Trivandrum Chicken Fry – The Pulse of my Hometown

Anjali Venugopal May 9, 2020 NO COMMENTS

This recipe is reminiscent of all the meals I’ve had from the roadside shacks of my hometown. The thattukadas. This is not your best bet if you’re looking for a healthy recipe as we use lavish amounts of oil here. The key to perfecting this recipe lies in the way you adjust the heat throughout the process.

Things you will need:

  • Chicken on the bone, cut into medium to small pieces- 500 grams (make a few lines on the pieces with a sharp knife.)
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder- 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
  • Lime juice- 1 teaspoon
  • Coconut oil for best results. Regular cooking oil like rapeseed oil etc works too. You need to be a little lavish with the oil for this recipe.
  • Curry leaves- 2 sprigs

To grind

(for this recipe, it’s important to keep this paste coarse. Don’t grind it all together to make a smooth paste as this will affect the end product. The brazen flavours and little bites of ginger and garlic give this recipe its soul. It’s the imperfections that make this dish perfect.)

  • Dried red chillies, the big variety. Not bird’s eye chillies)- 12-15 (bump it up if you like it hotter) You can substitute this with ready made chilli flakes. Use 1.5-2 tablespoons BUT do not grind it. Add in after you make the coarse paste out of the rest of the ingredients given below.
  • Shallots- 6-7 (if you don’t have shallots, use half of a medium sized red onion.)
  • Ginger- 1 inch stick
  • Garlic- 8-10 cloves if you’re using the regular variety. 4-5 cloves if using the large variety.
  • Fennel seeds- 1.5 tsp
  • Whole black peppercorns- 1.5- 2 teaspoons

How to go about it:

  1. First, rub the clean and lined pieces of chicken with the Kashmiri red chilli powder, turmeric, lime juice and salt to taste. Keep in the fridge while you do the rest.
  2. Next, make a COARSE paste out of the ingredients listed under “to grind.” DO NOT add the chilli flakes if that is what you’re using. Instead, make the paste out of the rest of the ingredients and just mix in the chilli flakes after.
  3. Add this marinade to the chicken kept aside. Mix it all up well with your hand for best results. Check the salt again. Add more if needed. Allow the chicken to marinate in the fridge for an hour.
  4. When ready to fry the chicken, heat a little more than quarter cup coconut oil in a wok or deep pan. Medium to high heat. Add the curry leaves. Wait for about 20 seconds for the flavour to infuse into the oil.
  5. Next, place the chicken pieces along with the marinade coating the pieces in the hot oil. Don’t over crowd the wok. You can always fry the whole thing in two or more batches. Reduce the heat to a low and cover the wok. Allow the chicken to cook for 12-15 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked checking once or twice in between and moving the pieces around to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  6. Once the chicken is almost cooked and the meat begins to fall off the bone, increase the heat and fry it all up well. Add more oil at this point if needed. Fry the chicken till the chicken is completely cooked and the masala is a deep brown. Don’t wait until it’s completely black. It tastes best when it’s at a point right before it turns black. Again, a couple of attempts will help you perfect this 🙂 Get the chicken pieces out along with the fried masala and place it all in a dish lined with paper napkins.
  7. Serve hot with chapati or dosas or ghee rice with crisp slices of red onions. Make sure you help yourself to the fried masala and curry leaf bits. It’s the absolute best!

The Best Crème Caramel Ever!

Anjali Venugopal May 7, 2020 6 COMMENTS

I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth but this crème caramel is my Achilles’ heel. Having said that, I dislike most crème caramels of the world almost as much as I love this recipe. The reason being, I have a problem with puddings that are not firm. I need my pudding well cooked and firm without the overt smell of eggs. So, if you’re like me, this recipe is for you!

Things you will need:

  • Sugar- 6 heaped tablespoons
  • Eggs- 5
  • Condensed milk (sweetened)- 400 gm or approx 1.5 cups (the regular tin of Milkmaid we get in India works. If you’re using the Nestle tubes, I used two of them. 170 gm each)
  • Water- Equal quantity as the condensed milk (If you’re using the tin of condensed milk, fill the same tin up with water. If you have tubes of condensed milk like I did, I emptied it into a bowl and then used the same measurement of water.)
  • Vanilla extract- 1.5 tsp

How to go about it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
  2. Keep the pan (which can be used in an oven) in which you will be preparing the crème caramel ready. Next, you need to caramelize the sugar. Place a clean and dry frying pan on the stove (on medium heat) and add the 6 spoons of sugar. Wait for it to melt. Try and resist the urge to keep moving the sugar around too much with the spatula. Gets it all lumpy. Once it starts melting, lightly stir it and allow it to caramelize completely without any lumps. The caramel must be a nice, rust colour. IMMEDIATELY, pour the caramel into the prepared pan next to you and swirl it around to allow the caramel to coat the base of the pan completely. Caramel hardens in no time! If this is your first tryst with caramel, you will see. Haha.
  3. Next, take a large mixing bowl and add the 5 eggs. Beat the eggs (with a hand mixer or a whisk) very well until its a pale yellow. Takes only 2-3 minutes with the mixer.
  4. Add the condensed milk, mix well. Next, add the water and the vanilla extract. Mix well for another minute.
  5. By now, the caramel will have hardened. Pour the beaten mixture on top of the caramel. Place this pan in a larger oven friendly pan just about half filled with water. You don’t need to fill it up too much. Once immersed, the water needs to come up to just about 1/3 of the smaller pan.
  6. Carefully place it in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. Check once in 45 minutes. (Some ovens, especially if older, may have a temperature variation, and if you feel the pudding is still very wobbly and undercooked after the time is up, bake for some more time. Until a toothpick comes out clean.)
  7. Once done, take it out carefully, allow it to cool down before popping it into the fridge. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. You can run a thin knife along the edge of the pan before upturning the crème caramel onto a plate. Serve cold.

(This recipe can also be prepared in the steamer. For that, you don’t need a water bath. But cover the pan with aluminium foil and place it directly in the steamer and steam for 40-45 minutes. The rest of the steps remain the same.)

Spicy Kerala Prawn Roast

Anjali Venugopal May 6, 2020 NO COMMENTS

This recipe is a modified version of one of the first recipes I ever made. It’s simple and uses only a few readily available ingredients. Step up on the heat if you like, with more pepper or chilli powder. Not much can go wrong in this recipe.

Things you will need:

  • Prawns- 500 grams (cleaned and deveined with the tails left on if possible. Great flavour)
  • Red onion- 1 large or 2 medium sized, sliced finely
  • Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt

For the marinade

  • Shallots- 5-6 (if you don’t have shallots, use half of a small red onion instead)
  • Whole black pepper- 1.5 teaspoon
  • Kashmiri red chili powder (or regular chilli powder)- 1 tablespoon
  • Coriander powder- 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder- 1 teaspoon
  • Ginger- 1 inch stick
  • Garlic- 2 large cloves (if using the regular variety, use about 5-6 cloves)

How to go about it:

  1. First step is to make the marinade. Grind the shallots (or half the small red onion) along with the whole black pepper. You don’t need to make it a 100% smooth. A slightly coarse paste will work. Keep aside. Then grind the ginger and garlic together. Add the ginger garlic paste to the onion pepper paste along with the chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric and salt. Add a dash of water and mix it all up well. Marinate the cleaned prawns in this marinade. Set aside.
  2. Next, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the pan or wok you want to use. Medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the curry leaves. Fry for about seconds. Add the sliced red onions. Saute the onions very well until they are brown. Adding a bit of salt speeds up the process. This sweetness of the beautifully cooked onions is the base of the dish. Don’t try to cut corners here.
  3. Once the onions are nice and brown, add the marinated prawns. Toss around until the brown onions and the marinated prawns mix well and also to make sure the onion, ginger and garlic in the marinade is cooked. Add a few teaspoons of oil if it begins to stick to the bottom of the pan. Ginger and garlic have the tendency to stick so add more oil and scrape the bottom once with the spatula.
  4. Keep the pan closed for 3-4 minutes or until the prawns release the water content and cook well. Check salt once again.
  5. Then leave the pan open and fry up the mixture well on a high heat until it’s almost dry. It is important not to overcook the prawns for best results. So, try to make sure the prawns stay in the pan for not more than 10-12 minutes altogether. It gets better with practice 🙂

Malabar Chicken Roast

Anjali Venugopal May 4, 2020 NO COMMENTS

This recipe is chicken on the bone cooked in a rich and semi dry onion and tomato base. Simple, fuss free and one of the easiest chicken roasts you can lay your hands on. Step up on the chilli powder and black pepper if you want the dish nice and spicy.

Things you will need:

  • Chicken on the bone (cut into medium sized pieces)- 1 kg
  • Onions- 2 large, sliced finely
  • Tomatoes- 2 large, chopped
  • Green chillies- 3-4 slit
  • Lime juice- 2 teaspoons
  • Ginger- 1 inch stick, julienned
  • Garlic- 4-5 cloves, minced
  • Kashmiri red chili powder- 2 tablespoons (use a mixture of regular chilli with Kashmiri if you like it hotter)
  • Coriander powder- 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder- 1 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon for marination
  • Ground black pepper- 1 teaspoon (step it up if you like it hotter)
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee (optional)
  • Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
  • Coriander for garnish (optional)

How to go about it:

  1. Marinate the chicken with the lime juice, a bit of salt and half teaspoon turmeric powder. Keep aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour. You can avoid this step if you’re pressed for time.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a heavy bottomed pan or wok. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions and saute until they are nice and brown. Adding salt to the onions now helps speed up the browning process. The colour of the dish depends partly on this step so, saute the onions very well.
  3. Once the onions are nice and brown, add the ginger, garlic and green chillies. Toss it all around for about 30 seconds.
  4. Next, add the tomatoes. Saute for a minute and then keep the wok closed for about a minute or two to allow the tomatoes to soften up.
  5. Once the tomatoes are mushy, add the turmeric, chilli powder, coriander powder and black pepper powder. Add more salt if needed. Saute the mixture until the spices are cooked very well, the mixture darkens in colour and the oil starts to leave the sides. Frying your spices well in oil is the key to getting a deep coloured dish so, be patient and fry your spices well.
  6. Once that is done and the mixture looks homogeneous, in goes the chicken (marinated or not) along with the curry leaves. Toss the pieces around until all the pieces are evenly coated with the masala. Keep frying the chicken until the raw pink is lost and pieces begin to turn white.
  7. Keep the wok closed (medium to low heat) and allow the chicken to cook completely. You do not need to add any water to this recipe as the chicken will release water. Make sure you check every once in a while to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add the dash of lime juice right now if you haven’t marinated the chicken.
  8. Once the chicken is cooked well and the meat begins to fall off the bone, and the gravy looks nice and thick, add a tablespoon of ghee (if using), otherwise add a bit more coconut oil and fry up the pieces along with the thick gravy well on a medium-high heat for another 2-3 minutes (maybe longer, depending on the water the chicken has released. Keep frying till you achieve a nice, semi dry masala) This process will further darken the masala and perfect a semi dry chicken roast. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves (optional)
  9. Serve hot.

My Grandmum’s Perfect Ghee Rice

Anjali Venugopal May 2, 2020 1 COMMENTS

Let’s face it, cooking rice perfectly is an art. Fine, long grained Basmati which holds its shape, does not get mushy and when you serve the meal, the rice grains have to fall perfectly on to the plate. It looks like my grandma cracked the code for perfectly cooked rice a long, long time ago. And this is her recipe for perfect and beautifully flavoured rice. I’d say it’s a little like a dessert recipe where you have to follow every instruction to the T to get the right results. Sure, it’s a tad time consuming but the end result is a 100% worth it if you, like me, are not a fan of mushy goo instead of perfect rice every single time. But I must warn you, this isn’t the easiest recipe. So, here goes.

Things you will need:

(Serves 3-4)

  • Long grained Basmati rice- 2 cups (I recommend you use a reasonably good quality brand of rice. As for the cup, I use the 1 cup measurement that I use while baking. But that doesn’t matter. Pick any cup/glass that you regularly use for measuring rice and use it as the measure for the entire recipe.)
  • Water- 4.5 cups (Now listen up, this is math. The ratio of rice to water for this recipe is 2 : 4.5. For every 2 cups of rice, you use 4.5 cups (the same cup!) of water. Use your calculator and work your way up if you’re cooking more rice. Just make sure you do NOT add more water than the specified amount. A little less works perfectly well. For instance the specified amount for 3 cups rice is 6.75 cups of water. DO NOT add any more than 6.75 cups, instead I would add just 6.5ish cups to be safe. Too much water is what gets the rice mushy and weird. This rule holds for good quality Basmati. If you’re using regular Basmati, water exactly double the quantity of rice is enough. So, for 2 cups rice, use 4 cups water.)
  • Ghee- 2 tablespoons (and a little extra for the last bits)
  • Cardamom- 4
  • Cloves- 4
  • Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
  • Bay leaf- 1
  • Star anise- 1 small
  • Salt to taste
  • Caramelized onions- 1 medium sized onion’s worth
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • Cashews- 8-10
  • A fork

How to go about it:

  1. First, wash the rice thoroughly twice in running water. Next, soak the rice in water and keep aside for 15 minutes. Keep the right quantity of water in a pot or kettle in the meantime.
  2. Once the soaking time is up, drain the rice rice well using a strainer. Keep aside for another 10 minutes or until the rice is nice and dry.
  3. Now, it’s time to cook. Keep a pot big enough to cook the rice on medium heat and add the ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add the whole spices (cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and anise). Saute for about 30 seconds or until the flavours release into the hot ghee.
  4. Keep the water to boil separately. Important to have boiling water for this recipe.
  5. While the water boils, you add the soaked and strained rice (yes, the raw rice) to the ghee. Then you must saute the rice lightly. Make sure all grains are coated with the ghee and keep sauteing the rice till the rice grains begin to feel a little crunchy to the touch. Make sure you do this sauteing bit without using too much power because it is important not to break the grains of rice in the process. Do it lightly.
  6. Next, add the boiling water to the pot, salt to taste, mix it up to make sure there are no rice clumps in between. Increase the heat a slight bit more and cook the rice (with the pot uncovered) until the rice is al dente (just about 80% cooked), there is still a bit of moisture left in the pot (meaning all the water has not completely evaporated). At this point, take the pot off the heat, drizzle a couple of TEASPOONS of melted ghee to the rice and lightly stir it all up with a fork. Next, keep the pot closed with the lid and place something heavy on top of the lid. I usually put my mortar and pestle on top as weight. The rice has to sit completely undisturbed this way for 20 minutes.
  7. So, while the rice sits for the 20 minutes, you can caramelize your onion. Keep aside. Lightly fry the coriander leaves in a tablespoon of cooking oil or ghee and keep aside. Fry the cashews in ghee or oil and keep aside.
  8. Once the 20 minutes is up, stir up the rice grains (lightly again) using a fork making sure you don’t break up the grains too much. Top with the caramelized onions, cashews and coriander. Serve warm with a meat curry or vegetable curry and raita. This recipe gets easier with practice, I promise 🙂

Kozhi Mulakittathu – A spicy Kerala chicken curry

Anjali Venugopal April 30, 2020 2 COMMENTS

This one is a favourite and it translates to chicken in chilli. It’s easy, spicy, hearty and it is all things Kerala. Chicken cooked with lots of chili, ginger and garlic with that beautiful hint of fenugreek and cardamom right at the back.

Things you will need:

  • Chicken on the bone, without skin, cut into medium sized pieces, washed well and patted dry- 1 kg
  • Onions- 2 medium sized chopped finely
  • Tomato- 2 medium sized chopped
  • Green chilies- 3-4 slit
  • Green cardamom pods- 4
  • Black mustard seeds- ½ tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds- ¼ tsp (this is the base flavour of this curry. But do not add too much. Fenugreek when added in excess can make the dish bitter)
  • Kashmiri red chili powder- 3 tablespoons (mix it up with regular chilli powder if you like your food hotter)
  • Turmeric- ½ tsp
  • Ginger- 1 inch stick chopped finely
  • Garlic- 6-8 cloves chopped. Be generous with the garlic (if its the large variety, 2-3 cloves will do)
  • Cooking oil (I recommend coconut oil for this curry)
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig

How to go about it

  1. In a wok kept on medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Let them splutter. Next add the green cardamom. Toss around for about 15 seconds till the flavour releases into the oil. Add the curry leaves.
  2. Add the chopped onions next and saute until they turn golden brown. Onions must be cooked well. Next, add the green chilies, ginger and garlic. Saute for another 30 seconds.
  3. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, saute for a minute and then leave the wok closed for a couple of minutes to get the tomatoes to soften up.
  4. Add the salt (to taste), chili powder and turmeric. Saute well (still on medium heat), until the mixture begins to look homogeneous, the spiced are cooked and looks darker and the oil starts to leave the sides of the mixture.
  5. Now, add the chicken pieces. Toss the pieces around until the chicken changes colour from pink to white. Make sure the masala is coated on all the pieces evenly.
  6. Add about 3/4 cup of water (remember the chicken will release water too), mix it all up and bring the curry to a boil. Then reduce the heat and allow the chicken to cook thoroughly with the wok closed. Check every once in a while to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the wok.
  7. Once the chicken is cooked and the meat begins to fall off the bone and the gravy thickens up with the oil floating on top, the curry is done. For best results, keep the curry aside for 15- 20 minutes for the flavours to balance out before serving.
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Hi, I am Anjali

A lawyer who gave up law to pursue her one true love, food.

I was born and raised in Trivandrum in arguably one of the most beautiful corners of the world, Kerala (the southernmost state of India). I have now made a home in Paris with the love of my life.

If I had to pick two things that made me the happiest, I would pick cooking and meeting new people.

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