Fish Moilee

Fish Moilee

I hope you had a good Mother’s day. I hope you didn’t post a selfie of yourself with your mother. That would seem too much of a cliché I’d think. I am sorry if I offended those who did. In my family, we don’t hug. We don’t crowd our heads together for selfies. Wish someone “Happy Birthday” and they’ll get awkward and reply “Ok, sure”. Try getting everyone into a family picture and you may very well give up the idea of family pictures forever. The entire family has difficulty expressing affection. They’ll make biryani, chicken kurma to say “welcome back, I missed you”, they’ll heap Himampasand mangoes to say “take care”. This family doesn’t recognize Mothers day, Fathers day and such. I dared to try. I decided to gift my mother a leisurely no-cooking day. I made green peas brinji, poori, vegetable kurma, fish fry and mango parfait. I told my mother to not cook anything for the day. She being who she is made just an Upma, some more kuzhambu, rice and seppankezhangu fry, nothing else. She has no idea of Mothers day. I tell her while I serve the brinji I made. “Oho sari sari”, she says. She enjoyed the meal. I am not going to take any chances with my kids. I start a day earlier. I tell them all about Mothers day. I tell Hasini and Yuvan – “It is Mothers day tomorrow”. I explain the concept to them. I dwell on the part about making it special for the mother. I then ask Yuvi – “What are you going to do tomorrow?” “I am going to ride my cycle” I look at Jagan for any signs of training. He seems surprised and amused. Hasini was very excited about getting me a present for mother’s day. She pushed us out from the couch, into the car and to the store to get me a cotton top. I really do love the top. I had a lot of leftover fish from Mother’s day that I was wont to fry. I made Fish Moilee instead. I learnt this recipe on one of our trips to Kerala. I cannot believe I’ve waited so long to make it. You could use this basic stew recipe and substitute prawns instead of the fish to make Prawn Moilee. This is one of those fragrant, delicately spiced but gorgeously flavourful stews that...

Puttu and Cherupayar curry

Yuvi told me this morning that he hates singing rhymes. I couldn’t help smiling. What do you say to that? I couldn’t justify why he should. Instead I told him if he didn’t get out of bed, I’d complain to his teacher. He kicked, squealed and made it clear he is doing it but he is against the whole school going thing. I said “See, All these kids go to school. You should be cheerful going to school” and immediately felt shallow for saying that. I didn’t ever skip joyously to school. I am stumped by these moral dilemmas daily. Last weekend, Hasini asked me “Why are you eating dosai? Why aren’t you eating the Ven pongal?” I: “I don’t like Pongal Hasini” Hasini: “But everyone should eat what’s there for breakfast. Why are you eating something else?” She was telling me what I tell her all the time. How do I explain to her my deep-rooted, absolute indifference to Ven pongal which happens to be one of her favourite? I can eat it but I just don’t like it. I wonder if she has thought the same about some of my favourites – “Pesarattu”, “Urundai Kuzhambu”? I reasoned it is ok to not like something if you have tried it, if you have really tried to like it but you couldn’t, if it just wasn’t meant to be. Like Ven Pongal and me. It just isn’t meant to be. I reckoned that Hasini can’t know now if Pesarattu will become her favourite one day, if she’ll grow to love it or if she’ll opt out for a dosai instead. She’ll need to try some more, for the time being. I am torn between Dosai and Puttu-cherupayar curry, between Pogo and Two and a half men, between Hamley’s and Lifestyle, between monster print shorts and linen shorts, between clogs and shoes, between loose hair and pigtails, between candies and chocolates, between “Dandanakka” on the car stereo and nothing. When did they join the league? It is not just Jagan and me now. Hasini and Yuvi have arrived and are calling the shots. Now we play “Dandanakka” on the car stereo and Jagan and I shout over it, we buy both the monster print shorts and the linen shorts, we watch Pogo and Two and a half men on each one’s personal TV. But Puttu-Cherupayar curry had to happen. Hasini tried...

Appam and Stew on the mind | Holiday in Kerala

Suitcase loads of clothes washed, folded and arranged in cupboards, suitcases shoved back on to the paranai (loft), tired and exhausted but looking forward to the grind, to thinking of what to cook tomorrow. Can you say I’ve just been on a holiday? After a week of winding through Kerala’s highways, up mountains, down gravelly goat tracks, getting stuck on muddy, slippery paths and having a large group of toddy high Malayalee chettas heave the XUV forward, staring at google maps all day, legs cramped and butt sore, crashing on to the hotel bed every night dreaming of Puttu, egg curry, Fish moilee, Appam and vegetable stew… All I want to do now is stretch my legs and then make some Appam and vegetable stew. I lost one and gained 2 (kilos of course). I painstakingly lost one kilo after weeks of heavy restraint and mild exercise and then I went on this holiday. I ate my way through kootu curry, puttu, egg curry, karimeen pollichathu (spiced fried whole fish), Kerala chicken roast, Malabar biryani, Chemmeen Ularthiyathu (prawn roast), Fish Moilee, Appam, vegetable stew and unlimited papadams. Appam and Vegetable stew Everyday! Oh My, I love Kerala food. I am hopelessly smitten. I can’t get over the delicious food. I am going to have to make all of these at home. I got in the swimming pool and unsuccessfully tried to invoke my muscle memory and realized my muscles are as absent minded as me. I don’t know how I swam as a little girl. Did I? I am beginning to doubt. I can’t get my head into the water without flaying my arms, gasping and freaking out. I just can’t swim. But I can get tanned. I returned home cast ironed (not bronzed). Wayanad was one of our destinations. It is a nice, quiet place, beautiful when rainy and pleasant otherwise but a bit of a bore for me. It has the usual touristy spots that plague most hill stations – lots of view points – different angles of the same mountains – maybe of interest if you are the selfie type and you want to choose the best selfie from the different angles or  if you are nature person and if you are not afraid of heights. I am selfie challenged and shit scared of heights. There are a couple of waterfalls (some of them closed to public),...

Kerala style Vegetable Stew

Happy New Year everyone! It’s the 1st day of the Tamizh calendar – Chithirai 1. I hope all of you have a fruitful, healthy and yummy new year. May this year bring the long awaited promotion, a discernible hike at the very least (sometimes I can never make out the difference, it’s that miniscule), weight-loss & hair-gain (I know everybody wants these), good food, great recipes and  family time. I am starting the year with a yummy vegetable stew. I had always thought Aappam was tamil. But appears Aappam is as much Malayalam as it is Tamil. Aappam is one of our beloved breakfast items at home.  We have it with sweetened coconut milk or with vegetable korma. I love it with sweetened milk. We like to tear up the soft spongy centres of Aappam and soak them in the sweet coconut milk while we eat the the lacy, crisp edges.  By that time the aappam pieces would be drenched in all that sweetness and each piece would be a little piece of heaven – sweet, soft, melt in the mouth madress. In Kerala, the vegetable stew is popular with Aapams. The vegetable stew is again a subtly spiced, elegant and creamy coconut milk based stew. It’s easy and tastes luscious. I tried Kerala style Pal Aappams with the vegetable stew. The Pal  Aappams did not turn out too well but the vegetable stew was great. My kids loved it. Prep Time: 20 mins Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 4 Ingredients Carrots – chopped ½ cup Green Beans – ½ cup chopped Potato – 1 small, peeled and cubed Green Peas – ½ cup Onion – 1 medium sliced Coconut milk – 1st and 2nd extract from 1 medium cococut Salt to taste Whole Black peppercorns – ¼ tsp Curry leaves – 1 sprig Cinnamon – 1 inch piece Cloves – 2 Cardamom – 2 Oil – 2 tsp Spice Paste Green chillies – 3-4 Ginger – 1 inch piece Method 1.       Heat oil in a pan. When hot add cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Then add the whole black peppercorns and curry leaves.  After a minute add the sliced onions and sauté until they turn translucent. 2.       Meanwhile grind together ginger and green chillies to a fine paste. Set aside. 3.       Then add the chopped vegetables and salt. Mix in the ground spice paste. Pour in the 2nd thin extract...

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