Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cooking on BBC

Just did a food photo shoot with BBC for their program "India Business Report".

It will be aired this Sunday,  4th of July at 11am and 10pm IST.

Its a section on International food in India and I cooked a Thai Glass Noodle Salad. Will be posting the recipe soon on this blog.

Very excited as this is the first time someone other than the husband has recorded me cooking :)

Edited on 3rd July to Add:
Here are the timings for those countries where we have the most friends, for other countries, please check the timing online at

India: 11:00 & 22:00 (11am & 10pm)
Egypt: 8:30 & 19:30
USA (Pacific) : 9:30 - repeat (There may be a show on Saturday) and another repeat at 17:30
Canada (Eastern) : 1:30am, 12:30 & 20:30
UAE: 9:30 & 20:30
Germany: 18:30 - repeat (There may be a show on Saturday)
UK: 17:30 - repeat (There may be a show on Saturday)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Recipe: Stuffed Squid/Calamari

Squid/Calamari  is one of our favourite sea food items. For the last few years, I have only been able to buy it already chopped into rings. So when I saw fresh squid at the INA market, I jumped at the chance to stuff them.

The fish market guys cleaned the calamari for me, so that saved me a lot of hassle and messing around with the squid ink. (not something we use in Manglorean cooking, but some European countries do need the ink specifically in their recipes). If you have to clean it yourself, has accurate instructions on How to Clean Squid.

I bought 1 kilo of squid but this was the weight pre-cleaning. It turned out to be 12 tubes of squid after cleaning (I forgot to ask them to give me the tentacles too, so they discarded them, while I was purchasing other fish at the shop)

6-8 calamari.squids
3 medium onions finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes finely chopped

3-4 green chillies finely chopped
15-20 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2" ginger finely chopped
2 tsps meet mirsang
a few tbsps chopped corriander
oil to fry
3-6 tbsps of rawa/semolina/semid
salt to taste

Clean Squid.
I always marinate my sea food in a salt, turmeric powder (haldi) vinegar mix for at least 15 minutes to eliminate the stronger smells.
Turn the squid inside out. This accomplishes 2 things - you can remove all the extra tissue from the inside & the opening of the squid tends to rollup outwards when cooking, if its inside out, it will turn inwards and your stuffing will be safe. I use a technique similar to turning socks inside out.
Keep squid aside until stuffing is ready.
 All the cuttings should be chopped really fine.
Saute the onions in a bit of oil, until they sweat.
Add tomatoes, saute till they start to dry up.
Add chopped garlic, chillies and ginger.
Add meet mirsang and mix well.
Fry till the stuffing is almost dry.
Add chopped tentacles, (I used 2-3 squid tubes which had torn, were too thin and in danger of bursting when stuffing, you can also use baby shrimp or chopped shrimp)
Fry till almost dry. You want just a hint of moisture, else liquid will come oozing out when you fry the stuffed squid.

Add the chopped corriander and give it a quick stir.
Turn off the gas and let the stuffing cool a little before assembling.
Add salt to taste (the meet mirsang already has salt)
You can add a little lime juice, if you like the stuffing sour.

Stuff the squid tubes with the mixture.
Pin it shut with a toothpick (I soak my toothpicks in water for a short while (same principle as bamboo skewers)
Roll the stuffed squid in rawa and shallow fry, turning once
Serve hot.
Garnish with chopped corriander if you like.

Husbands verdict: The taste is awesome, but can you do anything about the look?
Response: I'm sorry dear, squid only come in one shape. LOL

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kitchen Essentials: Meet Mirsang (Salt Chilli) Paste / Puli Munchi

Meet Mirsang is to Mangloreans, what Bottle Masala is to East Indians and Reichado to Goans. Ginger Garlic Paste doesn't even begin to compete. Every Manglorean Catholic household has their own recipe for Meet Mirsang and will always have a buyaon (Earthen-Ceramic Jar) full of it sitting in a cool corner of the kitchen or larder. The Manglorean Bunt Community has a similar masala called Puli Munchi which serves the same purpose.

The masala is ground without a drop of water and hence will keep for months on end, as long as you take the same precautions with it, as you do with home made pickles that are stored in cool cupboards.

The best Meet Mirsang is ground fine on a traditional grinding stone. I remember doing this as a child in my grandmothers house. This was the only masala for which I was forbidden to use my hand to scoop the masala back into central bowl (a technique essential to grinding on a traditional grinding stone) and had to use a katti (dried coconut shell) or a spoon.

The 2nd best option for grinding this paste is a tilting mixer grinder which still manages to grind the paste quite fine. The 3rd option which is sub-optimal but manageable in a modern kitchen is to soak the chillies in the vinegar overnight, so that it moistens the skins and seeds and makes it easier to grind in a regular mixi (food processor) in the morning.

Since the husband is not too keen on us lugging a 80-100 kilo grinding stone contraption across the world every year (he gets transferred practically each year), I survive by getting mum to grind me enough to last me for a couple of months, until my next trip home. (I hope to buy a tilting mixer grinder soon, but haven't yet found a good brand in Delhi.)

As I mentioned before, each family does have its own proportions and recipes, but basically this masala is a combination of red chillies, salt, vinegar, jeera (cumin) and turmeric.

Kashmiri Chillies turn the masala a lovely dark red and local Kundapuri or bedgi chillies are used to make the masala spicy. Again, the proportion of chillies used depends on each household. We love spice, so mummy uses about 95% spicy chillies and 5% chillies for colour.

The recipe below is just to give you a general idea of the proportions, but go ahead and tweak it to suit your own palate.

50 red chillies (dried - Kashmiri/bedgi or any other variety of your choice)

3 tbsp sea salt (or regular salt if you cannot get your hands on sea salt)
1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
1.5" turmeric or 1-2 tbsp turmeric powder
About 500-750 ml vinegar

Make sure all implements to be used are completely dry including the storage bottles.
Grind all the ingredients to a fine paste (consistency of ginger-garlic paste), slowly adding vinegar as needed.
Bottle and store in a cool corner of your kitchen and use when required.

Synthetic vinegar will preserve the masala longer, but you can substitute it with any organic/wine vinegar of your choice.
I know a friend who grinds this masala with tamarind (imli) instead of vinegar and stores the masala in the fridge.

Instant Meet Mirsang
If you just do not have the option to grind masala or have run out of meet mirsang and need it in a hurry.

Take 4 tbsps chilli powder
1/2 tsp jeera (cumin) powder)
pinch or 2 of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt
Mix well and slowly add vinegar till it forms a smooth paste (regular salt will dissolve in the vinegar)

This instant masala cannot be stored for too long, because the ingedients tend to seperate on storage, so mix just as much as you need and use it up immediately.

Meet Mirsang Fry
I will soon be posting recipes requiring this masala. But in general, it is used as a marinade for frying fish, sea food, chicken or vegetables (plaintain, jackfruit, breadfruit, brinjal). Apply masala on slices/pieces as required, marinate for awhile and then deep fry or shallow fry.

Meet Mirsang Coconut Curry
This masala can also be used as a base to make a coconut curry (when you don't have time to grind a fresh masala).
Saute some cuttings (any combination of onions/tomato/ginger/garlic/green chillies)
Add meet mirsang masala and fry for awhile, then add meat/fish.
When cooked, add coconut milk, give a light simmer and serve hot with rice or polis.

Do not marinate vegetables for too long, they might turn too salty or sour depending on the potency of your masala and quantity used .
Meat can be marinated even overnight.
Too much vinegar and too much masala could potentially split coconut milk, so be aware of the tartness of your masala.

Further Reading:
How Grinding Stones are made around Mangalore

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Shilme's Spring Rolls

My friend Shilme whose husband was posted in Cairo the same time as us, has now come to India, after short stints in Johannesburg and Ireland in between.

While Shilme is Malaysian, her sojourns across the globe have added depth and layers to her food and cooking style. She invited me over for a Malaysian home cooked soul-food lunch the other day. The food was so good that I was so busy eating, I did not take pictures.

I think I will start a series of posts on home made food cooked by my friends. Many of whom are wonderful cooks, but do not blog. They will be henceforth tagged as Guest Chef. They might include recipes, but at the least they will include photos.

Coming back to Shilme, she had made a wonderful beef broth with noodles and a variety of home made sauces. The broth was light and flavoursome. The noodles made it a filling dish as well. This dish is a kind of Malay soul food.

Shilme also fried up some home made spring rolls. While the pastry is the store bought variety, she makes the stuffing at home. Shredded cooked chicken and vegetables with salt, pepper and a hint of sugar make the stuffing.

She said that she stuffs and rolls the spring rolls and then freezes them. Then she just takes them out and immediately deep fries them for a tasy snack or side dish when needed.

She gave me some frozen rolls to take home and husband averred that these were the best spring rolls he has ever eaten in his life (he had no idea they were home made before I served them to him)

Thanks Shilme.

Edited on 1st December 2010 to add Shilme's Recipe
Ingredients for Stuffing:
250gms chicken mince (I usually make this at home with boneless breast and pulse in the food processor)
3 cloves garlic - minced
1 large Onion - chopped
1/2 cup carrot - minced
1/2 cup peas
1/2 chopped spring onion
1 tbsp veg oil
Salt, white pepper , a dash of sugar to taste

Heat oil till smoking hot.
Add garlic, sweat for a few seconds then add the minced chicken.
Stir fry till the chicken is cooked and looks fairly dry .
Add chopped onion, carrot and peas, stir till the vegetables are half cooked.
Season with salt, pepper and sugar.
Sprinkle the spring onion just before turning off the fire and give a quick stir.
Set aside to cool.

*These will yield about 20-25 pcs of spring rolls, depending how generous you like the stuffing in your rolls.
* You can just make the vegetarian ones by omitting the chicken and doubling the vegetables.

Red Chilli Sauce:
5 Fresh red chillies
3 cloves garlic
salt, sugar, vinegar to taste

Whiz in blender with some water till smooth, heat in a pan till it reaches your desired consistency.

Alternative Red Chilli Sauce:
Same process as above but I use dried chillies instead, cut them into a few pieces to remove the seeds, and saute in hot smoking oil for about a minute. Don't cook for too long it will get bitter and lose all the taste. Blend with other ingredients and heat in a pan till it reaches your desired consistency.

Good Luck.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Recipe: Watermelon Juice

This is my number one favourite drink in the summers, the only other drink that comes close is chilled tender coconut water (bonda neeru). It is a little troublesome to prep, but the end product is soooo worth it.
The reason, my recipe is troublesome is because I de-seed the watermelon completely before juicing it.You can blend it with the seeds and then strain the juice, mum swears this is healthier as the seeds have some healing properties, but I gleefully substitute taste for extra-healthy. I find the seeds impart a bitter taste and little bits of seeds still manage to find their way through a strainer.

I chop and deseed the entire watermelon and keep it in the fridge. Then each time we want some juice, I just whip it up in the blender.
I do not normally need to add any water or sugar to the juice, but it depends on the melons that you use. You can add chilled water or ice if you like. Since I keep the chunks in the fridge, it doesn't require additional chilling. Its ready to drink as soon as it is blended.
Normally, between the 2 of us we finish off a complete watermelon within 3 days either by juicing it or eating the cleaned chunks for breakfast/dessert.
Dress the cleaned watermelon chunks with condensed milk or whipped cream for a fancy looking dessert.

When making watermelon juice, you can add
-freshly grated ginger
-mint leaves
- a squeeze of lime/lemon juice
for a twist in the flavour
 (In the picture above, I have used a little ginger as you can see)

This juice goes very well as a mixer with vodka or white rum.

Recipe: Mango Lassi (Smoothie)

This is one of the fastest things to whip up in the kitchen when you want a cool soothing, healthy drink after coming in from the sun.

While smoothies / lassis can be made out of any fruit. As a rule, avoid the citrus ones. Think of firmer fruits - bananas, apples and the like. In general, fruits that are used in milkshakes, can be safely used to make smoothies/lassis.

Any variety of ripe mango can be used for this recipe. Given the sweetness of mangoes, there is no need for any additional sugar.

Keep the mangoes in the fridge until ready to use, so the drink can be extra cold. I normally cut up the mangoes and leave them in the fridge, so I can shake up a glass as soon as the husband arrives home.

Pop half a glass of mango pieces (you can even use packaged mango juice or mango pulp, but that wouldn't be half as healthy as fresh mango), and half a glass of dahi/yoghurt into a blender.
 Blend till well done. If you want it extra chilled, add a few ice cubes and blend again.

Pour into a glass and drink while cold.
This lassi is slightly pale because it was made for someone who has to watch his sugar intake, so I decreased the amount of mangoes I would normally use.

You can add a 1/2 tsp of coconut or a few seeds (not pods) of cardamom while blending for a twist in the taste.

Instead of dahi/yoghurt, substitute milk for a mango milkshake.

Substitutes for fresh coconuts/ coconut milk

Manglorean cooking is very heavy in its use of coconuts. This can be a problem for Mangloreans who are posted abroad in countries that do not have regular supply of coconuts or where coconuts are very expensive, as was the case for me in Egypt and my friend May who is currently in Germany

Dessicated coconut however is more easily available in foreign countries and also easier to carry along on trips from back home.

These are a few substitutes that I have found have worked for me while cooking.

If you need coconut oil, use regular oil for phon/baghar/chaunk/tempering and once it is warm, add a tsp of dessicated coconut to the warm oil, then continue with rest of the phon.

If your recipe calls for coconut milk:
1. packaged coconut milk - Dabur, Thai Chef is first choice. (I have found that the Thai brands are in general better than other brands available in the market for coconut milk. There are some good Sri Lankan brands too)
2. Coconut milk powder dissolved in water is next - Maggi/Nestle is the best I have used so far.
3. Third option is combine regular milk and a bit of dessicated coconut .
Depending on where you are using it in the recipe, either boil the milk and dessicated coconut together and cool before using.
If it is to be added to a curry to make rosachi kadi, you can add the dessicated coconut and the regular milk at the same time.

If you need fresh coconut for foogath (vegetables with fresh coconut), soak half the required volume (of freshly grated coconut) of dessicated coconut in a few teaspoons of regular milk for at least an hour, then use like fresh coconut.

These substitutes work wuite well in most dishes where the coconut is not the starring taste. But for a recipe like Batega, where the taste and consistency of fresh coconut is essential, it may not work as well.

I haven't tried to substitute coconut is such recipes, if you do, please let me know how it goes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recipe: Batega - Goan Coconut Cake

This is a Goan recipe. It is baked like a cake, but the consistency isn't what you would normally expect in a cake. It isn't light and fluffy. Its slightly heavier. A cross between a burfi and a cake if you will.

There is a lot of standing time for this cake, so if you start preparing it at lunch time, it will be ready just in time for tea.

It tastes best when eaten warm. And ice cream does improve the taste of everything, does't it? :)

1/2 kg sugar - 2.5 cups
450 gms rawa / semolina- 3 cups
2 medium or 3 small coconuts ground fine
6 egg yolks (I use the whites for batter frying something or just whip up an egg white omelette)
2-3 tbsp ghee / clarified butter / semna
1/2 tsp almond essence (badam)

Make a syrup with the sugar and 1.5 cups water by bringing it to a boil.
Cool the syrup.
Add rawa and allow it to stand for 2 hours.
Mix in the ground coconut
Whip the yolks in a different bowl.
Stir the yolks into the rawa-coconut mixture alternating it with the ghee.
Add the almond essence and mix well.
Allow it to stand for one hour.

Pour into a greased cake tin. Bake at 190C (375F) for 45 minutes or till done.

Slice and serve while warm.
The ice-cream is optional.

This is Maria Thereza Menezes version of this recipe from :The Essential Goa Cookbook

Recipe: Prema's Kurlyanche Sukkhe - Crab Fry

Sorry for not posting for over a month. I've just been busy travelling and hosting dinners at home. so more cooking and eating than blogging. The good news is that I did manage to take pictures of a lot of the stuff that I cooked, so I should be able to upload them all shortly.

This recipe was given to me by my friend Prema when I was looking for a fast way to make a dry crab dish (grinding - that is a pre-requisite for most Manglorean dishes - is optional)

So while you could grind the ingredients for the original Manglorean recipe, using chopped ingredients and powders works just as well (I finally succumbed and ground the stuff)

About 1/2 kg crabs .
Spinkle-1/2tsp salt and keep aside till you get the masala ready. (Kim's note: I normally add turmeric powder, salt and vinegar to sea food after washing and while getting the masala ready)

I grind (you can use powders/paste)
1tsp peppercorns,
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds - jeera
1 inch Ginger
4 cloves Garlic
1 inch - cinnamon stick
2 cloves.

Heat a little ghee.
Saute 1 chopped onion till translucent.
Add the ground masala and fry a little.
Add 1 chopped tomato & fry.

Wash the crabs lightly and then add to the pan.

Add a little water and cover and cook for about 10 min.

Voila done!

When crabs were cooked in large quantities at home, I remember my uncles stripping to their baniyans/vests, covering the dining table with newspaper and then proceeding to feast on just crabs. The crabs were the one and only course that they wanted to eat.

This dish however can be served with puris, rotis, or rice and dhal. Its flavours are strong, so compliment it with milder flavours, rather than have it compete with another strongly spiced dish.
Some of the other suggestions I was given for a dry fried crab dish are given below.
They were all good and I want to preserve them here to try at a later date.

Shilme had 2 options:
1. Salt + turmeric = deep fry or
2. Garlic, onion, chilli powder, tomato sauce, salt, sugar = stir fry.

Mohua suggested:
garlic and salt, whole pepper (loads ) and butter......yummm...!!!

Zulekha suggested:
red chilli pwd +garlic +vinegar.cooked together,then shallow fry in oil


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