Thai green curry

Thai Green curry

After 12 long years of ups and downs, happiness and sorrow, after 12 summers, 12 diwalis, 12 pongals, 12 Aadi thizhuvizhas and innumerable “everydays”, she broke up. I missed her when she was away, more than I missed Jagan when he was away on business. She completed us. She knew where Yuvi’s black hotwheels car was, that the uniforms were not ironed, that the umbrella was broken. She knew where was what. She was the silent lever that kept the whole house running like clockwork. I cannot believe she is gone and I cannot imagine how I am to go on. Not a day would pass without looking for her arrival each morning. I doubt you’ll understand the pain I went through when she did not turn up someday. I’d run my conversations over and over in my head to be sure I had not irked her in some way. Now she is gone for good. Where am I to find a maid like her? Ok, I admit it. I may have feelings for her. Ever since she broke up (I’d say quit if I didn’t care about her), I’ve been running around the house like a mad woman, racing against time trying to multi-task at a multi-level – loading the washing machine while rice, idli and tadka (tempering) pan are on the stove, and running out to pluck some curry leaves and running back to a blackened pan to throw in the curry leaves, scrubbing the vessels while sambar is simmering, ignoring the calling bell (go back, come back in 2 months) making N coffee/teas one at a time (morning coffee/tea drinkers never preferring to converge, each inevitably asks for theirs at a unique time), taking out the compost and absentmindedly opening the lid without knocking and jumping at the sight of the lizard and running all around the house and coming back to check if it is gone, all the while yelling to the kids to brush teeth, bathe themselves, water the money plant and get the hell down here to help me with the lizard. In spite of this great loss, I managed to make this Thai green curry last weekend. I had to move on. I needed to treat myself after a hell of a week. Thai food is among my most favourite foods. I absolutely love Thai curries. Thai green curry has been on my list...

Tomato Pulav

This tomato Pulav is a simple aromatic one-pot meal perfect for week-days, lunch boxes or for lazy vegetarian Saturday lunches as well. I used regular par-boiled rice instead of basmati rice which is just as well; it’s healthier and easier on the tummy. I make it in a pressure cooker, so it is done in minutes. The rice cooks in a lovely coconut milk broth scented by ghee roasted fennel seeds and soft tomatoes. Finish by garnishing with a generous amount of freshly chopped coriander. I served this alongside Vazhapoo vadai (coming soon). You could serve this pulav with any raita or spicy gravy. At home we cycle through this Tomato Pulav once a week and it is a firm lunch box favourite as it is dry and keeps well. It’s a great option for kids as it is tasty and flavourful without being too hot or spicy. It’s the coconut milk that does the trick. I love using coconut milk in pulavs, biryanis and gravies. It is a magic ingredient that lends a lovely mellow flavour to the dish. We use coconuts almost daily in our cooking (No, we’re not from Kerala) and we happen to have coconut trees in our backyard. We’ve never bought coconuts from stores; we always had our own coconuts. If you have coconut trees at home, you’ve probably had those little disputes every year with your neighbours complaining about the falling coconuts. We have these disputes every year even though we have them picked quite regularly. It’s a small price to pay for all the wonderful things you can make out of coconut. If you don’t have coconut trees, plant a sapling today. Just make sure to have the coconuts picked every half year or so and you’re good. You’ll have a lifetime of free coconuts and ready ammunition for pesky neighbours. Even without coconut trees, my father never gets along with any of his neighbours. So I gave him a couple of coconut tree saplings. He can now spite his annoying neighbours and leave the coconuts unpicked all year round. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 4-5 Ingredients Par-boiled rice or raw rice – 2 cups soaked in water for 1 hourCoconut milk – extracted from 1 whole coconut (about 2-3 cups)Tomatoes – 3 choppedOnions – 2 medium chopped fineFennel seeds – 1 tspGreen chilli – 2 slit lengthwiseGround Masala – 1...

Chettinad style Chicken Biryani

This chettinad style chicken biryani comes close to the Thalapakatti style biryani in terms of flavour and taste. The freshly roasted and ground masala powder adds wonderful aroma and beautiful flavour to the biryani. The core of this biryani is this masala powder. It is a heady masala combination which just cannot fail – hot, aromatic and lip-smacking. Red chillies, whole black peppercorns, fennel, cumin, cardamom and cinnamon – you could try using this masala powder for your chicken gravies and kormas and I’ll tell you it is absolutely fantastic. Serve this biryani with chilled raita and boiled eggs for a perfect weekend meal. My husband a very picky eater gave the thumbs up to this biryani and my dad, a very conservative eater (he hates experimentation) finished off the biryani in no time, which all means it really is good. I was worried I had made too much biryani and that I’d have to do the refrigerate-reheat-refrigerate routine the next day but guess what, there was no biryani left over. If every family had to have a family dish (like a family song), biryani would be our family dish. Dosai would also be a strong competitor though. Biryani defines our family – grandiose, masala rich and extra large. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 30 minsServes: 6-7 Ingredients Chicken – 1 kiloBasmati rice – 3 – 1/2 cupsCurd/Yogurt – 1 cupOnions – 2 large chopped fineTomatoes -2 large chopped fineGreen chillies – 2 slit lengthwiseRed chilli powder – 1 tbspTurmeric powder – 1 tspFennel seeds/Saunf/Sombu – 1 tbspSeaweed/Kalpaasi – 1/2 tspMarathi moggu – 1Cinnamon – 2 inch pieceCloves – 3Ghee – 3 tbspOil – 4 tbspSalt to taste Dry masala powder Whole dry red chillies (long variety) – 5Whole black pepper corns – 1-1/2 tspFennel seeds/Saunf/Sombu – 1 tspCoriander seeds/Dhania – 2 tspCumin – 1/2 tspGreen Cardamom – 2Cloves -2Cinnamon – 1 inch piece Paste Ginger – 4 inch piece peeledGarlic – 10 clovesCoriander leaves – a handful Marinade Ginger-garlic-coriander paste – 1 tbsp (from above)Curd – 2 tbspTurmeric powder – 1/2 tspRed chilli powder – 1 heaped tbsp.Salt to taste Method 1.      Wash and clean the chicken and cut into fairly large pieces. Marinate the chicken pieces with the ingredients called for under marinade for 20 minutes or more. 2.      Rinse Basmati rice/long grain rice in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Soak basmati rice in...

Meen Kuzhambu

Meen Kuzhambu is TamilNadu’s pride. It is something we can safely call ours, originally conceived and prepared (and being prepared) in TamilNadu. No fusion-confusion here. I am recent convert. I wasn’t a Meen Kuzhambu fan earlier. In fact I am not a huge fan of Kuzhambu in general. But I have slowly started to appreciate the nuances of a well-made Meen Kuzhambu – soft, flaky perfectly cooked fish drenched in a wonderful medley of hot, tangy and spicy kuzhambu.  Meen Kuzhambu tastes best with hot steamed rice and hot pan fried fish fillets. It also goes splendidly well with Idli or Dosai. Making a good Meen kuzhambu they say is an art, not everybody can do it. I’d like to disagree. A good Meen Kuzhambu is a piece of art but I think if you can master the 3 important components of making the Meen Kuzhambu, you can make some beautiful art too. The first, most important component of it is the cleaning part. If you’ve cleaned the fish well, you’re kuzhambu will not smell fishy. Make sure to scale the fish thoroughly by scrubbing the fishes, skin side down on a coarse stone. Once scrubbed properly (you should see whitish scaly stuff run out), the skin side should be a wee bit coarse and not as slippery and smooth as before being scaled. Rinse well in 2 or 3 changes of water. The second component is extracting the tamarind juices. Now, this seems too trivial but it isn’t. The proof of the kuzhambu is in the puli (tamarind). Soaking the tamarind in water for about half an hour makes it easier to extract the juices. Once you’ve extracted the first juices, add water in small increments (half a cup at a time) squeeze and extract the juices and strain. Repeat till you have the strained tamarind juice which is roughly the same amount as the amount of Kuzhambu you’ll finally end up with. By adding small increments of water, you extract better without diluting too much. The third component is about getting the consistency right. Meen Kuzhambu is not a very thick kuzhambu, but it shouldn’t be too runny either. Usually when the kuzhambu boils, it is time to drop in the fishes. At this stage do the back of a ladle/karandi test to check if the kuzhambu lightly coats the back of the ladle/karandi. If it doesn’t, then...

Chicken Biryani cooked in Coconut milk

This is yet another biryani variant. Here we cook the rice and marinated chicken in coconut milk and whole spices which yields a delightfully mellow, aromatic biryani and perfectly seasoned, succulent chicken that has soaked up all the wonderful masala. This biryani tastes great with raita, boiled eggs and a hot spicy gravy. I used only half the chilli powder that I’ve specified in the recipe so that my kids don’t find it too hot. But feel free to adjust it as per your taste. Biryani is the firm favourite of the entire family and we make it at-least once in 2 weeks. My kids are so fond of biryani and they’re so familiar with the usual party menus that embarrassingly enough every time we go to a party, my kids loudly demand biryani and that even before the buffet is open. Vegetable biryani or pulav is also biryani to them. Every home has its own biryani recipe and biryani is always made in that way and in no other way. I’d strongly recommend that you try a new biryani recipe every time you make biryani. Really, there are so many ways to make biryani, that you may find a recipe that’s even better than your standard recipe. I can safely say that this won’t be the last variant that I am posting. Preparation time: 20 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 5-6 Ingredients Chicken – 1/2 kiloBasmati Rice – 3 cupsCoconut milk – extracted from 1 medium coconut – roughly 2 cupsOnions – 2 large sliced thinlyTomatoes – 2 large choppedCloves – 3Cinnamon – 2 inch pieceStar anise – 1Marathi Moggu – 1 inch pieceGreen Cardamom – 2Fennel seeds – 1 tspKalpaasi/Sea weed – a big pinch, roughly 1/2 tspRed chilli powder – 1 tbspTurmeric – 1/2 tspGaram Masala powder – ½ tsp (optional)Oil – 4 tbspGhee – 4 tbsp + 1 tbspCoriander leaves – a handful chopped for garnishSalt to taste Marinade Ginger – 2 inch pieceGarlic – 6-8 clovesGreen chillies – 3 choppedFennel seeds/Sombu – 1 tspRed chilli powder – 1 tbspTurmeric – 1/2 tspSalt to taste Method 1.      Rinse basmati rice in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Soak the rinsed rice in water. Set aside. 2.      Wash and clean chicken, cut into big pieces and set aside. 3.      Grind together the ingredients called for under marinade except the spice powders to a smooth paste. Dump...

Peas Pulav

Peas pulav is an elegant, delicious one-pot meal, fragrant and gorgeous. It tastes as good as it looks – pristine white perfectly long rice grains specked with fresh green peas and ever so lightly caramelized onions. Scrumptious! Pulav is relatively simple, the coconut milk is the only point that stops me from calling it a somberi recipe. Other than the coconut milk extraction there is no major prep work involved. You could just as easily make this for a weekday lunch. Perfect for lunch boxes too. To me, Pulav or even biryani is any day quicker than sambar. And while we are on Sambar, people tell me how often do you make sambar at home (Jaya TV Jackpot question)? Once a week minimum to 2 or even 3 times a week in my case. Once a week is fine. But anything more and I get cranky. In churning meal after meal every day for so many years I think women (I didn’t say any particular group, please make your own assumptions, imagine as desired) get into this mind-numbingly boring programmed menu routine. Friday means Sambar, Ammavasai also Sambar, other festivals – Sambar. Sambar comes with its own baggage. Sambar has to be had with potato thokku (spicy Potato side dish) – compulsory. Hero’s mother has to be Saranya. Formula Menus – formula meals. One day when we didn’t make Sambar and didn’t make Kozhambu either (another formula: Milagu kozhambu + Cabbage kootu = Aala vidu da vegetarian Saturday), I made Peas pulav! I served Peas pulav with crisp deep fried cauliflower (coming soon). Pulav is also a kid-pleasing rice dish that is sure to tempt even the picky eaters. So go ahead and break the Sambar routine. Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 15 minsServes: 4-5 Ingredients Basmati Rice or any long grain rice – 1 – 1/2 cupsGreen Peas – 3/4 cup Coconut milk – extracted from 1 small coconut (approximately 1 – 1/2 cups)Double beans – a handful (optional, I added because I like them)Onion – 1 large sliced fineGreen chillies – 1-2 slit lengthwiseGarlic – 4-5 pods sliced roughlyFennel seeds (sombu) – 1 tspCloves – 3 Cardamom – 1Cinnamon – 1 inch pieceStar anise – 1 small pieceKalpaasi (sea weed) – 1/2 tsp (optional)Bay leaf – 1Water – as requiredSalt to tasteOil – 2 tbspGhee – 2 tbsp + 1 tbspSugar – a pinchCoriander leaves – a...

Egg Fried Rice

Egg fried rice is super simple if you already have cooked rice. If you don’t, it’s not too bad. It’s just one extra step but important point is to let the rice cool down completely before using it in the fried rice as hot rice tends to break easily, stick and lump up. Another important point is to use a non-stick skillet or a well-seasoned iron wok so that the rice doesn’t stick. Rest is a breeze. This was one of the first dishes that I cooked for my husband when I was still an apprentice and he loved it. I am still an apprentice (apperecent – vadivelu style) of course, I live in a joint family remember. I am a senior apprentice now, allowed to cook for the entire family after getting the menu approved, decide the chutney and fry vadais under casual unintentional supervision. I am a great fan of Chinese and Thai food and fried rice is a firm favourite at home. It is a kid-pleaser too. Fried rice is best served with a Chinese style gravy (Pepper chicken or Chilli vegetables?). Of late Chinese take-out tastes terrible. So bad, that our chicken-crazy dog refused to eat the chicken lollipop. And stay away from the Chinese restaurant buffets. They are even worse. You can use this fried rice recipe base and vary it numerous ways. Omit the egg to make vegetable fried rice or add chicken to make chicken fried rice. You can vary the seasoning too. I will be posting some of those variations and the Chinese style gravy sometime soon.   Ingredients Long grain rice – 1 -1/2 cups cooked Eggs – 3Onion – 1 large chopped fineCarrot – 1 small chopped fineGreen Beans – 5-7 chopped fineGreen Peas – a handfulGarlic – 4 chopped fineWhite pepper powder – 2 tsp + pinchSoy sauce – 1-1/2 tspVinegar – 1 tspSalt to tasteOil – 5 tbspSpring onions – 2 chopped fine (only the green portion)                                 Method 1.      Rice chilled for 4-5 hours is ideal. If you’re short of time, cook rice and spread out on a wide plate to cool. Then transfer the cooled rice to a bowl and refrigerate till you use. 2.      To cook rice, soak basmati rice/long grain rice in water for an hour or more, boil 3 cups water in a pot and add soaked rice to the boiling water. Wait till...

Home-style Chicken Biryani in Pressure cooker

Biryani is synonymous with celebration and today happens to be women’s day. I am posting an easy home style chicken biryani that can be cooked entirely in a pressure cooker. I am dedicating this biryani recipe to all women (Can dedicate songs, films, match victories, awards and what not? Why not biryani recipe?). I am specially dedicating this recipe to all those time-pressed moms and wives who are always in a rush, who have a hundred items on their to do list and another hundred on their mind, who are constantly putting things back in their places, who are badly in need of a pedicure and haven’t really read the newspaper in a long time (shocking, but I haven’t really read the newspaper since sometime in 2009 when my daughter was born – a cursory glance of the headlines doesn’t count). I hope this recipe helps ease biryani making for you. This is a home style biryani, fragrant and spicy with strong ginger tones. The rice turns out beautifully long and perfectly cooked and the chicken is juicy. Two things to keep in mind are the amount of water and the time you cook the biryani. Watch the amount of water you add at the end and use the index-finger thumb-rule (Ha.. but pun not at all intended). Switch off the stove after 10-12 minutes whether or not you hear the whistle. Follow these steps and you won’t go wrong. Happy Women’s Day! Preparation time – 20 minsCooking time – 30 minsServes: 4-6 Ingredients Chicken – 1/4 kgBasmati Rice/Long grain rice – 2-1/2 cupsOnions – 2 chopped fineTomatoes – 2 choppedGinger paste – 3 tbspGreen Chillies – 4 slit lengthwiseCurd/Yogurt – 1 cupFennel seeds/Sombu – 2 tspCardamom – 2Cinnamon – 1 inch stickCloves – 3Marathi Moggu – 1Star anise – 1Bay Leaf – 1Turmeric powder – 1 tspRed chilli powder – 2-3 tbspGaram Masala powder – 1/2 tspSalt to tasteGhee – 3 tbsp + 1 tbspOil – 2 tbspWater Method 1.      Wash and clean the chicken and cut into fairly large pieces. 2.      Rinse Basmati rice/long grain rice in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Soak basmati rice in water for 1 hour. 3.      In a pressure cooker, pour in 3tbsp oil and 2 tbsp oil and when hot, drop the fennel seeds. Let fry till fragrant. Then throw in the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, Marathi moggu, star anise and bay...

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