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TILAPIA IN A LEMON-PARSLEY SAUCE

This here is such an easy and quick fish recipe, which I first tasted in Florence/Italy in one of our friend’s houses. She knew that Jo absolutely adores fish (coming from the coastal area in Kerala this is no wonder!) – and so this was really for him.

Tilapia recipes are seen in profusion all over the Net but it has not, here in Kerala, quite reached the appeal this fish has outside our State.

Compared to Seer fish/King Fish (which is the absolute number One fish here), the price of which has gone literally through the roof, Tilapia is much easier on one’s pocket and apart from that it is a delicious light fish and our freezer is always well stocked.

So I do hope you will enjoy my “<strong>Italian Tilapia dish” as we do. Buon appetito!

For 2 people you will need the following:

For the fish:
400 g Tilapia fillet
25 g Butter
Juice of ½ lemon
Freshly grounded pepper

For the Sauce:
1 Tbsp Butter
1 ½ Tbsp flour
250 ml Milk
Juice from the other ½ of your lemon
A nice handful of Parsley (finely chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste

And here is what you do:

Line a baking sheet with baking paper and keep aside.
Heat oven to 190 C.
Wash fish well and dry completely, using paper towels.
Melt butter and stir in the lemon juice.
With a pastry brush, spread this mixture all over the fish fillets, grind the pepper over this and bake in the oven for app. 30 minutes.

In the meantime melt butter on the lowest!! heat.
Add the flour into this and cook for app. 3 minutes, keep stirring all the time.
Now add the cold!! milk and with a balloon whisk, mix everything together.
Bring to a slight boil and then turn down heat to medium for 5-10 minutes – stirring all the while.
Finish this off with salt, lemon juice and chopped up parsley.

To plate:
Place your fish on a plate and top it with the sauce and some basmati rice or a few “finger chips” on the side.

That’s it – all done. Enjoy.

Namaskaram
Carina

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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

Celery/Leek Soup with my little twist

According to the Oxford Dictionary Diaries the phrase . . . “warm the cockles of one’s heart” means in plain English “to give one a comforting feeling of contentment”. And sweet Molly Malone from Dublin’s Fair City could tell you a thing or two here.

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Comfort feeling of Contentment’ is what I am looking for if and when I am either down with a flu/cold or just simply feel slightly below par.

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As long as I can remember I nearly always have made my weekly pot of delicious home-made soup, ready to be consumed at any time or portioned off and frozen for later use. It does not matter if now again I live in a hot or cold climate – the aroma from the vegetables, the wonderful spices wafting from my special soup mug gently up my nose immediately tells certain brain cells of mine “get better – and snap out of this negative mood you are in” – and rest be assure it always works like a dream. And yes, this is one of the reasons why I still continue to conjure up soups, not following recipes most of the time either.

I know that a great number of my blogger friends are right now living in colder climate – and that’s one reason why I like to share one of my favourite “winter warmers” with you (never mind we and some other dear friends live in a hot climate) – sitting around your own kitchen table with bowls of hot steaming soup in front of you and either nice thick chunks of granary bread or Arabic hoops on the side for ‘dunking’. Especially for you, who have just come in from clearing snow off your pathway, de-frosting the car, or just came home from a long crisp walk.

So therefore, without long ado – here is last nights “Carina’s Special” for you to enjoy hopefully as well.

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The amount of ingredients you see in the first picture turned out to be a generous four-portion-soup. And here is what I used:

1 x medium onion, chopped
1 x fat leek, washed thoroughly and sliced
4 x cups of celery, well washed, ends trimmed and rest chopped
1 x medium/large washed but unpeeled potato, diced small
5 x garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
1 x small piece of fresh ginger, finely sliced
2 x heaped tsp of cocopowder
1 x Tbsp Olive oil
1 x Tbsp hot curry powder
Salt, to taste and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
½ x tsp of turmeric powder
4 – 5 x cup of vegetable stock (I used Knorr cubes)
1 x tsp of dry oregano
1 x tsp of dry rosemary (or a twig of fresh one)
Some celery leaves for garnish and celery seeds (if you can get them)

METHOD:
First of all, have all your vegetables prepared as mentioned above and keep aside on a board.

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Set a large medium high vessel on MEDIUM heat and after a couple of minutes add the olive oil, followed by the onion, leek and the celery, stir, cover and cook gently for app. 10 minutes, stirring half way through again.

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Now add curry powder, stir and gently cook for another 2 minutes only.

Add potatoes, nearly all the stock and the herbs, stir and continuing to simmer for 20 minutes or so, until the vegetables are tender. We don’t like them too mushy – so you may have to adjust simmering time.

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When done, switch off heat and let soup cool down slightly (I switch on the Ceiling fan).
10 minutes later I puree the vegetables in my “Mixy” until they are nice and smooth.

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Now check your soup for any possible additional spices needed.
Return all this to your vessel and gently re-heat until piping hot.
Switch off the heat and add your previously prepared coconut milk powder, stirring gently. Do no remove vessel – allow the previous heat deal with the added coconut milk.

Serve in individual soup plates, bowls or cups decorated with a sprig of celery leaves and if you have, a light sprinkling of celery seeds.

You can also do, what I sometimes do, add a few prawns quickly boiled in chilli water! For a little kick.

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You do not need much else, apart from delicious healthy bread or hoops for dunking – little culinary heaven!!!

That’s it – all done – enjoy!

Namaskaram
Carina

Note: The statue shown above has been moved to Suffolk Road while a light railway line is being built in Grafton Road, but is expected to be returned to its original place in 2017.

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

A FISHY TALE . . . . .

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So that’s it – ONAM (and all the other combined Festivals which come up every year around this time) is now over and everything in our beautiful State of Kerala, where the people are blessed with an abundance of Coconuts, Spices and most of all with the Treasures of the Sea, has returned to the usual normality.

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This year we did not make our own Sadhya of 18 delectable dishes – instead we went out visiting!!!

But when JS went out to our little local market ‘around the corner’ to visit his ‘friendly fish man’ – you know the kind who quietly lets you know of some special kind of fish coming in, when the price of prawns will go up or down! Who takes trouble in cleaning your order etc. etc. – in order to maybe get some extra treats for the long ONAM week, he not only succeeded in getting some lovely looking Karimeen (Pearl spot)

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which he and the girls love fried with just the right amount of his ‘secret’ masala massaged into the fish, but he returned home with also a special surprise for me!! A whole THIRUTHA (Grey Mullet).

This is a fish extremely popular especially with the visiting Tourists, who love to order this fish whole so it can be shared amongst two to three people.
Thirutha is available normally in abundance, but because of its very delicate taste any catch gets snapped up by Hotels, Restaurants and even certain vendors, especially in places like Fort Cochin, where domestic and foreign tourists can choose their own fish, have it grilled right there and then and enjoyed ‘al fresco’ mainly along the seafront by the famous “Chinese Nets”.

But now I have to confess something here to you – when it comes to fish I am just a little bit squeamish. I am certainly not a female Rick Stein, the seafood master himself, and so looking at and handling a large fish, head, eyes, etc, does not come easy for me. But surely . . . one is never too old to learn, right!?

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And so, with JS’ help and under his guidance, I set about in tackling this nice, fresh, slippery ‘friend’. This being my first attempt of cooking Thirutha I decided to keep it simple and just steam the fish in foil with some vegetables (after all – it’s healthy, too) – and here now is the result!

It turned out to be a really delishes meal and now I want to think up a different recipe using the same kind of fish– there is of course always a curry!!

This fish may look big for you – but in the end it was just enough for the two of us. Unfortunately I did not weigh him, just as a matter of interest.

And here is what I did:
1 x whole Thirutha, scaled and gutted by “Friendly Fish Man”
At home washed and dried thoroughly.

I made 5 incisions into the back of the Thirutha and then rubbed a mixture of salt, pepper and 1 tsp of dried Dill all over the fish (including the inside).
Sprinkle fresh lemon juice over the whole fish incl. the inside.

Prepare vegetables: I used carrots, leeks, onion slices and parsley
I blanched the three vegetables in photo for just 2 minutes, not more!! Drain well.

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Preheat oven to 180/200 C
Put fish onto a double layer of foil, drizzle a tiny amount of olive oil around fish, add blanched vegetables incl. a couple of half cooked potatoes.

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Now make the foil into a parcel and leave in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes – check!!! Ovens vary in temperature.

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When done open foil carefully, averting your face – steam is really hot! Taste and when cooked (fish should not be dry) keep fish parcel open on top of oven in order to cool down slightly.

Carefully take the fish off the bone from one side first and put on a plate with the vegetables and just a few plain boiled potatoes.

As an edition I served separately some dill-lemon-butter-sauce.

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There is a saying in German, my mother tongue, which goes:

……Uebung macht den Meister”. (Meaning: Practice maketh the Master) – so now I will try and make fish more often!

But for now, THAT’S IT!

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Guten Appetit!
Carina

HAPPY ONAM 2016

It is the biggest Festival Season in the State of Kerala right now.

With a good number of holidays over a stretch of 10 days (including the week-ends) people are engaged in the various multi-cultural and multi-religious festivals during those days with ONAM being the main festival of the year.

Please check my old post of 16 August 2012.

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So for this year once again I send ONAM Greetings to all my readers, near and far, with this beautiful greeting card which JS especially designed for my Blog on this occasion.

The background of JS designs represents a model of the traditional Kerala Saree with the Pallu on both ends decorated with the time-honoured Kasavu (Jerry).

The illustrations shown within the Saree represent the famous Pulikali (Tiger dance), Pookalam (floral designs which are exclusively for ONAM) and the customary Banana leaf (a.k.a. Vazhayila/Kerala Plate) on which the sumptuous ONAM Sadya (a meal of more than 30 Vibhavangal !!! (different kinds of delicacies)) are served.

Namaskaram Carina

Ulli Theeyal (Little Onion Curry)

ഉള്ളി കറി

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This is a wonderful sidedish to our Kerala Cuisine, mostly associated with part of the traditional Onam Sadhya, but if you like onions, and we certainly do, I promise you it is very difficult to resist not having it fairly frequently as a side dish to any curry or just with some rice or even just with a couple of freshly made chapattis or parathas. The choice is yours – all I am asking is that you please do give this dish a try.

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Before you start your preparation make sure you have a small face towel near you (to wipe away the ‘tears’ which will come from peeling a small heap of tiny onions), some music to while away the time needed for peeling and also assemble all the remaining ingredients within easy reach.

For the Theeyal you see in the final dish I used 2 heaped cups of peeled onions – and as you can see there is not too much to show for in the end and that’s the reason why I normally make 2 or 3 times the amount for us two!!

Soak a small lump of Tamarind pulp in luke warm water for 15 mins, squeeze, discard the pulp but retain the brown water for later.

Over medium to lowish heat gently fry 1.5 cups of grated coconut*, 5 dry red hot chillies*, 1.5 tsp of coriander seeds, 1-2 Tbsp of sliced onions, 1 Tbsp of broken cashewnuts*, – keep gently stirring all the time, if anything burns throw away and start afresh.

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The coconut should take on a dark! Colour (I personally prefer just a slight shade lighter).

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When done, let it cool down a bit and then in your Mixy grind all this to a very fine paste, adding a spoon full of water if needed. Keep aside.

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Now in a large deep pan or wok heat up 2 tsp of coconut oil* or vegetable oil if preferred, still working on low heat now, add a dash of turmeric powder, mix and then add all your washed little onions and at least 6 green chillies*, slit in half.

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Keep stirring until everything is well mixed, turn up your heat to medium, keep stirring and once the onions start taking on colour add the tamarind water. Bring this quickly to a boil, add all the ground masala from your Mixy, check for salt and also add some more plain water, maybe ½ cup or so. Stir once more, cover with a lid, turn down the heat a bit and let it cook until the gravy thickens. This might take anything from 15 to 20 minutes – just keep checking. At the very end, when everything is cooked, add 1-2 tsp of brown sugar*, mix and serve.

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Now in a small pan heat 1 tsp of coconut oil, add just ¼ tsp of mustard seeds and a tiny pinch of fenugreek seeds (rubbed between your fingers to release their beautiful flavour) and 1 or 2 dried red chillies, and when the seeds finish crackling, pour this over your Ulli theeyal.

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Bring to your table and watch the smile on the faces of all who are eating this – like we do shortly when we sit down for our lunch.

Notes:
• Try to use very small onions, otherwise cut in half.
• Frozen grated coconut is fine but never use dehydrated!!
• You can of course use less or more of those red chillies, but 5 are just right (I think).
• Use broken cashewnuts, they are cheaper than the whole once – after all they go into the Mixy.
• Personally I only use a tiny amount of Sweetener.
• If you can get coconut oil use it, it brings out the flavours more – otherwise vegetable oil is fine.
• And by the way – it tastes even better the next day IF you have any left.
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Carina