Recipes (May 13th, 2015)

Unnikuttan,

I have had a pretty easy-going life…until you came along or I should say, since you started eating solids. 😀  You have never been a good eater. It got increasingly bad as you graduated into toddlerhood and then finally improved when you started going to school (only a tad bit, but it was still improvement). It also doesn’t help that you are growing up in a different country than your parents and all food your dad and I consider as comfort food is different from what you consider comfort food. All in all, I can confidently say mealtimes are the hardest in our relationship. 🙂

Having said these, I am surprised at times to find that you still have favorites and I thought I should write down at least some of the recipes for you to refer back.

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Appam/Paalappam

Appam or paalappam has always been your favorite rice based bread – so much so that you get really mad at me when I tell you that I don’t have any appam batter left. There are a lot of different ways to make the batter, but this is the easiest one guaranteed to give you really soft appams. The recipe involves a lot of idle time for soaking and leavening. The paalu in the paalappam refers to coconut milk. I hope after reading the recipe, you will realize why I can’t make the batter in a jiffy like I do for pancakes. 🙂

To grind together:
White Rice Uncooked (Soaked in water for 6-8 hours) – 1 cup
White Rice cooked – 1 cup
Sugar – 2 tbsp
Quick rise yeast – 1 tsp
Water

To add later:
Coconut Milk – 1/3 can
Salt – 1/4 tsp

Grinding:
Now, getting the ingredients into batter form is very easy if you have a blender. Just that you need to watch out for the amount of water added.

Make sure your blender cup is big enough to grind the first 4 ingredients together. If not, you have to do it in two stages. The two stages should contain an even mixture of all 4 ingredients.

So add the first 4 ingredients into the blender cup with the blade attached. Pour in enough water to cover 3/4th of the mixture. Start grinding. If the mixture seems too thick and the blender finds it difficult to turn, stop it. Pour a bit more water and grind again. Repeat this process until you get a smooth batter.

It is very important that you don’t add too much water in the begining because that will result in a coarse mixture instead of smooth.You dont want any lumps in your soft appam now, do you?

Leavening:
Preheat the oven to 180F and switch it off. Keep the batter overnight in the oven preferably with the oven light on or just leave it out on the counter/patio if it is summer.

In the morning:
Take out the batter, add the coconut milk and salt. Mix it well and keep it aside for another 15 mins.

Cooking:
Warm the appam chatti on the stove and when it is warm enough, pour a spoon full of batter. You will hear a sizzle. Hold the two handles of the chatti with pot holders, lift it up a bit and swirl it clockwise or anti clockwise couple of times. Keep it back on the stove and cover the chatti for 2 mins.

Open the lid to check if the appam is done. The middle of the appam should be set at this stage and the frills should be dry or even browning a bit. Leave it covered for another minute if it is not done.

Always remember – the first appam will not turn out well.  So just keep at it. ;)

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Kerala Chicken Curry

Chicken curry is one spicy thing you are okay eating or may be it is because I make it less spicy than usual. You are not a big fan of the gravy, but likes the chicken pieces. Here is the recipe for the generic chicken curry I usually make. I recommend that you read the whole recipe first before starting, because if you are anything like your dad, you’ll get frustrated when you find one ingredient missing in the pantry. 😀

To Grind together: Whole Spices
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece
Cloves – 4
Black Peppercorns – 4
Cardamom – 3
Fennel seeds – 1/4th tsp

Grind all the whole spices above coarsely in a mortar & pestle and keep it aside.

I can’t specify the importance of freshly ground whole spices enough in Indian meat curries. This is the secret behind the enticing smell. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT buy any ground whole spice packets from the store. Please have all these basic whole spices stocked in your pantry. You will never regret it!  😀

To Marinate:
Chicken cut into bite size pieces (preferably with bones) – 2 lbs
Chicken Masala (spice mix) – 1 tbsp
Vinegar – 1 tbsp
Salt – 2 tsp

Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and wash them couple of times.
Drain the pieces in a colander for 5 minutes.
Mix everything else with the chicken in a bowl and keep it aside for 15-30 mins.

Even though you find it a little hard to eat around the bones, I would recommend bone-in chicken pieces for this curry. I usually get a chicken thigh or a whole chicken cut-up pack. You can use chicken breast packs if you are worried about bones. Use any Kerala chicken masala (Eastern, Nirapara etc.) for this. Ammachi usually gets me masalas from her brother’s spice mill. So if you use the store bought masalas, the curry might taste a bit different.

For the gravy:
Ginger – 2 inch piece
Garlic – 3 cloves
Onion – 2 big
Ground whole spices from above
Salt – 1/4th tsp
Chicken Masala – 1tbsp
Tomato – 1 big or 2 small
Oil – 2 tbsp
Water – 1/4th cup (optional)
Coconut Milk- 2 tbsp

Take off the skin on ginger and garlic cloves and slice them into thin narrow pieces.
Peel, wash and cut the onions – cut them in half length wise, keep the flat face down on the cutting board and slice them really thin. Cut the sliced pieces in half if you think they are too big.
Cut the tomatoes into thin slices and keep them separated from the onions.

Remember to do these slicing steps while your chicken is marinating, it would be more efficient that way. Slicing the onions really thin will ensure they brown easily. The browning of onions help in giving the rich brown color to the chicken curry. Notice that I have included salt in this step too. I believe in Ammachi’s principle of salting all ingredient groups separately. Salt takes out the moisture in the onions and help them brown faster and give a taste of their own.

Now on to the procedure of making the curry.

Procedure:
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot on high heat.
Add the sliced ginger and garlic to it and saute for a minute.
Add the ground whole spices and saute for 30 sec.
Add the sliced onion and salt and saute it well till the onion slices starts turning brown at the edges. Stir every 2 minutes or so to get an even coloring. Adjust the flame to medium if you notice the onions are burning instead of browning.
Keep the stove on medium flame and add the chicken masala at this stage and saute for 1 minute. Masala should give off a good aroma.
Add the slices onions, mix everything well and layer it so that the tomatoes are at the bottom and browning a bit – 3-5 minutes tops.
You can add the chicken at this stage and mix everything well.
Adjust the flame to medium-high, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Open the lid, mix everything again and check the salt. If the gravy is not salty enough, add 1/4th tsp of salt.
Stir everything again, cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
Check if the gravy is too thick. If it is starting to stick to the pan, add 1/4th cup of water.
Adjust the flame to medium, stir, cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
Switch off the flame, add coconut milk and stir.

It is essential that you add the tomatoes after the onions are browned. Tomatoes have high water content. If you add it along with the onions, they will take much much longer to brown. The chicken curry will end up looking yellowish instead.

All meat when cooked, release water. That is why we don’t add water in the initial stages. If you are using a whole chicken, you don’t need any additional water for the curry. But if you are using thighs or breasts, you may have to add a bit of water at the end to avoid the gravy sticking to the pan.

ps: If you ever make this for dad, don’t forget to add cubed potatoes to the curry. 😉   Add it right before adding the chicken.

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One response to “Recipes (May 13th, 2015)

  1. thanks for sharing the recipes – will try it out definitely

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