Monday, June 19, 2006

How can I hold a moon beam in my hands?

Shilpa from Aayi's recipes tagged me with the meme 10 Things I miss the most from my mom's cooking and BDSN from Taste Corner tagged me with 10 Dishes I miss the most. It made sense to me to combine the memes, and so here's my list

10 Dishes that I miss the most from my mom's kitchen : (not in any order)

The single line from the song from the movie Sound of Music is playing continously in my head now How do you hold a moon beam in your hand :)

1. Fish Molly : a coconut milk based fish curry which combines a trace of tanginess from the tamarind and sweet richness of fresh coconut milk .

2. Ripe plantain halwa: well ripe plaintain is mashed and cooked with ghee and sugar . Having no preservatives in it, this home made halwa won't keep good for more than a week, well it can't last longer than a week in our home anyways :)

3. Neeriya pathiri : A very traditional Malabari rice-roti , that's rolled out so thin that it's almost transparent.

4. Puttu : Her puttu is what puttu ought to be, so soft yet firm enough to hold its shape.

5. Drumstick leaf- jackfruit seed curry: simply good!

6. Semiya Biriyani: This is one snack that has been in my home since I can remember, thin strands of vermicelli and shredded chicken cooked with spices.

7. Her Chai: early morning, half awake me, newspaper, mom with chai - that's home for me.

8. Kadukka nirachathu / stuffed and fried mussels: a cup of tea, a plate of kadukka nirachathu and the music of rain - all smiles

9. Drumstick- shrimp-jackfruit curry: yes, am an ardent fan of the drumstick tree. This curry is eaten with plain rice.

10. I don't want to fill this space , because How can I hold a moon beam in my hands?
blame it on the song!

This was fun for me Shilpa and BDSN, Thanks for sharing this experience !
And , now that you have kindled all my culinary memories, I am off to my home tomorrow for a two months vacation. Adios Friends! Eat well and Be well!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sweet-tart Panha and calvin n hobbes : making summer memories

The first time I heard about panha was from Nupur’s One hot stove. A drink made out of raw mangoes, my curiosity was piqued. Two weeks back, while sharing summer stories with my friend who hails from U.P, this drink came up again- back home we beat the summer heat with sweet panha, she had said. So the next time we got raw mangoes from Indian store,we didn't think twice about what to do with it. We wanted to try some of the juice without the loaded sugar, and decided to make a sweet panha and a tart panha, and also some summer memories.

Raw mango : 1
Jaggery : 1 small piece
Flavoring of your choice: ¼ t (cardamom, cumin or if you are feeling very adventurous go ahead and add your favourite spice. I am thinking of using ginger the next time we make panha)
Fresh Mint

Pressure cook the mango in about 2 cups of water for three to four whistles. If you are not using a pressure cooker simply boil the mango with enough water until the mango is thoroughly cooked and fall apart easily.
Remove the skin and seed, add powdered cumin or cardamom or your choice of flavoring, and mash the pulp well.

Sweet panha: process the pulp with jaggery in a blender until the jaggery melts, add enough cold water and serve chilled with a little freshly chopped mint. You may want to adjust the sweetness to your taste. My friend suggests adding just a pinch of salt to the sweet drink to bring out its sweetness.

Tart panha: add about a teaspoon of scrapped jaggery, a pinch of salt , and a dash of chat masala to the prepared pulp, pour enough water , chill and serve.

Looking for the perfect accompaniment for this refreshing sweet-tart drink? Trust me; you can’t do better than delightful and astounding Calvin n Hobbes.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

What a handful of dates can do to a simple curry

My aunt Jiya is one cook whom I never get tired watching. There is a graceful rhythm in the way she goes about her job in the kitchen, whether sorting vegetables or marinating meat or grinding spices. As a child I have stood by her stove for hours, as she stirred and sautéed with such tender attention to the nuances of tastes and textures, for the simple pleasure of watching her create each dish, and the spoonfuls of affection she offers me in between.
Last time I went to her home in Kerala, she served us this chicken curry, the first mouthful of it was enough for me to fall in love with its creamy, well-balanced taste. There was a certain delicateness in the taste that I could not place.
“What’s in it? I had asked.
“Guess and tell me”
“ hmm. Coconut certainly, and then either cashew or poppy seeds, but there’s something else too..what’s it?”
“just some dates” her eyes twinkled.

Dates in a chicken curry, it would have sounded weird to me if I had heard the recipe before tasting it, one tasting of her curry was enough to change my perceptions. Since then I have cooked this many times, and shared it with many friends and watched a few hearts falling in love with it. So here’s the recipe, from my aunt.

Chicken pieces : 2 lb
Onion, sliced: 1
Ginger paste: 1 tsp
Garlic paste: 1 tsp
Tomato: 1 medium sized
Green chilli : 2or 3
Red chilli powder : 2 tsp
Coriander powder(roasted) 2 tsp
Turmeric powder: ¼ tsp
Cilantro, chopped: ¼ cup
Curry leaf : 4-6
Oil : 2 T
Hot water : 1 cup

Cashewnuts,(raw): 2 T
Coconut: 2T
Dates: 3 to 4

Grind cashews, coconut and dates together to a smooth paste and keep aside.

Heat oil in a pot, and add ginger-garlic paste, crushed green chillies, sliced onions, curry leaves and cilantro. Fry till the onion is transparent.

Now add the three powders; turmeric-red chilli-corriander and sauté on low heat for about a minute and a half to release their flavors.

Then add the chopped tomato pieces and keep cooking till the tomatoes lose their shape, give out their essence completely and merge with the spice to form one tantalizing entity. I need a chicken curry recipe, not philosophy you say? Fine. Then simply fry the tomatoes till they are all mashed up into a gravy.

Add chicken, water and salt. Mix well , cover and let it cook. You might want to check once or twice in between to see if there’s enough water.

Once the chicken is cooked, pour the coconut-cashew-dates paste and bring the curry to a boil. Remove , and serve hot. This curry goes very well with rotis and breads.

I am taking a bowl of this chicken curry to Anthony's curry mela that he puts together so diligently , every week!