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A beautiful Cauliflower and green peas curry


……… I DO THIS, MY WAY! …..

A beautiful Cauliflower and green peas curry.

Our festival season is slowly starting off with today’s Independence Day celebration and most people will have been watching on their TV the splendid celebrations all over the country.

Next week Kerala will be celebrating their most famous annual festival – ONAM. Malayalis around the world are all ready to welcome the Hindu mythological king Mahabali. Onam is mainly a Hindu Harvest festival.

The Onam feast, also known as Onam Sadhya, is one of the most important parts of Onam celebration. The Sadhya comprises mainly of 26 sensational dishes and there is a set order in which the dishes are served during the Onam fest, wherein the meals are only served on fresh, clean banana leaves (locally known as “Kerala plates”).

There is of course no way that we will cook 26 dishes just for the two of us, but instead we will enjoy some of our well liked and tasty (vegetarian) dishes during that time.

I will start Onam off with this lovely Cauliflower and green peas curry – a curry enjoyed by Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian alike.
This recipe here is for 4 people.

Ingredients
1 x big cauliflower, cut into small florets
4 x big potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 x cup of green peas (I use frozen peas, thawed)
2 x tsp sugar (or jaggery, if you can get it)
¼ x tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
2 Tbsp Vegetable oil

For Grinding
4 x big onions, peeled and cut into pieces
2 x inches of fresh ginger
4 x green chillies
4 x green cardamom
2 x cloves
Piece of cinnamon stick
4 x big tomatoes
Small ball of Tamarind paste
For frying
2 x tsp oil
1 x tsp cumin seeds

Method
Boil potatoes until nearly ready – add cauliflower florets and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Drain and keep aside.

In a wok heat 2 x Tbsp of oil, add the cooked vegetables plus the green peas, stir and cook for 2 more minutes. Take off flame and keep aside in a dish.

Now, in your ‘mixy’ grind all the above mentioned ingredients into a smooth paste, adding tomatoes at the end. Keep aside.

In your wok again heat 2 x tsp of oil and fry cumin seeds for a few seconds. Add the grinded masala, salt, turmeric powder and 2 x tsp of sugar (or jaggery). Stir.

Add all the cooked three vegetables and mix gently. Let gravy thicken for just a couple of more minutes (this is not a liquid curry).

Rice or any roti (chapatti, paratha etc.) and some pickle are good with this.

That’s it – enjoy
Namaskaram
Carina

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Riches of the soil

“……… I DO THIS, MY WAY! …..”

(Cabbage and Potato curry)

Do not be put off by just reading what I cooked the other day. For some of you this dish seems far too simple and ordinary – but, and here is the big ‘but’ – it is a truly delicious curry filled with some of our beautiful warm spices. This curry is one of my Indian ‘comfort’ foods – a dish which suits me just right during this very heavy Monsoon season, when days sometimes look like we were back in UK – dark, wet and very moody.

Did you know that potatoes (with their skins) have 25% more potassium than bananas? For example and turmeric is a very healing spice.

So I suggest you give this recipe a try; after all, the whole meal can be ready in just 30 minutes. This curry can be eaten with rice or just roti (chapatti, etc.).

INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 onion, finely sliced

¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp cayenne
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 bay leaf
1 Cinnamon stick

1 lb gold potatoes, diced into ½” cubes
½ small head green cabbage, cored and sliced (about 12-14 ounces)
½ cup diced fresh tomatoes
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Add the cumin and mustard seeds and cook for 1-2 minutes until they ‘pop
Add onions and stir. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Now add garlic (or garlic powder), bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cayenne, turmeric, coriander, garam masala and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.

Add the potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ cup water.
Mix all this well. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until the potatoes are tender, about 30 – 35 minutes. Watch and if it becomes too dry just add 1 or 2 Tbsp of water.
Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick and discard.
Once cooked, add salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Remove from heat. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Transfer curry into a serving bowl and sprinkle chopped coriander over the finished dish and serve.

That’s it – enjoy
Namaskaram
Carina

Bejeweled Capsicum

One of our favourite vegetables in Indian as well as in European cooking is Capsicum/Bell pepper/Sweet pepper – green, yellow and red – it really does not matter – we just love this vegetable!

Even though China is the world’s largest producer of capsicum, followed by Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia and the United States – this vegetable is now grown in most countries (I even managed to grow some of our green capsicum and chilli peppers needed for our weekly cooking in our garden in England).

Did you know that this vegetable is a rich source of Vitamin C (and some other vitamins) and contains a staggering 94 % water – good to include in food as part of a calorie controlled diet.

When I go shopping to my local Hypermarket to buy vegetables and fruits (especially items which I cannot find in my local markets) I always seem to linger longer at the beautifully displayed Capsicum section. The vibrant colours of my “bejeweled capsicum” reminds me of a child’s coloured crayons. They are so shiny and plump – but can anybody shed light on the phenomenon why the green ones are always the cheapest with the red ones costing double or even triple???? After all, we do know that the green capsicum, although mature, has been picked rather than being left to ripen on the bush, has a slightly sharper, more savoury, flavour than the red one – which is fully ripe with a sweet-tasting flesh.

Did you also know that it was dear old Christopher Columbus who, when he returned to his Spanish patrons in 1492, brought back evidence of the rich plant life he had discovered, amongst which were members of the capsicum family – sweet peppers and their kinsmen, chilli pepper.

The following recipe is one which we love very much and therefor I like to share it with you, dear friends.

Ingredients

1 x tsp Fennel Seeds
2 x Tbsp Peanuts
1 x Tbsp Cashew Nuts
2 x medium to large potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
3 x Capsicum (green, yellow and red – if possible) deseeded and cut into small squares
3 x small onions, chopped
3 x tomatoes, chopped (do not remove skin or seeds)

4 x green chillies, chopped
¼ cup of fresh coriander, chopped
1 x Tbsp Vegetable oil
1 x tsp Mustard seeds
1 x Tbsp Urad Dhal
A few curry leaves
1 x tsp Garlic and ginger paste (if possible, homemade)
1 x tsp turmeric
2 x Tbsp Chilli powder (or less)
2 x tsp Garam Masala
1 x Tbsp of Lingham’s Chilli Sauce (for ‘kick’)
1 x cup of water
Salt, to taste

Method

In a wok, dry fry fennel seeds for a couple of seconds only, keep aside.
Now again dry fry peanuts and cashew nuts for seconds only.
Grind those 2 items in your ‘Mixy’ to a fine powder.
Add oil to the wok and when hot add the mustard seeds and urad dhal as well as a few curry leaves. Stir.
Add onions and some salt and green chillies and stir for 5 minutes.
Add raw potatoes. Stir and covered with a lid, cook for a couple of minutes.
Add ginger and garlic paste, stir.
Add coriander, turmeric, chilli powder and stir again.
Add tomatoes and some water, cover wok again and cook until potatoes are nearly ready.
Add above mentioned ‘Mixy’ powder, all the capsicum, and maybe a little bit more water if needed and cook a further 5 minutes with the lid on.
Taste, and when potatoes are completely cooked add some garam masala, stir and sprinkle with finely chopped coriander leaves before serving.
Ideally, both potatoes and capsicum should retain just a little bit of ‘crunch’.

Serve with rice or any kind of roti (Chapatti, Naan etc.)

That’s it – enjoy
Namaskaram
Carina

Mango Prawns and Thrissur Pooram

It’s been now close to 9 long months since I have been able to post my last Recipe.

Unfortunately I had a couple of health issues to deal with. But now it seems that I am ok again – toi-toi-toi (as we say in Germany wishing Good Luck!)

And so I use one of the famous (film) quotes of Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger “…. I am back” and so happy too.”

Actually I intended to post this last week Thursday, but I had forgotten that it was the famous “Thrissur Pooram” – meaning to sit in front of the TV for a few hours to watch this incredible spectacle and so unique to our part of India – our Kerala!

A few years ago, I had the chance to visit Thrissur with Jo. Thrissur (Trisivaperoor) is less than 70 kms by road from our Cochin. Perched on top of a beautiful hillock right in the heart of Thrissur (in central Kerala) is the ‘Vadakkunnathan Temple’ – one of the oldest temples in Kerala. Having begun in the 11th century, it underwent modifications and additions until the 19th century. The annual festival of Pooram with its elephant pageantry is celebrated on these temple grounds.

Amongst the Pooram festivals of Kerala, the most famous is the magnificent Thrissur Pooram. Introduced during 1789 – 1805 by Shakthan Thampuran, the then King of Cochin, and it takes place in the month of “Medam” (April/May in the Malayalam calendar).

During this year’s Pooram held on April 25, for 1 ½ days, a great parade of thirty richly caparisoned elephants carrying ceremonial umbrellas with ‘Aalavattoms’ and ‘Venchamaroms’ were displayed. On the elephant in the centre rides the temple deity ‘Vadakkunathan’ (Shiva). They come out through the magnificent temple entrance tower and line up in the open ground. A most beautiful site, those magnificent creatures clearly enjoying all the fuss and the extra culinary titbits of leafs, bananas etc. and their giant ‘earlobes’ flapping in unison to keep the heat and flies away.

Fifteen elephants in a row facing the other fifteen for the famous ‘Kudamattom’ (exchange of those colourful umbrellas).

For ‘Kudamattom’ two parties representing the two divisions of Thrissur. ‘Paramekavu’ and ‘Tiruvampadi’ each puts forth their best exertions to make their display grander than the other while bands of musicians playing their traditional instruments of drums, cymbals, etc., add local melodies to the occasion.
During this grand community event celebrated by the entire citizens of Thrissur, a vast crowd from near and far gather on the grounds to witness and support the Pooram. The renowned grand display of fireworks related to the Pooram should not be missed.

The next Pooram is on Medam 29th, which is Monday, May 13th 2019 (for those who might be interested visiting)

But now to our “meal of that Pooram day” – a most delicious Prawn dish with green mangoes – a recipe which I extracted from Jo, whose Indian cooking I absolutely love.

Prawns with Mango Jo’s Style
Altogether you will need:

½ kg prawns, peeled and deveined
19 Ullis (keep of those appr. 8-10 whole for curry)
4 green chillies, to be used for blending in Mixi (keep 2 for curry)
5 dry red chillies, halved for tempering
2 green mangoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tsp Ginger & Garlic paste
1 1/4 Cup of grated coconut
3 Tbsp of coco oil
½ tsp Fenugreek
3 medium sized Kokum’s, washed and soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
5 tsp coconut powder
1 ½ cup of water
1 ½ tsp black pepper powder
1 ¼ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
½ Tbsp of coconut oil
½ tsp of mustard seeds
2 sprigs of curry leafs
Salt to taste (to be added only at the very end!)
Prepare in advance
Grind 4 x Ullis and 2 x green chillies and 1 x tsp Garlic and Ginger paste and 1 1/4 cup grated coconut, and if available, some left-over home-made chutney, very very finely.

Peel 2 x green raw mangoes and cut into large pieces and keep aside.
Put aside 5 x dry red chillies, cut in halves, and 5 x sliced Ullis for tempering later with some Curry Leafs.

Preparation
Take a large pot, heat up 3 x Tbsp of coco oil (or Veg oil), ½ x tsp Fenugreek,– stir and add 10 x sliced Ullis and 2 x green chillies, sliced, stir and sauté.
After 5 minutes add fully drained Kokum’s (3 x) and half fry only – do NOT add salt yet -.
Mix 5 x tsp of coconut powder in 1 ½ x cup of water and keep aside.
After some time add around 8-10 x Ullis (for bite) and sauté.
Add 1 ½ x tsp black pepper powder and 1 ¼ x tsp yellow powder (Turmeric).
Add 1 x tsp Coriander powder (heaped) and mix.
Add grinded lot and fry for appr. 10 minutes. Only now add cut mangos and salt to taste. Boil for another 10 minutes until raw mango is cooked.
Now add all the earlier prepared prawns and add the 1 ½ x cups of coconut milk, cook for 5 minutes until prawns have all turned pink,

TEMPERING

Heat ½ x Tbsp of coconut oil, add ½ x tsp Mustard seeds and 5 x dry red chillies, cut in halves, 5 x sliced Ullis and 2 x sprigs of Curry leafs, stir for 1 minute and pour over the curry.

Serve with Rice and Poppadums.

That’s it – enjoy your meal.
Namaskaram
Carina

“. . . a meal for a King – Uppuma”

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Breakfast is unarguably the most important meal of the day.

I was raised in Germany on the old saying “….Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper” – something which I adhered to on and off over the years.

Like most of us I too rushed out in the morning far too often without a bite to eat, just a cup of coffee “on the run”, lunch often was a sandwich or two and come evening it was either a visit to a restaurant or pub, eating food which I should not eat, especially late in the evening. In Germany we normally try not to eat a full calorie-laden meal after 7 pm!

But, over the years, and with gained experience and with accumulated ‘wisdom’ I tried to eat more sensibly and healthy – not always succeeding, mind you!

So living here now, my eating plans simply had to change – and they did. I do not have what we call ‘European’ breakfast any longer, except when I make a small bowl of oats with a few raisins and a small spoonful of honey for myself to see me through till lunchtime. In the last 14 years, I have quite happily adopted to my new eating routine.

I love breakfast – and I so enjoy occasionally starting an often quite hectic day with one of South India’s most common and popular breakfast dishes.

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I do like ‘to ring the changes’ when it comes to our meals and therefore I find it a little bit difficult to talk about my favourite choice for a good Indian breakfast – after all I do like nearly all varieties of dhals, potato curry, Idlies with chutney and sambar, masala dosa etc etc and of course then there is UPPUMA – made from Wheat rava (semolina) with a few items added to suit our own personal taste bud. There are of course once again numerous slight variations on the same theme – but what I present to you today is, as usual, what we would serve you if you happened to join our breakfast table.

All measurements given are for 2 portions.

I like to buy pre-roasted Rava (Semolina) – so no need to fry this in your own kitchen any longer.

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1 x cup pre-roasted Rava (semolina)
½ x cup of Ullis (shallots) – sliced
2 x long green chillies, cut into 2-3 pieces, seeds not removed!
4 x cloves of garlic, sliced
1 x Tbsp Cashewnuts (or shelled Almonds)
1 x Tbsp Kismis (Raisins)

uppuma-04

½ x tsp of black mustard seeds
½ x tsp of black pepper
½ x Tbsp of Uppu (Salt) (you may want to adjust this)
2 x sprigs of Curry leaves
1 x Tbsp of vegetable oil
2 x cups of water (boiled)

Method:
Heat up a large wide vessel, add oil, when hot add mustard seeds (remember – those little sneaky ‘bullets’ will fly all over your stove – so keep pot covered for a couple of seconds), when they have stopped ‘popping’ add chillies, Ullis, garlic, raisins, nuts, curry leaves, salt and black pepper. On medium heat stir all this and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.

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Now turn down heat even more and add Rava in a stream all over this mixture, stir again and again for another 2-3 minutes before adding the water.

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Mix well – making sure nothing sticks at the bottom or the sides of the vessel. Keep stirring before covering with a lid for another 3 minutes.

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This is usually the time when I have a quick sip of coffee!!

Switch off your flame, using a fork I break up any possible little lumps.

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Since I make Uppuma this way, I never ever have burnt bits at the bottom or sides of my vessel, just beautiful fluffy delicious Uppuma.

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This is normally served with a steamed banana.

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That’s it – all done – enjoy!

Namaskaram
Carina

Mild Leek Soup

….. with an Indian/Welsh twist …..

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As many of you know by now – I do love vegetables ……or at least most of them!

When I grew up Leeks, in one form or another, appeared on our table at least once or twice a week.

Grandpa had a nice biggish vegetable garden behind his house where he grew nearly everything possible and the women in the family at that time always managed to come up with a wonderful variety of recipes for this and other vegetables.

But since leeks are not always readily available in the Supermarkets here, I make full use of them whenever I find them in their shelves. This means that we will be eating leeks at least 2-3 times that week – changing my recipes around to avoid boredom. And yes, this is just one of those weeks – a delivery of leeks had arrived in our Supermarket and so, you guessed it, I have been cooking various different dishes, partly from memory, partly from my little box of old old recipes and partly with my new ‘spur-of-the-moment’ input. So far, touch wood, I seem to have hit just the right button on my taste buds and hopefully at least some of you, who read this, will like today’s delicious soup and the other leek recipes which will be posted in the near future.

This following recipe is pretty much a standard one – in fact ideal for a light supper or an after party treat.

What does she mean by this, I hear you ask – simple, exactly what I wrote.

Many many years ago I started a habit (which soon became a sort of ‘tradition’ in our house). I started serving big chunky mugs filled with delicious hot nourishing soup after our official entertaining. Some of you know these occasions, where in a room (or garden) filled with well over 100 people one does not have a chance talking to some of the people one would really like to talk, like old friends etc., due to protocol, priority or whatever. Just imagine weddings, big birthday bashes etc. – so we started asking certain people discreetly to stay behind after the 2-hour long reception, which was very much appreciated, more so when we lived abroad somewhere on this planet. The ladies were only too happy to shed their high heeled shoes and literally flop onto the nearest sofas, chairs or even floor. The men, tie loosened, followed quickly suit and that’s when we brought out our soup. And after a few drinks and delicious ‘finger food’, the hot heart-warming, soul refreshing soup, was more than well received.

This became such a success that it was not only copied (the biggest form of flattery, right ?) but guests started to ask “what is the soup of the night?” And so I kept this by now ‘tradition’ going well past retirement from official life.

As always, I tell you what I used here for 2 people – so do not be too rigid – adjust to your own need and taste.

What you need:

250 gr Mincemeat (Keema)
3 x medium sized leeks, cleaned, most of the top green part discarded
4 x garlic cloves, finely chopped (or use garlic powder) – optional.
2 x Beef- or Vegetable Stock cubes dissolved in appr. 500 ml water
200 – 250 x gr of soft cheese (I used Mozzarella), cut into small cubes
3 x Tbsp of thick curd or crème fraîche
1 x medium sized potato, peeled and sliced thinly
Salt, pepper, to taste
2 x tsp (home-made) curry powder
2 x tsp paprika powder
2 x tsp ground nutmeg
2 x Tbsp Vegetable oil

How to cook:

First of all prepare your leeks further by washing them thoroughly to remove all the dirt between the layers. Then cut them into fine rings and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a wide pot – add the Mincemeat and quickly fry this for app. 5-8 minutes; add salt and pepper. Stir.

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Now add the previously prepared leeks, mix and fry this further for another 5 minutes or so.

Add the stock, stir, reduce heat to fairly low, cover with lid and let this cook for maybe 10 minutes (check – don’t let leeks get mushy).

Add the cheese, Mozzarella is fine here, let it melt completely.

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Add curd or crème fraîche and turn up heat a little bit for just a couple of minutes. Keep stirring.

Taste and add all the remaining spices. Mix well and check if this to your own liking.

I frequently serve just a couple of thin slices of ‘French bread’, slightly toasted and my own garlic butter scraped over it.

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That’s it. Guten Appetit.

Namaskaram
Carina

A V I A L – അവിയല്

(A little healthy vegetable shopping trip at the local market)

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For the time being and in fact only for a very short while some of our many wonderful multi-cultural and multi-religious festival days are over.

My own birthday this year fell right into the middle of Diwali, and Halloween and this is one main reason why I did not post anything regarding those two festivals.

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But I just want to say a big thank you to you who did write to me – I am only sorry I cannot share this huge cake with you which JS had especially ordered. As always he surprised me at midnight (which is a sort of tradition here) with this cake, a huge bunch of beautiful yellow roses (I am not very keen on red ones for a reason) and some lovely gifts – our girls telephoned me at that time as well and so I was very happy indeed.

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Now, since I came to India I have always liked a vegetable dish called AVIAL which is a dish originating from South India and is in fact quite common in Kerala and is of course part of the Sadya, the famous Keralite Vegetarian Feast, especially during the sumptuous feast of Onam. But recently I have developed such a yearning for this healthy dish that I now make it for us on average three times in a week.

There are as usual many many variations of the same theme here and what I show you today is my own basic Avial. Sometimes, depending what I have in my fridge and what is available in my little local market, I might exchange one item for another – one can be pretty flexible. The standard vegetables used in Avial are Eggplant/Aubergine, Drum sticks, Snake Gourd, Plantain, Pumpkin, Carrots, Beans and Elephant Yam. The only thing to remember is not to use “soft” vegetables like tomatoes etc.

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This is not a hot – as in chilli hot – dish, but JS and I like to throw in a couple of Kashmiri Chillies, for colour and taste really, not so much for heat. We also like to include a fresh green mango, but if not available, don’t fret; just add some slightly beaten, slightly sour, curd/yoghurt.

As you might have gathered by now, cooking to us is not as much as sticking to the original authentic recipe, but bringing something to our table we like to eat, and anybody else who happens to join us.

For a large pot I normally use approx.:
1 x cup of Ash Gourd, washed
1 x cup of Cucumber, washed and peeled
3 x Carrots, washed and peeled
1 x whole Drum stick, washed and peeled (like you do with beans)
12 x green Beans, washed and ‘topped and tailed’
2 x raw Plantains, hard skin removed
1 X BIG Eggplant/Aubergine, washed
1 x ‘fat’ slice of Elephant Yam
1 x largish Potato, peeled and washed
10 x Lovoka, washed and cut into half lengthwise
1-2 x medium sized green (cooking) Mangos, peeled and stone removed
2-4 x Tbsp of slightly sour curd/yoghurt (optional)

How to prepare everything ready for cooking:

I like to chop up my vegetables to the sound of some nice music – anything good, but depending on my mood of the moment!
So sit down as well and cut all your vegetables into nice uniformed pieces, like fat match sticks.

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Since the various chosen vegetables take different times to cook, some people prefer to cook them in separate stages – I don’t!!! (and I do not use a pressure cooker either). I just start off with those veggies which take the longest and then just a few minutes later I add the others. Just watch and take care – you do not want to end up with a mushy dish.

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Also add only very very little water when starting to cook (you can always add a few drops later if and when needed) – followed by salt and pepper (optional) and some turmeric powder. Stir very gently and let simmer for 5 x minutes on the lowest heat possible (with the lid on)

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GRINDING THE COCONUT

In your Mixy quickly grind appr. 1 – 1.5 cup grated coconut, 3-5 x green chillies, and 1 x tsp of Cumin seeds coarsely. Do not add any water!!

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Check ‘the bite’ on your vegetables and add all your coconut paste to the vegetables, check salt once again, stir gently and continue cooking for another 5-8 minutes. Let it cool down just a little bit before adding 2 or 3 (or if you like, more) Tbsp of yoghurt/curd, mixing it in briefly.

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If liked, use 1 x Tbsp of Coconut oil over the top and decorate with some curry leafs. Serve it with rice, chapattis or, have it on it’s down. Delicious.

And that’s it! Guten Appetit.

Namaskaram
Carina