Butter Croissants and Coffee

One of the most best aromas on a beautiful morning

Samosa Chaat

Snack a little

Seekh Kabab

Try something different!

Decadent Chocolate

Do not forget to indulge once in a while

Steamed goodness

Various cooking methods bring variety in your palette

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Blanquette de Veau - Veal Stew

I picked up some veal stew meat on one of my trips to the grocery store. With the cold weather outside, I felt like having something warm and comforting for dinner. I looked up a few veal recipes on Epicurious and elsewhere on the web, and I decided to go with the Blanquette de Veau. It's a French dish which basically means veal stew. The rule is to keep it as 'white' as possible, so refrain from any green garnishes. Also it's traditionally served with rice to soak up the gravy. Its a little bland for an Indian palette, so I was worried if Bee would like it. But to my relief, he loved it!! I did make a few changes to the original recipe though, which I will mention in notes below. I brought a slight Kerala twist to the stew, which not only brought good flavor, but also made it slightly more simpler. This took me roughly 2 hours to prepare from start to finish.

Veal - roughly 1 lb. or 1/2 kg, cut into 1 inch pieces
Garlic - 2 cloves
Yellow or white onion - 1/2
Cloves- 10
Carrots - 2
Leeks - 2
Potato - 1
Cremini or button mushrooms - 20 pieces
Pearl onions - 10
Lemon - a wedge
Butter - 3 + 3 tbsp
Flour - 3 tbsp
Thick coconut milk - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

For bouquet garni:
Parsley (flat leaf) - few sprigs
Thyme - few sprigs
Bay leaf - 1
Black peppercorns - 20

Cut veal into 1 inch pieces (mine was store bought so it was pre-cut).
Note: if you get veal with bone, save the bone for using in the stock, adds a lot of flavor.
Add the veal pieces in a pot and cover with water and bring to a boil. You will notice a lot of scum forming on the top. At this stage, drain the veal and wash off all the scum. Put it back into the pot.
Prepare a bouquet garni by taking a piece of muslin cloth (i used a sterilized medical gauze, wink!) - and wrapping the parsley, thyme, bay leaf and black peppercorns in it. Tie it into a knot. Add this to the pot with the veal. Take a quarter of an onion - pierce cloves into it. Wrap this in another muslin cloth. Add it to the pot as well. Now fill it with water to cover the meat and some more for the vegetables too.
Note: If you have a veal bone, add this now to make a more flavorful stock. Alternately, you can also use chicken/beef/vegetable stock, or bouillon cubes.
Slice the garlic cloves and add it to the pot. Now bring the pot to a boil on a medium heat.
While its heating up, meanwhile, we're going to chop the veggies and add them to the pot one by one. Cut the carrots into bite size chunks, slice the remaining quarter of onion, dunk them into the pot. Wash the leeks and cut off the green part. We're using the white portion of the leeks only. Slice it and it goes into the pot. I cubed a potato as well and added it.
Note: In the traditional recipe, potatoes aren't used. But some use potatoes as a side to the stew. I wanted to add the Kerala stew twist to this, so I decided to add a potato in.
Add salt to taste. When it has started to boil, bring the heat down to almost low. Cover and cook for 1 hour and 15 mins. This is slow cooking so the veal is cooked until tender.
Note: Some like to cook the vegetables separately and then add it after the veal is slow cooked. That way, the vegetables will still have a slight crunch to them. I wasn't too worried about that, and mine didn't turn to mush either. I wasn't using a stock, so I wanted the vegetable flavours to form the stock. So it's all good!
While the veal is cooking, slice the mushrooms and peel the pearl onions. It is also a good point to get the rice started too.
When the veal is tender, strain the veal and vegetables and reserve the stock. Bring the stock back to a boil and reduce it further to about 2 cups. While the stock is reducing, it's time to saute the mushrooms.
Heat up a frying pan and melt 3 tbsp of butter. Heat the butter until the foam subsides. Add the mushroom slices and pearl onions. Saute for about 6-8 minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and still have a good crunch. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over it.
Note: Keeping with the 'white' theme of the stew, white pearl onions are traditionally used, but I used the red ones, no biggie!
Now in a saucepan, prepare the roux. I've explained this in my fish fry in white sauce recipe, but here it is again. Heat the saucepan and melt 3 tbsp of butter. Add 3 tbsp of flour to this and whisk it. Allow it to froth and turn golden brown. The flour will be cooked in a minute or two. Now slowly pour in the reduced stock, whisking constantly as you're pouring it, to avoid lumps. You will see that the stock will thicken into a gravy.
Note: The traditional recipe, asks for a dollop of crème fraîche (fresh cream) to be added at this stage. Two large egg yolks are beaten in a bowl. Half a cup of the gravy is slowly beaten into the yolks to temper it (warm the yolks to prevent curdling). The egg yolk mixture is slowly whisked into the gravy pan, removed from heat and whisked until sauce has a creamy consistency. Lemon juice is added and seasoned with salt and pepper.
I avoided this complex step above, and used my Kerala stew twist again. I had half a cup of thick coconut milk leftover from last week's beef curry. I tempered the coconut milk by whisking in a little gravy into it. Then added it back into the gravy (prevents curdling of the coocnut milk). Add the veal and vegetables and sauteed mushrooms. Cover and let it cook for another 10 minutes so everything is combined.
Note: Some people put the veal, vegetables and mushrooms on a plate and pour the gravy over it. Some combine it. I chose the latter option.
Serve with a cup of steamed rice and enjoy! This also stores well, reheats well and makes great leftovers!

Check out my other recipes that uses roux:
Julia Child's fish fry in white sauce
Shrimp and veggie pasta casserole
Canneloni Florentine

Chicken Liver Fry (Kerala style)

This dish is a family favorite! This is my mom's recipe and I've loved it every single time she made this since childhood. My sister and I would fight over the last bits all the time. My mom used to make it in an old cast iron skillet, so the spices and onions get nicely caramelized, with crunchy powdery liver bits stuck to the pan. Gosh that's the best part! Back in Saudi Arabia, we loved having this with Khubuz and Laban (thick buttermilk). It's a dry dish, so if you're having it with rice, kachiya moru is an excellent accompaniment to it. You'll be sure to lick your plate clean :)

My mom knows that my sister and I love this a lot, that every time we come over to visit, she will make sure that this dish is made at least once. And sometimes, she will even make a huge batch for us to take on our flight back!

Chicken liver, I guess is an acquired taste. I love it because I've had it many times as a kid. The hubby on the other hand found it revolting at first. He does like it now (he better! coz it's one of my favorite dishes of all time so I'm gonna keep making this a lot!!) It does taste amazing especially with all the spices, but the key is to overcome the fact that you're eating an animal's organs. I can understand it, because I can't get myself to eat deep fried goat brains among many other organs, though I've heard that they taste pretty amazing too.

Check out the tub of chicken livers I got at the grocery store. Reminds me of ice cream. Would be a wierd flavor for ice cream though.. lol!

I apologize for the so-so photographs, they were taken with my phone. I could'nt bring myself to get the camera out and plate the dish nicely, because it was late and I couldn't wait to eat it as soon as it was ready haha!

Chicken Liver - 1/2 kg
Red Chilli powder - 4 tbsp
Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Pepper powder - 1 tsp
Homemade garam masala - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Onions - 2 to 4 large, sliced
Ginger - 1" piece chopped
Garlic - 3 large cloves chopped
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste


Clean chicken liver using a dash of salt and vinegar in water. Remove any excess fat.
Put the liver in a deep pot (I use my 3 liter pressure cooker pot). Add the chilli powder, coriander powder, pepper powder, garam masala and turmeric powder. Pour just enough water to cover the liver. Cook it on medium heat till the water dries up. Add salt when it's about to dry. (Note: Do not add salt in the beginning because this will harden the liver)
Now in a skillet or frying pan, heat oil and fry the onions, ginger and garlic. Season with salt. When the onions have browned, add the cooked liver to this and combine well.
Serve warm with rice and moru or yoghurt. They make delicious leftovers!

Be sure to check out my recipes for:
Moru Kachiyathu
Homemade Garam Masala
Easy Khubuz

While writing this post, I did google to see if a chicken liver ice cream exists (I know bacon ice cream exists, so why not!) Surely enough, a restaurant in Estonia does serve one:
Chicken liver ice-cream with gorgonzola cream, praline, celery & potato crumble
Chicken liver ice-cream with gorgonzola cream, praline, celery & potato crumble - Picture of Ribe, Tallinn
This photo of Ribe is courtesy of TripAdvisor

And a molecular gastronomer in South Africa made Chicken Liver and Bacon Paté Ice cream:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bread Upma

I haven't even heard of bread upma until the day I made it. My hubby suddenly had a craving for it, and told me about this dish that used to be very popular in Tamil Nadu during his childhood. Before chaats from north India became popular and invaded the snack scene in south India, these were a regular item in most tea shops. Nowadays, you can never find this in a restaurant menu. So he asked me to look it up and make it for him. I went through a few bread upma recipes online and mostly followed Preethi's.

Bread - 6 to 8 slices
Ghee - as required
Onion - 1 medium, chopped
Green chilli - 1, chopped
Ginger - 1/2 inch, minced (optional)
Tomato - 2, chopped
Vegetables of choice - like crumbled potato, green peas, carrots, beans, chana (garbanzo), chopped and cooked. You can also add cooked ground meat.
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad Dal - 1/2 tsp
Chana Dal - 1/2 tsp
Cashewnuts - handful, broken
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Garam masala - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Tomato puree or water - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves - minced (or coriander chutney) - to taste
Lemon juice - to garnish

Toast bread pieces on a skillet with ghee. (You can skip toasting the bread, but I felt this step made the dish really tasty!) Cube them into bite size pieces. In a wok, heat ghee and splutter mustard seeds. Add chana dal, urad dal and cashewnuts. Stir well so that they fry evenly. When they brown, add onions, ginger and green chilli. Fry till onions turn translucent with salt. Then add tomatoes and fry till they mush up. Then add cooked vegetables and combine. Add turmeric powder, asafoetida, red chilli powder and garam masala. Sprinkle some water or add tomato puree and cook for a few minutes. Finally add the cubed bread pieces and combine well. Garnish with cilantro chutney and squeeze a bit of lemon juice. Serve hot.

Sesame Ginger Chicken & Chinese pantry list

I've been wanting to make Chinese food at home, just like the ones I had in Chinese restaurants as a child in Saudi Arabia. My first attempt was a Szechuan chicken recipe, because the hubby and I like spicy food. After hunting down the main ingredient for the heat - sichuan peppercorns, aka prickly ash from a chinese grocery store, I was all excited about trying this recipe from another blog, which I shall not name. It called for 2 tablespoons of the peppercorns. After toiling in the kitchen for a few hours, we finally sit down to eat. First bite, we felt it was way too sour. And then the sensation, started to come in. This is not heat that we're familiar with, such as in hot chillies. This was a very wierd feeling that we've never felt before. It has a very numbing effect, a very prickly tingling sensation - I can't really describe it. But we just couldn't take another bite. The whole thing went straight into the trash - this is very rare in my house! The first time since I've moved to the US. For a while I did not have the confidence to try cooking Chinese again, because it felt too foreign to me. Now I'm stuck with a huge bag of those sichuan peppercorns, and have no idea what to do with it. I don't have the heart to throw it out, but I guess I will eventually.
Few months later, I was watching the cooking channel on a weekend, and decided to try another Chinese chicken dish, but doesn't call for peppercorns. It's called the sesame ginger chicken, and this one turned out to be amazing! I stocked up on the essential ingredients for Chinese food.

Here is a list of must-have ingredients in your pantry if you want to get started on Chinese food:
  1. Low sodium soy sauce: I used to buy regular soy sauce before, but I feel the low sodium ones are better in making chinese stir-frys. The regular one is much more salty and strong - maybe good to use a few drops in soups.
  2. Toasted sesame oil: When I used to make fried rice or noodles, I used regular sesame oil that you would get in Indian grocery stores. Turns out "toasted" sesame oil, makes all the difference, and give the food that unique "Chinese restaurant" aroma. I bought a bottle that had hot peppers infused in it. I used the exact amount in this recipe and it wasn't hot at all, at least not by Indian standards - not even a small tingling sensation on the tongue for me.
  3. Rice wine: I bought a cooking rice wine from the asian aisle in my local supermarket.
  4. Rice vinegar: Many recipes call for rice vinegar, including many stir-frys. Do not confuse it with rice wine (at least I tend to).
  5. Hoisin sauce: This is a sweet Chinese barbecue sauce. Again, tastes amazing in a lot of recipes, including noodles.
  6. Sweet chili sauce: This is a great dip on its own with spring rolls, but it also adds a nice sweetness to many Chinese dishes.
  7. 5 spice powder:  This would be like the Chinese "Garam masala", and like garam masala - the spices can vary in each household. The one I got contains cinnamon, star anise, fennel, ginger, cloves, white pepper and licorice root. So it's definitely more than 5 spices, but that's the name they give it. Other versions can also contain Sichuan peppercorns, but thankfully mine doesn't.
  8. Oyster sauce: This is made from real oysters, and it gives a very pungent smell. Another sauce similar to this is Fish sauce. Many people use it directly in soups, or in dipping sauces. I'm still not that bold, and would rather use it within the cooking process, because the smell is too strong for me. Whenever I see oyster or fish sauce, I always recall the first time my sister opened up my bottle of fish sauce and took a whiff of it. Her face contorted and she wailed "Cheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!" and placed the bottle as far away as possible from her. I will never forget what she said next: "Why would you use such a stinky ingredient in your food? This smells like somebody's underwear used for 5 days and then left to rot!". My eyes are rolling with tears and I still can't stop laughing as I type this. Maybe after you read this, you won't feel like buying this, but if you use the same amount as the recipe asks for, it will taste good, I swear. Also, I think oyster sauce is a lot less pungent than fish sauce (which uses fermented fish).
  9. Sambal Oelek: This is a ground chili paste (different varieties of chillies). In the US, you will only find that of the brand Huyfong (it has the rooster symbol on it). The same brand also makes a chili-garlic paste. I sometimes use that too. I guess you can use any red chili paste you can find in your local store.
  10. White pepper: This is more milder than black pepper. If you can't find it, you can substitute with regular black pepper.

Now onto the recipe.
Credit: Kelsey's Sesame Ginger Chicken
Click here to watch the video of the same recipe.

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
6 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (i used chili flavored)
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 green bell pepper, cut into small pieces (optional)
4 tablespoons Chinese Shoaxing rice wine
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sambal chili sauce
1 tablespoon Thai chili sauce
1 lemon, zest and juice
Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
Scallions (spring onions), thinly sliced on an angle, for garnish
Fried Rice, for serving (or steamed rice)

For the chicken marinade: In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken with the sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce and pepper. Toss to coat, cover, place in the refrigerator and let sit 1 hour.

For the stir-fry: Remove the chicken from the fridge. Add 1 cup cornstarch to a shallow baking dish and dredge each piece of chicken, shaking off any excess.

Fill a Dutch oven or wok with enough oil to completely submerge the chicken pieces. Heat over high heat until glossy and the temperature reaches 375 degrees F. Deep fry the chicken until golden brown, about 3 minutes, adding your chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding and to keep your oil from dropping in temp too much. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until golden brown and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bell pepper (capsicum) if desired and saute for a two minutes. Next, add the rice wine, hoisin, oyster sauce, soy sauce, honey and the chili sauces; bring to a simmer.

In a glass measuring cup, mix the remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 3/4 cup very cold water (make sure you water is cold to avoid lumps!), whisking until combined. Add the mixture to the sauce and simmer for an additional minute, until the sauce thickens. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Add in the fried chicken and toss to coat with the sauce. Add the lemon zest and juice. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.

1. Toasting sesame seeds:
Heat a small pan on low-medium heat. Put around 2 tbsp of white sesame seeds and constantly toss so that the toasting happens evenly. Stop when it turns golden brown and transfer to a cool plate.

2. Original recipe called for only 1/4 cup of water to add with cornstarch to the sauce. That will make the sauce too thick to just coat the chicken pieces, and it will be very dry (good as an appetizer). I needed some more gravy (side with fried rice), so I added about a cup of water. You can adjust as per your liking.

3. I had half a bell pepper in my fridge, so I tossed it into the chicken. This is often used in most Chinese stir frys. Original recipe does not call for it.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Egg salad sandwich

This is a quick breakfast recipe. Would take roughly half an hour from start to finish.

Serves: 2 sandwiches

Whole wheat bread - 4 slices
Eggs -  2
Green onions (spring onions) - 1 stalk, sliced finely. (can substitute with chives, dill or herbs of your choice)
Mayonnaise - 1 tbsp (or Greek yoghurt, I used half of each)
Dijon mustard - 1 tsp
Salt & Pepper to taste


Immerse the eggs in water and bring it to a boil. Take it off the stove and let sit in the hot water for 8-10 mins. Drain and peel off the shells. Chop the eggs into small chunks.
Add the sliced green onions, mayonnaise, yoghurt, dijon mustard, salt & pepper. Mix it all well. Now you have an egg salad.

Toast the whole wheat bread slices. Spread the egg salad on a slice and close with the other.

Optional add-ons: Fried shallots, bacon bits, crumbled feta, celery, dash of paprika, curry powder, lemon juice, chopped red onions, chopped apples, toasted pecans. The sky is your limit.
I also like to have it as a salad instead of a sandwich, because sometimes I feel the bread makes it too dry.
If you have lettuce leaves you can add a layer of lettuce to your sandwich as well. If you like tomato slices, go ahead! Enjoy!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Muringakka Theeyal

Theeyal is a delicious tangy curry that's popular in Kerala. Some of the popular theeyal are:
Ulli Theeyal : made with red pearl onions
Muringakka Theeyal : made with muringakka (moringa oleifera pods)
Pavakka Theeyal : made with bitter gourd

Here is a recipe for muringakka theeyal.

Muringakka/Drumsticks (moringa oleifera pods) - 3-5 nos.
Red pearl onions - 1 cup
Grated coconut - 1 cup
Black peppercorns - 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Dried Red chillies - 8 + 3 nos.
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp
Water - 1 cup
Asafoetida - a pinch
Jaggery - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Salt to taste


Wash the drumsticks and chop off the dry ends. I also gently scrape them with the blade of my knife, because I've seen my mom do this as well. Cut the drumsticks in 2 inch sizes. Peel the red onions.
Tip: Soaking the red pearl onions in water for about 10 mins, will helps the skin peel off easily.
Chop a quarter of those onions.
In a pan, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add the chopped onions, grated coconut, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and 8 whole red chillies. Roast it on a medium heat till the coconut turns brown. Ensure that you are stirring constantly so that there roasting is even, and the coconut does not stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. This takes about 10-15 mins of roasting. Here's a before and after photo:
Allow it to cool and add a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. (I also added a pinch of red chilli powder and a pinch of coriander powder, but its optional) Grind this mixture with about 2 tbsp of water to a smooth paste like chutney.

In the same pan, heat another tablespoon of oil. Add the red pearl onions and give it a swirl for about a minute on medium heat. Add the chopped drumsticks and fry for about a minute. Add turmeric powder and mix. Dissolve a tablespoon of tamarind paste in a cup of water. Pour this into the pan. Add salt and bring it to a boil. Allow it to cook for about 5 minutes. Add the ground mixture to this, add more water if required. Let it cook for about 10 minutes on low heat. Add a pinch of asafoetida and a tablespoon of shaved jaggery. (it's not going to taste sweet, it helps in cutting the extreme sourness).

In another small frying pan, heat a teaspoon of oil. Splutter mustard seeds, add a sprig of curry leaves and break 3 dried red chillies into it. Temper it for half a minute and pour the mixture into the theeyal.

Serve with rice and other sides of your choice.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Naadan Beef curry (with coconut milk)

Porotta and beef curry. Some of the combinations that is synonymous with Kerala cuisine.
I haven't dared to make a porotta at home yet. It really is such an ordeal, even back in Kerala, families buy them from the local thattukada (food stall). Beef curry on the other hand, is best made homemade, with freshly ground spices.
Previously, I made beef curry using chuck stew meat, which was good. This time I tried sirloin tips, and it turned out ah-mazing!!


Sirloin tips (beef cubes) - 1 lb (1/2 kg)
Homemade garam masala - 2 + 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tspp
Red onion - 1 large, sliced
Ginger - 2 tsp, chopped finely
Garlic - 2 tsp, chopped finely
Coconut milk - 1 cup
Bay leaf - 1
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Mint leaves - a handful
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste


Dry roast the coriander powder, chilli powder and turmeric in a wok for a couple of minutes on medium heat till it just starts to smoke. Keep aside on a small plate.
Wash the beef cubes in some warm water and a small amount of vinergar (optional). Drain and store in a bowl. Sprinkle salt and 2 tsp of garam masala, half the roasted powder mix of coriander, red chilli and turmeric. Rub the beef cubes in it. Let it sit for marination for about half an hour.
Meanwhile prep the other ingredients - chop onions, ginger, garlic. Wash the curry leaves and mint leaves.
In a wok, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add bay leaf and curry leaves. Then fry the sliced onions for 5 minutes with some salt till its softened to a nice pink. Add the ginger and garlic, fry for another couple of minutes. Add the remaining 2 tsp of garam masala and remaining coriander powder, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Fry for a minute. Then add the marinated sirloin tips and fry for about 5 minutes. Add a cup of thin coconut milk and mint leaves. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Check for salt, add half a cup of thick coconut milk and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Serve hot with porottas or steamed rice and kachiya moru. Remember it tastes better the next day, when the spices have really blended into the meat. This is heaven!!

Note: I bought a can of coconut milk. I scooped out the top part which was the thick coagulated coconut milk into a cup. Then I mixed the rest of the thin coconut milk in the can.

Garam Masala - Homemade goodness!!

When I was a newbie at cooking, I always resorted to using store bought spice mixes, especially garam masala. As I progressed, I realized that the secret to getting that authentic taste in curries, is freshly roasted home ground spices, just like mom made it.

The recipe of garam masala varies in every household. The basic ingredients in any garam masala would be the 3 c's - cinnamon, cloves and cardamom (green ones). Then you can add some other spices of your liking such as nutmeg, cumin seeds, fennel seeds (this is especially good for non vegetarian curries), black peppercorns, star anise, mace, etc. Some even add coriander seeds and red chillies, but I add them separately in my curries. Here is a recipe that I made today, the measurements is a guesstimate. You can look at the photo above and understand the proportions too.


Green cardamom seeds - 1 tbsp
Cinnamon stick - 2 inch stick
Cloves - around 20 of them
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Fennel seeds - 1 tbsp
Black peppercorns - 1 tsp
Mace - 2
Star Anise - 1
Black cardamom - 1


Heat a wok to medium heat, and then reduce it to medium low. Put in all the spices into it.

Gently roast the spices for a couple of minutes, constantly stirring so as not to burn them. The smell will start to emanate from the spices. Once you start to see a light smoke appearing, stop the heat. Keep stirring as the wok is still hot and the spices underneath can burn. Once the wok's heat has reduced significantly, wait for it to cool completely.

Then roast all the spices in a spice grinder.

Store in an air tight container, in a cool dry place.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Nectarine raspberry cobbler

Nectarine raspberry cobbler bubbling away.
"Fresh out of the oven. Delish!"

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Chickpea feta burger

I wouldn't call it a veggie burger because it contains eggs. It is a delicious and healthy option on a hot summer day. I served this with a nice dill tahini sauce.

Ingredients for chickpea feta burger:

200 grams chick peas soaked and boiled with salt
100 grams feta cheese crumbled
2 eggs
1 grated carrot
6 red pearl onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp oil

Ingredients for dill tahini sauce:
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup dill minced
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
1tsp lemon juice
Dash of salt

To assemble:
Hamburger buns
Baby spinach leaves
Tomato slices
Iceberg lettuce leaves

Method fpr sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

Method for burgers:
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook pearl onions and garlic for 2 minutes or until soft. Transfer to a food processor. Add chickpeas, carrots feta and eggs and process until combined. Transfer to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add the bread crumbs and mix until combined. Divide mixture into golf ball portions. Shape each portion into a patty.
heat the remaining oil on a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook the patties for 4 minutes each side or until brown and cooked through.
Toast the hamburger buns for 2 minutes each side or until lightly toasted.
Divide half the bun cut side up among serving plates. Spread with a little tahini sauce. Top with a lettuce, spinach, tomato and chickpea patty and other half of bun.
Assembled Burgers:

Dill Tahini Sauce:

Burger mix:

Grilling the burgers:

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Shahi Paneer

This is another version of Shahi Paneer that I tried last night from The Novice Housewife. I found it while browsing through Pinterest. It was so creamy and delicious, I couldn't wait to get this up on my blog. Also prepping is easy. The ingredients need to be only roughly chopped and boiled, as it will be pureed into a smooth paste.

The novice houswife's recipe also gives out many handy tips worth reading.
The ones I liked:
Soaking the paneer to soften it.
Marinating and broiling the paneer.
Another option is to fry the paneer. The broiling or frying is done to prevent the paneer from crumbling into the curry. Or you can use it as it is.
The more you cook the gravy, the better flavour you get, but ensure you dont allow it to stick to the pan. Keep stirring the gravy.
If making ahead, make the gravy and broil the paneer. But reserve adding the paneer to the gravy till the day of serving. Also make the gravy a little thinner, as it will thicken with time. If you do add the paneer, reheat in microwave or oven. Reheating on the stove,  might lead to the paneer breaking into pieces while stirring.
Ketchup is added for sweetness and a reddish color. Or you can use a pinch of sugar instead.

For broiled Paneer:
Paneer - 250 gms
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Kasoori methi - 1 tsp
Yoghurt - 1 cup

Onions - (1 large onion), quartered (250 gm)
Coriander seeds - 1/2 tsp
Green chillies - 3-4 ( if you prefer less heat, deseed the chillies)
Tomatoes - (2 small roma tomatoes or 1.5 large tomato) (125 gm)
Cashew nuts - 50 gm
Butter - 2-3 tbsp
Ginger-garlic paste ( 1 inch ginger & 4 cloves garlic) - 1 tbsp
Roasted cumin powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
1 tsp sugar or 1 tbsp ketchup
Milk - ½ – ¾ cup
1 cup warm water (I used the reserve liquid from boiling the ingredients)
a handful of kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
3-4 tbsp finely chopped cilantro leaves
a very small pinch garam masala (optional)
salt, to taste

If you're using store bought Paneer (I've rarely made Paneer at home), then soak the paneer in hot boiling water and some salt for about 10 minutes. It makes the paneer soft.
Also marinate the paneer with yoghurt, turmeric, cumin seeds, kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), red chilli powder and salt for 15 minutes. Bake them in an oven at 350F for 7 minutes. Broil it for 3 minutes. Flip and broil for another 2 minutes.

Grind the ginger and garlic with ½tsp of water to make a smooth paste.
Wash the tomatoes, and cube them roughly.
Put the tomatoes, onions, coriander seeds, green chillies, and cashews in a big enough sauce pot. Add enough water to cover the vegetables and let it come to a boil (about 10 minutes). Drain the water and blend it to a paste. I generally keep a cup under the strainer and reserve some of the liquid to put in the gravy later. You could remove the skin of the tomatoes if you like, but it is fine even if you don’t.
In another pan (I use the same sauce pot), heat the butter (I used oil). Once hot, add in the ginger-garlic paste. Fry till golden. Add the onion-tomato paste.
Fry on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until the oil separates. Be careful, it will splutter.
Add salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. Let cook for another 15-20 minutes on medium-low flame. Add ¼ cup of the reserved warm water. Cook for 5 minutes and keep adding the rest of 1 cup of water every 5 minutes, for the next 15 minutes.
Add the roasted cumin powder and kasoori methi in the sauce and mix well. Season with salt and add sugar if required. You can add a little ketchup as well. The ketchup adds a little sweetness, and a little red colour to the gravy.
When ready to serve, reheat the sauce. Add the paneer, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add finely chopped cilantro, the milk and if required a little more warm water. Adjust seasoning. You can add a pinch of garam masala at this point, if you like. Serve hot with naan, or roti.


Naan is an Indian bread that I've been wanting to try making at home for a long time. It's traditionally made in a Tandoor which is a hot clay oven. Obviously a commoner like me won't have a clay oven at home, so we usually had them at a restaurant. But my mom used to make a similar one at home on a stove top when I was a kid. It used to be one of her specials served with keema matar, made specially for her children. :)
I tried a recipe from vahchef. He shows two options - an oven technique and a stove top technique. Since my stove is electric, I couldn't follow that one, although he says its the better tasting one. I opted for the oven technique and it turned out good anyway. I may try the stove top version when I get a grill.
I served it with Shahi Paneer for dinner.

All purpose flour (Maida) - 3 cups
Instant dry yeast - 1 sachet
Water - 1/2 cup (lukewarm)
Milk - 1 cup
Egg - 1 (optional)
Sugar - 1/2 tsp
Salt - a pinch
Oil - 2 tbsp
Extra flour - for rolling out

Sieve the flour into a bowl.
Prepare the yeast mixture first. In a small bowl filled with 1/2 cup lukewarm water, add the instant yeast. Stir with a plastic spoon to mix, the yeast will start to get activated. To help this, add in the salt and sugar. Let rest for 5 minutes. Add the milk, and egg if using. Egg will make the naan softer. Also add a tablespoon of oil in the mixture.
Pour the yeast mixture a little at time into the bowl of flour and knead with your hands. The video shows that you need to get a very sticky and smooth dough, so its ok if its sticks a lot on your hands. I did not have to use the entire yeast mixture to get the consistency shown in the video (that's why I use only 1/2 cup water in this recipe). Drizzle some oil over the top so that it doesn't dry when letting it rest. Rest for about 1/2 hour or even an hour, to let the dough rise. In the meantime, I prepared the curry that I would serve with it.
Preheat your oven to the highest possible temparature (broiler mode). Flour your work surface and your hands. Start pulling out portions of the sticky dough and form a rough ball with it. The extra flour will help prevent it from sticking to your hands. Once you've made the balls, cover them with a kitchen towel and rest again for about 10 to 20 mins. Then take eash dough ball and flatten them out with your palm. Keep tossing them between your palms like you would a pizza dough. The video shows you how to do this. Beware he's goofy, so it's hard to take him seriously at first lol!

Place them on a non-stick cookie sheet or on an oiled pan. If you like garlic naan, spread minced garlic over the naan at this stage. Bake it in the oven for 2 and a half minutes. Anymore and you will burn the naan (Oven temperatures may differ so keep a close eye on the first batch to calculate what works best). Take it out and flip it, and place it back in the oven for only 30 seconds. Get them out and immediately dab salted butter on it, if you like butter naan.
Serve hot with your favorite curry.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Shrimp and Veggie Pasta Casserole

This is one my most favorite casseroles. I love shrimp and I love white sauce. Combine it with pasta, mixed veggies and you've got a solid meal!
This recipe is inspired from a mix of two recipes. One from the heritagecook and the other from stacey snacks.

For shrimp:
Large shrimp - 1 pound (1/2 kg) - shelled and deveined
Garlic - 3 cloves - minced
Green onions (spring onions) - 2 stalks
Butter - 4 tbsp - softened
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Ground black pepper - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)
Salt to taste

For garnish:
Panko breadcrumbs - 4 tbsp
Canola oil - 1 tsp
Parsley - 3 sprigs - minced
Grated parmesan cheese (optional) - as per taste

Linguine pasta - as per serving nos.
Water - to fill 3/4 of a stock pot
Salt to taste
Olive oil - 1 tbsp

For Bechamel (white sauce):
Butter - 2 tbsp
Flour - 2 tbsp
Milk - 1 cup (warmed or at least at room temperature)
Cream - 1/4 cup (optional)
Pepper - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

For veggie mix:
Cooking wine - 3/4 cup (I used rice cooking wine)
Green onions - 2 stalks
Yellow onion - 1/2 chopped
Frozen mixed vegetables - 1 cup
Oil - 1 tbsp

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix salt and lemon juice with shrimp and leave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile mix all the other ingredients in the shrimp section to form a buttery paste. Add this paste to the shrimp and coat well.
Lightly cook linguine pasta in boiling water in a stock pot with salt and olive oil. Drain and place onto the casserole dish. This is your first layer.
Onto the sauce. In a sauce pan, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth and also giving some time for the flour to cook. This mixture is called the 'roux'. To this add a small amount of milk and whisk so that no lumps are formed. Add the rest of the milk and cream if using. You could also use half and half. The sauce will thicken. Season with salt, pepper and paprika if desired, and your bechamel sauce is ready.
In a separate pan, heat oil on medium heat. Fry the onions and whites of the green onions until soft. Then add the thawed mix of frozen vegetables. You could also use a mix of fresh vegetables. You can use your preferred combination like green peas, french beans, carrots, broccoli, corn kernels. Add remaining green onions. Pour the white wine into this and allow to cook until its reduced and thickened (for about 2-3 minutes). The alcohol would evaporate at this stage, but you could leave the wine out if you dont want the flavor. Pour this mixture into the bechamel sauce and combine well.
Pour this mixture all over the paste in the casserole. Use a fork to shake it a little so that the sauce seeps through the pasta.
Now for the third layer - place the shrimp mixture over this.
For the garnish, mix the canola oil with the panko or breadcrumbs so that its lightly coated but still fluffy. Mix grated parmesan cheese if desired. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Sprinkle chopped parsley over this.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. I had some leftover cooked bacon strips that I crumbled on top as well, so that I don't have to throw them away. It added more flavor to the already awesome dish!

Note: For a simple shrimp appetizer, you can just bake the shrimp mixture alone with the garnishing at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes, until the crumbs are golden brown and shrimp is cooked through.
Also the recipe of the bechamel sauce is very versatile and is used in many continental dishes.

Egg and Vegetable Stew (with variations for chicken, beef or lamb)

This stew is a traditional Syrian Christian curry served for breakfast with Appam (lacy rice pancakes). I like to have it any time of the day with toasted bread, if there's no ready batter for appams. It's very rustic and hearty, like the filling of a pot pie. (Maybe I will try it in a pot pie someday).

Serves: 4-6

Eggs - 4 large
Onion - 1 medium size, chopped
Ginger - 1 inch, minced
Green chillies - 3 or as per your spice level
Chopped Vegetables - 2 cups (preferably potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, french beans, green peas)
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cinnamon sticks - 1 large broken to small pieces
Cloves - 4-6
Green cardamom pods - 4
Bay leaf - 1
Curry leaves - 1 sprig (optional)
Black pepper corns - 6-8
White pepper powder - 2 tsp (optional)
Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric - a pinch
Red chilli powder - a pinch (optional)
Coriander powder - 1 tsp (optional)
Garam masala - a pinch (optional)
Coconut milk - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups
Oil (vegetable/canola) - 2 tbsp (For authenticity, use coconut oil - its an acquired taste)

Hard boil the eggs and keep aside to cool. Meanwhile chop all the vegetables and store in a mixing bowl.
In a large pot, heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add mustards seeds and let is splutter. Add the whole spices - cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, peppercorns. Once their aroma starts to exude, add the chopped onions, ginger, green chillies and curry leaves. Saute until the onions are translucent. Then add the powdered spices - turmeric, white pepper, black pepper, red chilli powder, coriander powder. Mix for a minute. Then add the chopped vegetables and enough water to just cover the vegetables. Cover and cook until the vegetables are cooked through. Meanwhile peel the cooled eggs and halve them, if desired. Once vegetables are cooked, reduce the heat, and pour coconut milk. Let it cook and reduce until you get the desired consistency of gravy. Finally sprinkle garam masala and add the hardboiled eggs. Serve with appams, chappathis or toasted slices of bread.

Note: You can make different variations of this stew. Leave the eggs out and it becomes a vegetable stew. Add cubed chicken pieces instead of the vegetables and it becomes a chicken stew. For beef or lamb stew, cook the meat separately with a small amount of water or even pressure cook it, before adding it to the stew.
If you don't have coconut milk, use regular milk.

Canneloni Florentine

This is a dish I first ate at a vegetarian Italian restaurant in Bangalore called Little Italy. Its one of the fewest restaurants where I did not miss meat!

Canneloni tubes - 12 tubes

For canneloni filling:
Butter - 4 tbsp
Onion - 1, chopped fine
Garlic - 6 large cloves, minced
Carrot - 2, peeled and grated
Spinach - 2 cups,chopped
White pepper powder - 2 tsp
Breadcrumbs - 2 tbsp
Feta cheese/Grated paneer/Ricotta cheese - 1/2 cup, crumbled

Cheesy Bechamel sauce:
Butter - 4 tbsp
Flour - 2 tbsp
Milk - 2 cups
Shallot - 1, whole, peeled
Cloves - 6
White cheddar cheese - 1/4 cup grated
Parmesan cheese - 2 tbsp. grated
White pepper powder - 1 tsp
Nutmeg powder - a pinch

Spinach layer: (optional)
Spinach - 1 cup, chopped coarsely
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Rosemary - a small sprig

Tomato pasta sauce - 4 tbsp (optional)
White Cheddar cheese for garnish - 1/2 cup, grated
Parmesan cheese for garnish - 3 tbsp

Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
Start with Bechamel sauce:
Take the whole peeled shallot and pierce cloves into it.
In a saucepan, pour milk and warm on low-medium. Place the piece of shallot with cloves into it, to allow the flavor to seep in.
In another saucepan, melt butter and add flour to make the roux. Mix for about a minute till the raw smell of flour is gone. Whisk in milk, little by little to get a creamy but less thick sauce. Add grated cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese. Take a taste test and adjust salt (as cheese contains salt too). Add white pepper powder and nutmeg powder.

For filling:
Melt butter in a pan. Saute chopped onions and garlic till its translucent. Then add grated carrots and salt. Now add chopped spinach, white pepper powder and allow for spinach to wilt. Turn off heat and allow the mixture to cool. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add crumbled feta cheese, breadcrumbs and 2 tbsp of the bechamel sauce.
Fill the canneloni tubes with this filling

Spinach layer:
Heat olive oil in the same pan used for filling. Add rosemary (rub it with your fingers first to release flavor). Then add chopped spinach and allow it to wilt.

In a casserole dish, first pour the cheese bechamel sauce.

Spread the spinach layer on top of this. Now arrange 6 or 7 canneloni tubes to form a layer. Pour more bechamel sauce over this. Sprinkle white cheddar sauce. Place remaining canneloni tubes to form second layer.

Pour remaining bechamel sauce. Spread pasta sauce or marinara sauce, if using. Finally sprinkle white cheddar and parmesan over it.

Bake the casserole for 40 mins.
Note: Do not make the bechamel sauce too thick, or the canneloni tubes will not cook.

Keema Matar

Keema matar is one of my favorite dishes. My mom used to make this for me and my sister when she feels like treating us to something special. She used to also make a pan grilled bread that was a lot like naan to go with this. When I started to cook on my own, this is one of the first recipes that I decided to master. Its quite simple and delicious!

1 lb ground beef (you can use ground lamb, chicken or turkey too)
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1 large onion chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 inch piece ginger
2 green chillies sliced fine
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 inch piece cinnamon
4 cloves
2 cardamom
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp asafoetida
salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
4 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp yoghurt
2 tsp lemon juice

Heat oil in a wok. Add cumin seeds, cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom and cloves. Then add onion and salt. Saute on medium heat for about 10 mins, till  it turns brown. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies. Continue sauteeing for a long time till everything softens up. Add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala and asafoetida. Mix till raw smell disappears. Add tomato puree. Cook till raw smell goes. Then add ground beef. Mix thoroughly so that no chunks form. Add 2 tbsp milk. When beef turns brown, add more tomato puree if required. Adjust salt as well. Add green peas and cook further for another 5 minutes. Take off heat and let cool down. Mix yoghurt and sprinkle lemon juice before serving.

Stir-fry noodles

This recipe is very similar to my Pancit Bihon recipe. The main difference is that I use rice noodle in the Pancit recipe. In this one, I use either Udon noodles or Ramen (Maggi noodles is also Ramen).

Noodles: 2 packets
Bacon - 4 strips
Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped fine
Ginger - 1 inch piece, chopped fine
Onion - 1 chopped (optional)
Assorted vegetables (choice of grated carrots, sliced french beans, corn kernels, green peas, sliced bell pepper, bean sprouts)
Green onions (spring onion/scallion) - 2 stalks, chopped
Sambal oelek - 1 tbsp
Soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Noodle flavor sachet (your choice of flavor)- 2
Black pepper powder - 1/2 tp (optional)


Cook noodles, drain and keep aside.
Heat a wide pan, cook 4 bacon strips till crisp. (no need to use oil as bacon has fat). Take bacon out on a plate, keep aside. In the same pan with bacon fat, fry onions, garlic and ginger. Once onions soften, add the vegetables. Cover and cook on low heat for about 5 minutes. Add green onions, soy sauce and mix. Then add sambal. Add in the noodles, noodle flavor, black pepper and mix until well combined. Serve hot with spicy ketchup or siracha sauce, if desired.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Egg Fried Rice

This is my favorite recipe for egg fried rice. Usually it contains only rice, egg and soy sauce. But I like it with thinly cut vegetables too. More like a combination of vegetable and egg fried rice.

Rice - 1 cup
Eggs - 2
French beans - 10 nos.
Carrot - 1 large
Green Peas - 1/4 cup
Corn kernels - 1/4 cup (optional)
Green onion (spring onion) - 1 stalk
Ginger - 1 inch, minced
Garlic - 2 cloves, minced
Soy Sauce - 2 tbsp
Sambal Olek - 1 tbsp (optional)
Vegetable oil - 1 tbsp
Pepper - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

Cook rice first. Fried rice works best with refrigerated rice, so if you have rice leftover from your last dinner, you can use that. Basically, the rice needs to be cooled down before frying it. So if you're cooking it now, drain it and let it cool down for a bit (let all the steam come out). Then stick it into the freezer for around 10 or 15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop beans finely, cube carrots finely and chop green onions too (including the white part and keep it separate).
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet or wok. The pan you're going to use needs to be wide so that you can work the stir fry properly, or else it will get sticky. Now add the white part of the green onions first and let it soften by stir-frying for a couple of minutes. Then add minced ginger and garlic, fry for 3 minutes. Then add the green beans and carrots. Stir fry for about 5 minutes. Then add green peas and fry for 5 more minutes. Stir often so that the vegetables don't brown. Move the vegetables to a corner of the pan. Break 2 eggs on the other side. Scramble it by mixing constantly. Then combine with the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper/ Finally add the rice and mix well. Pour in soy sauce and sambal (if using). Garnish with chopped green onions and serve with your favorite Chinese side.

Gobhi Manchurian - Cauliflower Manchurian

This is an Indo-Chinese recipe, that's very popular all across India. Cauliflower is known as Gobhi in Hindi.
I heard a funny story about a pure vegetarian software engineer in India, who was sent to China on an assignment. Being vegetarian, your options are pretty much limited in China. This guy confidently accepted the assignment, thinking that he can order Gobhi Manchurian and survive. To his horror, there is no such thing as Gobhi Manchurian or Gobhi Anything in China! This is a vegetarian dish using common Chinese ingredients and techniques, but only found in India. ;-)

Cauliflower - 1 medium
All purpose flour - 1/2 cup
Corn Starch - 1/4 cup
Soy Sauce - 5 tbsp
Salt - to taste
Pepper - 1 tsp
Yellow onion - 1 medium, minced
Garlic cloves - 3, minced
Freshly grated ginger - 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1 tsp
Red Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Rice vinegar - 2 tsp
Siracha sauce or Sambal Olek - 1 tbsp
Maggi Hot and Sweet Tomato sauce - 1/4 cup (substitute: 1/2 cup tomato puree)
Apricot Jam - 2 tbsp (Substitute: 1 tsp sugar)
Vegetable oil - 1 tbsp, plus more for frying
Green Onion (spring onion) - 1 stalk, minced

Wash cauliflower florets. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the cauliflower on an oiled baking sheet, season with salt and pepper to taste, and roast until just tender, turning once, 12 to 15 minutes total. Remove from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F.
In a bowl, combine the all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Add 1/2 teaspoon of the coriander, 1/2 teaspoon of the red chilli powder, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and black pepper. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce and the water and mix well to make a batter. Add another tablespoon or so of water if the batter is too thick.
In a large skillet, heat a thin layer of oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, dip the cauliflower in the batter, then arrange in the hot skillet. Fry until golden brown, turning once, 4 to 5 minutes total. Optionally, you can also deep fry it. Transfer the cooked cauliflower to the baking sheet and return to the oven to keep warm.
Heat the 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon coriander, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder, and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the 1 tbsp apricot jam, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tsp rice vinegar, Sriracha (or Sambal Olek), Maggi hot and sweet tomato sauce (or tomato puree). Add 3 tablespoons of the Spring Onions and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened and the flavors have blended, about 5 minutes. Add up to 1/4 cup of water is the sauce is too thick. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Return the fried cauliflower to the pan and spoon on the sauce to coat, turning the cauliflower gently to coat with sauce. Serve immediately. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon green onions.

Beef Fry - Kerala style

This recipe is different from my mom's recipe. It's an adaptation from Vazhayila. But the quantity of spices used for the meat masala seemed a bit too much for me, so I made a few changes here and there. My mom uses a lesser amount of the masala. Both use coconut cuts (thenga kothu). As I wasn't in a position to break open a fresh coconut to cut out the pieces, I used grated coconut from my freezer. Still tasted amazing with steamed rice and kachiya moru.

For Meat masala powder:
Bowl -1 Roast and Grind
Dried red chili - 15   OR  Chili powder 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 3 tbsp   OR  Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Black Pepper corns - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 2 small sticks
Green Cardamom - 5 OR Cardamom seeds - 1 tsp
Cloves - 6
Star anise - 1
Bay leaf - 1
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp Or garam masala - 1 to 1.5 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp

To pressure cook:
Beef - 1 kg (chuck works best)
Salt to taste
Meat Masala powder - half of of the recipe above
Curry leaves

To roast:
Shallots chopped - 1 cup
Garlic chopped - 4-5 cloves
Ginger chopped - a small piece
Green chili chopped - 2
Coconut cuts ( Thenga kothu) - 1/4 cup OR Grated coconut - 2 to 3 tbsp
Salt to taste
Curry Leaves

Heat a small pan and add all the ingredients in the section for meat masala powder, except turmeric powder.
Dry roast it for 4-5 minutes on a medium steady flame , until aromatic and brown.
Switch off the heat and add turmeric powder. Grind it to a coarse powder in a coffee grinder.
This will give you about 5-6 table spoon of meat masala.

Clean and cut the beef into medium cubes and marinate it with half of the prepared masala powder (around 2.5 - 3 tbsp), salt to taste and curry leaves. Fill water till half the level of the beef pieces occupied. Pressure cook it for 3-4 whistles.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed cooking pan and add curry leaves and coconut cuts or grated coconut. Fry for 3-4 minutes. If using grated coconut, it will initially absorb the oil and start to foam. Then it will start to change color and foaming will stop. Do not let it overbrown.
Now add onion. Add crushed ginger,garlic and green chilies.
Saute till they start to turn brown. Add the remaining masala powder (or less if you think its too much masala) and fry for a minute or two.
Add the cooked beef along with cooking liquid if any and simmer until it is dry .
Turn the flame to medium and saute,stirring often and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent from sticking,until it turns dark and dry. Serve warm with steamed rice and moru. Or another popular combination is to have it with Kerala Parotta.