Saturday, July 31, 2010

Chukku Kanji / Dry Ginger Porridge

Chukku Kanji is one of the main dishes used for breaking the Ramadan fast back home. This would be the main dish that you would have after breaking the fast, eating dates and drinking a glass of juice (mostly lemon juice at my home). This Kanji is accompanied with Kaya Thoran or Kaya Odachathu (Recipe coming soon!) or Kappa together with Meen Curry. Chukku (Dry Ginger) has a lot of medicinal properties which is supposed to be good for your fasting stomach. A cup of this porridge is the tastiest thing, especially after not eating or drinking anything the whole day from dawn to dusk. It is also good when you have stomach problems and cannot take any solid foods.

Serves 8-10 people
Rice- 1 1/2 cup
Water- 11 1/2 cups
Grated Coconut- 1/2 cup
Cumin Seeds- 1 1/2 tsp 
Dry Ginger (Chukku)- 2 big pieces (0.7 oz)
Salt- to taste 

1. In a pressure cooker, boil the rice with 4 cups of water until 3 whistles. We want the rice to be mashed a little.
2. Grind Coconut with Cumin and 1/4 cup of water to a fine paste.
3. When the pressure is gone, open the cooker and add the remaining water (or as much as you need based on your consistency requirement).
4. Break the dry ginger into smaller pieces and add it to the cooker and stir well.
5. Add the ground coconut paste and salt to the cooker and mix well.
6. Let the mixture come to a boil and turn off the stove.

Chukku Kanji (also known as Nombu Kanji) is worth a try, even when you are not fasting.

This goes to the Iftar Moments event hosted by Ayeesha of Taste of Pearl City.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Coconut Rice / Thenga Chor

Thenga Chor or Coconut Rice has a lot of variations from region to region. I have seen ones with grated coconut, with coconut milk, ones which are seasoned with mustard, and lots more. The one I have here, I am assuming, is a Southern Tamil Nadu version as my MIL is the one who introduced me to this. This is a highly flavorful rice with the addition of cinnamon and fenugreek. This is one dish that you could make for a special occasion like you make a biryani or ghee rice and serve with a spicy meat curry like Chicken Curry or Mutton Curry, preferably a Nadan (Traditional) style curry or a spicy vegetable curry.

Serves 5-6 people
Refined Oil or Coconut Oil - 2 tbsp
Shallots- 15-20
Green Chilly- 2
Ginger Garlic Paste- 2 tbsp 
Coconut Milk- 1/2 cup (thick)
Water- 3 1/2 cup 
Cinnamon- 2 - 1" piece 
Fenugreek- 1 tsp
Jeera Rice - 2 cups 
Salt- to taste 

1.  Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes. You could also use Basmati rice or Sona Masoori rice.
2. In a mixer grind the shallots and green chilly with very little water into a coarse paste.
3. Heat oil in a pan big enough for making the rice. I used coconut oil to give it that added flavor.
4. Add the shallot-green chilly paste and ginger garlic paste to the oil and saute until the raw smell is gone and the mixture is almost dry. Don't let it brown.
5. Add coconut milk and water to the pan and add salt to taste.
6. Add Cinnamon and fenugreek to the water and let it boil.
7. Add the drained rice to the boiling water.
8. Stir it in between and when the water is almost gone, turn off the stove. Rice may not be completely done at this point, it may be a little over 3/4 done.
9. Close the pan with a tight lid and keep it closed for 30 minutes.
10. After 30 minutes, the rice will be ready to serve with each grain separated out.

The special fragrance and taste that fenugreek adds to the rice is unbelievable considering that it is an ingredient with a slightly bitter taste; rest assured that you will not get any feel of that bitterness in this rice.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mini Cheesecakes / Individual Cheesecake with Blueberry Sauce

Cheesecake is one of those desserts that have always fascinated me - by its awesome taste, smooth and creamy texture and stunning looks. This is one thing I have always wanted to try out and never had the courage thinking it would be complicated. This time I brought all the ingredients and wanted to make a proper cheesecake, but then again I was not sure whether I should really start off with a big cheesecake recipe. Then I came across this Individual cheesecake recipe at Joy of Baking, which said it is a quicker version, the size being smaller reduces the baking time. So I decided to go for this. This version helps serving smaller portions in lesser time with no compromises on the Cheesecake taste.

For the Crust
Graham Cracker Crumbs- 1 cup
Granulated White Sugar- 1 tbsp
Salted Butter- 4 tbsp (Melted)

1. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with 12 small pieces of parchment sheet on each cup with the ends hanging out. I buttered the cups before lining each with the parchment paper for the paper to stick in.
2. In a bowl, combine the Graham Cracker Crumbs, with the sugar and melted butter.
3. Press a heaped tablespoon of graham cracker mixture to the bottom of each of the muffin cups lined with parchment paper. I had some extra and so pressed in the mixture to 2 additional ramekins as well.
4. Cover and Refrigerate and proceed to make the filling.

For the Filling
Cream Cheese- 16 oz (at room temperature)
Granulated White Sugar- 2/3 cup
Eggs- 2 large (at room temperature)
Vanilla Extract- 1 tsp
Sour Cream- 1/2 cup

1. Beat Cream Cheese in a bowl with an electric mixture on low speed until smooth. Do not over beat the mixture as it will cause cracks in the cheesecake.
2. Add Sugar and beat until combined.
3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating about 30 seconds.
4. Add the vanilla extract and sour cream and beat until incorporated.
5. Remove the crusts from the refrigerator and evenly divide the filling among the crusted cups.
6. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and bake for about 18 - 20 minutes or until firm but the centers of the cheesecakes still wobble a little.
7. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack. Let cool and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (a few hours or even overnight).

8. Taking hold of the two strips of parchment paper, carefully lift each cheesecake from the muffin cups. Gently peel off the parchment paper and place on your serving plate.

This recipe makes 12-14 Mini Cheesecakes, as mentioned I had used 2 additional ramekins.

For the Blueberry Sauce
Blueberry- 5 oz
Sugar- 1 tbsp
Lemon Juice- 2 tsp

1. Keep apart a few blueberries for garnish.
2. Blend the remaining blueberries in a mixer.
3. Heat a pan and add the pureed blueberry and sugar.
4. Mix well until it starts to boil.
5. Add the lemon juice and stir in for a minute or two.
6. Turn off the stove and allow the sauce to cool and refrigerate it.

The Cheesecake could be served with the blueberry sauce and the blueberries. The tartness in the blueberry sauce together with the sweet cheesecake and slightly salted crust makes it the perfect dessert! I would say it is definitely a must-try!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Beef Roast/ Beef Ularthiyathu

Presenting another one of our family favorites - Beef Ularthiyathu! The Malayalam word 'Ularthiyathu' is used to refer to roasted dishes. This dish is a specialty of Kerala, I would say Kottayam side and has unique flavors of Kerala linked to it - be it the slightly fried sliced coconut or the coconut oil. I am a big fan of the flavor that coconut oil adds to the Kerala style dishes and I have no words to explain the crunchy feel that you get when a slice of that coconut gets into your mouth! I got this recipe long back from and after so many years of doing this, it is highly altered.

Serves 8-10 people

Refined Oil- 3 tbsp
Onion- 3 big (Sliced - around 2.5 lbs)
Garlic- 2 pods (thinly chopped - around 0.15 lbs)
Ginger- a big piece (thinly chopped - around 0.15 lbs)
Tomato- 2 (chopped - around 0.5 lbs)
Green Chilly- 6 (chopped - adjust according to taste)
Turmeric- 1/2 tsp
Chilly Powder- 1 tbsp
Coriander Powder- 2 tsp
Pepper Powder- 2 tsp
Fennel Powder- 1 tsp
Garam Masala- 1 tsp
Salt- to taste
Beef- 4 lbs
Mustard- 1 tsp
Coconut Slices- 2 - 3 handful
Coconut Oil- 2 tbsp
Curry Leaves- 3 twigs

1. In the pressure cooker, add and heat the refined oil.
2. Add 2 of the sliced onions and saute for a few minutes until slightly translucent.
3. To this, add the chopped ginger, garlic, green chilly and tomatoes and mix well.
4. Now add the powders - Turmeric, Chilly, Coriander, Fennel, Pepper and Garam Masala and mix for 2-3 minutes.
5. Add the beef and salt to this and mix well. There is no need to add water, as the water from the beef would be enough.
6. Let it pressure cook until 3/4 done. Open the cooker when the pressure is completely gone.
7. Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a saute pan and splutter the mustard.
8. Add the remaining Onion and saute until translucent.
9. Add the coconut slices to this and saute for 5-6 minutes.
10. Using a sieve spoon get the beef together with the onion/ginger/garlic/tomato/green chilly from the pressure cooker to the saute pan, draining out the stock as much as possible. (Save the stock - You could use that as a curry!)
11. Once all the beef has been transferred to the saute pan, start sauting the beef until it starts to completely dry up. Check salt and add if needed. You could also add pepper powder at this stage, if you feel the dish needs to be spiced up more.
12. At this stage drizzle in the remaining coconut oil and curry leaves and mix well until it is completely roasted.
13. Once done, garnish with the curry leaves.

The beef stock from the pressure cooking could be used in making Rava Beef Biryani.

This would be a perfect accompaniment with rice, roti, paratha and appam.

There is one more news that I would like to share with all my friends out there. I would soon be doing a review along with a wonderful recipe for CSN Stores who has a wide variety of stores that sell anything from twin beds to cookwares. So will see you soon with the review and the recipe!
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