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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Les Marmitons - a Kerala dinner


Semiya Paysam, a Kerala dessert

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of presenting recipes from Kerala to a fine group of gentlemen from Les Marmitons. In addition to these recipes, we added parboiled red rice and plantain chips, both of which are very simple to prepare.

1. Kerala Chicken Curry

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 rounded tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2-3 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 cup onion, thin, long slices
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger, thin slices
a few curry leaves *
1 tbs vinegar
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup first thick coconut milk from 1 cup dry unsweetened coconut**
2 cups thin second coconut milk **
3 sweet potatoes, small dice


1. Mix coriander, cayenne, turmeric and pepper together and set aside.
2. Fry mustard seeds in hot oil and saute onion, garlic, ginger and curry leaves in a larger cooking pot.
3. Move onions to the side and fry the spice mixture in the oil and stir for a few minutes.
4. Add meat, vinegar, salt and stir for a few minutes.
5. Mix thin second coconut milk and cook. Close the pan with a deep lid with a splash of water. When the meat is done, add the sweet potatoes.
6. After the sweet potatoes are cooked, stir in the thick first coconut milk. When the curry thickens, remove from heat.
7. Enjoy with roti, rice, naan, etc.

* Curry leaves are available at Dino's Grocery Mart on Notre Dame.

** To make your own first and second coconut milk, measure out one cup dry unsweetened coconut into a blender and add one cup very hot water. Blend well and strain. This is your first coconut milk. Take the drained blended coconut and return to the blender. Add another cup or two of very hot water and blend very well again. Drain. This is your second coconut milk.


2. Fish Molley - a Kerala recipe

Serves 4

4 Sable fish steaks (available at Gimli Fish - or ask about other fish to try with this recipe such as white fish, pickerel, kingfish, etc.)

2 tablespoons sunflower oil
3 small pieces of cassia or 1 small cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
5 cloves
2 tomatoes, quartered *
1 red onion, cut in half and sliced thickly
1 green chili, sliced halfway down
4 shallots, sliced through the root (used in the end
for seasoning)
3-4 fresh curry leaves
1/2 lime (used in the end of cooking)
~1 1/2 cups coconut milk, method follows, use whole recipe amount
~1/2 cup coconut cream, method follows, use whole recipe amount
1 teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric powder

Put 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan. Add the cassia, cardamom, and cloves for seasoning. When the cardamom pods swell up and absorb the flavour, add the quartered tomato and fry for a few minutes.* Remove the tomatoes, add the onions and green chili to the same oil and stir. Add the crushed garlic and fry for 5 minutes, and then add the ginger. (Never add ginger and garlic together as the garlic needs to cook for longer.) Lower to medium-low heat and sprinkle generous 1 teaspoon of turmeric over the onions, then stir and raise to medium-high heat. After the garlic is fried add the white flour 1/2 teaspoon and crushed ginger and a few curry leaves, and fry a bit then,

Add the diluted coconut milk to the pan where the onions and garlic are fried and allow to bubble, keep on stirring till the milk bubbles or else the coconut milk curdles. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time and add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. If using a whole fish make slashes on the sides, If your pan is big to fill the fish use the same pan, Once you add the fish you can’t stir with a spoon. The fish should be just covered with coconut milk –cook gently for about 5 minutes, just swaying the dish from side to side. (If the fish sauce needs more sour taste add lime juice off the heat or else it will become bitter.)

Add the coconut cream, swirl and bring back to the boil. Taste and add more salt if necessary. The coconut cream may dull the salt.

To finish, in a different pan, put a few teaspoons of oil, add sliced shallots. Brown a few shallots and add some curry leaves. Pour over the top of the fish sauce. Add the quartered fried tomatoes.

*I used frozen tomatoes for this recipe and added them at the end without first frying them.

Eat hot or at room temperature with rice or any bread.

To make coconut cream and milk:

Coconut Cream or First milk

1 cup unsweetened coconut (excellent dried coconut from Dino's on Notre Dame)
1 cup very hot water

In a blender, blend at high speed for a few minutes and then strain, reserving coconut. This is your first coconut milk or cream.

2nd milk

Return blended coconut to blender and ad 1 1/2 - 2 cups very hot water. Blend at high speed for a few minutes. Strain. This is your second coconut milk that is used for cooking.

Enjoy!

3. Cabbage Thoren


2 cups finely shredded cabbage (or carrots, beans, cauliflower, beets)
salt, to taste
2 tbs oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp black gram dhal or urdad dal *
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chillies, sliced thinly in rounds
a few curry leaves *
1/2 cup finely grated coconut *

1. Heat oil in a pot on medium high heat and add the mustard seeds.
The seeds will pop. Then add the dhal and fry until it becomes golden
brown. Add onion, green chillies, curry leaves and sauté. When
almost translucent add grated coconut and stir for a few minutes.
2. Toss in the cabbage and add salt to taste. Gently sauté until
water has been absorbed or evaporated.

Note: red and green chillies have a lovely appearance. Cauliflower,
beans, carrots and other vegetables can be prepared similarly.

Enjoy!

4. Tender Beans Kerala Style


3 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and cut in half to up to 2" long
2 tbs. vegetable or olive oil
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 medium onion, sliced thin and long
1 red chili crushed or 1/2 tsp. chili powder
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 pepper corns crushed or 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 - 1 tsp turmeric powder

Fry the mustard seeds in hot oil. When they turn lighter colour and begin to pop, add onion slices and sauté over medium high heat. Add turmeric, chili and pepper corns then garlic. Sauté. Add the beans and sauté until al dente. Season with a pinch of salt. Serve hot.

Enjoy!

5. Mushroom Thoran

2 cups sliced Crimini Mushrooms (can use other varieties)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-3 green chilies, chopped
1/4 cup grated coconut (if using dried, use unsweetened)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
sprig curry leaves
1-2 tbs oil
salt, to taste

Heat oil in pan and add mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, add curry leaves. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add mushrooms, chilies and salt. Cook over medium high heat until the water has evaporated from the mushrooms, stirring frequently. Stir in coconut, cumin and coriander and cook until soft.

I added a bit of cream to this even though it is a dry curry. Cover and cook on low until ready to serve.

6. Semiya Paysam
Ingredients
1. Roasted Vermicelli (Semiya) – 1 cup (ask at the store for the dessert variety)
2. Milk – 5 cups (1% fat milk)
3. Sugar – 8 – 10 tbsps
4. Ghee – 1 tbsp
5. Crushed cardamom (elakka) – 4 pods
6. Cashew Halves – 20
7. Raisins – 20
8. Sweet Condensed Milk – 1/2 cup

Kerala Dessert - Semiya Paysam
Preparation Method
1. Heat 1 tbsp Ghee in a pan. Fry raisins until they are plump and cashews till they become light golden brown. Keep aside.
2. Take milk in a big saucepan and bring it to boil.
3. Reduce flame and add sugar, stirring continuously. Add the powdered cardamom for flavor.
4. Next, slowly add the roasted vermicelli into the milk, stirring continuously. Allow it come to boil on medium heat.
5. Simmer for 10-12 minutes till the semiya is cooked and the payasam begins to thicken.
6. Add condensed milk and combine everything. Add more sugar if required.
7. Remove from flame and garnish with fried raisins and cashews.
8. You can serve it either warm or cold. I love refrigerated Semiya Payasam
Note
• I used store bought Roasted Vermicelli for making Paysam. It is easily available in Indian stores. If you are using ordinary vermicelli, heat 2 tbsp ghee in a pan and roast the vermicelli till it becomes light brown in color.
• I used 1% Fat Milk for making Paysam. If you are using Whole Milk, you can take 4 cups milk and 1 cup water.

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