Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kottige/Khotto/Gunda (Idlis Steamed in Jackfruit Leaves)



'Old habits die hard' - this is phrase which is often used to describe someone who never gives up their bad habits, but today's post is about this same phrase used in a very positive way. What would we all do if our moms or grandmoms gave up on slaving over traditional food year after year, decade after decade? Not only would our rich culture be in jeopardy but even the younger generation would miss out on the chance to enjoy authentic cuisine or maybe even partake in the process of creating those delicacies and thus carry forward the legacy.

When I recently saw a recipe of the 'Kotto (as it's called in Konkani) from my friend Vidya on Konkani Amchi Food, a group on Facebook, I was like wow! what a coincidence! Just a couple of days before I had bookmarked the Kori Ghassi recipe on Cherie's Stolen Recipes, a nice Mangalorean Bunt recipe blog and I was thrilled when I decided to make the Kottige (as it's called in Kannada)/Gunda (as it's called in Tulu) to go along with the Kori Ghassi. Now, the big task I had was to hunt for the Jackfruit leaves and then learn how to weave the baskets.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kori Ghassi (Bunt Style Spicy Chicken Curry)


Any Mangalorean will find it easy to slide into a new cosmopolitan city - ready to mingle and blend into the crowd. This is simply because Mangalore itself has always been such a cosmopolitan place in its own special way. No, I am not talking about pubs or malls - both of which have been mushrooming in the past decade or so, but about the cultural influences that have shaped each of us since decades. Like I mentioned in so many of my previous posts, Mangalore is a small place with so many cultures, languages and religious beliefs all of which are tightly interwoven into the fabric of our lives and have a great impact on our cuisine as well. 

I can't stop comparing Mangalore's cultural heritage to the lovely 'garam masala' which is a blend of different fragrant spices, unique in their own way but all the more charming as a mixture - so also, in Mangalore you can find different communities which in so many ways contribute to our beautiful town - the Tulu speaking Bunts and non Bunts, the Kannada speaking Brahmins, non Brahmins and Protestant Christians, the Konkani speaking Catholics and GSBs (Goud Saraswat Brahmins) and non GSBs (with influences from North Canara), the Beary Bashe speaking Bearys (also known as Byari - the local Muslim community), the Malayali, Gujrati and Marwadi traders and business communities settled in Mangalore all influence our culture. Irrespective of whether they are locals or those settled in Mangalore since centuries, each one takes great pride in being called a 'Mangalorean'

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kube Sukhe (Clams/Cockles In A Dry Masala)

Some of my trips to the local fish market end up on a delightful note - when I find some of my favourite kinds of seafood. Since I don't eat Prawns and Crabs (I know it's awful, but im allergic to them), I freak out and break into a song and dance (Hindi movie style) whenever I find Clams (Cockles/Marwai/Kube/Theesriya) and Squid (Bonddas). Clams are a rare find most of the time and when I do find them I either make Kube Mutli (Clams with mini rice dumplings) or Sukhe (dry masala). So far I had only tried making the Sukhe with regular Bafat Powder, grated coconut and fried onions - in a jiffy. But this time I thought I should try a ground masala and also add a bit of rice powder to give that thick texture to the masala. 


When I was little my mum used to bring Clams a lot more often than I bring now, maybe because it was available more often. All kinds of fish were available in plenty in Mangalore, now I hear people complaining that everything gets exported and what remains for the locals is poor quality stuff sold at exorbitant prices. That way, in Bombay there is no dearth of fish. Being a coast itself, we get to enjoy fish from our coast as well as from Gujarat, Goa, Mangalore & Chennai. But then we pay through our nose here too. Somehow I have forgotten the knack of haggling for fish prices with the fiesty fisherwomen. Here they are not as ferocious as the ones back home, but they know which customers to fleece from their alien accents - I am no exception.


Being a Mangalorean, I would often have gender mix ups and all that pure Hindi taught to me in school went down the drains as 'shuddh' (pure) Hindi is as easily recognized as a South Indian herself. Oh Blimey! "Isko mein nahi sau rupiya detha hai" would mean I'd get the fish only for double the price! Anyway, after surviving those initial years I have managed to pick up some quality Bambaiyya (local slang) and manage to find some good catch at reasonable prices. 



My friend tells me that I can pick up the freshest of the fresh catch at the dock at 3pm daily at the cheapest prices, before it is auctioned to the fisherwomen. I am planning to arm myself with a few hundred bags and bring the season's bounty before Monsoons completely take over and fishing boats are no longer able to venture out into the dangerous waters. For now, its Kube Sukhe, Clams in a masala of ground spices - fragrant, spicy and delicious!
Kube Sukhe
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You Need:
  • 100 clams
For the masala:
  • 5-5 long dry red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 1 small ball of tamarind or 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
For garnishing:
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut
For the tempering (bagar/fon/tadka):
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 level tsp roasted & coarsely powdered rice
  • 1 tbsp oil 
Method:
1. Clean the clams in sufficient water and remove 1 shell of each clam & discard. Retain the flesh in only one shell.
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in the 'For the masala' section to a fine paste
3. In a pan heat some oil and toss in crushed garlic and fry till they turn slightly golden. Add the mustard. When they splutter add the roasted rice powder and fry some more.
4. Add the ground masala and fry on slow fire, add the grated coconut and cook for 5 minutes. Add a little water if required (to avoid the masala from burning)
5. Add the clams and a little salt to taste (clams can be a little salty). Taste & add more if required.
6. Cook until the clams are done (the flesh is no longer mushy but turns a bit firm - but should not shrink too much).
7. Serve hot with rice

Note:
1. If the clams you have purchased are tightly clamped up and refuse to open - place them in the deep freezer for about 2 hours, remove and place them at room temperature with the bowl filled with water. They will open up automatically within 30-40minutes
2. If you live in a city and purchase clams from an unknown source, its better to open them first and thoroughly clean them before boiling them.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bella Metthe Dosa (Jaggery & Fenugreek Seed Pancakes)

As I've mentioned in my previous posts, Mangalore is a beautiful pot pourri of cultures. This beautiful coastal town is home to so many languages, cultures and religious beliefs so it goes without saying that much of it trickles into our cuisine on the whole. The fine details ofcourse vary between ethnicities. Everyone identifies with the 'dosa' as a wholesome food that originated in the South. But there are so so many varieties that it is mind boggling. Some of them are traditional recipes passed down from one generation to the other and enables others to distinguish one culture from the other. The Bella Metthe Dosa is typically a breakfast or tea time snack prepared by the Mangalorean Protestant (Christian) community. The recipe was given to me by my dear Mangalorean friend Jenifer who I met here in Bombay, a family friend who is like a sister to me. 


While a 'Dosa' typically means a pancake made out of rice or wheat, this one has extra flavours brought in by fresh coconut, jaggery and fenugreek. The right balance of flavours makes these dosas so irresistible especially when you have them once they have completely cooled off - you can lose track of how many you've had!

A perfect breakfast is one which helps jump start the metabolism and keeps you going through the day. These dosas are a great breakfast option as they are filled with the goodness of  coconut (rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals), jaggery (popularly known as medicinal sugar is a good source of magnesium, potassium and helps to maintain blood pressure), fenugreek (excellent herbal remedy for reducing cholesterol & blood sugar levels, treating skin inflammations and increasing milk production in lactating mothers), rice (which is an instant source of energy - a carbohydrate with many benefits), black gram dal (reduces formation of cough & acidity in the body and is beneficial to people with diabetes, nervous disorders, digestive system disorders and rheumatic afflictions)

'Bella' in Kannada means Jaggery and 'Metthe' is Methi seeds (Fenugreek)
So friends, what are you waiting for? There's nothing like a power packed breakfast - try this and let me know how you liked it!


Bella Metthe Dosa
(Printable Recipe)

Soaking time: 6- hours | Prep time: 10 mins| Fermenting time: 2 hours | Cook time: 15 mins | Yield: 12-14 medium size thin dosas

You Need:
  • 1 cup raw rice (Kolam/Surai/Belthige)
  • 1 cup jaggery, powdered
  • 1 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1 fistful (a little less than 1/4 cup) urad dal (black gram dal)
  • 1-1/2 - 2 tbsp methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
  • 1 fistfull (approx 1/4 cup) cooked rice (preferably brown/red rice or boiled rice) or poha (beaten rice)
  • 1 level tsp dry yeast
  • sugar to taste (approx 1 teaspoon)
  • salt to taste (approx 3/4th teaspoon)
Method:
1. Wash and soak the raw rice, urad dal and methi seeds for at least 6-7 hours. Drain and grind it along with the jaggery, grated coconut and cooked rice to a fine thick paste. The consistency of the batter should be slightly thinner than dosa batter.
2. Transfer the batter into a large and deep container that accommodates fermented batter. Add salt and sugar to taste - it should have a sweet & salty taste. Adjust sweetness of sugar or jaggery as required.
3. To prepare the yeast solution, take yeast in a small bowl and add 2-3 tablespoons of lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon sugar to help activate the yeast. Keep aside for 10 minutes till the yeast solution turns frothy. Add this to the prepared batter, stir well so everything is mixed properly. Cover the mouth of the vessel with a muslin cloth or a lid that is not airtight but has an outlet for air to pass. Keep the pan undisturbed, in a warm spot of your kitchen to aid fermentation. In good (warm) weather and when good quality yeast is used the batter takes anywhere between 1-1/2 - 3 hours to ferment. * see notes.
4. Heat a non stick tawa/griddle on a medium high and grease it with a little oil. Take a ladleful of batter and pour in the centre of the pan, let it spread on its own or just help spread it a bit using the back of your ladle. Cover and cook for about half a minute, add a few drops of oil before you flip it over. Cook on both sides till golden brown.
5. Serve hot with chutney or eat them plain when completely cool - they are irressitible even when cold!



Notes:
1. You may leave the batter overnight for fermentation if you live in a slightly colder weather or have central AC at home. Make sure that you place a large plate underneath the pan just incase the batter spills over.
2. When the batter has fermented completely it will double or triple in quantity and turn frothy/fluffy. If you wish you can stir the batter a bit but it will kill the fermentation. However, many people stir it once and keep the batter again for fermentation. If you don't wish to fry  dosas at this stage you may even pour the batter into ramekins or a steel plate with sides and steam it for 15-20 minutes for a fluffy steamed cake. 
3. In the picture above I have prepared thick dosa by frying them on a flat tawa. If you are using a large dosa tawa which is slightly concave in the middle then use a ladle to spread the batter in which case you may get slightly thinner dosa.
4. If the tawa is too hot the dosa will burn outside and remain uncooked inside. If it is not hot enough the batter will stick and refuse to spread even with the help of a ladle. Maintain the heat on a medium high. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vorn (Split Green Gram Pudding/Moong Dal Payasam)

I am back with another Mangalorean traditional sweet dish - the Vorn, Mangalore's very own version of the North Indian Kheer! Famously called as 'Payasa' in Karnataka and 'Payasam' across the rest of South India. It is typically a sweet dish made out of cooking broken rice or wheat or vermicelli in flavoured and sweetened milk and garnished with dry fruits and nuts. However, while milk is the most common base for the Payasa, coconut milk is used in places where coconuts are in abundance. Ok! I won't go on and on about the various uses of the coconut, but yes, the Vorn or Payasa has a distinct flavour and richness that can come from coconut milk alone. Score!

Vorn as we call it in Konkani used to be made for special occasions only. When I was a kid, special occasions always meant grand food - a feast which of course had a grand finale, the sweet dish. Every grandma had her own version of the Vorn, the recipe of which she handed over to her daughter who then passed on to her's (well, mine is pretty much the hand-me-down too, tweaked here and there).


The term 'ghasa ghasa payasa' in Kannada means - piping hot payasam and that is exactly how I remember having Vorn during my childhood. Literally a huge vessel with boiling Vorn, bubbling over. Fresh, piping hot and delicious. Some foods in life will never let you forget the people or incidents associated with it. In this case, it is my mother. I can still remember the large Indalium thoplen (vessel) in which she made huge quantities of Vorn whether it was for a large number of people or just for immediate family members (keeping in mind the second and third helpings they would come back for). Vorn, somehow miraculously never got over, the Indalium vessel was something like an 'akshayapatram' ('akshaya' in Sanskrit means inexhaustible and 'paatram' means vessel). We often had leftovers stowed into the fridge to be eaten the next day. Vorn tastes great whether it is eaten fresh and hot and even when it is nice and chilled.

When I tried my hand at making the Vorn for the first time last week, I was wondering if it was a healthy bet at all. But then, unlike other sweet dishes, this one wont kill you. There is no ghee or oil involved and no refined products. Just Green Gram boiled in water and then flavoured with coconut milk and cardamom, sweetened with jaggery, thickened with powdered rice and garnished with raisins and cashewnuts/almonds (which ofcourse you can limit). My version is with reduced sweetness, if you prefer your sweets extra sweet, add some generous amount of jaggery. 


Vorn
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Yield: 8 medium size desert/custard bowls
You Need:
  • 1/4 kg split green gram without skin (dhuli moong dal)
  • 30 gms raw rice (Kolam/Surai/Belthige) (less than quarter cup) * see note
  • 1/4 kg jaggery (gur) * see note
  • 4 pods cardamom (elaichi) powdered
  • 1 large coconut grated
  • 25gms cashewnuts (kaju)
  • 25gms raisins (kishmish)
  • pinch salt
Method:
1. Extract thick and thin milk from the grated coconut. It should yield about 1-1/2 cups of thick milk and 2 cups of thin milk. Set aside. Soak the raw rice for 15-20minutes, grind to a fine paste with a little water.
2. Wash the green gram 2-3 times and place it in a thick bottomed pan with sufficient water (about 3 cups). Cook till half done. Add the thin coconut milk, jaggery and salt and cook for a further 3-4 minutes
3. Add the ground rice paste and stir to continuously to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You will notice that the mixture has thickened. Cook on slow fire for a few minutes.
4. Add the thick coconut milk, powdered cardamom, raisins and cashewnuts. Cook for another 2-3 minutes
5. Remove from flame. Serve hot. The Vorn tends to thicken up when it cools down so reheat to make it thinner before serving.

Note:
1. The rice powder is used to thicken the Vorn. If you want thicker consistency add upto 60gms rice (about quarter cup)
2. Jaggery is usually the same quantity as the green gram - I have used just 175gms as I prefer it less sweet. You can use 1/4kg jaggery if you like it really sweet. It also depends on how sweet the jaggery is - the one we get in Mumbai is less sweet and includes some amount of salt. So add in small quantities till you are satisfied with the level of sweetness.


The main ingredient here - Green Gram is one of the most wholesome pulses with its origin traced back to India. It is consumed in the form of whole dried seeds, split as a dal (lentil) and sprouted moong beans are highly nutritious. Moon Dal is very beneficial for the sickly, infants and is a laxative when given in large quantities. The moong dal is also used as a beauty aid - effective to clear blemishes and dandruff. So why don't we incorporate this lovely source of protein in your daily diet?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

One Bowl Coconut Cake

I love simple cakes - the most satisfactory ones are those that are not only simple to make in terms of simplicity and availability of ingredients, preparation time and method but also taste wonderfully simple. I also love to bake with fruits, but sometimes you have to get the quantities and measurements so right that if you daydream your cake becomes a flop. Well, since I learnt to bake on my own with endless browsing on the net for answers, I have taken many shots at creating the perfect cake and ended up with burnt, undone, flat or over puffed up cakes. For most of the disasters I blame my microwave oven for mistaken settings or the OTG which came with wrong instructions on the manual. But then, each experience brought with it a lot of learnings. Cooking and baking is a delightfully interesting journey of learning new things. You can create so many marvellous things with the same set of ingredients.


However, as much as I love baking, I dislike some tasks such as powdering the sugar when I run out of caster sugar or beating the eggs and sugar with a manual whisk and waiting for the mixture to turn pale. Slaving over a cake with too many ingredients and too many steps to be followed while standing in a oven hot kitchen is a turn off for me so when I find a recipe that requires minimum effort I jump with joy & try it almost immediately.



This particular recipe was shared by my dear reader Cynthia out of her tried & tested recipe collection. When I saw the title - it said - one bowl coconut cake, I thought that probably it was one of those mug cakes. But later I realised that all you need is a single mixing bowl - everything goes straight into it and then into the baking tin! Makes life so much more simple when you don't have a million dishes to clean right after a marathon baking session. This recipe has barely any hard-to-find ingredients (it doesn't even need vanilla extract!) I bookmarked it to be made today as a welcome-back-home cake for my hubby who has been travelling this week. It's also a sweet trap for him to take over babysitting for our lil son so that I can go shopping for a good few hours tomorrow! Ha ha!


One Bowl Coconut Cake
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Adapted from NZ's Favourite Recipe
Yield: One 9" round cake
You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups flour (maida)
  • 1-1/4 cups caster sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1-1/4 cups freshly shredded/grated coconut (not dessicated) 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 125gms butter (melted)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4th cup milk
Method:
1. Sift the flour with baking powder and salt. Keep it aside
2. In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients except the flour and mix well. Mix the flour in parts so that it is well incorporated.


3. Line a 9" round tin with parchment paper and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 45 minutes
4. Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before inverting on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or slather it with some Nutella (Chocolate & Hazlenut spread) and enjoy it - If you love eating 'Bounty' the Coconut Chocolate bar - you will love this cake!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Godaso Pou (Sweet Beaten Rice/Poha)

Lactose free, Fat free, Heart healthy - Tarla Dalal on Poha (Beaten Rice)

Wow! I never knew that the humble Poha or Pou as we call it in Konkani was so full of goodness in the health department! During my childhood the sight of Pou made me...well, yawn. I'd have a dismal look on my face when my mum made Pou as a tea time snack while my brother loved every bit of it. I would eat it only when it was garnished with bananas. It goes without saying that I didn't try my hand at it after I got married even though my husband loves any version of Pou. Thanks to blogging, I have been reintroduced to the Sweet Poha and although it has no real 'recipe' and is the simplest of all, I am posting it for the benefit of all those who enjoy simple, oil free and healthy snack recipes. When I finally made & ate this (maybe after 8-9 years!), I totally loved it and wondered why I deprived myself of such simple pleasures of life. 


If you have never been too fond of the coconut, I am sure you will find this version interesting. The freshly grated coconut releases all its flavours when combined with the jaggery and cardamom. Although one can substitute the jaggery with sugar, it's best to stick to jaggery (if it's available) as it provides all the juicy sweetness. Sweet Pou tastes best with banana slices.

In Mangalore Poha is transformed into two versions, the sweet and the savoury one (Bajil in Tulu) which is eaten as is or served with Sajjige (Upma/Savoury Semolina) and is famously called as 'Sajjige Bajil'. This is by far one of the most common breakfast items and is probably the favourite of more than half the population of Mangalore. The Sweet Pou is more of a tea time snack and is often savoured with hot coffee or tea (some of it even poured into the beaten rice - yum!). In Konkani - 'God' means jaggery/sweet and hence the term 'Godaso Pou'



Godaso Pou
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Serves: 1


You Need:
  • 3/4th - 1 cup beaten rice * see note
  • 1-1/2 tbsp jaggery (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut (dont use dessicated coconut)
  • 2 pods cardamom powdered
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 small banana (Elaichi/Kadhali) - optional
Note:
If you are new to the world of beaten rice, then look for the thinner variety of beaten rice/poha. In Mumbai two types of Poha are available. The regular thick poha (small & thick flakes) which is used by Maharashtrians to make Batata Poha and the Chivda variety (thin, flat & large+ flakes - which is what you need to use)

Method:
1. In a bowl, add the grated coconut and powdered/grated jaggery. Toss in the cardamom powder. Use your fingers to mash all the ingredients well so that all the flavours blend well and add a pinch of salt
2. Mix the beaten rice only when you are ready to serve - else it will turn too soggy.
3. Garnish with sliced banana and serve


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

We all need to break away from routines don't we? Whether it's a vacation or just a switch from the usual menu, we need something fresh to tingle the senses and bring in a breath of freshness into our lives. While there is no vacation for me on the cards as yet, I did break away from my usual Mangalorean cooking and tried making Spaghetti and Meatballs for the first time after scouting for some recipes online. My little fellow was ranting this morning about meatballs as the pack of spaghetti was lying for a long time in my pantry and I thought this was the right opportunity to make this yummy Italian dish.


Spaghetti has always been my favourite - infact, I love the noodle family a lot whether it is the Italian Spaghetti, Chinese noodles or the Indian Sevai (or Sheviyo which is totally Mangalorean) and who doesn't like Meatballs? This time I thought of adding some leftover spinach leaves into the meatballs as I got myself a large bunch of Palak which found its way into all kinds of soups and dosas that I made over the past few days and the last few leaves were begging for redemption - so in they went. The meatballs tasted gorgeous and I am thinking of adding some more veggies into meatballs the next time I try them. It's always good to sneak some veggies into little tummies (and big ones too) isnt it?


I have made several attempts at meal planning, none has lasted too long, but I think the good habit is getting inculcated. I have been trying to introduce international cuisine on one day of the week - Thursdays. Since  my hubby and I have been hard core Mangaloreans when it comes to food (at least home cooked) for a while it was hard to break out of that 'bondage' - since we are both foodies we do love to try out new cuisines as often as possible when we eat out. However, there's a lot you can do to international cuisine if you have the opportunity to try it at home, barring the expensive ingredients - most of which can be substituted with local fare, the rest is upto your creativity - meddle around and create something exotic whilst retaining its authenticity. With the below recipe, I did play around with the ingredients - definitely the spices as I doubt the Italians add so much pepper/paprika - anyways, it was a lovely experience.

By the way, Italy is on my bucket list - the places I want to visit before I die. I do hope I get that chance someday and get to taste some Spaghetti and Meatballs dripping with authenticity.....



Spaghetti and Meatballs
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Serves: 4
You Need:

  • 200gms spaghetti

For the meatballs
  • 400 gms chicken mince (kheema)  (makes around 24 lime size balls)
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2-3 slices of bread (preferably dryish)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic chopped fine (Indian garlic)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (you can even use sharp cheddar cheese)
  • pepper to taste (about 1 level tsp)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil to grease the baking tray or some cooking spray
  • 1 loosely packed cup of chopped spinach (optional) *
For the sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 350gms tomatoes (about 5 medium ones)
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped fine (Indian garlic)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika (chilli flakes)
  • pinch thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or 1 stock cube dissolved in 1 cup of warm water)
Method:

To make the meatballs:
1. Wash and drain the mince. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients except the olive oil and make lime size balls.
2. Preheat oven to 230 degree C and place the meatballs on a greased tray and bake for 20minutes. Once done, remove the tray, allow to cool. Alternatively you can heat some oil in a non stick wok and gently fry the meatballs on slow fire instead of baking them.

To make the sauce
1. Place some water in a pan and when it comes to a boil, add the tomatoes and cook for 7-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of cold water and then remove and discard the skin and mash the tomatoes to a pulp. Keep aside.
2. In a wok, heat the olive oil and toss in the garlic and chopped onion and fry for half a minute. When they turn pale, add the tomato pulp and fry for half a minute. Then add the remaining ingredients and the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the baked meatballs and simmer for 10minutes

To make the spaghetti
Cook spaghetti as per instructions on the packet or take 1 litre water for 100gms spaghetti and when the water comes to a rolling boil add the spaghetti and about 7gms salt. Cook for 8 minutes stirring in between. Drain on a colander *

To serve:
Place a portion of spaghetti and pour the sauce and meat balls over it. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and a few flakes of oregano.
Serve hot!

Notes:
If you are using spinach make sure it has been washed, drained and completely dried and you make the meatballs immediately after preparing the mixture. Spinach leaves some water and you dont want a soggy mixture
Make the spaghetti just before you are ready to serve. Do not make it too much in advance or else it will dry up a little.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sanna (Mangalorean Idlis/Steamed Rice Cakes)

If you are a Mangalorean/Goan you can conjour up the best of memories when you see a plate of steaming sannas, isnt it? Picture this - a bowl of piping hot Pork Sorpotel or Pork Bafat with some steaming fresh from the tondor Sannas - Bliss! Being a Mangalorean Catholic, the deep rooted love for Sannas came naturally and even the thought of Sannas brings to my mind a sweet fragrance of fermenting rice batter that attaches itself to everything from the steam to the kitchen walls and also to those who are preparing them. 

Sannas used to be a grand affair when I was little. They were always made to mark some celebratory occasion - feasts, festivals and birthdays, when it was made in abundance to cater to a large number of guests who poured into our homes. My fondest memories are of my mum hurriedly pouring batter into ramekins, batch after batch and trying to finish off just in time to attend the midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. We would then return from Mass and have a second round of dinner - Sannas with Pork. Yum!


I think, most Mangaloreans I know would have eaten Sannas with Dukramaas (Pork Bafat) on Christmas day - year after year. This is like the Christmas Day staple diet. When I was in Mangalore, many churches/schools, especially St. Agnes Special school used to host the 'Christmas Tree' celebrations or 'Fancy Fetes' on Christmas day or the day after (usually during the Christmas week). It was impossible not to bump into a hundred relatives, friends and those you met last year on the same date during the same fete :-) And it was impossible to avoid the standard question "Christmas gammath gi? Kalein special?" (Did you have a jolly good time for Christmas? What was special for lunch?) and yeah - the most standard answer would be "Sanna ani Dukramaas". Although there would be other special items on the menu in every house, it went without saying that 'Sannas & Pork' were the highlight of the day.

While the world famous South Indian Idli is undoubtedly one of my most favourite breakfast items, the Sannas - the cousin of the Idli, is a class apart and wins hands down. While the Idli is fermented with the use of Urad Dal  (Black Gram Dal) (original method) or the instant versions use a combo of baking soda/fruit salt & yogurt to give it the 'fermented' feel and make it double in quantity instantly, the Sannas use the traditional method of fermenting the batter with the use of Toddy/Arrack (fermented coconut water which miraculously transforms itself into cheap liquor) or yeast (usually dry yeast). The texture of the Idli is slightly coarse as one needs to grind the batter to a 'rawa' like (grainy) consistency and the colour is a cloudy white owing to the comparitively larger proportion of Urad Dal used. The Sannas are fluffier and whiter and every housewife will claim that she holds the recipe to Sannas that are 'Kapsa Bori' (as fluffy as Cottonwool!)


Sugar is also added to the batter before it is poured into 'gindul (singular) /gindlaan (plural)' (ramekins) and steamed in a steamer (tondor - similar to the dhokla maker) which gives the Sannas a sweeter taste than regular Idlis. 

The Sannas also score over the Idlis as you can eat Sannas for breakfast - with Chutney and/or Sambhar,  for lunch & dinner as an accompaniment to Chicken/Pork/Mutton/Beef/Vegetable curries/gravies. During teatime one can savour them with a little Sweetened Roce (coconut milk) or by simply dipping them in Tea/Coffee. Leftover Sannas are also deep fried and eaten as a pakora (but I would never recommend it as the Sannas absorb a lot of oil!). Infants and toddlers often love the Sanna dipped in milk or ghee and sugar - crunchy & yummy. If you are bored with the regular Sanna, you can make sweet or savoury stuffed Sannas too! How versatile! 


Although Sannas were traditionally made in every Mangalorean/Goan home, it is available in bakeries today. Some housewives take regular/seasonal orders and have them home delivered. It is considered cost effective by many people including office goers and senior citizens who are in no position to dabble with the whole Sanna making process. However, Sannas taste best when they are fresh and warm - right out of the 'tondor'!

I think I should stop rambling about the Sannas and give you a chance to try them out! If you have made Idlis before, this should come easy, if not, don't worry, there's always a first time :-) - the one you wont regret!


Sanna
Yield: Approx 25-27 sannas when the batter is well fermented. For a heigher yield take a ratio of 3:1 (cups of boiled rice : raw rice)
Recipe Source: My mum

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups Boiled rice (also called as Parboiled rice/Ukda Chawal/Idli Rice/Ukdo/Katsambar)
  • 1/2 cup Raw rice (smalled grained rice such as Kolam in Hindi/Surai in Konkani/Belthige Akki in Kannada) - I use Satyam brand Kolam rice which is really nice
  • 1 fistful Urad dal (Split Black Gram Dal) (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 heaped tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar (to prepare the yeast solution) 
  • 3-4 tbsp tepid water (to prepare the yeast solution)
  • salt to taste (about 1 level tsp for the above mentioned quantity)
  • sugar to taste (around 2-3 tsps)
Method:
1. Wash and soak the two types of rice and Urad dal separately (in separate vessels) for at least 3 hours in plenty of water
2. First grind the Urad dal to a fine paste and remove it - this helps in making the Sannas fluffy. Next, grind both types of rice together to a fine thick batter (not as coarse as Idli batter). Try to use as little water as possible to grind. It should be of dosa batter consistency but not too thick. Transfer to a wide, deep pan large enough to accomodate batter that will double during fermentation.
3. Prepare the yeast solution by mixing the yeast and sugar in a bowl of tepid water. The sugar helps the yeast to dissolve faster. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, the yeast will ferment and turn frothy. Stir to ensure that all the yeast granules have dissolved and what you have is a thick solution.


4. Mix the yeast solution into the batter until completely incorporated. Add sugar to taste (batter can be mildly sweet like appams - but it's upto you how sweet you want them). Add salt to taste (around 1 level tsp) Mix well and cover with a thin muslin cloth and place it undisturbed in a warm place to ferment for about 2 hours (during really hot weather, the batter will ferment in just about 1-1/2 hours)
5. The batter would have doubled - for fluffy Sannas do not stir the batter or it will go flat. Place sufficient water in the steamer (tondor) and bring the water to a boil. Keep ramekins greased and ready. Pour batter into them half full. Place these ramekins into the steamer, cover the lid and steam for 15-20 minutes. Remove the lid carefully so as to prevent the vapour from falling on the Sannas (making the surface slightly soggy) and the steam from burning your hands/face. Carefully remove the ramekins and place them face down on a large plate. Allow to cool (to speed up this process if you need the ramekins for the second batch, place cold wet towels over them to speeden up the cooling process).
6. Once cool, remove carefully and serve ! enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Kheema Aloo Matar (Mince with Potatoes & Peas)

I've been having my hands full with all the household chores and having my son around without school or summer camp to go to has become all the more challenging. Entertaining him and keeping him busy and not falling prey to boredom saps my energy sometimes, so all my recipes are sitting in draft unable to see the light of day for sometime now :-( However, I couldn't resist uploading the recipe of this super easy and tasty Chicken Kheema which I put together in a jiffy this afternoon as the skies opened up for another round of showers. Since we usually have a lot of fish during the week, non availability of the same makes me knock the doors of Godrej Nature's Basket where I pick up my weekly quota of Kheema. I totally love trying out new recipes with Kheema, however this time around, I tried something simple with readily available ingredients for a simple meal. So without any further adieu, here's the recipe



Kheema Aloo Matar
Serves 4
print recipe

You Need:
  • 800gms Chicken mince (kheema)
  • 2 large onions chopped fine
  • 1-2 green chillies chopped fine
  • 5-6 large cloves of garlic - chopped fine
  • 2 inches ginger - chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 medium size juicy tomatoes chopped fine
  • 1 cup peas (I used frozen ones)
  • 1 medium size potato cubed
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs mint leaves - roughly chopped
  • 1-1/2 level tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 level tsp garam masala powder
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Method:
1. Wash and drain the Kheema well. Set aside.
2. Heat some oil in a large pan and fry the onions till translucent. Toss in the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies and fry for about 2 minutes till they turn pale (and the raw smell goes away)
3. Add the drained Kheema and fry for a bit till the onion, ginger garlic chillie mixture is well blended.
4. Toss in all the powders and mix well. Reduce flame and cook for about a minute before you toss in the tomatoes. Add salt to taste and cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes before stirring once in a while to avoid sticking to the bottom.
5. Add the lime juice and mint leaves and mix well and add the cubed potatoes and peas and cook till the kheema is tender and potatoes are cooked.
6. Tear the coriander into small bits and garnish the dish. Cover for about 2 minutes before serving.
7. Kheema tastes best with chapathis or steaming white rice.


Note:
1. You wont need to add any water as the Kheema will leave some water (stock) which will aid in cooking.
2. If you find that the stock is very bland affecting the overall taste of the dish, you can add 1 chicken stock cube (Maggi) to enhance the taste - although this is not required, but is a quick fix measure, not necessarily a healthy one as stock cubes are high in sodium (salt) and preservatives.
3. I normally buy Kheema from Godrej which comes in a pack of 400gms. You can tweak the recipe a bit if you are using 1kg kheema or even 500gms.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Purna Pole/Portha Pole (Rice Pancakes With A Sweet Filling)

In my previous post I wrote about the versatility of the humble 'panpolo' - the neer dosa which is an any time treat. In Mangalore, traditionally, whatever has been prepared for breakfast often finds itself disguised and served for tea as well. For as long as I can remember, I have eaten the Panpole (pronounced as pun-polay) as an evening snack with a deliciously simple sweet filling of the coconut & jaggery. It is the perfect snack to beat the 4pm hunger which often grips me & drives me insane. It is so simple to be put together - you dont need to heat up the dosas again. Freshly grated coconut is preferred as it is more juicy than its frozen counterpart. 


The name - purna pole (also spelled as purna polay) is interchanged with portha pole although it means the same. In today's age, not many people stock up on jaggery, so the filling can be made with sugar as well. The one with jaggery tastes more authentic and is healthier too, but the sugar lends a different taste and kids like the crunchy sugar crystals to bite into.


Purna Pole
You Need:
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 piece jaggery (about 20 gms) pounded/grated
  • 2 pods of cardamom coarsely powdered
  • pinch of salt
Method:
Mix all the ingredients for the filling and mash them well to ensure the jaggery doesnt have any lumps & has blended well with the coconut. Divide into two equal portions. Place the smooth surface of the dosa facing upwards and leaving about 2-3 inches on the top, place half the filling on the dosa. Fold the top portion first and then the sides (vertically) then roll it towards you (pretty much like a kaati roll). Serve!


Panpolay/Neer Dosa - Simple Rice Pancakes

Who can resist the Panpole/Neer Dosa? The Panpole (pronounced as pun-polay) as it's called in Konkani and 'Neer Dosa' called in Tulu/Kannada is everybody's favourite. Neer Dosa derived its name from the term 'Neeru' which means 'Water' in the local languages of Mangalore namely Kannada & Tulu. The watery consistency of the batter is what's behind the name. Its the Neer Dosa's simplicity and ease of preparation that has reigned supreme in every Mangalorean house and has gained a lot of popularity outside Mangalore too. 

In Mumbai, the Neer Dosa is famous in all seafood restaurants irrespective of whether the propreitor is a Mangalorean or not. However, this simple bread is sold at an exhorbitant price - so it's quite ridiculous to order these pretty dosas as they cost about Rs 25 per plate (with just 2 dosas staring back at you). Also, the restaurant's version of the dosa usually does not turn out the way it is made at home. Dosas are essentially characterised by the 'holes' that form either due to air bubbles or fermentation - so in that respect what they serve you are pretty flat ones. However, if you have never tasted these simple & frilly dosas which are thin & delicate like a lady's handkerchief - go try some at once!

The Neer Dosa/Panpole are eaten for breakfast along with chutney or gravies, some like to enjoy it with leftover curries or a side dish of vegetables. These dosas are so versatile that they can be also introduced during ,meal times as an accompaniment to meat/fish dishes. Leftover ones can be rolled up like Kati Rolls with a sweet filling made of fresh coconut & sugar/jaggery. My son loves them plain or with a generous splash of honey. One can never get tired of eating these simple dosas and the best tasting ones are made in cast iron griddles which are kept aside only for these dosas. Cook anything else in these special griddles and they are deemed useless forever as the dosas will never turn out easily and will stick horribly to the griddle.


Panpole
(print this)
Yield: 8-10


You Need:
  • 1 cup raw rice (Surai/Kollam or any small grained rice)
  • sufficient water to make a thin batter
  • salt to taste
  • oil for greasing the griddle
  • 2 tbsp cooked rice (optional) - helps make the dosas ultra soft
  • 2 tsp grated coconut (optional) - brings in a lovely flavour to the dosas - but u can totally skip this
Method:
1. Soak the rice for at least 2 hours or overnight. Grind it with 1/2 cup water & cooked rice and/or coconut to a very fine paste
2. Add 2 cups of water and some more if required to achieve a watery batter (consistency of slightly thicker than milk)
3. Add salt to taste and mix well.
4. Heat a cast iron or non stick griddle/tawa which should have edges (not the one used to make dosas which are without edges). Lightly grease the surface of the griddle with oil - you can poke 1/2 a medium size onion with a fork and use it to grease the griddle. Many people use a small piece of muslin tied to a stick to do the same, but it's more hygienic to use an onion and discard it after use.
5. Using a deep round ladle scoop out batter & pour it on one side of the griddle and lift quickly lift & tilt it to help spread the batter across the entire surface of the griddle. This needs minimum practice. Add more batter in places which are not covered with batter. Cover & cook for about one minute or till you see the dosa leaving the sides of the griddle.
6. Remove and allow to cool a bit before folding into a quarter.
7. Serve with Chutney, gravy, Chicken or Fish curries and simply enjoy this simple delicacy!



Friday, June 3, 2011

Coconut & Cashewnut Fudge

Can I claim to be a Mangalorean if I dont sing praises of the mother of all nuts? - Haha, im not talking about myself, silly! It's just that now that we have stepped into the beginning of monsoons and the Mango is no longer the hot topic, I thought I should write about an all season fruit (or nut if you please) - the Coconut! The most famous tree found in tropical weather - across the world.

The west coast of India is known for the abundance of coconut trees so it's little wonder that our cuisine is also predominantly coconut based. From sweets to savouries the coconut finds its way into almost all the dishes. They aint call it the 'kalpavriksh' for nothing! (kalp = wish, vriksh = tree) or the tree that fulfills all your wishes. While the tender coconut water (bondo/bondda/nariyal pani) is an any time natural thirst quencher for all seasons although it is most popular during the summer. The thin filmy flesh of the tender coconut is delicious when it's eaten right after you have quenched your thirst with the water. The matured coconut (brown on the outside) again has several uses - the flesh is grated and used in cooking savouries (gravies, chutneys, milk, garnishing) and sweets (fudges, burfis, laddoos and many more that use the milk extracted from fresh coconuts). The coconut water when left to ferment is also collected and sold as 'toddy' in arrack shops (now illegal) for those requiring a daily dose to keep themselves in good 'spirits'. The same toddy is used as a fermenting agent in the preparation of various rice based traditional preparations like 'appam's (sweet fermented rice pancakes) or 'sannas' (sweetish idlis made of fermented rice dough) (recipe to follow). Matured coconuts are also sun dried and pressed to extract oil which is again used for cooking and other therapeutic & beauty requirements


The fibre (called as 'katho' in Konkani) is commonly used as a kitchen scrub along with ash to make greasy utensils sparkly and squeaky clean and is also used to make ropes, rugs and a hundred other things that many Keralites will be proud of making. The innermost shell (after the flesh has been grated & removed) is again used to make wooden ladles, simple kitchen utensils, toys and decorative items and also used instead of firewood to heat up the bath water in large bronze cauldrons ('baan' in Konkani) in most homes even today.

The branches ('modal' in Konkani) are dried and then stripped off the thin long leaves, dried and used again (called 'pido) as firewood or to prop up spinach or pepper vines requiring propping up. The long leaves are removed and the spine of the same are used to make brooms! The tree, when uprooted/cut provides wood for various carpentry work, the most common of them is to make beams which support tiled houses.

So you see, the humble coconut tree requiring very little maintenance is probably the most versatile as far as its uses are concerned. While I will take you on a journey of the many uses of the cashewnut tree another day, for now, it's the Coconut & Cashewnut fudge for you...


Coconut & Cashewnut Fudge
(print this)
Recipe Source: My mum
Serves: 4-6


You Need:
  • 1/2 cup broken cashewnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated coconut* see note
  • 3/4th cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water* see note
  • 4 pods of cardamom powdered
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • halved cashewnuts and/or raisins for garnishing (optional)
Note: 
1. While using freshly grated coconut, use only the white flesh of the coconut, as you continue to grate, the flesh closest to the coconut shell will be brownish in colour. 
2. The outcome of this recipe is a sticky soft & mushy almost halwa like texture. If you want to make 'burfi' which is a harder version of the fudge and snaps into a crunchy bite and has longer shelf life, simple skip making the syrup (so skip the water altogether) - just mix sugar well with the ground cashewnut & coconut paste and cook on a very slow flame and follow the rest of the method.

Method
1. Grind the cashewnuts & grated coconut to a paste (leave it a bit coarse - like the texture of thick coconut chutney) - use very very little water only if required to grind
2. In a heavy bottomed pan/kadhai add the sugar and water and mix well and continue to stir on a medium slow flame till you arrive at a one thread consistency (if you pour the mixture from a height it should appear unbroken and flow like syrup and not like water droplets)
3. To this mixture add the ground paste and mix well and reduce flame to sim - cook for about 10-12 minutes stirring in between to ensure that the paste does not stick to the bottom of the pan
4. Add the ghee and continue to stir for another 5-6 minutes or till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Turn off plate and transfer the mixture into a well greased 7" or 8" round shallow 'thali' with tall sides
5. Use slightly greased palms of the back of a large spoon to smoothen the surface. Allow to cool completely (for at least an hour so that the mixture sets). You can even refrigerate it for half an hour.
6. Cut into diamond shapes (run a knife through to draw lines diagonally) and serve
7. Store in an airtight box and refrigerate if you wish to keep it for over a day.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kottige/Khotto/Gunda (Idlis Steamed in Jackfruit Leaves)



'Old habits die hard' - this is phrase which is often used to describe someone who never gives up their bad habits, but today's post is about this same phrase used in a very positive way. What would we all do if our moms or grandmoms gave up on slaving over traditional food year after year, decade after decade? Not only would our rich culture be in jeopardy but even the younger generation would miss out on the chance to enjoy authentic cuisine or maybe even partake in the process of creating those delicacies and thus carry forward the legacy.

When I recently saw a recipe of the 'Kotto (as it's called in Konkani) from my friend Vidya on Konkani Amchi Food, a group on Facebook, I was like wow! what a coincidence! Just a couple of days before I had bookmarked the Kori Ghassi recipe on Cherie's Stolen Recipes, a nice Mangalorean Bunt recipe blog and I was thrilled when I decided to make the Kottige (as it's called in Kannada)/Gunda (as it's called in Tulu) to go along with the Kori Ghassi. Now, the big task I had was to hunt for the Jackfruit leaves and then learn how to weave the baskets.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kori Ghassi (Bunt Style Spicy Chicken Curry)


Any Mangalorean will find it easy to slide into a new cosmopolitan city - ready to mingle and blend into the crowd. This is simply because Mangalore itself has always been such a cosmopolitan place in its own special way. No, I am not talking about pubs or malls - both of which have been mushrooming in the past decade or so, but about the cultural influences that have shaped each of us since decades. Like I mentioned in so many of my previous posts, Mangalore is a small place with so many cultures, languages and religious beliefs all of which are tightly interwoven into the fabric of our lives and have a great impact on our cuisine as well. 

I can't stop comparing Mangalore's cultural heritage to the lovely 'garam masala' which is a blend of different fragrant spices, unique in their own way but all the more charming as a mixture - so also, in Mangalore you can find different communities which in so many ways contribute to our beautiful town - the Tulu speaking Bunts and non Bunts, the Kannada speaking Brahmins, non Brahmins and Protestant Christians, the Konkani speaking Catholics and GSBs (Goud Saraswat Brahmins) and non GSBs (with influences from North Canara), the Beary Bashe speaking Bearys (also known as Byari - the local Muslim community), the Malayali, Gujrati and Marwadi traders and business communities settled in Mangalore all influence our culture. Irrespective of whether they are locals or those settled in Mangalore since centuries, each one takes great pride in being called a 'Mangalorean'

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Kube Sukhe (Clams/Cockles In A Dry Masala)

Some of my trips to the local fish market end up on a delightful note - when I find some of my favourite kinds of seafood. Since I don't eat Prawns and Crabs (I know it's awful, but im allergic to them), I freak out and break into a song and dance (Hindi movie style) whenever I find Clams (Cockles/Marwai/Kube/Theesriya) and Squid (Bonddas). Clams are a rare find most of the time and when I do find them I either make Kube Mutli (Clams with mini rice dumplings) or Sukhe (dry masala). So far I had only tried making the Sukhe with regular Bafat Powder, grated coconut and fried onions - in a jiffy. But this time I thought I should try a ground masala and also add a bit of rice powder to give that thick texture to the masala. 


When I was little my mum used to bring Clams a lot more often than I bring now, maybe because it was available more often. All kinds of fish were available in plenty in Mangalore, now I hear people complaining that everything gets exported and what remains for the locals is poor quality stuff sold at exorbitant prices. That way, in Bombay there is no dearth of fish. Being a coast itself, we get to enjoy fish from our coast as well as from Gujarat, Goa, Mangalore & Chennai. But then we pay through our nose here too. Somehow I have forgotten the knack of haggling for fish prices with the fiesty fisherwomen. Here they are not as ferocious as the ones back home, but they know which customers to fleece from their alien accents - I am no exception.


Being a Mangalorean, I would often have gender mix ups and all that pure Hindi taught to me in school went down the drains as 'shuddh' (pure) Hindi is as easily recognized as a South Indian herself. Oh Blimey! "Isko mein nahi sau rupiya detha hai" would mean I'd get the fish only for double the price! Anyway, after surviving those initial years I have managed to pick up some quality Bambaiyya (local slang) and manage to find some good catch at reasonable prices. 



My friend tells me that I can pick up the freshest of the fresh catch at the dock at 3pm daily at the cheapest prices, before it is auctioned to the fisherwomen. I am planning to arm myself with a few hundred bags and bring the season's bounty before Monsoons completely take over and fishing boats are no longer able to venture out into the dangerous waters. For now, its Kube Sukhe, Clams in a masala of ground spices - fragrant, spicy and delicious!
Kube Sukhe
print this
You Need:
  • 100 clams
For the masala:
  • 5-5 long dry red chillies
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 1 small ball of tamarind or 1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
For garnishing:
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut
For the tempering (bagar/fon/tadka):
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 2 level tsp roasted & coarsely powdered rice
  • 1 tbsp oil 
Method:
1. Clean the clams in sufficient water and remove 1 shell of each clam & discard. Retain the flesh in only one shell.
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned in the 'For the masala' section to a fine paste
3. In a pan heat some oil and toss in crushed garlic and fry till they turn slightly golden. Add the mustard. When they splutter add the roasted rice powder and fry some more.
4. Add the ground masala and fry on slow fire, add the grated coconut and cook for 5 minutes. Add a little water if required (to avoid the masala from burning)
5. Add the clams and a little salt to taste (clams can be a little salty). Taste & add more if required.
6. Cook until the clams are done (the flesh is no longer mushy but turns a bit firm - but should not shrink too much).
7. Serve hot with rice

Note:
1. If the clams you have purchased are tightly clamped up and refuse to open - place them in the deep freezer for about 2 hours, remove and place them at room temperature with the bowl filled with water. They will open up automatically within 30-40minutes
2. If you live in a city and purchase clams from an unknown source, its better to open them first and thoroughly clean them before boiling them.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bella Metthe Dosa (Jaggery & Fenugreek Seed Pancakes)

As I've mentioned in my previous posts, Mangalore is a beautiful pot pourri of cultures. This beautiful coastal town is home to so many languages, cultures and religious beliefs so it goes without saying that much of it trickles into our cuisine on the whole. The fine details ofcourse vary between ethnicities. Everyone identifies with the 'dosa' as a wholesome food that originated in the South. But there are so so many varieties that it is mind boggling. Some of them are traditional recipes passed down from one generation to the other and enables others to distinguish one culture from the other. The Bella Metthe Dosa is typically a breakfast or tea time snack prepared by the Mangalorean Protestant (Christian) community. The recipe was given to me by my dear Mangalorean friend Jenifer who I met here in Bombay, a family friend who is like a sister to me. 


While a 'Dosa' typically means a pancake made out of rice or wheat, this one has extra flavours brought in by fresh coconut, jaggery and fenugreek. The right balance of flavours makes these dosas so irresistible especially when you have them once they have completely cooled off - you can lose track of how many you've had!

A perfect breakfast is one which helps jump start the metabolism and keeps you going through the day. These dosas are a great breakfast option as they are filled with the goodness of  coconut (rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals), jaggery (popularly known as medicinal sugar is a good source of magnesium, potassium and helps to maintain blood pressure), fenugreek (excellent herbal remedy for reducing cholesterol & blood sugar levels, treating skin inflammations and increasing milk production in lactating mothers), rice (which is an instant source of energy - a carbohydrate with many benefits), black gram dal (reduces formation of cough & acidity in the body and is beneficial to people with diabetes, nervous disorders, digestive system disorders and rheumatic afflictions)

'Bella' in Kannada means Jaggery and 'Metthe' is Methi seeds (Fenugreek)
So friends, what are you waiting for? There's nothing like a power packed breakfast - try this and let me know how you liked it!


Bella Metthe Dosa
(Printable Recipe)

Soaking time: 6- hours | Prep time: 10 mins| Fermenting time: 2 hours | Cook time: 15 mins | Yield: 12-14 medium size thin dosas

You Need:
  • 1 cup raw rice (Kolam/Surai/Belthige)
  • 1 cup jaggery, powdered
  • 1 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1 fistful (a little less than 1/4 cup) urad dal (black gram dal)
  • 1-1/2 - 2 tbsp methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
  • 1 fistfull (approx 1/4 cup) cooked rice (preferably brown/red rice or boiled rice) or poha (beaten rice)
  • 1 level tsp dry yeast
  • sugar to taste (approx 1 teaspoon)
  • salt to taste (approx 3/4th teaspoon)
Method:
1. Wash and soak the raw rice, urad dal and methi seeds for at least 6-7 hours. Drain and grind it along with the jaggery, grated coconut and cooked rice to a fine thick paste. The consistency of the batter should be slightly thinner than dosa batter.
2. Transfer the batter into a large and deep container that accommodates fermented batter. Add salt and sugar to taste - it should have a sweet & salty taste. Adjust sweetness of sugar or jaggery as required.
3. To prepare the yeast solution, take yeast in a small bowl and add 2-3 tablespoons of lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon sugar to help activate the yeast. Keep aside for 10 minutes till the yeast solution turns frothy. Add this to the prepared batter, stir well so everything is mixed properly. Cover the mouth of the vessel with a muslin cloth or a lid that is not airtight but has an outlet for air to pass. Keep the pan undisturbed, in a warm spot of your kitchen to aid fermentation. In good (warm) weather and when good quality yeast is used the batter takes anywhere between 1-1/2 - 3 hours to ferment. * see notes.
4. Heat a non stick tawa/griddle on a medium high and grease it with a little oil. Take a ladleful of batter and pour in the centre of the pan, let it spread on its own or just help spread it a bit using the back of your ladle. Cover and cook for about half a minute, add a few drops of oil before you flip it over. Cook on both sides till golden brown.
5. Serve hot with chutney or eat them plain when completely cool - they are irressitible even when cold!



Notes:
1. You may leave the batter overnight for fermentation if you live in a slightly colder weather or have central AC at home. Make sure that you place a large plate underneath the pan just incase the batter spills over.
2. When the batter has fermented completely it will double or triple in quantity and turn frothy/fluffy. If you wish you can stir the batter a bit but it will kill the fermentation. However, many people stir it once and keep the batter again for fermentation. If you don't wish to fry  dosas at this stage you may even pour the batter into ramekins or a steel plate with sides and steam it for 15-20 minutes for a fluffy steamed cake. 
3. In the picture above I have prepared thick dosa by frying them on a flat tawa. If you are using a large dosa tawa which is slightly concave in the middle then use a ladle to spread the batter in which case you may get slightly thinner dosa.
4. If the tawa is too hot the dosa will burn outside and remain uncooked inside. If it is not hot enough the batter will stick and refuse to spread even with the help of a ladle. Maintain the heat on a medium high. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Vorn (Split Green Gram Pudding/Moong Dal Payasam)

I am back with another Mangalorean traditional sweet dish - the Vorn, Mangalore's very own version of the North Indian Kheer! Famously called as 'Payasa' in Karnataka and 'Payasam' across the rest of South India. It is typically a sweet dish made out of cooking broken rice or wheat or vermicelli in flavoured and sweetened milk and garnished with dry fruits and nuts. However, while milk is the most common base for the Payasa, coconut milk is used in places where coconuts are in abundance. Ok! I won't go on and on about the various uses of the coconut, but yes, the Vorn or Payasa has a distinct flavour and richness that can come from coconut milk alone. Score!

Vorn as we call it in Konkani used to be made for special occasions only. When I was a kid, special occasions always meant grand food - a feast which of course had a grand finale, the sweet dish. Every grandma had her own version of the Vorn, the recipe of which she handed over to her daughter who then passed on to her's (well, mine is pretty much the hand-me-down too, tweaked here and there).


The term 'ghasa ghasa payasa' in Kannada means - piping hot payasam and that is exactly how I remember having Vorn during my childhood. Literally a huge vessel with boiling Vorn, bubbling over. Fresh, piping hot and delicious. Some foods in life will never let you forget the people or incidents associated with it. In this case, it is my mother. I can still remember the large Indalium thoplen (vessel) in which she made huge quantities of Vorn whether it was for a large number of people or just for immediate family members (keeping in mind the second and third helpings they would come back for). Vorn, somehow miraculously never got over, the Indalium vessel was something like an 'akshayapatram' ('akshaya' in Sanskrit means inexhaustible and 'paatram' means vessel). We often had leftovers stowed into the fridge to be eaten the next day. Vorn tastes great whether it is eaten fresh and hot and even when it is nice and chilled.

When I tried my hand at making the Vorn for the first time last week, I was wondering if it was a healthy bet at all. But then, unlike other sweet dishes, this one wont kill you. There is no ghee or oil involved and no refined products. Just Green Gram boiled in water and then flavoured with coconut milk and cardamom, sweetened with jaggery, thickened with powdered rice and garnished with raisins and cashewnuts/almonds (which ofcourse you can limit). My version is with reduced sweetness, if you prefer your sweets extra sweet, add some generous amount of jaggery. 


Vorn
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Yield: 8 medium size desert/custard bowls
You Need:
  • 1/4 kg split green gram without skin (dhuli moong dal)
  • 30 gms raw rice (Kolam/Surai/Belthige) (less than quarter cup) * see note
  • 1/4 kg jaggery (gur) * see note
  • 4 pods cardamom (elaichi) powdered
  • 1 large coconut grated
  • 25gms cashewnuts (kaju)
  • 25gms raisins (kishmish)
  • pinch salt
Method:
1. Extract thick and thin milk from the grated coconut. It should yield about 1-1/2 cups of thick milk and 2 cups of thin milk. Set aside. Soak the raw rice for 15-20minutes, grind to a fine paste with a little water.
2. Wash the green gram 2-3 times and place it in a thick bottomed pan with sufficient water (about 3 cups). Cook till half done. Add the thin coconut milk, jaggery and salt and cook for a further 3-4 minutes
3. Add the ground rice paste and stir to continuously to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You will notice that the mixture has thickened. Cook on slow fire for a few minutes.
4. Add the thick coconut milk, powdered cardamom, raisins and cashewnuts. Cook for another 2-3 minutes
5. Remove from flame. Serve hot. The Vorn tends to thicken up when it cools down so reheat to make it thinner before serving.

Note:
1. The rice powder is used to thicken the Vorn. If you want thicker consistency add upto 60gms rice (about quarter cup)
2. Jaggery is usually the same quantity as the green gram - I have used just 175gms as I prefer it less sweet. You can use 1/4kg jaggery if you like it really sweet. It also depends on how sweet the jaggery is - the one we get in Mumbai is less sweet and includes some amount of salt. So add in small quantities till you are satisfied with the level of sweetness.


The main ingredient here - Green Gram is one of the most wholesome pulses with its origin traced back to India. It is consumed in the form of whole dried seeds, split as a dal (lentil) and sprouted moong beans are highly nutritious. Moon Dal is very beneficial for the sickly, infants and is a laxative when given in large quantities. The moong dal is also used as a beauty aid - effective to clear blemishes and dandruff. So why don't we incorporate this lovely source of protein in your daily diet?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

One Bowl Coconut Cake

I love simple cakes - the most satisfactory ones are those that are not only simple to make in terms of simplicity and availability of ingredients, preparation time and method but also taste wonderfully simple. I also love to bake with fruits, but sometimes you have to get the quantities and measurements so right that if you daydream your cake becomes a flop. Well, since I learnt to bake on my own with endless browsing on the net for answers, I have taken many shots at creating the perfect cake and ended up with burnt, undone, flat or over puffed up cakes. For most of the disasters I blame my microwave oven for mistaken settings or the OTG which came with wrong instructions on the manual. But then, each experience brought with it a lot of learnings. Cooking and baking is a delightfully interesting journey of learning new things. You can create so many marvellous things with the same set of ingredients.


However, as much as I love baking, I dislike some tasks such as powdering the sugar when I run out of caster sugar or beating the eggs and sugar with a manual whisk and waiting for the mixture to turn pale. Slaving over a cake with too many ingredients and too many steps to be followed while standing in a oven hot kitchen is a turn off for me so when I find a recipe that requires minimum effort I jump with joy & try it almost immediately.



This particular recipe was shared by my dear reader Cynthia out of her tried & tested recipe collection. When I saw the title - it said - one bowl coconut cake, I thought that probably it was one of those mug cakes. But later I realised that all you need is a single mixing bowl - everything goes straight into it and then into the baking tin! Makes life so much more simple when you don't have a million dishes to clean right after a marathon baking session. This recipe has barely any hard-to-find ingredients (it doesn't even need vanilla extract!) I bookmarked it to be made today as a welcome-back-home cake for my hubby who has been travelling this week. It's also a sweet trap for him to take over babysitting for our lil son so that I can go shopping for a good few hours tomorrow! Ha ha!


One Bowl Coconut Cake
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Adapted from NZ's Favourite Recipe
Yield: One 9" round cake
You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups flour (maida)
  • 1-1/4 cups caster sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 1-1/4 cups freshly shredded/grated coconut (not dessicated) 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 125gms butter (melted)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4th cup milk
Method:
1. Sift the flour with baking powder and salt. Keep it aside
2. In a large mixing bowl add all the ingredients except the flour and mix well. Mix the flour in parts so that it is well incorporated.


3. Line a 9" round tin with parchment paper and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for 45 minutes
4. Remove from oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for 15 minutes before inverting on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or slather it with some Nutella (Chocolate & Hazlenut spread) and enjoy it - If you love eating 'Bounty' the Coconut Chocolate bar - you will love this cake!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Godaso Pou (Sweet Beaten Rice/Poha)

Lactose free, Fat free, Heart healthy - Tarla Dalal on Poha (Beaten Rice)

Wow! I never knew that the humble Poha or Pou as we call it in Konkani was so full of goodness in the health department! During my childhood the sight of Pou made me...well, yawn. I'd have a dismal look on my face when my mum made Pou as a tea time snack while my brother loved every bit of it. I would eat it only when it was garnished with bananas. It goes without saying that I didn't try my hand at it after I got married even though my husband loves any version of Pou. Thanks to blogging, I have been reintroduced to the Sweet Poha and although it has no real 'recipe' and is the simplest of all, I am posting it for the benefit of all those who enjoy simple, oil free and healthy snack recipes. When I finally made & ate this (maybe after 8-9 years!), I totally loved it and wondered why I deprived myself of such simple pleasures of life. 


If you have never been too fond of the coconut, I am sure you will find this version interesting. The freshly grated coconut releases all its flavours when combined with the jaggery and cardamom. Although one can substitute the jaggery with sugar, it's best to stick to jaggery (if it's available) as it provides all the juicy sweetness. Sweet Pou tastes best with banana slices.

In Mangalore Poha is transformed into two versions, the sweet and the savoury one (Bajil in Tulu) which is eaten as is or served with Sajjige (Upma/Savoury Semolina) and is famously called as 'Sajjige Bajil'. This is by far one of the most common breakfast items and is probably the favourite of more than half the population of Mangalore. The Sweet Pou is more of a tea time snack and is often savoured with hot coffee or tea (some of it even poured into the beaten rice - yum!). In Konkani - 'God' means jaggery/sweet and hence the term 'Godaso Pou'



Godaso Pou
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Serves: 1


You Need:
  • 3/4th - 1 cup beaten rice * see note
  • 1-1/2 tbsp jaggery (or to taste)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut (dont use dessicated coconut)
  • 2 pods cardamom powdered
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 small banana (Elaichi/Kadhali) - optional
Note:
If you are new to the world of beaten rice, then look for the thinner variety of beaten rice/poha. In Mumbai two types of Poha are available. The regular thick poha (small & thick flakes) which is used by Maharashtrians to make Batata Poha and the Chivda variety (thin, flat & large+ flakes - which is what you need to use)

Method:
1. In a bowl, add the grated coconut and powdered/grated jaggery. Toss in the cardamom powder. Use your fingers to mash all the ingredients well so that all the flavours blend well and add a pinch of salt
2. Mix the beaten rice only when you are ready to serve - else it will turn too soggy.
3. Garnish with sliced banana and serve


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

We all need to break away from routines don't we? Whether it's a vacation or just a switch from the usual menu, we need something fresh to tingle the senses and bring in a breath of freshness into our lives. While there is no vacation for me on the cards as yet, I did break away from my usual Mangalorean cooking and tried making Spaghetti and Meatballs for the first time after scouting for some recipes online. My little fellow was ranting this morning about meatballs as the pack of spaghetti was lying for a long time in my pantry and I thought this was the right opportunity to make this yummy Italian dish.


Spaghetti has always been my favourite - infact, I love the noodle family a lot whether it is the Italian Spaghetti, Chinese noodles or the Indian Sevai (or Sheviyo which is totally Mangalorean) and who doesn't like Meatballs? This time I thought of adding some leftover spinach leaves into the meatballs as I got myself a large bunch of Palak which found its way into all kinds of soups and dosas that I made over the past few days and the last few leaves were begging for redemption - so in they went. The meatballs tasted gorgeous and I am thinking of adding some more veggies into meatballs the next time I try them. It's always good to sneak some veggies into little tummies (and big ones too) isnt it?


I have made several attempts at meal planning, none has lasted too long, but I think the good habit is getting inculcated. I have been trying to introduce international cuisine on one day of the week - Thursdays. Since  my hubby and I have been hard core Mangaloreans when it comes to food (at least home cooked) for a while it was hard to break out of that 'bondage' - since we are both foodies we do love to try out new cuisines as often as possible when we eat out. However, there's a lot you can do to international cuisine if you have the opportunity to try it at home, barring the expensive ingredients - most of which can be substituted with local fare, the rest is upto your creativity - meddle around and create something exotic whilst retaining its authenticity. With the below recipe, I did play around with the ingredients - definitely the spices as I doubt the Italians add so much pepper/paprika - anyways, it was a lovely experience.

By the way, Italy is on my bucket list - the places I want to visit before I die. I do hope I get that chance someday and get to taste some Spaghetti and Meatballs dripping with authenticity.....



Spaghetti and Meatballs
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Serves: 4
You Need:

  • 200gms spaghetti

For the meatballs
  • 400 gms chicken mince (kheema)  (makes around 24 lime size balls)
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2-3 slices of bread (preferably dryish)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 2-3 cloves garlic chopped fine (Indian garlic)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (you can even use sharp cheddar cheese)
  • pepper to taste (about 1 level tsp)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp olive oil to grease the baking tray or some cooking spray
  • 1 loosely packed cup of chopped spinach (optional) *
For the sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 350gms tomatoes (about 5 medium ones)
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato paste 
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped fine (Indian garlic)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika (chilli flakes)
  • pinch thyme
  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 2 tsp grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or 1 stock cube dissolved in 1 cup of warm water)
Method:

To make the meatballs:
1. Wash and drain the mince. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients except the olive oil and make lime size balls.
2. Preheat oven to 230 degree C and place the meatballs on a greased tray and bake for 20minutes. Once done, remove the tray, allow to cool. Alternatively you can heat some oil in a non stick wok and gently fry the meatballs on slow fire instead of baking them.

To make the sauce
1. Place some water in a pan and when it comes to a boil, add the tomatoes and cook for 7-8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of cold water and then remove and discard the skin and mash the tomatoes to a pulp. Keep aside.
2. In a wok, heat the olive oil and toss in the garlic and chopped onion and fry for half a minute. When they turn pale, add the tomato pulp and fry for half a minute. Then add the remaining ingredients and the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the baked meatballs and simmer for 10minutes

To make the spaghetti
Cook spaghetti as per instructions on the packet or take 1 litre water for 100gms spaghetti and when the water comes to a rolling boil add the spaghetti and about 7gms salt. Cook for 8 minutes stirring in between. Drain on a colander *

To serve:
Place a portion of spaghetti and pour the sauce and meat balls over it. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and a few flakes of oregano.
Serve hot!

Notes:
If you are using spinach make sure it has been washed, drained and completely dried and you make the meatballs immediately after preparing the mixture. Spinach leaves some water and you dont want a soggy mixture
Make the spaghetti just before you are ready to serve. Do not make it too much in advance or else it will dry up a little.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sanna (Mangalorean Idlis/Steamed Rice Cakes)

If you are a Mangalorean/Goan you can conjour up the best of memories when you see a plate of steaming sannas, isnt it? Picture this - a bowl of piping hot Pork Sorpotel or Pork Bafat with some steaming fresh from the tondor Sannas - Bliss! Being a Mangalorean Catholic, the deep rooted love for Sannas came naturally and even the thought of Sannas brings to my mind a sweet fragrance of fermenting rice batter that attaches itself to everything from the steam to the kitchen walls and also to those who are preparing them. 

Sannas used to be a grand affair when I was little. They were always made to mark some celebratory occasion - feasts, festivals and birthdays, when it was made in abundance to cater to a large number of guests who poured into our homes. My fondest memories are of my mum hurriedly pouring batter into ramekins, batch after batch and trying to finish off just in time to attend the midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. We would then return from Mass and have a second round of dinner - Sannas with Pork. Yum!


I think, most Mangaloreans I know would have eaten Sannas with Dukramaas (Pork Bafat) on Christmas day - year after year. This is like the Christmas Day staple diet. When I was in Mangalore, many churches/schools, especially St. Agnes Special school used to host the 'Christmas Tree' celebrations or 'Fancy Fetes' on Christmas day or the day after (usually during the Christmas week). It was impossible not to bump into a hundred relatives, friends and those you met last year on the same date during the same fete :-) And it was impossible to avoid the standard question "Christmas gammath gi? Kalein special?" (Did you have a jolly good time for Christmas? What was special for lunch?) and yeah - the most standard answer would be "Sanna ani Dukramaas". Although there would be other special items on the menu in every house, it went without saying that 'Sannas & Pork' were the highlight of the day.

While the world famous South Indian Idli is undoubtedly one of my most favourite breakfast items, the Sannas - the cousin of the Idli, is a class apart and wins hands down. While the Idli is fermented with the use of Urad Dal  (Black Gram Dal) (original method) or the instant versions use a combo of baking soda/fruit salt & yogurt to give it the 'fermented' feel and make it double in quantity instantly, the Sannas use the traditional method of fermenting the batter with the use of Toddy/Arrack (fermented coconut water which miraculously transforms itself into cheap liquor) or yeast (usually dry yeast). The texture of the Idli is slightly coarse as one needs to grind the batter to a 'rawa' like (grainy) consistency and the colour is a cloudy white owing to the comparitively larger proportion of Urad Dal used. The Sannas are fluffier and whiter and every housewife will claim that she holds the recipe to Sannas that are 'Kapsa Bori' (as fluffy as Cottonwool!)


Sugar is also added to the batter before it is poured into 'gindul (singular) /gindlaan (plural)' (ramekins) and steamed in a steamer (tondor - similar to the dhokla maker) which gives the Sannas a sweeter taste than regular Idlis. 

The Sannas also score over the Idlis as you can eat Sannas for breakfast - with Chutney and/or Sambhar,  for lunch & dinner as an accompaniment to Chicken/Pork/Mutton/Beef/Vegetable curries/gravies. During teatime one can savour them with a little Sweetened Roce (coconut milk) or by simply dipping them in Tea/Coffee. Leftover Sannas are also deep fried and eaten as a pakora (but I would never recommend it as the Sannas absorb a lot of oil!). Infants and toddlers often love the Sanna dipped in milk or ghee and sugar - crunchy & yummy. If you are bored with the regular Sanna, you can make sweet or savoury stuffed Sannas too! How versatile! 


Although Sannas were traditionally made in every Mangalorean/Goan home, it is available in bakeries today. Some housewives take regular/seasonal orders and have them home delivered. It is considered cost effective by many people including office goers and senior citizens who are in no position to dabble with the whole Sanna making process. However, Sannas taste best when they are fresh and warm - right out of the 'tondor'!

I think I should stop rambling about the Sannas and give you a chance to try them out! If you have made Idlis before, this should come easy, if not, don't worry, there's always a first time :-) - the one you wont regret!


Sanna
Yield: Approx 25-27 sannas when the batter is well fermented. For a heigher yield take a ratio of 3:1 (cups of boiled rice : raw rice)
Recipe Source: My mum

You Need:
  • 1-1/2 cups Boiled rice (also called as Parboiled rice/Ukda Chawal/Idli Rice/Ukdo/Katsambar)
  • 1/2 cup Raw rice (smalled grained rice such as Kolam in Hindi/Surai in Konkani/Belthige Akki in Kannada) - I use Satyam brand Kolam rice which is really nice
  • 1 fistful Urad dal (Split Black Gram Dal) (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 heaped tsp yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar (to prepare the yeast solution) 
  • 3-4 tbsp tepid water (to prepare the yeast solution)
  • salt to taste (about 1 level tsp for the above mentioned quantity)
  • sugar to taste (around 2-3 tsps)
Method:
1. Wash and soak the two types of rice and Urad dal separately (in separate vessels) for at least 3 hours in plenty of water
2. First grind the Urad dal to a fine paste and remove it - this helps in making the Sannas fluffy. Next, grind both types of rice together to a fine thick batter (not as coarse as Idli batter). Try to use as little water as possible to grind. It should be of dosa batter consistency but not too thick. Transfer to a wide, deep pan large enough to accomodate batter that will double during fermentation.
3. Prepare the yeast solution by mixing the yeast and sugar in a bowl of tepid water. The sugar helps the yeast to dissolve faster. Allow to stand for 10 minutes, the yeast will ferment and turn frothy. Stir to ensure that all the yeast granules have dissolved and what you have is a thick solution.


4. Mix the yeast solution into the batter until completely incorporated. Add sugar to taste (batter can be mildly sweet like appams - but it's upto you how sweet you want them). Add salt to taste (around 1 level tsp) Mix well and cover with a thin muslin cloth and place it undisturbed in a warm place to ferment for about 2 hours (during really hot weather, the batter will ferment in just about 1-1/2 hours)
5. The batter would have doubled - for fluffy Sannas do not stir the batter or it will go flat. Place sufficient water in the steamer (tondor) and bring the water to a boil. Keep ramekins greased and ready. Pour batter into them half full. Place these ramekins into the steamer, cover the lid and steam for 15-20 minutes. Remove the lid carefully so as to prevent the vapour from falling on the Sannas (making the surface slightly soggy) and the steam from burning your hands/face. Carefully remove the ramekins and place them face down on a large plate. Allow to cool (to speed up this process if you need the ramekins for the second batch, place cold wet towels over them to speeden up the cooling process).
6. Once cool, remove carefully and serve ! enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Kheema Aloo Matar (Mince with Potatoes & Peas)

I've been having my hands full with all the household chores and having my son around without school or summer camp to go to has become all the more challenging. Entertaining him and keeping him busy and not falling prey to boredom saps my energy sometimes, so all my recipes are sitting in draft unable to see the light of day for sometime now :-( However, I couldn't resist uploading the recipe of this super easy and tasty Chicken Kheema which I put together in a jiffy this afternoon as the skies opened up for another round of showers. Since we usually have a lot of fish during the week, non availability of the same makes me knock the doors of Godrej Nature's Basket where I pick up my weekly quota of Kheema. I totally love trying out new recipes with Kheema, however this time around, I tried something simple with readily available ingredients for a simple meal. So without any further adieu, here's the recipe



Kheema Aloo Matar
Serves 4
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You Need:
  • 800gms Chicken mince (kheema)
  • 2 large onions chopped fine
  • 1-2 green chillies chopped fine
  • 5-6 large cloves of garlic - chopped fine
  • 2 inches ginger - chopped fine
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 medium size juicy tomatoes chopped fine
  • 1 cup peas (I used frozen ones)
  • 1 medium size potato cubed
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs mint leaves - roughly chopped
  • 1-1/2 level tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 level tsp garam masala powder
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Method:
1. Wash and drain the Kheema well. Set aside.
2. Heat some oil in a large pan and fry the onions till translucent. Toss in the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies and fry for about 2 minutes till they turn pale (and the raw smell goes away)
3. Add the drained Kheema and fry for a bit till the onion, ginger garlic chillie mixture is well blended.
4. Toss in all the powders and mix well. Reduce flame and cook for about a minute before you toss in the tomatoes. Add salt to taste and cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes before stirring once in a while to avoid sticking to the bottom.
5. Add the lime juice and mint leaves and mix well and add the cubed potatoes and peas and cook till the kheema is tender and potatoes are cooked.
6. Tear the coriander into small bits and garnish the dish. Cover for about 2 minutes before serving.
7. Kheema tastes best with chapathis or steaming white rice.


Note:
1. You wont need to add any water as the Kheema will leave some water (stock) which will aid in cooking.
2. If you find that the stock is very bland affecting the overall taste of the dish, you can add 1 chicken stock cube (Maggi) to enhance the taste - although this is not required, but is a quick fix measure, not necessarily a healthy one as stock cubes are high in sodium (salt) and preservatives.
3. I normally buy Kheema from Godrej which comes in a pack of 400gms. You can tweak the recipe a bit if you are using 1kg kheema or even 500gms.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Purna Pole/Portha Pole (Rice Pancakes With A Sweet Filling)

In my previous post I wrote about the versatility of the humble 'panpolo' - the neer dosa which is an any time treat. In Mangalore, traditionally, whatever has been prepared for breakfast often finds itself disguised and served for tea as well. For as long as I can remember, I have eaten the Panpole (pronounced as pun-polay) as an evening snack with a deliciously simple sweet filling of the coconut & jaggery. It is the perfect snack to beat the 4pm hunger which often grips me & drives me insane. It is so simple to be put together - you dont need to heat up the dosas again. Freshly grated coconut is preferred as it is more juicy than its frozen counterpart. 


The name - purna pole (also spelled as purna polay) is interchanged with portha pole although it means the same. In today's age, not many people stock up on jaggery, so the filling can be made with sugar as well. The one with jaggery tastes more authentic and is healthier too, but the sugar lends a different taste and kids like the crunchy sugar crystals to bite into.


Purna Pole
You Need:
For the filling:
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 piece jaggery (about 20 gms) pounded/grated
  • 2 pods of cardamom coarsely powdered
  • pinch of salt
Method:
Mix all the ingredients for the filling and mash them well to ensure the jaggery doesnt have any lumps & has blended well with the coconut. Divide into two equal portions. Place the smooth surface of the dosa facing upwards and leaving about 2-3 inches on the top, place half the filling on the dosa. Fold the top portion first and then the sides (vertically) then roll it towards you (pretty much like a kaati roll). Serve!


Panpolay/Neer Dosa - Simple Rice Pancakes

Who can resist the Panpole/Neer Dosa? The Panpole (pronounced as pun-polay) as it's called in Konkani and 'Neer Dosa' called in Tulu/Kannada is everybody's favourite. Neer Dosa derived its name from the term 'Neeru' which means 'Water' in the local languages of Mangalore namely Kannada & Tulu. The watery consistency of the batter is what's behind the name. Its the Neer Dosa's simplicity and ease of preparation that has reigned supreme in every Mangalorean house and has gained a lot of popularity outside Mangalore too. 

In Mumbai, the Neer Dosa is famous in all seafood restaurants irrespective of whether the propreitor is a Mangalorean or not. However, this simple bread is sold at an exhorbitant price - so it's quite ridiculous to order these pretty dosas as they cost about Rs 25 per plate (with just 2 dosas staring back at you). Also, the restaurant's version of the dosa usually does not turn out the way it is made at home. Dosas are essentially characterised by the 'holes' that form either due to air bubbles or fermentation - so in that respect what they serve you are pretty flat ones. However, if you have never tasted these simple & frilly dosas which are thin & delicate like a lady's handkerchief - go try some at once!

The Neer Dosa/Panpole are eaten for breakfast along with chutney or gravies, some like to enjoy it with leftover curries or a side dish of vegetables. These dosas are so versatile that they can be also introduced during ,meal times as an accompaniment to meat/fish dishes. Leftover ones can be rolled up like Kati Rolls with a sweet filling made of fresh coconut & sugar/jaggery. My son loves them plain or with a generous splash of honey. One can never get tired of eating these simple dosas and the best tasting ones are made in cast iron griddles which are kept aside only for these dosas. Cook anything else in these special griddles and they are deemed useless forever as the dosas will never turn out easily and will stick horribly to the griddle.


Panpole
(print this)
Yield: 8-10


You Need:
  • 1 cup raw rice (Surai/Kollam or any small grained rice)
  • sufficient water to make a thin batter
  • salt to taste
  • oil for greasing the griddle
  • 2 tbsp cooked rice (optional) - helps make the dosas ultra soft
  • 2 tsp grated coconut (optional) - brings in a lovely flavour to the dosas - but u can totally skip this
Method:
1. Soak the rice for at least 2 hours or overnight. Grind it with 1/2 cup water & cooked rice and/or coconut to a very fine paste
2. Add 2 cups of water and some more if required to achieve a watery batter (consistency of slightly thicker than milk)
3. Add salt to taste and mix well.
4. Heat a cast iron or non stick griddle/tawa which should have edges (not the one used to make dosas which are without edges). Lightly grease the surface of the griddle with oil - you can poke 1/2 a medium size onion with a fork and use it to grease the griddle. Many people use a small piece of muslin tied to a stick to do the same, but it's more hygienic to use an onion and discard it after use.
5. Using a deep round ladle scoop out batter & pour it on one side of the griddle and lift quickly lift & tilt it to help spread the batter across the entire surface of the griddle. This needs minimum practice. Add more batter in places which are not covered with batter. Cover & cook for about one minute or till you see the dosa leaving the sides of the griddle.
6. Remove and allow to cool a bit before folding into a quarter.
7. Serve with Chutney, gravy, Chicken or Fish curries and simply enjoy this simple delicacy!



Friday, June 3, 2011

Coconut & Cashewnut Fudge

Can I claim to be a Mangalorean if I dont sing praises of the mother of all nuts? - Haha, im not talking about myself, silly! It's just that now that we have stepped into the beginning of monsoons and the Mango is no longer the hot topic, I thought I should write about an all season fruit (or nut if you please) - the Coconut! The most famous tree found in tropical weather - across the world.

The west coast of India is known for the abundance of coconut trees so it's little wonder that our cuisine is also predominantly coconut based. From sweets to savouries the coconut finds its way into almost all the dishes. They aint call it the 'kalpavriksh' for nothing! (kalp = wish, vriksh = tree) or the tree that fulfills all your wishes. While the tender coconut water (bondo/bondda/nariyal pani) is an any time natural thirst quencher for all seasons although it is most popular during the summer. The thin filmy flesh of the tender coconut is delicious when it's eaten right after you have quenched your thirst with the water. The matured coconut (brown on the outside) again has several uses - the flesh is grated and used in cooking savouries (gravies, chutneys, milk, garnishing) and sweets (fudges, burfis, laddoos and many more that use the milk extracted from fresh coconuts). The coconut water when left to ferment is also collected and sold as 'toddy' in arrack shops (now illegal) for those requiring a daily dose to keep themselves in good 'spirits'. The same toddy is used as a fermenting agent in the preparation of various rice based traditional preparations like 'appam's (sweet fermented rice pancakes) or 'sannas' (sweetish idlis made of fermented rice dough) (recipe to follow). Matured coconuts are also sun dried and pressed to extract oil which is again used for cooking and other therapeutic & beauty requirements


The fibre (called as 'katho' in Konkani) is commonly used as a kitchen scrub along with ash to make greasy utensils sparkly and squeaky clean and is also used to make ropes, rugs and a hundred other things that many Keralites will be proud of making. The innermost shell (after the flesh has been grated & removed) is again used to make wooden ladles, simple kitchen utensils, toys and decorative items and also used instead of firewood to heat up the bath water in large bronze cauldrons ('baan' in Konkani) in most homes even today.

The branches ('modal' in Konkani) are dried and then stripped off the thin long leaves, dried and used again (called 'pido) as firewood or to prop up spinach or pepper vines requiring propping up. The long leaves are removed and the spine of the same are used to make brooms! The tree, when uprooted/cut provides wood for various carpentry work, the most common of them is to make beams which support tiled houses.

So you see, the humble coconut tree requiring very little maintenance is probably the most versatile as far as its uses are concerned. While I will take you on a journey of the many uses of the cashewnut tree another day, for now, it's the Coconut & Cashewnut fudge for you...


Coconut & Cashewnut Fudge
(print this)
Recipe Source: My mum
Serves: 4-6


You Need:
  • 1/2 cup broken cashewnuts
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated coconut* see note
  • 3/4th cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water* see note
  • 4 pods of cardamom powdered
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • halved cashewnuts and/or raisins for garnishing (optional)
Note: 
1. While using freshly grated coconut, use only the white flesh of the coconut, as you continue to grate, the flesh closest to the coconut shell will be brownish in colour. 
2. The outcome of this recipe is a sticky soft & mushy almost halwa like texture. If you want to make 'burfi' which is a harder version of the fudge and snaps into a crunchy bite and has longer shelf life, simple skip making the syrup (so skip the water altogether) - just mix sugar well with the ground cashewnut & coconut paste and cook on a very slow flame and follow the rest of the method.

Method
1. Grind the cashewnuts & grated coconut to a paste (leave it a bit coarse - like the texture of thick coconut chutney) - use very very little water only if required to grind
2. In a heavy bottomed pan/kadhai add the sugar and water and mix well and continue to stir on a medium slow flame till you arrive at a one thread consistency (if you pour the mixture from a height it should appear unbroken and flow like syrup and not like water droplets)
3. To this mixture add the ground paste and mix well and reduce flame to sim - cook for about 10-12 minutes stirring in between to ensure that the paste does not stick to the bottom of the pan
4. Add the ghee and continue to stir for another 5-6 minutes or till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Turn off plate and transfer the mixture into a well greased 7" or 8" round shallow 'thali' with tall sides
5. Use slightly greased palms of the back of a large spoon to smoothen the surface. Allow to cool completely (for at least an hour so that the mixture sets). You can even refrigerate it for half an hour.
6. Cut into diamond shapes (run a knife through to draw lines diagonally) and serve
7. Store in an airtight box and refrigerate if you wish to keep it for over a day.