Sunday 31 March 2013

Nei Choru | Ney Choru | Malabar Neychoru | Ghee Rice

Rice cooked in ghee & layered with fried onions & nuts

 Come the long weekends & it's always the heavy one pot rice varieties with spicy non veg gravies.. Asking me why?? Guests, get together, quiet family dinner - name it, we have everything. And this one is no different. Day before it was Veg pulav, today it's Nei Choru & tomorrow it's Chicken Biriyani !! Ahaa, yeah all planned and implementing to the plan :D 

'Nei chooru' - this is yet another name that makes me drool. A very popular dish in Kerala, particularly the Northen Malabar side. Most of the Muslim weddings would be incomplete without this lip smacking, aromatic rice. It is quite simple to prepare and guarantees you a rich flavor & aroma. This used to feature in my college hostel mess once every week, usually during Sundays. Accompaniment was Spicy Chicken gravy & raita signed off with a glass of lime juice.. Ohh my God.. Heavenly!! And an afternoon nap with an overfilled tummy following that. What more can you ask for during college times, right??

And as many other recipes, I never ever dreamt that I would prepare this one at home. It was my mom-in-law who taught me how to make this. The way she described itself made me quite confident that this is 'As easy as an apple pie' task (though I have never tried to prepare an apple pie :P ) Then there was no stopping me, this one now features in our menu quite often.

And if you ask me the best accompaniments for this I would say any spicy  non veg curry (I personally love chicken) would go with it.  But recently I read in one another blogger page that dhal goes very well this is. I am but yet to try that combo. Am sure this would make some of the vegetarians out there very happy :) So off to the recipe now..

Recipe from Amma (Mil)

Serves: 2-3 persons

I Took: 40 minutes

I Used:

Basmati Rice - 2 cups
Onions - 3 nos - big sized - sliced
Water - 4 cups
Ghee - As needed
Cinnamon - An inch stick
Cloves - 4 nos
Cardamom - 3 nos
Cashews - 15-20 nos
Raisins - 15-20 nos
Lemon juice - 1 tbsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - As needed

The Way:

  1. Boil the 4 cups of water
  2. In a pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp of ghee. Add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom
  3. As it starts to sputter & release its aroma, add the washed & cleaned rice. Fry for a minute
  4. Add the oil, lemon juice and the boiling water
  5. Now close the cooker & pressure cook for just 1 whistle and remove immediately from flame. Or to be more precise, switch off the flame when the cooker starts making screeching noises just before the first whistle and allow it to stay in that heat for 10 more minutes
  6. Heat a pan. Add ghee. Roast the cashews & raisins & keep aside
  7. Fry the onions in the same ghee till golden brown
  8. To serve the rice, alternate the fried onions & nuts with the layers of cooked rice 
Serve with parippu/dhal or with spicy chicken curry.


Wednesday 27 March 2013

Butter Beans Masala | Lima Beans Masala

Butter Beans sauteed in onion & Indian Masala

'Man proposes, but God disposes'.. Wanted to post something on the sweeter side, as my dearest mom turned a year older today. Had planned on a good dessert, but somehow it didn't turn out as I expected. It tasted well. But the texture did not come out correctly & hence when I presented it on the plate to take out some snaps, it was all wobbly gobbly. Ahh, I shouldn't be talking much on this now.. Maybe coz my mom is on a super duper diet & not much into sweets now a days, this could be what you call a hell of a coincidence. Effects of cosmic karma :P Now I should totally stop !!! Many more happy returns of the day my dearest mom :D ;)  So here I go, posting yet another simple, healthy recipe that she passed on to me..

Lentils & legumes..There must be hardly any, who hate them totally. The lentil/legume stir fry or curry is an essential part of my diet & it appears at least three times a week :) Only the overnight soaking part comes as a difficult thing to remember, else it is very easy to prepare these protein stuffed health goodies. As the last few posts had been very elaborate & time consuming, here I go with a simple one..

Recipe from Ma

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 persons

I Used:

Butter beans - 1 cup
Onion - 1 (medium -  chopped)
Ginger Garlic Paste - 2 tsp
Red Chilly powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - ½tsp
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Clove - 1 no
Cinnamon - a small stick
Oil - 2 tsp
Salt - As needed

The Way:

  1. Soak butter beans in enough water overnight
  2. Pressure cook the soaked beans with salt and keep aside
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Add clove and cinnamon
  4. When it starts to splutter & give out the aroma, add the onions. Saute till it starts to turn colour
  5. Add ginger garlic paste to it. Saute till the raw smell goes off
  6. Now add red chilly powder, turmeric powder, garam masala & salt. Adjust the quantity of salt accordingly, as the butter beans is already boiled with salt
  7. Toss in the boiled beans. Give a nice mix and allow it in stove for a few more minutes for the masala to be coated well with the beans
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves 

Linking to event CWS - Dals happening at Priya's


Monday 25 March 2013

Vegetable Biriyani

'Biriyani', the mention of this word alone is enough to fill my mouth with water sufficient to sail a ship !!! Back at home this is not a very frequent dish. Mom used to prepare this maybe once in a month or so.. But once you are abroad or living with a group of friends the scene shifts completely rite?? I am not completely certain of the reasons, but this dish will find its way at least once a week or many a times more than that. Can be the lack/shortage of 'Thalapakattu Biriyani kadai' or other wonderful restaurants that serve you this, in every other street of the city where you live. Or the very pride that you feel in front of your friends when you are done with the preparation & the aroma fills your home.. And most importantly, this one 'one pot meal' along with a simple raita is enough for your Sunday menu or when friends come along for a casual weekend get together. So anyways, the reasons are plenty and so is the way in which this awesome food is prepared.

And the version here is one which I learned from Deeps.. My mom makes the biriyani in slightly different styles, maybe I would post that sometimes later. Of all the homemade biriyanis that I have had, I would given Deeps' version the numero uno position. I simply love the correct blend of the spices & masala.. More importantly, the rice doesn't get burnt or stuck to the bottom of the pan nor does it break. You can see the long grains of the rice coated with masala inviting you very dearly.. Ohh my.. I am literally drooling writing this up. And mind you, veg biriyani was never in my list when there is a never ending palette of chicken, mutton, prawn etc etc etc biriyanis. But believe me, I started loving veg biriyani also very much, after I laid my hands on this version.

But there was only one disadvantage.. Every Sunday, I would be his apprentice and clean up chicken or cut vegetables and he would be the chef. And I did not  learn how to make this. That's when the realization stuck me. Then, there was no stopping.. I donned the hat of the chef, learned and made it on my own. Yes, it came out very well and hence it has found it's way onto this space now. Over to the recpie..

Recipe from Deeps:

Preparation Time : 20 minutes

Cooking Time : 40-45 minutes

I Used:

Basmati Rice             -  3 cups
Water                      -  5 ¼ cups (3 * 1 ¾ cups)
Onion                       -  3 nos (medium sized)
Tomato                    -  1 no (medium sized)
Carrot                      -  2 nos (medium sized)
Beans                       - 15-20 nos
Potato                      -  2 nos (medium sized)
Green Peas               -  ½ cup (I used frozen ones)
Mint leaves               -  10 sprigs
Coriander leaves       -  10 sprigs
Green Chilly                    -  2 nos
Ginger Garlic paste    -  1 tbsp
Lemon juice             -  ½ a lemon's
Cinnamon stick         -  1 inch piece
Cloves                     -  4 nos
Cardamom               -  3 nos
Bay leaf                   -  2 leaves
Chilly powder           -  1 tsp
Coriander powder     -  2 tsp
Turmeric powder     -  ½ tsp
Biriyani masala          -  1 tsp
Garam masala            -  1 tsp
Ghee                      -  As needed
Salt                        -  As needed

The Way:

  1. Rinse the rice and soak it in water
  2. Cut the vegetables - onion, tomato, carrot, beans & potato into thin slices
  3. Defrost the green peas
  4. Separate the mint leaves from the sprigs
  5. Chop the coriander leaves & green chillies
  6. Heat little ghee in a pan. Add the sliced carrot, beans & potato and fry for a few minutes. This is for the veggies to remain intact & not break when we add rice. Keep this aside
  7. Heat ghee in the same pan. Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom (remove the pods & add the seeds inside), bay leaves (crush them before adding) and saute
  8. When the combined aroma of the spices start coming, add the sliced onions. Saute the onions till they become soft & oil separates from them
  9. Add ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes off
  10. Now add tomatoes & green chillies and saute till the tomatoes become soft
  11. Add the ghee tossed vegetables, green peas & half the mint leaves
  12. Add chilly powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, biriyani masala & salt. Add one cup of water and mix well
  13. Cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are almost done
  14. Once the vegetables are soft and cooked, add rice and the remaining 4 ¼ cups of water
  15. Add garam masala, lemon juice, coriander leaves & remaining mint leaves and mix well
  16. Now taste the mix for salt and hotness. Adjust to your taste buds accordingly
  17. Cover the pan and cook in medium fire for 15 minutes
  18. After 15 minutes check if the rice is done and water has evaporated completely. Else  reduce the flame further and cook for another 5-10 minutes (It took me 5 extra minutes)
  19. You can see that the rice has neither stuck to the bottom of the pan & nor has broken down. Long beautiful grains of basmati rice gives the biriyani a rich look
  20. Once the rice is done, off the flame and leave the pan in the heat of the stove till you serve


  • Rice : Water ratio of 1:1 ¾ works perfectly well for me. I use India Gate basmati rice for making this biriyani

Friday 22 March 2013

Chicken Spring Rolls | Chinese Chicken Spring Rolls using Pastry Sheets

What's the first dish that comes to your mind when you hear 'Chinese' ? It must be 'Fried Rice' or 'Noodles', correct? Okay, now what's it that comes to your mind when I say 'Chinese Starter'. For me it's always 'Spring Rolls'. A visit to the Chinese restaurant is never complete without gulping this all time favorite of mine. And yes, not to for get the 'Sweet corn corn chicken soup'. I used to order this every other time, that my dad used to ask me, 'Why don't you try something new at least this time?' :D

My mom used to make these spring rolls for us at home. So I knew it was not a Herculean task, barring the vegetable chopping. I think that's the only time consuming factor in Chinese cuisine. Once that's done, the rest is very simple.  It is one of the all time favorites of Deeps too.. He simply loves them and would be in full praises when I make them. And he did come home very early from office yesterday. I am still not sure which one of these two is the reason, 'Not much work today' (as he said) or 'I am making spring rolls for evening tea today' (as I told him in the morn). Anyways we both enjoyed this little delicacies over a hot cup of tea.

Recipe from Ma

I Took:

Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 12 nos

I Used:

Carrot                        - 1 cup (refer notes)
Capsicum                    - 1 cup
Beans                         - ½ cup
Celery                        - ½ cup
Chicken                      - 1 cup
Soya Sauce                 - 1 ½ tsp
Tomato Sauce             - 1 tsp
Chilly sauce                - 1 tsp
Worcestershire sauce   - 1 tsp
Sugar                          - ½ tsp
Pepper powder            - ½ tsp
Ground paste               - 1 tbsp
Oil                              - For deep frying
Salt                             - As needed
Aginomoto                   - A pinch (optional)

To grind:

Ginger                       -  1 tbsp
Garlic                        -  1 tbsp
Chilly powder            -  1 tsp

The Way:

  1. Chop all the vegetables. Clean and cut the chicken into small pieces (like chops)
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add the chicken pieces. Add a little salt & pepper and saute for 3-4 minutes
  3. Then add the ground paste and onion and mix well (Ignore the previous step for veg spring rolls)
  4. After 2 minutes of sauteeing add carrot, beans, capsicum, celery and aginomoto and fry
  5. Then mix in salt, soya sauce, tomato sauce, chilly sauce, worcestershire  sauce and the remaining pepper powder and saute in
  6. The veggies should become crisp & crunchy. Do not over cook as they again have to be deep fried
  7. The filling for the roll is ready. Allow it to cool and dry. Moisture content in the filling will make the wrapper wet which will suck in more oil during frying. Hence best to wait till the filling has cooled down with minimum moisture in it
  8. Now off to the spring roll sheets. Defrost them to room temperature before using them. Use the sheets after defrosting as they will dry out & crack if left unattended 
  9. Lay out one of the sheet. Place about a tbsp (depending on the size of your sheet) of the filling on one corner. Lesser the filling, the better. Over sized filling have a tendency to break apart in oil

  1. Fold over that corner and roll in
  2. Fold over both the left & right sides
  3. Make sure there is very little or no air pockets when you fold in the sheet, as they can allow oil to get inside the roll
  4. At this point you can freeze the rolls if required for future use. Make sure the rolls are placed one aside the other (not on top) & covered suitably to prevent drying while freezing
  5. Heat oil in a kadai. Deep fry the rolls. Keep turning the over in oil till the turn golden brown evenly 
  6. Place them over tissue paper to drain off the excess oil. Serve with tomato ketchup


  • You can include more vegetables like cabbage & cauli flower. I had run out of them. So did not use here
  • Aginomoto is added to enhance flavor but comes with a list of side effects. So highly recommended to avoid

Linking this to 'Flavors of Chinese Cuisine' event at Julie's 'Erivum Puliyum'


Monday 18 March 2013

Canned Tuna Ularthiyathu | Canned Tuna Fish Stir Fry | Choora Meen Upperi

Tuna fish sauteed with Indian spices

Which type of dishes leaves an enduring image in your soul?? If you ask me that question, I would go back to my childhood memories. From the smell of the tomato ketchup hung in cotton cloth to the fresh fruit being converted to jam & the aroma of wonderful crab curry or the mind blowing smell of authentic Indian sweets being fried in pure ghee and dipped in jeera... Bliss !! How I wish I can go back to that time.. Mind you.. I am talking about all home made here. Yeah, I was one of those lucky souls who have an vague memory or recollection of these fabulous spread of dishes made by my mom and grand mom.

And this particular dish is very close to my heart. Wondering why & how it got into the list? I was first introduced to this canned tuna by my dad. When I was in high school, he used to go on business trips to Maldives. When he came back, he used to buy and bring this canned fish for us. We were  introduced to this concept of fish in tins first time back then. And when mom prepares this dish, it means that dad is back home after his 2 or 3 week long trip. Still I remember me licking my fingers and having this as an accompaniment to hot piping rasam sadam.

After some years we stopped having this as he no longer went to Maldives.. So it was a while since I had forgotten about it. It was two weeks before, when I went shopping that I found these tins sitting on the shelves and winking at me. Didn't waste a sec. Was very happy to get the old memories rekindled. So here goes the recipe !!

Recipe Source : Ma

I Took : 30 minutes

I Used:

Tuna                        -  200 gm (I used canned tuna in oil)
Onion                      -  2 no - medium - chopped
Tomato                    -  1 no - medium - chopped
Ginger-Garlic paste   -  1 tbsp
Red Chilly powder     -  2 tsp
Coriander powder     -  3 tsp
Turmeric powder      -  ¼ tsp
Garam Masala          -  1 tsp
Coriander leaves      -  To garnish 
Mustard seeds          -  1 tsp
Oil                          -  As Needed
Salt                         -  As Needed

The Way:

  1. Clean & wash the tuna and keep aside
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds
  3. When it splutters add the onion and saute till it turns light brown
  4. Add ginger garlic paste and fry well till the raw smell fades off
  5. Add all the powders - chilly, coriander, turmeric & garam masala and mix well
  6. Now add the tomatoes and saute till it gets a bit mushy
  7. Add salt and the cleaned tuna pieces and mix well
  8. Cook till done. It will turn brown and dry. Sprinkle water in between to prevent the dish from sticking to the pan
Serve with boiled rice or as a sandwich. I prefer it with rasam sadam :)


Saturday 16 March 2013

Wheat & Rye Bread - Scaled Flour Method - Scandinavian Bread - Baking Partner Challenge #8

Never in my life had I imagined that I would ever bake a loaf of bread. And little did I knew what was in store when I told Swathi that I wanted to join 'Baking Partners'. That I would have to bake a bread for my first challenge itself.. But it should say, it was lots of fun and even more of knowledge that I gained :) I am happy that I took the challenge and lived up to the first one. But I should admit that I was skeptical till the last moment of how I was going to pull this through.. Had a very busy two weeks that involved some travelling and a marathon of baking that I still was in dilemma deep inside, of how this is gonna work. 

So I woke up yesterday morning ready to bake.. But felt like the weather cheated on me. It was snowing like anything. Then I thought to myself 'This is the price you pay for procrastinating things.. See what happened coz u waited for the nth hour !!' It was shining pretty well for the past two weeks and little did I expect that it would snow. But no. This is not going to stop me. So I whipped up some hot chocolate and set off to work. 

For this month's challenge we were asked to choose from two different methods of bread baking. Tangzhong or Scaled Flour method. First is Asian and the second Scandinavian method of bread baking. I choose Scandinavian as I am residing in one presently and having tasted their bread often, I wanted to know if I could reproduce one :) The taste was not very close.. But it was nice and I enjoyed having it !!

And I would definitely bake the Tangzhong bread, maybe some time in the coming week. Yup, I will post that too. And now without further mumbling, on to my experience :)

Adapted from: Cornercafe

Yield : 1 loaf (23*10*10)

Consume: Best within 3-4 days

Storage: May be frozen to keep longer, defrost before serving

I Used:

For Scalded Flour:
Bread flour     -  100 gm (I used coarse wheat & rye flour)
Boiling water  -  100 ml

Main Dough:

Bread flour            -  350 gm (I used coarse wheat & rye flour)
Milk powder          -  20 gm/2 tbsp
Caster sugar          -  35 gm
Salt                      -  5 gm/1 tsp
Instant yeast          -  8 gm
Lukewarm water   -  200 ml (adjust as required)
Butter                  -  35 gm (chopped into small pieces at room temperature)

The Way:

Scalded Flour:
  1. Take bread flour in a bowl. Add the boiling hot water all at once over the flour and stir quickly with a fork until fully combined. There should be no more visible dry flour & it should be a doughy clumpy mixture
  2. Set aside for 5 minutes for the dough cluster to fully absorb the heat and the moisture
  3. Cover with cling film and let it cool to room temperature (Takes about ½ - 1 hour)

For the Main Dough:

  • Sift bread flour, milk powder, caster sugar and salt onto the working surface
  • Add instant dry yeast and mix well 
  • Make a well in the flour mixture and add the scalded flour mixture
  • Then gradually add just enough lukewarm water to form into a slightly sticky, soft dough 
  • Knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic
    • During this kneading, the dough also needs to be thrown onto the working surface once every few minutes to improve the dough structure
    • You can pick up the dough to about head-high and throw it down onto the working surface 10 to 20 times, every few minutes between kneading

  • Knead in butter until incorporated
  • Form the dough into a round ball and place in a large greased bowl and cover with a cling film
  • Allow the dough to rise until double in size (1st proofing)
    • This will take about 1 hour in warm weather, longer in winter months
    • To test if the dough has risen properly, dip a finger into bread or plain flour and poke down into the center of the dough as far as your finger will go and pull out again – the hole should remain if it is ready. If the dough springs back, then it is not ready, continue to prove further.
  • Once the dough is ready, roll it out into a long oval shape. Divide it into three equal portions
  • Take the first portion and using a rolling pin roll it up (Pic 4). Then roll up from the short end like a Swiss roll (Pic 5 & 6)
  • Continue the same rolling process with the other two portions of the dough
  • Place the rolled-up dough into the oiled bread loaf mould (23 cm (L) x 10 cm (W) x 10 cm (H))
  • Cover loosely and allow the dough to rise to almost the top of the tin, which is the secnd proofing (would take around 45 minutes - 1 hour)  
  • Once proofed, bake at 175°C in a preheated oven for 30 - 35 minutes or until golden brown