Sunday, August 30, 2009

A forgotten taste from a lunch box…..

A forgotten taste from a lunch box…..that’s exactly what came to my mind , two weeks back when I was enjoying that plate of Aval Nanachathu. As I sat there and savored each bite, a murky memory of a similar snack wrapped me up, taking me back to those days when I looked forward to my friend M opening her lunch box during the break after three hours of lectures in the morning. If her rectangle box in red, was stuffed with white dampened beaten rice with flecks of yellow here and there, I had to get atleast a couple spoonfuls before she could satiate her hunger….I clearly remember how that natural sweetness of grated coconut gelled beautifully with the plump and white beaten rice and how moist it was even though her mother packed it early in the morning itself…..and the simplicity of the dish was further augmented by the natural sweetness from the tiny bits of our naadan nenthrappazham, a variety of ripe plantains available in Kerala. My taste-buds loved it though I generally preferred something very spicy for lunch time.

The visuals of my friend’s face and the taste memories she gifted me from her lunch box kept playing at the back of my mind for the last two weeks. Though I lost touch with my friend long back, I had never forgotten her, especially her mother. Both of them had a special place in my conversations with CJJ whenever I tried to paint a picture of those people who touched my heart and left their handprints on me. M’s mother was one of those unfortunate ones who had to confine herself to the four walls of her home because of a medical mishap that happened due to the carelessness of a medical practioner while conducting a surgery on her……..carelessness from the fraction of a second and she was a prisoner for a lifetime of infections and ill-health … imprisonment in her own house because of someone’s mistake!!

I met this woman personally only once at their place and it was hard for me to believe that she had been suffering physically all those years……though a frail and pale figure, with crevices beginning to form around her eyes, her face still beamed with a poised and warm smile ….and the ‘pottu’ , the red dot on her forehead gave a glow to her face and that day she made this snack one more time for me, knowing very well that I was quite fond of it.

As I was chewing on this slice from the past, I was also reminded of an incident M once shared with me. One evening when she reached home from college, a group of wage workers, transported from the neighbouring states, were concreting the street in front of their house and a bunch of their kids were playing around. To M’s sheer surprise, she noticed that all those kids were wearing frocks and shots in a very familiar fabric……the same fabric her mother had recently used for stitching a salwar kurta for M and it seems since she had some more fabric left from that, she made use of her leisure time and got some frocks and shirts and shots stitched for those kids!!!

The same woman who had so much of health issues and illness, spent hours in front of the sewing machine stitching clothes for a bunch of kids whom she had not seen until two days ago!! A selfless deed that brought smile on the faces of those innocent kids and a note of gratefulness & happiness on their parents’ faces……and the pleasure of giving she enjoyed ignoring all the physical discomforts she was going through………one of those very rare people who made me think that we can touch other’s lives if we want to and if we have the heart, irrespective of the situation we' re in!!!

This afternoon I tried to recreate that lunch box treat I had forgotten all these years but I missed that taste from M’s lunchbox! Here’s how I made it as a teatime snack:

  • 1 cup white beaten/flattened rice ( vella aval)
  • ½ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1/8 cup sugar or to taste
  • 1/8 cup milk
  • 2 pods of green cardamom, crushed ( adjust as per the strength of the spice)
  • Half of a ripe plantain, quartered into small bits
  • In a plate/mixing bowl, blend grated coconut, sugar and crushed cardamom pods by mixing with hands. To this add beaten rice/vella aval and milk and start crushing and squishing with your hands; combine everything until beaten rice is soaked and plump; check if you require more sweetness and adjust accordingly and finally add the ripe plantain bits and mix gently. If it is not moist yet, you may add one or two tablespoon extra milk and combine everything by mixing with hands.
  • Serve with tea/coffee as an evening snack

Related Posts:
Puttu Uppumavu Aval Payasam

For more , Check complete recipe index

We wish you all a beautiful, warm and fun filled ONAM !


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Kappa Puzhungiyathu (Chendamuriyan Kappa) with Mulaku Chammanthi / Boiled Cassava with a fiery hot green chilly relish.

Most of us grew up in Kerala would be having a delectable taste memory we share in common……a slice of the past we take pleasure in, when we dive into the repository of our thoughts and memories….the picture of the whole family leisurely enjoying or having a casual chat over some humble Kappa Puzhungiyathu/ boiled cassava by dipping into a hot and fiery Mulaku chammanthi/green chilly-pearl onion relish, with a glass of hot tea or coffee, in the evening . I hope I am not generalizing wrongly here!

Atleast, that’s the one and only picture that comes back to me whenever I relish or think of this snack. Whenever I crave for it or get wrapped up in a cloud of nostalgia, I try to rekindle those memories not only by making that combo but also by recreating the same atmosphere at home, to nibble those soft and creamy cylinders with a touch of heat from the green chillies married beautifully with the flavor and fragrance of coconut oil ………and the sensuous pleasures my taste buds experience immediately unravel the treasure chest of memories and take me closer to the picture of my family, sitting around our dining table after a work/school day…….my brother’s lips and nose and his entire face turning red because of the heat from the green chillies…….my mother sitting in one corner, analyzing the quality of her loot, sometimes telling herself, “mm….ee pravashyam nalla kappa-yaa kittiye” meaning this time cassava was of premium quality ….and me and my father sitting across each other and taking pleasure in each dip and each bite …..and my parents pouring a small share of their tea into my glass after a lot of my begging ……even at a tender age, I knew I could feel “the completeness” only if I wash it down with some hot tea/coffee. It’s a taste sensation I wouldn’t dare to give up for anything else!

Though Kappa/Cassava is so common in Kerala and easily spotted at most backyards and freely available in markets, I don’t remember my family buying it from the local markets. For us, we always got our share from our aunts’ or uncles houses. At times, we cultivated in our small yard itself and that happened every year, when my father hired a wage worker to clean up the yard and remove the weeds. At the end of the day, my father always instructed the worker to plant some “kolli”, aka cassava stems in some 10-15 inch length. Though my parents always complained about the poor quality of the soil and stayed away from any type of cultivation, this was a routine that was repeated almost every year as it grew without any particular care or fertilizers.

I also have a murky memory of a “Kappakkaran”/cassava seller, visiting our neighbourhood, by pushing a four wheeler covered cart, loaded with farm fresh kappa/cassava, and calling out “kappa…kappa…kappeiii…” at the top of his voice. My mother used to rush to our front gate to check out his bounty of harvest and after a quick and brief bargaining session, he would lift his old fashioned balance scale – like the blind justice holding the scale – and place kappa/cassava in one and weights of different sizes in the other….”katteem thrassum” as we say in our mother tongue and trust me, I never remember that needle or scale balancing correctly, the one with the weight was always hanging a bit low!! Well, he made some small profit and we got some good quality kappa/cassava, so atleast that balanced correctly on the scale, I guess!!

Last weekend, surprisingly we were lucky to find some fresh Kappa/cassava/yucca root in our local store. Though I could hear the craving department ringing the bell at its top, this time I was sensible and had gained enough experience to break the root into two pieces ( Oh yeah…I was like a He-Man trapped in a female body!) to see if the interior flesh is white and does not have any discoloration or brown dotted lines. Once the quality check was passed, it was time to recreate my homeland’s humble culinary pleasures in my current foster home!

Kappa Puzhungiyathu (Chendamuriyan Kappa)/ Boiled Cassava
Clean Kappa/Cassava by removing the outer brown skin as well as the pink skin inside and cut them into 2 inch cylinders or cubes and rinse them in plain water. (Note: Inji’s pictorial will clear all your doubts on cleaning and getting the cassava pieces ready for cooking.) Fill a large saucepot with cold water, enough to cover all pieces of Kappa/Cassava and bring to a boil. At this stage, drain the boiling water and fill the pot again with some cold water, add salt and cook cassava until it is tender and soft, when pierced with a fork or knife. Drain the excess water and now it is ready to serve.

Mulaku Chammanthi/Green chilly-pearl onion relish

  • 8-10 small red pearl onion/kunjulli
  • 5-6 Indian green chilly ( adjust as per your tolerance as well as the heat of the chillies)
  • A tiny piece of tamarind/vaalan-puli ( as tiny as a green pea or peanut)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 leaves of curry leaf (optional but recommended)
  • Salt to taste
Old fashioned Method: if you have the luxury of owning an old fashioned flat grinding stone, Ammikkallu, place pearl onion , green chillies and tamarind and crush well with its elongated rolling pin made of stone. Scrape everything with the edge of your palm and transfer the crushed mixture to a bowl, tear off the curry leaves , add salt and drizzle coconut oil and mix everything well and serve with boiled Kappa/cassava plus tea/coffee. If you do not have that luxury, try to recreate the same steps/process in a tabletop mortar and pestle. The crushed mixture would look somewhat similar to that in the above picture.

Quick n’ Easy Method: Put pearl onions , green chillies and tamarind in the smallest jar of the mixer/blender/food processor and pulse 5 or 6 times or until you get a coarse paste/mixture. Transfer the crushed mixture to a bowl, tear off the curry leaves , add salt and drizzle coconut oil and mix everything well and serve with boiled Kappa/cassava plus tea/coffee.

Kaanthari Mulaku Chammanthi – Back home in Kerala ,we get a very fiery hot variety of green chilly called Kaanthari Mulaku, which I assume is known as Bird’s eye chili pepper too . We make use of this particular variety for making Mulaku Chammanthi/ Green chilly-pearl onion relish, in which case, please make sure that you reduce the number of chillies uses as they are fiery hot.

Related Posts:

Mashed Tapioca & Fish Curry Kappa Biriyani

For more varieties, Go to complete recipe index.

Updated on Aug 24, 2009 : According to Kitchenfairy and Maria, Kappa Puzhungiyathu/Boiled Cassava is known as Chendamuriyan Kappa in their region. Thank you for letting me know about this and I have updated my post as well as the title of this post. The name sounds very sweet and I assume that the name comes from its close resemblance to Chenda , a type of musical instrument used in Kerala , that has a cylindrical shape.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Aval Nanachathu- Brown rice Flakes sweetened with jaggery and grated coconut

Saturday Morning: After roaming around the local farmers market - picking fresh produce and marveling how tender and ‘realistic’ the carrots looked , compared to the chemical injected and genetically engineered ones that refuse to lose its firmness even after lying in the refrigerator for more than a month - we decided to visit the Asian store to grab some more stuff in the shopping list.

On reaching the store, my eyes caught the sight of a bunch of baby bananas, in a pretty yellow colour with a touch of pale green hue on its tips, and looking at those petite beauties, I could hear a loud voice in my brain saying “cheru pazham”, a variety of baby bananas available back home in Kerala. I picked up a bunch draped neatly in a plastic wrap, and kept it back. On a second thought, I picked it up again and then I saw CJJ shaking his head and pursing his lips …I could clearly read his face and I was certain he was referring to an incident in the past where we bought some baby bananas amazed by the stark similarity with the variety available in Kerala, only to disappoint ourselves in the end. I stood there for another 30 seconds contemplating and finally proceeded to the check-out carrying a bunch of baby bananas.

Saturday Afternoon: After lunch, we threw ourselves on the couch and started our movie-matinee. An hour into the movie, I heard CJJ asking:

…anything to munch on..?
Me: hmm….nuts……cherries….banana , I replied knowing very well that he wouldn’t be interested in any of these but to my surprise , I saw him going for the box of roasted peanuts.

20-30 minutes passed and again I saw him a bit disturbed and heard him asking:

is there any snacks…?
Me: welll…..……there was a quarter loaf of blueberry bread……
CJJ: aww….wow….I forgot about it completely….( all excited and about to jump off of his seat..)
Me: Yeah…true…..since you forgot, some fungus attacked ‘em and I trashed it two days back…
CJJ: ( on hearing the unexpected) …ohh…..shoooottttt!!

After 15 minutes, I was in a mood to have some fruits and grabbed the bunch of baby bananas. The moment I had my first bite, I was pleasantly surprised….it was sweet….I had one more bite , it was really tasty….and

I heard myself, “ wow….this is sweeettt…….nammude nattile taste…”, ( …….wow….it tastes like the ones we get back home). At that , I saw CJJ sneaking a look through the corner of his left eye , with a tinge of disbelief on his face and I offered him one………. and what followed was an expression where his tiny eyes popped out and his round face brightened with a big smile. In less than 1 minute, I found a big pile of banana peels on our coffee table and noticed that the plucking and peeling action from his side was much faster than that of mine and seeing that I feared that the whole bunch would be finished in another minute…. so I gently reminded him:

orennam naalathekku maati vechekkane….” , ( keep one banana for tomorrow_”
enthina…..” ( for what?) , asked CJJ , chewing a mouth full of baby banana.
enikku avalu nanachathinte koode kozhachu kazhikkana…..” , ( I want to have ‘em mashed with sweetened beaten rice) I said plucking another one from the bunch.
…..eeeww…..thaniye kazhicha mathee….enikku vendatto..”, ( U may have it all alone, don’t force me) said CJJ with that constant gaze of disdain he usually has whenever I suggest making something that does not belong to the category of non-veg.

Considering the growing pile of banana peels, he himself got up from the couch and placed the rest of the bunch back to the kitchen counter.

Another 40-45 mts passed…..and I saw CJJ getting disturbed again with his hunger pangs and my stomach was also grumbling. At that point, the thought of brown rice flakes dampened with the freshness of grated coconut and sweetened with jaggery and infused with a sprinkle of cardamom and ghee was dancing on my palate . Suddenly, I announced my plan to make sweetened beaten rice and saw myself hitting the kitchen and once more to my surprise, I didn’t hear any note of disapproval from his side this time. He even helped me grate the jaggery and once I finished everything, I handed over him the plate and watched him eating in small spoonfuls.

I plucked a banana and on a second thought, knowing this guy well for all these years, I plucked one more and asked him if he wanted one and I got one more headshake, confirming a big NO. I placed a banana on his plate , and told him:

…onnu slice cheythittu …athinte koode kazhichu nokku…” ( slice ‘em and have along with a spoonful)

He sliced the banana and had one spoonful and thennnnnn……… I saw him trying to mash the sliced ones with the back of the spoon. At that point, I was in all smiles and grabbed his plate and mashed the banana with my hands, into the sweetened rice flakes and watched him enjoying that humble snack……

….and I couldn’t stop myself from saying , “gathi kettaal …………..” and he completed the sentence with a private joke :) :)

gathi kettaal puli pullum thinnum “ is an old adage in our mother tongue which roughly translated means, the tiger would eat even the grass, if he has no other go, to satisfy his hunger! I know I killed both the language there but couldn’t come up with an equivalent of that saying.

Well, Aval Nanachathu is a simple and humble evening snack that requires no cooking at all. Beaten/Flattened rice aka brown rice flakes is dampened with freshly grated coconut and sweetened with jaggery, and flavored with a touch of crushed cardamom and ghee. Perfect snack to make on a hot summer evening!

  • 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups cup thin brown rice flakes/Aval (chemba/Matta aval)/beaten rice
  • 1 cup freshly grated coconut
  • ½ cup tightly packed jaggery/sharkkara, grated (or to taste)
  • 3 pods of green cardamom, crushed
  • 1 tsp ghee/clarified butter
  • In a plate/mixing bowl, blend grated coconut, jaggery and crushed cardamom pods by mixing with hands. To this add half of the beaten rice/brown rice flakes/aval and start crushing and squishing with your hands, to combine everything as well as to release the moisture/juice from grated coconut and jaggery. When you find the first batch of beaten rice/brown rice flakes/aval almost wet and a bit soaked and plump, add the rest of the beaten rice/aval and continue to crush and squish with hands, until everything comes together as a wet and plump mixture. Check if you require more sweetness and adjust accordingly and finally pour the ghee on top and blend once again with your hands. The whole mixing process will take about only 3-5 minutes depending on the quality and freshness of grated coconut.
  • Serve with a glass of tea/coffee/milk. You may also serve this with sliced bananas on the side. If you want to go one step further, mash the bananas with a fork or hand and mix to the sweetened beaten rice; that’s just like how we have at home :)
Note: There is no need to add water or milk or any other liquid to make it wet and plump. The wetness comes from the moisture content in jaggery and mainly from the juice ( coconut milk) produced by the freshly grated coconut when squished with hands. If the grated coconut lacks freshness and moisture, then it is difficult to get the desired wetness. The end product is not soggy; it’s just wet, soft and plump , with a bit of bite here and there.

Related Posts:

Ariyunda Kozhukkatta Aval Payasam

For more, Go to Complete Recipe Index.


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Does this look like Orappam ? Want to learn more about this snack from YOU !

Orappam...An attempt out of curiosity!

I know that would have been a more appropriate title for this post but my curiosity and desire to learn more about this old world snack from Kerala, got me into thinking that I might be able to catch the attention of some experts out there who would enlighten me with some info about this snack, we have never heard of or tasted in our lives.

The moment I read the name it sounded magical and I was sure, it’s something from the old world. Sarah’s words painted a nostalgic and realistic picture of her grand mom making it for her in her childhood and drew me closer to it and tickled my curiosity, ever since I spotted this recipe in her blog, along with the raisin pickle I tried sometime back.

Finally I decided to give my favourite companion laziness a break and satisfy Ms. Curiosity atleast for once ! Though it took only 10 months to really shake me off of my laziness, I finally made it !

I halved the measurements and followed Sarah’s recipe blindly. As we sank our teeth into it and the taste buds got acquainted, we started telling each other, “ …….mm……a taste very familiar yet unknown……a taste of childhood yet vague……..a taste and smell recognizable from our mothers and grandmother’s kitchens yet new …..

As one of her readers has rightly commented , it truly captures that quintessential taste and smell of Kerala’s traditional snacks and for some reason, I felt it is a distant relative of Vattayappam made with jaggery. I had strong temptations to substitute brown sugar with sharkkara or sharkkara paani ( jaggery/melted jaggery) but without having any prior point of reference for the level of sweetness or the consistency of batter or even a picture to refer to, I decided to stick to the recipe this time. Soon I realised that even with substitutions, Sarah was successful in developing that recipe and still bring out the traditional taste predominant in Kerala snacks.

Thanks Sarah for such delicious treats from your blog!

Did I tickle your curiosity? Go ahead and give it a try ? :) If you re like us, you can’t just stop with one slice!!

I would love to know more about this snack……

Is the ones in the pictures close to the real deal?
Did I get the texture and colour right?
Is it a specialty of any particular region?
Is it made during any particular festival time or a regular evening snack?
Have you made this at home? If so, I would like to hear your stories, memories and ofcourse, how you make it at home.

If you can throw some light on this, please take a moment to drop a line here in the comment section or mail me . I really appreciate your time and effort.

Thanks in advance!

No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Erachi Olathiyathu – Sautéed Chicken Fry

…oru kozhi-kku….randu savala…’oru pidi’ thakkali arinjathu….’korachu’ malli-podi…..’ethiri’ kurumulaku podi……………ellam kazhinju avasanam ‘kurachu’ andi-parippu arachu chertha nalla ruchi kittum….

That’s pretty much how my mother gave me the recipe for a chicken curry when I was newly married and had the intense urge to impress CJJ by serving the dish he had relished a lot from my mother’s kitchen. For someone like me who always wondered how the curried chicken got its brown color just by adding in some powdered spices, attempting to make a chicken curry with just two weeks of experience in kitchen was a challenge in itself. For someone of that range, translating a recipe by “ a handful”, “ a little bit of that…” or “ a pinch of this..” or atleast balancing the proportion of ingredients for a very subjective term like “ one chicken” which can be anywhere from 1kg to 3kg was as stupid or funny as asking an illiterate to translate something from Greek or Latin or for that matter, something from his own mother tongue to writing!!!!

I t-r-i-e-d to translate……….. and the result was an unfortunate chicken that got mutilated, tortured and humiliated in my kitchen , which finally rested on our dining table with a heart breaking and embarrassed look. Yet, CJJ ate that dish and when asked how it tasted, with great difficulty, he uttered, “m….mm….Oo….kkkk…ei” and later revealed that it was not only horrible but uncooked too!!!! An unforgettable chicken curry in our life and an unlucky chicken which am sure literally cursed its fate and prayed for a rebirth as a worm or broomstick or something else.

Over the years, I learned to decode her culinary language into something that I can relate to, in terms of the nature of ingredients and utensils lying around in my kitchen but recently I am faced with a different challenge. Now that she knows that her daughter has gained the common sense to balance the ingredients, she shares the recipes with an element of ‘scope of learning’, as I would like to call the new phenomenon. About 6-8 months back, when I had an overdose of chicken and fish curry in pursuit of satisfying the “gravy lover” husband, I approached my mother with a request for some “dry” preparation which I could have with a side of Pulisseri/ Moru Kachiyathu or any other simple yogurt based curries and there came the answer for a simple Erachi Olathiyathu, a spicy and aromatic dry preparation with meat. After explaining the basic recipe, she went on to add stuff , as follows:

…..if you re lazy to dry roast the powdered spices, u may add them directly to the herb mix and cook in mild heat for 15 minutes……but dry roasting makes it more tasty.. OR if you don’t have time, you can skip marinating the chicken and add the spices directly ….but I suggest marinating…….OR if you want to save time, you can pressure cook the chicken and later add it to spices and herbs and combine everything till it is dry but I recommend the other method……OR……..” She would continue to give three or four more variations of the same dish, with the same set of ingredients and a different cooking process and by the end of such calls, I am always left with a confused mind! Though I noted down this preparation long back , I got around to trying it only last week and this morning when I showed her the picture, she commented, “……….I think adding some roasted coconut to this dish would be a good idea too”. !!!!!! Versatility in kitchen, huh?

Well, dear readers, you re free to try any of those combinations suggested by my mother. The one noted below is how I prepared it , to suit our taste buds. CJJ , though a lover of gravy based dishes welcomed the changed pleasantly and suggested to make it again. For this chicken preparation, my mother uses the regular spices and herbs available in the kitchen but the predominant difference is by the addition of semi-caramelised onions towards the end of the cooking process which brings in a distinct flavour to an otherwise humble and ordinary dish. That way, the taste of the caramelised onions doesn’t get lost in the sea of spices and other herbs.

For marinating the meat:
  • 1.25 lb ( around ½ kg) chicken cut into small pieces with bones, thoroughly washed
  • 2 ½ to 3 tbsp coriander powder, lightly roasted
  • 2 tsp red chilly powder, lightly roasted ( as per taste)
  • ½ to ¾ tsp black pepper powder, freshly ground
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
For Sautéing:
  • 3-4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 to 2 ½ cups big onion, thinly sliced ( 1 really large size big onion)
  • 2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • ¼ cup ginger, minced
  • ¼ cup garlic , minced
  • 4 Indian green chillies, minced
  • 1 tsp + ¼ tsp homemade masala powder/garam masala
  • Marinate the chicken pieces with the ingredients listed in the first section and leave it on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes. (Note: I dry roast a very small batch of chilly powder and coriander powder and store them separately in an airtight bottle, to avoid roasting each and every time and to speed up the cooking. A tip I learned from our friend R whom I met after coming to US.)
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pan and sauté thinly sliced big onions, in low-medium heat, till it reaches a golden brown shade and starts getting that caramelised smell. At this stage , throw in leaves from 1 sprig of curry leaves and fry along with the caramelised onion for a minute and remove everything with a slotted spoon and keep it aside in a plate. (Note:-This is a slow process taking extra care not to burn the onion , so will take about 20 minutes depending on the heat. I start at a low heat till they turn very soft and then increase the heat a bit for mild browning, that way the process does not consume much oil.)
  • To the same pan, in the remaining oil, add minced garlic , ginger and green chillies and cook till soft and begin to turn golden. Now add the marinated chicken and combine thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients in the cooking pot. If there is some leftover marinade in the bowl, use 1-2 tbsp water and wipe out the spice mixture and add to the pan. In medium heat, cook the chicken covered for about 20-25 minutes, by the end of which chicken would have produced some water and fat from its bones/flesh. (Note: If using boneless meat, add ¼ cup water , along with chicken to get some gravy initially, else it might stick to the bottom). To this boiling mixture, add leaves from 1 sprig of curry leaf and 1 tsp homemade masala powder/garam masala and blend everything well and adjust salt; cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low-medium and let the slow cooking process begin. Continue slow cooking till chicken is ‘almost’ cooked (about ¾th cooked, the phase before the fully cooked stage) and at this stage, add the sautéed and semi-caramelised onions and curry leaves kept aside and blend gently with rest of the dish. The fragrance from the caramelised onion blending into the dish is really enticing. Keep stirring often to avoid the meat sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook till chicken is cooked to perfection and spice and herb mixture is well coated on the meat. Now, remove the lid, sprinkle ¼ tsp homemade masala powder/garam masala , gently stir into the dish without breaking the chicken pieces and by this time the gravy/sauce produced earlier would have reduced/dried up and coated well on the meat, if not, cook uncovered till dried , in very low heat, until the masala is dried up and sticks to the meat thoroughly.
  • Let it rest for atleast 15-20 minutes before serving with rice or flat breads. It tastes better with rice and mildly spiced yogurt based gravies.
Note: This dish had a bit more dark brown colour but because of too much of brightness, it lost its original colour in the photo. Please keep that in mind while trying out this recipe.

Related Posts :

Prawns Stir Fry Chicken Roast - Kuttanadan Style Roast Chicken Mutton Fry Chicken Fry

For more check the complete recipe index

On a different note, with so much of talks and reviews floating around the blog world, we had to watch Julie & Julia, especially with a plot revolving around food and food blog. I am someone who watch a movie with a non-critical attitude and I found the movie very pleasant but couldn’t help noticing that it was a bit slow/dragging for my taste and some of the location settings looked a bit artificial too. No doubt, Meryl Streep steals the show! She is a pure joy to watch as Julia Child. The character of Amy Adams as a blogger realistically portrays the obsessions and meltdowns a food blogger goes through and the ecstasy of the getting that very first comment . I must say the movie also throws light into the plus and downside of food bloggers’ spouses in general :P

Definitely a light movie to watch on a weekend and though a typical chick-flick, your spouse might enjoy the movie if he is a foodie or a fan of either of these women and my only problem was CJJ got intrigued by French Cuisine and as we were walking to the parking lot, I heard him saying, “…I want to taste beef bour……gi…….nn…nnon” !! I was expecting to hear that somewhere in the middle of the movie itself :)


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Puttu Uppumavu – Breakfast Puttu gets makeover at the teatime!

There’s an image etched in my memories, woven into my life in past and present, by god’s grace ….the sight of my parents casually sitting in our sit-out, either sipping evening tea or just relaxing and having a chit-chat……a sight that is part of my childhood, school and college days and I don’t remember the innumerable times I have asked them this particular question those days, “ what do you have so much to talk even after 20-25 years of marriage…?? “ as this was a routine repeated in their morning newspaper session, evening tea, pre dinner and post dinner and if it was a weekend, pre lunch and post lunch too!!!! I would consider myself “ blessed” if CJJ and I can have the same when we reach that phase in life.

And I detested the thought of not seeing them there when I returned from school as I never liked the idea of going to my uncle’s house in the neighbourhood to get the keys, opening the doors and letting myself in and having my evening snacks all alone, especially if they re store -bought. That’s how much one can get spoilt, if you have a stay-at home mom who makes sure that she serves homemade evening snacks all 5 days of the week coz her husband, especially her daughter, a rebellious and thankless teenager need something homemade to munch on when they return home in the evening !! Well, the regulars here probably have an idea by now how spoilt I was and how I was tamed eventually!

Unlike my brother who could be satisfied even with a bowl of store-bought spicy Kerala mixture, so he could run to his friends place, play cricket or ride his BSA Champ, I always wanted something simple, filling yet fresh and homemade snacks for teatime. Somehow my mother managed to satisfy me playing around with certain main ingredients like ripe plantain, beaten rice, rice flour or all –purpose flour etc. At times some of the items she made always triggered some tension between me and my father as those were our hot favourites and we could never get enough of them….like Neyyil varattiya pazham /ripe plantains caramelised in ghee/clarified butter and sprinkled with sugar granules…….Poruthal ada/Orotti, the country style rustic flat bread roasted in a clay pot lined with banana leaves and then soaked in sweetened coconut milk ……the grainy Avalose podi, sweetened with sugar and mashed with Poovan-pazham, a variety of ripe banana……Kappa Puzhungiyathu/boiled cassava with Ulli Mulaku chammanthi, a relish with pearl onions and green chillies and coconut oil……and then some of the leftover preparations like Puttu Uppumavu and Idiappam Uppumaavu………if it was any of these snacks, the gluttonous me always wanted a share from my father’s plate too and the latter never showed any overly fatherly love when it comes to sharing such things and was quite possessive about his share…...hope he doesn’t read this :P

I wanted not only a share from his plate, but a share from his tea too, as me and my brother were never encouraged to have tea/coffee while growing up. As a compromise deal, sometimes they gave us just a gulp before they finished their tea. That one gulp of the hot beverage with a plate of spicy Puttu Uppumavu or Idiappam Uppumaavu , with a note of heat from the green chillies and ginger was my all time favourite and a lively and colourlful thread in my memories…….

All these visuals were dancing in my head from the time I saw Tina’s post around two months back I guess and wanted to have some Puttu Uppumavu very badly but due to several reasons, Puttu never appeared in our menu all these weeks. Finally, last Friday I happened to make some Puttu for dinner and deliberately made some extra to get leftovers and satisfied my cravings the next day and relived some of those cherished moments. Thank you, Tina for for helping me take a dive back to my treasured days :)

Puttu Uppumavu is nothing but a leftover evening snack whipped up in a hurry in most of the Kerala homes and is made with our classic breakfast, Puttu, a steamed cake with rice flour and coconut flakes. By the tea time, Puttu gets a spicy makeover with some green chillies, ginger , onion and curry leaves seasoned with fragrant coconut oil and mustard seeds. I have given the ingredient list and method to make the classic version of Puttu at the how-to section of my post on Erachi/Meat Puttu which is a variation from the original. Please check that if you re totally new to Puttu, before proceeding to make this dish.

Here’s how we make this evening snack at home:

  • 1 ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • ¾ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp Uzhunnu parippu/black gram
  • 2 dry red chillies, broken
  • ½ cup finely chopped big onion
  • 3 finely chopped Indian green chillies or to taste
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1-2 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups steam cooked puttu, crushed well
  • Salt (Optional)
  • 1 tsp ghee/clarified butter
  • Heat oil in shallow pan; splutter mustard seeds , followed by black gram and dry red chilllies. Throw in the chopped onion and sauté till they turn transparent. Now add green chillies and ginger and when everything turn soft, add the curry leaves and coarsely crushed and already steam cooked Puttu; blend everything well and stir until Puttu is reheated and combined thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients. Do a taste test and add salt only if required. Before turning off the stove, make a small well in the centre of the mixture and pour ghee and immediately stir well and combine everything. Serve hot with tea/coffee.
  • If you re using refrigerated leftover Puttu, I suggest drizzling some water on top and microwaving (reheating) the Puttu before adding it to the pan as it helps to get a soft and moist texture.
  • Variation : You can replace Puttu with Idiappam or Idli and make equally yummy snacks though the one with Idiappam is more appealing.
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