Food and Drink

Andhra Chilli Chicken

Anjali Venugopal June 16, 2020 NO COMMENTS

A fiery Andhra speciality just the way it’s served in the famed Andhra restaurants in Bangalore. This is one of my most favourite things to eat and it’s ridiculously easy to prepare at home. You need to be lavish with the green chillies for this recipe for best results.

Things you will need:

(Serves 2-3)

  • Chicken (preferably on the bone)- 500 grams, cut into smallish pieces
  • Green chillies- 12-15 slit. Keep some more aside, only to be used if needed. If you’re using a variety that is not very hot, you will need to use more, around 20, to get the real flavour of this dish.
  • Ghee- 4 tablespoons
  • Green chilli sauce – 1 tablespoon
  • Lime juice- 1 tablespoon
  • Soy sauce- 3 tablespoons
  • Salt to taste
  • Water- 1.5 cups
  • Cornflour – 1.5 tablespoons dissolved in ¼ cup water

How to go about it

  1. First step is to cook the chicken. For this step, feel free to use a regular deep pan or a pressure cooker. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in the pan or pressure cooker. Medium heat. Add the slit green chillies and saute for 20-30 seconds. Add the cut pieces of chicken and toss them around until the pink is lost and the pieces begin to turn white. Add a bit of salt. Make sure you don’t add too much because remember the soy is quite salty too. Add the water and either pressure cook for two whistles or allow the chicken to cook with the pan covered for about 20-25 minutes or until it is cooked thoroughly and the meat begins to fall off the bone.
  2. Keep the chicken and the broth aside. Now do a quick taste test to check the heat of the chillies. The Andhra Chilli Chicken is fiery. You have to be able to feel beautiful kick of green chillies at the back of your tongue. If you feel the broth is hot enough, let it be. If not, slit a few more green chillies and keep aside.
  3. Next, in a deep pan or wok, heat two more tablespoons of ghee. Medium heat. Once hot, if you are adding more green chillies, now is the time. Add them and saute for 20-30 seconds. Next, fish out the chicken pieces from the broth and add them to the hot ghee. Give a quick mix. Add the lime juice, chilli sauce and soy sauce. Mix well for 30 seconds. Add the leftover broth from before. Mix it all together and bring to a boil. Add more salt if required at this point.
  4. Add the cornflour solution, mix well and allow the sauce to thicken. Once your reach your desired consistency, turn off the stove and serve hot with Biryani or just some steamed rice.

Butter Chicken

Anjali Venugopal June 14, 2020 NO COMMENTS

I had my first ever Butter Chicken at Moti Mahal (Punjabi Bagh), Delhi. And for this reason, my Butter Chicken standards are very, VERY high. I dislike half ass butter chickens just as much as I love a beautifully made one. I have been trying to perfect my recipe for a couple of years now and I think I am finally ready to share a recipe. Okay, in all honesty, I still wouldn’t say this is the best I have had BUT it’s getting pretty damn close. If you’d like to give it a shot, here goes.

This recipe is not easy and is split into two – the grilled chicken/chicken tikka and the Butter Chicken sauce. For most of us who don’t have a tandoor at arm’s reach this is the most we can do. But a properly made grilled chicken, with the right spices is one of the base points of this recipe so, try not to cut corners.

Also! This recipe works well for a Paneer Butter Masala too 🙂 Marinate the paneer with the marinade for chicken tikka and grill it before adding to the sauce. Works well without grilling too. You can add the paneer as it is.

Chicken Tikka in oven

Things you will need:

  • Boneless chicken- 500 grams cut into bite sized pieces
  • Skewers


  • Greek yoghurt- 3 tablespoons
  • Garam Masala- 2 teaspoons
  • Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder- 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric Powder- ½ teaspoon
  • Ginger garlic paste made with 1 inch stick of ginger and 4-5 cloves of garlic or storebought ginger garlic paste- 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Kasuri Methi- 1 teaspoon
  • Cooking oil- 2 tablespoons

How to go about it

  1. Make a marinade with all the ingredients listed under “Marinade.”
  2. Marinate the chicken pieces thoroughly with the marinade and let it rest in the fridge for at least an hour. Overnight tops.
  3. When ready to prepare the chicken tikka, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a tray with baking paper or aluminium foil. Thread the marinated pieces of chicken on the skewers without overcrowding them. Place the skewers on the tray. Even better if you can balance the skewers on the parallel edges so that the pieces do not touch the bottom of the tray.
  4. Bake the chicken in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the edges char lightly. In case you can’t balance the skewers on the edges, take the tray out at half time and turn the pieces around so that the sides which was touching the base of the tray is now on the top.
  5. Once done, keep the chicken tikka aside while we prepare the sauce.

Butter Chicken Sauce

Things you will need:

  • Unsalted butter- 50 grams or 2 two inch cubes. More if you like. Keep the butter divided into three parts. Salted butter works too but you’ll need to keep an eye on the salt you add later.
  • Onion – 1 medium sized or half of a large one, finely chopped
  • Green cardamom pods- 3
  • Bayleaf – 2
  • Tomatoes- 4 large or 5 medium sized, roughly chopped
  • Cashews- 10
  • Ginger garlic paste made with 1 inch stick of ginger and 4-5 cloves of garlic or storebought ginger garlic paste- 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder- ½ tablespoon
  • Water- 1 cup
  • Garam Masala- ½ teaspoon
  • Whole cream- ¼ cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar- 2 teaspoons
  • Kasuri Methi- 1 ½ teaspoon
  • A mixer grinder or immersion blender

How to go about it

  1. In a large pan/wok, heat one part of the butter kept aside. Medium heat. Once the butter melts (and before it browns), add the cardamom pods and bay leaf. Fry for 15-20 seconds or until the flavour releases into the fat. Next, add the finely chopped onions. Saute until they turn translucent. Add a tiny bit of salt to speed up the process. Once the onions are translucent, add the ginger garlic paste. Saute for 30 seconds or until the raw smell goes away.
  2. Next, add the chopped tomatoes and Kashmiri red chilli powder. Saute everything for 20-30 seconds. Add the cashews and 1 cup water, mix it all up and cover the pan. Let it cook on medium to low heat for 15 minutes. Stir it all up once in between to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Once that is done, take the pan off the heat and fish out the bay leaf.
  4. Now is the tricky part. If you are using an immersion blender, transfer the (hot) contents into the blender jar and grind into a smooth paste. However, if you are using a regular mixer grinder, you will need to wait for the mixture to cool down before you grind it all. Please, PLEASE do not attempt to grind it while it is piping hot. I have done it once and I won’t repeat it again. Once reasonably cool, grind the mixture into a smooth paste.
  5. Next, you need to strain the now smooth paste. Strain it into another bowl, using a spoon to keep stirring to make sure you get the maximum out of the paste. Discard what remains in the strainer. Keep the smooth, velvety sauce aside.
  6. Place a (clean) pan on medium heat and add the second part of butter. Once the butter melts, pour in the sauce. Mix well for 10-15 seconds. Now, you may add the salt and the sugar. Add in parts. Getting the right sugar salt balance is the ultimate key for a good Butter Chicken. Keep doing a taste test every now and then till you get it right. The should not be overtly sweet but it should have that light sweetness. Salt to balance the sweetness.
  7. Add the garam masala. Mix well.
  8. Next, add the cream, and keep mixing until the sauce begins to boil lightly. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the third part of butter and crushed kasuri methi. Mix well.
  9. Now add your chicken tikka to the beautiful sauce. Mix well. Allow everything to cook on a low heat for about 5 minutes.
  10. Take off the stove, give a quick swirl of cream to garnish and serve hot with Naans or Rotis.

Kerala Thattukada Style Beef Curry

Anjali Venugopal June 10, 2020 NO COMMENTS

It’s no secret that I love Thattukada food. It’s unpolished culinary skill at its finest. This recipe is a hot and spicy beef curry just the way it’s served in the thattukadas of Kerala. You can substitute the beef with mutton/lamb too.

Things you will need:

  • Beef (good quality beef with a slight bit of fat works best for this curry)- 500 grams, cut into small, bite sized pieces. Don’t keep the pieces too big for this recipe.
  • Onions- 2 medium sized, sliced finely
  • Tomatoes- 2 medium sized, chopped
  • Green chillies- 4-5 slit
  • Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

To grind to a coarse paste without adding water:

  • Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1.5 tablespoons (Adjust as per heat tolerance. This yields a medium-hot curry. But if you like the curry hotter, use Kashmiri and regular chilli powder half and half)
  • Coriander powder- 2 tablespoons
  • Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
  • Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
  • Star anise- 1
  • Fennel seeds- 1 teaspoon
  • Cloves- 4
  • Green cardamom- 3
  • Ginger- 2 inch stick
  • Garlic- 6-8 cloves (if using the large variety, 3-4 cloves)
  • Black peppercorns- 1.5 teaspoon (step up if you like the curry hotter)

How to go about it:

This recipe can be prepared in a pressure cooker or in a regular pot. The latter will just require more time for the beef to cook.

  1. In the pressure cooker pan (or heavy bottomed wok of your choice), on medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once hot, add the sliced onions. Saute until nice and golden brown. Adding some salt while sauteing the onions helps speed up the process. Once the onions are golden brown, add the curry leaves and green chillies, saute for 30 seconds.
  2. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, mix well and keep the pan closed for two minutes or until the tomatoes soften up.
  3. Add the ground mixture, a bit more oil if you feel it’s too dry and keep sauteing for 3-4 minutes until the spices are cooked and the oil begins to leave the sides of the mixture.
  4. Add more salt if needed. Next, add the beef to the mixture and mix it all up well. Then also add about 3/4-1 cup water, mix very well. Now, if you’re using a pressure cooker, cook for 6-7 whistles on a medium flame. Allow the pressure to drop on its own. Once that is done, you can check if the beef is well cooked. Otherwise, pressure cook for another 1-2 whistles. Then allow the curry to simmer (without the lid) for 3-4 minutes or until you get the curry to your desired consistency. (If you are cooking it in a regular pot, bring the curry to a boil and then allow it to simmer on a low heat for 45-50 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan, until the beef is cooked well, the gravy thickens and the oil floats on the top.)
  5. Once done, allow the curry to rest undisturbed for 10-15 minutes before serving to balance out the flavours. Serve warm.

Easy Fish Curry with Coconut Milk

Anjali Venugopal May 28, 2020 NO COMMENTS

There’s nothing more comforting for a Malayali than a nice, earthen pot of spicy fish curry. That’s the taste of ‘home’ for us. This recipe is one of my favourite ways of making a good fish curry. The Malabar tamarind is mandatory for this recipe if you ask me but if you must substitute with store bought tamarind paste, that should work too. I have never cooked with it so, I cannot be a 100% sure as to the quantities though. This curry is supposed to be hot and tangy at the same time. This recipe works great with prawns too!

Things you will need:

  • Fish (any firm variety of fish)- 500 grams cut into medium sized pieces. While in Europe I use Norwegian Salmon.
  • Red onion, small – 1 chopped finely (or take half a medium sized one)
  • Tomato- 1 large or 2 small, chopped
  • Green chillies- 3 slit lengthwise
  • Ginger- 1 inch stick, chopped finely
  • Garlic- 6 cloves, sliced finely (if using the large variety, 2 cloves will do)
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder- 1 heaped tablespoon
  • Coriander powder- ½ tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
  • Coconut milk (thick)- 200 ml
  • Malabar Tamarind (kudampuli)- 4 pieces soaked in a little more than ¼ cup water
  • Coconut oil
  • Black mustard seeds- 1 teaspoon
  • Fenugreek seeds- ¼ teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig

How to go about it:

  1. In a wok, heat two tablespoons of coconut oil. On medium heat. Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds and allow them to splutter. Next, add the finely chopped onion and saute until it turns golden brown. Adding a bit of salt right now helps speed up the process.
  2. Next, add the curry leaves, ginger, garlic and green chillies. Saute for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, give it all quick mix and keep the wok closed for two minutes or until the tomatoes turn nice and soft. Once the tomatoes soften, add the Kashmiri red chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder. Keep frying the mixture well for 2-3 minutes or until the oil begins to leave the sides of the mixture.
  4. Next, add the soaked tamarind bits with the water. Mix well. Add the coconut milk and mix it all up well. Bring to a boil. Add more salt if needed.
  5. Place the cut and cleaned pieces of fish into the bubbling curry. Mix lightly, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the fish curry to cook on a low heat for 15-20 minutes, with the wok closed. Check once or twice in between but DO NOT stir it all up with a ladle. You will end up breaking the fish pieces. Instead, firmly hold the wok on both sides and give a swirl. Careful!
  6. Once the fish is cooked and gravy has thickened, increase the heat one last time and allow it to bubble well. If you feel the gravy is too watery at this point, you can reduce it as desired right now. Otherwise, take the wok off the stove and allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. This is the trick to get the flavours to settle and achieve the right balance.
  7. Serve warm. Tastes even better the next day!

‘Kulukki Sarbath’ Gin and Tonic- A classic with a hint of Kerala

Anjali Venugopal May 26, 2020 NO COMMENTS

The Kulukki Sarbath is a popular and dearly local drink of Kerala. The kind you’d stop for at a roadside shop during a road trip in the hot sun. It’s not your regular lemonade. There’s a tiny bit of brazen Kerala added to the tall glass of cold lemonade in the form of green chilli and puffed basil seeds. And most importantly, its shaken. Not stirred. And hence the name, ‘Kulukki Sarbath.’.

I love the Kulukki Sarbath. It takes me back to my hometown every time I make a glass for myself. So, I decided to give it a little lift by combining it with a good old Gin and Tonic. The result, my friend, is pure magic. Give it a go.

Things you will need:

(for one drink)

  • Simple syrup – 15 ml ( If this is an unfamiliar term, fret not, I have included the method to prepare simple syrup in the ‘Notes’ section. Add more syrup if you like your drink sweeter. Remember the tonic adds sweetness too.)
  • Dry Gin- 60 ml
  • Soaked basil seeds (Sabja/Tukmaria)- 1-2 teaspoons (Soak one or two teaspoon of seeds in a few tablespoons of water for 10 minutes. They absorb the water and will puff up like chia. This is an inherent part of the roadside Kulukki Sarbath of Kerala.)
  • Green chilli- 1 slit lengthwise (add another if you’d like a bit more heat)
  • Juice of half a lime or 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • A pinch of salt
  • Tonic water as needed
  • A slice of lime for garnish
  • Ice cubes

How to go about it:

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add the gin, lime juice, simple syrup, salt, slit green chilli and 2 ice cubes. Shake well for 5-6 seconds. In case you don’t have a cocktail shaker at hand, you can use something else like a bottle with a tight lid to do this. The shaking bit is important as, that is how the ‘Kulukki Sarbath’ derives its names. ‘Kulukki’ in Malayalam means ‘shaken.’
  2. After shaking the mix for 5-6 seconds, carefully strain the contents into a glass with more ice cubes. Add 1-2 teaspoons of soaked and now puffed basil seeds. Top up with tonic and give it all a light stir.
  3. Garnish with a slice of lime and a green chilli if you like.
  4. Enjoy the easy and super fresh cocktail you just made at home. Go back and make more.


Simple Syrup and how to prepare it at home. The first time I saw this term in a recipe, I chose not to go ahead with it because I knew I didn’t have it at hand. Moreover, I thought it was some complicated thing I had to buy from a store. Well, it’s not!!

Add equal parts of white sugar and water (eg. ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water) in a saucepan heat it all until the sugar melts and you get a nice syrup as a result. Voila! That’s simple syrup for you. You can even make a slightly bigger batch and store it in a bottle in the fridge. Perfect for the drink maker in you! 🙂

Chemmeen Choru – Kerala Style Spicy One Pot Shrimp Rice

Anjali Venugopal May 24, 2020 NO COMMENTS

There are days when all I need is a dance of flavours from Kerala on my palate. This recipe does that for me. It is a one pot shrimp rice that is almost like a little glimpse into the vibrant cuisine of my hometown. The coconut oil, the ginger, garlic, green chillies and curry leaves along with fresh prawns make this dish an absolute delight for anyone craving for a bit of Kerala for lunch or dinner.

Things you will need:

(Serves 3-4)

  • Jumbo Prawns- 18-20 , cleaned, deveined and the tails preferably left on
  • Good quality long grained Basmati rice- 2 cups
  • Water- 4.25 cups
  • Onions- 1 large or 2 medium sized, sliced finely
  • Tomato- 2 small, chopped
  • Ginger- 1 inch stick, julienned (it’s nice to have a little bite of fresh ginger in this dish)
  • Garlic- 4-5 cloves, minced (if you are using the large variety, 2 large cloves will do)
  • Green chillies- 4-5 slit lengthwise
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder- 1 heaped tablespoon
  • Coriander powder- a little less than 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
  • Ground black pepper- ½ teaspoon
  • Juice of half a lime or 1 tablespoon vinegar for the acidity
  • Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
  • Green cardamom- 3 pods
  • Cloves- 3
  • Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
  • Coriander leaves, chopped for garnish
  • Coconut oil- 2 tablespoons
  • Ghee- 1 tablespoon
  • Salt to taste

How to go about it:

  1. First, wash the Basmati rice twice, soak for 10 minutes and strain well. Keep it aside.
  2. Marinate the prawns in a bit of salt and the black pepper. Keep aside.
  3. Place a wok or deep pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves and move it all around for a minute. Next, add the sliced onions and half the curry leaves. Saute the onions well until they are nice and golden brown.
  4. Add the ginger, garlic and green chillies and saute them for 30 seconds. The raw smell must go and the fresh flavour of these ingredients will be released in the hot coconut oil.
  5. Next, add the tomatoes. Give it all a quick mix and keep the wok closed for 2-3 minutes or until the tomatoes soften up and can be mashed with the back of the spatula.
  6. Add the chilli powder, coriander powder and turmeric. Add salt to taste. Fry the spices and the mixture for 2-3 minutes until the mixture darkens in colour and it all begins to look homogeneous. Add the lime juice and mix well.
  7. Next, place the marinated prawns and the remaining curry leaves in the wok and mix well to ensure the masala coats all the prawns evenly. After that, keep the wok closed for 7-9minutes. It is important that the prawns are not overcooked to ensure the best results for this recipe. After 7-9 minutes (or once the prawns are cooked), open the wok and you will see that they are cooked and that they have released some water which is the base flavour in which we’ll be cooking the rice.
  8. Now. Important. With a small spoon, take just the prawns out of the wok. Leave the masala mixture behind. This is to ensure that we don’t over cook them. Keep them aside.
  9. Next, add a tablespoon of ghee to mixture. Mix well. Empty the strained and now dry rice (yes, the raw rice) into the wok and mix well. Please be careful while you mix as the grains of rice will now be brittle because of the soaking. Do it lightly to ensure you don’t break the grains.
  10. In the meantime, bring the water to a rolling boil separately.
  11. The rice must be fried for about 2nminutes or until the grains feel slightly crunchy to the touch.
  12. Add the boiling water and mix well. Increase the heat to a high. Add more salt as required for the entire dish. Stir carefully and allow the rice to cook with the wok kept open. Allow almost all the water to evaporate and there is but a light moisture remaining. The rice will now be al dente. Take the wok off the heat.With the help of a fork, lightly stir up the rice to loosen the grains. DO NOT stir the rice unnecessarily. Just lightly make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  13. Place the cooked prawns on the top of the rice. Sprinkle some freshly chopped coriander leaves on top. Cover the wok and place a heavy weight on top of the lid. I use my mortar and pestle. Allow this to rest on the counter for 20 minutes before serving. This is when the rice cooks completely and the flavours get balanced. So, patience.
  14. Serve warm with raita and pickle. Dig in! 🙂