Mexican style chicken

Mexican style Chicken

It takes just a handful of common place ingredients, a nice rub, a good sear in a well-greased pan, shred and toss together for a just saucy enough, juicy, flavour-packed chicken that can be scooped into tortillas, tacos, layered between bread or served alongside rice.
Chicken tortilla wraps

Chicken Tortilla wraps

These tortilla chicken wraps are unbelievably simple and quick to put together. It’s best had fresh off the stove – simple, earthy cumin spiced chicken, fresh coriander and melty cheese all wrapped up in warm, olive oil toasted tortillas!
Prawn pulav

Prawn biryani

Sunday morning, I was deveining prawns in my kitchen. It seemed to take forever. I wondered how many hours in life a person would spend deveining prawns. They must have statistics for that surely, like they have for how many hours in life we spend at traffic signals, how many pads a woman goes through in a lifetime, how many hours people spend on whatsapp debates… Somebody somewhere must have thought of quantifying the time spent on deveining prawns. I made a mental note to google it later when my hands were not yucky. The deveined pile was still small. I felt I was going too slow. I needed to set myself a goal. I decided I’d have to finish deveining the prawns before I picked up Yuvan from his class. I was quite pleased that I finished in half an hour. I was late to his class by 10 minutes though. I reckoned he would have enjoyed the extra time to run around with his buddy. His bud had left and he wasn’t pleased. It also meant I was late to pick up Hasini too. I braced myself for her grumbling. She didn’t notice me. She painted away and let me wait 10 minutes before she packed up. What do you know? It happens all the time when I want to fix a bug or send a particularly verbose mail before I go to the restroom. When I finally finish, the restroom is busy. The reason people spend all that time deveining prawns is because it adds an unbeatable flavour to any dish. I made prawn biryani. Let me tell you this. This Prawn biryani is just about perfect – just spicy enough from the green chillies, fragrant from the whole spices and kissed by the delicate coconut milk goodness. Everyone who ate it loved it. That includes Yuvan, Hasini and my dad. That’s one hard bunch to please. I served it with raita, boiled eggs and tawa fried fish fillets. Let me know if you make this prawn biryani. Print Recipe Prawn biryani Perfectly flavoured Prawn biryani made in a pressure cooker! Course main Cuisine Indian Prep Time 40 minutes Cook Time 20 minutes Servings 5-6 people Ingredients 1/2 kilo Prawn/Shrimp, shelled and deveined400 gm Basmati rice, soaked in water for 20 minutes2 Onions, sliced thin2 Tomatoes, chopped10 Green chillies, sliced lengthwise2 inch ginger8-10 cloves garlic1 tsp Fennel...
Murghir Jhol

Murgir Jhol – Bengali chicken curry

I am still on the movie subject. People go to a masala movie and complain that it’s just masala. People go to a movie with a solid script and fret that it is slow. They go to a movie like 2.0 and tut-tut that it’s too absurd (the very same ones who rave about the transformer series). They’re disappointed that gangster movie A does not have all the elements of gangster movie B, different story notwithstanding. All of them will claim that they thoroughly enjoyed “Inception”. I am surprised that people do not employ simple everyday logic in movie criticism. A movie is what it is. Take it as it is. Do not ask for Nasi Goreng in Saravana Bhavan. Don’t complain that the sushi place has very few vegetarian options. They are what they are. A masala movie cannot be an art movie, an animation movie and a “Hey Ram”. Comparing movies and expecting one to be the same as the other is dumb. If it’s the same, it’s a copy. Every gangster movie need not be like “Godfather”. Let me say it. I wasn’t as taken by “Godfather” as the rest of the world. Just my opinion. See I am not comparing “Godfather” to “Billa” or “Basha”. That Hollywood movies are by default the better, superior versions – I refuse to accept. Nitpicking little details in the movie and taking offence is absolutely ridiculous. I cannot imagine what people would do in a Karan Johar movie? I suppose they’d do the reverse of what they do in a regular movie – sit in for the songs and go out to smoke the rest of the movie. Enough about movies. Let’s move on to food. I am drawn to Bengali food the way I’ve been drawn to Kerala food. I’ve never eaten Bengali food before. I just know I’ll like it. I stocked up my pantry with Nigella seeds and mustard oil. I’ve been reading about Aloo Posto, Murgir Jhol, Chana bhapa.. I am smitten. I started with Murgir Jhol. It seemed like just the kind of thing to make for a Sunday lunch. I was weary of Sunday biryanis.  Also my last couple of experimental biryanis did not turn out too well. I was wincing from that memory and I wanted to take some time out from biryani until we could both reconcile. As much as a Sunday...
Paavakkai crisps

Paavakkai crisps | Bittergourd chips

I am getting all tangled up trying to put down what exactly I want to do in the new year. My first line is about cleaning the combs and hair-brushes regularly, my second one is about writing a book and the third one is cooking a new vegetable every week. My canvas encompasses my home, the beings in it, the dust on the windows, writing a book, losing weight, worrying about all the plastic… I am mixing up things on so many levels, it makes my head spin. So I decided to take each area of interest and write down a list of resolutions for each. So I’ll start with my favourite place – the kitchen. These are my kitchen resolutions I will cook one new/rarely cooked vegetable a week. I plan to fast once a week or go on an all-fruit diet one day a week depending on my mood that week. I have seen enough whatsapp forwards to believe that fasting is good for the body and lemons can cure cancer. I will use up my exotic ingredients before I buy more exotic ingredients. I have some un-identified millets, a pack of phool makhana, a big jar of shrimp paste among many other things. I’ll plan the weekly menu every Sunday so that I am prepared through the week and we’re not forced to order in. I don’t want to deal with all those plastic containers and plastic covers. I will be more patient while frying onions and waiting for the oil to separate from the masala. It makes a lot of difference. I’ll try to cut down the sugar in my coffee and Horlicks, but I don’t promise anything. I will try a little harder to seek out the plumpest seetapazham (sitaphal / custard apple), the sweetest sapota (chikku), the best long-grained basmati rice. Many times, the big chain stores don’t have the best produce. The paati at the market has the freshest greens. I am going to try buying produce anywhere I see them like my maamiyaar. She will stop on a highway, on a jammed road and walk into unknown farms to get her hands on fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve never bought Paavakkai before because I could not process that much of bitterness. I hadn’t devised a way to make it better. Until now. On a recent shopping trip, I thought I needed to...
Channa dal curry

Channa dal in coconut milk

You know you’re a domestic diva when your weekend plan includes operation ‘lice extermination’ from your kids’ heads, you’re planning the menu in the head while walking the treadmill, you make idli maavu, buy veggies, prep them, stock your fridge and feel too tired after all of it and order pizza. You don’t know the latest Netflix shows, your favourite songs are all old and you’re sleeping with an amrutanjan balm by your pillow, it’s safe to say you’re well into aunty-dom. I think it gets better after this. You can finally be the eccentric aunty you always were – recipe gathering, news-avoiding, sports-illiterate, shopping-crazy fat woman with a thing for mookuthis. You don’t feel the need to fit in, to keep up, to stay in tune. You’re happy to be off key, on your own terms in your own world. You feel happy to stay in bed and fall asleep reading. You feel accomplished and light of mind after decluttering the shelves. Now you’re really, truly free. I am happy to say that we’re somewhere close to the halfway mark with the 100 days of healthy eating challenge. I hope you’re eating healthy too and you are finding this series useful. I’d love to hear your opinions, suggestions or feedback on the series. Chappathi has been a popular option in my healthy eating series so far because there are umpteen ways to jazz up a simple meal of chappathis and everybody at home enjoys chappathis. Here I serve it with a creamy, lip-smacking Channa dal that is slow-simmered in coconut milk. This dal is my Ammamma’s recipe and a firm family favourite. I was saving this Channa dal curry for a heirloom recipe book along with a grand old story about my Ammamma but I suddenly ran out of recipe ideas and I figured I’d include it in the book too anyways. This dal is made entirely in a pressure cooker and is simple enough to make on a weekday morning. Hot off the stove chappathis served with this warm, comforting channa dal makes for a wonderful, cozy dinner this time of the year. I threw in a cup of sprouts stirfry for an extra punch of protein. Enjoy!   Thanks for reading and thanks all your support and encouragement.  To stay updated on all the posts, like/share/subscribe to foodbetterbegood on facebook, Instagram, google+. Print Recipe Channa dal in...
Methi biryani

Methi Biryani

Every restaurant, juice shop, or roadside frankie stall I go to, there’s already a couple of Swiggy and Zomato guys ahead of me. I see them at every traffic light. On the road, there’s always one of them behind me who is trying to overtake me from the wrong side. When I step out on the balcony I see one of them zip past my house. What are the odds? But the one I am waiting for always goes to my neighbour’s house instead. I then provide all my id proof details to persuade him that I am the rightful owner of that biryani. We’re not cooking as a people, I conclude. What’s happening?! I find that disturbing. This is one of those small, innocuous little changes that just happen and seem perfectly reasonable but are actually harbingers of a much bigger shift. It can’t seem right that we’re cooking less and less at home. We may well forget how to cook. There’s nothing more tragic. Cooking is a life skill. Jagan believes checking the car’s coolant, changing a punctured tyre and cleaning the AC filter are important life skills too. We agree to disagree. Cooking is zen. Cooking is power. Cooking is freedom.   I know I can make biryani if I was tempted by all the Bhai biryani but I had no muslim friends to give me Biryani. I know I can make Thai green curry if I really wanted it. I need not eat Pongal if everyone else in the family loves it but I hate it. I can make myself a sandwich instead. Note that this is not applicable if you’re in a joint family. You’re screwed. I am eating healthier. I am eating fresher. I am also avoiding all that plastic packaging that comes with home-delivered food. Cooking is work. It has taught me patience and compassion. I am more understanding now when my mother’s vadai is not as fluffy one day, when the hotel’s tiffen sambar is less stunning today than last time, when my own biryani is ear-shattering hot this time. There’s nothing more fulfilling, more soul-satisfying than a sitting down to a favourite home-cooked meal. Yes, it’s a little work but so worth it. I know what you’re thinking in your minds. “Then why do you order on Swiggy and Zomato?” I try my best not to. Sometimes I need to. And...
Milagai bajji

Milagai Bajji, 3 ways

You know that spring of joy when you look out the window and see rain? It’s hard to make sense of it. It’s almost visceral. Rain means happiness, that everything’s going to be alright, that this too will pass, that good things will happen. Whoever said “rainy is gloomy” watched too many Wimbledon matches. It’s like the rounded R’s that people mouth when they return from the US. It’s what we think we need to say. It’s not what we feel deep inside. Rain always, always means happy things. We’ve got it down to a well-worn formula in life and in cinema. Rain means traffic, so we can be late. Rain means cheery rain songs on radio & hot crispy snacks in the canteen. Rain means cancelled classes and school holidays. In cinema rain means heroine introduction, rain means a happy dance, rain means romance, rain means an important twist or the climax. These are the clichés that we love and cherish. For me rain means “Oho Megam” song from “Mouna Raagam” or “Vaan Megham” from “Punnagai Mannan”. Only those two and nothing else. My mind seems stuck in the late 80s. And only Ilayaraja songs will do. That’s just how it is. I am an 80’s child. Rain also means a big plate of piping hot, sinus-opening, throat-scorching Milagai bajji. I love the classic Milagai bajji – the entire chilli, seeds and all, dunked in bajji batter and fried to golden brown perfection. My nose may start running and I may appear to be weeping. But don’t take the plate away from me. It’s the kind of dare-devil things I like to do. I long wanted to try a few other variants of the milagai bajji. One was a potato stuffed bajji that I thought might be a milder, just as tasty version for less adventurous souls. In this one, I make a slit and scrape out the seeds from within the chilli and stuff with spiced potatoes. The third version is a mini milagai bajji bomb. If wolfing down an entire chilli seems forbidding, you can start with these mini milagai bajji bites. I cut up the chilli into little roundels and dunk in bajji batter and fry. These are like the bijli vedi (the little cigarette like single-shot deepavali cracker) – small and cute but still explosive. Last Saturday, I woke up to a cool, drizzly, cloudy...
Prawn masala

Prawn Masala

Did you ever think what someone would make of your youtube viewing history and browsing history if they ever got hold of that information? I am not talking about cookies and sophisticated algorithms that place an ad for the vacuum cleaner you looked up on Amazon on every site you visit. They do a pretty good job of profiling you. I am talking about what a real person would make of it when he goes through your internet activities. It’s worse than having someone go through your diary. If someone were to profile me purely on my internet activity with no prior knowledge about me, here is how I think it will go: Instagram feed is chock-full of runny eggs, stretchy cheese, melting chocolate Fat glutton – Not totally inaccurate, but I am only eating raita today Watches a ton of nail art videos Nail artist, Has pretty nails – The last manicure was about a year back before a marriage. Has the shortest convent-cut, trimmed to the max nails. Is simply mesmerized by the nail art videos. Likes every funny baby video out there Mommy – Yes Watches tamil cinema songs, Shinchan, Home Décor DIYs, Craft DIYs, Cleaning DIYs, Shaun the Sheep, Ted talks, tamil comedy youtube channels Is a local tamil person with tamil sensibilities – Yes Is a child at heart – Has unruly kids at home Is an enthusiastic DIYer. Does everything on her own – Mannangatti! Translates to No. Likes DIYers and secretly wishes husband can be that all-in-all DIYer. Has thoroughly researched cleaning products, brooms, mops & brushes Part of the housekeeping team – Not really, kind of… at home Uses Google maps regularly for a lot of the same places near and far Maybe a part-time ola/uber driver – Is Dory’s real life character, cannot remember directions Overall, you see it is a fun exercise and not totally off the mark. Try imagining what your online profile will look like to others. If you do try this exercise, share your comments. I’d love to hear. I also realized that my blog is being perceived as a mostly non-vegetarian blog. Funny, how that came about. I would have thought I blog more vegetarian recipes than non-vegetarian recipes in general. I am surprised.I don’t want to deliberately share a vegetarian recipe now in order to prove my point. So I’ll go ahead and share the...