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Kerala Style Beef Cutlets

Kerala Style Beef Cutlets

Anjali Venugopal October 23, 2017 2 COMMENTS

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I doubt there’d be any true Malayali whose eyes would not twinkle at the mention of the word “cutlet” and I am no exception. Cutlets crept into our staple diet long before we knew it. Especially on a cold, rainy day, there is indeed nothing more comforting that a couple of piping hot meat cutlets and maybe a pot of hot tea if you please.

Last night, I spent some time catching up with an old friend and a fair share of the conversation was about the amazing beef cutlets that were served in our school canteen. The St. Thomas school canteen is (with very good reason) known for the incredible food it serves. Be it the hot, spicy beef curry that would give any thattu kada (the local food shacks in Kerala) in the city a run for its money, or the warm beef cutlets the Santhomites gorged on, wrapped in parottas (a trend that is supposed to have originated and promptly stayed within our school campus boundaries), or even the regular oonu (the regular, fuss free meal served in Kerala)  that was served ever so lovingly in our school canteen; food that we all took for granted for all the years we spent there and the food, the thoughts about which, brought serious pangs of nostalgia when we learnt what default hostel canteen food was supposed to taste like. Yikes!

Other memories I associate with the good old beef/chicken cutlet (veggie cutlets are sacrilegious just the way veg biryani is) is from the days I would stop by the neighbourhood bakery, right after school before heading to my math tuition. Amma would have given me about 20 bucks to spend on a snack, just so that I would fidget less while I tried to keep myself from banging my head against the wall, while the teacher went on relentlessly about the god forsaken differential equations or that integration. Let me not deviate. The sole motivation for my heading to that horrid math class was what the yummy beef cutlets in that tiny bakery lent.

Even to date, when I make a visit back home, Amma always makes it a point to either make a batch of yummy beef cutlets for me or at least take me for a visit to Supreme Bakers (arguably the best in Trivandrum) so that I can roam around like a wide eyed 5 year old who wants every single thing the shop has to sell. This should give you a decent idea about what cutlets mean to me. So I felt it was only justified if I had my own recipe for this wondrous creation. Well, this is my grandmum’s recipe which I have only as much as tweaked, a slight bit. So here goes.

Things you will need for about 20 medium sized cutlets:

  • Beef- 700 gms
  • Potato- 1 medium-large (boiled and mashed well)
  • Onion- 1 large chopped finely
  • Green chillies- 5-6 chopped finely
  • Ginger- 2 inch stick chopped finely
  • Crushed whole peppercorns
  • Garam masala- 1 tsp
  • Currly leaves
  • Egg- 1 beaten
  • Breadcrumbs- 1 cup
  • Oil for deep frying

How to go about it:

  1. In a pressure cooker, cook the beef thoroughly with about 2 teaspoons of the crushed pepper, a little less than half a glass of water, salt to taste and half of the ginger. Once cooked well, allow it to cool for a bit and run the meat through a food processor to mince it well. A regular mixer grinder will also do. Keep that aside.img_0676
  2. Next, in a wok, heat some cooking oil, sauté the onions until they begin to turn brown. Add the garam masala, green chilies, the curry leaves and the remaining ginger and keep sautéing for another 2-3 minutes.img_0675
  3. Add the cooked beef to the wok and mix well and sauté until all the water content is lost. Add more salt if required.img_0677
  4. Let the mixture cool. Then, add the mashed potatoes to the mixture and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  5. Make small balls of the mixture, depending on how large you want the cutlets to be. You can either let me remain as balls, or you can flatten the balls slightly with the palm of your hand the way I did itimg_0678
  6. Dip each of them into an egg wash and then promptly put in a bowl of breadcrumbs to make a coating all over.img_0679
  7. Deep fry the cutlets in oil until both the sides are nice and brown and serve hot with ketchup.img_0564

Note: these cutlets after coated with the breadcrumbs stay well in the freezer for a month easily. You can make a big batch and leave them in the freezer, frying them as and when you need them.

Homemade Kerala Parottas!

Homemade Kerala Parottas!

Anjali Venugopal June 9, 2017 NO COMMENTS

IMG_4983It is a lovely, sunny afternoon with a cool breeze in the hipster part of Vienna, and here I am sipping on a large mug of wheat beer with just the right amount of froth, on a Thursday while I sit down in this little nook, by the cobbled by-lanes of this dreamy city, under the blue skies, to work on the blog; one of the many luxuries a part time legal career offers you and something that ensures that my sanity (or the lack of it) stays put. As I look around, I see tourists in pretty, flowery outfits and seemingly over-the-top sunglasses, scaling the old architecture in this part of the city; grumpy looking women on their way back home with what looks like full bags of groceries; lovers reuniting in a tight embrace; over excited kids on their scooters whizzing by (and I cannot help but say a prayer that they get back to their respective homes in one piece); immaculately dressed women in their early thirties (I assume) observing intently the paintings and some exquisite art (which is right out of the boundaries of my comprehension), exhibited in the circle about 30 meters from the spot I have decided to call my own. I must admit at this point that I have always been quite fascinated (bordering on suspicious) by people who call themselves connoisseurs of modern art, jazz and wine. Maybe they know, maybe they don’t, who am I to tell? I will laugh (in my head, of course) and laugh, I will.

Let me get to what I came here for, before the beer kicks in. So, today I have finally decided to put out my post on Kerala Parottas. The one thing, with the blasphemous accompaniment of beef fry, that can get you lynched in almost every other part of India except my own. But as they say in the recent release in Malayalam Cinema, Godha, Parotta and Beef roast/fry is not something trivial for a true bred Malayali like me; it is an emotion (check the scene out here); an emotion that got injected into my veins a long time before I knew it; an emotion that takes me back, thousands of miles away to that green speck in the globe where I was born, raised and taught to love unconditionally without giving as much as a thought to trifling matters such as religion, political affiliation or food preferences; an emotion that takes me back to the times in my childhood when I have sat in the back seat of the car with my sister, and my mom who called shot gun even before I was born.

Another sip of this beautiful beer gets me reminiscing and takes me back straight to the backseat of our Ford Ikon which has seen me wave vigorously at strangers in fits of excitement and laughter that overcame me during our family trips to Munnar, as well as when the tears fell silently down my cheeks at 16, like little streams that flowed past the lush green in the mountains, when my dad passed his verdict on the boy I thought I had then given my heart to. Ah how we grow up! Anyway. I vividly remember the times I have spent in that very seat, with my mom and sister waiting for my dad to bring back that packet; the packet that smelled as though the heavens had descended; that packet which could make even a statue purr in delight; hot parottas and right-off-the-stove beef roast. While we waited in the car, we have stared endlessly at the art and the dexterity with which the chettan at the roadside stall slapped the parotta dough against the steel coated table, kneading it with so much love, not once questioning his liberal use of cooking oil, flattening the dough with so much skill that made our jaws drop to the ground. That is probably when that emotion called ‘Parotta’ got kindled somewhere in the left side of my chest.

So, getting down to business. Today, I share with you that one recipe which took me ages to pen down, primarily because of the confusion created in the process of fixing my amateur video. However, I have gathered all the courage in me to get it sorted and to let out to the world the fact that Kerala Parottas are doable at home; within the confines of your own kitchen; unsupervised. Also, I used Rapeseed oil which has the least saturated fat among all oils, quite contrary to the popular belief that Kerala Parottas are oily and supremely unhealthy. I wouldn’t call this healthy under any circumstances, however, that is not what a pure blood Mallu aims at while deciding to go for these beauties. So, here you go.

Things you will need: (for about 8-10 medium sized parottas)

  • Maida/ All purpose flour- 1.5 cups
  • Cooking oil
  • Salt
  • Sugar

How to go about it

  1. First step towards Kerala Parottas is to make a soft dough. Add about half a teaspoon of salt and about the same quantity of sugar to the flour along with about two tablespoons of oil to the flour. Add water little by little and then knead it to form a soft ball. This step is super important and you need to ensure that the dough is kneaded well and there are no cracks visible on the surface of the ball of flour. Take your time with this step. I kneaded the ball for about a full 10 minutes.
  2. Once this is done, cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes. No concessions there. Sorry.
  3. The next step would be to make small, even balls of the dough. Make balls that are about 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. No, you do not need to fetch the rule for this purpose, it is merely an approximate.
  4. Knead the dough balls well for a minute each. Set them aside for another five minutes.
  5. The next step is to flatten the balls out to form disks that are about five inches in diameter. Basically, all you need to do is to flatten them out with your hand to form circular looking discs. As you make each disc, make sure you brush sufficient oil to each of them before stacking them up together. This will make sure that the discs do not stick to one another. Once the discs are stacked up, let them rest for another 10 minutes.
  6. The next step is the crucial one. Now that you have left the discs to rest, they will spread out easily which is what needs to be done. So, take one disc at a time, lay it out on a flat, clean surface and start spreading it out by pulling the edges. It will now easily spread to form a thin sheet and you need to pull it from all sides in order to spread it out evenly.
  7. Gather the spread out dough from one side, so it resembles a handkerchief that is being held from one corner, and place the dough on your free palm as a spiral.
  8. Once the spirals have been made, brush a little bit of oil on them before you let them rest for another 5 minutes.
  9. Next, flatten the spirals out with your hand to make the parottas.
  10. Heat a tawa/pan up, brush some cooking oil on it, and place the parottas on it. Each side would need to cook for about two minutes. Once the parottas start getting that lovely, brown colour, take them off the tawa/pan.
  11. Once all the parottas have been cooked, stack them up again, and then clap your hands after keeping the stack in between. Please check video if this step is unclear. This is to hep in fluffing the parottas out, and again a crucial step.
  12. Your fluffy parottas are now ready to be served hot with a delicious beef roast, the recipe for which is available right here 🙂

And in case all of that sounds too dense, the video I have put together is below (it is sped up, but very amateur work, so do bear with my lack of skill :P):

[wpvideo 1O3Qbarp]

Kerala Beef Roast

Kerala Beef Roast

Anjali Venugopal April 28, 2017 NO COMMENTS

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It’s a cold, cold day in Vienna. We even had a snow shower this morning and all this in the middle of April when it is supposed to be bright, sunny with all the flora in full bloom, occasional showers here and there and all things happy which we associate with Spring. However no, Vienna chose to play a wet blanket this week and I can’t offer any prizes for guessing that all I would want right now is a warm, cozy blanket, a mug of hot cocoa (with maybe a few marshmallows) and a good book to take me to another world. But responsibilities, responsibilities.
As I sit back, trying to focus on my to-do list for the day, I can feel my mind wandering away to the good old days, a little less than 2 decades ago, when I would spend most of my holidays in bed, reading. Apart from the frequent visits I made to the refrigerator to replenish the chocolate bars I kept munching on or to the kitchen to refill the tall glasses with more lemonade infused with dried ginger, I don’t think I ever moved from under that large worn out blanket I still hold dear. My dad made it a point to buy me books from every city he visited on work. Most of my birthday gifts, if not all, have been books. My dad was the one who introduced me to the magical world of Harry Potter before it became the life blood of my contemporaries. I remember re-reading the Enid Blyton books so many times that I can still recall the food spread on the table, complete with the large jug of warm, creamy milk, fresh from the dairy, Philip and Dinah were welcomed with, on their first trip to the farmhouse nestled in the Welsh mountains. There was something in the books that I read and re-read countless number of times, that instilled that yearning that continues to draw me to the countryside.
Among the various compartments I have meticulously segregated in my memory for all the places that have pulled at the strings of my heart, the people who have walked in and out of my life, the food I have relished, the scents I have known and the lessons I have learned, the fondest compartment would be the one where I have saved all my memories from my innumerable trips to the Munnar, the upper middle class version of the Welsh mountains for a Malayali like me. In fact, as far as my family is concerned, there is much more to Munnar than just being a summer holiday getaway. My dad was born and raised there, among the trees and the flowers, the woods and the brooks. He lived and breathed the mountain air. Needless to mention at this point that the emotion called Munnar was injected into my veins long before I knew it.
Even today, as I sit thousands of miles away from the nook that saw our little family drive through the narrow, winding mountain roads, scale the mountains covered in the majestic green velvet woven by the tea leaves, sit on the rocks by the stone chapel counting the tulips by the stone graves, all I need to do is just close my eyes and I can feel the cold mountain breeze on my nose; the scent of freshly cut tea leaves stronger than ever before and the cool of the pristine water lashing against those round pebbles as I gently put my bare feet into that shallow brook by the woods. I go back to those clear, starry nights the four of us spent huddled around the fire talking about everything the sun shines on, laughing till we cried, singing odd Mohammed Rafi numbers, pulling each other’s legs. I go back to the incredible mashed yam and hot meat curry served in old rundown shacks in the mountains; to the scent of the fresh cardamom and ginger boiling in the tea served in the village in those tiny glasses made of steel.
The recipe that I share with you today, is one that reminds me of my trips to the mountains; the traditional Kerala style beef roast. Although this is quite a staple dish in Kerala, the memories I have attached to the exotic flavor of the whole spices and the heat from the red chillies are from the time I savored this spicy meat curry from one of the shacks on the wayside in Munnar. The taste of this dish from back then still lingers on my palate and without further ado I shall get in to how it is done.
Things you will need:
1. Beef- 500 gms chopped into small bite sized pieces
2. Onions- 2 large finely sliced
3. Tomatoes- 2 large chopped
4. Ginger- 2 inch stick
5. Garlic- about 10 pods, you can afford to be liberal here
6. Red chili powder- 1 tbsp
7. Coriander powder- 2 tbsp
8. Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
9. Ground peppercorns (powder)- 1 heaped tsp
10. Garam Masala powder- 1 tsp
11. Cloves- 6
12. Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
13. Bay leaf- 1
14. Star Anise- 1
15. Vinegar- 1 tbsp
16. Cooking oil
17. Curry leaves, mustard seeds and dried red chilies for tempering

How to go about it:
1. Heat some cooking oil in a deep wok and temper the mustard seeds and the dried red chilies. Keep the curry leaves for later. Add the whole spices (cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf and star anise) to the oil and let them release their aromas.
2. Add the finely sliced onions to the wok and sauté for a good ten minute or until the onions turn a lovely golden brown. This step is indeed important. Don’t be lazy, keep sautéing. You could add salt to the onions to make sure they brown faster.
3. Grind the ginger and the garlic to form a rough paste. Add this to the onions. Mix well and keep sautéing. Scrape the bottom of the pan as ginger garlic paste has a tendency to stick to the bottom of a hot pan. Add a bit more oil if you feel it is too dry.
4. At this stage, add the chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Keep the wok closed for about 1 minute to make sure the tomatoes are soft and cooked well. Add the powders and the vinegar at this point, mix well and keep sautéing till the oil starts to leave from the sides and the mixture begins to look homogenous, as opposed to the onions and tomato pieces floating around.
5. Add the beef pieces and mix very well. After that, transfer to a pressure cooker and cook for about 6 whistles on a medium flame or until the meat the cooked thoroughly.
6. Once the beef is done cooking, transfer the meat with the gravy back into the wok and leave it on the stove on high heat to get the water to evaporate and the gravy to thicken. Add the curry leaves at this point.
7. Allow the gravy to thicken while stirring occasionally until you achieve a semi dry, rich consistency.
8. Add a spoon of oil, fry up the meat and the lovely thick gravy nicely, one last time and your Kerala beef roast is ready! 🙂

Beef Stroganoff- the tame Russian

Beef Stroganoff- the tame Russian

Anjali Venugopal July 8, 2016 NO COMMENTS

I just realised that I have not been keeping up with the initial plan of a recipe a week and that there are quite a few recipes that were promised before I absconded. Well, the last two weeks have been rather crammed with all the wedding prep. There have been days when I even considered moving in with the tailor.

Okay, let’s not venture into the wedding stories. Today, I share with you the recipe to one of my all time favourites- Beef Stroganoff. This is the kind of dish you’d crave for on a cold, rainy day. As  they say, food is supposed to bring back memories; of childhood, of love lost and found, of people, of places, of insignificant evenings at your granny’s knee listening to her ramblings of her childhood, of simpler times. Food is something that should appeal to all your senses. In other words it should bring unadulterated happiness. It is meant to fill your soul and not just your tummy. A line that really pulled at the chords of my heart was one from a popular Malayalam movie, Ustaad Hotel. The line roughly translates to mean this: “It is not difficult to fill stomachs; the real deal is to be able to fill souls.” So beautifully captured.

This dish is one that I have dreamt of as a child, which was long before I actually had a chance to taste this originally Russian goddess. I still have etched in my compartment for the fondest of memories, a (then) Czechoslovakian folk tale that my dad read to me when I was about 6 or 7; the Nail Soup. The story was about this little soup a poor couple made out of a nail (yeah :-|) and all the ingredients they could get their hands on. Crisp carrots, broccoli, corn, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, juicy meat.. you name it, the soup had it. In my head, the soup that they made tasted a lot like our dish today. 😀 And yes, I inherit the passion and love for food and all things meat, specifically red meat, from my dad. Haha

I have lost count of the number of places I have tried the Stroganoff at. I am one of the biggest fans of of red meat and after Venison, Beef would certainly be my pick; to cook and to eat. Out of the few Stroganoffs my taste buds shortlisted, as odd as it may sound, I would gladly pick the Stroganoff served at Plan-B on Residency Road in Bangalore. This endearing little place has always welcomed me with open arms and hands holding mugs of chilled draught beer. Being the carnivore that I am, the food at Plan-B has invariably left me impressed and my tummy satiated. So well, the point being, my aim when I made this recipe was to mimic that beautiful buttery flavour that I got from the Stroganoff served at Plan-B. So try this out, and see for yourself.

Things you will need:

  • Beef (chopped into small pieces)- 1 kg
  • Onions (medium sized)- 2
  • Mushrooms- 100 gms or more if you prefer
  • Green chilly (strictly optional)- 2 slit vertically
  • Bell peppers- 3 (I used red, yellow and green for visual effects :P)
  • Pepper- ¾ tablespoon
  • All purpose flour- 1 ½ tablespoons
  • Butter (salted)- to sauté
  • Salt- to taste

 

How to go about it:

Step 1: The first step would be to pressure cook the beef with salt, the pepper and the green chillies. Make sure you add about 1/3 a glass of water to it, so that we get enough broth. Beef has quite a bit of water content so, you do not need to add more water than this. Allow the pressure cooker to make at least 4 to 5 whistles.

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Step 2: After that is done, the next step would be to to separate the beef pieces from the broth. You could use a strainer for this. Keep the stalk aside.

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Step 3: Sauté the beef pieces in butter till they are nice and brown. Post which, you would want to sauté the onions, the mushrooms and the bell peppers (all separately) again, in butter. I suggest you use salted butter for this. The vegetables don’t need to be overcooked, so you’ll need to sauté them for a maximum of 2 to 3 minutes each. All you need to ensure is that they catch the lovely, warm, buttery flavour.

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Step 4: Add the beef broth to all the vegetables in a wok and stir.

Step 5: As the vegetables in the broth are heating up, add the all purpose flour and mix thoroughly to ensure there are no lumps formed. The mixture will start to look nice and thick and creamy.

Step 6: Add the browned pieces of beef to the wok, mix thoroughly and keep the wok closed and on low heat for about 20 minutes.

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Your Beef Stroganoff, (my way :P) is now ready. I have read and have also been told that some people tend to use sour cream to their Stroganoffs. Maybe I’ll give that a shot but that is for another day. I served it on a bed of hot white rice and we loved it! It goes beautifully well with soft, warm bread too. Try it out and as always, do let me know. You have no idea how happy your feedback makes me, not to mention the encouragement.

Cheers peeps! 🙂