This recipe is very similar to the chemmen varattiyathu.

Any fish : 1 ilb
Tamarind paste : ½ cup
Chili powder : 4 t
Turmeric powder : ½ t
Fenugreek : ¼ t
Onion, sliced : 1 quarter
Green chili : 1
Ginger –garlic paste : 1 t
Curry leaf : 4-5
Water : 1 cup
Oil : 4 T

Heat oil, fry the fenugreek for a couple of minutes.

Add onion, ginger, and garlic and sauté until transparent. Add green chilies, curry leaf, and masala powders and let fry until the raw smell is gone.

Pour tamarind paste, and water. Bring to a boil. Add the fish pieces, and salt. Cover and cook until the fish is well done, and the curry is fairly thick.Serve hot with cooked yucca.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sizzling Shrimp / Chemmen varattiyathu

Be warned –this one is RED-HOT

In Kerala clay-pots are preferred for cooking, especially for cooking sea food. Since I do not have a clay-pot, I just use my regular pan. A poor substitute. There really has to be some logical reason why food cooked in a clay-pot tastes so good that it becomes the ideal in your mind, an unattainable ideal!


Shrimp : around 30, de-veined, washed
Onion : 1 medium, finely sliced
Tomato: 2 medium
Green Chilli : 1 or 2
Ginger paste : 1 t
Garlic paste : 1 t
Curry leaf: 10
Chili powder : 2t +1 t
Turmeric powder : ½ t
Corriander powder : 2t
Fenugreek : ¼ t
Oil : 4/5 T

Reserve 1 T oil, heat the rest in a heavy pan.

Sprinkle 1t of chili powder, pinch of turmeric powder, and a hint of ginger on the shrimp, and drop the shrimp in the pan. Enjoy the sizzzzzle, stir-fry for a minute or two, until just done and take them out.

Fry fenugreek for a minute, add ginger, garlic,green chillies, and onion, and cook on medium to low heat giving an occasional stir.

Once the onions are almost golden, push them to a side of the pan and pour the reserved oil. Now throw in the red, the brown and the yellow ( chili, coriander and turmeric), and let their colors and flavors get tuned in the hot oil for a minute. I mean let the spices fry in the oil until their raw smell is gone, about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, salt and curry leaves. Cook until it forms a thick gravy , and oil floats on top. Now let shrimp join the waiting and wooing gravy. Cook for a another two minutes so that all the shrimp is well coated with masala, and revel in it! This curry tastes good with rotis, rice n dal, bread…even dosa.

an artist's palette , or a foodie's platter

Monday, February 06, 2006

Chekov and Ginger-Coconut fudge

Chekov's short stories, Ginger-coconut fudge , and black tea.

Unlikey combination, it might seem. Not quite.

"When you depict depict sad or unlucky people," Chekov writes," and want to touch the reader’s heart, try to be colder-it gives their grief, as it were, a background, against which it stands out in greater relief. As it is, your heroes weep and you sigh. Yes, you must be cold".He knew how to touch the reader's heart, by sketching his characters and their woes in restrained strokes,never permitting cloying sentimentality, and never stepping in to make a moral judgement.

Dark irony runs through Chekov’s short stories, and at the same time they are compassionate. Bitterness and sweetness are deftly woven together in these stories, each strand highlighting and checking the other- I will take a leap here and say, just like in this fudge, where the fierceness of ginger and mild sweetness of coconut play upon each other. The result is an exciting fudge,neither too sweet nor too rich, and a suitable companion piece for Chekov’s stories on a cold evening.


Fresh coconut, grated : 1 cup
Sugar : ¾ cup
Ginger, grated/crushed into a coarse paste : 4 table spoons
Whole milk : 1 cup
Water : 5 table spoons
Ghee/clarified butter : 1 tea spoon

Grind the coconut to a fine paste.

Heat water and sugar in a pan on low heat, until the sugar melts completely, and forms a thick syrup.

Add ginger and coconut, cook for a minute.

Pour milk, and cook on low heat stirring occasionally until the mixture is thick, and leaves the sides of the pan easily.

Grease a mold with ghee. Pour in the mixture, let it set. Cut into small pieces and enjoy.