Friday, February 28, 2014

Mathanga Erissery / A traditional Kerala dish with Red Peas & Pumpkin

The first question Soccer Man  asked me when we talked about my cooking skill's before our wedding was " If I knew how to make Mathanga -Payar Curry " that's this Pumpkin & Red peas curry , I then thought if he is crazy ??? why didn't he ask me if I bake a cake or make a pudding ?? anyways I didn't ask him this question and I replied " Not a big deal I can learn "
he asked me to learn that from his Grand Mother....and am now glad that I could learn cooking from her :)
I feel very happy when I am with his Granny , not sure what her secret is, may be because I didn't have my own Grand parents with me while growing up , enjoy spending time with her.A lot to learn from her experiences which sometimes she shares.

Here is a quote - Steve Jobs said


For a Malayali (People who speaks Malayalam - language of Kerala/India) this dish is just enticing, its one among those dishes in our place , in which peas or lentils are happily married to Veggie's with a bond of Coconut which makes it perfect for a Mallu- Palate.
A popular side dish for Rice.


Red cow Peas / Vanpayar - 1/2 cup (soaked overnight or else use a pressure cooker to cook)
Pumpkin/ Mathanga - 1 cup cubed
Water - to cook

To grind

Coconut - 1/2 cup coconut
Cumin/Jeera - 1/2 tsp
Green chili's - 2 to 3 no's
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp

For seasoning

Coconut Oil - 2 Tb Sp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Shallots / Small Onion - 4 to 5 no's
Curry leaves - 1 spring ...I didn't have :(
Dry Red Chili's - 2 to 3 no's crushed
Red Chili Powder - 1/4 tsp
Grated Coconut - 1/4 cup


* Cook the red peas with enough water (If soaked it takes less time , I didn't soak it so I used a pressure cooker to cook it till 2 whistles heard , to save time)

* Grind the ingredients given for grinding (coconut, green chili's , cumin/jeera ,turmeric powder and some water) to make a thick paste. Keep aside.

* Open the lid of the pressure cooker and add in the cubed pumpkin and cook for 10 to 15 minutes till the pumpkins are nicely cooked. (Add water if there isn't much water to cook the pumpkin)

*Add in the ground coconut paste and bring to boil in medium heat , slightly mash the pumpkin pieces with a spoon.Lower the heat when it starts to boil and bring to a consistency you like it , I wanted it thick so I heated it till the water reduced.

*In an other pan , pop the mustard seeds in coconut oil , add in the diced shallots , dry red chili's and curry leaves , saute for 2 minutes and add in the grated coconut , roast these ingredients till everything looks nice and brown , add the red chili powder and switch off the heat.

*Add the roasted coconut ingredients to the cooked Pumpkin & Peas  and switch off the heat

*Serve with Hot rice.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ice Cream filled Chocolate cake - A K A - Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Simply delicious is this chocolate cake recipe and an addition of Ice cream filling makes it scrumptious and also changes it to a pudding.
Recipe for the chocolate cake adapted from Ina Garten
Was not sure if Ice creams stay good if refrigerated instead of freezing , hence I decided to mix some gelatin to the ice cream and make it fit to be stored in the refrigerator , need to try the easy way of just filling these cakes with simply Ice cream , next time.

I halved the measurements given in to Original recipe by Ina , so that I can make a small cake in a  5 x 3 size Loaf pan but then I could make a few cup cakes too as little batter was remaining.
This measurement other wise makes one 8- inch x 2 - inch round cake. 

For the Chocolate cake

Dry Ingredients 

All Purpose Flour - 3/4 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Cocoa Powder - a little less than 1/4 cup
Baking  Soda - 1 tsp
Baking Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp

Wet Ingredients 

Egg - 1
Butter milk - 1/2 cup
Butter or Vegetable Oil - 1/4 cup
Vanilla Extract - 1/2 tsp
Hot freshly brewed Coffee - 1/2 cup


*Preheat the oven to 350 Degree F

* Sift together all the dry ingredients in a bowl (Flour, sugar , Baking powder , Baking soda , cocoa and salt) Keep aside.

* Combine Butter Milk , oil , egg and Vanilla , slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients , mix in low speed (if using a Mixer) then add in the coffee and stir just to combine everything well.

*Pour this batter in to a greased pan (I used loaf pan) and bake in the 350 Preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until a fork when inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

* Cool in the pans for 30 to 45 minutes and then turn'em out on to a cooling rack.

For the filling  


Ice Cream - 1 and 1/2 cup any flavor (I used Vanilla Ice cream) 
Gelatin - 1 table spoon 
Cold Water - 1/2 cup (May use Milk or Cream too) 
Condensed Milk - 2 table spoon  


* Keep Ice cream outside for some time (15 to 20 minutes )
*Mix gelatin with 1/4 cup water until it dissolves , mix rest of the water with condensed milk in a pan and heat the same , when it starts to boil , add the gelatin mixed water and , stir to combine.

* Mix the gelatin to the melted ice cream and keep it in the refrigerator (for about 30 to 45 minutes)  and it then starts to set. 

Assemble the cake 

To help taking the cake out , after the ice cream is set , place foil sheet on the cake loaf pan first , as shown below.

* Slice and layer the cake to make two from the middle (or make two small cakes with this batter , to avoid the cutting part) 

* Place the cake bottom ( cut side up)  on the foil (which is on the loaf pan) and spread the ice cream filling on the cake.

* Cover this with the other layer of the cake (cut side down) and freeze for 10 to 15 minutes till the cake and filling is stiff. 

May serve this after its set , but then I was little more enthusiastic yesterday and I coated this Ice cream filled loaf cake with an icing to make it extra chocolaty , may cover'em with a Chocolate Ganache with just melted chocolate and cream. 

For the Coating - Optional 

Coat the cake only after its set.

Butter - 2 table spoon 
Semi sweet Chocolate chips - 1/4 cup
Confectioner's sugar - 1/2 cup 
Boiling water 

Melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler , add the butter and stir , when its all melted add in the confectioner's sugar , when combined , add little boiling water to make it the consistency you want and pour it on to cake , freeze for another 5 to 10 minutes and then its ready.

May store this in the refrigerator.  

 Enjoy !!


Monday, February 24, 2014

Thai Basil Fried Rice (Mixed)


 A secret wish of mine is to visit Thailand sometimes , as I loved each and everything we tried from any Thai restaurants so far.
If Soccer man reads this he will hesitate to take me to restaurants serving any other cuisines we haven't tried yet ;)
We cannot restrict our self from visiting a Thai restaurant at least once in a we really miss that special blend of herbs and spices like Thai Basil and Thai chili's which make their food unique.

Basil is a key ingredient in Thai cooking and also the coconut milk gravy is another reason that we fall for the that Jasmine rice - which tastes special with Thai Red , Green and Yellow curry...
& never knew Basil tastes this special when mixed in a curry , though a kind of Basil called "Holy Basil " what we have in India , is a medicinal plant seen in every houses , back in my place , we never tried it with any of our traditional dishes other than a special black tea which is made during the rainy season...or when someone is ill with Basil is a strong medicinal plant used in Ayurveda for treating diseases like Arthritis , Irritable Bowel Syndrome and even for Common Cold and also these are believed to have Anti Cancerous Properties.
Thai Basil 

Just 2 or 3 springs of Basil cost $ 3 here ,  which I thought is really expensive (may be because I compared these to the Tulsi / Holy Basil seen in the backyards in our house in Kerala )
But then I noticed this Basil Plant , somewhere in the corner of the same grocery store kept for sale, the whole plant cost the same as the 3 spring of basil , grabbed it without a second thought, will try to make'em survive , waiting for spring to come :) so that I can keep plants outside. 


Jasmine Rice - 2 cups cooked (if possible a day old cooked rice or kept for at least 2 to 3 hour's)
Thai Basil - 1/4 cup ( fresh )
Chicken - 1 cup thin stripes (Boneless , skinless Piece , or use any other meat)
Prawns - 1/2 cup to 1 cup (Optional)
Egg - 2 no's
Oyster Sauce - 2 Tb Sp
Fish Sauce - 1 Tb Sp
Soy Sauce - 2 Tb Sp
Green Chili's - 2 no's
Red and Yellow or Green Bell Peppers /Capsicum  - 1/2 of each sliced length wise
Onion - 1 medium
Garlic - 6 to 8 no's crushed and chopped
Green Onion's - 4 to 5 no's chopped (white and green part)
Tomato - 1 sliced lengthwise (optional)
Carrot - Thin slices or shaved thin slices (Optional)
Sugar - 1/2 tsp -Optional
Oil - 4 Table Spoon (I used Vegetable oil )
Cilantro springs and Orange slices or wedges for Garnishing.


* Mix the chicken slices and prawns with sugar (if using) and all the sauces (Oyster sauce, Soy Sauce and Fish Sauce) I used only Fish sauce and Soy sauce , marinate for 10 minutes.

*Heat Oil in a wok over medium high heat , fry the Chicken first saute till almost cooked ( 5 to 7 minutes till the chicken is no longer pink) and then add the prawns and continue to cook till done (another 3 to 5 minutes) , drain and keep the fried meat and prawns aside.

*While the oil is still on medium heat , add in the finely chopped garlic and the chopped white part of green onion (if using) and chopped green chili's , saute for few seconds

* Add in the chopped onion and thin slices of carrot , saute for 5 to 7 minutes.

* When the onions starts to become translucent , add the star ingredient - Basil , followed by the fried chicken and prawns.

* Add in the cooked jasmine rice (Jasmine rice is what they use in Thailand , for that authentic Thai fried rice , use this rice as its little sticky and with a different aroma makes it special )
I cooked it 3 hours before making this dish , when cooled these tend to be little sticky which is what you want for this fried rice.

* Stir quickly adding the left over sauce (used for the marinating the meat and prawns) , add in all the other vegetable's (Sliced bell pepper's and tomatoes (if using), cook stirring vigorously for another 3 to 5 minutes in medium- high heat , make space in the middle and add the 2 eggs to it , stir only when the eggs is lightly cooked and starts to thicken , mix well all the ingredients together and switch off the heat.

* Add the chopped green part of the green onion and do a taste test to check if seasoned well , since sauces contain salt its not a necessary ingredient, still check if its less and add the same if needed or else add little more of Soy sauce if you like.

Garnish with Cilantro & sliced Orange like how they serve in the restaurants (may add chopped cilantro/coriander leaves to this dish if you like at the last step)

Do serve these hot because that's when it taste the best.

For all Thai Food Lover's  - Restaurant style Thai Fried Rice. 


If using Jasmine rice , care should be taken while cooking rice , as it absorbs a lot of water hence once cooked it should be strained without delay.
Boil the water first , and when it starts to bubble add rice , cook for 15  to 20 minutes in medium heat and then strain it right away , keep this cooked rice for several hour's or minimum 2 hour's.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Panna Cotta light with strawberry gelatin

Delicious....nothing more to say :)

Panna Cotta is a traditional Italian Custard and easy too but then it is a rich dessert with heavy cream so I decided to cut down cream and substitute it with whole milk , it taste the best when its all cream in there but then as I always say we are thinking of dieting now....
Panna cotta can be enjoyed alone, it just melts down in your mouth but then plain white custard will have an appearance issue you know , especially for a photographer like me, its tough to make it attractive with the clicks I take , I want  you to try this one (those who haven't tried it)
 I believe that the sight of food makes it attractive , so thought to make this strawberry gelatin , its just strawberry syrup with some gelatin in it.


For the Panna Cotta

Heavy Cream - 1 cup
Whole Milk - 1 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup (or more )
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
Gelatin - 1 envelope unflavored

For Strawberry Gelatin

Strawberries - 7 to 9 no's sliced
Brown Sugar - 4 TB SP
Gelatin - 1 envelope
Water - 1/2 cup


Make the strawberry gelatin first and while it sets make the Panna Cotta custard.

* Dissolve 1 envelope gelatin in 1/2 cup water and keep aside for 5 to 10 minutes

* Heat sliced strawberries with brown sugar (if you don't have,  use white sugar) , boil till the strawberries looks tender (about 5 to 8 minutes in low heat)

* Add the gelatin soaked water to the strawberry syrup and boil , stirring contentiously.

* When it boils , pour this on pudding bowl / glass. and keep this in the refrigerator to set.

To Make Panna Cotta

* Mix 1 envelope gelatin with 1/2 cup milk and keep aside for 5 minutes.

* Heat cream with the rest of the milk and sugar.

* when it starts to boil add in the vanilla extract and the milk with the gelatin.


* Allow to boil and bubble up , keep stirring.Remove from heat once it boils and cool to room temperature.

* Pour this Panna Cotta mixture on top of the set strawberry gelatin and keep in the refrigerator (at least 3 hour's)

Once set , if you wish to serve this on a plate , run a knife through the sides of the custard and place the Panna cotta bowl on a plate filled with hot water , just for a minute and cover the bowl with the serving plate and flip the bowl upside down and the custard should fall on the plate.

Serve with fresh strawberries & strawberry Syrup If you like.....

& Panna Cotta Upside down

Don't wait to buy strawberries to make these ....Panna cotta taste good without strawberries...
Trust me..

Notes :
 Panna Cotta taste best when made with full cream , that's 1 & 1/2 cup of cream and just 1/2 cup of milk in this recipe (to soak the gelatin).


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Chicken Kebab

Kebab is a Middle Eastern Dish of usually minced meat , fish or vegetable's roasted or grilled on a skewer , thanks to Wikipedia , but I had same Idea ;)
I think its one of the most liked dish from Middle East...We in Kerala (My native state in South India)  love one another dish from the Middle East called Shawarma - its Pita bread wrapped with shaved grilled chicken , some sauce and pickled vegetables...the connection between people in Kerala and the Middle East is that ,  at least one member of a family in Kerala works or are settled  in the Middle East and that's how we got used to the Middle eastern cuisine.

Actually I made more Kebab's but then my family couldn't wait and the numbers got reduced by the time I got a satisfactory click, its a really tasty appetizer. A must try recipe when you buy minced meat next time and also an easy recipe too.


Minced Chicken - 3 cups (when minced , prefer 5 % fat as fat helps to bind the kebab)
Ginger Paste or finely chopped - 1 Table spoon
Garlic paste or finely chopped - 2 table spoon
Green chili's - 3 no's finely chopped
Cilantro/Coriander Leaves - 1/4 cup
Egg - 1 (Optional, if the minced meat having more fat ,may omit the egg)
Oil - 4 table spoon (for shallow frying)
Cumin powder - 1/2 table spoon
Tomato Paste/ sauce - 1 table spoon (Optional)
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Red Chili Powder - 1 tsp (or according to your tolerance level)
Juice of 1/2 lime.
Salt to taste
Roasted Gram Flour - 2 table spoon or more (optional -I didn't use)

Garam Masala - 1 table spoon ( dry roast 10 cardamom + 6 cloves + 2 pieces of cinnamon and 1 table spoon of Cumin seeds , powder the same)  or use store bought Garam Masala Powder.


* Mix the minced chicken with all the ingredients (other than oil) , use gram flour if its difficult to shape the chicken mixture (if the minced meat contains water , you may need to add flour)

*Keep this marinated inthe fridge for some time (at least 1/2 an hour)

*Heat Oil in a pan , while the oil is heating , take 2 table spoon of the chicken mixture in your palm and shape it like a sausage (length wise) and insert a skewer in to it and roll'em within your palm.
Immerse your hands in water , before shaping each kebab ,it helps to shape the kebabs without sticking to the palm.

*Place it on to the heated oil in the pan to shallow fry.

* Turn each sides , until roasted 5 to 7 minutes in medium heat , till the chicken is well cooked.

And the Kebabs are ready.

Enjoy with Mint Chutney