Monday, August 30, 2010

Egg Bafat Curry

I had earlier written about Manglorean Bafat spice blend ~ a smooth spice powder used in many a Goan-Portuguese, Anglo-Catholic and Catholic cooking in Goa and Mangalore. I used the spice powder to make Egg Curry with ample amount of onions and tomatoes. I did not saute the duo's but sweated them to get the mushy texture. This one goes well with cooked rice, I specially liked the tangy flavour owing to the vinegar flavour embedded in the Bafat spice blend. Another discovery was making long gashes in the cooked eggs enables them to absorb the spices giving a good flavour to otherwise bland egg whites and yolk, the egg whites indeed tasted spicy and yummy! Retain or discard egg yolk as per choice. Most important - allow the curry to rest for atleast 30 minutes you serve. This is certainly not the original way of making Egg Bafat curry; I have adapted and changed the recipe to suit my family's taste.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes (including boiling eggs)

Eggs (hard boiled) - 3-4
Onions (sliced into quarters) - 2 cups
Tomatoes (chopped) - 1 cup
Bafat spice blend - 1 tablespoon
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/3 teaspoon
Green Chilli paste - 1/2 teaspoon
Ginger paste - 1/2 teaspoon
Garlic paste - 1/2 teaspoon
Garam Masala powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1/2 cup

Hard boil eggs, once done peel them and make long gashes in the egg white and set aside. Heat few spoons of oil or ghee and add Ginger-Garlic paste and let the oil catch the flavour. Add chopped onions and tomatoes and let them sweat in oil, so do not saute, just leave them the way they are. After few minutes, they will turn mushy and soft. Add all the spice powders and green chilli paste except Bafat and Garam Masala powder, adjust water and salt and bring to boil. Once the gravy is cooked and not raw, add the Garam Masala powder and Bafat blend and cook for some more time. Add the eggs now, mix gently and turn off flame. Leave the curry aside for atleast 15-20 minutes before you serve. Garnish with chopped Coriander leaves. Goes well with cooked rice.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Carrot Vermicelli Kheer (With Condensed Milk)

A quick and easy Kheer ~ Indian sweet dish for a nice occasion. Today is Shraavana Shukla Poornima. In laymans term, 15th day of the first cycle of the holy month of Shraavan, an auspicious month according to the Hindu calendar. In Hindu custom, today is the day for the renewal of sacred thread (Janwa). In Konkani custom, this day is known as Sutta Punnav. In Konkani language, Sutta = thread and hence the correlation with thread change (janwa change) and celebration of Rakhi festival as well. I prefer making Vermicelli based Kheer on this day for the simple reason that its a family tradition to eat Rice String Hoppers (Idiyappam or Shevayee) or Vermicelli Kheer on this day.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Carrots (grated) - 1 and 1/2 cup
Vermicelli - 1/2 cup
Whole Milk - 3-4 cups
Condensed Milk (sweetened) - 1 can
Sugar - Just a little
Cardamom powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Pistachio (chopped) - 2 tablespoon
Cashew Nuts - 2 tablespoon
Saffron strands - 3-5


Toast the Vermicelli lightly in ghee till they turn reddish brown and keep aside. Mix the whole milk and condensed milk together in a non-stick vessel. Bring to boil together along with the grated carrot and toasted Vermicelli. Cook till the carrots are soft and well cooked. Keep the flame from low to medium and not high else you run the risk of burning the food. Separately, toast the nuts in little ghee and add to the kheer. Once boiled, add sugar (keep in mind condensed milk is already sweetened) and keep stirring at regular intervals. The mixture will thicken and begin to be gooey. Adjust consistency by adding more milk as desired. Once done, turn off flame and garnish with Saffron strands.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sprouted Green Gram Soup (Mugaa Saaru)

There are times when you want to eat simple, delicious and sobre food with oil and spice within tolerable limits or less (Saatvikk food as known in Ayurveda parlance). Mugaa Saaru or Bengal Gram Soup is one such recipe which I relish.

The second day after Ekadashi (a holy day observed in Hindu calendar for fasting and symbolic of sacrifice and penance) is Duadashi. Amongst Konkanis (atleast the ones I know), its a common practice to make dishes using Green Gram or Moong Bean on this day. The common quote in our house on Duadashi day as propounded by my Pop till we get bugged to no end was Duadashi - Mooga Ghashi. Mooga Ghashi is another delicious common recipe for cooking Green Gram sprouts in Coconut and Chilli paste. The scientific rationale behind this practice, in my opinion is that post all the fasting, human body needs nourishment after the wear and tear. Sprouted Green Gram have tremendous cooling and healing properties within them. Green Gram in sprouted form carries lot of nourishment and nutrition value so much that one cup of Green Gram easily gives rise to 5 cups or more of sprouted ones. Some retain the green skin, some prefer to discard it. I remove them as much as I can, rest I just use for my recipes as per choice. Since I am miles away from the prospect of a fast, leave alone a lame attempt, I thought of making this Soup to remember the day and celebrate the spirit of sacrifice!

This recipe is tweaked from my mother's original one. I added tiny helping of Rasam powder to zap up the flavour. Much better is you pick the vegetable stock fresh from the pressure cooker after boiling sprouted beans for a whistle. The taste is very subtle and nutritious. The taste of this soup is an acquired one; if bland soup with a subtle flavour and minimal seasoning appeals you, then try out this recipe.

Preparation time: 2 days (includes sprouting)

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Green Gram Stock - 3 cups
Green Gram (sprouted and boiled) - 1/2 cup
Tomatoes (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Rasam powder (optional) - 1/2 teaspoon
Garlic (crushed) - 4-5 pods
Coriander leaves (optional) [chopped] - 1/4 cup

Wash the Green Gram and soak to enable sprouting. Once done, remove the green skin to expose the sprouted green gram. Pressure cook for a single whistle. Extract the stock and bring to boil along with the cooked beans. Simmer and Rasam powder, salt as per taste and chopped coriander leaves.
In a separate pan, heat a spoon of oil. Add crushed Garlic pods and saute till get reddish brown hue. Turn off flame and pour this seasoning on the soup. Close the lid. Mix while serving either on its own or with rice and pappad on the side to spruce up the flavour.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Manglorean Bafat ~ A Portuguese Inspired Spice Blend

Manglorean Bafat or Bafad spice powder is a commonly used spice blend in Manglorean Catholic and Goan Catholic cuisines. Bafat spice powder is a spice blend of lots of Red Chillies, some Cumin seeds, some Coriander seeds, generous Whole black pepper corns and stub of Turmeric stick if available. Add a touch of Vinegar and you can make the spice powder with the easily available pantry ingredients right within the comfort of your kitchen.

Traditionally, Bafat based curries made liberal use of Bafat spice blend. The explosive heat generated due to the spices and Red Chillies are snapped off by the sublime hint of tangy vinegar flavour in the meat dishes with pepper undertones. Primarily they are used for Pork, Poultry and Meat dishes of choice. Some buy ready made spice powder, some prefer to make it at home. I prefer buying ready made spice powders from local vendors in Mangalore simply because I need not add Vinegar while cooking the meat dishes. The spice powder already has preserves of Vinegar in it which makes a chef's life easy. :)

The curries are very easy and simple to make. More often than not all the ingredients are thrown in the pot, allowed to steam cook, garnished with all the spices and your Bafat is ready. I recall watching a dear Aunty of Catholic heritage, a very close friend of ours who cooked the most amazing Portuguese dishes when I was a tiny tot. She cooked the tastiest Cafreal, Vindaloo, Balchao's. Her Christmas special spread was always bursting with the tangiest dark Guava Cheese, crispy pink Rose cookies, Kul-Kuls, Jujubes, Coconut Bolinhas, Bebincas and Marzipans. Needless to say, I was the proud taste tester in her kitchen. She once asked me if I am interested to watch her cook Pork Bafat and I nonchalantly watched her pouring in all the meat, spices, onions, loads of garlic and steam cooking all of it. I did not pay much attention because I am not much of a Bacon/Pork lover. But the whole process seemed very fascinating to me at that age.

More in details - select your meat of choice, saute large amount of onions, ginger, garlic and green chillies and cook the meat with some whole spices (optional) along with the Bafat spice blend with some water. The steam cooked meat soaks in all the spices and since its cooked on slow flame the dish gets the spicy yet tangy flavour of Bafat Masala. Based on ones preference of meat, one can make Pork Bafat, Chicken Bafat, Prawns Bafat or if you wish a Vegetarian Bafat dish as well. This spice blend primarily discovered to be cooked with Pork, has now been tweaked around to suit various meat and vegetarian preferences. We prefer the masala for fish and egg based recipes. If bursting with sweaty beads is your idea of a perfect meat dish, than Bafat perfectly fits the bill.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Raspberry Basundi

Basundi is a traditional Marathi dessert with a sweet, milky flavour. I had a box of farm fresh Raspberries which I wanted to try out with Basundi, so blended the berries along with the Basundi consistency. The tang of berries blended well with the sweet flavour of Basundi. Very easy dessert packed with punch of fruity goodness. Condensed milk with flavourful colored fruits add a different texture and taste to Indian desserts.
Happy Birthday to my dear country, India & a big welcome to the month of Shraavan!!

Cooking time: 30-45 minutes
Processing time: 6-8 hours of refrigeration

Whole Milk - 3 cups
Sweetened Condensed Milk - 1 can
Sugar - 3-5 tablespoon
Raspberries (pureed + few whole) - 10-12 or 1/2 cup canned puree
Cardamom powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Almonds (slivered) - 2/3 cup
Pistachios (crushed) - 2/3 cup

Contraption needed - Hand Blender or any electronic blending device.

Boil the whole milk and condensed milk together on low flame in a non-stick deep dish vessel. Once the milk begins to boil reduce flame and simmer. Time and again scrap off the milk solids which attach to the side of the vessel. During the simmering process, add sugar and stir in to enable blending. Once milk reduces to 1/3 quantity with a milky aroma, turn off the flame and allow to cool. Add Cardamom powder and mix well. Wash the berries and puree to a paste. Sieve through to remove the seeds. Mix this puree with the cooked Basundi blend. Blend with a hand blender if you can to ensure consistency and good spread. Alternately, you could use the canned puree which is available at stores. The whole mixture will catchy a baby pink color.
Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with Almonds and Pistachios. Add in few whole Raspberry toppings as well. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours. If desired, serve as a thickened milk dessert, or freeze and serve as ice-cream.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cumin Spiced Lentils ~ Goan Style - Varan & Plagiarism

A simple comfort meal - Varan Bhaat. Sampling morsels of food and taking in portions of this pliable dish transports me to a different planet. There are many versions available of this dish. The Marathi version of Varan does not have coconut added hence very subtle flavours. The Goan version of Varan, also known as Varna in Goa, has a liberal helping of coconut and spice paste added. If a lunch menu is on the cards specially for a bright summer afternoon, then Varan Bhaat takes a default presence on the menu. I love the yellow, creamy texture of the lentils. My preference is scoops of cooked white rice, ladle full of Varan, some freshly squeezed lime juice and a spoon of ghee to finish the serve. No wonder its a complete comfort meal for many a foodie's around the globe.

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Toor Dal - 3/4 cup
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
Green Chillies - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Asafoetida - 2-3 pinches
Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon
Lime Juice

Pressure cook Toor Dal with Turmeric powder and Asafoetida. Allow to cool. Mash the mushy paste and keep aside. Grind grated coconut, green chillies and cumin seeds (1 tsp) to a fine paste with little water. Add this paste to the cooked Daal and bring to boil. For seasoning, heat ghee in a separate pan, and heat a teaspoon of ghee, add cumin seeds and once they pop, pour this seasoning on the Daal. Serve hot with warm rice, some lime juice and ghee (optional).



A friend of mine sent me a link of a fellow blogger who has picked a picture from my blog for one of the recipes posted on the concerned website. I have e-mailed the concerned individual involved. It is a disappointing event when pictures, text are copied word to word from your blog and posted elsewhere without a note of credit or gratitude. All this certainly saps off the fun of blogging. I hope the concerned individual makes a note of it and takes off the picture from the blog site. I for one, take plagiarism seriously especially when its your hard work which is being used without passing through appropriate channels of permission.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spicy Potato Side Dish (Batate Talasaani/ Batate Bhajjuju Upkari))

Spicy Potato Side Dish/ Batate Talasaani/ Batate Bhajjunu Upkari is a popular and adored Konkani dish. Talasaani originates from the Konkani word 'talap' which implies deep frying or shallow frying (in my opinion). Our ancestors who devised this recipe thought of efficient and healthy way to make the French Fries with less oil and spice powders to enhance the flavour. There are many Potato lovers I know who would not mind fighting a battle or waging a war to eat this dish. I visualise this dish as the Konkani French Fries, well albeit that was my reference point as a tiny tot. If Konkani cuisine were to evolve with its own version of French Fries, then I believe this would be it (pun intended!). I love enjoying this with Goan style - Varan Bhaat.

This dish is slowly gaining popularity and is make a silent, docile appearance on Konkani wedding menus. Some prefer to retain the skin on Potatoes, thereby retaining the nutritional value, some discard it. Either ways take your pick and enjoy this. Change the spice proportion as per choice.

~ Batate Bhajjuju Upkari/ Batate Talasaani ~
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Potato (thinly sliced as strips) - 2 cups
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry Leaves - 4-5
Asafoetida - Just a pinch

Spice powders -
Red Chilli powder - 2 teaspoon
Pepper powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Coriander powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Garam Masala powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - 1/3 teaspoon

Garnish - chopped Coriander leaves

Wash the starch from the potatoes with multiple change of water. Chop them into thin tall strips, wash, pat dry and keep aside. Heat oil/ghee in a pan, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they begin to pop, add the curry leaves. Saute till they are crisp, add the washed Potato strips. Give a gentle stir. Add the spice powders and cook on a medium flame, undisturbed. Sprinkle little water if desired at regular intervals. The Potato pieces will begin to get fried on even sides. Saute for around 5-8 minutes. Cover with a lid and turn over the flame to low, and steam cook till done. Toward the end, add few spoons of oil and roast till they are reddish and have a crunchy texture. Garnish with Coriander leaves if desired. Serve warm with Rice.

Note: For best results, use cast iron pan for crispy texture. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kitchen Pride: Traditional Vegetable Chopper and Grater/ Aadoli or Addoli

If there is one thing I miss in my kitchen time and again its this timeless piece of beautiful contraption - Aadoli or Addoli as called in Konkani ~ the traditional kitchen chopper and grater. This contraption is widely used in Southern regions of India and is easily available in local markets for $5-$10 in India. One can custom make it if one knows a good mason or carpenter. I spotted many in local markets from tiny palm sized to huge two-seater kinds. Today, convenience has preceded necessity so much so that you can tweak your contraption as per your needs, specification and requirements.

This is the picture of the Vegetable Chopper & Grater which my mom uses to this date. The blade which is the concentric black metal attached to the wooden plank is extremely sharp so kids and tiny tots were not allowed to hoover and jump around in the kitchen when Mom, Aunts and Grand moms were busy chopping with the kitchen gossip and numerous buzz-creating stories. The end of the blade has a round blade with a zig-zag finish. This serves as the grater and is abundantly used to grate coconuts and draw pearly white fresh grated coconut. One needs to sit on the wooden plank to chop and grate vegetables, coconut et al.

The blade plonked to this one in the picture is around 30-40 years old. Our old wooden plank perished long time back, so we got a new wooden plank done and attached the old blade which is still razor sharp and spic-and-span to a fault. No wonder, even after decades, my mother refuses to part with the blade and insisted for a new wooden plank to be made to suit this blade. Unfortuantely, international laws do not permit these contraptions to be carried out of the country hence I cannot get this chopper to US. Some contraptions as they say are timeless, and this one has stood the test of various cultures, generations, machinery revolution and yet is loved by many ladies who take great pride in their cosy woody chopper.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Paneer Biryani 2.0 (With Green Masala)

We both love Paneer Biryani. I had tried lot of variations earlier but liked this one of all. The richness and spices of Green Masala mesh well with the bland flavour of Paneer. Good for large get together and feeding a big crowd. I am glad that I can make fairly good and consistently tasty Biryani now after many trails and experimentation with different procedures and cooking mediums. The Biryani tastes better the next day when the spices are well absorbed.

Cooking time: 3o minutes
Preparation tim: 20 minutes

Rice (Basmati) - 1 and 1/2 cup
Cottage Cheese ~ Pre-fried Paneer - 2 cups
Onions (sliced) - 4 cups
Tomatoes (chopped) - 2 cups
Cinnamon stick - 2"
Cardamom - 2-3
Cloves - 3-5
Garam Masala powder - 2 tablespoon
Nutmeg Powder - 1 teaspoon
Saffron strands crushed soaked in 3-4 tablespoon of Milk

Green Masala -
Coriander leaves - 1/2 cup
Ginger paste - 1 tablespoon
Garlic paste - 1 tablespoon
Green Chillies - 3-4
Mint Leaves - 1/2 cup
Khus-Khus - 1 teaspoon

Biryani Masala - Around 1 & 1/2 tablespoon
For the Biryani Masala -
Fennel seeds (optional) - 1/2 teaspoon
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Mace - 2
Cinnamon - 1
Cardamom - 2
Caraway seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Cloves - 3-4
Nutmeg (grated) - 1 whole - 1/2 for rice assembly + 1/2 for spice powder

1. Wash and soak Rice in water for 1/2 half an hour before preparation. Under cook the rice with 1:1 1/2 proportion of rice and water respectively. For 1 and 1/2 cup Rice, I used 2 and 1/2 cups of water. Cook with salt and few spoons of oil. Once done, spread on a tray and allow to cool.
2. Grind all the ingredients of Biryani Masala to a fine smooth dry powder and keep aside.
3. Grind all the ingredients of Green Masala with little water and keep aside.
4. In a deep dish pan, heat few spoons of ghee, add the spices - Cloves, Cinnamon sticks and Cardamom. Once they proliferate in size, add Onions and saute till they turn translucent. Add chopped Tomatoes as well. Once they are completely cooked, add the Green Masala and cook till its no longer raw and changes its color from bright green to mossy green. Once done, add the spice powder and cook to a collective consistency. Adjust salt and add 1/2 teaspoon on grated nutmeg powder. Add pre-fried Paneer at this stage and cook for 2-3 minutes with the lid covered. Turn off the flame.
5. Assembly: Take a deep dish Pasta pot or stock pot, heat few spoons of ghee to coat the bottom of the pot. This entire procedure needs the gas on low flame. Add a layer of cooked rice. Sprinkle Nutmeg powder and Garam Masala powder. Add a layer of cooked curry. Again top it with Rice-Nutmeg powder-Garam Masala powder and curry. Once you reach the final layer up and above, add few spoons of ghee on top of the Biryani. Sprinkle Nutmeg powder and Garam Masala powder. Pour the Saffron milk and cover the lid. Seal off the lid on the sides with a dough. Cook for 3-5 minutes maximum since the Rice and Curry is already cooked. Serve hot with a side scoop of Biryani. Supplement with Raita of Choice or Mirchi Ka Saalan.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ivy Gourd Rice (Tendli Bhaat)

Iyy Gourd Rice goes well for Lunch box and you get the wholesome combination of vegetables and rice in a pot. That is the beauty of One Pot Dish, a single dish with rice and vegetables holds good for a yummy meal.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Rice (Basmati rice) - 1 cup
Ivy Gourd (Tendli/ Tendley) - chopped - 2 cups
Onion (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder
Red Chilli Powder
Oil/ Ghee

Masala -
Coconut powder - 1/2 cup
Coriander seeds - 1 tablespoon
Clove - 2-3
Cinnamon - 1" stick
Whole Black Pepper Corns - 3-5
Red Chillies - 2

Garnish (optional) - chopped Coriander leaves

Wash and cook Rice in water and keep aside. In a deep dish pan, heat few spoons of Ghee/ Oil, once the pan heats up, add Cumin seeds, they begin to proliferate in size, add chopped Onions and saute till they wilt in size. Add a hint of Turmeric powder and Red Chilli powder and chopped Ivy Gourds. Adjust salt and add enough water to immerse the gourds, bring to boil and simmer covered on a low flame for 10 or till the gourds are completely cooked.
On the side, grind the masala ingredients to a fine powder with no water. Add this to the cooked Ivy Gourd and allow water to evaporate completely. Add cooked Rice now and gently stir. Turn off flame and serve hot with a garnish of chopped Coriander leaves.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lentil Spicy Soup (Bele Saaru/ Udupi Daali Saaru)

Bele Saaru or Udupi Daali Saaru is an amalgamation of Daal + Saaru. The final product which you get when you marry both is Udupi Daali Saaru or Bele Saaru. This approach of cooking Daal along with Saaru is very popular and sought after in Udupi & Mangalore regions, also practised in Kannada/ Karnataka cuisines. This version is a far cry from the traditional Tomato Rasam or Tomato Saaru Recipe. The only twist here is the addition of Daal plus the consistency is more thicker and not as thin and soupy as Rasam.

If you are making a big batch of this recipe, try putting a bunch of Coriander leaves and Curry leaves tied together as a Herb Bouquet in the soup. Else, put all the herbs in a muslin cloth, tie off the ends and dunk in the soup. Discard once the soup is ready. I believe this is the chef's little secret to get the 'precise' flavour for Saaru. This is one of the approaches still practised in Udupi Krishna Temple where more than 5000+ people enjoy temple food preparations cooked by Shivalli Brahmins cooks; this Saaru is served as part of lunch and dinner to a huge mass of devotees thronging to the holy abode from nooks and corners of the world. I recall watching it on a Travel and Living documentary on Udupi Temple food served on Plantain leaf hosted by Padma Lakshmi ; simply incorporated this method into my recipe. :)

I am forever bowled over by this humble recipe which fuses two cooking methods of Daal and Saaru. In my home, this is a regular one. Daal adds volume and provides the much required pep to improve the texture. Feel sick, just slurp this up from a mug.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2-3 servings

Toor Daal (cooked) - 1 cup
Tomatoes (finely chopped and pulsed) - 3/4 cup
Rasam powder - 2 teaspoon
Green Chillies (sliced) - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Asafoetida powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Coriander leaves (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Jaggery - 1 teaspoon
Herb Bouquet - Coriander leaves + Curry leaves strands (bunch of 2-3 strands tied together)

For Seasoning -
Curry leaves - 1 strand
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Oil/ Ghee

Cook Toor Daal in a pressure cooker and keep aside. Pulse the tomatoes in blender to rough chops or manually crush them with your hands. Add Toor Daal paste to this. Bring to boil with Green Chillies and the Herb Bouquet. Add Rasam powder, Turmeric powder, Jaggery, Asafoetida powder and adjust salt & water as per taste. Simmer on low flame for 10 minutes. Turn off flame once completely cooked.
In a separate pan, heat few spoons of Oil/ Ghee, add Mustard seeds, once they begin to pop add Curry leaves and saute. Turn off flame and pour this seasoning over the cooked Daal consistency. Garnish with chopped Coriander leaves. Serve hot with warm rice and a dollop of Ghee.