Saturday, 25 March 2017

Kerala Kozhi peralan

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There are loads of ways to do the quintessential Kerala chicken peralan (a semi gravy of sorts), but i find this method the easiest. Sure its not a one pot prep, but a really quick one with the aid of pressure cooker. 

Serves 2 as part of main meal (Recipe loosely adapted from The Suriani Kitchen by Lathika George)
Chicken- 500 gms (Bone in pieces. Here I've used chicken thighs)

To marinate
Chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1/2 tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
Ginger garlic paste- 1/2 tsp
Lime juice- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Curry leaves- a sprig

Oil- 2 tbsp
Curry leaves- a sprig
Onion- 1 medium, finely chopped
Garlic- 4 pods, finely chopped
Tomato- 1 small, finely chopped
Thick coconut milk- 1/4 cup
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder- 1/4 tsp
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Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients under the marinate section for about half an hour.
When ready to cook, transfer to a pressure cooker , add a sprig of curry leaves and 1/2 cup water and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes. 
You basically pre-cook the chicken till done (its also OK if its not completely cooked, as you can finish off the cooking in the next few steps, but it would help cut down on time significantly if the chicken is fully cooked).
Open the cooker lid once the pressure has released and keep aside. There should be about 1/2+ cup of gravy in the cooker. 

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the curry leaves for a couple of seconds.
Into it add the onion and garlic and continue cooking till the onion has wilted and turns golden brown.
Toss in the tomato and cook till the oils start to surface.
Pour in the gravy from the chicken along with the coconut milk and bring to a good boil. If you do think the gravy is too much, then cook to almost 1/2 a cup and then only add the chicken.
Once it becomes thick, like it coats the back of a spoon consistency, add the cooked chicken and mix it all well. 
Cook for a further 5 to 7 minutes, or till the gravy completely coats the chicken pieces. Keep doing this on medium heat without the gravy getting burnt or stuck to the base of the pan. If you feel the chicken hasn't been completely cooked in the pressure cooker, then of course keep cooking till its done at this point.
Sprinkle the garam masala and freshly ground black pepper, give one final stir, and take it off the heat.
Cover and keep till ready to serve.
This chicken preparation is best with steamed rice, thoran and parippu curry.
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Notes: You can of course do the entire prep in the frying pan without precooking the chicken. Add the chicken after the tomato along cook till done. Then add the coconut milk and cook till the you get the semi gravy consistency. 
This dish doesn't have a lot of gravy and so best had with a gravy accompaniment.
That said, if you did want a little more gravy, then don't dry off almost all of the liquid, but keep enough to use as gravy. You can add more coconut milk also to get a thick gravy.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Super soft dinner rolls

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These rolls are really soft and so easy to make. You'd have most of these in your pantry and even with prooving time, you still can sort this out within 2.30 hrs or so. I decided at around 4pm that i needed to make dinner rolls and these were out of the oven before 7, and just in time for dinner.

Makes 12 rolls (Recipe adapted from here)
Whole milk- 1 cup, warm
Active dry yeast- 1 tbsp
Caster sugar- 2 tbsp
Salt- 1 tsp
Oil- 3 tbsp
Egg- 1, medium
Bread flour- 3 cups (plus 2 or 3 tbsp more)

Egg- 1 ,small beaten (or milk is also fine)
Butter- 1 tbsp, melted
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Into the bowl of a free standing mixer add the warm milk, yeast, sugar, salt, oil and egg. 
Whisk lightly to incorporate it all together.
Add about 2 1/2 cups of flour and using the dough hook attachment for the mixer start kneading on low speed.
Once the initial mixing is done, turn the speed on to medium and add the remaining half of the flour and continue kneading on medium speed for about 5 minutes.
The humidity of the place will determine if you need more flour. In all likeliness you'd need the extra 2 or 3 tbsp of flour to get a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, but take a call and add accordingly.
The dough is on the wetter side, but definitely not sticky, so aim to get a consistency like that. Dust your palms with some flour if needed to tackle the dough.
Oil the same mixing bowl and place the dough into it, spreading some oil on it to prevent drying.
Cover with a kitchen cloth and leave to rise for about an hour and half.
I preheated my oven to 25C, turned it off but with the light on and left the dough in there.

After about an hour or when the dough has risen to double its size, punch it down and scoop out of the bowl (on to a lightly floured surface if needed. I didnt need to use any) on to your kitchen counter.
Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. (I am a bit mental when it comes to sizes in baking so i actually measured out the portions each weighting approx 65gms)
Make a smooth ball out each portion and transfer them into a lightly greased baking tray and leave covered for another hour or till doubled in size. I placed them back into a warm oven with just the light on.
They will touch each other when they rise, and that's absolutely fine.
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When ready to bake, preheat oven to 175C.
Brush the tops of each roll with an egg wash or milk wash and bake for 16 minutes. 
Make sure you dont over bake them.
Remove from oven and immediately brush with some melted butter.
Serve warm with some butter on the side

Notes: Cool completely on a cooling rack and store in plastic bags or cling wrap the rolls if using it the next day.
Store at room temperature, but microwave for about 20 seconds on high before using.
You can do the entire kneading process by hand, just make sure you knead till you get the desired non-sticky consistency.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Kerala fish fry

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Serves 2 as part of side dish 
Fish fillets- 350 gms, sliced (around 4 big pieces). I used Basa fillets. King fish or any firm fish would be ideal.
Chilli powder- 3/4th tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Fennel powder- a generous pinch
Ginger garlic paste- 1/2 tbsp
Lime juice- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Oil- enough to shallow fry
Curry leaves- a sprig (optional)
Lemon wedges and sliced onions to serve

Make a paste with all the ingredients except oil.
Add a wee bit of water if required, but make sure its not too loose.
Apply the marinade generously on all the fish slices and keep aside for about 15-20 minutes.

Heat oil in a frying pan and slide in the fish slices, in batches if needed.
Keep the heat on medium and shallow fry, flipping it over after a while.
Once the fish has browned on both sides and cooked well, remove and drain on paper towels.
Don't over cook the fish or it will become hard. 
Throw in some curry leaves while frying for some extra flavour.
Serve with lemon wedges and sliced onions.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Brioche French Toast

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Serves 3 as part of breakfast
Whole milk- 1 cup
Double cream- 1/4 cup
Eggs- 3
Vanilla extract- 1/2 tsp
Dark brown sugar- 1/4 cup
Salt- a pinch
Brioche bread- 6, one inch thick slices
Butter- 1 1/2 tbsp

Whisk together the milk, double cream, eggs, vanilla brown sugar and salt in a bowl until well combined.
Arrange the brioche slices in a high rimmed baking tray, without overlapping each other
Pour the milk-egg mix over the bread slices, making sure all the pieces are soaked.
Cover with a cling film and leave in the fridge for about an hour.
Remove after 2 hours and flip the bread slices over, carefully.
Cover with cling film and place back on the fridge for another hour.
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When ready to cook, place a frying pan over medium heat and melt about 1/2 tbsp butter.
Fry the bread slices till they turn golden brown on both sides. 
Do them in batches of 2, as its easier to manage. Make sure you dont burn them. 
After each batch, add more butter, 1/2 tbsp at a time and continue frying.
If you feel the butter is getting burnt, use a kitchen towel to wipe off the burnt butter before proceeding with the next batch.
Dust some icing sugar on top and serve with honey, maple syrup or golden syrup and fruit on the side.
If you would like to try a butterscotch brioche bread pudding, you can find the recipe here

Notes: Add 1/2 tsp cinnamon or a pinch of nutmeg to the batter for another version.
Soaking the bread till all of the liquid is used up is ideal, but if you are short of time, you can leave it for just half an hour or so just till the bread slices are pretty well soaked.
I fried the bread in my Le Creuset cast iron pan and it worked wonders because of the heat retention.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Stuffed Welsh Rarebit

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Serves 4
For the cheese sauce
Grated mature Cheddar cheese- 1 heaped cup + enough to top the slices of bread
Goats cheese- 3 heaped tbsp
Double cream- 1/2 cup
Milk- a generous splash
Paprika- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Mustard- a generous pinch
Worcestershire sauce- 1/2 tsp
Pepper- to taste

4 slices of chunky bread
Leftover roasted chicken- 3/4th cup, shredded (or any chicken, I've used breaded ones from the supermarket)
Thyme leaves- a sprig, to garnish

Mix together all the ingredients for the cheese sauce in a saucepan.
Keep the heat on medium and keep cooking till all of the cheese is melted and the mixture becomes thick. 
Keep stirring at intervals to make sure the sauce doesn't stick to base, and keep scraping the sides while you go.
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Simultaneously, toast the slices of bread either in a toaster or under the oven grill. Make sure you don't burn them.
Place the toasted slices in an oven proof tray or a cast iron skillet and top them with shredded chicken.
Pour the cheese sauce on top of the chicken and bread slices, to cover them quite generously. Its ok if the sauce drips along the sides.
Grate some more cheese on top, sprinkle some thyme leaves on top and place under the oven grill for about 5 minutes, just to melt the cheese and warm the chicken a bit.
Dig into this devilishly decadent dish  straight out of the oven and with a salad side if needed.

Notes: You can use any cheese of choice. I once tried it with spicy Mexican cheese and it was bloody brilliant. 
The goats cheese is also purely optional, but that little bit does make a difference in taste.
Stuff it with any meat of choice, pulled pork would be a great alternative as will be prawns.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Kerala duck roast

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Serves 3 as a side (Recipe loosely adapted from Flavours of the Spice Coast by Mrs. K M Mathew)
Duck legs and thighs- 500 gms (with skin on)

To marinate and pre-cook
Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Ground pepper- 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds- 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon- 1 inch 
Cloves- 4
Cardamom pods- 2
Vinegar- 1/2 tbsp
Ginger- 1 inch piece, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic- 4 pods, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt

For the roast masala
Oil- 1 tbsp (coconut oil is ideal)
Shallots/ small onion- 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Curry leaves- 1 sprig + a few to sprinkle
Ginger- 1 inch piece, peeled and grated
Garlic- 4, peeled and grated
Green chilly- 1, slit
Chilly powder- 1/2 tsp
Ground black pepper- 1/2 tsp + 1/4 tsp to sprinkle
Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Potato- 1 large, par boiled and cut into big chunks
Thick coconut milk- 1/4 cup
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*Please do refer notes before you get started.

Grind together all the ingredients under the 'marinate' section. It wont be smooth and paste like, but its ok to add a wee bit of water and make it into a paste like consistency if you prefer that for marination. 
Marinate the duck with the ground mix and keep aside for about half an hour or till you prepare the masala for the roast.

Peel and par boil the potato chunks and keep aside. I did this in the microwave.

When ready to cook, transfer the marinated duck along with 1 cup of water to a pressure cooker and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Wait for the pressure to release on its own. Open the lid, and if there is more than half cup of liquid, put the cooker back on high heat and boil away some of the liquid. You should have a thick gravy.
Keep aside till ready to use.
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Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and sautee the shallots with curry leaves, ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Cook till the onions turn golden brown.
Throw in the chilly, coriander and pepper powder along with salt, and continue sauteeing for a few minutes till the raw smell of the masala disappears. If you think its sticking to the bottom, then add a teaspoon or two of water and mix well.
Pour in the cooked duck meat along with all the juices, and the par boiled potatoes into this mix and on medium heat roast it all together for about 10 minutes, stirring at intervals. Make sure you dont break the meat or the potatoes.
Add the thick coconut milk and continue to roast on low- medium heat till all the gravy sticks to the meat pieces and the oil starts to slowly separate.
Add the 1/4 tsp ground pepper and some fresh curry leaves, give one final mix, switch off heat and cover and keep for about 15 minutes.
Best served with rice, appam, idiappam or porotta.
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Notes: I sliced the leg and thigh pieces into smaller portions and used for this prep.
I was a bit wary of the game-y taste that duck meat usually has and so i washed the pieces in a bit of lime juice and yoghurt, drained and then continued with marination. Of course this step is purely optional.
You can of course slow cook the duck in a heavy bottomed pan, but i pressure cooked it for convenience.
If you are in doubt about the pressure cooker timing, then keep releasing pressure and checking the meat by trying a small piece. If they are not chewy and easily fall off bone consistency you are good to go. If not put it back on and cook for 2 more whistles, check again and proceed. Dont under cook it or else it would be chewy. Over cook it and it shreds. It definitely takes more time than chicken but similar to that of mutton, in terms of cooking times.
For some gravy, add 1 cup water along with the coconut milk, but dont bring to a boil. Continue cooking on medium till the oil gets visible. If after cooking the duck there is enough liquid, then you can use that instead of adding the water with the coconut milk.
Its a roast that is medium spiced. Add one or two chillies more for that authentic spice kick this curry deserves.
I used my Le Creuset cast iron dutch pan for this prep and i cant stress how wonderfully it worked.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Kerala Tuna thoran

Tuna thoran (serves 4 as part of a main meal)
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A staple in most of the Kerala households, a thoran is nothing but a vegtable of choice cooked with basic ingredients like turmeric and chilli and finished off wwith freshly grated coconut that takes this dish to its delicious level. Mostlly had as a side to rice.
PS: Made in a Le Creuset shallow casserole.

Coconut oil- 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Dried red chillies- 2
Curry leaves- a sprig
Shallots- 1/2 cup
Ginger- 1 tsp, grated
Garlic- 1 tsp, grated
Green chilli- 1, slit
Red chilli powder- 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Meat masala- 1 tsp
Ground pepper- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Salt- to taste
Canned tuna- around 250 gms (2 cans), drained
Grated coconut- 1/4 cup

Heat oil in you frying pan and add the mustard seeds.
Once they splutter add the red chillies and curry leaves, stir for a second and then throw in the shallots.
As soon as the shallots become slightly brown, add the green chilli, grated ginger and garlic and continue to cook till it no longer tastes raw. 
Add all the masala powders and salt to taste and stir it all together and cook till no longer raw.
Stir in the tuna and cook on medium heat for about 5 to 6 minutes.
If it becomes too dry, mix in a spoon or two of water.
Finally add the grated coconut and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes, just to get the flavors in.
Turn off the heat, close with a lid and keep aside for 5 minutes.
Serve as a side to rice, roti or even as a sandwich filling (its great with mayo).