Monday, June 29, 2015

Hotel Casuarina - A Seafood Haven on NH66

We were on a road trip to Sirsi in May to attend a family function. Engaging Dolphy D'Souza's taxi cab, our plans were to start slightly late in the morning at about 10:00 and reach Honnavar by 1:00pm and have our lunch there. My classmate cum friend Manjeshwar Madhav Bhat is settled in Honnavar and he knew a place where we get fresh and hygienic seafood preparations. Some months earlier, my niece Seema D Shenoy from Puttur and her family had dined there and she being a foodie and a good cook herself, appreciated their food very much. Ever since, I always wanted to visit that restaurant and check out their preparations.
It is just by the side of old Padukani causeway bridge
That's the garden ambiance
Deepak setting up the table for 5
Madhav Bhat inspects the table
Padukani bridge and the old causeway
So we were there little after 1:00pm and Madhava lead us there, a vast garden setup adjacent to Padukani(Badagani) bridge past Haldipur, about 10 Kms or almost half way between Honnavar and Kumta. It was near Kasarakod until some months ago, but has been recently shifted to the present place, said my friend. It was named 'Hotel Casuarina' by the owner ND Bhat, when it functioned at Kasarakod amidst casuarina trees. It was ND Bhat's ambition to serve the travellers with the goodies of Uttara Kannada at affordable prices. The location is exactly half way between Mangaluru and Panaji and also Managluru and Hubballi, making it a convenient place to dine at mid day or in the evening for those travelling between said places.

The place looked serene and cozy perched amidst giant acacia trees, with permanent and make shift canopies in the garden that provided shelter for diners. They have maintained it meticulously clean as well. There are wash rooms for ladies and gents to get refreshed after a long and tiring journey. We were greeted with a smile by two friendly hosts by name Sudanshu and Deepak, who attended to our table. Madhav knew them personally and had informed them over phone about our visit, so they readily understood what we want. 

Madhava Bhat ordered three starters, Prawn Sukkha, Belanji(Bollanjir in Tulu, Motiyale in Konkani) and Surmai Rava Fried along with regular fish thaali. Their menu had many items including chicken preparations. Shubha, Madhav's wife told us that their chicken items are lip smacking good! They also have bottled cold water and a wide range of cool drinks but we settled for cold and warm water.

Very soon, there were plates full of fresh seafood treat on our table, hot and inviting! We gorged into them one by one, while the boys brought the thaalis  shining like mirror, and we continued gobbling up the steaming white rice with the hot and tangy fish curry and the side dishes. Each item was fresh and clean, not as spicy as we get them in Mangaluru, but certainly tasty and aromatic.
Belanji Rava Fried
King Fish Rava Fried and Prawn Sukkha
Fish Thaali
That's a lovely King Fish Rava Fried
Bill itself is the proof for reasonable pricing!
Author with Deepak and Sudanshu
Prawn Sukkha is different than Tuluva style preparation. It is more sticky with lots of onions, garlic, chillies and turmeric but has less added coconut, rather just a garnish of freshly grated coconut. Belanji fried was crisp and hot, well marinated with a rather bland masala and it had right amount of salt in it. Surmai rava fried was the item of the day, fresh thick and big steaks of King Fish marinated with a spicy tangy masala,  rolled in rava and fried to perfection. Each bite tasted like a piece of savoury cake and literally melted in the mouth! 

Their fish thaali contains a bowl of white rice, a bowl with full mackerel curry, a small bowl full of vegetable fry and that day it was cabbage pallya. A fried fish such as Mackerel or Sardine and a pickle is also served along with the thaali. The fish curry rice was good, but fish curry was slightly bland and the gravy was too thin. That's how a Uttara Kannada fish curry(Meen Saaru) is normally prepared, for I have dined at some sea food restaurants in Bengaluru, Karwar and Honavar in the past run by Uttara Kannadigas and found similar preparations. 

Fried fish and other special seafood preparations are priced seasonally as per prevailing rates. With two bottles of water, two plates each of starter dishes and four fish thaalis, our bill summed up to Rs.1270/- for 5 persons and it was worth every rupee, I must confess.

Try this place, if you are on a road trip to Goa or Mumbai. Family will love the surrounds with Badagani(Padukani) River flowing by the side, kids will love playing in the garden and men can just laze around watching the bustling highway traffic crossing the Padukani bridge, or even enjoying the whiff of fresh wind in the shade of mammoth acacia trees.

Hotel Casuarina
Near Go Green Homestay
Padukani(Badagani) Bridge
Haldipur - 581327
Uttara Kannada District

Contact No: 
ND Bhat - 9449441990

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Egg Sukkha(Egg Ball Sukkha)

People make egg sukkha by hard boiling the eggs and cooking them along with chicken sukkha masala. if you keep the boiled eggs whole or if you are lucky even after cutting them in half, they may remain intact and not get disintegrated with the masala. That's again not guaranteed. When you make bigger portions of sukkha for a family, chances are that the egg yellow may get broken and mixed up with the masala.
Ever since I tried Omelette Balls and Egg Ball Chilli, I have been thinking about coming out with something new with egg balls. So I came out with Egg Ball Sukkha, a fail safe recipe in which egg balls can be of equal size and remain intact even after cooking with the masalas and while serving.

Making egg balls is not at all difficult. You need some patience and confidence to fry them in the Paniaram/Paddu/Appo tawa. Now a days, we get non stick paniaram tawa in the market, making our job non-messy. Besides, well beaten eggs respond well while making balls.

The masala can be either authentic Chicken Sukkha masala or Kundapur masala for easier cooking. I chose the latter, partly because we had Kundapur masala powder in stock, and because we needed to make sukkha with just 4 eggs. Only major job is grating and grinding coconut. That too can be made easy by stocking grated coconut in the freezer.

4 eggs yield around 18 egg balls, sufficient for a small family. if you wish, you may increase the amount of ingredients. However, be sure to relish them with either steamed rice and curry or with chapatis.
Eggs - 4
Grated Coconut - 1 cup
Garlic Cloves - 8-10, peeled and chopped
Cumin Powder - 1 Tsp
Onions - 2 small, chopped(Around 1/2 cup)
Kundapur Masala Powder - 4 Tsp
Kashmiri Chilli Powder(Optional) - 1 Tsp
Tamarind - Pea size ball
Salt - 1/2 Tsp(or to taste)
Unsalted Butter - 20 Gms
Coconut Oil - 4-5 Tsp
Curry Leaves - 1 sprig
Coriander Leaves(Optional) - 2 Sprigs chopped

Grind grated coconut with chopped garlic and cumin powder coarsely without adding water.
Extract tamarind pulp in 1/2 cup water.
Add salt and Kundapur Masala powder to that and mix into a paste.
If necessary add little more water.
Heat butter in a pan.
Fry chopped onions until transparent.
Add the Kundapur masala paste, optional Kashmiri Chilli powder, and fry for 2 mins.
Add 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Break the eggs and collect the egg white separately and yellow separately.
Beat the egg whites until frothy and light.
Drop the egg yellow and beat further to blend them well with the beaten egg white.
Heat the paniaram tawa and simmer the flame.
Drizzle 4 drops of coconut oil in each one of the depressions.
Pour a tablespoon of beaten egg in each depression.
Allow to fry until golden.
Drizzle more oil drops around the egg balls and flip them to fry on the other side.
Collect all the egg balls and keep aside.
When the onions are cooked in the masala, add the egg balls into the masala and cook for 2 mins.
Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in another pan and fry the curry leaves.
Add 2 tbsp of the ground coconut over them and fry until golden.
Add this to the pan in which eggs are cooking.
Top up with the remaining coconut paste
Mix gently with a wooden spoon and allow to get almost dry.
Check for salt and switch off the flame.
Garnish with optional chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.

Raagi Ginger Nutty Treat(Spicy Cookies)

Ginger Biscuits/Cookies are being sold in Mangalorean bakeries since I was a small boy. The tongue tickling taste of these cookies, and the warmth they provide in the rainy season or in the winter months, makes them favourite with me. I have grown up tasting nice ginger biscuits from Vas Bakery, City Bakery, Ganesh Bakery, Prabhu Bakery, Harish Bakery, Famous Bakery and PR Bakery. However, now a days we don't get the same taste as we used to get during our younger days. Perhaps my taste has evolved, or the ingredients they put in those cookies are sub standard.

Meena was suggesting that we should make some cookies at home to go with morning tea, especially after my successful attempt in making Masala Biscuits. We had raagi flour in stock and I said, let me experiment with raagi biscuits. Then again, she recovering from a spell of cold likes spicy biscuits, but making masala biscuits again and that too with raagi flour, was a big no with her!
So I came out with these ginger cookies, adding few extras and making them a nutty treat as well. Online recipes were not encouraging, as my idea was to make something different, something that crumbles in the mouth giving the typical taste of ginger biscuits I had tasted long ago, also with a hint of other spices. The Masala Biscuits recipe is proven to be a big success, and I wanted to go the same way with some changes. So my option was to mix in clove, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper to the dough.

These tasted really good, just like how I wanted them. Meena gave me a high five, and said they taste much better than bakery biscuits! That by any standards, is the best compliment I have received in recent times from my wife! Try these and you may receive accolades from your nears and dears as well!

Raagi(Finger Millet) Flour - 1 cup
Refined Flour(Maida) - 1/4 cup
Baking Powder - 3/4 Tsp
Butter - 100 gms
Salt - 1/4 Tsp
Dry Ginger Powder(Sonth) - 1 Tbsp
Cinnamon - A small piece
Cloves - 4-5
Cardamom Pods(optional) - 3-4
Black Peppercorns - 1/4 Tsp
Tiny Cashew nut Bits - 1 Tbsp
White Sesame Seeds - 1 Tbsp
Plain Yogurt - 2 Tbsp
Sugar - 1 Tbsp
Peel cardamoms and collect the seeds.
Crush cinnamon into tiny bits.
Heat a pan and dry roast cinnamon, cloves, cardamom seeds and peppercorns for 1-2 mins.
Pound in a mortar or run in a mill to powder them.
Powder the sugar in the mill or in a mortar.
Smoothen butter with a spoon at room temperature.
Sift both the flours along with baking powder and salt.
Add dry ginger powder and spice powder.
Add butter and rub with your fingers to form crumbs.
Now add the cashew nut bits, sesame seeds, yogurt and knead into a soft pliable dough.
Preheat oven at 180° C for 10 minutes.
Finally mix in the powdered sugar and make 24 equal size balls.
Press and flatten each ball on your palm and place in the cookie cutter.
Press with your fingers to mould them into perfect round cookies.
Detach the cookie cutter and press each cookie with fork to mark patterns(I have designed lines).
Place the cookies on greased parchment paper lined in the baking tray and an extra aluminum plate on the wire rack.
Bake at 180° C for 20-30 mins or until the cookies start to turn brownish.
Cool on a wooden board and store in an airtight container.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Three Flour Mixed Veg Parathas

Paratha is perhaps the most sought after Indian Flat Bread that's liked by almost all. Plain parathas to stuffed parathas, over the last 27 years we have been making them in different ways. 

Some days ago, Meena came out with her own formula, when she wanted to make something new for brunch. She came out with a tasty nutritious paratha that has a mixture of vegetables and also three different flours to make it tasty as well.

Here is Three Flour Mixed veg Paratha that she made that tasted just fantastic. Try it with ketchup or plain yogurt spiced up with salt and a dash of chilli powder and garam masala. It is too good for words! 
Refined Flour(Maida) - 1 cup
Whole Wheat Flour - 1 cup
Ragi(Finger Millet) Flour - 1 cup
Caraway Seeds(Ajwain/Oama) - 1/4 Tsp
Cumin Powder - 1 Tsp
Chaat Masala - 1 Tsp
Dry Mango(Amchur) Powder - 1 TspGreen Chillies  - 3, finely chopped
Mixed Vegetables(Finely chopped Cabbage, Capsicum, Onion, grated Carrot)  - 1 and 1/2 cups
Coriander leaves - 2-3 sprigs, chopped 
Mint Leaves - 1 sprig, chopped 
Salt - 1/2 Tsp(Or to taste)
Oil/Ghee - For roasting + 1 Tbsp

Mix salt with chopped veggies and greens and then add all the three flours.
Add a tablespoonful oil/ghee and knead the dough along with the veggies. 
Sprinkle little water while kneading, if the dough is too stiff/dry.
Knead well into a soft pliable dough.
Cover and keep for 15 mins.
Make lemon size balls, dust with wheat flour and roll into 4 mm thick parathas.
Heat oil/ghee on a thick tawa/griddle.
Roast the parathas on both sides until they are well baked and turn golden brown.
Serve with fresh plain yogurt spiced with a dash of salt, red chilli powder and garam masala powder.

Taandlaa Bhaakri(Rice Pancakes)

These traditional thick rice pancakes are made in the undivided South Kanara districts of Karnataka from time immemorial, to satiate the hungry hard working people. They call this Akki Rotti but we GSBs have made it better with our culinary expertise. A fine Taandlaa Bhaakri is soft inside and crisp outside. This is not browned as much as its counterpart from Mysore side, but a slight golden colour is desired for better looks. These can be made with both white raw rice and parboiled rice, but parboiled rice, especially the red variety with bran makes these taste and smell much better. if you are making these with white rice, add slightly more coconut while grinding the batter.
My mother was an expert in making these bhakris and as far as I remember, she made these at least twice a month. In the early Seventies, Hotel Om Mahal in Bhavanthi Street Mangalore used to make the best Thaandlaa Bhaakris. When my paternal uncle Kudpi Vishwanath R Shenoy, the proprietor of Om Mahal visited us frequently those days, I remember him telling my mother about grinding the soaked rice with coconut water to get a better taste for these bhakris. She did try that and they turned out excellent! We relished it with fresh butter and jaggery coconut choorna.

Adding grated coconut to the rice while grinding the batter is mandatory, but you can also add the thicker flesh/malai obtained from slightly mature tender coconuts which Tuluvas call 'Bonnangaayi'. One whole malai from single tender coconut is sufficient to get one cup of chopped pieces, and that's what Meena used in making these. Coconut gives the right texture and softness to these bhakris. During monsoon days when it pours heavily outside, make these bhakris. The aroma of roasted bhakris will make you drool and ask for more!
Parboiled Red Rice - 2 cups
Grated Coconut(or chopped thick tender coconut malai) - 1 Cup
Salt - To taste
Coconut Water(Optional)
Coconut Oil/Ghee - For roasting 
Plantain Leaf Squares - Optional

Soak rice for 8-10 hours at room temperature.
Grind along with grated coconut into a thick paste adding little coconut water or plain water.
Add salt to taste.
Heat 1 Tsp oil in a thick tawa or griddle.
Keep a bowl of water ready for dipping your hand each time after you make one bhakri.
Spread a handful of the batter on a 8" square plantain leaf, flattening with your fingers to form a 7" round.
Place the leaf inverted on the tawa, with the spread batter touching hot oil.
Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium flame and then remove the plantain leaf.
You can also spread the batter directly on the tawa, but take care not to touch the hot griddle with your fingers!
Roast well on one side and as the upper part dehydrates, flip the rotti, drizzle some oil on the tawa and roast the other side.
Serve hot with fresh butter and jaggery coconut choorna.
Alternatively you can serve this with butter and jaggery syrup, fruit jam, honey or murabba.
Jaggery Coconut Choorna:

This is the base for traditional GSB sweet dishes made using jaggery and coconut, such as Godu Phovu, Lhaayi and Nevri. It also goes well with Neeru Dosas, Undis and Rice Bhakris.

Grated Coconut - 1 cup
Powdered Jaggery - 1/2 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp

Pound the grated coconut and jaggery lightly in a mortar and then add cardamom powder.
Mix well with hand.


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