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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

“. . . 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)

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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

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

Devilish Hot TUNA Curry

As you well know by now we live right on the coast of the Arabian Sea in the beautiful State of Kerala – the land with an abandonment of Fish, Coconut, Herbs and Spices.

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A Keralian household without fish – unthinkable! And of course there are as many different versions of “Red Fish Curry” as there are families in Kerala. This particular curry today is by all means not a typical traditional Kerala Fish Curry, but it is just one of many favourites in our house. This recipe started off one way or another quite differently but over time we perfected it until we got it just right for our own taste – ok, admittedly, one has to like love spices!!! Of course, you can always tone down the heat a notch (or even two or three), but if you do love “the heat” in your curry, then I suggest do not change anything – it is truly so delicious and it will only make you want more.

We love coconut in our cooking, but in this case here we completely omitted this – and don’t you agree, this beautiful red colour looks sooo inviting.

Traditionally this curry is made in an earthenware pot, a “Kalchatti” made out of clay. Unfortunately my “Kalchatti” broke the other day and I have not been able to pick one up from the road side, where vendors selling those for very little money. Somehow cooking this curry in a “Kalchatti” improves the flavour.

So, I made this curry in my normal wok on the gas stove and it tasted equally fantastic (even if I may say so myself!!!).

Again, what you see here in the photographs is just for the 2 of us, with enough left over for the following day, since letting it stand overnight will really improve the flavour. I also used a nice chunk of beautiful Tuna, which JS got from the market.

Ingredients:

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½ x kg Tuna, washed, skin and bones removed and cut carefully into neat cubes
1 ½ x large onions, halved and sliced
5 x green chillies cut lengthwise
8 x garlic, thinly sliced (our garlic is quite small)
1 x Tbsp fresh ginger, finely diced
2 x large tomatoes, deseeded and cut into quarters
Some sprigs of curry leaves
½ x tsp of Mustard seeds
2 x Tbsp of best-of-the-range Fish Masala Powder (I used a local brand Nirapara)
Little oil and salt and pepper, according to your taste
4 x pieces of Kodampuli (Kokkum), washed and then soaked in lukewarm water for 15-30 minutes (do not discard the water)

Method:
1. Soak Kodampuli and keep aside.
2. Wash and prepare Tuna, keep aside.
3. Prepare all your vegetables, keep aside.
4. Heat wok on medium heat and when hot (stay on medium! Heat) add Mustard seeds and wait for them to go ‘pop’ – WARNING: they are real little devils and will spit at you when they ‘pop’ – so do keep your face away.

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5. Now add onions, garlic, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and a little salt. Stir gently – don’t allow any of this to get dark (you might have to regulate your heat)

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6. Add 2 Tbsp of your Fish Masala Powder, mix, and now followed by tomatoes, all the Kodampuli and half their water – stir again and carefully add your Tuna into this Masala (without breaking any of the pieces).

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7. Add enough water to cover everything well (but, if you want extra gravy, just add a bit more water and the remaining Kodampuli water).

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8. Cook gently on medium heat for 10-15 minutes (keep checking) – Done!!!

9. Cover with lid and let it stand for a while before serving. And of course as I mentioned earlier, this is even far superior the following day.

So maybe you might like to prepare this Curry a day before you have guests.

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Serve this either with plain white rice, mashed potatoes, mashed Tapioca (Kappa Puzhukku), or chunks of nice bread (after all, this gravy is simply delicious).

Namaskaram, Carina