Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Prawns with Coconut and Tomatoes

The cuisine in India varies from region to region. Most of the recipes that I adapt are from north India and north east India. However, my interest also lies in knowing the extensive repertoire of southern cuisine. My venture into southern cuisine is very minimal knowing only a little about their breakfast dishes and few other main dishes. My prawns with coconut and tomatoes is an adaptation from Kerala’s (India’s Southern State) famous Prawn Masala.

Few things in the recipe: you can use any kind of prawn for this recipe. Also the fresh coconut can be replaced with desiccated coconut. I could use coconut milk or cream for this but it does not give body to the curry. This curry is a thick curry; however if you wish, you can add a little coconut milk to loosen the masala. 

For the Recipe:

Marinade about 250 grams prawns/ shrimps in the juice of 1 lemon. Set aside.

For the Masala:
2 medium onions sliced
3 dried red chilies
3 cloves
¼ inch quill cinnamon
10 peppercorns
½ tsp whole cumin
½ inch piece ginger
4 cloves of garlic
¼ cup fresh coconut chopped (in case fresh coconut is unavailable, use 2 tbsp desiccated coconut)

Heat a pan and dry roast (on low heat) all the ingredients except ginger garlic and onion. Once the aromas are released, set aside. In the same pan heat a little oil and fry the onion and coconut until the onions are golden brown and caramelized. Blend everything into a smooth paste.  The spices turn into color of blush ready to be romanced with the prawns!

For the Curry:

4 ripe tomatoes chopped
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp each turmeric, cumin, coriander powder
1 tsp Mustard seeds
Few curry leaves
Salt and Sugar

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and add the curry leaves and mustard seeds. The seeds will start to pop and the leaves spit and splatter. There is nothing to worry; the oil is being infused with its entire flavor. Add the chopped tomatoes, throw in all the powdered spices, add a little salt and sugar, give it a good stir and cover. Let it be on a high heat as we want the tomatoes to be reduced to pulp. Notice when the oil starts separating, its an indication that we can add the prawns to it now.

Strain the prawns, give it a wash and add it to the pulpy tomatoes. You will notice that as soon as the prawns hit the hot pan, it changes color beautifully. Add the blended masala to the tomatoes. Let it bubble away for about 10minutes or until the curry comes together. We don’t want it to be watery and this is why we cook the masalas and try to amalgamate them. 

It is best with fresh rotis or chappatis. Can also be eaten with Steamed rice or flour tortillas.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Sautéed Cabbage with Corn Kernels

Eating healthy, generally, is not my forte but sometimes I do manage to conjure something up that is vigorous and nutritious.

I have been fond of cabbage since my childhood and this recipe below is an adaptation from what my father cooks. He omits the corn and the tomatoes but adds beautiful plump fresh peas to the cabbage thereby giving it a very sweet and mellow taste. The peas actually compliment the cabbage which generally has a very watery taste. Also, he adds a mixture of whole spices called panch phoran which is essentially a mixture of Fenugreek seeds, Nigella seeds, Cumin, Black mustard seeds and Fennel seeds in equal parts. He pops that in the oil before adding the onions. This process is called tempering where the seeds release its entire flavor in the oil.

You can, of course, substitute the corn with green peas and use the whole spice mixture but my variation is an easier adaptation and I am assuming that these ingredients can be found without difficulty.

For the recipe:

2 tbsp Mild olive oil
½ tsp whole cumin seeds
1-2 green chilies
1 onion sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage
½ cup corn kernels (tinned)
1 medium potato sliced lengthwise
2 tomatoes chopped (fresh preferably)
½ inch piece of ginger
A pinch of turmeric

Heat a heavy bottomed pan with the oil and pop the cumin in it. Once the aroma is released add the onions and fry them until they are golden brown. Add the sliced potatoes and corn and sauté them until they are well coated in the cumin-y oil. Add the tomatoes to it, give it a good stir and cover to cook for about 2-3 minutes. You’ll see that the tomatoes start to almost melt in the heat, making them soft and pulpy. Throw in the cabbage, salt and turmeric. Anoint the cabbage with the mixture. Cover and cook for about 15-20minutes or until the potatoes are completely cooked. Grate the ginger over the sabzi, stir well and serve hot.

The perfect side for this is lightly toasted flour tortillas. I would warm them up with a little butter; give it a nice toasty shade!