Friday, April 24, 2015

Chicken Kolhapuri

Chicken Kolhapuri is a Maharastrian signature curry that is very spicy and aromatic. It is like Managalorean signature dish Kori Ghasi but contains more spices and less coconut. Perhaps, it has the influence of Andhra cuisine, for some of the ingredients that go into the masala are identical to Andhra style curries.
I first tasted Chicken Kolhapuri in our own Mangalore, first at a restaurant run by Prakash Prabhu of Nandini Sweets fame at Hotel Maurya(Now Shaan Plaza) on KS Rao Road, and at Hotel Rajadhani on Milagres cross Road in the mid Eighties. Both the restaurants made it pretty well. We friends used to frequent those two restaurants those days on weekends, and our regular order was Chicken Kolhapuri and rotis.

I have gone through various recipes but this is my own formula based on original ingredients that go into the dish, adding a few of my own. Those who like spicy food can go for it, for this curry can clear a coated tongue and blocked nose, at the same time enhance secretion of digestive juices and increase your appetite. Make this on a hot summer day and enjoy the heat that beats the summer heat, or simply relish this on monsoon or cold winter days to keep you warm! 
Ingredients:
Chicken(Without skin) - 500 Gms, cut into medium size pieces
Plain Yogurt - 2 Tbsp
Salt - 3/4 Tsp, or according to taste
Red Chilli Powder - 1 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 Tsp
Red Long Chillies(Byadgi or Kashmiri) - 6
Peppercorns - 1/2 Tsp
Coriander Seeds - 1 Tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 Tsp
Fennel Seeds - 1 Tsp
Caraway Seeds(Ajwain) - 1/4 Tsp
Marata Moggu - 4
Cloves - 4
Cinnamon - 1" stick
Star Anise - 1
Nutmeg Powder - A pinch
Mace(Javetri) - A pinch
Poppy Seeds(Khus Khus) - 4 Tsp
White Sesame seeds - 2 Tsp
Dry Coconut Bits/Desiccated Coconut - 1/4 cup 
Onions - 2 medium, sliced thin
Green Chillies - 3-4, cut into small pieces
Ginger Garlic Paste - 2 Tsp
Kasuri Methi(Optional) - 1 Tsp
Tomatoes - 2 medium, chopped
Coriander Leaves - A small bunch, chopped
Refined Vegetable Oil - 4-6 Tsp
Method:
Wash, pat dry and marinate chicken pieces with yogurt, 1/4 Tsp salt, chilli powder and turmeric powder for 1-2 hours.
Dry roast 4 red long chillies, peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, marata moggu, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg powder, mace, poppy seeds, white sesame seeds and dry coconut till a nice smell emanates.
Heat 2 Tsp oil and fry the onion slices and green chillies with a pinch of salt till oil leaves sides and onions are well browned.
Once cool, dry grind the roasted spices along with dry coconut into a powder.
Add fried onions and green chillies and grind into a fine paste, adding minimum water.
Heat remaining oil in a thick bottomed pan.
Add the remaining 2 red long chillies, fry for 30 secs and keep aside.
In the same oil, fry ginger garlic paste along with the ground masala paste till oil separates.
Add optional kasuri methi and chopped tomatoes and fry till tomatoes are mushy.
Now add the chicken pieces along with the marinade and fry for 3-5 minutes or until chicken turns whitish.
Add one cup of water, remaining salt to taste and half of the chopped coriander leaves, bring to a boil, cover and simmer.
After 15 minutes, chicken will be properly cooked, and oil floats on top.
Now open the lid and check for salt, add the fried red chillies, then switch off the flame.
Garnish with remaining chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with a lemon wedge, along with steamed rice or with choice of rotis.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Pineapple Lassi - A Summer Cooler

When we buy pineapple, the whole fruit lasts for 3-4 different recipes. It is my passion to come out with new ideas, cross the horizon and gallop towards new world of exotic recipes. That of course without getting carried away with the western way.

Lassi is our own Indian natural cooler from Punjab, that's made in different flavours and a North Indian meal is always complimented with a tall glass of cool sweet lassi. Some of the fantastic lassi preparation can be found in Punjab and Delhi, but I first tasted very good lassi in Bengaluru in the Eighties. Restaurants like Sukh Sagar, Chandra Sweets, Shakti and Suhas served wonderful lassi. In Mangaluru now a days you can find good lassi sold even in sealed plastic pouch by KMF and a local make 'Swad'. Balwant's Krishna Chats had lip smacking lassi in the Eighties and the Nineties. Some say Balwant adds phova or puffed rice  to make lassi thick but I have my own doubts. I found his lassi very good when he had that cart outside Central Market. Not tried at his present setup opposite to the Central Market.

Just a few days ago I bought a big pineapple that cost just Rs.65/- per piece at More outlet near our home. I made pineapple pudding already and thought of making some summer cooler with it. Meena had experimented with strawberry and mango lassi already. I thought in lines of making pineapple lassi, and whenever I try and make some juice with pineapple, honey and lemon come to my mind. I also felt that a hint of fresh ginger might add to flavour and taste. Then I announced "Pineapple Lassi with Ginger Lemon and Honey will appear soon in our fridge". Meena was not amused, as she's mastered the art of making lassi adding fruits!
Well, when I get new recipe ideas, I search in google first to find if someone like Chef Sanjeev Kapoor or Sanjay Thumma have already come out with that. I searched and found many results, but the one I found at 'Budget Bytes' web page is almost the same as what I had in mind! The author has added ice cubes and made it without adding lemon. I added lemon zest for that lemony bitterness. I also thought of adding Angostura Bitters but restricted myself, as it is not easily available in stores in India and people may get confused how to go about the recipe without it. I also avoided blending the lassi in a mixer. I went the traditional Punjabi way of whipping yogurt in a flask with hand churner. Chilled it in the fridge and avoided adding ice cubes.

So folks, here's the fantastic summer cooler Pineapple Lassi with added ginger, honey and lemon zest for you and your partner. Cheers, and beat the summer heat with a tall refreshing lassi.

You'll most certainly exclaim, "Pineapple Lassi Jaisi Koi Nahin!"


Ingredients:
Plain Curd(Yogurt)  - 300 Ml
Pineapple - 4 Slices chopped(Around 1 and 1/2 cup)
Cold water - 1 Cup
Ginger - 1" piece grated
Sugar - 4-6 Tsp
Salt - A pinch
Honey - 4 tsp
Lemon  Zest
Method:
Transfer pineapple chunks along with sugar, salt and grated ginger into a mixer jar and blend for 2 minutes.
Add water and run the mixer for another 2 minutes.
Strain the juice and collect in a bowl.
Chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
Take the curd in a flask or a pot.
Whip well with the hand churner for 2-3 minutes.
Don't whip more, as you may get butter formation in the lassi.
Take a tall glass and fill it half with lassi. Drizzle one teaspoonful of honey.
Top up with pineapple juice.
Drizzle one more teaspoonful of honey, grate lemon and sprinkle zest over the frothy top and serve garnished with a slice of lemon.
Stir gently as you sip the cool stuff reading a book or magazine, watching a TV show, working on your computer or just relaxing in your easy chair watching nature. 
Note:
Ingredients in this recipe are sufficient to make two tall glasses of lassi(Approx 300 Ml each).
You may increase the proportions according to your need.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bread Fruit Kaju Butter Masala

In Udupi, Diana Restaurant was quite famous since the Seventies, with their wonderful South Indian and North Indian snacks and dishes. Of the North Indian items, 'Poori Dhingri Masala' was my all time favourite. The mushroom masala had a lovely red gravy that tasted delicious and went well with hot puffed pooris. Similarly, Kaju Dhingri Masala was also popular. Here in Mangaluru, some vegetarian North Indian Restaurants had that dish. I have also tasted that dish made with tender cashewnuts a couple of times at one or two restaurants in the Eighties.

Just the other day,  Meena was planning to prepare some gravy item to go with phulkas for dinner. I said, we have a piece of Bread Fruit in the fridge from those sent by my friend Madhav Bhat from Honavar. I wanted to make some exotic gravy dish with it, and I'll try making 'Bread Fruit Kaju masala' the way restaurants made kaju dhingri masala. North Indians might not have ventured into making some dish adding bread fruit, for this tropical vegetable is not easily available there up North. 
Then I ransacked through the fridge to find essential ingredients. Meena showed me a surprise! There were at least 25 tender cashewnuts out of the 1000 we purchased recently for drying, that she had par-boiled and kept in the fridge to make curry. Thus my job was easy in preparing the dish.There was cream but it was nestling in the freezer, not very ideal for making rich gravy items. Cream that is old and frozen gets slightly denatured and loses its melting properties. It sort of becomes like paneer. We also ran out of tomato puree. My brain works differently when I am challenged to cook without some vital ingredients. I somehow came out with a recipe for Bread Fruit Kaju Butter Masala with whatever I could grab, and made it as delicious as they made in restaurants or even better! You will find out what all ingredients I used to make this lovely curry. This can be well relished with pooris, rotis or ghee rice.

Ingredients:
Bread Fruit - 250Gms
Tender Cashewnuts(Or split cashewnuts) - 25
Salt - Around 3/4 Tsp or according to taste
Ginger-Garlic Paste - 1 Tsp
Brown Onion Paste - 2 Tbsp
Refined Oil - 4-6 Tsp
Melon Seeds - 2 Tbsp
White Sesame Seeds - 1 Tbsp
Red Chilli Powder - 1 Tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder - 3 Tsp
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 Tsp
Coriander Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 Tsp
Garam Masala Powder - 3/4 Tsp
Kasuri Methi - 1 Tsp
Tomato Ketchup - 1 Tbsp
Whole Cream - 2 Tbsp
Butter - 30 Gms
Chopped Coriander Leaves(Optional) - 1 sprig
Method:
Soak tender cashewnuts in warm water for 2-3 hours if fresh and in hot water if dried.
Peel and split into halves.
Boil them with a cup of water or pressure cook them without adding water for 1 min or till just cooked, keep aside.
Shave off the skin, remove the center core and chop bread fruit into 1/4" thick and 1/2" wide pieces, drop the pieces in cold water.
Soak melon seeds and white sesame seeds in little water for 10 minutes and then grind into a thick smooth paste.
Reserve the water obtained from washing the grinder.
Heat 3 Tsp oil in a thick bottomed pan.
Drain the bread fruit pieces and stir fry them in oil with 1/4 Tsp salt till slightly tender and golden in colour.
Remove and keep aside.
Add the remaining oil and fry brown onion paste along with ginger garlic paste for 2-3 mins or until raw smell disappears.
Add all the masala powders and salt along with kasuri methi and fry for 1 min.
Add tomato ketchup and fry for 2 mins.
Add little water if the mass is too dry.
Add melon-sesame seed paste, fry for 3 mins till oil separates.
If necessary sprinkle very little water.
Now add the butter fruit chunks and mix well.
Cover and simmer without adding water for 2-3 mins.
Now add water obtained from washing the grinder and mix gently.
Bring to a boil and then mix in cream.
Adjust for salt and thickness of gravy. 
You can add 50 ml water at the most, or else the gravy becomes too thin.
Mix in butter followed by cooked tender cashewnuts.
Cover and switch off the flame.
Garnish with optional chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rotis.
Note:
I didn't add cashewnut paste to the gravy because we are adding cooked tender cashewnuts.
Tender cashewnuts better be added last and mixed in gently with the wooden spatula. Otherwise they tend to break.
You can use split cashewnuts, blanch them and boil them in case you can't get tender ones.
Frying Bread Fruit pieces before cooking them with gravy is mandatory, as bread fruit tends to cook fast and become mushy if directly cooked with gravy.
The gravy should be thick but not dry. 
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