Posted in The Lazy Cook

Sweet and Summery

I was completely floored by friend Rajasi who is a eco-friendly feminist and blogger, when she sent me a picture of the Mangakarri that she had made, inspired from my post.  It is her motivation that is making me write this.

Last summer, hubby was having bed rest and kitchen was having ‘no rest’. Added to it, my new ‘job’ of cooking was driving me nuts. Being the 100% Malayali that I am, I loved all parts of the coconut tree/plant, save it’s oil. All you non-mallus, no, you cannot judge. Exceptions add beauty to the rules. And my hubby was a hard-core fan of coconut oil. The taste was bearable after a few attempts, but the smell, especially when it was getting heated… OMG, it put me on a nausea spree. I started hunting for the smallest packs, in all brands available in Chennai, but nothing satisfied me. I also got one really small pack, after shelling a hefty sum, at one organic shop. But this one was better. Or, was it me getting acclimatised? I could not be sure.

Few days later, at my hubby’s home, I noticed how the coconut oil was smelling way better than even the organic one that I had. Upon inquiry (my MIL learned lots of these stuff from her MIL, of course over few years), I realised that my issues with coconut oil was because it was not pure enough. She was shocked to know that my mom & dad never used coconut oil in their cooking. Finally, she conceded that it must the reason why our parents don’t get along (no, religion is just so passé). I convinced her that a 500mL bottle itself would be too much for me, for I was sure that I was just accustomed, and did not actually like coconut oil.

Fast forward few days, with an ever-hungry hubby on bed-rest and me also in the ‘not working’ status, food supplies get over really soon. Not even a drop of my regular oils were to be seen; the summer heat too prevented me from going out. Finally, the humble bottle, preciously packed by my MIL had to be opened. I was nearly in tears. Was sure that all of my regular stuff would taste blah with this oil. I was determined to save my dishes from coconut oil, and wanted to make something new and simple for the day. Some probability (what else do you call it when the only veggies available were pumpkin, ashgourd, shallots n few curry leaves?), creativity and desperation made me conjure up this dish which I started calling “Sweet Summer”. It was not only awesome, but gave me the final push into being the eternal coconut oil lover.

Ingredients:

  1. Pumpkin (ripe and yellow)         – 200g
  2. Ash gourd (young is preferred) – 150g
  3. Green Chillies                                – 7-8 nos (if you have kaanthari mulaku or bird’s eye                                                             chilli 1 or 2 would do)
  4. Shallots                                           – 10-12 nos (small onions/red onions as people would                                                             love to call)
  5. Coconut milk powder                  – 2-3 tbsp (or freshly grated and coarsely crushed                                                                   coconut)
  6. Coconut oil                                     – 1-2 tbsp
  7. Salt

Peel and cut the pumpkin and ash gourd to medium-sized pieces and put them in a thick bottomed pan. Add water to around half the height of veggies. Close the pan, and let it cook. Once it is half-cooked, add the chopped green chillies to it. Check every 5 minutes, stir and cook completely, till the veggies get mashed with a spoon/ladle. Keep it closed for 2 minutes. Now add in the coconut milk powder/minced coconut and finely chopped shallots. Add in the oil, mix well, and close the lid. Switch on the stove again and let it heat on medium heat for about a minute and switch off. Open after 2 minutes, add in the curry leaves (chopped or full, as you like it) and keep it closed for another 2 minutes, and then serve.

It is sweet, yellowy, summery and lovely

 

 

Posted in The Lazy Cook

Mangakarri – Raw mango in Coconut milk

‘Mangakarri’, or better called manga or mango curry is a ubiquitous item in all Indian kitchens once the Mango season starts. I know this, because, all my friends, from any part of India claim to have their own versions of gravy for both raw and ripe mangoes. It was never a surprise to know that there would be variations all over India, but this one is very special.

In Kerala, we usually use both the raw and ripe mangoes in gravies and pickles; although raw is usually reserved for pickles and also as a tenderizer or to add sourness in other gravies, ripe ones are made into sweet gravies.

In my part of Kerala, ‘Mangakarri’ means just one thing, teary-eye spicy and finger-licking yummy pickles made of big, raw mangoes, cut into small perfect cubes. These are sufficient enough to gobble down a plate of huge brown rice (Kerala Matta), no one would care for any other gravy to go with it. But, eating this alone with rice every single day, seemed too much far-fetched, even if it came from my no-fuss, foodie hubby. When we had this conversation, mango season had long gone, so I just got him a bottle of mango pickle. He was not particularly excited, but I attributed it to the lack of a home-made pickle. Soon, I had realized that I can never imagine to even reach his expectation of a home-made pickle; MIL is the certified best pickle maker in their whole town.

Few months later, at his aunt’s house, I had an amazing curry with rice. The spiciness, sweetness, sourness and richness; it was a deadly combo. Finger-licking me, sheepishly asked for more of the yellow curry. That was when my hubby had decided to notice that there were many other things around him, other than his food. With disbelief, he corrected me, not ‘yellow curry’, but ‘Mangakarri’. OMG!!! I just could not believe it; this was his favourite ‘Mangakarri’. I could not believe it; my humble pickle was nothing before this majestic gravy. Every one of his family were shocked, they could not believe that someone had never ever heard or tasted this heavenly dish. They told me that htis dish is originally from few areas that fall along the borders of Ernakulam and Thrissur districts of Kerala.

So, I rest my case, marry out of your caste, community, religion, or region to experience the best of gastronomic fares. And if you are family, you’ll also get to know some serious secret tips 😉

IMG_20151121_152305

For Marinating

1/2 kg raw mango, de-seeded and cubed, 5-6 shallots sliced length-wise, 1 small-sized onion sliced length-wise, 2 tbsp chilli powder, 1 tbsp turmeric powder 1 tbsp corriander powder, 1 tsp salt and 1-2tbsp vinegar.

Mix all of these well with hand (I can’t stand the heat of chillies, so I use a ladle) in a mud pot and keep covered for 30-45 minutes

For Sauteing

Heat coconut oil in a wok or clay pot. Once hot, add 2-3 big onions sliced length-wise, 3-6 green chillies sliced length-wise, 4-6 cloves of garlic and 1 inch ginger julienned, a twig or two of curry leaves and once the raw smell goes, add 1tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder 1 tbsp corriander powder, and fry again. To this add the marinated mango, thin coconut milk (350 mL), cover the vessel and cook on low flame.

Cooking

The mango would have been well cooked in 10-12 minutes, open the cover and add thin coconut milk or water, if more gravy is needed, and let it boil well, again. Once done, add thick coconut milk (250-350mL – depending on volume of gravy desired), mix the ingredients well and switch off flame.

Seasoning

Add coconut oil in a wok, and splutter mustard, fenugreek (uluva), 10-12 sliced shallots, 4-5 broken big red chillies, 1 tsp turmeric and few curry leaves. Add this to the gravy. Add a few more curry leaves and drizzle some more coconut oil on top, if desired.

This can be served with Rice, Apam, Idiyappam,Pathiri,  Chappathi, Bread, Bun etc. The gravy thickens on cooling. Once cooled, can be stored in fridge for up to 4 days easily.

 

 

 

Posted in The Lazy Cook

Whole Wheat Mix Veg and Egg Pizza

I am starting with my latest cooking experiment; a Pizza.

I was never a pizza lover, but the new thin-crust variations had made me start to like the pizzas. With the latest addition in my kitchen, an OTG, I had to try out a pizza. Being lazy and inexperienced, I spent more time researching than cooking. So, most of my knowledge is what others have shared in different blogs and videos. This is a simple version for the same.

Ingredients

  1. 1.5 cup whole wheat flour
  2. 1 tbsp salt
  3. 1 tsp heaped baking powder
  4. 0.5 tsp baking soda
  5. 2 tsp olive oil
  6. hot water (bubbling up started) – not sure of the quantity; kept adding on 1 tbsp each till I got a medium hard dough (approximately 1/3 cup)
  7. Olive oil – for greasing
  8. 2 tbsp cornflour – for dusting
  9. For Filling – Broccoli florets, Pumpkin, Baby Corn, Tomato, Spinach torn, Onion, dried Thyme, shredded Garlic, Pepper powder, Tomato Ketchup, Chilli Sauce, Soya Sauce, fresh Green Peas, Mushrooms sliced, 1 egg, grated Cheese, salt

Add items 1 to 4 and thoroughly whisk. Add olive oil, thoroughly whisk again. Keep adding water, mix completely using a fork. Once mixed, use fingers to prepare the dough. Stretch and compress it around 5 times, make it into a ball. Keep it covered in a vessel and put it in the freezer for at least 15-20 min. After that put it in the fridge for 10-15 min. This can be kept in the fridge for another 6-8 hours, without it losing its consistency. Just make sure to put it in an air-tight container.

As soon as it is taken out, put it on a large steel/aluminium tray greased with some oil, or onto the kitchen counter greased. I directly put it on my granite kitchen counter. Now using a rolling pin, flatten out the dough as thin as possible. I should have greased the surface with 2-3 drops of oil; will do it next time to prevent the flattened dough from sticking. Removing it this time was difficult.

wheat pizza

 

Once it is bigger than your skillet or cake spring-form tin, stop flattening it. Also depending on the thinness desired.
I made mine around 10 inch big. I had the base of the spring-form tin (9 inch) lined with 2-3 drops of olive oil and dusted with some cornflour. Onto this, I put my flattened wheat pizza base on it, and made sure that there was a small edge across the entire perimeter. This also provided as a boundary for the veggies.

Use 2-3 drops of olive oil on the pizza base to prevent the filling from sticking onto it. Add the filling. Refer to the items that I had used in the list above. It exclusively includes veggies and spice that I love. Be creative and treat your taste-buds.

Put this in a pre-heated (250 degree Celsius for 20 min) oven for 15 minutes. Take out after 2 minutes. Remove pizza onto a large plate, cut into slices and serve hot.

Makes 1 pizza, 9 inch, thin crust, with 6 slices, just sufficient for 2 people