Beef Roast (Goan Style)

I had a few friends over for dinner over the last weekend. The menu preference was pretty simple, Sorpotel and Sanna.

While extolling the virtues of the sorpotel and the provenance of the slain pig, one of my friends asked the question that would have pricked the heart of any Mangalorean, “What’s better  Goan  Cuisine or Mangalorean cuisine”? All eyes turned to me… I felt as if the answer to world peace lay in what I was to reply.

Was there ever something we called “Goan Cuisine”?  I wondered. Lots of fish, beef and pork, I’d presume. Vegetables? Could be..  I had always been seen as the preacher ultimate for Mangalorean cuisine and now I was to explain something that I always thought had been derived from us Mangloreans..I did check, a couple of Google pages and a few phone calls later I had my answer. Well, more or less…

From a bird’s eye view, it would be easy to believe that Goan cuisine begins and ends with sorpotels, vindaloos and balchaos; thankfully, it doesn’t end there. There’s a lot and more to be explored. Classified as Goan Hindu and Goan Christian it largely deriving largely from the influences of their erstwhile colonial masters, the Portuguese. All you need to do is visit Goa, and allow your nose to lead to a myriad of flavors of a cuisine that is complex and intriguing but something that needs to be cherished and loved.

To be honest, you would be hard pressed to find a restaurant that serves an authentic Goan meal. The kinds that would remind you of mum and of home. Like in Mangalore, the recipes are handed down from generation to generation and in the constant danger of being lost in the  quickly spinning wheel of time.

The question for me then was what dish do I prepare for the post. I didn’t need to search long and hard. My mum quickly gave me a recipe she’s aced and perfected for almost a decade now. I remember having this Beef Roast even as a kid. It’s not quite like a dry roast, not really a gravy but somewhere in between. The best thing is that it’s pretty easy to make and the only time it really take is for the marinating. So, this is something my mum made and like a good student I watched and made notes while she expertly went about her chores. When she finally opened the pressure cooker there was an explosion of flavours that would make any food lover go weak kneed.

As we were at the table, my mum did give a small tip we could use for all recipes- to make a perfect dish pay attention to all the ingredients, but don’t forget the huge scoop of love that you will need to add the very beginning.

GSBR

Goan Style Beef 

  • 500 grams beef (preferably 1 large piece)
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • 3 large red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon, red chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon, turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons, coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoons, cumin powder
  • 2 tablespoons, crushed pepper
  • 1 tablespoon, garam masala powder
  • 60 ml, Goan Vinegar (or any vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 100 ml water (or more as may be required to cook the meat)

Procedure:

  • Wash the meat well and pat it dry. Do not cut the meat at this point.
  • Use a fork and gently prick the meat on all sides. Now, rub the spice powders, salt and vinegar all over the meat. Keep aside for at least 3-4 hours; if you can keep it overnight, better.
  • Once the marination time is up, take out the meat and cut it into 1 inch cubes.
  • Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add the red chillies and potato cubes and cook for a while
  • When the chillies begin to crackle add the meat and give it a stir. Add the water, some salt only if required and close the lid of the pressure cooker and allow it to cook for about 30 minutes. Please note that cooking time may differ, depending on the quality of meat.
  • Serve hot

Coastal Style Fish Biryani

If ever there was a dish that unites and divides us Indians it is the Biryani. Rarely in the history of mankind has dish, not native to the land, come in a made a place for itself in the heart of its people. We all know that biryani came to India courtesy the Mughals. Today, centuries after Mughals have long gone, the Biryani still continues to rules our hearts and palletes. I have often wondered what is so unique about this combination of rice and meat. The answer is simple. Across the length and breadth of this country, the biryani has integrated with the local flavours and suited tastes. You will not find a similar biryani anywhere in the country. So, while on one hand you have the gentler, more of  meat, oil based ones in the north, Lucknow to be precise where it is known as the “Pakki (fully cooked) Biryani”.  The cooking process here involves cooking the marinated meat and rice separately and then layering it together and cooking it on dum (steam). You then have the larger than life, biryani from Hyderabad where you would come across the “Kachchi (raw) Biryani”. Here, the rice (which is cooked al-dente) and meat are layered together and then given a dum. Move eastwards, towards Kolkatta and you will find the Kolkatta styled biryani, easy on the spice, generous helping of potatoes and with a lower proportion of meat.  Here, the biryani will be more often than not be accompanied by the chap or rezaala. In, Mumbai, on the west coast you have the spicier variety with varying degrees of meat and rice to suit the Mumbai taste. 

The true test of a biryani is how the rice is cooked. It is essential to keep a hawk eye on the rice while it is being cooked. The usual method is to cook it till it is about three-fourths done and done while it cooks on dum, you have each grain proudly standing out, vying for attention and wanting to tell you a story. The meat is usually marinated in curds before cooking. This forms the perfect bite when you take in a morsel of rice, covered in the masala and then melt in the mouth meat. Truly, this is a moment  that needs to be savoured.

Usually, when there is talk of a biryani, the combination is usually that of rice and meat. You would not associate something as delicate as fish with such an elaborate method of cooking. While I was discussing with a friend the other day the concept of a fish biryani, he joked that fish biryani would probably have been invented in a coastal area like Kerala or Goa. I so wanted to add Mangalore to the list, for obvious reasons you see. Some research and bit of experimentation, I finally cracked the code to a fish biryani; what I also managed to do was integrate into it some coastal flavors. Usually, curd is used to marinate the meat and as a base for the gravy. I substituted  the curds with another coastal staple, coconut milk. The end result was a creamy and sturdier gravy. The coconut milk also helped balance the spice giving it a nice even taste. Another change I made was not marinating but gently frying the fish. That helps to give the fish a slightly firmer texture that helped when cooking the fish in the gravy.

In all earnest, which ever biryani works for you, the best thing to do is go through the entire process of cooking the biryani, whilst doing so savour the aroma and once done, dig in and enjoy a meal fit for royalty.

Coastal Styled FIsh Biryani1

Coastal Styled Fish Biryani

Ingredients

For the rice

  • 2 cups long grained rice
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 1 Inch cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  • 3-cloves
  • 3-4 pepper corns
  • 1 black cardamon
  • salt to taste
  • A pinch of orange food colouring mixed with 20 ml water or milk.

For the Biryani Masala

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped (Increase the quantity if you want it spicier) 
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste 
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 tablespoons Biryani Masala Powder (I used Everest Biryani Masala) 
  • 1 tablespoon tumeric powder (haldi) 
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala powder 
  • large tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 200 ml thick coconut milk
  • 1 large bunch of corriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Bundle of Mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • Oil for frying
  • Salt to taste

Grind to a paste

  • 1 cup coriander leaves
  • 1 bunch mint leaves
  • 10  cloves garlic
  • 2 green chillies (adjust to taste)
  • 3-4 pepper corns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander leaves 

For frying the fish:

  • 5 pieces of any firm fleshed fish (I used kingfish)
  • plain red chilli powder to taste 
  • turmeric powder
  • Juice of one lime 
  • salt
  • Oil for frying

For the Garnishing

  • 2 large onions, sliced finely
  • 10-15 cashews, slivered
  • 5-10 almonds, slivered
  • 10 -12 raisins
  • Ghee/ Oil to fry
  • Few Mint leaves
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • Salt

Procedure:

To prepare the fish:

  • Wash the fish and pat it dry.
  • Add the lime juice, salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder to the fish and rub well. Keep aside for an hour or so.
  • Now, heat oil in a pan and fry the marinated fish for about 3 minutes a side. You don’t need to entirely cook the dish at this stage.
  • Once done, remove and drain on absorbent paper and keep aside.

To prepare the rice:

  • Heat 4 cups of water in a large vessel and bring to a boil. Tie the whole masala in a small muslin cloth and drop in the boiling water.
  • Soak the rice in water for about 15 minutes. Then wash under running water till the water runs clear.
  • Add the rice to the boiling water and cook for sometime till you see fluffy grains of rice. Don’t stir the rice at this time since you may end up breaking the grains. Add salt and cook till the rice is cooked al dente (75% done)
  • Drain the rice using a colander and make sure the rice is completely devoid of any moisture. Leave it open in a dry place and do not cover the rice
  • Take about a handful of rice in a seperate vessel. To this, add the water in which we had mixed the food colouring and mix well so that the rice absorbs the colour entirely

To prepare the garnishing:

  • Heat oil in sufficiently large frying pan on medium heat.
  • Add the sliced onions and give it a mix so that the oil covers the onions well. Add the salt.
  • Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes till the onions turn reddish brown in colour.
  • Take out from the heat and cover and drain on an absorbent paper.
  • In the same pan, add the cashews, almonds and fry till they turn reddish brown. Once done, take out from heat and drain on an absorbent paper

To prepare the biryani masala: 

  • In a large vessel, heat the oil and add the whole spices, curry leaves and allow them to splutter. 
  • When the spices begin spluttering and releasing aroma, add the chopped onions and let them cook till they turn golden brown. Add the ginger, garlic pastes along with the chillies. At this point add half the onions that we had fried. We will retain the other half for garnishing.
  • Once the onions are done, add the chopped tomato and cook till the tomatoes are mushy and limp.
  • Add the green paste along with very little water. Saute this on a medium flame till the oil begins to leave the sides.
  • Lower the heat and add the coconut milk and mix well. Once the mixture has integrated well add the spice powders. Mix well.
  • Add the fish, and stir gently so that we don’t break the fish fillets/ pieces.
  • Once done, add the chopped corriander and mint leaves.

To assemble the biryani:

  • Line a large vessel with ghee/ oil.
  • Add the gravy mixture. Now add in one half of the onions we had fried earlier and some of the fried cashews, almonds and raisins.
  • Layer the gravy mixture with the cooked rice. Sprinkle the surface with the rice that was mixed with food colouring.
  • Finish the layering with the remaining fried onions and dried fruits.
  • Cover the vessel with a lid that fits perfectly. Or you could cover with aluminium foil so that no steam escapes.
  • Place the vessel on a tawa and cook for 30-40 minutes on a medium flame. Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes  after you’ve turned off the gas.
  • Serve hot with raita.

Vorn- Manglorean Green Gram Pudding- Celebrating 100 likes on the facebook page.

A very special dish for a very special occasion. This recipe is by none other than the original masterchef herself! Yes, it my mums recipe and a Mangalorean classic, Vorn (pronounced- War-rn). So then, what’s the special occasion? Well friends, my Facebook page has reached 100 fans and that calls for a celebration, doesn’t it? Remember, I told you special dish for a special occasion. Thanks a ton, dear readers, without each of you being there to cheer me on, this would not be possible. And yes, a special mention to my mum and sister who have been the backbone of this blog. Tasting, criticizing, cheering, suggesting and almost everything backstage is done by them and their input goes a long way in deciding what goes on the blog and what is left out.

It was only obvious that I would choose Vorn for this post. It is a sweet dish reserved for very special Mangalorean functions. I remember, sometime back I attended about 3 weddings in 4 days and then there was roce (which is the pre-wedding function) & every roce had vorn. Just goes to show what it means to us Mangaloreans. I remember my mum and even my grand mum making vorn in a large vessel that was specially reserved only for that purpose. As with most Mangalorean recipes, this one too doesn’t have a standard recipe, each household claims theirs is original and authentic. We’ll leave it to the food historians to investigate.
Now, vorn is best had when it is piping hot, straight out of the cooking vessel. Whenever, mum makes it, I readily volunteer to do the tasting bit. When I was younger, I would deliberately sneak into the kitchen and ask that I taste the vorn at almost every stage of the cooking process. Complex as it may sound, it’s fairly simple to make and doesn’t require any alchemy. Just a few household ingredients that are readily available in the everyday pantry and your set to wow your family, friends or guest. And if you are of the diet conscious sorts who cringe at the mere mention of desserts, worry not. This one’s for you as well since unlike other oil/ ghee laden desserts this one doesn’t use any fat. Indulgence at its best!!
And before I began writing, I promised my self that I would keep the post short and sweet. The dish has enough magnanimity to carry it through. As I always believe, food tastes best when eaten with love and shared. I do hope my dear friends you will try this recipe and share it with your family and those who you love.
Vorn 2
Vorn- Mangalorean Green Gram Pudding
Ingredients:
  • 200 grams Moong dal (Indian Greem Gram)
  • 150 grams jaggery
  • 60 grams rice paste (Instructions below)
  • 80 grams mixed dry fruits (Cashewnuts, Raisins, Pistachios), roughly chopped
  • 120 ml thick coconut milk
  • 4-5 green cardamom, powdered
  • 300 ml water
Procedure:
  • Dry roast the moong dal in a pan till it is golden brown on all sides. Once its brown, rinse twice under running water.
  • In a deep vessel, boil the dal and the water together. The texture of the dal should be whole but not entirely mashed.
  • Once the dal reaches this stage, add the jaggery and stir well. The jaggery should melt entirely.
  • Add the cardamom powder and the mixed dry fruits. Keep stirring well so that there are no lumps in the liquid.
  • To make the rice paste, soak (any variety of short grained) rice in water for about half an hour and then grind to a liquidy paste. Add this paste to the vorn mixture.
  • When you add the rice paste, the vorn will attain a thick consistency. Reduce the heat and add the coconut milk. Stir well.
  • Ganish with dry fruits and serve hot.

Mince Cutlets!!

There are many blessings that life bestows on all of us. Making and choosing friends is one of them.

The genesis of this post goes back about a decade and half, when I got admission to St. Andrew’s College, Bandra. On the first day of college, I was a nervous wreck. New institute, new places and the fact that I would be interacting with strangers gave me nightmares. But then, along the way, I met the three most diverse, mad and yet strangely, the most funniest people in my life. These are the friends I made in college and today, a decade and half later, careers and commitments have taken us to separate corners of the globe but thanks to innovations in social media, we are always an email, call or if need be a flight away from each other. Ironically, if you would put together the initials of our names it would be ‘BEER’; one of the E’s representing me of course.

Mince Cutlets 1

So, why am I telling you about my friends and college days? Firstly, it was friendships day celebrated earlier this week and secondly the dish for today is one that we almost spent our entire college life on. Mince cutlets. For those you who know and have been to Bandra (where my college was), you would know that it’s one of the few areas in Mumbai that is heady concoction of the new and old worlds. One of the best things of Bandra is the large number of schools and an equally large number of small bakeries that (still, I guess) churn out all sorts of baked goodies both sweet and savory. The good thing was that the products were reasonably cheap and thankfully the portions large enough to satiate the growling stomachs of young college students. Now, each group in college had its own preferred bakery and so did ours. A few furlongs away from college was an Irani bakery that the ‘BEER’ group would frequent; run by an uncle who resembled the biblical character Noah and just like Noah didn’t seem to age. We visited the place more out of compulsion and need to look good eating joints that wouldn’t deplete the pocket money our parents gave us. One of the things we loved having from this place was the mince cutlets. Half a dozen medium sized cutlets at about 10 odd rupees was a steal. As time passed, uncle almost instinctively knew that along with other stuff an unsaid order was for the plateful of cutlets, at times he would even sneak an extra one much to our delight. We would pack the cutlets and rush off to the sea shore close by and sit there and munch on the cutlets while planning on how to take on the world after we graduate. Those were wonderful times, when we didn’t have to depend on facebook for our friends birthday reminders and TV meant Doordarshan. I was chatting with a friend a few days ago and we both spent hours recollecting those awesome times, mischief done and of course, the cutlets. Post that call, I instantly knew the agenda for my friendship day post.

As you would have realised by now, this is a friendships day post. Needless to say, one post would not be enough to chronicle the warmth of friendship; I tried and put down as much as I can.  And to get as close as I could to relive those memories, I felt there was nothing better than the Mince Cutlets. I have keeping it as close to uncle’s recipe as I could, the taste was more or less there, as they say originals are originals and can’t be replicated.

Serve them with the main course or as an entrée, they fit anywhere into the menu. Better still, have them with ‘BEER’

Cheers folks!!! And a happy friendship day to each of you. Love well, eat well!!!

Mince Cutlets 2

Mince Cutlets

Ingredients:

  • 400 grams Chicken Mince
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons rice flour
  • 1 large (or 2 small) potatoes, boiled and mashed
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 tablespoon red chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala powder
  • 2 tablespoon chaat masala powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten, for frying
  • Oil for frying
  • Breadcrumbs for coating
  • salt to taste
Procedure:
  • Wash the mince well and add the grated onion, chillies, potatoes, garlic and ginger pastes, red chilli, turmeric & garam masala powders. Mix well.
  • Refrigerate for an hour. This is to ensure that there is no moisture in the mince.
  • After an hour, add the rice flour and the chaat masala powder, salt and give it a thorough mix.
  • Lay out two plates separately with  bread crumbs and beaten eggs.
  • Now wet your hands a little and take a little of the mixture and shape into quinelles, patties or into a shape of your choice.
  • Dip each into the egg, and then roll well in the breadcrumbs.
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry till golden brown. Once done, take out on an absorbent paper
  • Serve hot with chutney or sauce.