Creating a blog was out of the question for a long time for me, as measuring everything in the kitchen was like biting into an eggshell. I enjoy cooking and don’t want to waste even a slightest bit of enjoyment in that small world of mine. But little did I know that everything will change, when my husband came home with the Oscar nominated film ‘Julie and Julia’( a real life story) where Julie Powell (part played by Amy Adams) challenged herself to make all the 524 recipes from Julia Child's cook book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ and blogging all her experiences (The Julie/Julia Project). It was an inspiring movie. A few days later when we were discussing this casually with a friend of ours over tea…everything changed dramatically…..” How about you making at least half of it in one year? Not French but your own. 262 recipes that will inspire others and present it as a blog?” For a minute my mind traveled faster than light… With an experience as a helper in my mother in laws kitchen for 6 years followed by a three year everyday struggle to satisfy the palate of my foodie husband, if I cannot do it then why should I cook? But on the other side with an experience in English literature extending no more than expanding outline stories in English grammar class when I was 18 and two small kids that come in handy at times, will a commitment for the next one year work? Anyway my ‘cook's ego’ didn’t allow me to say no...

So my friends …here I am opening my recipe book, trying to perfect and present 262 recipes in the coming 365 days….A Challenge that will of course tastes good. Come.. Have a walk with me along my journey.. Cheering and inspiring….Forgiving and tolerating…Testing and tasting….for ‘A Tasty Challenge’

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mathi Vazhayilayil Pollichathu/ Sardines grilled in Banana Leaves

Recipe No: 181
I don’t know what you just cooked… but please don’t cook that thing again while staying here.’ This is a response that one of my friends got from a neighbor when she fried Sardines in her apartment!!! This is the same reason why sometimes I am so intimidated when it comes to cooking Sardines in these sorts of closed apartments especially during winter, as there are no chances of keeping the windows open when the temperature is like -11˚F outside. But, what can you do when your loved ones crave Sardines in the peak of winter?

This is a very traditional dish which I just love and is very much like the Fish/ Meen Pollichathu recipe but with some variation to reduce the sharp flavor of Sardines. I have to say that this didn’t produce even half of the smell produced during regular Sardine frying.
Ingredients                                       Serves 4
  • Fresh Mathi/ Sardines……………8
  • Shallots sliced……………………….1 ¾- 2 Cups
  • Ginger sliced thin……………….…2 Tablespoons
  • Curry Leaves………………………..4-5 Sprigs
  • Thick Coconut Milk……….……..1/4 Cup
  • Banana/ Plantain Leaves…......4 pieces, each big enough to cover 2 Sardines, showed on the top of fire to toast slightly (Vaatuka), making it flexible to wrap.
  • Salt as needed
  • Coconut Oil as needed
To make the Marinade
  • Red Chilly Powder…………..……1 Teaspoon
  • Coriander Powder…………..……1/2 Teaspoon
  • Turmeric Powder…………………1/2 Teaspoon
  • Pepper Powder………………..…..1/2 Teaspoon
  • Fenugreek/ Uluva Powder….…1/8 Teaspoon
  • Ginger Garlic Paste………………1/2 Teaspoon
  • Vinegar………………………………1/2 Teaspoon
  • Salt…………………………….……..1/2 Teaspoon
Method of Preparation
  1. Clean the Sardines and make a few slits on each side.
  2. Make a paste with all the ingredients in the marinade section with 1-2 teaspoons of Water.
  3. Use 2/3 of the marinade to coat the Sardines thoroughly; let it sit on the counter for 15 minutes. Keep the rest of the marinade for later use.
  4. In a shallow pan on medium heat, add 2-3 tablespoons of Coconut Oil and fry the Sardines slightly, for about 1 minute on each side. The fish shouldn’t have to cook thoroughly as it will complete cooking later.
  5. Take it out of the pan and add a tablespoon of Oil more if needed and saute the Shallots, Ginger and 3 sprigs of Curry Leaves till they are wilted (doesn’t have to brown).
  6. Once wilted thoroughly, add the left over marinade and fry till the raw smell is gone for a minute.
  7. Add the Coconut Milk; mix well and let it boil and reduce. Look for seasonings and add more Salt if needed.
  8. Once the Shallot mixture is dry (with no Coconut Milk visible), switch off the heat and divide it into 4.
  9. Take a clean Banana Leaf and put a small amount of the Shallot mixture in the bottom and arrange 2 Sardines on top.
  10. Put some more of the Shallot mixture on top followed by some Curry Leaves. Fold all the four sides of the Banana leaves, so that the contents are covered properly. Repeat this with all the 4 portions.
  11. Heat a Chatti (an earthen cooking vessel)/ Pan on medium heat and drizzle a teaspoon of Coconut Oil on the bottom.
  12. Place the fish pouches in the pan and put a lid on top so that it gives some pressure on the Fish. (I used another small Chatti which gave that pressure to the Fish on the bottom.)
  13. Let it fry like that for 5 minutes each on both sides or till the Fish is done and the Leaves are slightly blackened.
  14. Serve it hot.
Notes:
  • Instead of doing it on the stove top, you can do it in the broiler too as with the Fish / Meen Pollichathu.
  • If you are using a nonstick pan, there is no need to drizzle Oil on the bottom.
  • If the Pan/ Chatti in which you are making this is small, do it in batches, drizzling more Oil in between.
  • Once you make this, wait the ‘Chatti’ to cool down before washing, otherwise it may crack.
  • Even though you can use other Oils, Coconut Oil suits the best for this preparation.







Make it, enjoy the deliciousness and
serve it to your family with love…

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