Black Chickpeas and Ivy Gourd Fugadh

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Nutty black chickpeas cooked in spicy gravy; accompanied by the sweetish Ivy gourd and gently tempered with coconut and jaggery. This is one dish that is close to my heart, the one that takes me back to my childhood every single time, with the taste still lingering in my memory forever.

Though my mum makes this dish often, she confesses to learning it from her mother.  My dear grandmother at whose place I’ve spent many a happy holidays. Even to date, whenever my mum gets black chickpeas; I know for sure what’s on the menu. Every step of the recipe is magical, right from the moment when the chickpeas are pressure cooked to when the masalas are being sautéed and then finally the coconut garnish; food porn if I could call it that. And that’s not all, there is a bit of tradition involved as well.  The 8th of September, is a special day; where Christians celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This day, the menu is special and is called ‘Noven Jowaan’ roughly translated to ‘new meal’; the new signifying that the meal has been prepared from the new harvest as a thanksgiving to the almighty for his graces. The dishes are prepared in series of odd numbers and this one definitely makes it to that spread.

Somehow, very honestly, I had long wanted to post this but somehow didn’t get to do it. It was the only the other day when I headed to a meeting outside office and had to eat a restaurant. I ordered this one and believe me, the beauty of the dish had been massacred. Seriously, nothing pains me more than Manglorean food gone wrong. I decided to come home and  get it done. 

So then, here is a family recipe. Like its made at my home. Try it, garnish it with spices, temper it with coconut and serve it love. My family loves it, I’m sure yours would too.

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Black Chickpeas and Ivy Gourd Fugadh

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams, black chickpeas, refer cooking instructions below in the procedure
  • 100 grams, Ivy gourd, cut length wise
  • 50 grams fresh coconut, grated
  • 50 grams jaggery, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons corriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoons, black pepper corns
  • 1 tablespoon, cummin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon, mustard seeds
  • 7-8 Whole red chillies
  • 1 small teaspoon, turmeric powder
  • 1 Sprig Curry leaves
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 300 ml water
Procedure:
  • Soak the black chickpeas in 300 ml water overnight or atleast 6-8 hours. Wash them under running water till water runs clear.
  • After washing, pressure cook for about 15 minutes or till you hear about 3 whistles. Retain the water if you wish to have some gravy
  • Dry roast the corriander seeds, pepper corns, cummin seeds, and red chillies till they give out a nice aroma. Once done, cool for a while and then, grind to a fine powder. Keep aside.
  • Heat the oil in a pan, add the curry leaves and mustard seeds. Wait till the seeds splutter.
  • Add the garlic and let it . Then add the onions and saute till the onions turns translucent.
  • Now, add the coconut, turmeric and the powder. Saute, till the oil has started leaving the sides
  • Now, add the chickpeas and the Ivy gourd and mix well.
  • Add the salt, jaggery and tomatoes and give it a good mix. Cover and cook for about 7 minutes.
  • If required, add some water from the boiled chickpeas.
  • Serve hot with rice or chapattis.
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Pork Chilli!

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I am absolutely overjoyed as I write this post. More, because I cooked this dish is my own and when I began, I had absolutely no idea of how it would turn out. But look at the pictures and they will tell what a good job I did. I have written earlier on the blog on how pork is every Mangaloreans comfort food and no big or small occasion is ever complete without it. Though, pork chilli may sound an authentically Chinese dish but this one is genuinely Mangalorean. Let me make my case

Every Mangalorean wedding has an interesting function preceding it. This function is called ‘Roce’. For the seekers of the truth, this is a function held on the day before the actual wedding. This is where coconut milk and oil is applied to the soon-to-be- bride or groom; the bath following the ritual symbolizing the last bath as a singleton. It is a very fun event and I seriously recommend you to attend one if you happen to be invited. And yes, how can I tell you about a roce and not tell you about the food? In the olden days, when food was traditionally cooked at home usually consisting of rice, variety of vegetables along with mutton polov and pork chilly. It also depended on how much the host could afford. With the passage of time, the menus started getting creative and contemporary fare started showing up. Two things remained constant though, the mutton polov and pork chilly. Like friends, who had sworn to stand by one  another through the test of time. I will do another post on the virtues of the mutton polov; for today, we shall focus on the pork chilly. Doesn’t the name ‘…… Chili’ make it sound it sound very Chinese.  It does. For a while I too, was misled to  imagining that this was another produce from across the border. But, I frankly haven’t seen this version being served anywhere else than a Mangalorean roce. The other thing is unlike other Mangalorean recipes, this one is not easy to find. I have found different versions as well; probably attribute it to the caterer. That made it difficult to ascertain one texture and base for the meat. After every roce, I’d come back home much more determined to try the pork chilli. With no proper recipe to back me, I knew I had to fend for myself to get this one right. The one that would make both the Chinese and the Mangalorean grannies proud. So I started researching for the recipe. On a recent trip to Mangalore, I even picked up a book, known to be the bible of Mangalorean cooking. A must have for every new Mangalorean bride. I was disappointed. The book didn’t contain the recipe.

Then, a few months back I went to another roce function. The pork chilli was there. This one was slightly different from the ones I had, there was something different. The texture soft and flavors though predominantly Chinese had that hint of extra chilli a typical Mangalorean trait. This not only gave it that extra bite but served as a nice cushion against the crisp but superbly cooked meat. For me, it was the dish of the day. I walked up to the caterer and complimented him firstly putting up a winner. I then quizzed him on the texture and cooking. Thankfully, unlike other Mangalorean aunts who hold their recipes close to their chest, he was pretty fort right and told me that he preferred baking the pork for some time to give it that contrast in textures. Another trick he told me is to get meat with some fat; that would help in marrying the flavours.

With a base to begin, I was now looking at the opportunity to cook. I thought it would be nice if I could marinate the meat for a while. I love the aroma of marinating meat. It somehow takes the flavors of the meat to another level. Marination done, I carefully laid the pork pieces on a baking tray and aligned the settings. Twenty minutes down and the house almost smelt divine. Baking the meat proved to me a master stroke. Later, as the bits started falling into place (or should I say into the gravy), I realized that this was that one dish I had been waiting for.  I guess, I more or less made it the the caterer.

Dinner that night was bliss. Pork to me is not sorpotel or vindaloo anymore. As I ate, I recollected something I read. It said that the poet and pig are appreciated only after their death. Not sure about the poet, but i can surely agree about the pig. 

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Pork Chilli

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams pork, cut into bite sized cubes- Refer note below
  • 120 grams bell peppers, cubed – Suggestion is use 1 each of green, red, yellow 
  • 1 bunch spring onions, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, mince
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon, red chilli paste
  • 1 teaspoon, white pepper powder
  • 4 tablespoons, tomato ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons, soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons, oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons, vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons, oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with 70 ml water to make a slurry
  • Salt- to taste
Procedure:
  • Wash the meat and pat it dry. In a bowl, whisk together half the soya sauce, vinegar, white pepper powder and some salt. Add the meat to this marinade and mix well. Make sure the meat pieces are well coated with the marinade.
  • Preheat the oven to 100 C
  • Line the meat pieces on a baking tray and bake in a the oven at 180 C for 40 minutes. Depending on the type of your oven, you may need to increase or decrease the baking time. But, generally 40 minutes is good enough. Once meat is done, remove and keep aside to cool.
  • Heat oil in a pan on a medium flame. Add the ginger, garlic and saute till garlic has turned brown, but not burnt.
  • Add the onions along with the greens with  and saute for a minute. 
  • Now, add the red chilli paste and give it a good mix. If the paste is sticking to the pan, sprinkle a few drops of water.
  • Add the tomato ketchup, remaining soya and the oyster sauce and mix well.
  • Now, add in the bell peppers and coat them well with the gravy.
  • Lastly, add the pork pieces, salt and mix well.
  • Now, add the cornflour slurry and give it one last mix. 
  • Garnish with spring onion  and serve hot with fried rice.

Basa in Soy, Ginger!

Here is a very quick post to a dish that I made almost on the spur of the moment. Sometime back, I had asked readers on my facebook page what recipe they would want to see next and a majority of them responded saying a Chinese recipe was long due.

Last week, I instinctively purchased some basa while shopping and since this was my first time, i was left wondering what to cook with it. One experiment with frying it didn’t come off too well. But what I realised was that Basa has a nice and buttery flavour that I felt would go well with  Asian seasoning. This took me back a few months when i had been to an Asian restaurant for lunch and managed to catch up with the chef. While chatting with him, he told me about how soya and ginger form a complex but compatible marriage. I decided to give it a try.

I tweeted my anxiety about cooking Basa the first time and folks egged me on. One step followed the other with military precision and by the time I was about half way done, I knew that this was going to be something good. The splash of spring onions on top only jazzed up the entire plating effect. Cooking done, as I was plating I also noticed the sun, who was lazily hiding behind the clouds; coming out in all his splendour as if to demand his share. 

As I had dinner that night, I silently thanked the man who decided to get the Vietnamese Basa to India. 

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Basa in Soy, Ginger

 

Ingredients:

 

  • 150 grams, Basa Fillets, cut into bite sized cubes
  • 4 tablespoons soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sprig, spring onions, finely chopped- retain some of the greens for garnishing.
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped (I used red chilli flakes)
  • 1 teaspoon , brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon, white pepper powder
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour, mixed with some water to form a slurry
  • 2 tablespoons, oil
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Salt to taste

 

Procedure:

 

  • Wash the fillets and marinate them with the lime juice and the pepper powder. Make sure the juice and pepper powder coats the fish pieces evenly.  Refrigerate this for about half an hour.
  • Add the soya sauce and ginger in a bowl. Now, using the back of a spoon, gently crush the ginger pieces in the the bowl. This will allow the flavour of the ginger to gel with the soya sauce.
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the chopped onion, garlic and chillies and saute for a minute.
  • Now, add the fish pieces and the sugar. Allow the fish to cook for a minute along with the sugar that will caramelise. This wont take longer than 2 minutes.
  • Add, the ginger, soya mixture and stir for another minute. If you want some more gravy, add in some water or stock now.
  • Now, add the cornflour slurry and give it one last mix.
  • Garnish with spring onion greens and serve hot with fried rice

 

Of Chicken 65 and Rajnikanth Flicks

Today’s dish Chicken 65, is the second best thing to come out from Chennai. The first being Rajnikanth.  And just like Rajnikanth, it is humble, is unassuming, has a huge fan base, and above all, manages to quietly steal the show from everything else at the table. There is a bit of history thrown in behind the invention of the chicken 65, which goes something like this.

Many years ago, a customer walked into a small little restaurant in Chennai and asked to be served a meal. Now, it was around closing time; but not wanting to send back a hungry customer, the owner ordered the chef to quickly prepare something from whatever was available in the pantry. The chef did and the customer left with a grateful heart only to come back the next day and ask that the same dish be served to him. This went on for a couple of days and then, the owner decided to feature the dish on his regular menu. The  menu already had 64 items and this went on to become the 65th item, thus prompting the name “Chicken 65”. 

Another story goes back to the pre-Independence era, when the British soldiers who frequented the military café in Chennai. They had a favorite dish whose longish name they couldn’t pronounce and there ordered it by saying “Chicken 65”. The 65 apparently rhyming with the last name of the dish. Sounds interesting right?

Food does becoming interesting when there is a story to back it up.  But this dish is not just about the story behind it. It is about its simplicity in every aspect making it a case in point for cynics who don’t buy the argument that simple dishes can be tasty as well. Picture this, you marinate the chicken, cover it with batter and fry it, toss it in the sauce. Not too difficult, right? Yet, every bite will make you swoon, towards the end you will be full, but not satisfied and in all probability will have you asking for more. Pretty much like a Rajnikanth classic flick where you know you cannot go wrong.

I had initially not planned to make Chicken 65. I had boneless chicken in the fridge and in all probability would have gone in for a Chinese meal, but as the proverbial twist in the tale, the majority voted against Chinese and I decided to make Chicken 65. The only real effort was staying away from the crisp fried chicken and proceeding to the preparation of the gravy. I was pretty thrilled at the result simply for the fact that I got it right in the first go. My suggestion is don’t make it with a lot of gravy; it just enough to coat the chicken pieces  and yet give you that feeling of it lingering on your pallete.

The feeling of ecstasy and satisfaction you will derive be unparalleled I derived from it was unparalleled. Try it, I’m sure you enjoy it as well.

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Chicken 65


Ingredients:

For marinating the Chicken 

  • 550 grams chicken, cut into medium sized pieces (you could either use boneless or with bone)
  • 2 teaspoons, red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon, turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon, crushed pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste

For the batter

  • 6 tablespoons, rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons, cornflour
  • 1 egg, beaten well
  • Salt- a pinch
  • Oil, sufficient to fry the chicken pieces

For the gravy:

  • 100 grams, Greek yoghurt, whisked well
  • 2 teaspoons, garlic paste 
  • 1 teaspoon, ginger paste
  • 3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 Sprig, Curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon, cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon, red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon, turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon, garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon, corriander powder
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tablespoons, oil
  • Salt- to taste

Procedure:

  • Wash the chicken, pat it dry and marinate it with the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, pepper and lemon juice. Do not add the salt at this time. Keep it aside for an hour.
  • Sieve together the rice flour, and corn flour and the salt and keep aside. Beat the egg well.
  • Now heat the oil on medium heat. 
  • Line two bowls one with the rice flour and corn flour and the other with the egg.
  • Add the salt to the chicken pieces and mix well. Take each piece of chicken and coat well with the egg and the flour mixture (in that order) and fry in the oil till each piece stands out separately and is golden brown in colour.
  • Take out and drain on a absorbent paper. While we proceed to make the sauce.
  • In a deep bottom pan, heat the oil (mentioned under the heading “for the gravy“).
  • Once it heats up, add the curry leaves and the cumin seeds and allow them to crackle.
  • When the curry leaves release aroma, add the ginger, garlic paste, green chillies and saute well.
  • Add the spice powders and mix well. Sprinkle a few drops of water so that the powders don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Now, add the yoghurt, salt and mix well to integrate the spice powders.
  • Finally add in the fried chicken pieces and mix well so that the yoghurt gravy is fairly dry and the chicken pieces are coated well.
  • Transfer to the serving plate, sprinkle lemon juice and serve hot.