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Tag Archives: Kerala

July Favourites

It’s been such a fabulous and rewarding month filled with such amazing opportunities on the work front. I am thoroughly drained but it has all been so worth it.

After a few months of discussions, brainstorming and testing, I was finally able to announce my collaboration with Feastively. It is a joy that I cannot put into words to finally see my recipes as a meal box. And of course the thought that it would be of immense help to busy families to put healthy, fresh and delicious meals in 15 minutes on the table.

I have already done a blog post announcing the collaboration so you can read it all here. And to purchase my fresh box, visit the Feastively website. If any of you have already cooked with it, I would love to hear your feedback.

Visit the Feastively website to purchase my special Beef Mince Curry with potatoes, peas and served with steamed rice.

My Recipes as Fresh Meal Boxes – a Collaboration with Feastively; thespiceadventuress.com

The second highlight of the month was the opportunity to be one of the judges for an upcoming series called Zee TV Chef Diaries. Shot in Melbourne, it’s a cooking series for passionate home cooks to showcase their culinary talents. It was an incredible honour because judging someone else’s cooking is no easy task. But I was happy that I was able to do my best; an experience I will cherish forever.

And the third was being chosen as one of the Top 30 Indian Food Photographers, 2018. Again a huge honour especially being in the company of some of the photographers that I have admired and learned from since the beginning of my blogging journey.

Top 30 Indian Food Photographers, 2018 - thespiceadventuress.com

There’s been a lot of recipe development that happened in July; it was a busy month again with lots of brand collaborations and the like. But one of my favourites was this simple Kerala platter with rice, parippu curry (Kerala style lentils); beetroot stir fry and mussels thoran (mussels stir fried with grated coconut and spices). It’s the taste of home!

Mussels thoran - thespiceadventuress.com

And time now for all other favourites for the month of July:

Most parents are often made to feel guilty about having just one child. I hope this article will make you feel better about the decision.

I have a little boy or I would have shopped this entire site. But I do buy for my nieces.

An easy peasy chicken noodle dish.

This kofta biryani is perfect for our Sunday lunch. And a long siesta thereafter….

I love taro (arbi), one of my favourite root vegetables.

A Vegan Wellington! How interesting….

Enchilada and a casserole….what a great idea!

Love gazpacho especially in summer but never tried a tomatillo version.

The best chicken sandwich I have seen in a long time

Totally making this pork burger

 

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Kerala style Mutton Pepper Masala

#UglyDelicious

No, I am not talking about the Netflix show that has become so popular; instead about today’s dish – a Keralan style robust, peppery mutton or goat masala.

And if you are wondering why the hashtag, it’s because I find it such a harrowing experience shooting dishes like these that don’t look very pretty or appealing but is just damn delicious that I still want to share it with all of you.

I always struggle when it comes to taking photographs of Indian dishes, especially curries. Most of them are of a certain colour tone and to make it look interesting and appealing, there is a constant effort needed to style it well or add the right garnishes to make the dish pop.

I am sure the more skilled photographers would not feel this way, but I am still grappling with the technique that clicking pictures of this Mutton Pepper Masala was quite a challenging one. After various styling efforts on a day that my creativity was not at its best, I settled for these shots. Not my best but you know what…the flavours of this mutton dish make up for the not so delectable photographs.

Kerala style Mutton Pepper Masala - thespiceadventuress.com

As mentioned in the title, this is a Kerala style mutton preparation. You are likely to find a lot of variations of this dish. This particular recipe is one I learnt from my mother, but adapted slightly to suit our taste buds.

The predominant flavour is that of the black peppercorns; you can adjust the quantity to suit your preferences but there must be enough used to get that pepper hit. Mutton or goat is best for this dish but a good cut of lamb with some fat running through it would also be equally delicious.

I feasted a lot on this dish after I gave birth to my son; the red meat helps with boosting protein and iron quantities which is need post pregnancy. And black pepper is believed to be a great cooling agent and also has many other medicinal properties.

Best paired with parottas (Kerala style layered flat breads) but goes equally well with rice and dal.

Ingredients:

  1. 500gms mutton (boneless); cut into small pieces (you can use meat with bones too)
  2. 1 ½ tbsp whole black peppercorns
  3. 1 green chilli
  4. 5 garlic cloves; grated
  5. 1 inch ginger; grated
  6. 2 large red onion; finely sliced
  7. 1 medium ripe tomato; finely sliced
  8. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  9. 2 ½ tsp coriander powder
  10. ½ tsp fennel powder
  11. ½ tsp garam masala
  12. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  13. 3 sprigs curry leaves
  14. Salt, to season
  15. 4-5 tbsp coconut oil

Method:

  1. Grind the black peppercorns, garlic, ginger and green chilli into a fine paste with a little bit of water. Add this to the washed mutton pieces; season with salt and add one sprig of curry leaves. Mix the masala well into the mutton and keep aside for at least 1 hour (longer if time allows).
  2. Heat oil in a large deep bottom pan and add the sliced onions. Sauté till the onion are caramelized to a light brown colour.
  3. Next add the tomatoes and continue to sauté till the tomatoes are completely broken down and mushy.
  4. Then add all the spice powders and mix well to combine. Sauté till the whole mixture comes together and oil starts appearing at the sides. A few drops of water can be added if the mixture feels too dry.
  5. Add the marinated mutton to this along with one sprig of curry leaves; mix well to combine. Add 2 cups water (taste and season with salt if necessary) and cook till the mutton is almost done. (You can also use a pressure cooker for cooking the mutton but add less water).
  6. When the mutton is almost done, increase heat and reduce the excess gravy if any to get a thick masala like consistency. But if you prefer the gravy, remove from heat and garnish with the remaining curry leaves.

Kerala style Mutton Pepper Masala - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne)

Kerala cuisine in a modern Australian pub!

Surprised? I am…..

I constantly crib about how poorly Indian cuisine is represented in Melbourne with just a handful of restaurants that serve decent fare. And also none when it comes to South Indian food except for plenty of dosa serving restos that are often a disappointment.

So the new South Indian menu at The Rochey came as a huge surprise.

The Rochey has been an iconic part of Fitzroy for many years now but recently went through a whole revamp in terms of food and drink, both of which has been taken up several notches. Mischa Tropp from ‘WeareKerala’ has designed the new menu which showcases regional Kerala cuisine at its best, with some snippets from the Goan cuisine too.

The ambience at Rochey is typical Fitzroy (the architecture is so unique there), retro with contemporary influences but also with the industrial touch that the suburb does so well. While the front portion is the dedicated pub space, there is a cozy dining area towards the back. There is also a beer garden and a party space if you are looking to hold events.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

The new drinks menu at Rochey deserves mention too. There are the classics given that it’s a pub, but there are also some interesting cocktails and new wines, beers etc…. on the list, some of which are specifically included keeping in mind the flavours of the new menu.

I was fortunate to try out a couple of wines that were exceptional and paired extremely well with the flavour profiles of the new South Indian menu.

(I have outlined the specifics of each wine beneath the photographs)

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Harvest Pinot Gris (2017 / Adelaide Hills SA / Organic) – Produced by a Grower’s Cooperative with a strong sense of giving back to the community, this Pinot Gris is easy on the palate, luscious with generous guava, lemongrass and white tea aromatics.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Some Young Punks ‘Monsters, Monsters Attack!’ Riesling (2015 / Clare Valley, SA) – Highly recommended if you are going to try out the fiery fish curry on the menu. A really sweet Riesling with racing acidity and brilliant florals, it is a treat after your tastebuds have been attacked from all the spices.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Yangarra Estate PF Shiraz (2017 / McLaren Vale, SA / biodynamic / preservative free) – Made without additives of any kind, this Shiraz is a treat for the palate. Fresh, medium bodied yet vibrant, it’s an easy one that can be enjoyed young.

The food menu, as I mentioned, is largely based on the cuisine of Kerala. But there are also dishes from the Goan cuisine. And it’s a classic example of old meets new. While some dishes are traditional, staying true to the roots, others are a modern interpretation of the flavours of Kerala and Goa.

(As with the drinks, all the details of the dish will be outlined under each photograph)

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Egg Bonda (boiled egg & onion masala fried in a sourdough batter) – a classic tea time snack from Kerala. Traditionally a chickpea based batter is used but here, a sourdough batter has been used. The flavour was good especially from the caramelized onion masala used in the stuffing. But I would have preferred some sort of chutney or dip to go alongside the bondas. And if you have children with you, they are gonna love it.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Duck Hearts ( Chargrilled with Recheado and a sweet and sour spicy sauce) – One of the highlight dishes of the day for me. Absolutely loved the flavours, that perfect blend of sweet, sour, spicy; absolutely divine. And highly recommended.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Choris (Goan Chorizo with Onion Masala) – A twist on the Goan classic. A great snack if you are dropping in just for a drink or an excellent starter to start your meal. Another one the kids are gonna love.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Confit Parsnips (with Kashmiri Chilli Crumb and Shiso) – perhaps the dish that intrigued me the most on the menu which is why I had to try it. It’s unlike anything I have eaten before yet feels so familiar. For those who are familiar with the classic combination of tapioca and spicy dry coconut powder that is a staple in Kerala might be able to draw references to this one. And I totally loved the ingenuity of this one.

For the mains, it’s best to get an assortment of dishes and share which is the best way to enjoy regional Indian cuisine. We ordered a selection of vegetarian and non vegetarian dishes; also got rice, flaky bread and pappadoms to accompany. Quite chuffed the traditional red rice (Rose Mata) was served instead of the regular white rice; has a different texture and so much healthier than the white. The flaky bread or parotta as called in Kerala is a delightfully flaky creation that’s perfect to mop up the curries.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Girija’s Cabbage Thoran (Stir fried cabbage, coconut and curry leaves) – a classic vegetarian dish from Kerala. If you have looked at my blog before, you would know how much I love thoran and all the incredible dishes that can be made from the basic style. The cabbage thoran is perhaps the most common rendition and in my opinion, the most delicious way to eat cabbage. A must try!

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Kadala (Brown chickpeas with roasted spices and coconut) – Another classic (you are going to hear that word a lot!). This curry that is just resplendent with spices and coconut makes it extremely loved in Kerala and beyond. Again done to perfection and as authentic as it can get. I would have loved to have some appams on the menu which pairs best but the flat breads are equally good too.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Roast Beef (Slow cooked beef neck in a rich Kerala style gravy) – Now where do I even start with how much this dish means to me. I was ready to be super critical of this one, but all that I can say is that Mischa and his team has done a fabulous job with this. Absolutely tender beef cooked in that classic aromatic spicy gravy that’s so unique to Kerala cuisine.

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’ (Fitzroy, Melbourne) - thespiceadventuress.com

Fish Nadan (Freakin Spicy Keralan fish curry) – Yes guys, this is freaking spicy and not for the faint hearted. Even with the hardcore spice eating Indians, this dish stands out for its heat. But don’t let that prevent you for trying it out because it’s sensational and unlike any other fish curry you have ever eaten before. And pair it with the Monsters Attack Riesling that I mentioned above; it’s a match made in heaven.

To summarize, it’s the best Keralan food that I have eaten at a restaurant in Melbourne. Enough said!

Rochester Hotel aka ‘The Rochey’

202 Johnston St
Fitzroy, Vic, 3065

Phone no: 03 9419 0166
Website: http://rochey.com.au/

Timings:

Mon-Thu: 2pm– late
Fri-Sat: 12pm–3am
Sun: 12pm–11pm

Disclaimer – I dined as a guest at The Rochey, but all the opinions expressed are entirely mine. 

Rochester Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kerala style Stingray Curry

When you are a native of another country living abroad, shopping for many ingredients can be a real chore. Often you would know the name of ingredients in your local or native language and it can sometimes be a difficult task to find the English name for it while shopping here.

And with Google and Wiki being my best friend in most instances, I still find it hard sometimes especially while shopping for seafood.

That’s what happened last week at the market. I had taken my parents out to the Dandenong Market, to show them around as well as pick up some seafood and other ingredients. I was quite curious when their faces lit up at the sight of a particular product. And I was so surprised to hear that it was one of my absolute favourites, a local variety that is often called ‘therendi’, a fish species popular in some parts of Kerala.

Therendi (also called therachi) is actually a variety of Stingray which is quite famous for its unique cartilaginous structure.

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

I have often seen this at the markets but never could identify because it was always cut up and kept in chunks rather than the whole fish and also I had no clue of its English name. And I was always under the impression that stingray was not for human consumption!

To cut a long story short, I was quite ecstatic that one of my favourite ingredients is so easily available here. Stingray is a common or popular fish in many Asian countries; it is a very affordable one often being dubbed poor man’s fish. But I love its cartilaginous flesh which has a really unique texture when you bite into it.

There are many delicious ways of preparing this fish, but one of my favourite preparations is the spicy curry using chilli, coconut and kokum that is quite famous in the Kottayam region of Kerala. A lipsmacking, fiery preparation that is best enjoyed with steamed red rice and tempered buttermilk curry, or perhaps with steamed tapioca.

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

The defining flavours of this curry are powdered red chilli and kudampuli (black kokum). As I mentioned, it is a fiery one but you can always adjust the heat level to your preferences.

And remember, this curry always tastes better when allowed to sit for a while especially overnight. So prepare ahead if time permits.

Ingredients:

  1. 600gms stingray; cut into cubes
  2. 2 shallots/small onion; finely chopped
  3. 1 inch ginger; finely chopped

This post was bought to you in collaboration with Supreme Seafood, so head over to their website for the full recipe.

And do not forget to tag me #thespiceadventuress if you try it out. 

Kerala style Stingray Curry - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Tuna Croquettes

Eat, drink and make merry! The season of festivals, summer barbeques, potlucks and parties are upon us. I even know a few of my friends who are already preparing lists and planning for Christmas and New Year.

I am not doing anything of that sort because the maximum I can plan ahead is for a week. So I tend to go with the flow figuring out things as and when it happens. And this weekend, I get to enjoy the liberty of ‘being fed’ rather than cooking and feeding others which I am doing all the time. The break is much anticipated….

So keeping in mind the mood of the upcoming season, I am planning on adding recipes that are perfect for entertaining. Most of these are dishes that feature highly every time I entertain at home; simple, delicious and can be prepped ahead. And I am starting the series with these delicious Spicy Tuna Croquettes.

Spicy Tuna Croquettes - perfect for the party season - thespiceadventuress.com

There is nothing novel about tuna croquettes; it is one of the most common seafood snacks that you are likely to find across the globe. The flavours are often different depending on the cuisine and almost always made using canned tuna.

But today, we have some deliciously spicy tuna croquettes that have been made from fresh tuna fillets. The texture is different to what you would get with canned tuna; I find these croquettes lighter and melt in the mouth.

I learnt to make these from my mom and all those who hail from Kerala (especially if you have lived in Middle East) would identify with this. Nothing’s changed except that I used fresh tuna which actually makes a bit of a difference. If Panko breadcrumbs are available, do use it instead of regular breadcrumbs; you get a much crunchier coating.

Fresh Tuna fillet - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Tuna Croquettes - perfect for the party season - thespiceadventuress.com

The croquettes can be prepped ahead and frozen if you are making a large batch. Make sure to roll in breadcrumbs and then freeze to avoid it from sticking to each other. You could also use the same mixture to make tuna burgers; just make patties instead of croquettes. In fact I do this all the time; reserve one half of the mixture for patties which makes delicious lunch boxes the next day.

And the perfect accompaniment for these crunchy delights is some pickled red onions and mint coriander chutney.

Do try it out and hope you enjoy it as much as we do. And if you make it, please do tag me on your social media posts #thespiceadventuress so that I could see it too.

Ingredients:

(Makes approximately 30 croquettes)

  1. 500gm fresh tuna fillet
  2. 1 large potato (approximately 300gm)
  3. 1 medium red onion; finely chopped

This post is bought to you in collaboration with Supreme Seafood, so please do check out the full recipe here.

Spicy Tuna Croquettes - perfect for the party season - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Tuna Croquettes - perfect for the party season - thespiceadventuress.com

Onam Sadya……and memories of a delicious childhood

A delicious childhood……I know that’s not an appropriate adjective at all but that’s exactly what my childhood was like. Great food always for the family and for the zillions of friends who came home to eat my mom’s food.

Just like most people, there are so many memories associated with food from my childhood. But nothing else perhaps is as profound as the Onam sadya; maybe because it came only once a year or maybe because I was always fond of large feasts.

Growing up in a foreign country, the food is how I connected with my birth land. So when I think of Kerala, it is the food that rushes to my mind especially the rather elaborate Onam sadya. I can still remember my mom rising at the crack of dawn to prepare all the delicacies for the feast and me, her little assistant hovering around in the kitchen. As I grew, so did the responsibilities….chopping veggies and washing dishes. While the former was a prize to be conferred upon, the latter I thoroughly disliked even to this day.

After I got married and had my own small family, the Onam sadya was a tradition I continued. While I am deeply spiritual but not religious, there are very few cultural traditions or festivals that are celebrated in our home unlike many Indian families. But the Onam sadya has stayed with us because for me, it was all about sharing a slice of my childhood with my little boy.

This year, I have invited my girl gang to join me in the celebrations and excitedly looking forward to the day. Do you celebrate Onam at home or have friends with whom you celebrate? I would love to hear your stories and memories too….

And here is a compilation of some of the dishes that is traditionally served for the sadya. As I mentioned in my previous post, I do not have the entire list but there are quite a few if you need some help preparing for the feast. And if you have nothing to do with this festival, it still doesn’t matter because you get the opportunity to learn a few traditional vegetarian dishes from God’s own country.

Cut Mango Pickle

This is a great example of an instant pickle and with raw mangoes in season, a must have in your refrigerator.

Cut mango pickle (Onam sadya) - an instant pickle made from raw mangoes - thespiceadventuress.com

Puli Inji (Tamarind Ginger Chutney)

A preparation unique to the state, this chutney is all about the balance of flavours. A lipsmacking condiment for the feast.

Puli Inji/Tamarind Ginger Chutney - a classic chutney that forms an integral part of Onam sadya - thespiceadventuress.com

Olan (Wintermelon with Coconut Milk)

Succulent melon/gourd pieces simmered in coconut milk and spiced with green chillies. While winter melon is available in some markets, it still might be a tad difficult for everyone to source. Use native Australian cucumbers instead!

Olan (Wintermelon with Coconut Milk) - a part of the vegetarian Onam sadya - thespiceadventuress.com

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns)

A lesser known component of the feast, this yam and plantain curry is more famous in the central parts of Kerala. A creamy texture and spiced with black peppercorns, there is a slight twinge of sourness from the curd which completes the flavour profile of this unique vegetarian dish.

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Turmeric, Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Potato ishtew (stew)

Another classic, traditional dish that enjoys its quiet spot on the Onam sadya spread. This is one dish where the potato actually gets sidelined and the coconut takes over. The taste that hits your senses is the warm aroma of coconut oil with the rich sweet creaminess of coconut milk against the subtle hotness from the ginger.

Potato ishtew (stew) - a delicious creamy potato dish made specially during Onam - thespiceadventuress.com

Beetroot Thoran (a stir fry with beets, greens and coconut)

A staple vegetarian dish which can be recreated in a zillion ways using just about all kinds of vegetables, legumes, meat etc…. For the sadya, a thoran is important but you can make any kind you wish to. I chose beetroot because it’s our favourite.

Beetroot Thoran (a stir fry with beets, greens and coconut) - a vibrant vegetarian dish that is made during Onam - thespiceadventuress.com

Avial (Mixed vegetables in a creamy coconut yoghurt base)

The most famous vegetarian dish from Kerala, this medley of vegetables in a creamy coconut yoghurt sauce is simply to die for!

Avial - Mixed vegetables in a creamy yoghurt coconut sauce - thespiceadventuress.com

Thai Baby Brinjal Pachadi (spiced baby brinjal yoghurt dip)

Now you must be wondering what is Thai brinjals doing in Kerala cuisine. Well, it is just my way of using local vegetables. Traditionally a pachadi or yoghurt dip is made using native Malabar cucumbers which is not available here so I substituted it with baby brinjals.

Thai baby brinjal pachadi/yoghurt dip - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns)

Essentially a mixed vegetarian curry which is always prepared using black chickpeas, raw plantain and Indian yams. This dish is a true representation of the state as the main flavour components are coconut and peppercorns. It is the Malabar region that gave ‘peppercorns’ aka ‘black gold’ to the world. So the Kootu curry is a befitting tribute to that discovery which changed the course of the world.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

So that brings us to the end of the list…..I know it’s far from complete but as I said, it’s a work in progress.

Happy Onam folks!

 

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns)

Onam is almost here, just another week to go and most households which celebrate this festival must have begun the preparations.

For those who have not heard of this festival before, Onam is an annual festival that is celebrated in the state of Kerala, South India. The whole state comes together irrespective of caste, creed and religion and every household celebrates it albeit in a small manner. Without going into the specifics, one of the most important aspects of this festival is the feast, also referred to as the Onam sadya.

The sadya is traditionally served on a fresh banana leaf and includes at least 24-28 dishes, sometimes even going as high as 64. Every year I try and add a few recipes to the list here and hopefully, some day I will have the entire compilation. So the next two posts here will be about this ‘delicious’ festival since I will be celebrating it this year too just as I have done for the past 35 years of my life.

Today’s dish is called kaalan (I know it’s a hard one to pronounce for all those who do not know the language) or a yam and plantain curry with coconut, yoghurt and peppercorns. This recipe might sound quite similar to avial but the taste is very different due to the vegetables used and also the texture and consistency.

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Turmeric, Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

A couple of days ago, I was on the phone learning how to make this dish from my mom. Even though I am familiar with the consistency of this dish, she kept stressing about its importance. In her words, ‘the consistency must be that if you throw a spoonful of the curry at a wall, it must stay put and not slide down’….. Sigh. Mothers have such a unique way of recipe telling!

Now I am not going to advise you to do the same. Just make sure that the curry is thick enough yet not too dry and the secret to getting that is a spoonful of ghee that you must add at the end. Though other spices are also added, the predominant flavour is that of peppercorns. A slight twinge of sourness from the curd completes the flavour profile of this unique vegetarian dish.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup yam; diced
  2. 1 raw plantain; diced
  3. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  4. ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  5. ½ cup fresh grated coconut
  6. 1 tbsp black peppercorns (adjust to preferences)
  7. 1 green chilli
  8. ½ tsp cumin seeds
  9. ½ cup natural thick curd/yoghurt
  10. 1 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  11. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  12. ½ tsp mustard seeds
  13. ½ tsp fenugreek/uluva seeds
  14. 2-3 dry red chilli
  15. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  16. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. Add the diced yams, red chilli powder, half of the turmeric powder and salt to a pan; add 1 cup water, bring to boil and cook covered till the yams are completely cooked to a consistency where it can be mashed. Add more water if necessary but not too much; remember that a thick mash is what is needed at the end. (You can use a pressure cooker also).
  2. In another pan, cook the diced plantain with the remaining turmeric powder, water and salt till just done so that the pieces are cooked but still have a bite to it.
  3. Grind the coconut, black peppercorns, green chilli, and cumin along with curd to a fine paste. If the curd is a bit sour, add a pinch of sugar too.
  4. Once the yam is cooked well and mashed, add the plantain to this along with the ground paste. Simmer on low heat till mixed thoroughly. Add the ghee and continue to mix on low heat till the thick consistency is reached. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  5. For the tempering, heat coconut oil and crackle mustards seeds. Add the fenugreek seeds, dry red chilli and curry leaves.
  6. Pour this over the top of the prepared curry, remove from heat and keep covered for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Kaalan (Kerala style Yam and Plantain Curry with Turmeric, Coconut, Yoghurt and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns)

A taste of home!

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

The flavours of Kerala can throw a real surprise to those who are not familiar with the state. The style of cooking and choice of ingredients can be so varied from region to region inspite of it being such a small state in terms of topography.

Most people associate Kerala with non vegetarian food, which is understandable given the state’s fixation with seafood and beef. But the land also has a vast repertoire of vegetarian dishes, many of which are practically unheard of like today’s Kootu Curry. A disclaimer here…..there are a few versions of this dish that can be found across the state but the recipe that I am sharing with all of you comes from the Malabar region (which in my opinion is the most delicious!)

So the Kootu curry is essentially a mixed vegetarian curry and is always prepared using black chickpeas, raw plantain and Indian yams. This dish is a true representation of the state as the main flavour components are coconut and peppercorns. It is the Malabar region that gave ‘peppercorns’ aka ‘black gold’ to the world. So the Kootu curry is a befitting tribute to that discovery which changed the course of the world.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

Black peppercorns - food photography - thespiceadventuress.com

I am yet to find the Indian variety yams in any of the Melbourne markets, most often I find the other Asian varieties. Now if you are not looking for the exact traditional recipe, you may use that though the taste will vary slightly. Or you could get these traditional Indian ones, which are available frozen in most Indian stores.

The Kootu Curry is also an integral part of the Onam sadya (the banana leaf feast which Kerala is famous for); it’s one of the several dishes that make up the feast. But for everyday purposes, this is best served as a side to steamed rice and dal. To complete, add some pappadums!

So add these ingredients to your shopping list so that we can get cooking Kootu Curry or Kerala style black chickpeas, plantain and yam curry with coconut and peppercorns.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup black chickpeas; washed and soaked overnight
  2. 1 medium sized raw plantain; cut into large chunks
  3. 100gms yam; diced
  4. ½ tsp turmeric powder
  5. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  6. ½ cup grated coconut
  7. 1 ½ – 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  8. 2 large garlic cloves
  9. 2 tbsp coconut oil
  10. ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  11. 2 sprigs curry leaves
  12. 2 dry red chilli
  13. Salt, to season

Method:

  1. To a pressure cooker, add the black chickpeas with 1 ½ cups water, season with salt and cook till ¾ ths done.
  2. In another pan, cook the plantain along with red chilli powder, half of the turmeric powder, salt and 1 ½ cups water till done. Drain and keep aside.
  3. Add the diced yams to the black chickpeas and cook till the yams are lightly mushy (use the back of the ladle to mash the yams if necessary). Then add the drained plantain and mix well to combine.
  4. Coarsely crush the grated coconut, peppercorns and garlic in a mortar and pestle or grinder and add this to the cooked chickpeas. Add the remaining turmeric powder and mix well to combine.
  5. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Cook in low heat for 1-2 minutes and remove.
  6. To temper, heat coconut oil in a small pan and crackle the mustard seeds. Then add the curry leaves and dry red chilli. Pour this over the prepared chickpeas and mix well to combine.
  7. Keep covered for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  8. Enjoy with a bowl of rice and dal/lentils.

Kootu Curry (Kerala style Black Chickpeas, Plantain and Yam Curry with Coconut and Peppercorns) - thespiceadventuress.com

Prawn Pickle

An Indian meal, no matter how elaborate it is, stays incomplete without a pickle by the side. It is perhaps only in Indian cuisine that pickles are so diverse in preparation and flavours. And over years, we have learnt to pickle just about any ingredient!

Seafood pickles are extremely common in South India, especially in Kerala owing to the state’s enviable coastline. Today’s prawn pickle is inspired by the flavours of Kerala; it is spicy but sour and tangy too. A complex myriad of flavours in every spoonful.

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Small prawns or shrimps are used to make this pickle generally. The prawns are marinated first, deep fried and then tossed through the pickling mixture which is a fiery concoction of red chilli, aromatics, curry leaves and spices like fenugreek, mustard and asafoetida.

Pickles always develop flavour over days and it is best to store this one too for a few days in your refrigerator before enjoying it.

Pickles are more of a condiment, and supposedly to be enjoyed in small quantities along with the main meal. I tried so hard but failed miserably in this regard as this prawn pickle was so delicious that it became more of a main dish than the condiment. All I needed was a bowl of rice and some thick yoghurt!

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I am sure you will agree on this too, so let’s not waste anymore time talking and get straight on to the recipe.

Ingredients:

1. 1 kg small prawns/shrimps; deshelled and deveined
2. Vegetable oil; to deep fry the prawns

For full recipe, click here.

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Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood.

Kottayam Fish Curry

The international or global reach of food happened in the last 2 decades and today, most of us want to cook and enjoy all kinds of cuisines – Middle Eastern, Meditteranean, Asian, Indian, Italian, Mexican etc. to name a few. But there was a time when food was rather a ‘traditional affair’ and people ate specific ingredients or dishes pertaining to the region and remained largely unaware of other types of preparations.

Kerala is quite divided when it comes to food; the style of cooking and ingredients varies widely between the different regions. My dad and mom came from different regions within the state and so I grew up hearing stories from my mom about the difficulties she had to go through after marriage getting adjusted to the eating styles and dishes in my dad’s household. And the main dish that kept cropping up was this fish curry, which she needed a long time to get used to.

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This spicy fish curry has become the culinary trademark of the Travancore region of Kerala though it is proudly referred to as Kottayam fish curry to the outside world. There are 2 main differences that makes this dish stand out from all other seafood preparations of Kerala – use of black kokum as the souring agent instead of tamarind and absence of coconut (no one needs an explanation about Kerala’s fixation with coconut). There are some households which add coconut to this dish but mostly as a garnish and not as an actual ingredient in making the curry.

This is a staple dish of every household in Kottayam and neighboring districts; I don’t think a day goes by without this dish. Traditionally, this fish curry is either eaten with steamed root vegetables like tapioca, taro and yam or paired with native red rice and a buttermilk curry.

When it comes to describing the flavours of this fish curry, let me just say that it is unapologetically fiery with really bold flavours. Which is why, there is always going to be a divided opinion about this one – you either love it or hate it. No middle ground…..

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As for me, you would have figured how much I love it which is of course why it gets featured here……
Well, I could go on and on about this dish, but let’s get to cooking Kottayam fish curry.

Ingredients:

1. 1kg barracuda, medium sized pieces
2. 7-8 shallots/small onion, finely sliced
3. 1 inch ginger, finely chopped

Find the full recipe here.

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Recipe developed, styled and shot for Supreme Seafood

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