28 June 2008

What is this?

Can you name these leaves?

I picked these leaves at the market yesterday for their freshness and pretty shape. The vendor didn't help me much with a name in any language I knew. All he said was they tasted sour, which they did as I promptly tasted and tested. I think they'd do well in a salad with other veggies, but my husband thinks they should be ground into a lovely chutney. Can you tell me what these leaves are and how they are used in cooking? This is not a guessing game and all information and suggestions are welcome.

23 June 2008

Cucumber Tomato Sandwich

At every nook and corner of Mumbai you will encounter intense aromas of street food and discover new fusions of flavour and spice at the ever-popular and densely crowded "khau-gullies". It is hard to say which street food is the most popular for there are takers for every kind of food and drink available on the streets. A sandwich stall is probably the most visible street food and the speed at which the sandwich-wallahs dole them to customers is amazing! So sandwich it is with the green chutney, cucumber and tomato for the Street Food edition of Monthly Blog Patrol, hosted by Sia at Monsoon Spice from Nupur's One Hot Stove. Makes a good breakfast too!

For the green chutney:
2 cups coriander leaves
1 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup roughly chopped onion
2 green chillies or more to suit your taste
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
1 tbsp yogurt
1 tsp cumin powder
salt to taste

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend with a little water to get a thick chutney.

For the sandwich:
Softened butter
Green chutney
Sliced cucumber
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced onions (optional)
Boiled and sliced Potato
Boiled and sliced Beetroot(optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheese slices (optional)

Spread softened butter and then green chutney on two slices of bread. Then place some sliced cucumber, tomato, potato, beetroot, onion (use the veggies as per your preference), cheese and top with the other slice of bread. Serve. You may grill it - ofcourse you must! Press lightly and cut into squares and add a drop of tomato ketchup on each square. Mmmm!

11 June 2008

Manga Perukku - A union of Mango and Coconut

During most of our summer school holidays, my sister and I accompanied our grandparents for a vacation to our native village in Kerala. A long train journey through the countryside across five states took us to our destination, reaching in the wee hours of the morning when the rest of the world was fast asleep. We'd wait for the sun to rise before catching a connecting local train to our beautiful, little village, the excitement of our "real" vacation keeping us wide awake. Pacing up and down the platform under the watchful eye of our grandfather, drinking piping hot "Milma" milk, watching the sky slowly change from a dark black to a mellow blue and admiring the blue Western Ghats at a distance before hoping on to the old, steam train, rushing to reserve our window seats. As the train slowly chugged on spewing tiny flecks of coal and lots of smoke, we stuck our noses out of the window grill wide-eyed at the flowers, the greenery, the mangoes and jackfruit. Soon we arrive at our village railway station that is only a flag-post announcing the station name, jumping off onto the cobbled stones that make the platform and unload our luggage, watching the lone other person there - the station master - waving a green flag as the train slowly pulls away. We walk towards our ancestral house, passing by the village pond, my sister and me asking our grandma, if we can bathe there? "Not today, maybe tomorrow", she says. We sight the house, the one with the red hibiscus bush hanging over the walls. As we approach the house, we hold on to our grandparents hands tightly, hearing the dogs bark wildly in the backyard. Our grand-uncle opens the gates for us, with our grand-aunt rushing close behind, welcoming us into the house. After ensuring that the dogs are securely tied up, my sister and I undertake a brave walk through the front yard inhaling the fragrant roses and jasmine of many varieties, discussing if the lone “bubbleemoose” aka pomelo was ripe enough to be eaten. Then we check out the backyard, eyes wide open at the countless mangoes hanging from the trees, counting how many jackfruit we can actually eat before the end of our vacation, watching the coconut plucker climb up expertly, giving the coconuts a firm shake near the ear to test the ones ready to be pulled down and throwing them down to his assistant who husks the coconuts with a sharp knife called “koduvaal”. By this time grand-aunt joins us, giving us a tour of the backyard pointing to the drumsticks, curry leaves, chillies, cheera or amaranth leaves, marachini or tapioca, chena or yam, chembu or colocassia, tamarind….. there is enough growing to make a lovely lunch! (End of Part I....to be continued.)

Maanga perukku is a lovely amalgamation of mango and coconut simmered with a few spices, that I first tasted at my native village. It is served as a side dish for lunch usually paired with rice, curry and a thoran. The mango used in this recipe is an almost ripe mango which imparts a sweet-sour note to the dish. The coconut has to be freshly grated - dessicated coconut will not serve the purpose. It is cooked on a low flame with ground coconut till the flavours of coconut and mango mingle without either flavour dominating the dish. On the whole this dish is sweet, sour and very, very delicious that will have people eating out of your hands!

You'll need:
1 cup mango, skinned and chopped into tooth-like bits
1 cup coconut grated
2 green chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
a sprig of curry leaves
2 dry red chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds
salt to taste
2 spoons curd or buttermilk

In a thick bottomed pan, heat a spoon of oil. Add the mustard, red chillies and curry leaves and let it splutter. Add the mango and 3 tbsp water and let it cook slightly for 2 minutes.

Grind the coconut, cumin seeds and green chillies with very little water to a fine paste. Add this mixture to the mango and let it cook on a slow flame for atleast 10 minutes. Then add the curd or buttermilk and salt and continue to cook it for another five minutes, till all the flavours merge. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The key to this recipe is freshly grated coconut. I'm probably the only soul around here who goes through the process of cracking open a coconut and grating it on a chirava. I do occasionaly buy freshly grated coconut from supermarkets but strongly believe that those grating-machines haven't been washed in eons!

This post goes off to:

Click: Yellow for Bri (Read more about it here)

Meeta's Monthly Mingle#23 - Mango Mania

AFAM - Coconut hosted this month at Suganya's Tasty Palettes

10 June 2008

Kesar Malai Kulfi

He perches himself at the street corner, mostly sheltered under a tree, dressed in white kurta-dhoti and fanning himself with his pinkish-red scarf. As the evening turns into dusk, it's business as usual as he pulls out a tiny aluminium kulfi mould from his ice-box, expertly snaps off the lid, pushes in a stick, scoops out the kulfi in perfect shape and hands it over to the impatient customer in exchange for a few coins. More customers approach his "stall" demanding assorted flavours of kulfi which he deftly hands out as cones or serving them sliced on tiny steel plates with toothpicks as cutlery, his till jingling with coins all the while. It's peak business season for him from summer through the monsoons. Finally the last customers have gone and it is late at night. He picks his icebox and walks through the streets shouting "Kulfiwale....kulfeeeeeee". More children and adults gather and he sells them the last of his wares before he wraps up for the day.

Kulfi is an exquisite Indian icecream with a rich and creamy texture. Unlike a typical icecream which is whipped till airy, kulfi is dense and solid in form. It is prepared by boiling down whole milk till it reduces to one-third of its original volume, adding sugar and some thickening agent and incorporating the desired flavour and freezing it. Mumbai is famous for it's kulfiwalas or kulfi vendors who are sighted at street corners, beach sides or khau-gallies. Kulfi is available in several flavours like malai/cream, rose, pista, kesar/saffron, chocolate, mango, strawberry, chickoo etc. It is sometimes served in a clay pot as matka kulfi. At weddings, kulfi is paired with rabadi or falooda or fresh fruit or malpua etc.
Kesar Malai Kulfi

You'll need:

5 cups whole milk
1 can(400 gms) sweetened condensed milk - I used Milkmaid
2 level tbsp cornflour
a pinch of cardamom powder
a pinch of saffron strands
a handful of skinned and sliced almonds

Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the condensed milk to it and stir continuously till it reduces. Add the saffron strands and let it boil for 5 more minutes. Mix cornflour in a little milk or water at room temperature and add it to the boiling milk. When the milk starts to thicken, add the cardamon and almonds and mix well. Take off from flame and pour into kulfi moulds or a container with a tight-fitting lid. When cool, place the moulds or container in the freezer and let it set for 5-7 hours atleast. Serve as such or with dry fruits or chopped fresh fruit.

Related Posts:
Strawberry Icecream
Watermelon Icecream

Palada Payasam