Tuesday, December 21, 2010

For You....

We have’nt met you…..

We don’t know who you are……

We don’t know where you are ……


You make us smile ,

You make us laugh,

You shower us with words of love and warmth,

You make us feel special !

We wish we could celebrate these holidays with you!

We send you a box full of season’s best wishes and some rum balls to spike up the holiday spirits!

Shn, CJJ & Little King

No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mulaku Curry – Chilies/ Peppers in a sweet & Sour sauce – Simple yet potent enough to make a statement.

I woke up last Saturday with a head full of plans…….soak fruits and nuts for the fruitcake, finalise the goodies for the gift basket, check the availability of orange blossom water in local shops to make the Moroccan fekkas that has evoked my curiosity ever since I saw it here, wrap up the weekly shopping before the blizzard hit the ground and finish cooking for the week ahead. Instead, that morning what I did was writing the destiny for six beautiful banana peppers that has been sitting cozily in my refrigerator for the whole of last week and plating to make them photogenic for my blog !

One might wonder how such simple , unassuming dish could muddle with my plans and find its place on our lunch table on a weekend. Well, unassuming it is but the name sounded magical when we heard it the first time almost two months ago from our friend Av, one of those modest people who walked silently but with a smile into our exclusive circle of good friends. He is the only reason keeping me away from shouting out loud that I do not like chocolates because occasionally Av gifts us premium chocolates and for the next few days, I am like a flea on a ripe jackfruit! And recently I realised that behind all that modesty and reserved nature, he is dangerously observant with very sharp memory, when he recollected that I was giggling a lot , after an aperitif, few years ago!! And when he recalled that incident recently, I was holding a wine glass in my hand, already feeling a bit wobbly and for the next couple of hours, I tried to smile ’normal’!

Anyway, both CJJ & myself were charmed by the name, Mulaku Curry and curiously interested at the same, because picturing Av craving for Mulaku Curry was something really hard for us to take in; after knowing him for all these years , with his general disdain for everything that comes in the family of Avial and Sambar, I am sure perhaps even his dreams are stained with fish curry and sprinkled with pieces of fried chicken and fish. I noticed CJJ’s curiosity metre going up as we were squeezing out all the details about the dish from our dear friend. But it was Su, Av’s partner in crime – another cool soul who won us over on our first meet itself – who got me a very detailed recipe from her mother –in-law. Su patiently answered all my doubts and queries , without missing any tiny bits of tips from her MIL. With a toddler kangaroo around, it took me almost two months to get to this recipe and try my luck. Finally when I did, I was really pleased with the outcome, for its ease and perfectly balanced medley of sweet and sour flavours, beautifully paired with the sharp kick from heat of the chilies/peppers. Here’s how I made this dish , based on Av’s mom’s recipe, as explained to me by Su.

  • 6 big Bajji Mulaku/ chili ( I used Banana Peppers), with stems
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Around ½ cup melted and filtered black/brown jaggery/Sharkkara paani, medium-thick consistency
  • 1 tsp tamarind concentrate
  • Around ½ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 ½ tsp roasted coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek /Uluva powder
  • 2 pinches Asafoetida
  • 2 tsp wheat flour /corn flour(Optional)
  • Using the tip of a skewer or a knife. make some holes on the peppers/Chilies; steam cook the peppers/Chilies until they re tender and pale in colour. Cooking time varies depending on the variety of the pepper/Chili used (For me , it took about 10-15 minutes).
  • While peppers/Chilies are steamed, mix a teaspoon of tamarind concentrate with around ½ cup water and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok/Cheenachatti , sauté the steamed peppers/chilies for about 2 minutes, on medium heat. To this add the melted jaggery , cook and stir until it reaches a consistency where if you run the wooden spoon through the cooked jaggery, the liquid moves to the sides and you can see the bottom of the pan or as explained beautifully in our mother tongue, to my friend Su by her MIL, , “..varayidumbo theliyum” . Now pour tamarind water and add salt and bring to a boil. At this stage, the peppers/chilies should be slightly submerged in the sweet and sour sauce. You may do a taste-test at this phase to check the balance of sweetness and sourness/tamarind and jaggery and adjust a bit extra of one of the flavours , if necessary. It should be well balanced. When it starts boiling, mix in roasted coriander powder, fenugreek and asafoetida. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer until it reaches a gravy consistency. If your sauce is too watery- either because melted jaggery was watery or tamarind water was more- add one or two teaspoons of wheat flour or corn flour, as thickening agent. Turn off the stove and let it rest for sometime before serving.
  • The end product is a well balanced sweet and sour sauce, with a pungent kick from the peppers/chilies, as you nibble a small bit of the pepper/chili. During the cooking process, if the seeds of peppers/chilies get mixed into the sauce, then you get the heat when you taste gravy itself.
  • We served it with Chappathi/Indian version of wheat tortilla.
On a different note, I have not been able to promptly reply to some of your e-mail s and comments and queries. I regret for such a delay but I will try to work on it before the end of this week.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Carrot Achaar / Pickled Carrots - Simple is Addictive.

Words seem to have deserted me……thoughts seem to have left the shore long time ago…..yet there is an honest desire to breathe some life into this space. I remember reading an article sometime back, about blogger's block and according to the author, one of the options to handle the crisis is to start writing and posting again even if they come out boring. Well, that sounds like a plan to me, if that’s what it takes to get this space rolling again ……to help me get back to my grooves!

Here’s a childhood favourite of CJJ’s….a very simple but dangerously addictive pickled carrots. This is the first time I made it, following my MIL’s instructions ; though I made it only this morning, I am already addicted! With country music playing in the background and my two boys swaying with Miranda Lambert’s .. I've been saved by the grace of Southern charm” , I picked up a couple of beautiful carrots and looking at them I felt it would be nice to bring in some style by peeling them into thin long ribbons. As I finished cooking, I loved the sight of orange ribbons speckled with black mustard seeds and slivers of ginger, garlic and green chillies, doused with pungent vinegar. Few hours later, I was a slave to those drunken orange ribbons ! Here’s the recipe for the easiest pickle I ‘ve ever made!

Ingredients: (Approx.)
  1. 2 big carrots, chopped/ thinly sliced /peeled to thin strips
  2. 1 tbsp ginger, thinly sliced
  3. 1 ½ - 2tbsp garlic, thinly sliced
  4. 6-9 green chilly, split lengthwise (adjust as per your taste)
  5. 2 tbsp Nallenna /Gingelly Oil or Sesame Oil
  6. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  7. Salt to taste
  8. Around ½ cup vinegar (Adjust as per strength)
  • Heat oil , on medium, in any shallow sauce pan, crackle mustard seeds and throw in ginger, garlic and green chillies; cook them for about one minute. Add the carrots, sprinkle some salt and blend gently; turn off the heat immediately. Pour Vinegar and mix well. Store in an airtight container.
  • You may serve this as a condiment for rice, flat breads or a sub sandwich or burger. One could even spruce up a plain veggie salad with some of this pickled carrot. Note: You may even throw in some thinly sliced beetroot along with carrots as suggested by MIL.

No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

For you Little King……for your duckie love!

Your eyes sparkled everytime you saw that yellow little thing with orange beak on the diaper caddy…

Your third word was “du..dda” and you blushed with excitement everytime you got it right….

You woke up from nap saying “du..dda” and you had the winning smile again that melted my heart ….

I wanted to see that same twinkle in your eyes and blush on your cheeks one more time last week when we were getting ready to celebrate our 365 days of happiness with you….

Challenging my own skills, I tried to make a replica of your favourite yellow bath toy with orange beak but at the end of it I was in the depth of despair, looking at the shapeless object that was not even close to what I had envisioned…..

And then your eyes fell on that yellow little thing I created........ you looked at it and said “ du..DDa..” and you said it again……..and two seconds later, your head fell on my chest with a blush, with a smile……………………!!!

My precious sweet little pea, I was beaming with joy, shouting with excitement ……you brought sparkle in my eyes …….you melted my heart one more time ……!

No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A glimpse into the day-to-day life of people at Kainakary, a pristine village in Kuttanadu, Kerala.

Small Talk said...
I m from Kainakary...its a hamlet in Kuttanaad...with immense love and warmth I extend a warm invite to visit our beautiful land...all the stories tht u hv heard...and the images people painted for u will be dwarfed wen u see it for urself....if Kerala is Gods own Land...Kuttanaad is the street the he lives on....Until very recently western vegetables like cauliflower.beans carrot were a luxury.....daily meals were more of fish,poulty,dry fish chamanthi or raw mango chamanthi etc...Women cleaning fish on the sides of canal...men walking around with a bunch a freshly caught karimeen..kids jumping in to water from a coconut palm leaning across canal...trees laden with mangoes stooping onto the backwaters...ammachis visitng church in pristine white chatta...these everyday sights on the backdrop of various hues of green makes u think tht God created a symphony with colours..whose melody lingers even wen u r in a far away land.....Please visit Kuttanaadu...Nedumudi..Kainakary..mk sure u listen to all local folklores from ur ammachi...learn many recipes (share it wth us as well plz)....I m sure u will have a warm and hospitable stay in Kuttanaad...”

November 3, 2009 9:02 AM.

An eloquent comment I received on my Duck Roast post. I enjoyed every bit of kochuvarthavanam/small talks, she used to share through my comment section and this particular one gave me goosebumps and it still does, as her words literally soaks the serenity, the village is drenched in. How do I know for sure, one might ask! Well, I got a bit lucky early this year and spent one of the most memorable 3-4 hours of my life on this blessed piece of land!!

I had build up a very high image of the wealth of beauty of Kuttanadu from the expressive descriptions of CJJ and his family. My imagination got colourful picking images from the sneak-peek I had few years back on a boat ride, into one of those narrow canals that crisscross the whole of Kuttanadu. To top it all, I had readers and fellow bloggers like Small Talk!! Hence at the beginning of our trip, I was quite apprehensive, doubting if the reality would disappoint me ……but the moment we took a deviation from the Cochin –Alappuzha main road, I knew I was about to be transported into a whole new world and experience of a lifetime. A well paved two way country road crossed the fields, on both sides, flooded with water, as it was right after harvesting season. Yes, we missed the most enchanting sight of the vast stretches of verdant paddy fields, swaying in the winds …a sight so typical of a place like Kuttanadu. But that’s ok, I have seen paddy fields earlier too, I must be happy that I got to see other hues of green and get a feel of the daily life of the natives…yeah, call it looking at the brighter side of life! :)

The country road leading to the boat jetty seemed less trafficked and untouched by both domestic and foreign tourists. By the wayside, there were some makeshift shops selling naadan tharavu/country ducks , cycle workshop, bus stops ……….and the drive was so peaceful, without any honking or the hustle and bustle of a city road. We opened the car windows and let the fresh air come in and it was so refreshing….!

At the boat jetty I could feel my heart beat beginning to race, not excited at the arresting beauty of the landscape in front but the sight of a motor run country boat CJJ’s uncle had arranged for us…a typical ‘vanchi’ or ‘vallam’/country boat or ‘cheru-thoni’ as CJJ’s family sweetly refers. I went weak on my knees at the thought of travelling in such a small boat with Little King, leave alone the thought of hopping on to it , balancing myself with a hyper-active baby, a diaper bag weighing close to 6 pounds and a bulky camera bag. One could touch and splash some water sitting in such small boats. I let CJJ do the balancing act and gave him a piece of my heart, my Little King, said a prayer and hopped on to the boat, with the help of all the men present in the boat, except the little lad! I settled myself in the middle of the boat facing my two boys ……and as I saw Little King sitting cozily in his father’s safe hands, smiling at the cool breeze that touched his face softly, I began to loosen up and soak up the vibrant life around me…..

The vast expanse of water, dotted with house boats/Kettu Vallam here and there had a charm of its own..

But the moment we entered the narrow pockets of canals, I was thrilled to realise that my imagination, exaggerated or not, had fallen right into the grooves of reality, fitting perfectly! The scene was effervescent with life on the banks of these canals…..men and women washing clothes, vessels, diving in for a swim…..

locals relaxing and fishing on a mid morning in the company of their friends, women taking rest by the banks of the paddy fields with their lunch boxes…….

men enjoying a smoke at the
pettikkada ( small shop) ……….

Along the way, we saw temples, churches, cemetery and even a toddy shop quite typical to this place…..

That small country boat/Cheru-thoni I referred earlier, seemed to be a recurring scene wherever we looked…..

….locals use it for transport , fishing and shopping as well….but I must also mention that they have bigger motor boats for public transport, which is not there in my pictures.

They are also used for bringing in potable water in huge cylindrical barrels, 'coz of the scarcity of drinking water. I was told by CJJ that many years ago, there were no barrels and instead country boats itself were filled with potable water, after a thorough clean up and water was distributed to all the households in the area.

…narrow bridges connecting the two sides of the canal were spotted everywhere…..

another striking feature of the canals were these floating African Paayal or “Pola” as the locals say is a type of water moss. They seem quite invasive, making it a struggle for natives for fishing as well as for boatmen. We lost almost 10-15 minutes in the boat, on the way back because of these floating hassles. In one of the pictures below, you can see a part of the canal netted adjacent to a house; I was told that it is to avoid the intrusion of these green giants. CJJ also shared that one of the methods of keeping these green hassles away is by creating a square barricade with banana stems.

Most of the houses seem to be owning a boat, either a motor boat or country boat and some seem to be having a private
kadavu where they park their boats. You can also see a traditional cane basket used for fishing in one of the pictures below.

BUT do you really think I took the risk of travelling with
Little King, in that small country boat through a vast lake , with zero skill in swimming, just to drench myself in the tranquilizing charm of this village? No! Those who have been following this blog for last few years know that I had something else in my agenda…..to make my dream a reality …my dream of visiting Ammachi, CJJ’s grandma who shared my maternal grandmother's name.....who introduced me to new levels of flavours in my cooking, who shared some of her classic dishes with me over the phone……..and when Little King was born, I wanted him to have her blessings!

And there I was right infront of her house……..

We spent few hours listening to her stories……watching her excitement……….her non-stop chatting……warm hugs …..complaints for giving only a short notice about our visit and yet she had a table full of simple food cooked for us…. spicy egg roast, tongue –tickling Manga/mango pachadi, puzha-meen varuthathu/fish fry, sweet and sour puli inji/ginger, Unakka erachi chathachathu/a relish with dried meat, Pulisseri, a simple well seasoned, spiced yogurt sauce and I cant recollect the rest in the menu because I was trying my best to pay attention to the incessant flow of her stories as well as do justice to each dish relishing the taste and flavours and pausing in between to get the list of secret ingredients and method of cooking.

All of us were full yet she did not let us disperse without a cup of tea and some fruit cake……And as our boat began to move away, with a touch of anxiety in her words, she called out ,” mole….
avide etheettu udane vilkkanam ketto…” (call me when u reach home)

And I bid my farewell to her and to this beautiful place, with memories for a lifetime……..and I must say, as much as I was influenced by the tranquility of the place…..the effervescent life on the banks of the canals……….the simplicity in the lives of the people……the underlying hardships written on the leathery faces of farmers and fishermen……the freshness in the air and the beauty of cool breeze, I had a disturbing thought brewing in my head….

For an average farmer or fisherman, if a medical emergency arises, I think it takes about minimum 15-20 minutes or more , to reach a decent primary care especially if they don’t own a motor boat and all they have is that small country boat as the main mode of transport …..and that perhaps would be the most decisive 15-20 minutes of one’s life!!!!! Does beauty and tranquility come with a price??


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jeerakamittai/Candied Cumins – Colours of Childhood!

It would be really unfair if I start today’s post with an opening line that I do not fancy chocolates but I love the simplest things like Jeerakamittai/Candied cumins and Kappalandi Mittai/Candied groundnuts. I am sure , even before finish reading the line CJJ would give me that , “ helloooo….are u sure? “ look and smile considering the current situation that I have eaten more than my share from that large box of Godiva Truffles our dearest friends A & S gifted last weekend. Well, throw them in the category of exceptions, won’t you? ? Honestly, I am addicted to those two candies……..I cherish the sugar highs I get from this simple treasures of childhood…. colours of my childhood, indeed!

Last year when my parents were with us, they sampled various kinds of fancy chocolates everyday. But they were quite surprised to see me going for a tiny packet of Jeerakamittai they got me from India. As they watched me carrying small portions carefully nestled in my palms and nibbling on those colourful candies, my father recollected a colourful thread from my childhood and I was amused at the end of his narration……an episode that’s not even in my murky memory and after a lot of pestering my father agreed to put them into words and I got this in my mail last week.

“……….Once again I rewind and go back to my primary school days when this Jeerakamittai was a legendary figure among all of us --- a multi colored sugar coated granules , available in bulks and in packets ….. I think it was the cheapest then …. It had a magical attraction , especially when it was displayed in glass jars in stationary shops. Most children would have had it during their childhood days. Now I feel that children became addicts to this super sweet--- even Cadbury's were not preferred during those days. Such was the craze for this tiny colorful granules --- My daughter was no exception to this . When she was only two years , her Valliachan , my eldest brother used to give her a small packet of Jerakamittai whenever she visited him. He made her believe that it was a medicine, to be consumed only twice a day, thinking that he would have a control on her intake. But this prompted her to make frequent visits to Valliachan ‘ house and finally I was compelled to purchase it and keep it with me . An agreement was reached between us that she was allowed only two doses , one in the morning the other in the evening and that became a daily practice.

I still remember, my daughter never wanted to part with it when she enjoyed this delicacy. she was only two years then. One day, one of my close friends late Prof. Sureshkumar visited us and she was taking her morning dose of Jererakamittai. Professor closely watched her enjoying the sweets and after some time extended his hands and asked for a few. Without any hesitation she offered him just two mittais -- he put it in his mouth and pretended to be enjoying it and asked for the next…….but to my surprise, she carefully took two more and gave it to him. Professor repeated the same and asked for some more. she angrily turned her face and uttered "ini tharoooolla" ( I won’t give) Professor made a comment “anyway she is generous--at least she was ready to part with four !!! very rarely children of this age behave like this

My dear daughter , do you remember this ? “

No, I do not remember this sweetest piece of story from my childhood and that’s why I wanted it to be here on my web journal, in my father’s own words!


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Uzhunnappam - A local specialty from the scenic village of Kodanadu

A guest post by Soja Suresh, from the Readers Corner...

I might be repeating myself but I can’t help emphasising this point that it is always the people behind food and the taste memories associated with the same that gives most dishes a character and uniqueness of its own. As we try to replicate those dishes, either to savour a comforting memory or to connect to one’s roots, whatever be the drive, the whole experience of recreating those flavours and taste is deeper and meaningful, especially when you cook such dishes for people very close to your heart and such recipes get a substance of its own.

Here is one such example shared by my reader, Soja Suresh who has been trying to perfect her skills in recreating a traditional special from her mother-in-law’s kitchen and to be on par with her husband’s taste memories. According to her, Uzhunnappam is a very popular palaharam/snack in her husband’s place Kodanadu, a picturesque place in central Kerala. This can be described as a roasted flat bread, traditionally made in an Uruli, a wide bell metal vessel over burning embers and she also mentions that there are some people who put coal on top of the lid as well which sort of creates an atmosphere of baking. Read on :

Hello Shn,

I am Soja now residing at Kodanad . a village near Perumbavoor in Ernakulam district. This is my husband’s place. I had made a comment about your kinnathappam and had enquired you about mailing recipe of uzhunnappam which is a traditional food item of this area. So now I’m on that mission. I came to know about this “palaharam” only after reaching this place after marriage. This is a special dish made by my mother in law on special occasions. Everyone here are fans of this appam and also anything made by my mother in law. She is no more ;but we have inherited the methodology of this great dish from her (though each time I try out this thing there would be the same comment from my husband “ammayude pole ayittilla!”) Nowadays comments have become a bit weak ; I think “ente prathikaranam bhayannittakam” or “ammayude pole ayittundakam!” This is usually made in an uruli over kanal aduppu but my co-sister makes it on non stick pan over the gas stove. Since I’m always longing for my husband’s good comments I still make it in uruli.


  1. 3 cups roasted rice powder(raw rice powdered and roasted)
  2. 1cup black gram dal(whole uzhunnuparippu)
  3. ¾ cup grated coconut
  4. 5 to 6 shallots for grinding
  5. 2 pinchCumin seeds (jeerakam)
  6. 2cloves garlic
  7. 20 to 25 shallots for slicing
  8. About5 to 6 tablespoons of thinly sliced thengakothu
  9. 3 stems of curry leaves
  10. Salt as required
  11. ½ glass of coconut oil for roasting the appam

Roast the black gram dal in a frying pan (oil not necessary) till red in colour.. Powder it in a grinder.(Otherwise you can soak the fried dal in water and grind to a paste). Grind together the above mentioned ingredients from 3 to 6.Fry the shallots till golden brown . Also fry sliced coconuts, and curry leaves. In a large vessel mix together rice powder, powdered or ground dal, ground coconut paste, fried shallots, thengakothu, curry leaves and salt . Add water to the above mixture to make a batter of the consistency similar to unniappam or thick dosamavu.

Leave the batter to get soaked for 2hrs since we are using roasted rice powder. [ I occasionally use raw rice powder; ie.before roasting.The powder should be coarse{puttupodiyude pakam}. ] When poured it should be thick like unniappam batter. After 2hrs. place the uruli on the kanal aduppu with a small firewood burning in the aduppu. Pour about 2 ladles of coconut oil to the uruli and when it becomes medium hot you have to pour about 3 ladles of the batter to the oil. Spread it in circular shape like that of dosa but should be very thick; about 1cm. thick in the middle and then tapered to 1/2cm along the edges. Now you have to cover this appam with a lid and to leave it for some time on slow fire until it’s inside gets done ; take care not to get it burned. After some time toss it upside down so that the other side also gets done . You can toss it three or four times till it gets done and also both sides must get “moriyanam” a bit. Some people here use red hot charcoal on top of the lid (similar to baking). After it is done it’ll be reddish brown in colour and when it is cool slice it in radial direction from the center .It’ll look like plum cake pieces. Tastes best along with “nadan” chicken curry. Very delicious.

Note:For trial it is better to take coconut oil and batter in small quantities and after practicing to spread the batter and to toss it you can make bigger appams in size. The thing is that if only the appam is bigger in diameter then only you can make it thick and then only will it be tastier. Cooking process is similar to frying a thick egg omelette.

Soja gave me a detailed recipe and promptly replied to mails to clear even the silliest doubts of mine. My mother, during her stay here in US , brought Soja’s recipe to life in my kitchen, giving it the smell and taste , sans Uruli and coals. She made this in a non-stick pan and we used split and skinned black grams/Uzhunnuparippu. We enjoyed it with some spicy chicken curry as she suggested. Based on our experience, one thing I can say confidently is that slow cooking is the key here and you need to be cautious with the consistency of the batter too.

Soja, my heartfelt thanks for being so generous in sharing such a local specialty and getting this village beauty its well deserved attention.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Straight from the heart....though a bit late......

Wanted to wish you all in advance......yet I believe there 're a couple more days left before you forget the beauty,togetherness and deliciousness of the season Onam brought.....Hope all of you had a fabulous time and we wish all our dear readers, friends and families the prosperity of the season!

Little King, Shn & CJJ
No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I crave Parippu Vada & Chaaya!

Friday evening….more specifically, one of those days I had that I-want-to-feel-good itch. And I had made plans. I wanted to go to the riverside , show Little King his favorite duckies, stroll by the yacht club and sit somewhere, relax and drench in the beauty of the blue canvas dotted with fleet of yachts and watch the hawking seagulls flying on that clear blue sky…….

I was playing with Little King and as plans danced in my head, to that imaginary balmy weather at the riverside, I heard a heavy yet rhythmic tapping on my windows….the pitter patter of rains!!! I grabbed Little King off the floor and rushed to the balcony and it was pouring …. ….winds were blowing furiously yet I felt the swaying trees still retained a grandeur of their own…..I saw powerful streaks of flashing light followed by loud thunderbolts. And as I stood there marveling at the charm of rains, I saw the little guy, from the corner of my eye, all agape with eyes wide open…his iris moved swiftly as roaring thunderbolts and furious winds fought for dominance and then suddenly he noticed the heavy water-fall cascading down from the corner of the roof and I saw him waving his hands up and down and blabbering with excitement…..he smiled as the winds sprayed sprinkles on his face. And as I watched the twinkle in his eyes and the glow on his face, the overcast skies up there and the balmy weather I dreamt was already a distant memory!

As three of us sat there soaking in the beauty of rains, I saw Little King’s attention falling on the wooden planks of the balcony ..it had uneven surfaces and the tiny splashes the rain drops created on those small water pools seemed to be amusing him. At that moment, the carousel of my memories stopped at the endearing sight of me and my brother making paper boats tearing that day’s newspaper and letting them float in the fresh pool of water the rains created in our front yard and in vain, I wondered if I would ever be able to create such memories for our little guy or if he would really enjoy paper boats in the first place!!!

As I was caught in thoughts quietly, I heard CJJ thinking aloud ,”…….ho…nalla vadayum chammantheem…..oru choodan chaayem kittiyirunnegil…..” ( I wish I had some deep fried savory fritters with a cup of tea….) Honestly, I wished for some deep fried goodness too, specifically for some Parippu Vada/lentil fritters and Chaaya/Tea but it was Friday evening and the only chore I could think of doing was eating out from some take-out box! And I did the next best thing, I opened the folder of Parippu Vada from my yet-to-post folder and feasted my eyes on those beautiful fritters and the glass of hot tea my mother made on a wintry evening while I was carrying our precious pea!!!!!

This is how my mother made ‘em :

  • 1 cup Thuvara parippu/Toor Dal/Yellow lentils, soaked for an hour
  • ¾ cup chopped small red pearl onions
  • 1/8 cup minced ginger – Around 2 tbsp
  • 1/8 cup minced green chillies (As per tolerance)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying
  • In a wet grinder, grind Parippu/lentils with salt into a coarse paste, without adding water. To this, mix chopped onion, minced ginger and garlic and pulse one or two times to combine everything well. Transfer it to a wide bowl; tear off some curry leaves and mix well.
  • Heat oil over medium heat in a deep frying pan and check if oil is hot - by dropping a tiny bit of the dough into the oil and if it comes to the top sizzling with bubbles around, then oil is ready for frying. Scoop out a small amount of dough and roll into a gooseberry size ball with your fingers and flatten it gently on your palm or on a banana leaf or wax paper, whichever is convenient to you. Drop them gently into the hot oil, one or two at a time , depending on the size of your pan as well as your expertise, fry till it’s cooked both outside as well as inside. Please keep flipping each side as you fry the. Serve with tea or coffee of your choice.
Notes: If you don’t get to grinding the soaked lentils immediately, drain and store them in refrigerator which also eases grinding to an extent as it stops the mixer/grinder from heating up fast. Also while grinding , if the ground lentils goes beyond the coarse paste texture, stay away from pulsing onions and other herbs to mix well, instead gently combine with a spoon.

Hope it’s pleasant weather and weekend ahead for us. I think I should stop making plans and check the weather forecast for a change !! Wish you all a lovely weekend …am sure it is going to be a memorable one with Onam around the corner! :)


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jaathikka Chammanthi - The fruity cover of Nutmeg with grated coconut.

They may not have a velvety skin as those blushing apricots……..yet that mellowed shade of yellow makes them handsome right at the time they ripen and mature….

….and unlike apricots, they have a beautiful heart that’s laced with natural red designs woven by Mother Nature herself….

…….and put them in the company of feathery light freshly grated coconut, rosy pearl onions and slender green chillies with a generous sprinkling of salt…

…..and there we have this tongue tickler that wakes up your taste buds and leaves a tangy and mild acidic note at the back of your palate……

This is one of the tasty creations from my mother-in-law’s kitchen and the first time I had it, it had me swept away! I always make sure that I savor it atleast once every time we visit her. It is one of those jazz up items she makes at the last minute, to bring life to an otherwise ordinary meal or as a condiment for Kanji-Payar.

It is very easy to put together. Select tender/young ones with a green hue; you may start by splitting the whole nutmeg fruit into two, remove the kernels, peel off the skins and cut the flesh into small pieces. Grind the fruity pieces either in a wet grinder or on an Ammikkallu, an old fashioned flat grinding stone with an elongated rolling pin. Add freshly scraped coconut , red pearl onions, green chillies and sprinkle salt to taste and grind till you get a coarse paste. Last time when my MIL prepared this, she plucked 4 whole nutmeg fruits and made her maid grate about half of a cracked open coconut and added some green chillies to elevate the heat to suit our palates. As I took notes from her, she also mentioned that the peeled off skins can be pickled separately , for which one can use both raw as well as ripe skin of the nutmeg fruit. Though I have tasted spicy pickles made with nutmeg fruit, I have never had the opportunity to taste the one with peeled off skins. May be on our next vacation!

Updated on 17th Auh 2010: Thought of updating the post and title , to clarify certain doubts raised in the comment section. This comes under the category of 'sides & condiments' just like pickles or Manga Chammanthi, Chutta Pappada Chammanthi or Unakka Chemmeen Chammanthi . And as I had written in one of my earlier posts, "This is not to be misinterpreted with the ever popular Chutney. For Keralites, both are two different things; Chammanthi is a dry coarse paste where as Chutney is a liquid-y dip/sauce". Sorry, I cannot think of an equivalent name in English.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kerala Pork Fry/Olathiyathu

Almost a fortnight ago, on one of my routine calls to home, my mother filled me in on the gathering they had at her brother’s place earlier that day. They were meeting my uncle’s family after several years and my mother was quite delighted to see her nephews and niece after such a long gap. With bursts of excitement, she went on talking about them and how all three of them have blossomed into well seasoned teenagers. Food being the pulse and heart of any such family gatherings, they had prepared a grand feast, to celebrate the family reunion. My mother enumerated an array of dishes that gave serious cravings to my already starved stomach . One of the items in menu was a pork curry and quoting my aunt’s words, my mother happily told me that they bought and prepared that dish knowing well that she loves it! I was touched. I was moved by the fact that they remembered such a tiny detail about my mother’s food preferences, even after such a long span of time. The more and more I thought about my aunt’s remark, I felt it was a beautiful testament to my mother’s porky love!

Yes, she just loves that fatty meaty 'artery clogging' goodness. Growing up, Sunday was the day dedicated for cooking chicken at home but there was some exceptions too. Very rarely, pork would be presented at the table, on days when my mother’s cravings became loud and clear. As a picky fussy teenager, I could never embrace myself to eat the special of the day as the curry always contained lots of fatty chunks and since that was the only wet curry on the table to smear my rice with, I had no option but to ladle some gravy and dig out some pieces without thick slabs of fat. But Mummy would be sitting just across the table devouring each and every slab of fat, “nei-kashanam” in her words, she could lay her hands on and I found it gross those days…I never understood the whole funda behind her fervor but now I have the gastronomic wisdom to know that she has been true pork aficionado.

During her stay here, she feasted her eyes on the beautifully arranged, hunger stimulating display of various cuts of pork meat, sliced and unsliced slabs of bacon, huge loaves of ham, smoked pork shanks and shoulders , sausage links and so on at the supermarkets. Her visits to the Farmers Market and Oktoberfest were never complete with a charred or grilled brat sandwich. I clearly remember that sheepish yet content smile on her face while enjoying slices of ham and sausage links for breakfast at a local breakfast joint here. As I write this , another incident that pops up in my mind is that of my mother forking chunks and chunks of ham into her plate, while prepping her plate ready for cooking, at the Mongolian Barbeque restaurant. Oh, there comes another one, she enjoying ham from the Thanks Giving platter my hospital canteen served. Oh, how can I forget her love for pizza or should I say love for pizza with a double topping of Italian sausage, bacon and pepperoni, considering the fact she despised the chicken tikka pizza we got her from a shopping mall food court near my home in Kerala!!!!

Well, not only does she enjoys pork meat but also good at concocting pork curries and fries or I should say, she knows the right techniques to cook up a pork curry or fry. For instance, the taste maker and flavour enhancer in today’s featured recipe is the pork fat that accumulates on top after pressure cooking. She uses this pork fat to saute onions, instead of regular cooking oil, which explodes the flavours and adds one more tasty layer along with the medley of spices used. Mummy made this pork fry during the last week of their stay here and here’s how she made it.


To Dry Roast & Marinate:
  • Around ¾ kg fatty pork, cubed and washed well
  • 1/3 cup Coriander powder
  • 3 tsp Chilly powder ( As per tolerance)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 small pod of garlic ( or around 8 big ones) , crushed (Adjust as per your liking for garlic)
  • 3-4 inch piece of ginger, crushed
  • Salt to taste
  • ¾ cup water
To Sauté :
  • 3 cups thinly sliced big onion
  • 5-6 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 3-4 tsp black pepper powder ( Adjust as per the strength of spice and your tolerance level)
  • 1 + 1 + 1 tsp Homemade Masala powder/Garam Masala
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • Pork fat or 2 -3 tbsp coconut oil for sautéing
  • Heat a small pan over low heat and dry roast coriander powder till brown and remove. Lower heat again and in the same pan, dry roast chilly powder and when the colour darkens a bit, add turmeric powder and stir for a while and remove. Keep stirring while dry roasting ground spices without burning them.
  • Marinate cubed meat with roasted spices, crushed ginger, garlic and salt for about 30 minutes; Add around ¾ cup water and pressure cook until done.
  • Heat a wide pan or mann-chatti/earthenware; pour some of the fat and juice extracted on top after pressure cooking; sauté thinly sliced onions until transparent; you may add some cooking oil if onion is getting dried up and sticking to the pan. At this stage , throw in green chillies and continue to cook until onions are golden brown. Now sprinkle black pepper powder and stir for few seconds and then add 1 tsp Masala powder/Garam Masala and sauté for a minute or two or until a nice aroma comes; now tear off the curry leaves , crush them in your palms and add to masala. Transfer cooked meat from the pressure cooker and add to the masala and let it cook over medium heat for a while, until everything comes together and flavours blend well; towards the middle of cooking add 1 more teaspoon Masala powder/Garam Masala. Let the it simmer, roast slowly dry up in low heat (this process may take about 20-30 minutes depending on the amount of gravy that needs to be dried up) and towards the end of cooking, add 1 more tsp Masala powder/Garam Masala and some more crushed curry leaves, stir well and turn off the stove after 5-6 minutes.
  • Serve with rice or any flat breads of your choice,
Notes: Though optional, adding some potato sticks/cubes fried in oil, towards the end of the cooking , i.e., when meat is almost roasted and gelled well all spices and herbs, add one more layer to the taste. Please make sure that , these fried potato sticks/cubes are in the pan, along with the meat, for about 10-20 minutes, to marry the flavours of meat, spices and herbs.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ari Vada – Donut shaped savoury fritters with rice flour

Once again, I felt like that little girl who walked into the classroom , after a long leave of absence, fearing if friends would welcome her back into their group ,share same level of closeness or feel some sort of disconnect and to her surprise, she was delighted to notice that warm smile on her friends’ faces. That’s exactly what I experienced, a note of reassurance and support, while surfing through your comments on my last post. I was elated, to say the least! The knowledge that someone really kept checking this blog regulary for an update and was finally happy to see some activity here, made me feel really tickled. Thank you for letting me know that I was missed and for making me feel special :)

As I sit here listening to the crickets chirping outside and clock ticking fast way into midnight, my brain calls out to go for a quick post and a quick recipe; so here we go!

On those days when I blogged regularly, leap-frogging from one dish to another, following winding trails of faded memories, leading to another forgotten taste, my cousin-M Chechi who has been a constant support and follower of this blog, mailed me with a list of various tea-time snacks I could think of blogging and suggested that Usha aunty might be able to help me with the original names of many snacks as her mother was an expert in variety snacks. I replied saying ,” ….. and also y'day i thought about usha aunty's amma...i was not aware that she was a snack expert........but I remember,.she had taught mummy to make a deep fried snack....something with arippodi and ulli, mulaku and inji ....but i dont remember if she adds thairu to it...anyway....see ...this is how my thought path leads me to stuff i havent thought about in a while.....:) “. She reverted with a quick response correcting me , “Hey that deep fried snack of usha aunty's amma --- it is not curd but grated coconut. I sometimes try that. If you put a pinch of sodapodi, it becomes very soft.

Yes, it has always been “Usha Aunty’s Amma’s palaharam/snack” for our entire family for more than a decade . This deep fried savory snack made with rice flour, spiced up with the heat from green chillies and ginger was introduced to all the women in our family by Usha Aunty’s Amma, as “Easy Uzhunnu Vada” that can be made in a jiffy, when we have some impromptu guests. For its ease and use of readily available ingredients , I remember my mother serving it as our after school snack many a time ……that bite of onions, mild heat from the chillies and finally washing it down with a hot glass of tea …..aaahh…..that was heights of tea-time pleasure for a teenager like me!

Then why the name “Ari Vada” for my post? As you can see from the mail chat with my cousin, we always referred to this one as Usha Aunty’s Amma’s palaharam/snack, until the day I heard a more convincing name in a cooking segment telecast by a Malayalam TV Channel, while collecting info on Kalathappam. In this particular episode, the snack under discussion is featured as an old world favorite among the Muslim community from Balaramapuram, a place at the southern region of Kerala, especially at the time of breaking fast /Nombu Thura during the month of Ramadan. The only difference here is that egg and baking powder is not part of the featured recipe and the only explanation I can think of is that, the introduction of these two ingredients lately shares the same logic of some adding eggs and baking powder in making Pazhampori , mainly for more fluffiness and texture…. a perfect example of how recipes evolve over time!

During her stay here, my mother made this snack once to satisfy my pregnancy cravings as well as to feature it on blog. She suggested putting a hole in the middle to add to its overall aesthetic appeal. Also she was of the opinion that the similarity in appearance with Uzhunnu Vada, justifies the name ,” Easy Uzhunnu Vada”. Putting a hole in the middle is a personal choice, though technically it helps in cooking the dough evenly. Here’s how my mother prepared it:

  • 2 cups rice flour, roasted
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1 cup big onion minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 10 green chillies, minced ( adjust to your tolerance)
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • Salt to taste
  • Around ¾ cup water ( varies depending on the rice flour)
  • Oil for deep frying
  • In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients , except water and start mixing. Minced onion and grated coconut release some amount of water content and hence, be careful and start adding water little by little and mix until dough is soft and moist enough to roll on your palm. If you have time, let the dough rest for about 30 minutes before shaping them.
  • Heat oil over medium heat , in a deep frying pan and when oil is hot - check by dropping a tiny bit of the dough into the oil and if it comes to the top sizzling with bubbles around, then oil is ready for frying - start shaping the dough. You can do this either on your palm or on a plantain/banana leaf or on a parchment paper. Smear some oil or water on your chosen canvas; take a small amount of dough and roll them into a gooseberry size ball and then gently flatten it by pressing with your fingers ( Note: Dipping you fingers in water is a neat idea to avoid sticking at this stage; it also makes the transferring (to the frying pan) easier) and put a hole in the middle. Transfer it carefully to the hot oil and fry till it turns golden brown. Serve with hot tea/coffee.
Those who do not like to take the extra effort of putting the hole in the middle, may just stop with flattening the dough and shape and fry like Parippu Vada, another variety of lentil fritters.

While following a trail from the comments section, I discovered Fathima’s blog and came across this same snack dressed little differently, with a very sweet name, Mutta Surka. Her recipe looks more or less the same and what I loved about hers is the use of ableskiver pans/Unniappam Chatti to make it more healthy with less oil . Thank You, Fathima!


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hellooooo.... :)

It’s been more than 7 months since my last post!! I don’t know where to start.....it would be an understatement if I say, I was overwhelmed seeing your messages on my last one and the bunch of emails I received…..those thoughtful wishes, messages loaded with words of love and prayers, kisses and hugs sent across for our little boy, that bit of happiness you felt for us brought a lump in my throat…..At one point of time, I even wondered whether it was my post-delivery hormones playing pranks on me…….but even now when I read those messages, they evoke the same intense feelings…….the feeling that someone in some corner of the world, who have known us just through this little space and the words I pour out here, care for us and have given us a place in their hearts!! The realization of the same was more than touching and I had no clue how to express those emotions and feelings. I kept pushing the idea of updating this place not knowing the right way to express my gratitude……..and soon it happened…I fell in love, again!!!!

Yes, I have fallen in love ..... with those winning toothless smiles, those tiny toes that remind me of the flutters and soft kicks I felt around the same time in last July, those itty-bitty fingers reaching for my ringlets, and those ‘ bulb eyes’ that beams up as he smiles……aww, I never imagined parenthood is such a blissful state! Little King sure knows how to charm me with those innocent batting of eye lashes, his continuous jabbering and squealing. His squeals have become so loud that, few weeks back, I had to close the windows and doors for fear of our neighbours getting wrong signals!!

I must say we re greedy parents; we create opportunities to see the twinkle in his eyes and the glow on his face. Every now and then we deliberately pass the picture wall with his framed portraits and it just fills our hearts when he blushes and gently falls on to my shoulders with a tinge of shyness in his eyes and then with hands around my neck, he hugs me tighter and tighter :)

When I am exhausted, I take him to the balcony and Mother Nature seems to be happy to take him into her lap. He watches leafy branches of apple trees and pines and maples dancing to the soft music of mother natures’ lullaby, without taking his eyes off. He smiles charmingly as the breeze caresses his soft cheeks as though She whispered something sweet to him. She also sends out feathery friends to sing songs for him and his eyes follow them quickly as they flutter and fly away. On rare occasions, She amazes us with a special treat by letting the clouds embrace the sun for a while, to create a dreamlike setting where bunny rabbits happily move around chewing on leafy weeds , baby squirrels run in between the lined pine trees and birds walk freely on the green carpet…. Absolutely surreal!

As much as I enjoy this absolute parental bliss, a part of me miss writing here! But, as I read somewhere recently, my brain at this point is a tabula rasa, a completely blank slate. At times I feel I have lost self motivation and that’s probably because I do not have the time and energy to get inspired by a dish , collect and compile my thoughts and taste memories revolving the same. Yet, there ‘re days when I find myself sharing a moment with CJJ in the kitchen and bursting into laughter reminiscing the follies of my early years in kitchen. At that point, I remind myself that I have to record and capture that particular piece from the past here in my online journal and even before I know, it is buried under a pile of top priority stuff. And there are times when a fresh new comment leads to older posts and wading through the comment section, I rediscover those affection in your words, the appreciation you showered me with……and at that moment, all I want to do is start writing and connect with the hundreds out there who helped to get this place going on even when I didn't have a clue as to where I was taking this blog. And exactly at that time, I am either reminded of my must-complete-basic essential- list or I hear a hyper-active squeal from the baby monitor!

Lack of time, energy, and self-motivation, poorly captured photographs, recipes without any exact measurements and moreover, a completely empty brain…..I know it is not an ideal recipe to run a food blog or perhaps, a perfect recipe for a blog-shutdown, Nevertheless, as someone who believes in the old wise saying, “If there’s a will, there’s a way”, I have decided to give it a try !! I owe it to my mother who cooked up many of my favorites during her stay here, saying that I can feature those items later when I am busy with the baby …I owe it to my mother –in law who got excited learning about my blog and shared some old rustic fare from her kitchen, even one from her grandmother’s favourite list, though most of those recipes lack accurate measurements ……I owe it to a bunch of readers out there who sent me long forgotten recipes from their families which are still waiting for their turn in my yet-to-post folder……and last but not the least, I owe it to you for your continued support and affection.

And let me say THANKS with this quick and easy dessert I picked out to cook and blog just for you, as it fitted perfectly into my tiring schedule.

Roasted Apricots with Honey-Vanilla Crème Fraiche

(Recipe Source:Bon Appetit Magazine – Issue: June 2010 – Pg:44)

  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 12 small apricots (about 1 ½ pounds) halved, pitted ( I again cut them into small wedges)
  • 3 ½ tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • 8 oz crème fraiche or sour crème
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup water
  • Preheat oven to 425 F. Mix brown sugar and cardamom in 11*7*2inch glass baking dish. Add apricots and pour ¼ cup water and 2 tbsp honey over fruit. At this point, I mixed very gently with a spatula. Now, dot with butter and roast until apricots are tender, occasionally basting with syrup in dish, for about 12- 15 mts.
  • Let it cool 5 mts after taking out of the oven.
  • Whisk crème fraiche , remaining 1 ½ tbsp honey and vanilla in small bowl.
  • To serve: Divide warm apricots and syrup among small 6 bowls; spoon honey –vanilla crème fraiche over and serve.
My thoughts for a quicker version: You may dip the stone fruit in butter first, and then in the cinnamon flavored brown sugar and grill for few minutes , until fruits are tender and serve with vanilla and honey flavored crème fraiche or just some good old ice cream…perfect for outdoor grilling parties or a late night dessert craving.

This dessert and wild flowers are FOR YOU as a token of our heartfelt gratitude for being there for us and for being patient and keeping this place alive in our absence…

Thank You!

No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 Kitchenmishmash.blogspot.com. All rights reserved.