September 25, 2016

Spicy Crab Roast

For about a year, back in 2012, I stayed at house in Bangalore where we were forbidden to cook anything non vegetarian because of religious sentiments. It was fine to order out - those were our instructions handed out to us.  
And it was one Sunday night, when one of our roomies was back from her grandmother's place that all hell broke loose. She brought back with her a casserole of crab roast. Crab is not something that we find commonly at restaurants and if they do have it on the menu - the messy eating does not make it a favorite to be ordered. So you know exactly the scene!! A bunch of sea food lovers being long deprived of crab pounced at the sight. Crunch, munch, chomp! That was the scene for the next half an hour.

The scenario hasn't changed much now either - so we have photographs here directly from the Kadai because we needed to dig in soon. And for my solace, of course to show you the consistency the masala coating before you turn off the flame.

Here is my recipe -

  1. Crab - 1 kg
  2. Chilly powder - 3 tbsp + 1 tsp
  3. Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
  4. Onion - 3 big ones sliced lengthwise
  5. Ginger garlic paste - 3 tbsp
  6. Tomato - 2  medium ones finely chopped
  7. Garam masala - 1 tbsp
  8. Coriander powder - 1 and 1/2 tbsp
  9. Curry Leaf - 3 sprigs
  10. Coconut oil
  11. Salt to taste
  • Clean the crab and halve it
  • Transfer the crab into a cooking pot and add water till an inch above the crab. Add 1 tsp of turmeric powder, 1 tsp of chilly powder and salt. Bring it to a boil and simmer till the color of the crab shell changes to orange.
  • Heat coconut oil in a pan and add the thinly sliced onions, saute until done. To this, add the ginger garlic paste and cook till the raw smell goes.
  • Add the coriander powder, chilly powder and garam masala. Cook the masala.
  • Add the tomatoes and let the tomato melt.
  • Now add the cooked crab along with the stock. Mix it well and let it cook until the masala is well combined and the water content evaporates completes.
  • Garnish with curry leaves and switch off the flame.

You may also note -

  • Be generous with the ginger garlic paste and ensure that you cook this well to add to the texture and flavor.
  • As the name goes, it is spicy - keep the spice quotient high it will never disappoint you.

September 21, 2016

Zaatar Manakish - Middle eastern flat bread

The fun part of staying in a place like Dubai is the possible avenues for trying out different cuisines and if you have a foodie in you the rest is history. I had a hidden foodie in me and marriage brought out the foodie. The reason being - I got married to a person who loves food, eats anything on his plate, who never wastes food and if he does trust me the food is beyond edible. Name any food program on television and he has watched it and if not, he will make sure he watches it . That got me addicted as well  - Food Network is the most popular channel at our place now:) So let us just say we bonded over food and food shows!!

Shibin used to get these flat breads for breakfast from Spinneys - sometimes with zaatar topping, sometimes with cheese or else a combination of both. It is only recently I learnt the name and I had the desire to make it myself. On the first try I got it a little crispier and the second time round I managed to get the texture right.

I have used zaatar as the topping - you could replace this with cheese, meat or as your creativity clicks. Here is the recipe - 

  1. All Purpose Flour - 2 and 1/2 cup
  2. Olive oil
  3. Dry Yeast - 1 tsp
  4. Warm water - 3/4 cup
  5. Sugar - 1 tsp
  6. Olive oil - 1/4  cup + more for greasing
  7. salt to taste
For the topping -
  1. Zaatar - 6 tbsp ( a spice and herb blend from the middle east)
  2. Olive oil - 12 tbsp
  • Soak the yeast in half a cup of luke warm water along with sugar till it is frothy.
  • Take a bowl with the flour and add salt to this. Pour in the soaked dry yeast and knead the dough. Incorporate olive oil to further combine the dough till it becomes elastic. Knead for about 5 minutes.
  • Place the dough covered with cling film in bowl smeared with oil for an hour. Let it rise.
  • Preheat the oven at 180 degree centigrade.
  • After an hour, make 6 smaller balls out of the dough.
  • Flatten out using a roller and dust more flour to prevent this from sticking to your roller.
  • Brush the surface with olive oil and transfer to a baking pan.
  • Meanwhile, combine the zaatar and olive oil to form a paste.
  • Apply this onto the rolled out dough evenly.
  • Bake it for 6-7 minutes at 180 degree centigrade or until the bottom just begins to brown

You may also note -
  1. Baking for about 7 minutes makes it soft and fluffy, if you need it crisp you could bake it for 9 minutes.
  2. For those who are curious about what zaatar is - it is a spice blend of thyme, toasted sesame seeds, ground sumac and salt.

September 18, 2016

Baked Sesame Chicken Wings

I do have the habit of omitting certain words or sentences when I read up on something. Be it book, article or a recipe, which is probably why I finish reading quite fast. Pick up a book and if it really interests me - I could finish it in under a day but then, there is a catch to it - in my hurry to reach the fag bottom of the book - I miss names of certain characters, places and trust me at times even events that unfold. As the book progresses, if a reference is made to the part I unknowingly omitted (God forbid that happen), I am at total loss. 

Now, my husband knows why I finish reading books in half the time he takes!

I wouldn't say this is a great habit of mine because as the saying goes Half knowledge is dangerous. I have got into my own trouble with this. That set aside, when it comes to reading recipes I have had my good days and bad days. Good ones are when despite not following the recipe word by word - I end up with a recipe I created and the taste delights and the tragic ones which no where bears resemblance to the original recipe or the image that I had in mind.

This is one recipe that has been adapted and re-adapted over a period of time and now I call it mine. 
Here it goes for you -

(serves 4)

For baking
  1. Chicken wings - 800 gms 
  2. Chilly powder - 2 tbsp
  3. Pepper powder - 1/2 tbp
  4. Olive oil - 1 tbsp
  5. Garlic cloves - 6 whole crushed
For Sauce
  1. Garlic cloves - 6-7 chopped
  2. Olive oil - 1 tbsp
  3. Soya sauce - 3 tbsp
  4. White sesame seeds - 2 tsp
  5. Coriander leaves - 1 bunch finely chopped
  6. Honey - 2 tbsp
  7. Salt to taste
  • Clean the frozen chicken wings thoroughly and set aside to drain off any excess water.
  • Prepare the marinade by mixing together the chilly powder, pepper powder, salt and olive oil.
  • Marinate the chicken and let it rest for an hour. Meanwhile pre - heat the oven at 180 degree centigrade for 15 minutes.
  • Transfer the wings onto a baking tray and randomly toss in the crushed garlic cloves  and bake it at 180 degree for first 35 minutes and rest 10 minutes at 200 degree centigrade for a crispier outside.
  • Remove from the oven and keep the tray covered with aluminium foil for 15 minutes.
  • Dry roast the sesame seeds and set aside.
  • In a pan, heat the oil and saute the garlic until cooked. Pour in the soya sauce and turn off the flame. Add the honey and mix this sauce well.
  • Add the baked wings along with the juice oozed out on baking to the pan and coat the wings well with the sauce.
  • For the final touches, add the roasted sesame seeds and finely chopped corriander leaves.

You may also note -
  1. The oven timings and temperature are apt for the one I use, you may need to manipulate it as per your oven settings. Just cut open a piece and check if it has been cooked to the bone.
  2. You need not add in the entire juice of the chicken into the sauce - only as much required for the sauce to form a good coating

September 11, 2016

Kala Chana Sundal/ Black Chickpea Sundal

Often happiness comes in small packets and learning to live in these small packets makes the complex system called life all the more meaningful. Not that I live to dot as per the philosophy I just quoted above but I do try and do want to. The same is applies to food as well - its not just elaborate buffet meals that satisfy your souls, it could be quick fixes like the recipe for today that brightens the soul. I do not mean to dampen the spirits - I know buffets can be more than soul satisfying for the foodie in us but a serene evening in the company of simple food can just do as well when hunger pangs are not too ardent.

Another beginners recipe - Kala Chana Sundal with minimum ingredients and that can be snack in itself or a side dish. Hoping on to the recipe.

(Serves - 2)

  1. Black Chickpea - 1 cup boiled
  2. Onion - 1 medium finely chopped
  3. Coconut grated - 3 tbsp heaped
  4. Coriander leaves - chopped
  5. Chilly powder - 1 tsp
  6. Oil
  7. Salt to taste

  • Soak black chickpeas in water for at least 8 hours/overnight and pressure cook it up to 6 whistles. Drain off excess water and set aside the chickpeas.
  • Heat oil in a skillet and add the finely chopped onions. Saute for two minutes until cooked and add the chopped coriander leaves. 
  • Add chilly powder and saute till the masala is done. Add the coconut and saute till there is no trace of moisture content. This may take about 3 - 4 minutes on medium flame
  • Tip in your chickpeas. Bind it well and cook it covered for a maximum of 5 minutes on low flame.
There you go - Kala Chana Sundal is ready. You could have it as a snack or goes well with rotis as well.

September 7, 2016

Vellarikka Pulissery/ Vellarikka Moru Curry

Talk of comfort food for Malayalis from that part of Kerala I belong to - Rice and moru curry will top the list. It is quick and brings out the Malayalee'ness'( I am sure no word exists as such in us but I just found it cute). We generally call it moru curry and only recently did I realise that pulissery is also the very same. 

A quick win for any lunch is making moru curry without any vegetables added. To bring out the dimensions, we do add cucumber, mango, pineapple or pumpkin. Similarly, you also have a choice of making it with the addition of coconut. The recipe I have put up is without coconut because we like it this way and generally most of the sadhya items do have coconut flavor, so why not keep it away from moru curry?

For the people who have not heard about this curry - it is nothing but tempered yogurt based curry.
So here is your recipe -

(serves - 6 on an average)
  1. Yogurt - 2 cups
  2. Water - 1 cup + addittional for cooking the vellarikka
  3. Vellarikka/ cucumber - 1/2 kg cubed
  4. Green Chilly - 3 slit
  5. Salt to taste
For tempering
  1. Shallots - 3 tbsp chopped
  2. Red Chilly - 2 sliced in half
  3. Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
  4. Fenugreek seeds - 2 pinches
  5. Curry Leaf - 2 sprigs
  6. Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  7. Coconut oil


Cook the cucumber/vellarikka and slit green chilly with water just enough to immerse the cucumbers. The cucumber turns slightly transparent once cooked. Ensure that very little of the water is left once it is cooked.

In a separate bowl, take the yogurt along with a cup of water and beat to combine well avoiding any lumps. Add the desired amount of salt at this stage.

Heat oil in a skillet and add the mustard seeds. Once it splutters, toss in the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Add the shallots, red chilly and cook till the shallots are done. Add in the turmeric powder and saute till the raw smell is no longer there. Reduce the heat and pour in the yogurt. Use a ladle to stir. Do not boil it - just stir for a minute or two on low flame and switch this off.

Pour this into the already cooked cucumber and heat it again on low flame for another 1 minute till combined. Adjust the salt at this stage.

Your pulissery/moru curry is ready to be served.

You may also note - 
  1. Boiling the yogurt base will result in it curdling and may not be suitable for consumption.
  2. The trick to know if your moru curry is done - lift the empty ladle and see if there are vapors coming out of the ladle. If yes, switch off the flame immediately.
  3. If you are looking at making the curry without vellarikka - it is right on top in the third paragraph under Method.
Wishing you all a blessed Onam.

September 4, 2016

Nenthra Pazham Ari Pradhaman

Time is flying by quite fast. Feels like it was yesterday that we celebrated the last Onam. Onam brings with it a lot of cheer and freshness. The pookalam and the traditional attire is a delight to the eye  and the soul satisfying sadya for your palettes. Both of us are bought up outside Kerala and are not used to varied flavors of payasam or pradhaman. The safe bet has always been the semiya payasam, ari payasam, paripu payasam and palada pradhaman. And this year, it was time to try out something we hadn't tried earlier.

While sticking onto the traditional recipe, we have incorporated ari/rice as well ghee fried nenthra pazham chunks as well into the nenthra pazham ari pradhaman that we tried out.

Wishing you all a blessed Onam season. Meanwhile here is our recipe.

(Serves - 6)
  1. Nenthra Pazham/Kerala banana - 3 medium
  2. Jaggery - 100gm
  3. Coconut Milk - thick extract - 1 cup
  4. Coconut Milk - medium extract - 2 cups
  5. Water - 1 cup
  6. Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
  7. Sona masoori rice - 1/4 cup
  8. Ghee - 3 tbps
  9. Cashew nuts
  10. Raisins
  • Cut 2 of the plantain into three pieces each and steam them. Once done, set aside to cool. Pulse the steamed plantain to form a paste. 
  • Half cook the rice in water and drain it.
  • In a deep bottom vessel, bring 1 cup water to boil and add the jaggery. Let the jaggery melt. Strain it to remove impurities if any.
  • Transfer the strained syrup back to stove and add in the mashed plantain. Stir well to combine.
  • Pour in the medium coconut milk extract and bring it to boil. Reduce the flame and add the half cooked rice along with the cardamom powder. Stir well to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
  • Once the rice is cooked, pour in the thick milk extract, Bring it to boil and reduce the flame. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes before you switch off.
  • In a separate skillet, add ghee and fry the cashew nuts till golden brown and raisins till puffed up. Add this to the pradhaman.
  • Cut 1 plantain into small chunks and stir fry them in ghee till the color just begins to change to brown. Pour this into the pradhaman along with the remaining ghee and give it a good stir.
  • Serve it hot or cold as suiting your palette.
You may also note - 

  1. In case your mashed plantain does not combine well with the jaggery syrup due to lumps, just pass it through a sieve and it will mix well.
  2. I have not specified the amount of cashews and raisins that you may use since you could alter it as per your likes.