Thursday, August 27, 2015

Happy Onam , Cherupayar Payasam Recipe

When I was a kid,the most exciting thing during Onam was to collect flowers to make Pookalam (Flower Carpet), now that I am grown up, it has been replaced by the preparation of Sadhya (Feast), there was a time in between when I was in my teens that I used to wait for Onam only because I could wear Kerala Set-Saree - which is slightly different from the normal Saree, dress like a "Malayalee" (Keralite)

Onam is a festival beyond any religious boundaries ,though the believes related to the same and the traditions are typically followed by the Hindus in our place, but most of our homes would have a Sadhya (Feast) prepared on that day & also would have a "Pookalam" (Flower Carpet) in front of our house.
I wish I was in Kerala,I could  help my NA make a "Pookalam" &  make Sadhya, sit with my family and enjoy the same after which we would lie down watching TV as all you can do after this grand  feast is to just rest :D

Here's a video I made :)

Photo Courtesy - Sadhya Pic
                          - Pulikali Pic
                          - Pookalam Pic

Following are links to some of the recipe's of Side dishes posted in this blog , which are usually prepared for Sadhya - yet to post all the side dishes for a Kerala Sadhya :( 

Mathanga Erissery
Olan  (Central Kerala Style)
Thoran with Cabbage or Cauliflower 
Mezhukkupurattiathu With Achinga Payar /Long Beans 
Paalpayasam - Rice Payasam

Sharing  a very special Kerala Dessert recipe , made during all festive occasions
"Cherupayar Payasam"
To be honest I haven't made it much,as someone in my family doesn't appreciate it :(

I miss that Dark Brown color in my payasam here, which is possible only with the extra brown Jaggery/Brown Sugar or Palm sugar that we get in our place.


Cherupayar/ Green Gram - 3/4 cup 
I made it with whole gram instead of split gram & used a pressure cooker to make it easier.
Jaggery/Raw Brown sugar/Sharkkara - 1 and 1/2 cups ( used about 7 pieces) 
Thick Coconut Milk (Onnampaal) - 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup 
Thin Coconut Milk (Randampaal)  - 2 - 3 cups (I made it with store bought coconut milk, diluted the same  with some water) 
Dry ginger powder/ Chukku podi - 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder - a pinch 
Coconut pieces - 2 tbsp 
Cashew-nuts & Raisins - 2 tbsp (more or less) 
Cardamom -  4-6 no's crushed. 
Ghee/ Clarified Butter - 1 to 2 tbsp


* In a pressure cooker, heat some ghee(2-3 tsp), saute Green gram's in this for 4-6 minutes in medium heat, let cool for sometime (10 -15 minutes) and give this a pulse in the blender. (Do not powder the same, it just needs to get broken lightly) 

* Pour Thin coconut milk (Randampaal) to this shallow fried Green gram & cover with the lid, wait for 2 whistles and switch off the heat. Allow to cool for some time.

* In the mean time, melt Jaggery with some water (1/4 to 1/2 cup) water , strain and keep aside.
I use the microwave to melt the same,it is much easy to melt it this way. 

* Once the pressure is gone, add the melted Jaggery and bring to boil, add crushed cardamom, Dry ginger powder(Chukku podi) & a pinch of cumin powder. 

* When the payasam reaches the required consistency, add the thick Coconut milk and switch off the heat.(It is better to make it thin as this tends to become thick when allowed to sit for a while) 

* In another pan, heat the rest of the ghee, fry Coconut bits, then add cashewnuts and,raisins,fry till everything looks brown.Add this to the prepared Payasam and Serve.  

Enjoy :) 

Notes :

I made this payasam initially by mixing jaggery/sugar & pulses together but payar/Green gram didn't get cooked even after pressure cooking the same for 3-5 whistles, that is the science I haven't learned ;)  Addition of sugar delays the cooking process. 
  Hence while preparing Payar Payasam, add sugar/Jaggery only after its cooked in Milk, that's how its done :) 

Now that Sadhya is the main attraction, sharing with you few tips that I learned from my mistakes, am sure I have much to learn while preparing a grand Sadhya :)

  •  Different vegetables have varied cooking time, while cooking recipes with the combination of root vegetables and other vegetable's (with less cooking time) like Kalan, Avial, Sambar  etc , care should be taken when you cut the vegetable's, let the root vegetable's be little bigger in size than the other vegetable's.
  •  I made an Alleppey style Errishery last week and was very disappointed with its taste, as this is one dish I will ask my Mom to make when I am at home and it never tasted this bad :(  After researching I realized that the vegetable's weren't cooked properly. Flavors of vegetable's get released only if it is cooked nicely for certain dishes (Errisheri, Kalan etc) the vegetable's need to be nicely cooked and mashed, then alone would it contribute to the authentic taste.
  • Salt shouldn't be added initially to those dishes which need legumes (Pulses, like sambar, Errisery, Parippu Curry etc) as the addition of salt to the legumes/Pulses would delay its cooking process. Hence add salt only after cooking pulses well, also some starchy vegetable's (Chena / suran , Kaya /Raw banana etc) also tend to have the same property. 
While all other Vegetable's like Onion, tomato's, cucumber - those vegetable's which has more water content in it tend to cook faster when salt is added to'em.

  •  Cook and keep dishes like Rasam , Inji puli etc , a day before the Sadhya as it taste best when its allowed to sit for some time. Also if you are inviting people for sadhya, its better to cook and keep the legumes/pulses/Parippu for parippu curry, sambar etc a day before, this would make cooking easier.
  •  Do not cook vegetable's for more time after the addition of ground coconut and curd. This is the first thing everyone learns while preparing any dish with coconut, as high temperature tends to curdle and would contribute a "not-very pleasing texture"  :)  
  •  Make dishes with Coconut Oil for all Kerala Sadhya dishes as everything tastes authentic only with Coconut oil in it :). 

Also addition of Coconut pieces for Mezhukkupurati (Payar, beans etc which doesn't need grated coconut) would make it extra rich and flavorful.

  •  Do not forget to store Dry red chili's, curry leaves, coconut pieces while planning to prepare Sadhya, as it plays a major role in seasoning  the dishes. these not only contributes to the look of the curry, also gives extra flavor's and makes the dish complete. 
  •  While preparing white payasams, take correct measurements of Semiya, rice etc as the addition of more would make the Payasam thick and ruin the dessert. Hence take accurate measurements while make the same.
  •  While preparing Payar Payasam, Rice Payasam etc, add sugar/Jaggery only after the rice, Payar etc is cooked in Milk (at last) as the addition of sugar  initially delays the cooking process. Add less sugar initially and the rest after everything is nicely cooked. 

Wishing you all a very Blessed and Happy Onam :) 


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Goan Fish Curry with Ground Coconut

We have a Goan friend "Richie" who's a chroooonic  bachelor ;)
A typical Goan who loves food and cooking. We were lucky to have him as guest once when we were just married , he taught me about Goan food, also shared some useful tricks in kitchen, during his 1 week stay.
He's one of a kind "Party Man" I must say, who led a life I haven't even imagined till then. He follows a unique lifestyle by starting his day very healthy,an hour or two he would spent for jogging , exercise , Yoga and good Break fast then enters the kitchen to start cooking but he could do it only with the help of  his cocktails hence by the end of the day he's not very healthy ;)
I must thank him for the friendliness and the way he took over my kitchen, the food and flavors he created was amazing.
 Thanks to Richie, glad that he's now the first person whom I would call when ever I think of preparing a Goan specialty dish.

This Goan specialty Fish curry with coconut paste is one of the dish that he prepared,
I fell in love with its flavors the first time I had it.
Recipe is similar to the Kerala Fish curry with Coconut gravy, but the addition of some spices like whole coriander seeds, dry red chili's & pepper corns make it extra flavorful.
A must try recipe for all those who are fish lovers like me.

I used Salmon here but King fish or Pomfret would be the best, if its available in your place.


Fish - Salmon 1 pound (Approx) sliced or cubed
Tamarind / Sambar -puli - 1 and 1/2 tbsp
* Mango 1 whole sliced  or Tomato (1/2 finely chopped )- (Optional)  adjust the sour taste as per your preference, add more tamarind if you aren't using mango or tomato slices here.
Onion -  1 small - sliced
Oil - 2 tbsp (I used Coconut oil)
Green chili's - 2 no's slit
Salt to taste
Turmeric Powder - a pinch (or more)
Kashmiri Chili Powder - 1 tsp

Grind to Paste 

Coconut - 2 cups
Shallots - 5 to 8 no's
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Pepper corns - 4 to 6 no's (Do not use more)
Dry whole red chili's - 6 to 10 no's (Adjust as per your preference)
Ginger -  small piece
Garlic - 3 no's
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Methi seeds (Fenugreek seeds) - a pinch
Salt & little water to grind.


* Clean and slice Fish, rub the same with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside.

* Grind to a very smooth paste the ingredients given above for grinding.

* Heat 2 tbsp oil in a Madka or any Kadai/pot , saute sliced onions & finely sliced tomatoes (if using)    Add Kashmiri Red chili powder when the onion looks brown.

* Then add the nicely ground coconut paste, and cook until the raw taste of ginger and garlic is gone (almost takes 10 to 15 minutes in medium heat) cover and cook this as it tends to bubble and decorate the surroundings ;)  stir in between.
Add little water if it tends to stick to the bottom.

* When the paste is completely cooked and the oil starts to separate add 1 cup water(give or take)  and add thetamarind pulp (or tamarind diluted with little water) & slit green chili's , allow to boil.

* When the gravy starts to boil, add marinated fish and *mangoes (if using) Allow to cook for 5 to 7 minutes until the fish is completely done.

Switch off the heat and let rest for 2 to 4 hour's (if possible) as fish curry taste best when its allowed to sit for sometime.

Serve with steamed rice.

Enjoy !