Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Recipe : Mutton Chops - Kerala Style - from Flavours of the Spice Coast

I roughly followed Mrs K M Mathew's Recipe from Flavours of the Spice Coast. I had earlier tried Chicken Piralen from the same book. While her book is wonderful and has some lovely looking dishes, I wouldn't recommend it to a newbie cook or someone completely unfamiliar with Malyali (Kerala) cuisine. The instructions aren't precise, so unless you know where you are headed and have a fair idea of what you want you dish to taste like, you may find the book quite confusing.

When I made the dish, I mainly used her ingredients with a few changes and roughly followed her recipe with some modifications. It was quite easy to throw together as I just had to chop up some onions, everything else I used powders and pastes.

1 kg mutton
salt to taste
1 cup water
1 tsp oil - (regular not coconut)
3-4 onions chopped (1.5 cups)
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1.5 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp pepper powder
juice of 1 lemon (or more to taste)
1 tsp jeera (cumin) seeds
4 cloves
4" cinnamon
2 pods of cardamom

Wash & clean mutton and cook on low flame with the water and some salt.
Drain and reserve stock.

Heat oil, add onion and fry till brown
Add ginger garlic paste and fry some more.

In a bowl, mix all the powders with a little water and add to the onions
Fry well, then add the meat and brown.
Add 1 cup stock(add water if not enough stock) and lime juice, lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Powder the whole spices roughly and add to the mutton.

When gravy thickens, take off the fire. Garnish with corriander leaves and serve hot with rice or Roti

Read a review of Flavours of the Spice Coast in The Hindu

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe: Mosaranna - Curd Rice

The minute summer sets in, then the body starts craving cooling foods. Better still if they can be served at room temperature or colder.

Curd Rice is an extremely common item on the menu of many South Indian vegetarian families on a daily basis. At the most basic level, the final serving of rice is mixed with curd (yoghurt) and salt and eaten as is or with pickle.

Curd Rice can be prepared in a myriad of ways and how simple or complicated you make it is upto you.My mum never had curd rice on the menu when we were growing up as the rice that we eat is the red rice and that is definitely not conducive to this dish - you need a soft white rice - also neither me nor my siblings like curd in general. However I now enjoy curd in a few dishes - with sweet curd with parathas, raita with biriyani, curd marinades for meat, curd based curries and the occasional curd rice. I'm not a lassi drinker, nor do I like plain yoghurt with my meals - much to the consternation of my MIL who serves curd with every meal and exclaims - "But you are South Indian!"

When I make Curd rice, its normally the only item on the menu other than pickles and at the maximum a spicy crisply stir fried vegetable on the side. So I incorporate vegetables and proteins into the curd rice itself.

The method I have given below is the most elaborate curd rice that I prepare. You can use just one item in your seasoning if you prefer (I would advise combination of curry leaves and mustard seeds) and skip the vegetables completely. Go ahead - mix & match and suprise yourself with the results.

Fresh pomegrante pods also make their appearance in quite a few versions of this dish and give a nice sweet contrast and a change in texture when eating curd rice.

3-4 cups cooked rice (preferably a day old - needs to have dried out a bit)
1-2 cups curd (how thick or watered down you like it is a matter of personal preference - beat lightly so its is smooth)
1/2 cup of groundnuts roasted & skinned ( I do this in the same pan that I use for cooking but before I start assembling the rest of the dish)
1 carrot grated
2 onions finely chopped
2-6 green chillies chopped (depending on how spicy you like it)
1/2" - 1" ginger grated or finely sliced
salt to taste

For Tempering:
1 sprig of curry leaves
2- 3 dried red chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds
8-10 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek seeds)
1 tsp jeera seeds (cumin)
1 tsp ajwain (caraway / carom seeds)
a pinch of heeng (asafoetida)
1 tsp oil or ghee (don't use a strongly flavoured oil, as the rest of the ingredients have very delicate flavours)
You must note that all these tempering ingredients are very healthy and healing for the body in summer or good for the digestive system.


In the pan in which you roasted the groundnuts, add the oil and slowly start adding the tempering ingredients Methi & pepper go in first as they are the thickest & take the longest to cook.
The curry leaves and chillies go last as these will burn the fastest. You can add them once the jeera and mustard seeds start popping.

Now add the groundnuts, when they brown lightly, add the onions and green chillies and give a stir fry. The onions should remain crisp not soften.
Then add the carrot and give a quick twist in the pan and turn off the heat - you don't want to cook the carrot at all.
Let the mixture come down to room temperature then add the curd (else it could split) and let it soak for a few minutes - so the curd absorbs flavours as well as releases flavour into the other ingredients.

Finally add the rice and mix well. I prefer the curd rice to a firmer consistency just a little more soggy than a pulao.
Tip: Keep a little extra rice on hand or add just half the curd at first and then slowly adjust the balance of rice to curd to suit you.
Serve with pickles and papad or a crsp dry vegetable on the side

Seen above: this curd rice has been served with bhindi/ladiesfinger/okra crisps, ambade/baby mango pickle and gongura/sour greens  from Andhra pickle


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