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Potato Curry Kerala style

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This past weekend was supposed to be a very relaxing one – we had plans, like most people, to do this, that and the other, but….. like all well laid out plans things went slightly wrong. No – wait! – what do I say here, have to correct myself by typing “…things went from bad to worse!

I will not bore you with my problems, you might have some of your own and the last thing you want me to whine on and on and on…….

Just one thing I will tell you briefly, so you understand for this very short entry today.

Our small fridge in which we keep most of the items I plan to cook for this Blog (and for us of course) decided to go into sort of hibernation, i.e. stopped working!! Having just been to our fairly new Hypermarket we had stocked up on many things, like meat, fish etc.

But on Saturday night (do these things not always happen either over a weekend or holiday??) this little fridge decided to pack up. No electricity went in to feed it. So everything had to be moved to the big fridge which was already packed. Sunday I cooked as much as possible of the by now thawed items in order to rescue whatever I could.

So today finally all this was sorted out and the fridge is finally working again!

So I leave you for now with our own house-version of Kerala Potato Curry, which we enjoyed for lunch.

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Potato Curry Kerala style

For 2 large portions I used:

6 x medium potatoes, cubed
1 x big onion, cubed
6 x garlic cloves (ours are quite small), chopped
Some fresh ginger, chopped
4 x green chillies, split
A generous pinch of Turmeric powder
2 x tsp of Sambar powder
1 x Tbsp Garam Masala powder
1 x Bay leaf
Salt and black pepper, to your own taste
1-2 x Tbsp of Coconut oil
Some Mustard seeds and some Fennel Seeds
1 x Bayleaf
½ cup of good Vegetable Stock
A couple of dried red chillies
Coconut Milk
Some Curry leaves

Method:

Boil your prepared potatoes until they are just a tiny bit under-done. Drain and keep aside.

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In a deep pan or wok heat 1 Tbsp of oil on medium heat and when slightly hot add the mustard-, fennel-seeds and Bayleaf, stir for a couple of seconds only and then add the onions, ginger, garlic and the green chillis.

Let this simmer for a couple of minutes.

Make sure your heat is on low, because you do not want to burn your Masala.

Add Sambar powder, Garam Masala, salt and pepper and turmeric – keep stirring for a few more minutes. Add Vegetable Stock before it gets too dry.
Now add your boiled and drained potatoes to your Masala and stir gently; check seasoning.

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Keep heat still on low whilst you add ¼ to ½ cup of thick coconut milk and let this simmer for 5 more minutes.
Take off flame. Keep aside.

In a separate little pan heat little bit of oil, mustard seeds, some curry leaves and 2 red chillies and after a few seconds pour over your finished Potato Curry.

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Bring to your table and enjoy.

Guten Appetit – enjoy your meal – znegosmac – buon appetito – bon appétit – ทานให้อร่อยนะ –
Carina

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Velvety Carrot Soup with an Asian Twist

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I really can’t help it, but nearly every time I eat Carrots in any kind of form, shape and sizes, I hear a tiny little voice of my late Mom “Mutti” …….’do eat your carrots now – they are good for your eyes and will make you see in the dark….”

At that time I was little and like most children I of course believed her. Not that I hated carrots, no not at all, quite liked them actually and now that I am grown up I truly love them. As vegetables, prepared in many many different ways, as soups (after all I was born in Germany and we do love our soups), as salads for when I want to be extra kind to my body and as nibbles.

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Even now, typing this page, I have a small plate of freshly cut carrot sticks next to me and keep munching on those, like a little Rabbit – maybe Grandpa knew in his wisdom why he nicknamed me “Kaninchen” (little Rabbit) all those decades ago. (But mind you, in this tremendous heat we are having here right now I really would love an ice-cream or even two, but……).

Today we all surely know that Carrots are one of the healthiest foods around containing over 100 % of Vitamin A; so we should make food like carrot part of our everyday diet.

Velvety Carrot Soup with an Asian Twist

= this should not take you more than maximum 30 minutes =

I was greedy and used up all the carrots which needed to leave my vegetable compartment. I did not weigh, so just do what I did, and go by your eyes, appetite and what’s in your own fridge. The measurements given therefore are for those 2 large bowls of soup I made for my husband Jo’s and my Lunch with a little bit left in the pot.

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Ingredients

2 x medium sized onions, cubed
4-5 x large carrots, peeled and chopped
5-6 x cloves of garlic, crushed (our garlic is really small)
Salt, black pepper to your own taste
2 x Tbsp of Peanut butter Sauce
1-2 x Tbsp Lingham’s Hot Chilli Sauce
¼ – ½ x cup of Coconut milk (optional – or use some milk)
3 x cups of earlier prepared Vegetable Stock (I used KNORR cubes)
Tiny bit of oil for sweating the onions

Method

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Heat oil on medium heat, add onion and garlic, stir and after maybe 5 minutes add the carrots.

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Season, stir and add the vegetable stock, stir again and cover pot.
Now reduce heat to simmer and cook until vegetables are nice and tender. It only took me 15 minutes since I cut everything fairly small and also I wanted to retain a certain “crunch”.

I do not have an immersion blender – yet! – and therefor ‘blitzed’ the soup in stages in my Mixy with the PB Sauce and the Lingham’s. (You can also add a few more peanuts in for good measure, if you like).

That’s it really. Pour into soup cups; sprinkle some coriander, tiny carrot slivers and a couple of drops of thick coconut cream on top and serve.
This goes very well with just slices of brown-bread toast or Arabic bread, slightly warmed.

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So my friends, enjoy this little soup and you never know, maybe you too will be able “…..to see in the dark…”.

Guten Appetit – enjoy your meal – znegosmac – buon appetito – bon appétit – ทานให้อร่อยนะ –

Carina

“Falscher Hase” – or, a meatloaf by any other name

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This is not a dish you often find on the menu card of restaurants in Germany or in other countries. It was known in Germany just after the war as “the poor man’s Sunday roast” – then later it ended up on many of Buffet tables at parties as part of “the spread”, only to fade over the following years slightly into the background – but never ever disappeared completely.

This happened in our house, too – up to now!

My mother used to make “Falscher Hase” (Imitation Hare) when I was little, but I never got the original recipe from her, I had to make it up from memory.

Then, when in my ‘previous life’ we lived in Trinidad + Tobago/W.I. and I had to really learn to cook good food fit for entertaining in our own Residence, it was the wife of the then American Ambassador, herself a superb cook, who taught me to make her kind of meat loaf, which I then adapted to our own personal taste.

I started, originally just as an experiment, a monthly get-together for some of us wives of Ambassadors (and/or their No 2!) and High Commissioners where we only served a typical dish of our home country – a family dish! really – and not something we would serve our official guests. To my surprise, it became a huge huge success. And every time our own British High Commissioner and his wife had to give a big buffet reception, (it was their custom to get each of the wives of our own Mission to contribute a special dish to their buffet table) I was asked (or shall I say correctly “ordered”) to make at least half a dozen of my meat loafs, of which nearly always 2 wandered into their own personal deep freezer for future use. As it turned out that the ones with plenty of garlic and hotness were the High Commissioners personal favourites – a nice compliment, really.

But, over the following years, I somehow stopped making this dish. Did we grow tired of the taste, or what. I really do not know.

And then, only the other day, my friend Heidi in Berlin mentioned “Falscher Hase” in her email and I developed this near urge to seek out my old recipe and make one for JS; so off we went shopping (again!) for the items needed and not readily available in our kitchen at that time and so, here is the result of my first “Falscher Hase” in Kerala.

I like to point out again; as always I give the details for the dish we actually have on our own table – cooked to our own personal taste. Feel free therefore to adjust any measurements and ingredients to your liking.

For this dish there are most likely as many recipes as there are families. It is an ideal dish for which to use your imagination in regards of ingredients, spices, herbs, etc. etc. Feel free to experiment – I do; quite often.

Oh – and one more thing I have to mention – we never used a hardboiled egg inside the meat, but served halved hard boiled eggs on the side at buffets, for those guests who loved their eggs.

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For the Pyrex dish in the photograph I used:

Ingredients

750 g Mincemeat (I could only get Buffalo that day)
2 slices of stale bread, soaked in broth (from a Knorr cube) and squeezed out
1 leek (white only, very finely cut into rings)
10 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
10 green olives, chopped
3 Tbsp good tomato ketchup
2.5 tsp of Mustard (readymade)
1.5 Tbsp of Lingham’s Hot Chilli Sauce (optional)
Fair amount of chopped parsley
Fair amount of chopped chives
Pepper and ‘black salt
1.2 Tbsp Paprika powder
1 whole egg
½ cup of stock cube broth

Method

Make broth, soak the bread, squeeze out and keep aside.
Pre-heat your oven to 200 C.

Add all the above ingredients into a large bowl, mix well, taste and maybe adjust your spices.

If you are using a dish, like I did, for baking, make sure it’s very well-oiled or buttered (this is my preferred method)

Or, if you like, take a baking sheet, line with paper and add your mixture, shaped as a loaf, on top.

Bake in pre-heated oven for app. 1 hour. After 30 mins just add a little bit of your broth to the dish (to keep it moist).
After 1 hour check to see if it’s cooked. Switch off heat and leave inside the oven for a little while longer in order for the meat to settle.
That’s it – serve with either smooth mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes, Carrots, Peas, Cauliflower, Beans. But most importantly – ENJOY!

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Guten Appetit!
Carina

Carina’s Version of “Polpette al Sugo”

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This is my very own quick version of a sort of “Polpette al Sugo” – the original we often have when back in Italy – nothing can beat those wonderful fresh Italian tomatoes and their addictive (at least for us) “ mozzarella di buffalo

Prep time 20 mins cooking time 45 mins Serves 4

1 lb. lean beef, minced 2 x (or Chicken, if you prefer)
1 x cup fresh white breadcrumbs
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
3 x Tbsp Parsley, chopped finely
Salt and pepper, to your taste
1x egg, slightly beaten
150 g x mozzarella cheese (cut into appr. 16 small cubes)
1x Tbsp vegetable oil
1 x large onion, finely chopped
400 g x fresh tomatoes, skin removed and squashed with your hands
1 x pack of spaghetti

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1.. Take a bowl; add beef, breadcrumbs, garlic, half the parsley, salt and pepper and the egg, mix well.
2.. Take one of the previously cut cheese cubes and 1 large tsp of beef mixture and cover the cube with this.
3.. Take large pan, heat oil, add prepared meat balls and brown on all sides on medium heat.

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4.. Add chopped onion, cook for 3-5 mins, and then add all the tomatoes with their juice. Simmer, cover with lid and cook for another 30 minutes.

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5.. Uncover pan and continue cooking for another 10 mins, so that sauce will reduce and slightly thickens.

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6.. While all this is going on, boil your spaghetti following packet instructions; but keep ‘tasting and testing’ – don’t overcook pasta.
7.. When done, drain and put into a slightly warmed big bowl.

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8.. Serve with the Meat Balls, sprinkled with the remaining parsley, from a separate bowl.

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NOTES:
With this I often just serve a nice crisp green salad or a tomato salad, which JS loves very much.

Also occasionally I add a couple of teaspoons of Curry powder to the meat mixture – it always depends who is coming and joins us for a meal. It really is purely a question of individual taste.

Of course you can also use tinned chopped tomatoes if you really have to.

Buon Appetito – Guten Appetit
Carina

Sunday Stew with Appam (and a little twist or two)

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Sunday Stew with Appam (and a little twist or two)

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I think that most South Indian people will agree with me, “Stew with Appam” is one of the most beloved breakfast dishes here.
Quick and easy to prepare and of course very light and nutritious.
Ostensibly an Anglo-Indian dish served every Sunday in the past by the Christian families (especially in close by Fort Cochin) for their Sunday breakfast, it has now of course found a place in most homes – including ours. So much so, that hardly a Sunday goes by when we do not serve this stew, either with Appam and/or plain bread.

So now I like to serve to you our very own version of this favourite Sunday breakfast:

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This will serve 4 and the ingredients mentioned are the once I use while preparing this dish. Of course you can add other vegetables, if you like, for example some Cauliflower, beans, and peas. We prefer this stew to be thin, just like broth with some vegetables, but again, you can thicken this dish if you want to.

a) 250 gr beef, cut into small cubes
1 x medium onion, roughly chopped
2 x green chillies, slit
Salt and pepper, as required
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b) 2 x large potatoes, peeled and cut into largish cubes
3 x large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally
1 x Knorr Vegetable stock cube
3 x green chillies, slit
1 inch piece ginger, julienned
Pepper and salt as required to your taste

c) ½ Tbsp Coconut oil
1 x bay leaf
4 x cloves
1 piece of cinnamon bark
3 x green cardamom pods
1 x star anise
Some curry leaves

d) 2 x onions, peeled and sliced
10 x Cashewnuts, soaked for a few minutes and then made into a paste

e) ¾ to 1 cup of thick coconut milk (you can use powder or from a tetra pack)

Whenever possible I suggest you boil the beef with the ingredients mentioned under A) the day before and keep in fridge.
On Sunday morning, quickly boil everything mentioned under B) and keep (with all the liquid of course)
Take your vessel, add oil, heat and then add everything under C), stir for 2 minutes on medium heat and then add your onions under D) and sauté until they become slightly golden (make sure they do not turn brown).
Add the Cashewnut paste, stir for 2 minutes and then follow with the pre-boiled beef (again with liquid).
After a further couple of minutes add your cooked vegetables including their liquid, and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.
Take off the flame; let it rest for a couple of more minutes and then mix in the thick coconut milk mentioned under E) – (if you leave it on the flame it most likely will curdle when you add the milk – so be careful!).
Check your seasoning once more and adjust. Bring to your table and serve with Appam and/or bread and a big sunny smile!!!
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Happy Sunday, dear Readers.
Carina

Kerala Style “Pachadi”

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( ….. and how to beat the heat!)

No doubt about it, summer is here; the days are still getting hotter and I am dreaming (yes, it has to be a dream for now!) of a dip into the clear cool waters of the Sea or if that’s not possible, at least into a swimming pool.

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And everywhere I go; people keep talking about the heat and how they long for June when the Monsoon is due to arrive here in our State, bringing the long-awaited rain and coolness.

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But to be more realistic for now I have to just be contend with a good working air conditioner (set to near ‘freezing’) hoping as usual that there will be not another powercut and a nice big bowl of delicious Sambar Cucumber (Vellarikka) Pachadi.

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What is this, you who never had this, might ask. To put it simply: lightly boiled yellow/green striped Cucumber mixed with tasty (sour) Yoghurt (Curd) and only a very few spices. And it is made literally in a jiffy – JS and I always have a jar of this ready in our fridge especially now during this hot season.
Pachadi is not only sooo very cooling, but healthy, too. I can easily give you a long list of health benefits using this vegetable, from keeping you obviously hydrated – after all a cucumber is 96 % water!

Cucumbers help to relieve stress, since they are extremely rich in Vitamins B and for Energy lavishes you with Vitamins A, B and C which give you energy and keep you looking radiant.

Of course for all of us with find we have those dreaded “bags-under- the-eyes” – from sitting much too long at the computer staring at our screen and thereby straining our eyes far too much, the age-old remedy of putting a slice of cool cucumber on your eyes whilst resting, really works!!!!

Cucumbers are a wonderful aid in weight loss – and don’t we love our healthy salads with plenty of this vegetable?

Cucumbers contain Erepsin, which is an enzyme that helps in protein digestion and also supplies your body with skin-friendly minerals like magnesium, potassium, silicon. This is maybe one of the reasons why Spa’s use plenty of cucumber based treatments.

The list is “endless” – it is even said, that to cope with the dreadful hangover the morning after it is advisable to eat a cucumber before going to bed!?
I suggest that you make double the amount of Pachadi since you will find that this dish is quite Moorish and you will want more and more.

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Follow my guiding steps – it’s easy:

1. Peel skin of a Vellarikka, cut in half lengthwise, discard seeds with the help of a small spoon and then cut into cubes. Wash and cook the cucumber with just a little water, salt and some curry leaves for appr. 10 minutes or until they are soft, but don’t overcook them, since a little ‘bite’ is just nice. Keep aside.

2. Now in your Mixy grind ½ cup of grated coconut, 3 green chillies, ½ tsp of mustard seeds and 4-5 peeled pearl onions (Ullis) to a fine paste using maybe a little bit of yoghurt (Curd) or water. Keep aside.

3. Take a Wok (or any other deep pan) and on low heat gently fry the coconut- etc. paste, for appr. 5 minutes, stirring all the time.

4. When done, remove from heat and let it cool down (I switch on my ceiling fan for this to speed things up).

5. Take 1.5 to 2 cups of Yoghurt (Curd), add to a bowl with ¾ cup of water and with a small whisk ‘beat’ the yoghurt until nice and smooth.

6. Now mix all his with your cooked cucumber and gently stir. Check on salt.

7. In a small pan heat not more than 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil, add ¾ tsp of mustard seeds and let them splutter (avoid your eyes – the seeds are like dangerous little ‘bullets’ and can hurt); 1/3 tsp of Fenugreek seeds and then add 2-3 red dried chillies (stalk removed and halved) and some curry leaves, stir only for a few seconds and finally pour all this over the Pachadi.

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That’s it, dear friends. I do so hope that you enjoy this as much as we do.

Carina