Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cauliflower Semi-Dry Side Dish With Coconut (Cauliflower Bhuthi)

Bhuthi is a konkani style of making vegetable side dish which is semi-dry. This comes very close to Sukke style of cooking vegetables with the infamous Coconut paste. A popular dish for Bhuthi is Mushroom or Alambe Bhuthi. We prefer the Bhuthi masala with Cauliflower as well. The gravy of Bhuthi is very coarse in nature and the sublime flavour of ginger adds the much needed zing. Goes well with Chapathi/Roti or with Rice & Curry as a side dish.

Cooking time: 20 minutes
Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cauliflower (florets cut into small sized pieces) - 3 cups
Onion (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Tomatoes (chopped) [optional] - 1/2 cup
Ginger (minced) - 1 tablespoon

For Bhuthi Masala -
Red Chillies - 5-6
Grated Coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1 cup
Coriander seeds - 1 tablespoon
Tamarind - 1/2 teaspoon pulp

Wash the Cauliflower and chop them into small sized pieces. Par-boil in water, drain and keep aside. Roast Red Chillies in few spoons of oil, allow to cool. Grind to a coarse paste with Coconut, Tamarind and Ginger. Add salt as desired.

In a deep dish pan, saute onions in few spoons of oil/ghee. Add the ground masala/gravy. Add little or no water depending on the consistency you desire. Add Cauliflower pieces and bring to boil. Simmer on low flame for 10 minutes or till the masala and vegetable is completely cooked. Serve hot as a side dish.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Raw Green Mango Pickle (Ambuli Nonchey/ Kairicha Loncha/ Maavinkayi Uppinkayi)

Green Raw Mango (Ambuli in GSB Konkani, Maavinkayi in Kannada and Kairi in Marathi) Pickle made from fresh Kairi tastes yummy. It is like a party of different spices in your mouth. I like this simple, easy pickle which Mom makes. Every Summer, pickle making has been a BIG ritual in many families. Some gather in groups, some make it alone, some get it done through experts but everyone has a tiny place in their kitchen for this tangy, spicy treat. A small jar would adore many a homes for the sheer symbolic value a jar of pickle carries with itself.

Pickles for me conjure and pile up lot of sweet, happy stories in a very special and significant way. Its about childhood memories, a cultural ethos which grows on you as you age, a group activity to bond, grow and share the daily domestic jabber, fond thoughts of summer vacations, visit to vast farms dotted with Mangroves and bounties of Mango trees, gift of couple of Raw Mangoes from a kind friend, hours of labour in the kitchen tugging along with Mom's Saree, some strict instructions given by elders not to meddle with the pickle jar - all this to finally taste the rich red tinged Mango bathed in the pickle liquor. A slice of sun-kissed Kairi with Red Chilli powder and salt dribbled on, and we packed a world of happiness with our giggles and pranks.

The pickle gets the powderful sharp and snappy aroma from the edible gum commonly known as Hing. Asafoetida is used in many Indian Daal and Curries. I picked Hing which is the globular gummy one you get in India instead of powdered Asafoetida. The taste had a profound difference in flavour with the use of gummy globular Hing. The combination of Crinkled Chillies (Byadgi) and/or Non-crinkled Chillies (Short Chillies/Guddi Mirsaang) enabled a smooth texture to the pickle liquor. We enjoy the red pickle liquor with Dosa's specially. The shelf life of this pickle is within 2-3 weeks or before the raw mangoes turn squishy and soft in the liquor.

Processing time: 2-3 days
Preparation time: 15 minutes

Raw Green Mangoes (chopped Ambuli/ Kairi/ Tor/ Maavinkai) - 4 cups
Red Chillies (Byadgi [15] + Red Chillies [15] ) - 30
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida ~ Edible globular gum (globular edible gum which is non-powdery) - 1/3 teaspoon

Wash and chop Raw Green Mango into bite sized pieces. Add good enough salt and leave them aside (salt cure) for 2-3 days. Store and refrigerate if required. This is called 'Karmbi'. The day you are making pickle, thaw them and leave aside. Grind Red Chillies in grinder, add Turmeric powder and globular Asafoetida and Mustard seeds towards the end. Do not add salt as the Mangoes already have salt. Allow the powder to cool off for couple of hours. Spread on a wide tray if required. Once cool, add the powder to Mango pieces, add enough water as desired. Mix well. Asjust and add salt if required. Leave aside for couple of hours. Store the pickle in a clean non-reactive glass/ ceramic/ porcelain jar. Refrigerate and consume within 2-3 weeks or till the Mangoes do not turn squishy and soft.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Raw Green Mango Salt-Cured Pickle (Karmbi)

Karmbi - A simple basic Konkani style of salt-curing Green Raw Mangoes. One of the many ways to pickle and preserve Raw Mangoes especially the ones belonging to the first harvest lot which hit the local groceries or if you are lucky, gracefully offered as a harvest gift from a kind friend plucked and picked from the burgeoning farm lands and backyard garden patch. Many of my family members still salt, pickle and preserve the raw mangoes (called as Ambuli in GSB Konkani or Tor in Goan Konkani) in this fashion and they taste delicious. Once they are salted and wilt a little, they are then used for pickles of choice with pickle liquor chosen as per the taste, color desired. Use them the way they are if you wish. We prefer eating them with a bowl of cooked parboiled rice (Paez or Paej in Konkani).

This pickle is made without any spice powders added and is very similar to the style of pickling (e.g salt curing with salt water brine for vegetables like Cornichons, Gerkhins, Cucumber, Olives) observed and practised in the US and Carribean regions.

Processing time: 2-4 days
Preparation time: 10 minutes

Green Raw Mango (chopped and diced) - 4 cups
Green Chillies (chopped) ~ optional - 5-8

Clean and wash the Raw Green Mango to get rid of any bees wax. Clean and wipe dry. Chop into bite sized pieces and mix good enough quantity of salt, slip in some green chillies if desired. Leave aside for 2-3 days. Give a gentle stir with a clean spoon every night. Once wilted and salt is absorbed, pack them off in a clean glass jar container or make pickle with desired pickle liquor.

Note - Do not salt cure and pickle for more than 2-3 days, the mangoes lose their crunch, taste and flavour. Once done, refrigerate for longer shelf life or convert into regular pickle by adding the desired spice powder.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lime Salt-Cured Pickle (Limbiya Kanchi) - II

Every year during summer I love making my little batch of Pickle at home. I made this Konkani style of pickling Lime and Lemon known as Limbiya Kanchi (pronounced as kan-chee). If you ask me why its called Kanchi, I would say I have no idea. My take on this is may be on olden days when resources were scarce, the depleting spices and fruits were all meshed together to create this wonderful version of Konkani style of non-masala Pickles all at the liberty of your home and hearth.
I followed my Mother's recipe since her precision & measurements of spices and condiments is well known in our family. She easily knows 10+ varieties of home made Pickle varieties. The only change I made is I added a good measure of Turmeric for color and preservative properties. Store in traditonal porcelain containers called as Bharnee if you have one, cover with a lid and tie the mouth with a muslin cloth and push in a cosy corner of the kitchen. Well, that's how my mother and grandmother made pickle batches and preserved them. Else, always store them in non-reactive glass jars. They stay longer and the acidic content does not corrode the walls of the container. This method of salt-curing Lime is stored and given to kids/ adults especially when they have low appetite and/or are sick. I prefer eating them with Paej or Paez (parboiled brown rice).

Few Konkani varieties of Pickle(s) (with Konkani names) are:

1. Kanchi - Salt + Ginger-Green Chillies with no spice powders, very less liquor.
2. Adgai - Black hued, classic combination of Raw Mangoes with Raw Green Jackfruit with fried Red Chilli (Byadgi_ powder added to give the rich black color, medium liquor.
3. Kotla or Kochla or Hindee Nonche - Grated Raw Mango pieces mixed with spice powder, no liquor hence dry textured pickle.
4. Koot - Mostly made with pre-sauted Yam, is thick with dark hued pickle liquor. Made for weddings to be specific.
5. Murabba - Sweet pickle made with Mangoes (similar to Marmalade). Some also treat it as a jam or spread for breads of choice.
6. Randekayee Nonche - A very popular mixed vegetable pickle made of Ivy Gourd, Cauliflower, Chillies and Lime with Red colored pickle liquor.
7. Whole Mango Pickle or Bharlele Tor - This is mostly made in Goan regions (Tor = Raw Mangoes in Goan Konkani), whole Mango pieces are stuffed with spice powder, tied with a string and stored in porcelain jars topped with lot of warm oil for pickling for 4-6 months. Occassional shake or stir recommended with clean hands.
8. Pitte Nonche - In this one, the vegetable of choice is mixed with spice powder (dry and no water) and left for pickling. We make numerous pickle with Lime, Lemon, Bilimbi, Raw Green Mangoes, Dhodle (do not know the english name for this fruit) with this approach.
9. Karmbi - This is a very age-old way of salt-curing Raw Green Mango pieces in salt water brine. Throw in some chillies if you wish to.
10. Pacchadi - This is a fairly simple way of finely chopping raw mangoes and treating them with green chillies and a generous hand of asafoetida which renders a very unique taste and flavour. This is served in temples as ritual prasadam during summer season when Raw Mangoes are available in abundance. Some even complement it with coconut paste to enhance the flavour.
11. Ambuli Nonchey (Simple Raw Green Mango pickle) - Red colored pickle liquor, tastes great with abundance addition of gummy Hing.

This version of pickle is different from the conventional pickle. It has no spice powders and is very kid friendly. This pickle is a big hit with kids in our family since it has just the right amount of spice for a tiny tot's palate. If desired, remove chillies while serving kids. We had huge batch of this tangy treat at home while growing up, so it was easy on the palate and we could enjoy our own version of kid friendly pickles at home. It takes around 2-3 weeks for the complete batch to get pickled and more if the weather does not permit so patience is a must. With little effort, I was glad I could make this at home once again.

Processing time: 2-3 weeks
Preparation time: 20 minutes

Lime - 5 (large ones)
Green Chillies (chopped) - 10
Ginger (finely chopped into bits) - 1/2 cup
Salt - 5-6 tablespoon ~ tweak as required
Turmeric powder (optional) - 1/2 teaspoon

Contraption/ Container - A sparkling clean glass jar or any non-reactive container

Wash the Lime thoroughly to remove any traces of bees wax coating. Use a cleaning kitchen brush if required. Wipe dry with a clean cloth and leave on a kitchen towel to dry for some time. Once moisture is gone and Lime is totally dry, chop the Lime into bite sized pieces. Transfer to a clean glass jar. Mix in the green chillies and ginger (both chopped). I layer them in the order of Lime-Ginger-Green Chillies-Salt and so on. Stir well and leave in a cool dry place to pickle for 2 weeks. Once every two days, give a gentle stir with a clean spoon at night and leave aside. It took around 2 and 1/2 weeks for me to get the Lime pieces, Chilli pieces and Ginger pieces to pickle. Once done, store in fridge if you stay in hot terrains or you could leave them out in a dry cool place if the temperature is cool, less damp and non-humid. The shelf life for this recipe is a year or two without any signs of moulds and fungus if you store it well. The older the life of of Kanchi, the wholesome the flavours. Recommend to begin using Kanchi after 3-4 months of pickling for a wholesome taste.

Extra tips for Pickle at home -
- Keep water, dampness at bay while making pickle. Even a small amount of moisture can ruin the whole batch.
- Pick good quality juicy Lime or Lemon for great tasting pickle.
- Preferably use a glass container since its non-reactive, the citric acid does not breakdown or corrode the container.
- Never compromise on salt, less salty your pickle gets ruined. Fresh batch of Pickle would always taste salty.
- Leave the Pickle undisturbed during the whole period of pickling. Store in cool, dry place.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Coconut Kadhi With Sichuan Pepper (Teppla Kadhi/ Tirfalachi Kadhi)

Sichuan Pepper (Teppal or Tirfhal) is a widely used spice in vegetarian cooking. I have mostly found them being used in Goan, Konkani and few of Marathi dishes. The spice which has a numbing effect on the palate & offers a unique aroma to curries when added.

My favorite way to use Sichuan Pepper is to intersperse the seeds with a classic Konkani Kadhi combination. In Konkani, this recipe is known as Teppla Kadhi, Teppal refers to Sichuan Pepper here. Primarily on the days when Vegetarian diet is observed, one would make this Kadhi as a complementary broth with white rice. The spice appreciation is very subjective so use less or more based on your preference and taste. By mistake, do not add the Sichuan Pods while grinding, the resultant curry would have lot of heat and may not appeal to everybody.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Grated Coconut (fresh or frozen) - 1 cup
Red Chillies (Byadgi variety preferred) - 5-6
Tamarind - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Sichuan Pepper - 3-4 pods
Garlic (crushed) - 4 Jumbo pods

In a deep pan, roast few red chillies with a spoon of oil. Once roasted for 2 minutes, turn off the flame and allow to cool. Grind this along with grated coconut, turmeric powder and tamarind with little water to a smooth paste.
Bring this mixture to boil and add Sichuan pepper pods at this stage, adjust salt as desired and turn off flame. Once cooked, you will see that the black pods have turned into a creamy cooked mass. In a separate pan, heat a spoon of oil and roast the crushed Garlic. Saute till they are charred. Pour this seasoning on the cooked broth and cover with a lid. Serve hot with Rice.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sichuan Pepper (Teppal/ Tirfhal) - An Essay

There are many who love and get mesmerised by the subtle pungent aroma of this herb - Sichuan Pepper or Teppal. The outer black colored pod in the dark black berry fruit is used in ample amount of cooking in Indian, Chinese, Indonesian, Tibetan, Nepalese and Korean cooking. The flavour is not pungent but very subtle which leaves a deep numbness on your palate once you eat it (even if by mistake). Every year we get abundant supply of these unique flavoured pods from our native place in Goa, Mumbai and Mangalore.

The younger bunches are plucked from the tree once the fruit is completely formed which is dark greenish in color and then sold in market in bunches of 10's and 20's tied together. I recall visiting my friend's farmhouse in Goa, India during childhood days where we saw plenty of Sichuan Pepper trees ready for harvest. In the local market, you will vendors selling bunches of dark greenish barries tied together and sold for a tiny sum. We get the bunches from the local market and sun-dry them. With gradual exposure to sun for around a week or two, the green berry dries to separate the black outer hard shell, leaving a black berry and over a period of time dropping off the black fruit. The black fruit is discarded and the outer shell is retained for culinary use. Quite amusing but the outer black skin is used for culinary use and the black berry is discarded, which often confuses people on the appropriate use of Sichuan Pepper. In Goan Konkani, this is known as Tirphal or Tirfhal or Tirfala. In Manglorean Konkani, it is known as Teppal.

Sun-dried Sichuan Pepper twigs on a bunch

Mostly the Pepper pods are used for dishes which have fish and coconut as the primary ingredient. These outer pods provide excellent aroma to the curry and should NOT be ground along with the curry else you will feel the numbness on your palate for hours together. These Pepper pods are added as a supplement along with the curries to enhance the flavour. Since I have hardly seen them at stores here in US, I make sure I get my supply from India. Some of my friends have found them in Chinese stores in US and go by the name of Chinese Pepper or Sczhezwan Pepper or Sichuan Pepper. The outer pods which are used for many a Konkani, Marathi and Goan dishes, blend well with Fish curries, Kadhi's and other Coconut based preparations. Few dishes which we make with Sichuan Pepper are - Teppal Kadhi (With Coconut), Koddel (With Teppal), Aambat (With Teppal), Stir Fry (Sukke) etc.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spicy Red Hot Garlic Chutney (Losney Tikshe Sukki Chutney Pitti/ Tikhat Chutney Pood)

I have been making this Spicy Red Hot Garlic Chutney at home for long. In Konkani Pitti stands for powder, Tikshe stands for Spicy. In Marathi, this powder is known as Tikhat Chutney Pood atleast that's what it was known as in my house. This easily beats the store bought ones hands down (the $3.00 ones). I use this Spicy Red Hot Garlic Chutney powder for Dosa, Idli and Vada-Pav. This spicy treat specially complements Vada-Pav.

I realised that if fresh or frozen coconut is used, the shelf life is quite less than a week but the taste is very nice, after a week or so they emit a strange smell and are unedible. This one made with Dry Coconut powder is fresh for 1-3 weeks and can be made in smaller batches and refrigerated for daily use with a longer shelf life.

Preparation time: 2 minutes
Processing time: 5 minutes

Coconut powder - 1/2 cup
Tamarind pulp (separated in raw form) - 1/2 teaspoon
Garlic (shredded to tiny bits) - 4 Jumbo pods ~ 1 and 1/2 tablespoon approx.
Red Chilli powder - 1 tablespoon
Salt - As per taste

Grind the coconut powder, red chilli powder and garlic pods along with little salt to a coarse powder (do not add any water). Store in an air tight container and refrigerate, use as per requirement.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Chicken Lollypop ~ An Indian Spicy Appetizer

My husband is a big fan of Chicken and we both love Finger Food & Appetizers of different varieties. I was thinking of ways and means of killing two birds with a stone, this recipe was a good discovery. Chicken Lollypop is a modern discovery in the Indian Appetizer gamut, the flavours are spicy, extremely spicy if I could be specific and packs in the succulent meat which is tender and evenly spiced with the herbs and condiments. Primarily Chicken Wings or Wingettes are used for this recipe. I preferred using Wingettes since they are easy to dress and have more tender meat compared to Wings. Wings need more careful dress time and cleaning.

I like the Indo-Chinese version of Lollypop which has a dash of Soya Sauce and a pungent helping of Chilli-Garlic sauce thrown in. I have customised the recipe to a great extent to suit our taste and needs. We were all amazed at how easy it is to dish this out at home. This is a high calorie recipe which is spicy so weight watchers and sensitive taste bud owners use your discretion.

Preparation time: 24 hours (Includes Marinade time)
Cooking time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 10 Chicken Lollypops

Chicken Skinless Wingettes - 10 wingettes

For Marinade -
Ginger paste - 1 tablespoon
Garlic paste - 1 tablespoon
Green Chillies paste - 1 tablespoon
Soya Sauce - 1 tablespoon
Red Chilli sauce or Red Chilli powder - 1 tablespoon
Black Pepper powder - 1/2 teaspoon

For Batter -
Egg - 1
Corn Flour - 2 tablespoon
All Purpose Flour - 2 tablespoon
Black Pepper powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Bread Crumb powder - 3-5 tablespoon

Oil - For frying

Thaw the Wingettes at room temperature and clean them to expose the meat. Remove the skin if the wingettes are not skinless. Wash thoroughly and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Dress the chicken Wingettes to gently remove the smaller bone (discard it after removing it and separating it from the wing bone). Push the Chicken meat down so that the stick serves as a Lollypop and the meat accumulates at the top of the Lollypop. Wash your hands thoroughly after the dressing is done.
Make a fine paste of Ginger, Garlic and Green Chillies. Add Soya Sauce, Red Chilli powder and Pepper powder to this. Pour this marinade over the chicken wingettes placed in a non-reactive mixing bowl and mix well. Adjust salt. Remember Soya Sauce has fair amount of salt so use your discretion. Mix well. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for 24 hours. Next day remove from fridge atleast an hour before use.
Make a very thick batter of egg, corn flour, all purpose flour, pepper powder and salt (add little or no water). Mix some salt and pepper powder with the bread crumb powder as well. Heat oil in a deep thick bottomed deep frying pan. Once oil is ready (just hot and not smoking hot), dip the Lollypop one at a time in the batter and then roll them in bread crumbs and deep fry till golden brown on a low-to-medium flame. Serve hot with sauce/ spice powder of choice.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Potato and Peas Curry (Aloo Matar)

"Aaj meri Rani bitiyaa kyaa khayegi?"
"Aloo-Matar aur bahut sare Matar"

The recipe of Aloo Matar conjures up images of the Ad which used to come on TV in 80's and 90's in India. A lazy gal woken up by Mommy eagerly asking her the breakfast she wishes to have. Sometimes, Mom even enacted this one for me. Infact, I attribute my love for Aloo Matar to this Ad. Without an iota of understanding of the dish, flavour and taste, a 10 year year old girl was deeply in love with this dish and the mother was the happiest needless to say; it was a welcome break from her otherwise grumbling, whining, fussy-always daughter.
My mother was shocked to sense the much hated combination of Aloo and Matar becoming a crowd favorite for me and my siblings all of a sudden. This is the way my Mom cooked it, and has always been appreciated by one and all who sampled the flavour.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Potatoes - 3 cups
Green Peas (fresh or frozen) - 1 cup
Tomatoes (chopped) - 3/4 cup
Onions (chopped) - 3/4 cup
Ginger-Garlic paste - 1 tablespoon
Green Chilli paste (optional) - 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Garam Masala powder - 1 tablespoon (adjust as per taste) ***
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon

For Garnish -
Coriander leaves (minced) - 1/2 cup

Wash the Potatoes to remove any grime or dirt. Peel them off the skin, wash to reove any starch content and dice them into medium to large pieces and keep aside.
In a deep thick bottomed pan, heat few spoons of oil and add Cumin seeds. Once they begin to crack, saute onions and once they turn into pinkish hue, add tomatoes and Ginger-Garlic paste. Saute well till release water and form an even consistency. Add Turmeric powder and add the diced Potatoes and Peas (if using frozen thaw for 1/2 and wash before use). Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Allow to cool and bring the mixture to boil. Add rest of the spice powders. Adjust salt and water. Turn off the flame once completely cooked. Garnish with chopped Coriander leaves. Serve hot with Bread of choice.