Archive | February 2016

RED PRAWN & KOKUM CURRY

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Now of course is the time when millions of Christians around the world observe 40 days of Lent, the time of fasting starting on Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter Sunday.
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So, until Easter I therefore will not be posting any meat dishes on this site.
Mind you, from a cook point of view I find it somehow challenging to come up with nice delicious non-meat dishes for our family.
We are of course extremely lucky living here in this beautiful coastal area with its abundance of the treasures of the Arabian Sea – Fish and Shellfish.
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So, without long ado, here is yet another delicious, typical Kerala Prawn dish, which I made only yesterday. This preparation contains Kokum (known as Kodampuli here) – an absolutely vital ingredients for this dish.
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For 2 generous helpings I used:
a. 300 gr of cleaned, shelled and deveined prawns
b. A pinch of turmeric powder and
c. A pinch of pepper powder
d. 3 pieces of washed Kokum
e. Water, enough to cover the prawns
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Mix all this and boil just long enough for the prawns to turn pink (1 minute), take off the flame immediately and keep aside for later. Keep the water for use later on.
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a. Next take the small bowl of your Mixy (Blender), add
b. 1 Onion, medium to largish! Roughly chopped
c. 50 gr of peeled garlic
d. 1 inch of fresh ginger and
e. 3 green chilli (more or less, depending on your heat intake)
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Grind all this to a nice paste (not too fine, thou) and keep aside for later.

Now the real fun starts:
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In a large heavy bottomed vessel heat up app.
1-2 Tbsp of Coconut oil, splutter ¾ tsp of mustard seeds and 3 dried red chillies, broken in half.
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Now add all your earlier prepared paste and sauté until the oil separates. Mix well.
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Next add ½ tsp turmeric powder, 3 Tbsp red chilli powder (I use Kashmiri powder here for colour), 1 – 2 Tbsp. of Coriander powder, salt and black pepper to taste.
Mix well and cook for app. 5-8 minutes.
The smell wafting through your kitchen now makes you already wanting to sit down and eat.
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Add 2 large tomatoes, skin removed, and chopped up very finely. Let this simmer for at least 10-15 minutes, until tomatoes are very very soft.
Take the Kokum and all the water you used to boil the prawns in and add to your vessel. If you want more gravy later, just add a bit of hot water to this.
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At this stage adjust the seasoning to your own taste.
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Now add app. ¼ cup of thick creamy coconut milk and stir. A sprig or two of curry leaves should be added now; continuing to simmer on lowest possible heat for another couple of minutes.
At the very end only add the previously boiled prawns (they must not be rubbery from overcooking).
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Stir and remove into a pretty dish ready for serving with either just plain rice or Appam.

രുചിയോടെ ഭക്ഷണം ആസ്വദിക്കാന് കഴിയട്ടേ
(ruchiyode bhakshanam aaswadikkan kazhiyatte) this is our local Malayalam language meaning: “….let your food be enjoyed tastefully”
Enjoy your meal – Guten Appetit

Namaskaram, Carina

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Valentine – Memories of Torcello

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                                                          Love is indescribable and unconditional.
I could tell you a thousand things that it is not,
but not one that it is.
– Duke Ellington

2V ….is for VALENTINE!
Right now the Internet is crowded with advertisements to buy this, that and the other for your loved one on the occasion of Valentine Day. Buy, buy, buy is the bombardment onto your brain, conscience and purse. So a small fortune will be spend on highly overprized flowers, mainly deep red roses, chocolates, champagne etc. etc.

Not in this house thou, take me for example – I loathe deep red roses (call it bad memories), don’t particular care for chocolates and champagne…….! hmm, now that is a totally different matter, but sadly this we cannot get here easily (so we will have to wait for another trip to Le Paris!).
JS today surprised me with two things: he wants to take me out for Dinner and a bit of dancing on Valentine’s Eve and he also wanted me to cook for him one of his favourite Pasta dishes for Lunch taking him (and me!) down a very beautiful memory lane.

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Venice lovers know of this beautiful little island just off the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon. For JS and I there has and never will be a time we visited Venice when we would not take the boat and motor away from the main frenzy of tourists from all over the world in order to enjoy nearly a whole day in the far more peaceful surroundings of this beautiful little island – Torcello!

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On the odd occasion we not only had our customary lazy lunch there but even spent a night in the famous LOCANDA CIPRIANI. Heaven – sheer Heaven!

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The Locanda and the Island deserve their own story, but another time, for now just enjoy the recipe given here and maybe you too have your own memory of this place; do let me know. So, at my very own Valentine’s request I give you today

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Memories of Torcello
(i.e. Spaghetti, Prawns in a creamy caper-white-wine sauce)
For 2 servings I used today:

½ lb spaghetti
½ lb of cleaned/deveined prawns
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp capers in their brine
1 big handful of Spring onions (greens and all), chopped, app. 2 cups
1 Tbsp crushed dry red pepper flakes (adjust to your personal taste)
1 large lemon, zest and the juice of…
½ cup of dry white wine (adjust to your personal taste)
¼ cup of heavy cream
Salt to taste

Preparation:
Boil your Spaghetti in a large pot of salted water until just ‘al dente’.
Wash prawns, pat dry and add some salt, mix.
Heat ½ of your olive oil in a wide pot (I used my Wok), add prawns and cook only for 2-3 minutes maximum i.e. until they turn just a bit pink. Lift out of the oil and keep aside.
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Now add the rest of the oil and all the spring onions for another 2-3 minutes, keep stirring all the time. Add the capers and the chilli flakes and cook these for app. another minute. Add lemon zest and juice and white wine and simmer for another 2 minutes or so.
Take ¾ – 1 cup of the cooking water from the boiling spaghetti, add this to the pan together with the cream. Simmer very gently for another couple of minutes.
When Spaghettis are cooked remove from their water with a tong and move them straight into the sauce.
Gently mix all this together. Garnish with a few more red chilli flakes, green Spring onions and prawns and serve with a big smile to your loved one.
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Mangia Bene – Enjoy our memories.
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PS: For a more in-depth story re. Valentine’s Day, please read JS own story on his personal blog http://www.manningtreearchive.com : “The Roots and Wings of Valentine

PPS: Sadly I lost most of my pictures in a computer crash, hence I used other sources.

KADALA and Puttu!

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K ……. Is not only for KERALA but also for one of our most favourite breakfast dishes….. KADALA and Puttu!
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It is an easy dish to make; it only takes just under 1 hour to bring it to your table, providing you have remembered to soak the Kadala (black Chickpeas) previously for around 10-12 hours. I hate pressure cookers, I refuse to have one in the house, still filled with memories of my mother’s carrots decorating her kitchen ceiling, so I work the old-fashioned way and even soak my Kadala for 2 nights, changing the water in between.
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No need to keep in fridge. The final cooking takes place the evening before we want this for breakfast and true to the saying “….. a good stew tastes even better the next day …..” We feel this applies here, too. In our opinion anyhow.
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Kadala (Chickpeas) Curry and Puttu

For 4 good servings I use the following:
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1 cup uncooked Kadala (this doubles when cooked)
A pinch of Turmeric powder, to add to Kadala cooking water
2 good sized onions, roughly chopped
1 good handful of Pearl Onions (Ullis), sliced
4-5 green chillies, split
Some curry leaves, according to your taste
¼ cup or so of sliced fresh coconut pieces
¼ cup or so of chopped tomatoes (remove skin first)
½ tsp Mustard seeds
2-3 dry red chillies
2 tsp Ginger/garlic paste
1 tsp Garam Masala
Nicely chopped fresh Coriander to sprinkle over the Kadala before serving
Coconut oil, for nice taste but sparingly, think “waist” here
Salt, to taste
Method
If you possibly can, wash and soak Kadala for 2 nights like I do, changing water in between.
Cook Kadala with pinch of turmeric and salt until soft, but not mushy.
In a pan heat 1 – 2 tsp maximum of coconut oil, add grated coconut, chilli powder, coriander powder and the garam masala and on medium to low heat fry until coconut changes colour.
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Keep stirring all the time or it might burn (and you will have to start again from scratch with a fresh batch). Once cooled down a bit grind in your Mixy to a paste and keep this aside.
Now take a large wide pot, on medium flame heat some more of your coconut oil, add mustard seeds and red chillies; and when all this splutters, add the sliced coconut pieces, keep stirring. Add ginger/garlic paste and all the onions and the tomatoes and some curry leaves.

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Mix all this gently before adding your cooked Kadala in their cooking water. Add some more hot water if you, like us, prefer lots of delicious gravy.
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Check on your salt before adding the previously prepared coconut paste.
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Stir, cover and bring all this back to a nice gentle simmer.
As a final task add ½ cup of coconut milk, stir this gently into your finished Kadala Curry and on a low heat simmer for another 5 minutes.
When you are happy with the softness of the Kadala and love the taste, switch off and enjoy.
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Notes:
Since we all like chillies, garlic, onions in this family you might find that you would prefer less of my given quantity in your own food. Feel free to adjust.
Chickpeas, pre-boiled and tinned, are not available here. So I always have a small portion of either, brown and white (for salads) ready in my fridge.
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രുചിയോടെ ഭക്ഷണം ആസ്വദിക്കാന് കഴിയട്ടേ
(ruchiyode bhakshanam aaswadikkan kazhiyatte) this is our local Malayalam language meaning: “….let your food be enjoyed tastefully”
Enjoy your meal – Guten Appetit

Namaskaram, Carina

Our MiniMini – Samosas

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This year January came and went in a flash, at least for us and I am breathing a sigh of relief about this too.

Who does not know the moments when nothing goes right, but everything seems to be going wrong? You do? Then of course you will understand how I felt in the past few weeks. The dreaded flu kept one or the other of us down, small repairs to the house needed attention, lots of paperwork was waiting on my desk and then, to my horror, His Majesty the Computer decided enough is enough and literally stopped working; just like that! Right in the middle of writing my first food-blog of this year

The usual Mechanic too was down with the dreaded flu and it took some time for him to be able to come and see what the problem was – and unfortunately he could not solve the malaise. So, after some time we managed to get a reputable Mechanic, recommended by a friend, who after a whole mornings work sorted the problem out. Oh, what a relief!

So, now I am once again running between my kitchen and my desk in order to plan, cook, taste (!) and photograph etc. some recipes for the blog.
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But, what to do when in the midst of all this suddenly the odd friend from another part of Kerala pops in for coffee, snack and chat. Like most Kerala houses we too serve Samosas and/or cutlets which vary between Keema (minced beef), chicken, prawns or vegetables – in short, whatever is on hand at that moment when they are needed. Luckily for me I had used some of the time waiting for the Computer repair making bags of our favourite Samosas for the freezer. “MiniMini” as we call them, since we prefer those snacks to be on the dainty side, proper Fingerfood in my opinion, I do not like those oversized Samosas, Cutlets, Bondas etc. which I find slightly off-putting; but that’s just me!

So here are my MiniMini Vegetable Samosas.
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I normally always have a container filled with cooked mixed vegetables in my fridge. Anything goes really, but we like a mixture of Potatoes, Carrots, Cauliflower, green beans and/or peas and Onions. Here I use mainly Ullis (shallots) for taste.

Add all those prepared Vegetables to a pot of water to which I add a Knorr Vegetable cube.
When cooked, drain and keep aside.

Add 1 Tbsp of Coconut oil to a pan (or any good Vegetable oil)
Add ½ Tbsp of Mustard seeds and wait for them to ‘pop’.
Add 1 big green chilli, finely chopped (optional)
Some curry leaves, finely chopped (optional)
1-2 Tbsp. Garam Masala
Salt and pepper powder to your taste
Stir and cook on low heat for 2 minutes and then add the cooked vegetables;
Stir and cook for another minute or two. Now mash all this slightly (if you prefer like me the tiny Samosas, this mixture will have to be very fine – in other words, no lumps).

You can either make your own Pastry or purchase from your local Supermarket blocs of ready made Samosa Pastry (this is what I normally do). Cut little squares and place some of your vegetable mixture in the centre before folding the square into shape.

For authentic Kerala taste heat up Coconut oil and when really hot add your Samosas carefully (the oil will splutter), turning them constantly for the next 4-5 minutes. Drain on sheets of kitchen paper and enjoy them with a nice hot cup of coffee or chai (tea). Namaskaram.

Carina
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Meine eigene freie Uebersetzung

In diesem Jahr kam und ging der Januar wie ein Blitz, wenigstens fuer uns und ich atme auf.

Wer kennt nicht die Momente wenn nichts richtig geht, aber alles scheint falsch zu laufen? Ja Ihr? Dann koennt Ihr Euch ja gut vorstellen wie ich mich in den letzten Wochen gefuehlt habe. Die graessliche Grippe hat einen oder den anderen von uns erwischt, kleine Reparaturen am Haus waren notwendig, jede Menge Papierkram erwartete mich an meinem Schreibtisch und dann, zu meinem Entsetzen, Seine Majestaet der Komputer entschloss sich, genu gist genug und hoerte ploetzlich auf zu funktionieren; einfach so! Gerade in der Mitte meines ersten Artikels fuer meinen Foodblog in diesem Jahr.

Der uebliche Mechaniker lag auch mit der Grippe zu Hause und es dauerte eine ganze Zeit bis er endlich in der Lage war zu uns zu kommen und zu sehen was das Problem war – aber leider konnte er das nicht loesen. So, nach einiger Zeit endlich kame in neuer Mechaniker, der von einem Freund vorgeschlagen war, der dann endlich nach einem ganzen Vormittag Arbeit das Problem geloest hat. Oh, welche Erloesung!

So, nun renne ich mal wieder zwischen meiner Kueche und meinem Schreibtisch hin und her wo ich plane, koche, probiere (!) und photographiere etc. einige Rezepte fuer den blog.

Aber, was macht man wenn in der Mitte von all der Hektik ploetzlich eine Freundin aus einem anderen Landesteil in Kerala herein schaut fuer Kaffee, Snack and Chit-Chat. Wie die moisten Haeuser hier in Kerala servieren wir auch Samosas und/oder Cutlets die entweder mit Keema (Rind Hackfleisch), Huhn, Garnelen oder Gemuese gefuellt sind – in anderen Worten, was immer halt so vorhanden ist wenn man es benoetigt. Gluecklicherweise hatte ich vorher die Zeit genutzt, wo ich auf den Mechaniker gewarted habe, um viele unserer liebsten Samosas fuer den Gefrierschrank zu bereiten. “MiniMini” nennen wir sie hier , weil wir diese Snacks so lieben, richtiger Fingerfood meiner Auffassung nach, Ich mag wirklich nicht diese uebergrossen Samosas, Cutlets, Bonds etc. – ich finde sie etwas abstossend; aber das ist meine persoenliche Geschmacksrichtung.
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