Crispy Shrimp Fritters/Crispy Prawn

These Shrimp Fritters are crispy, crunchy and beautifully seasoned with fresh ginger, garlic and spices. They make wonderful appetizers served with tomato sauce or a mayo dip. You could serve these on toothpicks too for parties. Once marinated and refrigerated, these are as quick and as scrummy as any of the store bought ready-to-fry packs. The only sore part is the cleaning, which I see as a sort of meditative time when you can think, plan and ponder a whole lot of things. While you shell and devein the prawns mechanically, your mind is free to plan the coming week’s menu, make shopping lists, choose what new necklines you’d like to try for your blouses and salwars (Sneha’s sleeve in that song, trisha’s neckline in that ad.. the tailor will anyway deliver something totally different like they always do for me), plan appointments/excuses, rehearse leave requests or sing out aloud. This is my kind of “me-time” – busy in the kitchen with my own thoughts with of course, frequent ad-breaks where my kids feature their talents. Now experience cooks may do it faster. But it took me around 20 minutes because I am a fresher with seafood. I am going to describe as best as I can how to clean shrimp/prawns for the benefit of other beginners like me. It’s quite gory like Vishwaroopam fight scenes, so delicate faint-hearted people, jump over to the recipe. For others, hold the shrimp in your left hand, rip off the head with your right hand, pluck out the tiny tentacle like things from the body, peel away the plastic like shell and then pinch the tail portion and pull gently to remove the tail. Now you’re left with the “C” shaped shrimp that is thicker at the top and tapers downwards. At the top convex edge of the “C”, use your fingers to open up the flesh and you’ll find the thin thread like structure (vein) which you can gently pull out. Don’t hold the shrimp too tight or you’ll not be able to pull out the entire vein.    The discarded parts of the shrimp make great manure you can use in your garden. As is the water you use to rinse the shrimp. So don’t throw these away. Preparation time: 20 minsMarinating time: 1 hr to 1 dayCooking time: 5 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Shrimp/Prawns – about 1/4 kilo cleaned and deveinedOil –...

Chicken Teriyaki – Grilled Chicken with Asian flavours

I’ve not been able to blog the past few days because I was busy with work. You see, got to work on work also in office. To all those millions who were eagerly waiting for my next recipe, here it is – Chicken Teriyaki. This chicken teriyaki is a hot and sweet grilled chicken – zesty, succulent and full of wonderful Asian flavours – ginger, soy and brown sugar. This teriyaki marinade is a delightful combination of flavours and a great alternative to tandoori chicken or plain roasted chicken (a la prime roaster, what happened to prime roaster?). The brown sugar is important, so don’t omit it. The brown sugar beautifully balances the heat from the red chillies and tartness of the tamarind and makes the marinade what it is. There are many like my husband who don’t like to taste “sweet” in their main dishes. To them, only desserts can be sweet. Food conservatism! But don’t worry, the chicken teriyaki doesn’t taste sweet. My husband really liked it. You could serve these grilled beauties as they are. It really doesn’t need any chutney or dip. It makes for an impressive starter for a dinner party. You could marinate these the day before in the refrigerator and grill them just before the party. Prep time: 10 minsMarinating time: 1 hour to overnightGrilling time: 20-40 minsServes: 5 Ingredients Chicken – 5 Leg pieces or any cut of chicken MarinadeGinger – 1 inch peeledGarlic – 5-6 cloves peeledTamarind – small marble sizedDry Red chillies – 5 soaked in a small cup of hot water for 20 minsSoy Sauce – 1 tbspVinegar – 1 tsp (I used white distilled vinegar)Brown sugar – 1 tbspSalt to tasteWater as necessary Method 1.      Clean chicken and make oblong cuts in the chicken so that the marinade can sink in. Pat dry and set aside. 2.      Grind together the ginger, garlic, tamarind and soaked red chillies in a mixer grinder to a fine paste. Transfer the ground paste to a large bowl. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and salt and mix well. Add a little bit of water if necessary to thin the marinade. 3.      Rub the marinade on the chicken pieces making sure all the pieces are well coated. Cover and let marinate for a minimum of 1 hour. You could let it marinate overnight in the fridge also. 4.      Grill on a barbecue...

Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut dip

Chicken Satay and Thai Peanut dip is such a superb pair. They go so well with each other and they’re fun. Satay is a great option for a party appetizer, can be prepared well in advance and then grilled or barbecued at the last minute. Satay is super-quick to barbecue or grill, is done in less than 10 minutes. The best part of it is the Thai style peanut dip. It is a delightful medley of flavours and textures – hot, sweet, and nutty with the peanut butter and peanuts giving the dip a smooth yet crunchy texture. Yummy! There are lots of things going for this recipe. You don’t have to make a marinade and a dip separately. It’s all just one thing. You make the peanut dip and use half of it (or how much ever you require) as the marinade and the remaining as the dip. One dip fits all! How about that? A Somberi’s dream come true! This is such a delicious dip that I wouldn’t really mind having extra. I can imagine the dip being extremely chummy with Chinese spring rolls or wontons or any kind of fried fritters. It is really a cool dip to hang out with. I adapted the recipe from Mark Bittman’s book.         Barbecuing is fun. Kids find the whole thing so amusing they’re out of your way the whole time that the fire is being set up. That buys you enough time to prepare lunch, wash and clean up. My husband loves to barbecue, loves starting a fire, some kind of primordial instinct I suppose. So effectively he is also out of the way. Peace! Being able to cook un-plugged, un-interrupted, without being called a hundred times and without being tugged by a 2 ft. little one is what I call peace. Barbecuing is a great weekend family activity and I’d recommend anyone who doesn’t have a barbecue to go out and get one. It need not be any of those very expensive, tripod mounted ones. For weekend barbecuing and the occasional get-togethers, you could go in for a much smaller one. Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 5-8 minutesServes: 5 Ingredients Chicken breasts – 4 cut lengthwise into strips Marinade and Dip Peanut Butter – 2 tbspSoy Sauce – 2 tspSweet lime juice – 3 tbspPeanuts – 3 tbsp coarsely crushedBrown sugar – 1 tspGarlic – 4-5 cloves Shallots...

Masala Kadalai – Spiced Peanut salad

Masala Kadalai – Spiced Peanut salad This masala kadalai is an all-time favourite snack at Chennai beaches. Go to Besant Nagar beach and you’ll find numerous vendors selling these addictive goodies in little cellophane pouches. It’s a live salad bar, a little wooden push-cart on top of which sits a huge pile of steaming groundnuts (peanuts) with shredded veggies on one side and the seasonings on the other. Kadala podaradhu (boy and girl talking hours on end) got its name from masala kadalai, because most couples frequent beaches, beaches being one of the few free (did you think it was because of the sea, the breeze, natural beauty and stuff? Wrong!) places in the city other than Café coffee day which isn’t free or even cheap though their ads are, where you can lounge around forever and not pay for anything other than a packet of masala kadalai. I am trying to re-create this popular Chennai classic at home. My son loves sundal (boiled chickpeas) and I am hoping with this Masala kadalai I can sneak in some vegetables as well. My little brats are really picky, they’ll actually pick out the offending vegetables from a dish before putting it in their little mouths. I hope they don’t notice. This is not really a recipe, it’s that simple and that popular. I need to say this lest Chennai people beat me up for posting something so obvious. Preparation time: 15 mins Cooking time: 20 mins Serves: 4-5 IngredientsBoiled groundnuts (peanuts) – ½ kiloShredded cabbage – 1 cupShredded carrot – 1 cupLemon juice from 1 lemonChilli powder – 1/2 tspOnions (optional) – finely chopped – ½ cupTomatoes finely chopped – ½ cup Raw mango (optional) finely chopped – a handful Method 1.      Boil groundnuts in their shells in salted water – just enough water to immerse the nuts, in a pressure cooker for around 15 minutes. Drain the water and shell the groundnuts. 2.      Just toss everything together in a bowl and serve individual portions in paper cones or bowls. Notes 1.      Mix the ingredients just before serving. 2.      You can serve this as a fun party appetizer in pretty paper cones. You could even pack these as a salad for lunch.    
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