Category Archives: Kerala

Shevandi Kada…King Prawn and Baby Onion

Standard

SAM_3457Two of my most favourite things in the world prawn and onion and this “nearly” traditional recipe which features both in a symphony of taste. Although you really will have to love onion to fully appreciate this recipe the sauce is unctuous  and full of the sweet and sour flavours of the Jaggery and the tamarind with chopped onion making the basis of the sauce and if that’s not enough onion for you, whole baby onions or shallots bringing a final hint of sweetness, truly delicious, and all held together with some juicy large king Prawns to bring that extra texture and taste that make for a fantastic seafood curry!

I have “demonised” the recipe as the original I was gifted essentially had no seasoning or spice and a very large glass of Goan fire water “Feni”, made from coconut or cashew nuts and in Goa & kerala where this recipe originates and available everywhere in those two provinces, however in downtown Nottingham I have to admit I couldn’t find it anywhere. The recipe also demands baby pearl onions, these may be a bit tricky to lay your hands on too but shallots will do just as good a job using the smallest you can get.

So there is no alcohol, is that a loss…. Nah don’t think so!

The What’s in it (2 persons)

5 or 6 baby onions or shallots per person

Salt to season

++++++++++=

3 Tablespoons Mustard oil

8 Curry leaves

1 large Onion finely chopped

1inch Ginger

1heaped teaspoon garlic paste

2 green chillies de-seeded and finely chopped

1tsp fenugreek

1tsp turmeric

1tsp Garam Masala

25oml Fish stock

2tsp Tamarind paste

1 flat tbsp Jaggery/brown sugar

1 fine chopped Tomato

1tbsp Plain yoghurt

36 pearl onions(Shallots as many as you think for 3 persons) peeled and kept whole

350 gm  RAW prawns as large as you can find, peeled and deveined

Salt to taste…..

The How To……

Peel the baby onions or shallots and boil in salted water for about fifteen minutes until soft set aside until required

Bring your mustard oil up to heat add the curry leaves, and fry for no longer than a minute or two or until the curry leaves change colour, add  the onions and fry until golden brown, take your time with this as this is the base of the sauce. Then add the green chillies, the ginger and the garlic pastes and fry for a minute or two longer until the garlic smell has dropped away. Add the Fenugreek , Turmeric and Garam masala cook for a further couple of minutes, then add 250ml fish stock, and the jaggery and Tamarind paste, the chopped tomato and reduce to a thick sauce. Finally adding the baby onions and yoghurt for the last five minutes.SAM_3455

Now you can add the prawns and cook them  through this shouldn’t take more than five minutes, serve with whatever you like to eat your Indian food with!

CHEMEEN MANGA….. Man go make curry

Standard

   SAM_3395Fruit in curry , you know it I can’t resist it, and on this occasion I have a fantastic fruit for curry, Mango sweet and juicy that will add that little extra texture and fruity sweetness that is barely a hint on the palate yet acts upon the senses encouraging you to believe that the mango is a vegetable rather than a sweet fruit, a true sweet deception!

Don’t you just love seafood the filter feeders that are so wrong for some, yet taste so damn good, I used cooked prawn as that was all I could get my hands on at the local supermarkets on a Sunday. The cooked version worked just fine, but the raw variety would I think have been that little bit better, as Prawn requires so little cooking time and is the final addition to a sauce that can be  finished off in the moment. This recipe  is also fantastic for any other fish type that you think might benefit from a fruity addition.

The What’s in it!

Coconut oil – 1 tbsp. to fry the paste

1/2 tsp Aniseed

2 tbsp. Coconut(grated)

3 Shallots  or enough to fill 2 large tablespoons medium chopped

1 Red Onion thinly sliced

1 inch piece Ginger finely chopped

4 Cloves Garlic 

2 Green chillies – deseeded and chopped

1/2 tsp Chilly powder

1 tbsp. Coriander powder

1/4 tsp Turmeric powder

1 Mango sliced

150 gms of Prawns

 1/2 tsp Fenugreek

1/4 tsp Mustard seeds

Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Ghee half Tbsp

Salt – As req’d

The how to

First things first if you have fresh prawn, lucky person is that you are ensure the prawns are deveined washed and dried.

Then take the coconut and roast it in a small amount of oil a half to one teaspoon should be enough

when the coconut is beginning to look less than raw add the shallots and the aniseed and continue to roast until golden brown in colourSAM_3393

Place in your pestle and mortar and grind to a smooth paste  and set aside yep it takes a few minutes and you could use a processor if you must, but the pleasure of the moment for me is in the effort involved and the purity of the result… if you get me!

Set aside until required

Heat your karahi to a nice even heat and fry the onions (using the rest of the oil)  until golden brown, add the green chillies garlic and ginger and fry for a minute or two longer

add the chilli coriander turmeric powders and the mango pieces…..

stir in 200 ml of fish stock or water, and salt to taste……

Add the coconut paste bring to the boil and set aside until ready to serve…….

Add the prawns five minutes or so before you’re serving and cook the prawns thoroughly

Finally just before serving make the Tempering by heating ghee then add the mustard seeds, adding the fenugreek and the curry leaves when the mustard seeds are all a splutter, then add the whole lot to your curry…… job done…… enjoy!

SAM_3394

India bit me again!

Standard

In my last post  several weeks back I asked was Kerala ready for me, I think I should have asked was I ready for Kerala?

I don’t know what I expected but what I got was a place so full of surprises and unlike anything else India has to offer.

There is still the basic lack of basic hygiene and the usual piles of rubbish, dirt and nastiness piled up in any available spot that occasionally someone might put a match to and create those odours and smells that assault the nasal passages with a blend of pongs and perfumes  that continues to remain as a memory, never to be forgotten. That malodorous scent being a cross between smouldering plastics, waste foods and the everyday detritus that mankind has decided is rubbish, all simmering gently together in a not very pleasant heap, that when not alight is picked over by the cowsgarbage-dump-india that wander around as they wish, appearing to belong to no one and eating what they find. Add this assault upon the senses to the abject poverty and lack of basic utilities that we in the west enjoy, sewage and sanitation systems, running water and a constant supply of electricity, and not forgetting the plethora of other things the developed world take  very much for granted and expect as an everyday god given right, most of which are things that are a far off dream for the average Indian going about his daily life, and you might be forgiven for wondering why anyone would want to go to such a place, and more importantly go there for a holiday!SAM_2778

Well that is really very simple, in that for every gut wrenching negative that India offers up for inspection, as it surely does round every corner and up every alley, there are ten things that compensate for those negatives and things that no one can change without altering an infrastructure that has “worked” for its people for millennia, and continues to do so to this day; a country where community is more than just a word and life is something that is lived rather than presented to you on a plate, and all that bundled together into areas of outstanding, and spectacular interest and beauty, that will continue to draw me back to it as often as I can, filling a part of me with the bounty that is the joy of India, and something that I will never tire of, irrespective of the frustrations and contradictions that are undoubtedly India.

For those of you that follow me they will know that my focus in this Blog is the food, and more especially the curry that is my raison detre for writing, although I do hope that you will forgive me for presenting a few comments and ideas on the country that holds such a place in my heart of affection and love.

Yes I do love India what a place……

How can you not?

Moving swiftly on…….Anyone for lunch?

The food of Kerala was I must say some of the very best regional foods that I have ever experienced in India…. wow, I have included a photo of one of the banquets that it was my pleasure to enjoy, and some of the dishes being extrodinary in textures and flavours, some that I still do not know what they were called, and occasionally so regional as to have no English translationAnyone for lunch

The following banquet a lunchtime feast was presented on the last day of a backwaters cruise out of Allepey a place that can best be described as an area of outstanding natural beauty where there are many “houseboats available for anyone for  hire. coming with crew and a cook whose sole purpose in life as to tickle your taste buds and in my case, and that was achieved with gusto at every meal!

This particular one served on Banana leaves for good effect and eaten with the hands as only a good meal should, a meal of celebration called “sadhya” and one with a few rules like there is no onion or garlic used and generally a vegetarian meal always served at lunchtime, however this particular banana leaf of joy had a  main dish of a parcel of local fish caught that very morning and marinated in a paste, of chilli turmeric and local spices that give the food that unique and very regional taste, gently cooked and presented alongside rice and  veg side dishes that you would never find in the local restaurant. This was perhaps the highlight meal of the trip but there were many others featuring seafood, vegetables, chicken and meats all presented in the simple way that says judge me on the taste.

Food is an international language and “Curry” what ever that is seems to be one dialect that is spoken pretty much everywhere throughout Asia, diversity of flavours and textures for sure but curry by any other name. The masters of the flavours and the spices for me are without doubt the Indian subcontinent  nations, although some might argue that Malay and the south-eastern Asian nations certainly kerala5have a thing or two to say on the subject of great curry.

Whatever curry you choose it is an irrevocable fact however that any curry eaten in its land of origin cooked with the local taste and ingredients is far superior to that of the high street where traditional taste are subdued for the sake of the vagaries’ of local taste often for the realisation of profit, rather than a genuine reflection of the true tastes and flavours, and I for one wish they wouldn’t do it, but no one listens to little old me, and all  can do is keep on showing the world the traditional recipes that have made the dish that is Indian Curry great throughout the world….

Is Kerala Ready for me….

Standard

Sometime in the next few days I am setting out on the ball ache of a journey that is the route to India from my front door, commencing with a twenty-minute taxi ride, followed by a four-hour coach journey to Heathrow airport, then several hours of tediously waiting around  at that last bastion of transportation and aviation, to then board an aeroplane to then be placed in my holding pen that the airline call a seat, for about Six hours before landing at Dohar which I am reliably informed is in Qatar,  an oil rich nation somewhere on the Arabian Gulf, where I will have to disembark for god knows how long, and then re-board yet another plane, oh much joy, to then  be placed again in an equally cramped, and uncomfortable airline seat to travel for yet another four hours in, yes you guessed it the upright  sitting position that is “Cattle class”.smiley-face-roti

If I am lucky enough to survive this and all being well crashes, delays, and technical hold-ups allowing, I will land in Gods own Country Kerala, sometime around eighteen to twenty hours after I leave my home in the bosom of England; the best part though is that once I get through that ordeal in travel  I get to remain there in Kerala, and yes I can hear myself relaxing already, for a couple of weeks of sunshine, food of the curried kind and the odd beer or two.

Yes Im am being a tourist and have  parked myself in a resort hotel, all mod cons, including air conditioning, scrupulously clean everywhere, swimming pools and a private beach,  the joy of a western toilet, and as much food and drink as I can stuff down all held together by  the hotel staff whose sole purpose in life is to ensure I am HAPPY 🙂

Come on give me a break I’m not a nineteen year old backpacker these days, and although the hotel is the base, and to some extent a place of safety from the jaw dropping extravaganza that is India; it is what is outside the front door that interests me, yep the jaw dropping extravaganza thats why I have put myself through the miseries of travelling cattle class to get there, having spent the last year accumulating the pennies, resisting the vice and temptation of the western world to get to this little corner of heaven for some memories that will hopefully last me the rest of my life..

I may be a grumpy old man, well thats how some define me but I will blog lots while I am there, reporting on my  trips to the restaraunts, toddy houses and food markets that cross my path. I am for all my faults a man of the modern world and will go equipped to blog… laptops and cameras at the ready, hopefully you will join me and mine through this journey and pass some comment as I go…..

Batani Kadala Kari….More than Mushroom & Peas

Standard

My inner vegetarian grows in strength almost daily and that inner struggle with the carnivore goes on safe in the knowledge that Vegetarianism will never win fully but my love of the non meat will grow equally beside it.Vegetarian or not my love of the mushroom that humble fungi has always been with me and until this sojourn into the world of Indian cookery was something that I only encountered in the odd stew and alongside a fillet steak at the local steakhouse. Today I am wiser and can allow this fantastic and much varied ingredient to flourish in its own right the following recipe does not state any variety of mushroom but take my word for it any will do and a combination is always a good option. In this option I am using:

Buna Shimeji

Batani Kadala Kari3

The mushrooms of choice

And

Shiro Shimeji,

In retrospect having eaten this dish these mushrooms were for me not the best I could have chosen, and button mushrooms would probably been a better choice and yes I have left the stalks on, as this variety concentrates as much goodness in the stalks as in the crowns…… the point being Mushroom is good whatever the variety and use it as you feel it is best served this is a recipe and not a rule book and deviations are of course to be encouraged as a good recipe develops over time, and to some extent reflects the personal tastes of the cooks that prepare it.

This is a fantastic Saturday supper dish easy to prepare and full flavoured I love it for the fusion of Mushrooms ,Cashews, Coconut and tomatoes, and not forgetting the peas that bring a sweetness to the curry that really floats my boat when I eat curry!

Batani Kadala Kari

Batani Kadala Kari7

Preparation time 20 minutes
Cooking time 20-25 minutes
Serves 4

750g / 1lb 10oz peas, shelled if fresh
150ml / 0.25 pint groundnut (peanut) oil
750g / 1lb 10oz mushrooms, stalks removed
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 tablespoons urad dal, rinsed and drainedBatani Kadala Kari2
1 medium onion, sliced
4 teaspoons ginger paste
4 teaspoons garlic paste
1 teaspoon chilli powder
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
250g / 9oz (1 large) tomato, chopped
60g / 2oz grated fresh coconut (desiccated coconut is good too just soak in a little water for 5 minutes before adding to the recipe. )
30g / 1.24 oz cashew nuts
20 curry leaves
salt

Vegetable stock cube dissolved in up to 500ml of boiling water
1 sprig coriander leaves, chopped, to garnish

Method

Firstly cook the peas in a mall pan until soft drain and set aside.

Heat 3 Tablespoons of oil in a large heavy based pan , over a medium heat add the mushrooms and stir fry for about  4 to 5 minutes

Heat the remaining oil in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat and add the Cumin , Mustard, and fenugreek seeds and finally the urad Dal, and stir fry for about a minute or until the seeds start to splutter

Add the onion and stir fry for another 5 minutes or so, or until light they turn golden brown, then add the ginger and garlic pastes….. (pastes are made by mixing the garlic and the ginger with a little water and blitzing with a hand held processor, or grinding down with a pestle and mortar)

Continue to stir fry for another minute or two, or until the moisture has evaporated

Now is the time to add the ground spices and season to taste with salt , give it all a good stir and then add the tomato and continue to stir fry for about 5 minutes, or until the oil separates out…….

Now reduce the heat to low and add the coconut , cashews and curry leaves and stir again for about a minute or so; Now add as much vegetable stock as you like up to 500ml,Batani Kadala Kari5 I personally prefer things in a thicker gravy but this is very much a matter of taste. Bring the whole thing back to the boil and add the peas and the mushrooms reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

remove from the heat adjust the seasoning and serve…

Funghi Kari

Standard

Just recently my musings seem to have drifted from the thing that is dear to my heart, that being the food,or more importantly the recipes. A particular joy for me are the recipes that create something very quickly that is memorable to the point where you think I will just have to make that again, or develop that. This is exactly that a development recipe, a work in progress so dont be surprised if you see it change.

The principle reason for this is that I love Mushroom and well it curries so well soaking up the herbs and spices that make its eartrhy flavour sing!

This particular dish is a joy for the vegetarians out there, full of flavour and texture I like to get a mix of different mushrooms where I can, as this can add an edge to an otherwise very simple dish serve it on a Naan of some description and it fits very nicely into that niche that is an easy after work dish that is filling satisfying and tasty

Serves 4

Ingredients

4cm (1½in) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

100g (4oz) onions, peeled and chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

450g (1lb) large mushrooms

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons natural yoghurt

1 teaspoon tomato purée

2 teaspoons ground coriander

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon chilli powder

2 tablespoons chopped green coriander

150ml veg stock, or water

Method

Step One Put the ginger, onion and garlic into the Pestle  Mortar and pound them together until you have a smooth paste, if you wish to take the short cut you can use a blender, and if the paste is a little too thick add a tablespoon or two of water

Wash the mushrooms thoroughly cut them into halves or quarters  and put them aside

Put 3 tablespoons of the oil in a non-stick frying pan and set over high heat. When the oil is hot stir fry the mushrooms for two or three minutes, or until the mushrooms no longer look raw

Empty the contents of the pan into a bowl. Wipe the pan.

Step Three Put the remaining oil into the pan and set over high heat. When hot, add the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for 3–4 minutes until it starts turning brown.

Add 1 tablespoon of the yoghurt and fry for 30 seconds.

Add another tablespoon of the yoghurt and fry for 30 seconds. Do this a third time.

Now add the tomato purée and fry for 30 seconds. Add the ground coriander and stir once or twice.

Now put in the veg stock, carefully avoiding flooding the gravy as this should be a lovely unctious consistency.

Now the mushrooms and their juices, salt and chilli powder. Stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 to 15 minutes or until the gravy reaches the consistency you like.

Sprinkle the green coriander over the top before serving.

Prawn Malabar

Image

 This is one of my most favourite dishes in that you make a sauce before a prawn goes anywhere near it , and although this recipe calls for prawn which go in peeled and raw you could use any fish, or maybe even some Chicken!

This is just a cracking sauce that tastes fantastic whatever you might choose to put with it, spicey hot with loads of chilli, or none at all it ticks all the boxes and if I wa only ever to have one sauce it would be this one.

This dish originates from Kerala where a lot of the dishes I “Like a lot” come from, and am due to visit in February of the new year!

Ingredients

14floz(400ml) Coconut milk

2 Tbsp Desicated or fresh coconut, soaked in a little warm water

1 Tbsp Tamarind Pulp

3Tbsp Oil

.25 tsp Mustard Seeds

15 -20 Curry LeavesSAM_2904

1 large Onion Sliced

1 inch squre Ginger Grated

3 Cloves Garlic

4 Green Chillies deseeded and slit lenthways

1 Kashniri Dried Red Chilli

1 tsp Chilli Powder

.5 Tsp Turmeric

.5 tsp Coriander powder

.5 tsp Cumin Powder

2 medium finely chopped tomatoes

.5 tsp Salt

300g(11oz) uncooked peeled prawns

2 Tbsp Ghee

2 Shallots

Method

First things first , fry off the Mustard seeds until they are popping all over your cooker top, add the Curry leaves, and after a few seconds of allowing their flavour into the oil, add the sliced Onions and saute, stirring continuosly for 5 to 7 minutes, add the Ginger,Garlic and Green Chillies, and stir fry for a further two or three minutes, add the dried Red Chilli and the Chilli Powder, Turmeric, Coriander and Cumin powders, add a couple of teaspoons of water stirring for a couple of minutes longer.

Add the chopped Tomatoes, 100ml of water, and the Tamarind pulp, turn the heat down and allow to simmer for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste…

Now add the solid cream from the Coconut Milk and continue to cook the sauce adding a little of the coconut water from the tin and reducing the sauce to a consistency that you feel is right for you

What you now have in front of you now is the finished sauce and its make your mind up time. Personally I like my sauce a little smoother than this so I allow to cool and either use a hand blender to smooth it down or pour it into the processor and blitz it for a few moments. At this point you can return to the heat bring up to a simmering heat and reduce the sauce  for a further 5 to 10 minutes adding the Prawns for the last couple of minutes,  as that is all they will take to cook!SAM_2905

To add the final touch to this fine curry and raise it to the heavens, heat the Ghee on a high heat in a ladle or small saucepan,add the sliced Shallots, wait for a few seconds and then add a few Curry leaves, cook for a minute or two more, and pour over the top of the curry just before serving .

Serve with Rice or a Nann and enjoy!