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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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Awards....

Sojo of My Culinary Experiments and Tahemeem Shaik of Not So Gourmet has passed on this 'One Lovely Blog' award some days back... Let me take the time to thank them for remembering me...

I would like to pass this award to these amazing and talented fellow bloggers...
Kurinji of Kurinji Kadambam
Dr. Sameena Prathap of My Culinary Creations
Umm Mymoonah of
Divya Vikram of Dil Se
Miriam Korula of In Vogue at Home
Kalpana Sareesh of Life with Spices
Sonali Pradhan of Only Fish Recipes
Jincy of Third Kitchen
Priya Mahadevan of Now Serving.

Now this is what you have to do
  1. Accept the award and post it in your blog with the name of the person who has given you the award with his or her blog link.
  2. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.
  3. Let them know about the award by leaving a comment in their blog.
Thanks a lot once more for showering me with encouragement....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Awards and a Thank you note....

Along my journey with the Tasty Challenge, I received a bunch of Awards which I was not able to address before... So I am taking time to thank the wonderful bloggers who thought that I deserve it and passed it on to me.

Thanks to Sojo of My Culinary Experiments and Sonali Pradhan of Only Fish Recipes








    7 Facts about me
    It is only 4 years since I started cooking on my own.
    I love to taste the regional foods while traveling.
    If I like something that I eat, chances are there I’ll try to recreate it.
    My dream vacation is staying in a hotel eating, watching TV and sleeping!!!
    I am a person with serious starting trouble. If I start something I’ll do it with utmost dedication but to get me start is something daunting!!!
    I am kind of a ‘Science person’ trying to figure out the scientific aspects behind things.
    I love talking to everyone… (A lot actually) but make friends only very slowly…

    I would love to share this award with these friends

    Jess of Pachakarani
    Reshmi Mahesh of Easy Cook
    Sushma Mallya of Authentic Food Delights
    Aparna Kanakarajan of Ladies Special Adukkala
    Sneha Benny of Art of Cooking
    Vimitha Anand of My Culinary Trail Room
    Mehjabeen Arif of Jabeen's Corner


    Now this is what you have to do...
    1.  Accept the award and post it in your blog with the name of the person who has given you the award with his or her blog link.
    2. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and let them know about the award by leaving a comment in their blog.
    3. Mention 7 facts about you.
    Thanks....

      Monday, May 9, 2011

      Oven Roasted Bone Marrow with sauteed Onion and a flavored Oil

      I wanted to do something special as the Grand Finale recipe…something that will make my friends go ‘hmm… interesting’. Things are very different now when compared to what it was one year back… Almost all of us are in different places now and so making a feast for them is impossible… Most of them being foodies and quite adventurous with food, especially in the Non-Vegetarian area, I decided to go something around that. So after some long thoughts I came up with this… something that will trigger their imaginations and force them to guess how it will taste and will be with us at least in their thoughts…

      So... for all those who forced me into doing this challenge and for all those who became friends on the way and inspired me...

      Recipe No: 262
      Ingredients                                                  Serves 3-4
      • Beef Leg bones………………..5 pieces; cut 4-5 inches in length
      • Bread slices…………………….9-10 (I used French; any crusty Bread preferred)
      To make the Sauteed Onion
      • Thinly sliced Onion………….2 Cups
      • Oil…………………………….……2 Tablespoons
      • Salt…………………………………1/4 Teaspoon
      • Sugar a pinch
      For the Flavored Oil
      • Oil………………………………….....2 Teaspoons (Vegetable/ Olive)
      • Garam Masala Powder………1/4 Teaspoon
      • Black Pepper Powder………....1/4 Teaspoon
      • Coriander Leaves/ Cilantro…1 Teaspoon (Chopped as fine as possible)
      • Salt…………………………………...1/8 Teaspoon
      Method of Preparation
      1. Preheat the oven to 430˚F/ 220˚C.
      2. Scrape all the extra meat and fat from the bones as possible. Wash and dry them with a paper towel.
      3. Arrange them on a baking tray lined  with Aluminum foil (will help in cleaning) with their broad end touching the tray in an upright position.
      4.  Bake it towards the bottom of the oven. (Not on the lowest rack but one or two racks above.) These bones have hard regions on the broad flat end and so to cook that portion, you have to keep it towards the bottom of the oven.
      5. Bake for 20-30 minutes or till the internal temperature (in the middle of the Marrow) is  160˚F. (I like it well cooked and so this temp; don’t overcook as it becomes liquid fat.) When cooked, fat will be bubbling on top of the Marrow and if you insert a toothpick, the fluids running will be clear.
      6. While the Marrow is roasting, saute the Onion in a shallow pan on medium low flame with Oil, Salt and Sugar until it is wilted and attains a light brown color. We are not  looking for crispy fried onion, but a very soft and moist sauteed Onion.
      7. Mix all the ingredients to make the flavored Oil and keep aside till ready to be used.
      8. Arrange the Bread slices on a baking tray and bake it in the oven towards the last 8-10 minutes of roasting the Bone Marrow. This will make the Bread crispy.
      9. Once the Marrow is cooked, serve it with the Bread, Sauteed Onion and the Spice Mix.
      10. Scoop the marrow on to the crispy Bread, arrange some Onion on top and give a very light drizzle of the flavored Oil. (Only a few drops as it is very salty; it has to be salty as we are not using much of Salt anywhere else and eating Bone Marrow without Salt will not be very pleasant.)
      Notes:
      • Beef Leg bones are generally used for makings roasted Bone Marrow. Ask your butcher if they have some. I am not so sure about the regular grocery stores, but it will be available in most of the Butcher shops. (It is also called soup bones, which are not very expensive.)
      • Before cooking, the Marrow part will be very hard but as it cooks it will become very soft and attains a gelatinous texture.
      • Don’t overcook the Marrow because if you do all the fat will melt and will become liquid fat.
      • Eat the Marrow while hot because as it gets cold the fat will solidify, giving an unpleasant texture.
      • It is easy to scoop out the Marrow from the bone with a butter knife.
      • If you want discard the liquid fat out while scooping the Marrow.
      • Marrow is basically fat with a small amount of protein. So even if it is not good for regular use, you can have it once in a while… like your wedding anniversary or if you ladies out there want your foodie husband to buy you a Diamond ring or a bracelet!!!
      • I have to say if you are a foodie; loves non Vegetarian very much and are willing to eat new stuff, this one is a must try… at least once. It is rich and decadent with a very unique flavor and feel.





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




                                                                                     
                                  
                                                                                         The End

      Chocolate striped Cylinder Cookies

      Recipe No: 261
      Ingredients                                     Makes 12-15
      • Semisweet Chocolate Chips….1/4 Cup
      • Butter………………………………..1/2 Teaspoon
      • Egg Whites………………………...2
      • Powdered/ Icing Sugar………..1/4 Cup
      • All Purpose Flour/ Maida…….1/4 Cup
      • Butter………………………………..1/4 Cup / ½ Stick; Melted
      • Vanilla Essence…………………..1/4 Teaspoon
      Method of Preparation
      1. In a bowl melt Semisweet Chocolate Chips and ½ Teaspoon Butter in the microwave until smooth. Pour this into a small Zip Lock bag; make a small hole at the tip and keep it aside till ready to be used.
      2. Preheat the oven to 375˚F/ 190˚C. Keep a tray lined with a parchment paper ready.
      3. Whip the Egg Whites and Vanilla Essence until it forms stiff peaks.
      4. Add the Powdered Sugar slowly while whipping.
      5. Mix in the Flour followed by the Melted Butter (1/4 cup) really well.
      6. Drop a tablespoon full of batter onto the parchment paper lined tray and spread it as thin as possible.
      7. Squeeze the melted Chocolate onto the batter to make thin stripes at equal distance.
      8. Keep it in the middle of the oven for 3-4 minutes or until it is slightly browned here and there.
      9. Take it out of the oven; loosen the cookie from the sheet; turn it upside down and with the help of a small round rod roll it into a cylinder. (You can roll it without the rod too, but it wont be that perfect.)
      10. Keep it on a cooling rack to cool. Once cooled, keep it in an airtight container.
      11. Serve at room temperature with Ice cream.
      Notes:
      • This batter has a tendency to become thick as it sits. But when it is spread onto a hot tray (from the previous batch) it will spread easily and will form very thin sheets. 
      • Take care to spread the batter as even as possible on to the Cookie sheets to ensure even cooking.
      • Depending on the size of the tray and the size of the cookie, make 1 or 2 at a time. Don’t make more than that at once, otherwise, the other cookies will harden up while you roll one of them. In case if the cookie hardens up before rolling, keep it back in the oven for a few seconds to make it soft again.
      • I used a Silpat (Silicon Mat) for making these cookies so that it wont stick onto the pan. At least Parchment Paper is a must for this and if the Cookie sticks, loosen it with a metal spatula and keep it back in the oven for a few minutes (to make it soft again) before rolling.
      • This cookie is very sensitive to moisture so keep it in an airtight container as soon as it cools.
       














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

      Sunday, May 8, 2011

      Banana Foster

      Recipe No: 260
      I have no idea how many times I made this for my friends in California. I did make this with  Rum and Brandy; both have different tastes but very yummy. Another factor is that this will have the maximum taste only if you flambé (setting alcohol on fire) it. That gives the alcohol flavor and a great texture to this dessert that is usually served with Vanilla Ice-cream.
      Ingredients                                         Serves 2
      • Banana………………..3 Small/ 1 ½ big ones (I used big Robusta type Banana)
      • Butter…………….......2 Tablespoons
      • Brown Sugar……....2 Tablespoons
      • Brandy/ Rum….…..1 ½ Tablespoons
      • Ice Cream…………...2-3 Scoops
      Method of Preparation
      1. Slice the Banana into 2 (if small) or into 4 (if big; cut into two and split each part into two). Keep aside till ready to be used.
      2. Melt Butter and Brown Sugar in a pan on medium heat.
      3. Once melted, arrange the Banana slices in a layer and cook for a minute on both sides.
      4. Add the Brandy/ Rum and with a lighter set the Alcohol on fire (It will go off once the Alcohol is burned out, which takes like 20-30 seconds.), a process called Flambé.
      5. Once the flame is over, switch off the stove and serve it warm with cold Vanilla Ice-cream.
      Notes:
      • I used Robosta type Banana, which is larger in size, but you can use any soft variety Banana(Pazham). But dont use Plantain (Ethakka).
      • It is very important that the Banana slices have to be arranged in a single layer to ensure proper and even cooking.
      • Use ripe but firm Bananas for this preparation. If too ripe, please reduce the cooking time.
      • If Brown Sugar is not available for you, please do use regular Sugar but wait till it caramelize a bit giving the dish a light brown color.
      • Don’t pour Alcohol directly from the bottle into a hot pan to avoid the Alcohol in the bottle from catching fire.
      • As the Alcohol burns inside the pan, it is better to use a stainless steel one for making this.
      • You can set the Alcohol on fire with the help of a lighter or by slightly tipping the pan to let the Alcohol catch fire from the flame of the stove (I prefer the first method). Eventhough the Alcohol is burned out, the flavor remains.
      • When the Alcohol burns the heat will really melt all the ingredients in the pan making the juices very smooth and tasty. There is a huge difference if you flambé or not. Please do it; it is not dangerous as it sounds!!!
       






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

      Coffee Cocoa Mousse in Chocolate Cups

      Recipe No: 259
      I already posted a recipe on Chocolate Mousse, but I felt that this is much easy to make and Egg less too. Also I wanted to mention how easy it is to make these edible Chocolate cups.
      Ingredients                                          Makes 6
      To make the Chocolate Cups
      • Semisweet Chocolate chips………3/4 Cup
      • Shortening…………………………..…1 Tablespoon (Dalda will work)
      • Cup Cake liners……………………….6
      To Make the Mousse
      • Sweetened Condensed Milk……..1/2 can (7 oz/ 200 grams)
      • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder…….3 Tablespoons
      • Butter…………………………………….1 ½ Tablespoons
      • Instant Coffee Powder……………..1 Teaspoon (Dilute with 1 teaspoon Hot Water)
      • Vanilla Essence……………………….1/2 Teaspoon
      • Heavy Cream………………………….1 Cup
      Method of Preparation
      To make the Chocolate Cups
      1. Melt Chocolate Chips and Shortening in a microwave safe bowl in a microwave for around 1 ½ minutes or till the chips are almost melted. Do take care to stop and mix every 30 seconds.
      2. With a food grade brush, (I used a Silicon brush) paint the inner part of the cup cake liners and place them in a Muffin pan. (This is to keep the shape; otherwise the liners may lose its shape due to the weight of Chocolate.) Keep the left over Chocolate for later use.
      3. Repeat this with all the liners and keep in the fridge for 20 minutes. 
      4. Use the leftover Chocolate to coat the Chocolate cups once more to ensure the strength of the cups. If the reserved Chocolate hardens, do melt it in the microwave for a few seconds.
      5. Keep this overnight in the refrigerator. (Do refrigerate it all the times.)
      6. Peel the cup cake liner off and fill the Chocolate cups with the Mousse.
      To make the Mousse
      1. Heat together Condensed Milk, Cocoa Powder, Butter and Coffee on a low heat until the Butter is melted and everything is combined well without any lumps. (Don’t let it boil or thicken.)
      2. Off the heat and mix in the Vanilla Essence. Let it cool down. (Do stir it once in a while to avoid the skin from forming on top.)
      3. In another pan whip Heavy Cream until stiff.
      4. Fold in/ gently mix the Chocolate mixture into the Heavy Cream.
      5. Spoon this into the prepared Chocolate cups and serve chilled. (Or you can transfer it into a Zip Lock bag; cut the tip off and squeeze the Mousse into the cups in a pretty pattern.)
      Notes:
      • Do not use Butter to make the Chocolate cups as it  softens at room temperature. As shortening stays solid at room temperature, it gives more strength to the Chocolate cups.
      • If you don’t have a microwave to melt the Chocolate, do use a double boiler. (Place the Chocolate in a small bowl kept on top of a big pan with simmering Water, so that the bottom of the bowl with the Chocolate does not touch the simmering Water.)
      • Use the best Cocoa Powder that is available for this recipe. (Dutch processed is the best.)
      • Don't pour the hot Chocolate mixture into the Cream, as heat deflates the whipped Cream. So allow the Chocolate mixture to cool down before folding it into the whipped Heavy Cream.
      • It is easy to whip Heavy Cream when it is cold.
      • If you want to avoid the Chocolate cups, you can serve the Mousse in pretty glasses.
       





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

      Chicken Tikka Masala

      Recipe No: 258
      Ingredients                                   Serves 4
      • Boneless Skinless Chicken……500 Grams (I used Thigh meat sliced into thin long pieces)
      • Oil………………………………….….1 Tablespoon
      • Coriander Leaves chopped….2 Tablespoons
      • Kasoori Methi……………………1 Teaspoon (Crush with your palms before adding)
      • Heavy Cream…………………….1 Cup
      • Garam Masala Powder………3/4 Teaspoon
      • Salt as per taste
      To make hot Curry Powder
      • Kashmiri Chilly Powder……...1 ½ Tablespoons
      • Coriander Powder……………...1 Tablespoon
      • Turmeric Powder……………….1/2 Tablespoon
      • Cumin Powder………………..…1/2 Tablespoon
      To Marinate
      • Yogurt……………………………….2 Tablespoons
      • Salt…………………………………...3/4 Teaspoon
      • Pepper Powder………………..…1/4 Teaspoon
      • Kasoori Methi………………….…1 Teaspoon
      • Ginger Garlic Paste………….…1 Teaspoon
      • Curry Powder……………….……1 Tablespoon (Recipe mentioned above)
      • Lemon Juice………………………1 Tablespoon
      To Grind
      • Sliced Onion………………………….1 ½ Cups (Fry or Saute until brown)
      • Almond……………………………………20 (Soak in ½ Cup Water, don't have to remove the skin.)
      • Ginger Garlic Paste……………………1 Teaspoon
      • Tomato Chopped………………………3/4 Cup (Seeds removed)
      Method of Preparation
      1. Mix all the ingredients to make the hot Curry Powder and keep aside till ready to be used.
      2. Marinate the Chicken with the ingredients mentioned in the ‘to marinate’ section and keep aside for 30 minutes.
      3. Spread the Chicken on an oiled baking tray and grill under the broiler (kept on high) on the second rack from the top for 6 minutes on each side. After the first 6 minutes, there may be a lot of juices oozing out of the Chicken. Do drain this and keep aside till ready to be used.
      4. Grind the ingredients given in the ‘to grind’ section into a smooth paste along with the Almond soaking Water. (Don’t forget to saute or fry the onion till golden brown before grinding. Alternatively you can use the French fried Onion available in the market, and in that case use ¾ Cup.)
      5. Heat a tablespoon of Oil in a pan on medium high flame and fry the ground paste together with the left over Curry Powder till Oil starts to ooze out. (As we are not using too much Oil, only small droplets will be oozing out.
      6. Add the Chicken liquid (the one we drained while grilling) and a cup of Water to the fried Masala and let it boil.
      7. Once boiled, add the grilled Chicken pieces, Salt and Garam Masala Powder; mix well; close the pan and let it cook for 5-8 minutes.
      8. Add the Cream, chopped Coriander Leaves and Kasoori Methi (Crush between your palms before using.); mix well and let it boil along the sides.
      9. Serve hot with Fried Rice or any Flat breads.
      Notes:
      • Normally glass trays are not used for broiling. So please use a metal tray for this.
      • During broiling only the top coil/ burner of the Oven works. So you need to keep the tray near to that coil. Alternatively just fry the Chicken at a very high flame in a pan with a tablespoon of Oil till it is browned hear and there. (If low flame is used, the Chicken will start oozing the Water out and can end up boiling rather than frying. So stick on to the high flame and this will take only minutes.)
      • It is nice to use boneless skinless Chicken Thighs for this recipe as it stays juicy and succulent after the process. If you are using Boneless Skinless Chicken breast, please reduce the cooking time. If you are using regular bone-in Chicken cut into small pieces, do use around 700 grams and also cook for 8-10 minutes per side while grilling and 15 minutes in the gravy.
      • The measurement of Kasoori Methi given in the recipe is the amount before crushing/ powdering. Stick on to that amount as too much of it makes the Curry tastes bitter.
      • Tikka Masala has a tendency to thicken as it cools down. Do keep that in mind while adjusting the gravy level.
      • Usually Chicken Tikka Masala is red in color due to the added food color. So if you want that color, please do add a pinch of red food coloring into the gravy.
       




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

      Friday, May 6, 2011

      Caramel Cashew Tart

      Recipe No: 257
      Will it be boring if I post another one of my ‘Ann’s’ favorites? Well to be exact, this is the sweet with which I celebrated my 21st Birthday along with my Classmates!!! Being born in May, celebrating Birthday with classmates was very rare for me (due to our summer vacation) but thanks to the never ending PG classes and lab, I was fortunate to celebrate that one with my friends… still have to mention only a very few friends where there in the class as most of them were on ‘self declared’ study leave.
      A word about the ‘Ann’s’ version of this, I don’t know the name given to this by them, but it has both Cashew nuts and Raisins. I decided to leave the Raisins out as it makes this Tart a bit on the over sweet side.
      Ingredients                                     Makes 12
      For the Shell
      • All Purpose Flour/Maida…2 cups
      • Unsalted Butter…………......1/2 Cup/ 1 stick
      • Egg Yolk………………………..1
      • Sugar………………………...….1/4 Cup
      • Baking Soda…………………..1/4 Teaspoon
      • Salt……………………………….1/4 Teaspoon (Avoid if using salted Butter)
      • Cold Water…………………….2-4 Tablespoons / as needed
      To make the Caramel filling
      • Sugar…………………………....1/2 Cup
      • Water…………………………….1 Tablespoon
      • Heavy Cream………………….1/3 Cup
      • A pinch of Salt
      • Toasted Cashew Nuts………1/2 Cup (I used roasted ones; Split the Cashews into halves)
      Method of Preparation
      To make the Tart Shell
      1. Preheat the oven to 375˚F/190˚C.
      2. Sift together Flour, Salt and Baking Soda.
      3. Mix Sugar and Butter till creamy.
      4. Add Egg Yolk and mix till combined.
      5. Add the Flour mixture and knead into a soft dough. Use some cold water if needed. But take care not to add too much water. Use only enough water to make a dough. (It will be a bit stiff.)
      6. Use half of the dough and keep the rest for later use.
      7. Sprinkle some Flour on a work surface and roll out the dough into 1/3 centimeter thickness (thin when compared to other tarts) and cut  around 12, 3 ½ inch circles.
      8. Line them in a Muffin pan. (It will not come all the way up, but will come half way up the sides.
      9. With the help of a fork, prick the bottom of the Tart dough. This is to prevent the dough from rising too much.
      10. Line the top of each of the dough with Aluminum foil and place some beans on top. (This is called weighing and it will prevent the Tart shell from rising too much.)
      11. Place this in the middle of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
      12. Take it out and remove the foil along with the Beans; keep it back in the oven and bake for another 6 minutes. (This will crisp up the middle portion of the dough.)
      13. Take it out and cool completely.
      To make the Filling
      1. Heat Sugar, Salt and Water on medium low heat until it attains a golden brown color. Don’t stir (it will make the Caramel gritty), but do swirl the pan.
      2. Once the Sugar reaches a golden brown color, off the heat and pour the Heavy Cream. (It will bubble vigorously so be careful when you do this.)
      3. Mix it so that the Sugar dissolves well.
      4. Add the Cashew Nuts; mix well and let it cool down a bit.
      To assemble the Tart
      1. Place a Teaspoon full of Caramel Cashew filling (while slightly warm; if cold it will a bit difficult) in the cooled Tart Shell and serve at room temperature.
      Notes:
      • Don’t fill the Tart Shell while the filling is very hot as it will make the Shell soggy.
      • The remaining Tart Shell dough can be kept frozen and thaw it before using. Once thawed, don’t refreeze it.
      • This Tart Shell is almost like the Shell for Jam Tart, but less sweet in order to compliment the sweetness of the Caramel.
      • Don’t let the Sugar caramelize a lot as it will make the filling bitter.
      • If the Tart Shell dough is sticking, do refrigerate it for some time.
       






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

      Thursday, May 5, 2011

      Vazhuthananga/ Eggplant/ Brinjal Pickle

      Recipe No: 256
      As I mentioned in Nettoli/ Anchovy Pickle recipe, my pickling is a lot different from traditional pickling. This is a nice yet different Pickle which becomes better and better as it sits…
      Ingredients       
      To marinate  
      • Brinjal…………………….....6-7 small ones (cut into long pieces; approximately 3 cups)     
      • Turmeric Powder………..1/2 Teaspoon  
      • Red Chilly Powder……….1/2 Teaspoon
      • Salt…………………………....1/2 Teaspoon     
      To Saute
      • Oil………………………………1/4 Cup
      • Onion chopped…………….1/2 Cup       
      • Ginger Garlic paste………2 Tablespoons
      • Red Chilly Powder………3 Tablespoons (I mixed hot Red Chilly Powder and Paprika which is milder than Kashmiri Chilly Powder.)   
      • Turmeric Powder…………1/2 Teaspoon
      • Cumin Powder…………….1/2 Teaspoon  
      • Fenugreek Powder……….1/4 Teaspoon (Uluva Podi)
      • Vinegar……………………….1/3 Cup
      • Sugar………………………....1/2 Teaspoon
      • Salt as needed
      • Oil for deep frying
      Method of Preparation
      1. Cut the Brinjal into long pieces (doesn't have to be very thin) and wash thoroughly in a colander. (Washing in a colander will help to get rid of some of the seeds easily.)
      2. Wipe the Brinjal pieces thoroughly and marinate with the rest of the ingredients mentioned in the ‘to marinate’ section.
      3. Heat at least a cup of Oil in a pan/ Kadai on high heat and deep fry the marinated Brinjal pieces. (Don’t overcrowd the pan; fry in batches if necessary.)
      4. Leave ¼ Cup Oil in the pan and remove the rest.
      5. To the left over Oil, add Onion and saute till brown on medium heat. (It has to brown or the Pickle will go rancid fast.)
      6. Add Ginger Garlic paste and fry till the raw smell is gone.
      7. Lower the heat to medium low and add Red Chilly Powder, Turmeric Powder, Cumin Powder and Fenugreek Powder; fry for 30 seconds or till the raw smell is gone and fried a bit.
      8. Add the fried Brinjal Pieces, Vinegar, Salt and Sugar.
      9. Switch off the heat and let it sit in the pan for 5 minutes. If you want more gravy, add boiled and cooled Water.
      10. Transfer it into clean bottles and store in a cool place or in the refrigerator.
      Notes:
      • 3 Cups of Brinjal, when fried, will yield only about 1 1/3 cup.
      • Traditionally the Oil used to make Pickle is Sesame Oil/ Nallenna/ Gingelly Oil. But I used regular Vegetable Oil (Canola works fine too) in this recipe.
      • The amount of Vinegar and Fenugreek Powder can be increased or decreased according to your taste. The amount given in the recipe is what suited in my household.
      • If you are adding Water in the end, do add only boiled and cooled Water. This will help in keeping the Pickle as sterilised as possible (rather than using plain Water.).
      • The Brinjal skin will be tough on the day it is made; but will soften as it sits. If you are using large varieties of Brinjal, do take the skin off.
      • It is good if Oil floats on top of the jar when the pickled is bottled, as it prevents the pickle from going bad.
      • The dark red color of the Pickle is from the variety of Paprika used.
       






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

      Chicken n Veggie Rice/Pulav

      Recipe No: 255
      Most of us have that gene in us to rise to the occasion and do stuff when situation calls. On a normal day for Rice we have three sides… one Curry to pour into the Rice, one vegetable dish and one non vegetarian dish (Yes I accept... it is very difficult to run my household without that magic touch of Non-Vegetarian!!). What will you do if you have to make all these things in 45 minutes? Somehow I decided to cook all these things together and came up this wonderful recipe… Everyone except me at ours thought that the lunch was special that day and was very happy… I accepted all the comments, smiling, with a touch of regret for not telling the truth to them!!! Since then, it is one of my ‘thuruppu cheettu’ on busy days…
      Ingredients                                        Serves 4
      • Chicken…………………………350 Grams (bone in, cut into small pieces)
      • Oil………………………………..2 Tablespoons
      • Onion sliced thin…………...1 Cup
      • Curry Leaves………………….1 Sprig
      • Ginger Garlic Paste………...2 Teaspoons
      • Indian Green Chilly………..3 (split into two)
      • Red Chilly Powder……….…1 Teaspoon
      • Coriander Powder………….1 ½ Teaspoons
      • Turmeric Powder……………1/2 Teaspoon
      • Garam Masala Powder…...1 Teaspoon
      • Pepper Powder…………..….1/2 Teaspoon
      • Tomato Sliced……………..…1/2 Large
      • Vegetables cubed…………...2 Cups (I used Carrot, Beans, Potato and Fresh Green Peas)
      • Ghee…………………………..…1 Tablespoon
      • Whole Spices…………………4 Cardamom, 8 Cloves, 1 inch Cinnamon and 1 Star Anise
      • Basmati Rice………………....1 ¼ Cup
      • Thick Coconut Milk………..1 Cup
      • Coriander Leaves......……..2 Tablespoons (chopped)
      • Kasoori Methi……………..…1 Tablespoon
      • Salt as needed
      • ¼ Teaspoon Garam Masala to sprinkle on top
      Method of Preparation
      1. Wash Basmati Rice properly; soak in warm Water for 20 minutes; drain properly and keep aside till ready to be used. (Let this happen while you make Chicken.)
      2. Heat Oil in a pan on medium high heat and saute Onion, Curry Leaves, Ginger Garlic Paste and Green Chilly till they are wilted.
      3. Reduce the heat to medium low and add Red Chilly Powder, Coriander Powder, Turmeric Powder, Pepper Powder and Garam Masala Powder; saute for a minute or till the raw smell is gone.
      4. Add Tomato, Chicken, Salt and 1 cup Water; cook till half done for about 8 minutes after boiling.
      5. When it is half done, add the Veggies and cook completely for another 8-10 minutes.
      6. Mean while in another pan on medium heat, melt Ghee and fry the whole spices till fragrant.
      7. Add the drained Rice and fry really good till the Rice on the bottom of the pan starts to move on itself. Keep aside till ready to be used.
      8. Once the Chicken and Veggies are cooked, remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
      9. Measure the amount of liquid left in the pan after cooking Chicken and make it up to 1 ½ cups (use extra Water to make up.)
      10. Boil together the Water - gravy mixture, Coconut Milk, Rice and some Salt (for the Rice) on high heat till boiled; then lower the heat to minimum; cover the pan and let it cook.
      11. When the Water level reaches the level of the Rice, mix once; put the Chicken and the Veggies on top as a layer; sprinkle the Coriander Leaves and Kasoori Methi (Crush them between your palm before adding); close the lid and let it cook completely until all the Water is absorbed.
      12. Once the Rice is cooked and the Water is all absorbed, mix it gently; check for Salt; sprinkle ¼ Teaspoon Garam Masala Powder on top; off the heat; close the pan and let it stand for 30 minutes before serving it warm with Raita.
      Notes:
      • If you are using dried Peas, do cook it before using. I used freshly frozen variety and hence added directly into the Curry.)
      • Be very careful while mixing the Rice to avoid mashing of the Rice. I use a flat ended spatula and start from the side, scrapping the bottom and just turn it over. Do this in all of the portions; otherwise the Rice at the bottom may cook too much with less cooked Rice on the top.
      • To prevent mashing and clumping of the rice, please do not try to mix this a lot while very hot.
      • The amount of Salt should be enough, so that the dish can be eaten on its own.
      • This dish is tastier the next day!
       




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

      Wednesday, May 4, 2011

      Sharjah Shake

      Recipe No: 254
      Back in the days as newlyweds, we used to roam around a lot on our favorite Hero Honda… some of those recollections are already posted when I did Roasted Garlic Tomato Bruschetta
      Many times while riding back home on hot summer afternoons, we stopped in front of a fruit stall in Pattom that served this thick Sharjah Shake. (I am sorry that I forgot the name) Hot summer after noon… ride on a Motor Cycle… through the rush roads of Thiruvananthapuram… a Sharjah shake in between… come on… guess how that will taste? Why old days? we did that even on our last visit to Kerala….
      Ingredients                                         Serves 2
      • Cold Milk……………………..1 Cup
      • Banana………………………..1/2 Big/ 1 small (Slice and keep in the freezer for 2 hours)
      • Almonds……………………...10 (Skin removed)
      • Boost/ Nesquik…………..1 Tablespoon
      • Sugar………………………….4-6 Tablespoons
      • Frozen Milk…………………1 Cup (Keep in the freezer for at least 5 hours)
      Method of Preparation
      1. Blend together Banana, Almonds, Boost and Sugar with a cup of cold Milk in a blender until smooth.
      2. Add the frozen Milk and pulse it 4-5 times to make a thick shake.
      3. Serve cold as soon as possible while it is still thick.
      Notes:
      • To remove the skin from the Almonds, keep it in ½ cup water; microwave for 1 minute or till the skin become loose and then peel it. (Instead of using Microwave, use boiling Water if you wish.)
      • I used the common Robusta type Banana that are commonly available in US, which is big, and hence used only half. But if you are using small ones (Plalan kodan or Reasakadhali/ Njaali Poovan, which is my favorite) use one whole Banana.
      • Instead of Boost or Nesquik, you can use any of the Chocolate powder that are used to make Chocolate Milk.
      • Break the frozen Milk slightly before putting it in the blender to facilitate easy blending.
       




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      Milk Halwa

      Recipe No: 253
      Have you ever had an opportunity to taste Milk Halwa from ‘Ann’s Bakery’? It is one good Halwa and of course one of my favorites too...well along with a most of the other 'Ann's' specialties... (you will know it if you read some of my previous posts!!) Even though it took some time for me to get this recipe somewhere near 'Ann's' Halwa, the efforts were truly worth, considering the fact that we are big time fans of these.
      Ingredients                                     Makes around 1.25 Kg
      • Milk……………………..........….3 Cups
      • Milkmaid……………...........….1- 14 oz can/ 397 gm can
      • Maida/ All Purpose Flour…3/4 Cup
      • Tapioca Pearls…..................1/3 Cups (Chavvari/ Sabudhana)
      • Sugar……………………......…...2 Cups
      • Ghee………………………….…...1/2 Cup
      • Cashew Nut pieces…………..1/3 Cup
      • Cardamom Powder…..…….1/2 Teaspoon
      Method of Preparation
      1. Cook Tapioca Pearls with 2 Cups of Water for 15 minutes (after boiling) and strain it thoroughly. (There will be some Tapioca Pearls left without dissolving; please discard it.) Keep aside till ready to be used.
      2. Dissolve Flour in 3 cups of Water and strain it into a wide pan. Put this on  medium heat and stir continuously till thickened.
      3. Add the Milk to the thick batter on the stove and mix properly without any lumps.
      4. Stir continuously for around 20 minutes on medium heat till the Flour cooks well. This step is important as it cooks the Flour taking away the raw smell and taste, so please don't try to rush.
      5. Add cooked and strained Tapioca Pearls, Milkmaid and the Sugar; continue cooking for another 10-20 minutes. (By this time you will be able to see the bottom of the pan while stirring.
      6. Add the Ghee and continue cooking. Once it starts to come from the sides, add Cashew nuts and mix well.
      7. When you see small droplets of Oil  oozing out and the Halwa is coming together as a mass, mix in the Cardamom Powder.
      8. Remove it into an oiled pan and level the top off with the back of an oiled spoon.
      9. Let it sit at room temperature and cool completely before cutting it into pieces and serving at room temperature.
      Notes:
      • As this is a Sugar based Halwa, don’t cook it too long after it starts to come off the sides (Very small droplets of Oil should be present on the sides of the pan.) or it will become too hard when cools.
      • As per this recipe the Halwa is moderately sweet. Like most of the other Halwa, if you want it on the sweeter side, do add some more Sugar.
      • You have to cook the Halwa for sometime after adding the Sugar to get that signature color from 'Ann's' Halwa (form a bit of caramelization) as it wont look pretty without that color (happened to me many times) and the taste will be a bit different too.
      • Do strain the Tapioca pearls while hot; otherwise it will become very hard to strain.
      • Constant stirring throughout the process is very traditional for Halwa, and I recommend doing the same here too or the mixture may stick to the bottom (see the dark bits here and there in the pic, I am referring to that!) and can result in hard portions here and there in the finished Halwa.
      • The amount of Ghee given here is very less when compared to the 'Halwa standards' (the reason why not so much Ghee is oozing out towards the end.), so please do add more if you want it rich and traditional. If you want, please do substitute Ghee with Dalda.
      • Use a wide pan rather than a deep pan for making Halwa, so that the moisture will evaporate fast.
       


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

      Tuesday, May 3, 2011

      Liver Roast

      Recipe No: 252
      Ingredients                                           Serves 3-4
      • Liver……….............................…..1/2 Kg
      To Grind
      • Shallots sliced………………………..1/4 Cup
      • Ginger-Garlic Paste……………….2 Tablespoons
      • Turmeric Powder…………………..1/2 Teaspoon
      • Coriander Powder…………………2 Teaspoons
      • Red Chilly Powder…………………1 Teaspoon
      • Pepper Powder……………………..1 Teaspoon
      • Garam Masala Powder…………..1 Teaspoon
      • Fennel/ Anise seed Powder…….1/2 Teaspoon (Peringeerakam Podi)
      • Lemon Juice or Vinegar…………1 1/2 Tablespoons
      • Salt………………………………………As Per Taste
      To Saute
      • Coconut Oil…………………………..2-3 Tablespoons
      • Onion Sliced thin…………………..2 Cups
      • Curry Leaves………………………..3 Sprigs
      • Coconut Milk………………………..1/2 Cup
      • A sprig of Curry leaf, ½ Teaspoon of Garam Masala Powder and a Teaspoon of Coconut Oil to sprinkle on top towards the end
      Method of Preparation
      1. Remove the outer skin of the Liver by peeling. (This tends to harden up while cooking; so remove it by peeling; it will come off easily.) Cut into bite size pieces; wash; drain and dry thoroughly with a paper towel. Keep aside.
      2. Combine and grind all the ingredients in the ‘to grind’ section to a paste. Take half of this paste and marinate the Liver; keep aside for 30 minutes. Keep the rest of the paste for later use.
      3. Heat 1 ½ Tablespoons of Oil in a nonstick pan on high heat and shallow fry the Liver pieces for about a minute or two. (It doesn’t have to cook completely; but have to be lightly browned here and there.) Remove them and keep aside till ready to be used.
      4. To the same pan, add the rest of the Oil and saute Onion and Curry leaves till lightly brown on medium high heat. (If not browned, the roast will be sweet.)
      5. Once browned, lower the heat to medium low; add the left over ground paste and saute for at least 5 minutes. This stage is very important as it decides the color and taste of the roast. Be patient and let the paste get rid of the raw taste and become brownish black in color. But take care not to burn it and so I will recommend constant stirring.
      6. Once it reached a brownish black color, add the Liver pieces together with 2-4 tablespoons of water. (Don’t add more Water as the Liver will give out some Water.) Reduce the heat to low and let the Liver cook, covered, for about 8-10 minutes or till the Liver is completely cooked and the Water is all evaporated. Stir only now and then.
      7. Once almost dry, add the Coconut milk and let it attain the consistency you need. (I prefer this to be on the dry side.)
      8. Sprinkle some Curry Leaves, Garam Masala Powder and some Coconut oil on top, switch off the flame, close the pan and let it rest for at least 20 minutes before serving.
      Notes:
      • The amount of Ginger Garlic paste, Pepper Powder and extra Fennel Powder is important in this roast as it suits the flavor of the Liver. If the amount of heat is too much for you, do reduce the Red Chilly Powder, but don't reduce the Black Pepper Powder.
      • The resting period in the pan is kind of important as per the elders, as they call it ‘Pathrapakam’ meaning the dish should sit in the vessel in which it cooks for some time to attain the perfect taste.
      • Don’t skip the sprinkling part at the end of the process as it gives a really good appetizing smell to the dish.
      • Don’t forget to remove the tough outer skin of the Liver. It really helps.
      • Liver don’t have a very long cooking time; the more it cooks the tougher it gets.
       




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







      Monday, May 2, 2011

      Neiyyappam

      Recipe No: 251
      This is my Fathers favorite Kerala snack and I still remember my Mother making it from 2 and 3 Kilo Rice, starting at 6 a.m. Apart from Unniyappam, Neiyyappam doesn’t need to have any specialized pans to make and it don’t have Bananas in them, giving a clear difference in taste. This will stay good at room temperature for longer period of time than Unniyappam.
      Ingredients                              Makes 12 - 14
      • Long Grain Rice…...1 Cup
      • Jaggery……………….1 Cup (Cut into small pieces)
      • Ghee……………………1 Tablespoon
      • Coconut pieces…….3 Tablespoons (Cut into thin, small pieces)
      • Cumin Seeds………..1/2 Teaspoon
      • Pinch of Salt
      • Oil for deep frying
      Method of Preparation
      1. Wash and soak Rice for 4 hours. Drain it properly.
      2. Grind the soaked and drained Rice into a course powder. This will yield around 2 ¼ cups of Flour. Keep aside till ready to be used.
      3. Melt Jaggery with ¼ cup of Water and strain it a few times to get rid of the impurities. Let it cool completely.
      4. Add the Jaggery syrup and a pinch of Salt to the Rice Flour and make a thick batter out of it. (Well don’t add any more Water and take care as we are using raw Flour; it will need only a fraction of Water when compared to the roasted Flour.)
      5. Keep this mixture aside for 6-7 hours.
      6. Once that resting time is over, heat Ghee in a pan on medium heat and fry the Coconut pieces till slightly brown. At this stage, add the Cumin; let it fry for 3-5 seconds and switch off the heat.
      7. Pour this fried Coconut and Cumin together with the remaining Ghee into the batter and mix well.
      8. Adjust the thickness of the batter by adding more Water (a tablespoon or two) if necessary. The batter should be a bit thicker than the Unniyappam batter or when poured it should be flowing in thick lines.
      9. Heat at least 2 inches of Oil in a deep pan on medium high heat and pour a small ladle (two tablespoons) of batter into the Oil. (When the batter is poured, it will sink to the bottom of the pan and will take some time to puff up and rise to the top of the Oil. Pour the second one only after the first one started floating.)
      10. Fry the Neiyyappam for a few minutes on both sides or till it is golden brown.
      11. Drain the excess Oil on a paper towel and serve warm or at room temperature.
      Notes:
      • Instead of starting with Rice, you can use 2 cups of Rice Flour (Regular ones in American Grocery stores which are not fried well.) with 1/4 Cup Cream of Rice (that resembles coarse rice powder.) which is available in most of the Indian stores.
      • The coarse nature of the Rice Flour is very important as that helps in raising the Neiyyappam. (We don't use any other leavening agents.)
      • As per my mother, keeping the prepared batter for less time will reduce the puffing up of Neiyyappam and on the other hand if you keep it for more time it will absorb a lot of Oil.
      • Neiyyappam needs to be immersed in the Oil while frying and hence, I prefer a pan which is deep in the middle like a Kadai/ Cheenachatti.
      • Let the Kadai/ pan heat up really well before adding the Oil or the batter may stick to the bottom of the pan. (and it may need a bit of help to float.)
      • Adjust the heat according to your stove to a medium- medium high, as higher temperature may brown the Neiyyappam fast without cooking the inside properly and too low temperature will make it absorb a lot of Oil. So decide the temperature that is suited in your cooking conditions.
      • Neiyyappam will stay good at room temperature for up to a week; don’t keep them in the refrigerator. But if you want to keep it for longer period of time, do refrigerate and serve them at room temperature; but I am not so sure about its texture after refrigeration.
      • Don't over fry the Neiyyappams as it  hardens them.
       




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

      Sweet Corn Chicken Soup

      Recipe No: 250
      This is one of our favorite soups to have whenever we eat out in Kerala. Not only is this easy to make, but a bowl of this on a rainy day (like today) makes us so 'at home'...
      Ingredients                                             Serves 3-4
      • Sweet Corn (cream style)….14.75 oz/ 418 grams
      • Butter……………………………..1 Tablespoon
      • Carrot chopped fine…………2 Tablespoons
      • Onion chopped fine………….2 Tablespoons
      • Celery chopped fine………….2 Tablespoons
      • Chicken stock………………....3 1/2 Cups (I used homemade; for recipe click here)
      • Cooked, shredded Chicken...1/2 Cup
      • Egg………………………………....1, beaten well with a tablespoon of Water
      • Light Soy Sauce…….............2 Teaspoons (I used Kikkoman; if using Indian dark Soy use 1 teaspoon)
      • Salt and Pepper to taste
      Method of Preparation
      1. Heat Butter in a pan on medium heat and saute Onion, Celery and Carrots for a minute (don’t brown).
      2. Add Corn together with Chicken stock and let it cook for 5-8 minutes. (There are chances of boiling over if you are not using a big pan)
      3. Add Shredded Chicken, Salt, Pepper and Soy sauce; mix well.
      4. While the soup is rolling boiling, add the beaten Egg in a thin steady line from top while stirring continuously as I explained in Egg drop soup. (Read more about Egg Drop Soup here.)
      5. Once boiled again, look for seasonings; switch off the heat and serve it hot with a piece of crusty Bread.
      Notes:
      • Cream Style corn is different from Creamed Corn. Cream style Corn from American grocery stores tend to be on the sweeter side, so if you can get it from an Indian grocery store it will be better for this Soup. If you have no problem with the sweetness, this does not matter or you can decrease the amount of corn used to reduce the sweetness.
      • Don't use regular Corn for this as it is not creamed.
      • The Egg, if poured like I mentioned above, will be cooked instantly and will stay in the Soup as very fine threads. It will thicken the Soup too.







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