Meen Peera Pattichathu

Meen Peera. How do I describe it? This definitely is one of my favourite fish preparation and as my mom says, just the smell of this fish cooking is enough for a perfectly satisfactory lunch. If there is Meen Peera for lunch, I dont want any other side dish. It will be just rice and fish. Wow, simple pleasures of life!!!

Cleaned Anchovies: 500 gms
Kodum Puli (Gambooge)- 3
Curry leaves: 3 sprigs
Mustard: 1 tsp
Coconut oil: 2 tbsp
Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp

To Grind
Shallots: 6
Ginger: 1 inch
Green Chillies: 6 (adjust to your tolerance level
(I use a lot of Kanthari for this preparation)
Coconut grated: 1.5 cups

Pulse the To Grind ingredients just once in your mixie. (Chatachhe edukkuka)
Clean the Gambooge/Kudam puli and keep aside.
In a Kadai or :Meen Chatti" heat the oil and splutter mustard and 1 sprig curry leaf.
Now on low flame, add the ground coconut paste, required salt and the rest of the curry leaves.
After a minute, add the cleaned fish and mix everything together.
You can add a little water  (1/4 cup)to it.
Close the lid and let it cook on low flame.
Stir in between.
Serve warm with rice.


Sardine curry without oil

This is an easy curry for the health conscious.

Sardine Fish: 8
Kodam Puli/Gambooge- 2
Water and Salt; as required
To Grind:
Tomato: 1 small
Shallots: a handful
Coriander Powder: 1 tsp
Turmeric  Powder; 1/2 tsp
Chilly Powder:2 tbsp
Garlic cloves: 6-7
Ginger: 1 inch

Crush all the ingredients in the "To Grind" in your mixie.
Mix it with the Fish.
Add salt, Curry leaves, required water
Cook till done on medium flame.
Serve with rice.


Pepper Sev

Christmas is round the corner and Iam permanently in the kitchen from the past few days. I already baked cakes, made lots of snacks (which unfortunately is getting over and I seriously doubt if any of it will last till Christmas). Most of what I made is sweets- Cakes, Nankhatai, Diamond cuts, Butter Murukku (tho this one is not sweet, its not spicy either!!!). So while I was having my Garam Chai yesterday evening, I suddenly craved for something spicy which took me back to my Chennai days. There was a sweet and snack shop very near to where I lived. The Pepper Sev they sell are just so perfect for a cold evening to go with your masala Chai. aaa... In a minute, I was up from the chair and in the kitchen. So this is how I made it and my hubby gave me full marks!!!!! :)))
(Ive posted the normal sev recipe before, but this one is really spicy and tastes different and better coz of the rice flour and Urad dal flour)

Besan/Bengal Gram Flour: 1.5 cups
Rice Flour: 3/4 cup
Urad Dal Flour: 3 tbsp
Pepper Coarsely ground: 1.25 tbsp
Butter: 2 tbsp
Asafoetida: 1/4 tsp
Garlic Powder: 3/4 tbsp
Water: enough to make a dough
Salt: as required
Oil: to deep fry

Let the butter come to room temperature.
Mix all the ingredients and make a smooth dough.
Heat oil in a kadai.
Fit the Idiyappam maker with the plate that has big holes on it
(not the plate with which we make Idiyappam, but the bigger one)
Press the dough out of the mould directly into the oil.
Make sure the flame is medium.
Turn over once.
Fry till brown and crisp (the vigorous bubbling will stop when it is done.)
Drain on an absorbant paper.
Once cool, store it in airtight container.


Fruit Cake

What is Christmas without the classic fruit cake?  There are variations of this cake, some are dark caramel, some are light, some are moist, some dry, some with just one variety of dry fruit, some with many. Some with alcohol- agan varaiations are there- Scotch Whisky, Rum, Brandy, Sherry, Wine.
Usually the Christmas cake is made way in advance and alcohol is poured everyweek onto the cake till Christmas, the process is known as 'feeding' the cake. This is the real secret behind the moist effect and the long shelf life of the cake.

This photo was taken the day after it was baked, that is why it is looking dry. The cake gets moist as it sits. So it is a must to give the cake 10 days or more of resting period for the flavours to set in and also for the cake to turn moist.

I started baking when I was in college and one of the first experiments was fruit cake. Those days I used to follow Mrs BF Varghese's recipes. Wow, each recipe is worth trying!!! and my baking guru is Mrs BF Varghese's niece, Rebecca aunty. I learnt the first steps of baking in her kitchen. 

 I remember how I used to hate fruit cakes when I was a child, I always loved the 1234 cake that ammachy baked. So even for Christmas, it was that cake I used to have. Only as I grew old that I realized, fruit cakes are the best cakes in the world!!! O yes, even though Iam a die hard fan of chocolates, when it comes to cakes, chocolate cake takes only the 3rd position...after fruit cakes and 1234 cakes..:)))
So heres how I do it. Well, after marriage, I follow my Mom in law's Fruit cake recipe. Mrs B.F Varghese was mom in law's neighbour in Kottayam. Could be the reason.. :)))) My Mom-in-law's recipe is really a keeper!!!

Mom's recipe is equal weights. All the ingredients should weigh the same. A few of my friends have asked me to give cup measurements as they dont have a kitchen scale. So for them, after taking the weight, I measured in a cup (200 ml cup)

The Batter:
All Purpose Flour: 300 gms  (2 1/4 cups)
Sugar: 300 gms (1 3/4 cups)
Butter: 300 gms (this I didnt measure coz You can buy 3 of 100 gm sticks)
Eggs: 300 gms (5 normal eggs)
Vanilla Essence: 1 1/2 tsp
Baking Powder: 3 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp

The Dry Fruits:
Dry fruits: 300 gms
Rum: enough to soak the fruits completely

Chop the dry fruits and soak it thoroughly in Rum/Brandy atleast a day in advance. I usually soak a month in advance..You can even soak a year in advance!!!

For the dry fruits, you can use cranberries, prunes, Black Currants, dates, cashew, raisns, almonds, candied orange/lemon peel, candied ginger, apricots etc... totally up to u, this time I used almonds, golden raisns,walnuts, apricots,sultanas, orange peel and dates
 I usually soak 1 kg of dried fruits in one a half litres of Rum)


For the Caramel:

Granulated Sugar: 1 cup
Hot Water: 1/2 cup
Heat the sugar in a pan with 1 tbsp water. Swirl the pan but should not use spoon. When it turns a dark brown colour and bubbles start forming, turn off the stove and pour the 1/2 cup hot water. Keep it aside. Let it come to room temperature (otherwise it will spoil your batter if you use it hot)

The caramel colour is also up to you, you can stop when your preferred colour is reached.. light brown to very dark brown)

The Spice Powders:
Cardamom: 3
Cloves: 2
Cinnamon: a stick
Cake Jeera/Caraway seeds: 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg Powder: 1/4 tsp
Powder it inyour dry grinder and keep aside for use in the batter.


Let the butter and egg come to room temperature.
Pre heat the oven 180 C
Grease and dust your baking tray/cake pan.
Sift the Flour, Baking Powder and salt together atleast thrice and keep aside.
To this add the spice powders and mix with a spoon

Separate the egg yolks and whites

In a clean and dry bowl, beat the egg whites till soft peaks are formed. At this stage, even when you invert the bowl, it will not fall down, like in the picture.

Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
Add egg yolks to it one a time and beat till everything is mixed properly.

To this, add the cooled caramel and vanilla essence and again beat till well combined.

Now keep away the cake beater. From this stage on, we will use only a wooden spatula.
Keep a handful of flour aside.
Now gently fold in the rest of the flour till everything is combined. Make sure you do not do it hard, and also when you mix, do it only in one direction (we dont want gluten forming and making the cake hard)
Now take the soaked fruits and toss it in the handful of flour we kept aside.

Now gently mix the fruits. Yes, the soaked Rum/brandy also goes into the batter.

Now carefully fold in the egg whites till it is completely mixed and no white is visible.

Now transfer the batter to prepared cake pans, smooth the top and into the oven it goes.

Baking time varies but fruit cakes usually take longer than tea cakes. Check after 45 minutes and if a tooth pick inserted  to the middle comes out clean, then it is done.
Also, if the pan is small, it wont take that long to bake. The long tin took 50 minutes and the small round tin took 40 minutes.
When it comes out of the oven, Pour a tbsp of Rum/Brandy on the cake. You can keep pouring a tbsp every week till Christmas (if you prefer) or just forget the whole thing coz youve actually mixed a fair amount in the batter.

Now keep it covered in a cool dark place till the flavours set in. (10 days to 2 weeks, but atleast give it a weeks time)

A good friend, Prita tried the recipe and this is her picture.


Beef Biriyani/ Minced Meat Biriyani

This one is again my mom-in-law's recipe. My hubby and his brothers call it Kalipeeru Biriyani. Even Mom calls it that. Very easy to make and really tasty too.

Im giving a step by step pic of how it is made. Dont get fooled by the pics... the step pics were taken when this was made for 12 people, thats why it looks huge. The recipe measurement Iam gonna give is for a family of four. So over to the recipe.

Beef: 250 gms

Wash the meat. Mix it with a tsp of pepper powder and tsp of salt.
Add required water and pressure cook till done.
(After the first whistle, I lower the flame and cook for 20 minutes.)
Once it cools, take the meat out and mince it in your processor.
Reserve the stock to cook the Biriyani.

Oil: 3 tbsp
Cinnamon: 1 stick
Cloves: 3
Onion: 2 medium sliced
Tomato: 1 large chopped
Ginger Garlic paste: 1 heaped tbsp
Green chillies: 2 slit (adjust to your tolerance level)
Coriander powder: 1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder: 1/2 tsp
Chilly Powder: 1/2 tsp
(instead of the above three ingredients, you can use 1 heaped tsp of meat masala, Saras or Eastern)
Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp
Coriander Leaves chopped: 4 tbsp
Minced Beef: 2 cups
Basmati Rice: 2 cups

Wash and soak the Basmati rice in water for 15 minutes.
Heat oil. Add the cinnamon and cloves. After a few seconds, throw in the onions and green chillies.
Saute till it is slightly brown. Make sure it browns uniformly.

Now add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a few minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till it is all mashed up and oil separates.
Then add the masalas and saute for a few minutes on low flame.

Add the minced beef and let everything get mixed properly.
Add the coriander leaves and mix well.

Pour 3 cups water (measure the stock from cooking beef and add water to it to make it 3 cups)
 and the two cups drained basmati rice, required salt. and transfer it into a pressure cooker.
Close the lid and when the steam starts coming out steadily, put the weight and wait for 20 seconds.
Turn off the stove and leave the Kitchen immediately.
Come back after 20 minutes and open the pressure cooker. By this time, the pressure would have been released fully and your rice would have cooked to perfection.
Serve warm with raitha, pickles and Papad.


Bitter Gourd/Pavakka Thoran

Uniquely bitter yet wonderfully tasty!! Oxymoron??
Well, if you use pavakka in theeyal, Aviyal etc, ofcourse, it will be bitter. But try this thoran once, and your idea of bitter gourd will completely change. I love this thoran and it could be the onion and grated coconut thats responsible for the enhanced taste.

Bitter Gourd: 1
Coconut grated: 1/2 cup
Green Chillies chopped: 3
Onion: 1 medium chopped
Turmeric Powder: a pinch
Curry leaves: a sprig
Mustard: 1/2 tsp
Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
Salt: as required

Finely chop the bitter gourd like in the picture. (somewhere in between chopping and grating)
In a kadai, heat oil, splutter mustard.
Throw in the onions, green chillies and curry leaves.
Saute for 2 minutes on low flame and then add the finely chopped bitter gourd, coconut, turmeric powder and salt.
Mix everything properly, sprinkle water and cook on low flame with the lid on.
After a few minutes, stir again and cook closed till done.
Serve with rice.


Oven Roasted Chenna

This is one snack I associate with train journeys. In Tamil Nadu this is called "time pass" and we get this in every shop from the road side cigarette joint to the biggest supermarket. It is usually roasted in a skillet but here Ive Oven roasted it.
Chickpeas/Chenna: 1 cup
Garlic: 3 cloves sliced
Chilly Powder: 1 tsp or as required
Cumin Powder: 1/2 tsp
Oil: 1 tbsp
Salt: as required

1.Wash and soak the Chickpeas/chenna overnight.Drain.
2.Cook by adding two cups water in a pressure cooker on high flame for five whistles.
(the chenna should be immersed completely and then add a cup more of water)
3.When the pressure has been released completely, take the chenna out and drain in a colander.
4.Now mix the chenna with salt, oil, garlic and chilly powder.
5.Preheat your oven to 220 C
6.Line your baking tray with aluminium foil and transfer the chickpeas to it
7.Bake for 40 minutes stirring in between.
(oven temperatures vary, so keep an eye after 25 minutes)
8.Once done, leave it like that for sometime till it cools down a bit

Crunchy, guilt free, protein rich snack is ready!!!!!

Note: If you are using canned chickpeas, drain, wash and then continue from instruction 4. (no need to cook it)
You can follow the same recipe for green peas as well. I usually buy the frozen green peas and follow from instruction 4.


Mont Blanc

This is a quick and convenient breakfast which my kids simply adore. I got this recipe from Fatafeat.

Egg whites: 2
Egg yolks: 2
Salt and Pepper: as needed
Cheese Slices: 2
Butter: 1 tbsp
White Bread: 2 slices

Add salt and pepper to the egg whites and whisk till it reaches the soft peak stage. Refer the pic below. At this stage, the egg whites hold the shape and will not fall off from the spoon.
Preheat oven.

Grease your baking tray with the butter. Place the bread slices and layer it with a slice of cheese.
Spoon half of the whites on top of the cheese like a heap.

Slip the egg yolk on to the top (make a small hole with a spoon and then do it)
Bake it on 180 C for 15 minutes.
Serve Warm

Caramel Pudding topped with Praline

Ive taken this classic dessert (caramel pudding) and gave it a twist to make it even better (praline topping).

For the Caramel:
Sugar: 100 gm
Water: 1 tbsp
Hot water: 1/4 cup

Heat the sugar and 1 tbsp water till golden brown. Do not stir, only swirl the pan.
When gloden brown, add the hot water and turn off the stove.
Pour this onto a pudding mould and keep aside for steaming.

For the pudding:
Milk: 250 ml
Sugar: 100 gm
Eggs: 3

Whisk the eggs, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Pour it over the caramel on the pudding mould.
In a steamer, fill water, Place the pudding mould on a dish, make sure it doesnt touch the water.
Close and stem for 20 minutes.
Take out and keep in the fridge.

After an hour or two, take it out of the fridge and slide the pudding onto a plate.
Now we go on to do the praline topping.

Sugar : 1 cup
Toasted Cashewnuts: 1 cup
Water: 2 tbsp

Lightly brush aluminium foil with a little oil
In a thick bottomed pan, heat the sugar with water till it turns brown in colour.
 Swirl the pan so that it browns uniformly.
When it reaches a beautiful brown colour, turn off the stove, add the cashewnuts and immediately pour it onto the aluminium foil (thin layer like in the picture)
When it cools, crush it and then pulse it in a food processor.
Top the caramel pudding with praline