Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Recipe : Rasam / Mulligatawny Soup - Vegetarian / Vegan

Rasam is a dish that is commonly believed to be a part of every South Indian's diet along with curd rice, sambhar and idli-dosa. Surprise, surprise! Neither my mum nor my grandmum ever made this soup for us!

I learnt to appreciate it much later in life with the influence of Tamilian friends whose mums served up some awesome variants.

I love to have this soup on cold winter evenings, on rainy days and when I have a cold coming on.

If you prefer, you can season the soup with curry leaves and mustard seeds in the end and serve it with rice. You can garnish it with coriander leaves if you like. My husband prefers this soup with all the mashed up tomatoes and onions. My sister and I prefer to have it completely strained through with no bits and bobs in it.

I use a lot of spices in this which have medicinal qualities in them and I love a lot of pepper + chilli in my rasam. You can tone it down if you prefer a milder version. Rasam is great as an appetiser or even as a digestive, that's why it features so prominently in so many menus in the South.

1-2 tbsp black pepper
a pinch of methi (fenugreek) seeds
1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp rasam powder or paste (optional - it just adds )
1 sprig curry leaves
1 inch ginger slightly crushed
2-3 cloves garlic slightly crushed
2-6 green chillies slit down the center
2 onions finely sliced
4 tomatoes finely sliced.
1 litre water

Semi crush the pepper, methi and jeera.
Heat the oil, add the crushed spices to the hot oil, when they sputter add the curry leaves.
Then add the green chillies, onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic.
Fry on a low flame until they are all soft and mushy.
Once mushy, add the water and increase the heat.
Let it bubble and roil until the water reduces to 3/4th original consistency.

You can now either serve it hot by
1. straining it and drinking it out of a cup/glass.
2. garnish with chopped coriander leaves and drink it straight or eat with rice.
3. season with mustard seeds and curry leaves and eat hot with rice.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Recipe : Sprout Salad (Raw / Vegan)

I've made this one before, but we just have it so often these days, that I decided to repost it since  got some lovely colorful pictures this time.

1 bowl of mixed sprouts
2 medium cucumbers chopped
1 medium tomato chopped
1 medium onion chopped fine (you can reduce this quantity if you don't like onions)
2 green chillies
6-8 stalks of corriander leaves chopped fine.
salt to taste
juice of half lemon

Take the finely chopped cucumber, tomato, chilies, corriander and onions, toss it with the sprouts.
Sprinkle salt and squeeze the lemon juice over the salad.
Toss again.

Toss it gently so the sprouts dont break.
You can use chaat powder instead of salt for a different taste.

I make mine without tomatoes.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Recipe : Gia's Choriz Pulao - Goan Sausage Pulao

I LOVE Choriz Pulao. The best ones I have ever had, are at O'Coqueiro and Martin's Corner in Goa. Every trip to Goa by me or my family would mean a nice little haul of Goan Sausages to be relished at home.

Goan sausages also called Choriz are an Indianised version of the Spanish Chorizo. This version involves drying and smoking pork chunks with Indian spices and vinegar.

My nana used to just sun dry them and store the sun dried pork in a bottle to be used when needed. She used to call in "lingis". Unfortunately, this is one of the recipes of hers that I never recorded, because at that time, I felt it was too laborious and she was always around to send me a bottle to fulfill my cravings.

Crescentia Fernandes and her husband Chris run a lovely Goan restaurant in Gurgaon called Bernardo's. Chowder Singh has recorded Crescentia's recipe and taken a video of the process, which is of immense help if you decide to make these sausages from scratch. Check the recipe and video - here.

Since my sausages are always store bought (even though I do occasionally find some excellent home made ones in the market), taste and quality tend to be iffy. Until you open a packet and start cooking with it, you really don't know what its going to taste like. Its quite a task to find a version whose salt, spice, vinegar, meat + fat balance you enjoy. Joao's is most consistent, otherwise its mostly hit and miss.

Now, while I have loved the Choriz Pulao, I've never been able to successfully replicate it. So I normally end up making a sausage and potato stirfry which is excellent as a starter or with pao bread or rice and dhal.

However, recently Gia Claudette Fernandes (I don't think she is directly related to Crescentia) shared her recipe for Choriz Pulao on one of my favourite foodie groups on facebook - Porkaholics!, so I couldn't wait to try it out.

Gia's recipe is extremely precise and I would recommend you following it. I am an eyeballing cook. Plus what I had was the rosary sausages (home made ones), so I really eye balled it.

I love using the sausage skins, so I fried them up first before adding the onions to crisp them up. I cooked it in a pan with a well fitted lid, but you can also use a pressure cooker.

Gia's recipe follows in her own words:

Gia Claudette Fernandes - Goan Sausage (Choriz) Pulao

3 cups of basmati rice, washed and soaked in a lot of water for at least 30 mins
6 cups of hot water
1 packet of Goan sausage (500 gms)
4-5 large onions, thinly sliced


Put the raw onions into a non-stick or heavy-bottomed vessel. Tear open the sausage skins and remove the meat. Add this to the onions, separating the pieces with your fingers as you do this.

Put the pot/pan on high heat and mix the onions and sausage meat well. Do not add any extra oil, please! Toss continuously until the fat starts to melt and the onions get nicely fried in the oil. Do this for at least 10 to 15 mins until the onions become soft. Control the heat and reduce the flame when it gets too hot. You don’t want to burn the mixture.

When the sausages and onions are fried and the oil starts to separate, it’s time to add the rice. Drain away the water it was soaked in and add the rice. Mix well with the sausage-onion mix. Fry for 2-3 mins. Now pour in the hot water and stir. Check for seasoning, if you need more salt, add it. I like to add 1-2 Maggi stock cubes at this stage (veg or chicken). This adds extra flavour and balances the heat from the sausages. If you’re using the stock cubes, it’s a good idea to first dissolve them in the hot water that you’re supposed to add to the rice.

When it comes to a boil, turn the heat to sim and cook with the lid on for 8-10 mins (depending on your rice). Try and place a heavy object on the lid so that the steam doesn’t escape. After 8-10 mins, turn it off and don’t open for at least 10-15 mins.

Before serving, lightly fluff with a rice fork so that the grains do not get stuck.

You can also reserve some of the sausages and fry separately. Then mix into the pulao just before serving.

This is best had by itself when it’s piping hot. I still haven’t found anything that complements this dish well, except for chilled beer!

Bon Apetite!

The result was perfect, I used the soup cube and it helped tone down the sharpest flavours of the choriz. The husband doesn't normally like choriz too much, he finds the flavours too strong, especially the home made ones. But he loved this pulao.

Thanks a ton Gia!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Kitchen Garden : Curry Leaves / Kadi Patta / Meetha Neem

Curry Leaves are used as seasoning in so many Manglorean dishes and other South Indian cuisines, that most houses have their own plant growing in the backyard or kitchen garden.

I know friends who live abroad in Egypt, US, Canada and even if they have no garden to speak of, they still have a cherished curry leaves plant growing in their home.

Curry Leaf plants are extremely difficult to repot, so your best bet is to buy a slightly grown plant from a nursery in a little bag. Dig a hole in a large pot at home and insert the curry leaf plant with all its attendant soil, directly into the pot.

Curry Leaves have a tap root, so you will need a deep pot for sure.

Kadi Patta is also used in a couple of North Indian dishes and my mom-in-law always uses them in kadhi.

The leaves are called Meetha Neem in Gujarat and are used to season certain dishes in this part of the country too.

In Andhra Pradesh there is a chutney pudi / gun powder made with curry leaves as the main ingredient.

The leaves are extremely flavourful and worth eating whole, because they are renowned for their cholesterol lowering properties.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Kitchen Garden : Corriander / Dhaniya

My mum and my good friend May from The Chef (who has moved to Ahmedabad last year) are excellent gardeners. They have extremely green thumbs and anything they plant, grows beautifully. I on the other hand have a good touch with animals and pets, but a terrible one for plants.

The longest effort I ever made to grow anything was when I tried to grow Green chillies in Egypt (fresh spicy green chillies are not available in the market there) They grew quite well for a couple of weeks and then just withered and died.

However, with the constant coercion and encouragement from these 2 women, I decided to try my hand once again, even though, I even manage to kill of those lucky bamboo plants that just need water every week or so.

The 2 of them realised that the only way to get me hooked was by planting edible stuff. With our frequent travel, it's not just the cat, but also these plants I now have to be worry about. when I put down extra food and water for the cat, I also have to appropriately over-water the plants in my balcony.

One of the easiest things to grow from scratch was coriander / dhaniya. This is a herb that is used as garnish for a large number of Indian dishes and is beautifully fragrant.

My office maali told me to soak the dried coriander seeds (also used in seasoning) overnight. In the morning I put them in a pot with a light layer of soil on top. He told me to just sprinkle water daily until the shoots came out and then water as usual. He warned that if I put normal quantity of water initially, the seeds would rot.

I have friends who have also planted  discarded dhaniya roots directly and have achieved success with that method.

The leaves smell lovely and I'm waiting for them to grow higher, so I can start using them in our food.

Also visible in the pot is a curry leaves plant.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Recipe in the February Issue of Caldron

My Recipe for Manglorean Sweet Pulao / Pilaf has been featured in the in the 'Love Bites' section of the February 2014 issue of Caldron - an online food magazine.

You can view the magazine :

My recipe is on page 54. Unfortunately, my own photo, is the one I use for general social media, where I don't show my face and the magazine picked that one up  :)


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