Tag Archive | onam

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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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

FAREWELL TO THE KING

Today is the 4th and last day of our ONAM celebration.

King Mahabali has been here to meet with his subjects and now it’s time for him to go back to his own kingdom, only to return next year, 2013.

Something to look forward to… So, we bid him farewell until next time. Namskaram.

NAMASKARAM and Welcome to my Site

I feel like having given birth – a lot of research, heartache and at times sleepless nights have gone into the creation of this blog, and only time will tell, if this is going to be the success I hope and aim for.

But before I go on, I want to say a big thank you to my husband JS for all his help, especially for his tremendous patience in trying to teach me how to cope with this.

Official launch is planned for our festival of ONAM later on in the month – so remember me – be curious and come back to me – I will be waiting!

Ciao – Carina