Drinks, Everyday Simple Recipes, Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Chukku Kaapi (Dry Ginger Coffee)

Sitting snuggled up in your sofa, warm and cozy, watching the drizzle with a steaming cup of coffee in your hand; something all of us wanna do during monsoons. Imagine the coffee had a very interesting twist! Chukku kaapi (dry ginger coffee) is the perfect example of a spicy coffee that can tickle all the taste buds in your tongue.

Ingredients:
Dry ginger (crushed): 1 piece
Jaggery: 1 rectangular piece (as needed)
Tulsi leaves – 4-5
Peppercorns (crushed) – 1/2 tsp
Elaichi (crushed) – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1 glass
Coffee powder: 1/2 tsp (optional)

Method:

Boil the glass of water and melt jaggery in it. Add the dry ginger, tulsi leaves, peppercorns, coffee powder, and elaichi and let it boil for 2 minutes. Strain and serve piping hot.

This concoction tastes as good or better even without the coffee powder. So those of you who are conscious of caffeine intake can do away with the coffee powder.

Gently sip in and the sweetness hits you first. As you gulp it down the throat, the heat and spiciness hits you! Thats why it’s a coffee with an interesting twist. Gives you good relief if you have a sore throat and blocked nose. Do give it a try before the monsoons fade away.

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Festival Recipes, Kerala Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Sharkara Varattti (Jaggery-coated Banana Chips)

Mildly spiced sweet chips synonymous with Onam, an indispensable item in sadya (feast).

Sweet and salted banana chips

IngredientsIngredients:
Raw plantains (large) – 5 Nos
Jaggery (Sharkkara/achu vellam) – 10 Nos (2 pieces of jaggery per plantain)
Cardamom (Elakkai, elaichi) – 5 nos
Dry ginger powder (soonth, chukku) – 1 tbsp
Coconut oil – 250 gm
Sugar – 2-3 tbsp
Water – enough to immerse the plantains

Raw plantains

Preparation Time: 30 mins.
Cooking Time: 30 mins.

Sliced raw plantainMethod:
Peel the skin of the plantains and put them in water. Peeling will become easier if you make 3 or 4 vertical cuts on the plantain peel. Keep the plantains immersed in water for around half an hour. Drain the water and pat dry the plantains. While holding the plantain vertically, cut the middle splitting the plantain into two long pieces and then cut into quarter inch sized pieces.

Deep fried raw plantain piecesHeat oil in a wide pan (preferably uruli, brass vessel). Bring it to boil. Put the plantain pieces into the boiling oil. You need to stir them continuously the first minute to keep them from sticking to each other. Cook in medium to low fire until the pieces start turning brown. If the pieces are not properly cooked/crisp, the chips will be soggy. So have patience to cook the pieces until they are crisp. Remove the pieces from the oil using a strainer and spread them on tissue paper to absorb excess oil. Keep aside.

Dissolve jaggery in water and bring this to a boil. When the boil settles down and the mixture becomes thick (one-string consistency), add the fried plantain pieces and keep stirring. You can be sure that the consistency is right if you see thin jaggery threads forming while you stir the fried plantain pieces. Add powdered cardamom and dry ginger powder and mix well. After a minute or so, sprinkle the sugar and stir well. Like magic, you will see the wet and sticky jaggery syrup turning dry and the pieces separating. Voila, it’s ready!

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Trivia:
This is preparation unique to Kerala. Sharkara varatti is a must for wedding feasts and all types of feasts. I have noticed that it is very popular even among non-keralites. Try it and you will know why.

To those of you who are wondering how different a plantain is from a banana, click here.

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Dals/OzhichuKootaan/Saaru, Everyday Simple Recipes, Indian, Kerala Recipes

Manga Pulissery (Ripe Mango Yoghurt Curry)

Sweet, salty, sour, spicy..a little bit of every taste to tickle your tongue. A curry that is a concoction of unique tastes…

Mango Pulissery

MangoIngredients:

Ripe mango, cut into small pieces – 2
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Water – 1 cup
Thick yogurt/curds – 2 cups
Salt to taste

 

For gravy:

Grated coconut – 1 cup
Jeera / cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Green chilies – 3

 

For seasoning/tadka:

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds/methi seeds/uluva – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilies – 2
Curry leaves – 2 stalks
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
 
Preparation Time: 10 mins.
Cooking Time: 15 mins.

Method:
Mango and beaten curdPeel the mangoes and cut them into small pieces. In a vessel, put the mango pieces, add one cup of water. Add red chilly powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Cook for 5 mins until the mangoes are soft. Mash the mango pieces. Grind all the ingredients in the For gravy section into a fine paste. Add this paste to the cooked mango pieces. Stir and cook for 3 mins. Add one stalk of curry leaves and turn off the stove. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. When they splutter, add red chilies and remaining curry leaves. Beat the curds into a smooth paste to avoid lumps. Add this to the curry. Stir well. Do not add the curd when the curry is very hot.

Caution:

Do not add the beaten curds when the curry is very hot. This will curdle it.

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List of accompaniments:
Tastes great with rice.

Health Benefits/Alerts:
This yummy dish is a Kerala specialty. Its a seasonal delicacy and popular in the summer, which is the mango season. Some body types have problem with mango because it generates heat. The curd in this curry balances out the heat of the mango.

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Kerala Recipes, South Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Jackfruit Jam (Chakka Varatti)

A preparation unique to Kerala; it can be used as jam or magically transformed to various sweet delicacies. The king of all jams!

Ingredients:
Ripe jackfruit pieces – 1 kg
Jaggery – ½ kg
Water – 1 glass (medium)

Preparation Time: 1 hr.

Cooking Time: 2 hrs.

Method:

Remove the seeds from the jackfruit and cut the fruit into pieces. Pour 2 glasses of water (enough to build steam to cook the fruit) in the pressure cooker and keep the vessel containing jackfruit in it. Cook the pieces till soft; two or three whistles should be enough. Do not add water to the jackfruit. Cool the jackfruit pieces and grind to a smooth paste in a mixer. Jackfruits vary in texture. Some get easily mashed with cooking but some don’t.

Dissolve the jaggery in warm water. Filter if necessary to remove any dirt or stones. Place a thick-bottomed vessel (preferably uruli) on fire and pour the melted jaggery. Let it come to boil. Add the ground jackfruit paste into the jaggery. Mix thoroughly and remove lumps if any. Keep stirring. Cook this mixture on medium-low heat till the water is reduced.

For longer shelf-life, keep the mixture on fire till the jam is really thick. You can add things such as ghee, grated coconut, dry ginger powder, cardamom powder etc. I prefer not adding anything to the jam. These additions can be done while making different dishes using this jam.

Storage:

Empty into a dry, air-tight container and refrigerate. Take out small portions when needed.

Caution:

This is definitely not for the impatient. The mixture bubbles a lot and splashes before solidifying and this can cause burns on your skin. So be very careful while making this. But trust me the taste is worth the effort.

List of accompaniments:

Tastes great with bread, roti or parathas. You can make a wide variety of absolutely delicious and irresistible dishes using this jam, like elai ada (pan poli), payasam, sweet idli etc and many others. I will be posting some of these very soon.

Health Benefits/Alerts:

Jackfruit is a very good source of potassium and good source of vitamin C. Potassium rich in jackfruit helps in regulating blood pressure. The fruit also has anti-cancer, antihypertensive, anti-ageing, antioxidant, and anti-ulcer properties.

Banter:

Cut jackfruit

Summer brings with it loads of ‘sweet’ memories of cuckoos, festivals, temple bells, chenda melam (drums) at distant fields, all laden with the smell of jackfruit. Jackfruit is my favorite fruit and if I had my way, I would have asked God to make them available in plenty all year round. The smell, the juiciness, and the taste of jackfruit is so thoroughly irresistible to me.

When i was 3, my father bought our house in the village named Thekkegramam or The South Village. Next to the bedroom there was a huge jackfruit tree. The tree had not borne any fruit until the time we moved in. That year, the tree produced not less than 50 fruits. My strong craving for jackfruit began there.

Orange JackFSince then it has been a cause of envy of every person who passes through our street. Every jackfruit season, we are thronged by requests for the fruit by neighbors as well as strangers. And the tree bears enough to keep everyone satiated.

I now live in a city where jackfruit is available only in limited places, and yet every summer I venture to far away places hunting for my favorite fruit. Where to find some? Keep roaming in the vegetable markets till the unique smell hits you…

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