Monthly Archives: January 2016

Dahi vadas aka dumplings in spiced yoghurt a la South India

Delish beyond belief. Now craving South Indian cuisine.

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  • curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 inch knob ginger
  • 2 green chilies (or more, according to taste)
  •  2 handfuls urud dhal, washed, cleaned and soaked for 6 hours or overnight in water
  1. Grind all of the above with minimum water added, adding it judiciously and a little at a time to get a batter that is thick and not runny, yet smoothly ground.
  2. Mix in salt
  3. Heat oil in a wok over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, drop rounded spoonfuls into the oil and fry till a golden brown, turning them over to even the browning. This will take a few minutes as the inside of the vadas or dumplings need to be cooked as well. Perhaps about 8 minutes ?
  4. Remove from the water, gently squeeze them till a bit dry and arrange in a dish.
  5. Drain on absorbent paper, then soak them in warm water for about 5 minutes. This will draw out the excess oil.
  • Yogurt
  • Water
  • Grated ginger
  • Cumin powder
  • Salt
  1. Whisk yogurt and water to a thick yet runny consistency, add the remaining ingredients.
  2. Pour over the dumplings.
  3. Tarka with urud dal, curry leaves, asephoetida (hing) powder – a pinch, mustard seeds and dried red chili.
  4. Remove from the heat and ad 1/2 tsp red chili powder into the hot oil.
  5. Pour over the yoghurt-vada mixture in dish.
  6. Garnish with plenty of chopped coriander.

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To die for.

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Rice Dishes

Tried out a number of easy rice dishes, all good, all quickly done. You could either use a rice cooker or make it in a pan.

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SONY DSC

Coconut Rice

  • 1 cup rice
  • big onions, chopped
  • green chili
  • cinnamon stick, broken
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt
  1. Sputter the cinnamon stick in hot oil, add the chopped onion and green chili and brown.
  2. Add basmati rice, then the salt, mix well.
  3. Mix the coconut milk and water, add and cook till just done.
  4. Tarka with mustard seeds, urud dal, dry red chilies, curry leaves.

 

Mushroom Rice

  • Big onions, chopped
  • garlic, chopped
  • 1 star anise
  • lots of sliced button mushrooms
  • chicken stock
  • green peas
  • lots of coriander leaves
  • salt
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 cups warm water

 

  1. Sputter the star anise in hot oil, add the chopped onion and green chili and brown.
  2. As it turns golden, add the mushrooms and peas and stir till just turned colour. Add basmati rice, then the salt, mix well.
  3. Add the coriander leaves and the chicken stock (either as liquid stock with the water, in which case adjust the amount of water accordingly, or crumble the stock cube into the rice).
  4. Add the water and cook till just done.

 

Mint Rice

  • Oil
  • Cumin seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Green chilies
  • Cloves
  • Big onions, chopped fine
  • lots of fresh, chopped mint leaves
  • Salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Basmati rice, washed, drained
  • 2 3/4 cups warm water
  1. Sputter the cloves in hot oil, add cumin and fennel. Then add the chopped onion and green chili and brown.
  2. As it turns golden, add lots of chopped mint and keep stirring till brown. Add basmati rice, then the salt, mix well.
  3. Add the water and cook till just done.

Pictures off the net, and thanks for the loan.

Murgh Methi Malai aka Chicken with Cream and Methi

This chicken dish was done in a very short time. The fresh fenugreek leaves made all the difference, I think, compared to the dried ones. Whatever the reason, this one is a winner.

  • 500g chicken breasts or thighs, cubed
  • 3 big onions, on the smaller side
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch knob of ginger
  • 2 or 3 green chilies
  • 1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) or a cup of chopped fresh leaves
  • 1 cup yoghurt, hung in muslin to get the thick curd
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 bay leaf

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  1. Grind the onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies to a paste.
  2. Sputter the bay leaf in hot oil in a wok, add the ground mixture and keep stirring as you fry it over a medium flame till just brown.
  3. Add the chicken and saute for about 8 minutes, then add the yoghurt and a little warm water and cook for about 15 minutes or till done.
  4. Add the kasuri methi, pepper, garam masala and salt. Stir well, cook a bit more.
  5. Add the cream, swirl, and cook just a bit more.

Gosh, this was delish ! Went superbly with both naans and/or fragrant mint rice. Kudos to Mona, again.

Ambrosia

This quintessential southern American salad (or dessert) was a light and refreshing to end a light and refreshing plated dinner at the peak of Singapore’s hot, humid, steamy summer (having jettisoned the traditional cherries, marshmallows and cream).

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I don’t know where I discovered the recipe years ago, but the slip of paper in my book had excellent scrawled beside it, so obviously it had been tried, tested and had come out tops …

It was fun rediscovering it : sourcing the freshest coconut in the wet market, watching the grim and focused vendor balance the coconut on a tin can, use a small knife in swift, precise, clean strokes to strip the brown pith off, slice through the meat, release the coconut water ; quartering it in two quick movements. (Fresh coconut is an absolute imperative, I gathered, from reading an interesting piece on ambrosia).

Examining a pile of pineapple from Malaysia. Seedless grapes from Chile. Black. Mandarins, tangerines, murcotts from Florida, Pakistan, Australia. Picking and choosing.

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  • 4 oranges, segmented, seeds and pith removed
  • grated zest of 1 orange, and juiced
  • 1 tbsp clear honey or light muscovado sugar
  • small bunch of small seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 small pineapple, cubed
  • chunk of fresh coconut, shaved into thin slices or a handful of fresh grated coconut
  • handful pecan halves
  1. Add honey or sugar to the zest and juice, mix well.
  2. Add grapes and pineapple to the orange segments and juice.
  3. Stir coconut into salad.
  4. Sprinkle with pecans before serving.

Ambrosia is traditionally served as part of the Thanksgiving meal in America. It is a perfect dessert after a rich main course.

Vasu’s Tomato Chutney

… to go with dosas … crisp dosas and this piquant accompaniment …

paper-dosa

  • 1 tomato
  • 2 big onions
  • a knob of ginger, about a cm all round
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh coriander
  • curry leaves
  • salt

Fry all of the above in a bit of oil, cool a bit and grind to a paste.

  • Oil
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • curry leaves

In hot oil, sputter the above in the order listed, pour over the ground mixture.

Ready to go !

Pix borrowed off the web.

Prawn Aglio Olio

Mona has been turning them out, dish after dish, and here’s the latest.

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  • Spaghetti, cooked al dente in salted water with a dash of olive oil, reserve a bit of the water
  • Prawns, marinated for 10 minutes with oregano, black pepper, salt and a dash of lime juice (optional)
  • Red chilies, sliced
  • garlic, finely diced
  • shallots, sliced
  • fresh basil, sliced
  • salt
  1. In hot oil, over high heat, stir fry the prawns and sliced chilies till just done; keep aside.
  2. Add more oil to the pan, saute the garlic and shallots till golden, taking care they don’t blacken.
  3. Add the cooked spaghetti and salt as required.
  4. Add the prawns and chopped fresh basil, toss lightly, adding a bit of the reserved water if too dry.
  5. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and some more crushed black pepper, serve immediately.

Mmmm, mmmm, mmmmm ….

Bombay Masala Scrambled Eggs aka Anda Burji

A breakfast staple in India, good with either bread or parathas, this is Mona’s delish version.

 

  • 8 eggs, whisked with pepper, salt and a dash of milk
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • lots of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 2 big onions, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 green chilies, finely diced
  • pinch of haldi (turmeric powder)
  • a dash of garam masala powder
  • a tsp or more of coriander powder
  • a sprinkle of Kashmiri chili powder for colour or spicy chili powder for the bite
  • salt
  1. In hot oil in a wok, sputter the cumin seeds, then add the onions and green chilies and fry till turning brown.
  2. Add the haldi, garam masala and coriander powders, fry a bit.
  3. Add the tomatoes and fry, then the chili powder of your choice, with salt.
  4. Fry again for a bit, then add the coriander leaves, stir.
  5. Add the eggs on a slow flame and keep stirring till done, making sure it doesn’t get too dry.

Saturday Lunch

When family visits, its food, drink and long conversations well into the afternoon.

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Menu :

  • Bubbly
  • Roast chicken with pumpkin and sweet potatoes
  • Blanched asparagus spears with brussel sprouts and diced prosciutto
  • Greek Salad (a variation)

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The leaves were fresh and crisp, the avocado just right. Added pomegranate arils, cubed feta, sliced button mushrooms and quartered cherry tomatoes. And kalamata olives, black and green. With a dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of raspberry vinaigrette.

 

Mona’s Pumpkin with Black-eyed Beans

Another of her simple superlatives … great with plain rice.

South Indian to the core, and lovely.

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  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • a handful of fresh grated coconut
  • 1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1 or 2 green chilies, deseeded
  • 1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)

Grind the above ingredients to a fine paste.

  • black-eyed beans
  • red pumpkin, skinned, cubed
  • haldi (turmeric powder)
  • 1 green chilie, halved
  • 1 tsp sambhar powder
  • salt

For the tarka / garnish

  • oil
  • dry red chilies
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • curry leaves
  1. Pressure cook the black eyed beans with the haldi, green chili and the sambhar powder (2 whistles).
  2. Remove the lid, add the raw pumpkin, salt as required and the ground paste. Simmer on a low flame for about 10 minutes till the vegetable is cooked.
  3. Tarka (sputter the garnish ingredients in hot oil, pour over the dish) and serve.

Mona’s Fish Curry with Raw Mango

My sister in law is visiting, she is one of those gifted people, intuitive and instinctive around food (like Syl, Jen and Kalpana) and everything she makes is simple and superlative.

This is her South Indian fish curry, whipped up in no time.

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  • 1 kg mackerel   (aka tenggiri, batang … ), cleaned, sliced and each slice quartered
  • 4 or 5 Kashmiri dry red chilies                      )
  • 1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek)                              ) roast and
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds                          ) grind to a fine
  • 1 heaped tsp jeera (cumin seeds)                ) powder
  • 2 heaped tsp coriander powder
  • 1 big onion, sliced
  • a sprig of curry leaves
  • 2 fresh green chilies, sliced
  • 2 tsp ginger, in thin strips
  • 2 tsp garlic, in thin strips
  • 3 to 4 tomatoes, pureed
  • a pinch of haldi (turmeric powder)
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste in half cup water
  • 1 green mango, skinned, cubed
  • coconut milk
  • salt

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  1. In hot oil, fry the sliced onion, curry leaves and green chilies to a light brown.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic, continue frying.
  3. Add pureed tomatoes with the pinch of haldi, continue frying.
  4. Add the roasted powdered mixture and the coriander powder.
  5. Continue frying well on a low fire, ensuring the paste does not turn a dark brown.
  6. Add the diced mango, the fish, the tamarind paste/water and bring to a boil; immediately lower the flame and simmer for about 10 minutes or till the fish is just done.
  7. Add the coconut milk and salt and simmer another 5 minutes.

Thanks Mona, it was like old times and the curry brought back memories.

 

Authentic Indian ‘Curry’ Powder

So Mum has moved to Singapore and is being cared for. She has been very unwell and weak, and the mandate is to feed her but she is picky, picky, picky. Mealtimes, and she becomes mutinous, begins arguing, turns her face away, refuses to eat.

Vasu, her helper, has got into the cooking act and she gave me this recipe – a wonder taste enhancer – that goes well with anything, she says, it boosts flavour adding bite and piquancy to any Indian dish, vegetarian or otherwise.

So we tried Mum’s Kerala Fish Curry with cokum and she added a teaspoonful of this powder while it was cooking, and hallelujah, Mum is eating again !

Here is the recipe, with a bottle in reserve !

  • 1/4 kg dry red chilies
  • 1/4 kg coriander seeds (dhaniya)
  • 100g black pepper corns
  • 100 g cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 100g chana dhal (split Bengal gram)
  • 4 tsp hing (asaphoetida)
  • 50g methi seeds (fenugreek)
  • 100g haldi powder (turmeric)

Lightly dry roast (though Vasu says that’s not required) and blend to a fine powder. What she does insist, though, is that it be ground in an industrial grinder, like the ones available in the lanes of Chennai, but that is nigh impossible in Singapore, so the mixie it is !

Pix sourced from the web, and with thanks.