Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cashew Nut Indulgence

Cashew Nut Payasam

Mangalore is known for a surplus of cashew trees and summer time is a feast of fruits.  Most houses have  cashew trees in the compound and a single tree could have many hued pear shaped fruits ranging from yellow to orange to dusky red.  While the fruit is seldom eaten ( I made cashew fruit wine once which was a real hit, and that recipe will be shared some other time), the nuts are highly prized and a delicious addition to any menu.

The Cashew tree is large and evergreen and contains fruits which are pear shaped called the cashew apple. The fruits come in a variety of yellow, orange and red and has a very sweet aroma and taste. The fruit has a single whitish seed called cashew seed or cashew nut. The seed is surrounded with a double shell. It is a popular nut  which  can be eaten in numerous ways.  They are mildly sweet in flavor and packed with energy. The nuts have a buttery texture and are cream in color. It is used generously in Mangalorean cuisine and is a must in any Mangalorean household. 

Nutritional Value 

It helps to lower the bad cholesterol. It is a good source of magnesium which keeps our bones strong.It provides us with great energy and is packed with dietary fiber. It is a 'high-satiety food' which keeps us full and therefore are known to play a great role in weight maintainence.

Did you know? 

The cashew plant belongs to the family of poison ivy but surprisingly it produces a delicious nut.
The nuts last for about 4-6 months but if they are roasted at a very high temperature then it can easily get destroyed.

The Recipe:

1 cup cashew nuts; 3 cups milk; sugar to taste; 3 pods cardamom, crushed; 1 tsp sooji (semolina for thickening); 2 tbsp ghee; 1 leaf of vark or edible silver foil (optional).

Soak the cashew kernels overnight in warm water.  Next day drain and wash.  Heat a heavy bottomed pan and add the ghee.  Lower the flame and add the sooji, stir frying till golden brown.  Takes hardly a minute.  Next add the milk, sugar and cashew nuts and cardamom and bring to the boil.  Lower heat and cook till thick, stirring constantly to avoid burning.  Serve hot at the end of the meal with a tsp of ghee (optional).  Decorate with silver foil.  

NB:  Vark is stored in books of tissue paper.  Gently remove one leaf, open the tissue paper and invert over the payasam.  Avoid touching with your fingers as this is very delicate and will stick to your hands.  Adds a very professional twist to any dessert.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Green Masala Grilled Fish

Easy Grilled Fish
This is a recipe that I make very often as we love to entertain and barbecues are the best occasion for it.  Just get a medium sized pomfret and ask your fishermonger to clean it, retaining the tail and fins and head.  Marinade it overnight in this unusual green masala and you have a lip smacking flaky masterpiece.

The Recipe:

1 medium sized pomfret (it's easier to turn over when the fish is the right size), cleaned, washed and drained.

Marinade:  1 small bunch coriander leaves; 1/4 tsp turmeric powder; salt to taste; 2 green chillies; 1/2 inch piece ginger; 3 flakes garlic.  Grind everything to a smooth paste.

Marinade fish in this paste overnight.  Next day preheat oven to  250 C .  Place fish on oven tray lined with foil.  Dribble 1 tbsp olive oil over fish.  Grill 5 to 7 minutes each side.  Serve with slices of thin lemon and crusty bread.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Just Quinoa 
Quinoa seems to be the fashion at all food stores I visit and whether intentionally or not I seem to be bumping in to a number of people who have included it in their diet on a daily basis. I was curious to know how it tasted and bought some and stored it in my kitchen while I hunted for a suitable recipe.  After googling a bit I came up with some interesting facts which caught my attention.  

Culinary ethnologists will be interested to know that Quinoa pronounced as keen-wah  was a staple food for thousands of years in the Andes region of South America as one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at such high altitudeWhile quinoa is usually considered to be a whole grain, it is actually a seed, but can be prepared like whole grains such as rice or barley.  
 it takes less time to cook than other whole grains - just 10 to 15 minutes,  tastes great on its own, unlike other grains and quinoa has the highest protein content, so it's perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is a gluten-free and cholesterol-free whole grain, is kosher for Passover, and is almost always organic.

You can make it into anything you like- pulav, biriyani, use it as a breakfast cereal or a salad.  Just follow these guidelines for that perfect meal.

Basic Quinoa Facts
How much cooked quinoa does 1 cup dry quinoa yield?
1 cup dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked quinoa.
How much liquid do I need to cook quinoa?
To cook 1 cup quinoa, you need about 2 cups liquid.
How long does it take to cook quinoa?
1 cup quinoa will cook in about 20 minutes.
How do I make quinoa less bitter?
Nearly, if not all, of the natural bitterness of quinoa's outer coating can be removed by a vigorous rinsing in a mesh strainer.
How do I make better-tasting quinoa?
Quinoa is really excellent when cooked in vegetable or chicken broth. Also, add about 1/4 teaspoon salt to each cup dried quinoa when cooking. Try adding other spices aromatics during cooking as well: A clove of smashed garlic, a sprig of fresh rosemary, a dash of black pepper.
Can I use my rice cooker to make quinoa?
Yes! Just use the 2:1 liquid to quinoa ratio and follow the instructions on your rice cooker.

I made it into a stir fried meal for two with chicken and it turned out really well.  My only regret is that I made just enough for two and there were no leftovers to tide me over the next day.

The Recipe:

1 cup Quinoa, washed three times in a large wire mesh strainer;  salt to taste; 1/2 cup shelled peas; 1 tsp ginger garlic paste; 1 dsp olive oil; 1 onion sliced; 2 cups warm water; 1 medium sized pandanus leaf.

Heat olive oil in a non stick pan and stir fry the onions and ginger garlic till golden brown.  Add the Quinoa and stir fry on a medium flame till all the grains are coated.  Transfer to rice cooker, add the peas, pandanus leaf, warm water and salt to taste.  Cook till done and serve with Roast Chicken.  Smells good, has a lovely nutty flavour and am certainly going to make it again.

Recipe for Roast Chicken 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Whole Grilled Baby Salmon

Spicy Grilled Baby Salmon
Last week, while shopping for groceries at the supermarket I cam across whole baby salmon for a very reasonable rate.  So I decided to take the plunge and carefully selected one that looked good.  I have numerous recipes that I have been saving for a rainy day and I found one that I wanted to try.  Grilling salmon is very easy.  Since it is an oily fish, all you have to do is marinade it overnight and transfer it to the grill or oven the next day.  The result was delectable and Nehru & I finished it all by ourselves.

The Recipe:
1 whole baby salmon, about 600 gms, scaled, gutted and washed with salt.  Retain tail and side fins.
For the Marinade:  1tsp chilli powder; 1/2 inch piece ginger, minced; 1 tsp garam masala powder; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 2 tsp coriander powder; 1/2 tsp jeera powder; 1/2 tsp coarse black pepper powder; salt to taste and 1 dsp olive oil.  Grind to a coarse paste and rub all over and inside the salmon.  Marinade in the refrigerator overnight.  Next day, bring the salmon to room temperature before grilling it.  Discard the watery part of the marinade.  Line an oven tray with foil and preheat oven at 250 C (grill setting).  Wrap salmon in foil or banana leaves (this makes it easier to turn the salmon over) and grill 10 minutes each side.  Open the foil and return salmon to the oven and grill top again for 5 minutes till brown.  Serve with green salad and warm garlic bread. A must try for busy days when there's simply  too much to do.
NB:  Once the salmon is grilled, you can peel off the skin before browning the flesh.  I left it on and peeled it off while eating.