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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

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Hot and Sweet Chicken-breast

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This week has been a bit crazy – in other words, there were never enough hours in the day to do even a fraction of the things either of us wanted or had to do.
Frequent power-cuts (due to the heavy onset of the refreshing monsoon) did not help either – and today, when I am writing this, it is only Thursday – so more to come.

So therefor I will not keep you busy as well by having to look at a long post, instead here is another one of my “speedy-gonzales” recipes (kitchen is not being used that much right now).

It will take you maximum 20 minutes from start to finish.

For 2 people I used:

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2 x Chicken breasts, cut into nice cubes

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A few pieces of fresh pineapple, cut into cubes

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2 x heaped Tbsp of Peanuts, crushed
1 x Tbsp liquid honey
1 ½ Tbsp of mustard (coarse grain)
1 shot of cream (or 2 if you like it creamier)
1 good sprinkling of curry powder
1 x Tbsp of Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

How to do:

Wok on medium heat, add oil and cubed chicken.

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Stir and quickly fry for couple of minutes. Add honey, mustard, curry powder, salt and pepper and whilst stirring keep on cooking the chicken.

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When ready carefully add the cream (don’t let it curdle) and the crushed peanuts. Simmer for a couple more minutes.
That’s it – serve with Rice or as in my pictures, with Penne and maybe some blanched spinach or broccoli.

Tips:
Place unsalted peanuts into your Mixy and ‘blitz’ only for a couple of seconds. Don’t make them smooth, you will want a slight bite.
This sauce is really simple but so nice, maybe you like to make a little bit more!?
If you have no fresh pineapple, then use tinned one.

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Enjoy your meal and have a wonderful safe week-end wherever you are in the world, my friends.

Carina

Caribbean Sweet and Sour Mango Chicken

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As I have mentioned somewhere before, when I lived for 3 years in the Caribbean (in Port-of-Spain/Trinidad), I too, like many of the other ‘diplomatic wives’ on this Island, went for a couple of weeks to a charming old Chinese Lady to learn the basics of ‘Chinese-cooking-with-a-wok’. Her name was Suzie Wong! Yes, film buffs of course will immediately connect this name with the very beautiful young actress Nancy Kwan, starring in her first film “The world of Suzie Wong”.

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Wok cooking is so quick and easy to do – then why did I put this onto my kitchen back shelf for quite some years once we had left Trinidad, I kept asking myself. Maybe because I had nearly worn out my own Wok in those wonderful three years – and of course, living on the Island with its multi-racial population, who did not like Chinese food???

So now that I started writing easy to follow (I hope) recipes for elder daughter, living away from home, and her friends, my Wok has come into his own again – certain weeks with a vengeance!.

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So here now a recipe which includes two of our favourite main ingredients – Chicken and Mango. I found this scribbled down note in my box of loose “Recipes from around the world” and immediately I decided late at night to make this for today’s Lunch.

Caribbean Sweet and Sour Mango Chicken

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I used for 2-3 portions:

3 x Chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 x very large ripe mango peeled and cut free from its large seed and then cut into nice longish strips. Keep aside.
2 Tbsp good sunflower oil
12 x biggish shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1.5 x tsp of fresh ginger, cut into long thin slivers
Some leeks, washed thoroughly and cut into thin rings
3 x garlic cloves, crushed well
1 x cups of green gram beansprouts

To make Sweet and Sour Sauce
2 x Tbsp white wine vinegar
4 x Tbsp of water
2 x Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1 x Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 x Tbsp clear honey
2 x Tbsp very good tomato ketchup
1 x tsp cornflour
2 x chicken stock cubes (I used KNORR), crumbled

First start making your sauce.

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Combine all the above mentioned ingredients in a jug incl. the cornflour, which will slightly thicken the sauce. Set aside.

Heat up your Wok (or large frying pan) on medium flame, add oil and after 1 minute also the prepared chicken. Quickly brown the meat for maximum 3 minutes (keep stirring). Transfer with a slotted spoon into a small bowl and keep aside.
Into the same oil add the shallots and the ginger, stir for a couple of minutes only, after which you add your sauce and the mango.
Bring gently to the boil and continue simmering for another 2 minutes.

With this particular dish we like to alternate between long-grain basmati rice and Chinese noodles.

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请享用
Qǐng xiǎngyòng = Enjoy your meal
Carina