Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Aebleskiver Pan (Appe Kaili)

Aebleskiver Pan is a pan with versatile use and is an owner's pride. The pan is of Danish origin used to make mini eatables which closely resemble circular spongy cakes like Popovers.

In Indian cuisine, the pan is popularly used to make Appe (in Konkani), Paniyaram (in Tamil) and Paddu (in Kannada). I appreciate this skillet because it can be used to make Appe, Pakoras (the low fat version), Dumplings (fried ones), Koftas (for Kofta curry). The biggest advantage of this skillet is the amount of oil it takes to cook any food item. If you are diet conscious, you could also use a squirt of Pam Cooking Spray which is a boon for oil control in cooking. The ergonomic design of the structure supports quick cooking with less fat. The spatula of the pan resembles a knitting needle with an arrow added for convenience.

Curing is a crucial step involved in preserving the pan and adding longevity if one is using an iron one. Its relatively heavier but iron rich food supplements for the taste and texture. Coat few spoons of oil on all the exposed areas of the pan over night and leave aside. My Ma has been doing this for many years now. I use a non-stick version so just greasing oil on the indentations is good enough.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Appe (with Brown Rice)

Appe is a Konkani version of spongy dumpling which is fried in a special pan known as Appe Kaili which in simple terms implies pan for frying Appe. The contraption is also known as Aebleskiver Pan and is very handy because of the ergonomic design of the pan.

The various types of Appe are Plain Appe, Sweet Appe (Goad Appe with Jaggery) and Masala Appe (Appe with Onions and Curry leaves). In my house the preference is for the simpler version. My Ma adds pieces of Coconut (Katle Kudko), chopped Green Chillies and bits of Curry leaves. My Grandmom added a different spin to it by adding a paste of grated coconut and green chillies to the batter just before frying. This also happens to be my Dad's favorite breakfast recipe.

The kind of pan one uses for frying these is very crucial esp. because they can stick if the pan is not cured (if you are using an iron pan) and the batter if fresh from the fridge. My Ma owns an iron one which is heavy. She coats oil on it the previous night so the next day around, the surface becomes smooth. I did not know about this process being mandatory till a friend educated me about it, many years back. Since he had worked in the hotel industry, he even explained why Curing improves the life span of the iron pans.

Konkani Foodie is five year old today. Its been a journey with tiny baby steps taken and plenty of knowledge gained along the way. My passion for great tasting home cooked food continues, so does the incredible journey. No fancy cakes and desserts this time, just a simple Konkani recipe tried and tested to commemorate and celebrate the journey.

~ Appe (with Brown Rice) ~
Preparation time: 15-18 hours (includes soak and fermentation time)
Cooking time: 10 minutes for each batch

Idli Rice - 1 cup
Short Grain Brown Rice - 1 cup
Urad Dal - 1 cup
Poha - 1 fistful/ 2 cups of Rice (optional) - a fistful
Soaked water - 2 cups

Special Contraption - Aebleskiver Pan

Soaking and Grinding - Wash and drain the idli rice and urad dal till the water is clear (atleast 3-4 times). Soak in with filtered water for 6-8 hours. The grain proliferate in size. Grind them to smooth paste, which is thick. Use filtered water or the soaked water while grinding. Rinse Poha in water and add it while grinding. Throw salt over the batter and set aside.
Fermentation - Transfer the batter to a stainless steel vessel with the lid on. Please the batter in the oven with the pilot light on if you live in colder regions. The total fermentation can take place between 8-12 hours. The batter will double up in volume. Mix once and store in refrigerator.
Appe making process - Heat the Aebleskiver pan and begin with a high flame. Once the pan is hot enough, turn over to a medium flame and keep it consistent. Thaw the batter before use. Pour batter in the indentation and drizzle oil on the sides. Use a special spatula (it resembles knitting needles) and flip them over once the edges turn brown and crispy. Cook for around 5 minutes and till each of the sides turn golden brown. Serve piping hot with Byadgi Chillies Chutney.

Note - Coat the pan with oil before use, this is required especially for iron pans. If using non-stick one, coat the indentations few minutes before use. Do not use plastic container while fermenting the batter. If its a sunny day, one could keep the batter in sunlight to accelerate the fermentation process. The fermentation time is higher in cold climate regions as opposed to regions with a tropical climate. The presence of yeast in air also contributes to this. Using the soaked water while grinding facilitates the fermentation process. Sometimes the batter could ferment and spill over so keep a large pan or plate below the vessel. Adding Poha is optional, either ways if the batter gets fermented well, the taste of Appe is delicious. Brown rice adds a softer texture to the Appe as compared to white rice.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Great Northern Beans Curry with Raw Green Jackfruit (Tingalore Kadgi Bendi)

Bendi is a popular style of Konkani curry mostly prepared in Mangalore and nearby regions. The base of the curry comprises of three usual suspects found in Konkani household - Coconut, Red Chillies (Byadgi chillies + Harekala chillies) and Tamarind, seasoned with a liberal garnish of Garlic crushed and seared in Coconut oil. This curry is very spicy in taste and has a flaming deep red color. Compared to other curries where the quantity of Coconut (grated) added is a lot, this curry makes use of lesser quantity of Coconut. The taste is spiced up with addition of lot of Red Chillies, especially Harekala Chillies to spruce up the heat and intensity of flavor.

In my opinion, Udupi and nearby regions resort to the other milder version of curry known as Koddel. Koddel is less spicy and has a rich coconut base because of addition of liberal amount of coconut to the curry paste.

Great Northern Beans (Raw and Soaked)

I used Great Northern Beans for this curry since I had them handy and the flavor of this bean is the same as Navy Beans. Usually, we use Tingalore, known and available as Navy Beans in US for this spicy curry in our home. Incidentally, Great Northern Beans belong to the Navy Beans family. Use Coconut oil for seasoning as it enhances and nurtures the authentic curry flavor.

~ Tingalore Kadgi Bendi ~
Preparation time: 8-10 hours (soak time)
Cooking time: 40 minutes

Navy Beans or Great Northern Beans - 1 cup
Raw Green Jackfruit (fresh or frozen) - 2 cups

For Masala -
Grated Coconut - 5 tbsp/ cup of Beans
Red Chillies (Byadgi [5] + Harekala Chillies [3]) - 8
Tamarind pulp - 1 tsp

For Seasoning -
Garlic (crushed) - 6
Coconut Oil (ONLY)

Clean, wash the beans and soak them in ample amount of water overnight. The beans proliferate in size the next day around. Pressure cook them for 2-3 whistles along with jackfruit. Roast the red chillies in little oil for couple of minutes and allow to cool. Grind to a smooth paste along with grated coconut and tamarind pulp.
Bring the ground paste to a boil, adjust salt and water consistency as desired. Add the cooked beans and jackfruit now. Bring to a boil and simmer to cook for 5-8 minutes. Cook till the beans and jackfruit pieces are completely cooked. In a separate pan, heat few spoons of coconut oil and season with crushed garlic. Sear them till they get a reddish brown tinge. Pour this seasoning on the cooked curry. Cover with a lid and serve hot with Rice or Roti.

Note - I reduced the number of chillies, but one can increase it upto 10-12 chillies for more heat and flaming red color.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Note of Gratitude: Rest in Peace - Dear Grandma

On a cold chilly weekend in early February, I received an unexpected call from India during late night hours. It was from my Ma who declared with a sad feeble voice that my Ammama passed away after putting up a valiant fight with deteriorating health and old age. At first, I was startled and refused to believe. Then, the copious amount of tears followed. Its strange how death makes us question our own mortality and forces us to face things which we would not have otherwise. They say one learns more from pain than from pleasure. I completely understand the theory now.

Ammama, my Grandmother was a true inspiration and a matriarch of our large jumbo family. She was specially close to my Ma and shared with her, her deepest thoughts and feelings. She loved feeding people, enjoyed their company and believed in nurturing relationships. She enjoyed concocting traditional Konkani dishes in her cozy kitchen and made use of seasonal vegetables, pulses and fruits. She enjoyed reading the daily newspaper, watching her favorite TV programs and decorating dolls with sequins and decorative fabric when time permitted.

Last year her health went from bad to worse and she switched to liquid diet. She also confided that soon after she had the dentures placed, she lost interest in food and naturally so. She loved Mangoes a lot and waited every year for summer season to arrive which meant she could enjoy the season's best juicy sugar sweet Mangoes. During the monsoon season, she'd procure the special variety of Mushroom (Gudgud Alambe - the ones which spring up only where thunder and lightning hit the landscape) and gladly make Alambe Ambat and if possible sent it over to her sons and daughters. She loved sipping on rich hot Tomato Soup during winter season. Every time anyone would visit us from her house, she would send me a steel box tiffin full of spicy Bitter Gourd Pickle (Karate Nonche), which is her specialty and one of its kind. She loved Coffee, Parboiled Rice (Paej) and Pickle (Teek Nonche) of any kind. She led a simple life, loved to wear her cotton sarees and took great interest in creative art and crafts, linguistics, books and literature. She loved learning and propounded often that 'Knowledge is Power'. I believe I got my 'Reading Bug' from both my Grandparents who loved, adored and worshiped books. She specially liked reading the newspaper page by page during the early morning hours. High on life, full of funny anecdotes, humor filled remarks and quotes, she adored monsoon, flowers particularly Ratnagandhi which grows in abundance in North Karnataka region. Above all, she loved her kids and grand kids. Her life has been a parable of valuable lessons on life, love, people and relationships for my family.

Sometimes, its hard to fathom that she is gone and I reminisce the times we've spent together during my last vacation in India. The solace is my Ma was by her side all through her good, bad and worse times. She also fed my Grandma her last meal before she breathed her last. I hope I am able to care for my parents the same way and be by their side. I was very close to my Grandma and the bond we shared was deep and wonderful.

Thanks Ammama for giving us Roots and Wings. Roots to realize and remember where we came from and wings to fly and reach our fullest potential to live a life we aspire and desire.

Rest in Peace - My Darling...