LEMON RICE

This is a typical South Indian dish.   I was first introduced to this dish by my lovely work friends Latha and Jayanthi.  This dish, without doubt, is one of the simplest recipes to prepare.  It is such a warm and vibrant dish with a tangy zing which dances on the palate.  I absolutely love the vibrant pink/purple color that the red onions take on once the lemon juice hits the pan (the use of onions is my take on the dish – the south Indians do not use onions).  This is one of my favorite go-to recipes when I need to make something quick especially when I have leftover rice.   It can be served on its own as a light meal or accompanied by any seafood dishes.  We normally have it with pan fried fish or prawn chilli fry. Fish is a perfect match for this dish.

Whenever I cook this dish, it brings back wonderful memories of my earlier days in Dubai.   Hubby used to work in the hospitality industry and for a long spate of time he used to have his weekly off on Tuesdays.   For him, the eve of his weekend is the day he loves to have a good meal.   His favorite was Lemon Rice and fried pomfret.   Hence, Monday night dinners for a long while became very predictable – not that I am complaining.   As mentioned in my posts rice and fish feature high up in the pyramid of my favorite foods.  I would gladly eat these every day of the week!!!

I believe this dish works very well with leftover rice.  It can also be made with rice vermicelli.  Do give it a try.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked

2 tbsp. oil

2 tbsp. peanuts or 10-12 cashewnuts, halved

1 tsp. split urad dhal

1 tsp. mustard

1 pinch of hing

2 dry kashmiri chillies, whole

1-2 green chillies, chopped fine

1/2 tsp. finely chopped ginger (optional but recommended)

2 sprigs of curry leaves

1 small red onion, finely sliced (optional but recommended)

½ tsp turmeric powder

Juice from one medium lemon (See Note)

Salt to taste

¼ cup finely chopped coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Wash the rice and soak for 15-20 minutes. In a pot of boiling water, add the rice and cook till done, then drain in a colander.
  2. In a pan, heat the oil and add the mustard, when it starts to splutter add the nuts of choice, urad dhal, red chillies and hing.
  3. Next add the curry leaves, green chillies, ginger and onion.  Cook until onions are translucent.
  4. Add the lemon juice, turmeric and salt and switch off the flame.
  5. Immediately add the cooked  rice and toss gently till well coated in the seasoning mixture. Taste for salt.
  6. Finish with coriander leaves.  Toss gently to mix.
  7. Enjoy with a side of your choice.

Note:

  • Use lemon juice according to your taste. Always add less in the beginning.  You can add more later, if required.  The quantity would also depend on the tartness of the lemons.
  • Do not overcook the rice else you will end up with a mushy dish. The finished dish should be light and fluffy.
  • Works well with leftover cooled rice.
  • Use a wide pan/skillet so the rice doesn’t get squashed when mixing together.
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YUMMY PRAWN CHILLI FRY

Prawn Chilli has to be one of my favourite preparations by far.  My mum used to prepare this dish in a couple of ways.  We normally had this on a Friday since it was a meatless day.    Prawn Chilli fry is a dish that is very common to the catholic households – be it Mangalorean, Goan, East Indian or Anglo Indian.   The preparation may vary slightly but the basic ingredients would remain the same.

This particular preparation makes me feel very nostalgic.   After marriage I had moved to Goa for about 10 months before moving to Dubai.   We had these wonderful neighbors who were our dear friends.   Uncle Tellis was a fisherman.  He had no daughters and he grew very fond of me and me of him.   He reminded me so much of my dad who I lost at a very young age.     Unfortunately, since I didn’t quite know the language (I tried to get by with a combination of my broken mangy Konkani, Hindi and Marathi) I wasn’t able to carry on lengthy conversations with aunty and uncle but hubby dear acted as our interpreter.   Aunty is a cook par excellence and I owe her a lot for helping me thru Goan dish preparations.

I still remember so vividly that Monday morning when we heard a knock on the front door.   Uncle Tellis was standing outside with a covered basket which he dropped into my hands with a soft “yeh tukaa” and left.   I was all dressed in my starched cotton saree ready to go to work.   When I opened the basket, to my delight, it was filled with freshly caught prawns jumping out of the basket.   It was such a novelty for me because in Bombay, I have never had the opportunity to see live prawns.   It was raining prawns that morning!!! .  No complaints there!!!!

I couldn’t let those beauties go into the fridge.   After a quick call to SBI Mapusa Branch applying for casual leave, I set about planning a seafood menu.  Hubby and I had to first go thru the mammoth task of cleaning the prawns; we managed to get thru these after a couple of hours; phew.  One of the preparations I made that day was the below.  I didn’t want to add too much of spices given the freshness and sweetness of the prawns.  It was a day well spent.

Ingredients:

1 lb medium size prawns – cleaned, deveined, washed and drained

¼ tsp pepper powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp salt

½ tsp malt or goa vinegar or lemon juice

2 tbsp. coconut oil or any cooking oil

3 large onions, chopped

4 fat flakes of garlic, cut fine

1” piece ginger, cut fine

2-3 green chillies, slit

4 kokam/solam

¼ tsp pepper powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

¼ tsp garam masala powder

1 small red capsicum (optional)

Salt to taste

A pinch of sugar

A squeeze of lemon

3-4 tbsp. of chopped coriander leaves

Method:

  1. Shell, devein, wash and drain the prawns. Marinate the prawns with salt, pepper, turmeric and vinegar or lemon juice for about 20 minutes.
  2. In a cooking pot (I used my clay pot) or large skillet, add 2 tbsp. of oil. Add the onions, ginger and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent.  Add the chillies and the kokum and sauté for a couple of minutes more.
  3. Next add the pepper and turmeric powder and stir well to combine.
  4. Add the marinated prawns and stir fry on medium to high heat till the prawn are cooked. Do not overcook the prawns else they will get rubbery.  Add the capsicum at this stage.
  5. Add the sugar and the garam masala and mix well. Taste for seasoning.
  6. Remove from flame, squeeze a wee bit of lemon juice and mix in the chopped coriander leaves
  7. Serve with chapattis or rice/dhal. I served it with lemon rice.  It was the perfect combination.

PRAWN CURRY WITH COCONUT

It’s been ages since I have made prawn curry.   Made this upon my daughter’s request.  She was looking forward to having some nice rice, prawn curry and fried rice.   The fried crabs turned out to be a bonus.   Needed something simple to accompany the meal – Cabbage Foogath was the perfect vegetable to accompany an otherwise FISHY SUNDAY MEALJ  Not that I am complaining.  Enjoyed my meal with a chilled glass of Kingfisher Beer.  A couple of hours of well earned siesta followed.

Prawn Curry is quite a common dish in most household, be it Goan, Mangalorean, East Indian, Anglo Indian.  My mum would always make prawn curry with bhendi.   Being a Mangalorean, I did get teased quite a bit about sungta and bhendi curry.   I have to say that this combination has to be my favourite by far.   Other combinations would be drumstick, potato, white pumpkin – the list is endless – each brings a different flavour to the dish.   My daughter doesn’t like bhendi at all so no sungta and bhendi curry at our place.

Do give it a try.

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. fresh prawns

For Grinding:

1 packed cup of fresh coconut

5-6 Kashmiri chillies (I used a mix of Kashmiri and goa chillies)

½ onion diced

1 tbsp. coriander seeds

½ tsp. cumin seeds

1 pinch mustard seeds (optional)

4 fat flakes of garlic

½” piece of ginger

½ tsp turmeric powder

A small piece of tamarind

Other Ingredients:

2 tbsp. coconut oil or any cooking oil

A few curry leaves (optional but recommended)

½ onion sliced

1 small ripe tomato chopped

1 or 2 green chillies slit

A few pieces of raw mango

Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Marinate the washed and shelled prawns with salt and a little turmeric powder and keep aside for 20 mins while you start on the other prep work.
  2. Grind all the ingredients listed under “For Grinding” into a fine paste. Remove paste and keep aside in a bowl.   Rinse the mixer with ½ cup water and reserve the masala water for the curry.
  3. In your cooking pot (I always use my clay pot for fish curries), heat 2 tbsp. of oil. Add the curry leaves, sauté for a few seconds and add the sliced onion; once the onions are well browned, add the tomato and sauté well till mushy.
  4. Next add the ground masala paste and sauté for a couple of mins.
  5. Add the reserved masala water and bring the curry to the boil. Boil the curry for 6-8 minutes.
  6. Next add the prawns, green chillies and raw mango. Taste for seasoning and add water according to the consistency of gravy required.
  7. Let the curry boil till the prawns and mangoes are cooked. Do not overcook the prawns else they will be rubbery.
  8. Enjoy with some steaming hot rice or pao and a side of fried fish/fried prawns and a simple vegetable dish.

Notes:

  • Instead of grind the tamarind, I prefer to add tamarind water when the gravy is boiling. That way I control the tanginess especially when I am using more than one souring agent e.g. tomato / vinegar / raw mango
  • If using bhendi then fry the bhendi lightly and keep aside. Add later with the prawns.  This prevents the curry from becoming slimy.
  • Instead of all water, you can also add some coconut milk.

SHARK FISH CUTLETS

Yesterday I had this strong craving for a simple home cooked meal. With the elections on and the voting spread out over 2 weeks, we decided to finish voting this Sunday.  I took the opportunity to get my daughter to drive me to the local fish shop. I spent the afternoon doing a big cook up and we had a lovely dinner of rice/fish curry/fried fish/shark fish cutlets (we use lemon fish – rig shark)/spinach vegetable and papads – feeling very satisfied after that lovely meal.

Cutlets are a constant at our place.  I love making cutlets and can turn quite a few things into cutlets – vegetables, tuna, meats, potatoes and the most recent being leftover rice.   When I saw the fresh lemon fish in the shop I knew I had to make these cutlets.  I love the texture/chunkiness from using shark meat.   Additional bonus is not having to pick out the bones from the fish.

My mum makes delicious shark fish cutlets, I haven’t had these in decades.   I must say that these turned out really good.  These cutlets can be served as a snack or appetizer or a side-dish.   It also make for a good filling for a sandwich – apply some tartare sauce / ketchup on the bread slices, add some lettuce and then the cutlets.

Fish cutlets

Ingredients:

½ kg. Shark fish fillets

Salt to taste

¼ tsp. turmeric powder

4 peppercorns

1 tsp malt vinegar

1 bay leaf or a few curry leaves (optional)

½ to 1 cup of water

1 tbsp. oil

1 onion chopped fine

2 green chillies, chopped fine

3 big flakes of garlic, chopped fine

1 small piece of ginger, chopped fine

½ tsp. coriander powder

1/2 tsp. pepper powder

½ tsp. cumin powder

¾ to 1 tsp. chilli powder

A squeeze of lemon juice

1 slice of bread, edges trimmed, lightly soaked in a bit of the cooking liquid

2-3 tbsp. of finely chopped coriander leaves

A few mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)

2 eggs beaten with 1 tbsp. of water

Breadcrumbs

Oil for shallow frying

Method:

  1. Wash the fish, apply salt, turmeric powder and vinegar and keep aside for 15 minutes.
  2. In a cooking pot, add the fish along with the pepper, bay leaf/curry leaves and water, the water should just be enough to surround the fish.
  3. Cook until the fish is tender i.e. around 5-7 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. Keep turning the fish gently so that it gets cooked right through.
  4. Remove the fish from the pot and allow to cool. Reserve the cooking liquid.
  5. Mash the fish coarsely with a fork.
  6. In a separate pan, heat 1 tbsp. of oil. Add the onions, green chilli, ginger and garlic until the onions are well browned.  Then add the spice powders.  Sauté for about a minute making sure the spices do not burn. Add salt to taste.
  7. Make small pieces of the bread slice and add a wee bit of the cooking liquid to moisten the bread. The bread shouldn’t be soaking wet in the liquid.
  8. Switch off the heat and add the bread, lemon juice, coriander leaves and mint leaves. Allow to cool.
  9. Add the onion mixture to the mashed fish. Check for seasoning.
  10. Form the cutlets. Fish cutlets are normally formed into an oval/elongated shape to differentiate from meat cutlets which are traditionally round in shape.
  11. Keep in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. This makes it easy to coat the cutlets in the egg and breadcrumbs without breaking.
  12. Remove from the fridge, dip in beaten egg, roll in breadcrumbs and fry till golden in color.

Note:

  • Additional of the bay leaf/curry leaves helps to remove any strong fish smell when boiling the fish
  • The soaked slice of bread helps to keep the mixture moist
  • Fry the cutlets on medium to high heat. Since all the ingredients are cooked, you don’t need to fry the cutlets for very long.
  • You can also add the onions and spices to the mashed fish without frying them first. The uncooked onions etc. gives a crunchier texture.
  • Yield = 16 cutlets

ALOO PANCH PHORAN

Panch Phoran literally translates to five spices; very commonly used in Bengali cooking and across Eastern India, Southern Nepal and Bangladesh. This is one of the most fragrant preparations for potatoes; it is a very simple and tasty recipe.  We recently went to a Nepali restaurant and one of the dishes we tried out was the Marphan Aloo.  Something about the dish took me straight to my childhood days when I used to visit my classmate Chandrika’s house.  Chandrika was a Bengali and her mum was an excellent cook. Each time I visited her, the house would be filled with the fragrance of panch phoran – her mum would temper this in home-made ghee which further enhanced the fragrance and flavour. That was the first time I was introduced to this spice blend.   In later years during my stay in Dubai, I was once again introduced to this by my friend Saikat who had used it with prawns; it was delicious.

This is a versatile spice blend which can be used with many vegetables like pumpkin, cauliflower, beans and also whilst preparing fish and meat dishes.

 

aloo panchphoran

Ingredients:

3/4 kg  potatoes, boiled and cubed

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp turmeric

2-3 tbsp oil or ghee

4 kashmiri chillies

4 flakes garlic, chopped fine

1 green chilli, chopped fine

2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

1-1/2 tbsp PANCH PHORAN

Squeeze of lemon juice

Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Boil potatoes till nearly done.  Peel the potatoes and cut into cubes.
  2. Add 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder to the potato cubes whilst still warm and toss gently. Set aside.
  3. In a wide non-stick pan or wok, heat the oil or ghee till medium hot and add the red chillies followed by the garlic. Sauté for a minute or so without burning the chillies and the garlic.
  4. Next add the green chilli and coriander leaves, sauté for a few seconds and add the panch phoran.
  5. Lightly sauté until the seeds begin to pop and crackle.
  6. Add the potatoes and give a gentle stir.  Cover the lid and allow the potatoes to cook until done and flavours infuse.  Keep checking to ensure that the potatoes do not stick to the pan.  You can sprinkle some water in case the potatoes stick to the pan.
  7. Check for seasoning, add more salt if required.
  8. Remove from flame and squeeze a bit of lemon juice.
  9. Enjoy with rotis or puris.

Notes:

  • Do not overcook the potatoes in the 1st instance.  The potatoes should hold their shape.
  • Do not let the panch phoran burn else the dish will turn bitter.

KALA CHANYACHA RASSA

 

This is a Malwani style of black vatana (I have used black/brown channa).   This dish gets its distinctive flavour from the roasted coconut and spices mainly the malwani masala or goda masala or kande lasun chutney.

The first time I ever ate this dish was in my early teens at a neighbour’s place.  I fell in love with the dish especially since she served it with ghavan (a rice crepe from the Konkan belt of Maharashtra).

I had some left over channa from the previous day (I had made some lovely Mangalorean style of channa/tendli).  Whilst debating what to make from the leftover channa, I remembered this dish, we had it with ghavan.   This dish goes well with vade, pooris, pao or rice.

channa

channa 1

Ingredients:

¾ cup of black channa

1 large onion sliced (1/2 for grinding and ½ for the curry)

4 flakes garlic

½” ginger

¾ cup of fresh coconut

2 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves

1 large ripe tomato, chopped

½ tsp. turmeric powder

1 tsp. red chilli powder

1 tsp. goda masala or malwani masala or garam masala

2 tbsp. oil (I used coconut oil)

1 sprig curry leaves

A pinch of hing

Salt to taste

2 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves for garnish

Method:

  1. Wash and soak the channa in water for about 8-9 hours (I usually soak it overnight).
  2. Pressure cook the channa until done (it shouldn’t be mushy).  Drain the channa and reserve the cooking liquid/stock.
  3. In a pan, add 1 tbsp. oil, sauté ½ an onion until translucent.  Add the ginger and garlic and sauté well without burning.  Next add the coconut and roast well until nicely browned.  When done, add the coriander leaves and mix together.
  4. Remove this mixture on to a plate and allow to cool.
  5. Grind the mixture with a little water into a paste (the paste shouldn’t be too fine nor very coarse).
  6. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in your cooking pot.  Add the curry leaves, a pinch of hing and the balance ½ onion.  Sauté until onion is translucent.  Next add the masala paste and the tomatoes and fry well.  Do not let the mixture burn.   You can drizzle a few drops of water to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Add the chilli, turmeric and the goda masala/malwani masala/garam masala and sauté for a wee while.  Add the cooked channa and cooking liquid (as per consistency required) together with salt to taste.
  8. Cover and cook over a low flame to allow the flavours to infuse.  Keep stirring in between
  9. Garnish with coriander leaves.  Serve with pao/pooris/ghavan or even rice.

RECHEADO MASALA FRIED GREEN BANANAS

Green or unripe bananas have been linked to several health benefits since they contain mostly resistant starch and pectin.   They are often classified under dietary fiber.

In my maternal home, my mum did cook quite a bit of raw banana either in the form of a vegetable sukka, masala fried bananas or even in beef curry.   From my friends here in Auckland, I learnt about the raw banana being added to Pork Bafat; this is very new to me since I do not recall my mum doing this.

My family’s favourite preparation of banana would be the fried version.  I picked up a few bananas the other day and was debating what to make of it.   My problem was easily solved when I came upon a bowl of recheado masala.

Here goes the recipe.  Please have a read of the notes section too.

banana

Ingredients:

4 raw bananas

2-3 tbsp. RECHEADO MASALA

Salt to taste

Oil for pan frying

Lemon Juice (optional)

Method:

  1. Boil the bananas. Top and tail the bananas and place them on a rack in the cooker to which a little water is added.  Cook for 1 or 2 whistles depending on the size and thickness of the bananas.   I used a thinner variety so 1 whistle worked fine.
  2. Allow the cooker to cool and open once steam is released.
  3. Peel the banana and slice to desired size. Slices should not be too thin nor too thick.  Add salt to taste.
  4. Apply the recheado masala to the banana slices and keep aside for a couple of hours. I left mine overnight.
  5. In a non-stick pan, heat oil for shallow frying. Fry in batches depending on the size of your pan.  Do not over crowd the pan else you will end up steaming the bananas.
  6. Serve as a starter or a side dish. Add a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.

Notes:

  • I find that steaming the bananas by the above method a very easy way to peel them, no sticky residue from the banana sap on the fingers.
  • If you don’t want to use a pressure cooker, you can drop them into a pot of boiling water and let them cook till the skin begins to turn dark.
  • You could also cook them from raw but the texture would be a bit different. My mum cooks them from raw and uses just salt, chilli powder, a dash of turmeric and a wee bit of jeera powder.  This turns out yum too.