Coconuts are abundant in my hometown , so it is widely used in our cuisine. Making coconut milk at home for using in Stew and some of the traditional dessert is very common, instead of using tinned coconut milk or powder.
Coconut milk is made in three stages. This first one being the thickest, the second one a little thinner and the third one is very light. The third milk is usually used for cooking the vegetables or meat for the gravy . Personally I prefer to cook them in the third milk as it enhances the taste of the gravy.
(This is a recipe that can be tailored as per need)
To make one cup of thick coconut milk.
2 cups of grated fresh coconut
3/4 th + 1 tbsp cup of warm water
First, pulse the freshly grated coconut for a second.Then add the warm water and blend till the coconut is all ground and appears milky.
Squeeze out the milk by wringing or pressing the blended coconut really well with your hands through a sieve or cheese cloth.
The FIRST blend of fresh coconut milk that is the thickest is the first milk.
Add water again to the the left over squeezed out coconut pulp and blend again , the consistency of the coconut milk gets thinner and this is the second milk.
Repeat the process and the third and Last blend is the thinnest coconut milk.
- The most important thing to keep in mind when using the thick first coconut milk is to never let it boil (in the curry or stew etc) as it will curdle and spoil the taste.
- If fresh coconut is not available, frozen fresh coconut can also be used . It is available at Yogiji Christchurch.
- Dry desiccated coconut however, has not worked for me and Louise.
Idiyappam or string hoppers is a very common and a very traditional breakfast dish in my part of South India. It is a very simple dish to make. Made with roasted rice flour , water and salt,and steamed in pressure cooker or a steamer , it is a dish that is well loved by adults and kids alike. It is also often prescribed by doctors as part of a soft meal diet for patients.
Idiyappam is one of those dishes that I never tried to make before I got married. Jacob however loved Idiyappams and that meant I had to learn how to make it , you know, the way to a man’s heart and all that, so I called my mom straight away to get the recipe . As it turned out, making the dough was a much easier task compared to coaxing the dough out of the Idiyappam press.
However hard I tried, I could not manage to get the dough out through the press. Jacob ever willing to help around the kitchen,offered to help me . But only ended up breaking the Idiyappam press one too many and left me flabbergasted how someone could break something that I couldn’t even get move an inch !
Then my mom discovered a ‘magic press “
as she called it and Idiyappam making has been a breeze ever since.
As much as I enjoy cooking for my friends and family , if there is a easy way to do something, then thats what I go for.
So here goes.
Ingredients to serve 4
3/4 _1 cup Boiling water
Salt to taste.
Take flour in a mixing bowl, add salt . Pour boiling water slowly
little by little mixing with a wooden spoon to form a soft smooth dough
Pour in the oil
When it cools down enough to touch, form into soft dough .Taking care not to knead too much
Grease the hollow part of the Idiyappam press with oil and fill in the dough inside the press.
Fill upto the brim of the press hollow
In the meantime, grease the Idli mould with oil and keep aside.
Press Idiyappam presser onto greased idli moulds
Repeat until all the dough is pressed on to the moulds.
Steam in the pressure cooker without the pressure ,for 7-9 mins on medium flame. Once done, let it stay covered in the pressure pan for a minute or two
When the steam stops coming out of the vent,open and transfer the cooked Idiyappam to a hot pack.
I like to serve Idiyappam with sweetened thin fresh coconut milk or chicken stew. Ofcourse, chicken curry and mutton curry also taste great with idiyappam.
Cook book Scribbles :
- when the Idiyappam is cooked through is , it starts to look glossy.
- Idiyappam tastes good served hot or cold.
- Scrapped coconut can be sprinkled over the cooked idiyappam
Growing up in the southern most part of India, I had only heard of edible mushrooms in storybooks and seen them in picture books. The ones that appeared out of nowhere during rainy season in my hometown were usually very tiny. We were warned not to touch them as they were poisonous and so we never did .
By the time I was in college, my family had moved to a town that was dry for the major part of the year and mushrooms were rarely seen around.
The University Of Agriculture which was situated in a village nearby was conducting an one day training course for growing Oyster Mushroom in homes. They were promoting it as a small business idea for small scale farmers.
My mom’s friend and our neighbor (whom we lovingly called Lawyer aunty because her husband was a Lawyer), is a science teacher and she wanted to go and learn the process of growing mushrooms for profit at home. She wanted company and asked me if I wanted to go, when my mom couldn’t get leave from work. I tagged along with her because I could skip college .
I must confess that although I went there without expecting much, I came away very fascinated by what we learnt there.
Along with the training on how to grow mushrooms at home, each participant was given a little booklet with detailed instructions of all that we learnt there and some recipes plus a bottle of spawn.
I promptly got to work. All the stars aligned. Amma let me use the little shed outside our home. Since it was harvest season, there was plenty of hay from our paddy fields which I used to sow the sample spawn I got at the University, to grow my very first batch of mushrooms .
I was so thrilled when those pristine white oyster mushrooms appeared on the little hay bundles I had prepared for the mushrooms to grow! For you see, the green thumb thing completely skipped me even though I was born into a family of agriculturists.
After a bountiful harvest we didn’t know how to cook the mushrooms so we gave some to friends and neighbours and Amma added them to the curries she made.
One day, I decided to try a recipe from the little booklet we got at the University. The recipe was rather simple but quite tasty! And quickly became a regular in our home.
Later, I found out that our farm help on my dad’s farm also used this same recipe to cook wild mushrooms. The only spices used here in this recipe are pepper and cumin.
The original recipe used Oyster Mushrooms, but I’ve substituted button mushrooms and the taste does not differ much
250 gms Mushroom (chopped )
1 tsp pepper
1 Onion (chopped)
1 small tomato
1 tsp grated coconut (optional)
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp mustard
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Curry leaves, salt to taste
Heat oil in a skillet.
Add Cumin, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Let it splutter.
Add Chopped onions, cook till they are pink in color.
Then add the tomato pieces. Saute well till mushy.
Add salt and pepper.
Now add the Mushroom. Saute well.
Sprinkle a little water. Cover and let it cook.
Add chopped corriander leaves.
Cook till the mushrooms are soft and well cooked but still firm .
Sprinkle grated coconut.
Serve as a side dish for rice.
Cook book scribbles: Without the coconut, this masala can also be used as a sandwich filler.
Beetroot Hummus is one dish that brings with it memories of eating at our favourite Turkish restaurant, giving us a chance to have a taste of the beautiful flavours of middle eastern street food of Kuwait right here at home in Christchurch.
Stored in an airtight container, it stays fresh for several days in the fridge. Beetroot hummus tastes great with fresh cut cucumbers, carrots or crackers, pita bread or pita chips making it the perfect mid morning to late evening snack. What’s more, its so easy to make. The only timetaking process is the roasting of the beets.
Roasted Beet Hummus
Ingredients to serve 4
3 large cloves of garlic
2 x 400g tins of chickpeas
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 1/2 tbsp tahini (sesame paste , available in supermarkets)
salt to taste
fresh black pepper to taste.
½ tsp ground cumin powder
1 medium beetroot.
1 small green chilli
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Peel the skin of the beetroot, chop into big chunks . Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
Wrap the beetroot chunks in aluminum foil and roast them until soft and tender, takes about half an hour to an hour in my oven. When done, remove and let it cool.
Drain chick peas and rinse well. Keep aside. Peel garlic.
In a blender, add the cooled down beet, chickpeas, and garlic. Blend into a paste.
Add tahini, cumin powder, lemon juice and salt to taste. Blend till hummus is smooth and creamy like a dip. Add pepper and drizzle olive oil over it. Serve with pita, or with veggies.
Cookbook Scribbles :
Add water only if necessary.
Taste and adjust the seasonings as you like.
In a pinch I have also used precooked beets.
If its too much work roasting the beets, skip and just blend the other ingredients and you still have a yummy hummus dip😉
MLLA is an ongoing, monthly event since 2008,
in which, bloggers from any country or cuisine can take part in this event by presenting their vegetarian legume recipes. This event was created and started by Susan of The well seasoned Cook in 2008 and has been hosted by Lisa of Lisa’s kitchen since February 2013.
Turmeric in the Tamil language is called Manjal, which when directly translated means yellow. Obviously the name came from the colour of the spice. Not only is Turmeric or Manjal a commonly used ingredient in almost all the South Indian food preparations, it is also often used as a home remedy.When we were little , I remember distinctly when we hurt ourselves playing , the wounds were washed and dressed with a mix of crushed small shallots and turmeric .
Women applied turmeric paste on their faces to protect the skin from acne and other skin blemishes. The most common medicinal use however, is for common cold and cough.
Whenever we got sniffles or scratchy throat, during the monsoon season in India, my mom always made Manjal paal aka Turmeric latte for us to drink.
Although I did not appreciate it much during childhood, I appreciate it a lot now as I find it very smoothing with its amazing healing properties for cold, sore throat and cough that tag along with the seasonal changes.
This is a simple yet very effective time tested remedy thats handy to have around when the seasonal changes bring along allergies and other minor ailments with it.
Turmeric latte also aids with getting a goodnight’s sleep at night.
Ingredients to serve 1
Milk : 11/2Cup
Turmeric : 1/2 tsp
Black Pepper 1/4 tsp (freshly ground)
Raw Sugar/Honey/Palm Jaggery to taste
In a small saucepan, take milk . Hear on medium heat uncovered until almost boiling. Add in turmeric and black pepper.Stir well .Reduce heat and let it simmer for five minute. When the spices have blended evenly with the milk, remove from flame.Add raw sugar/honey or palm jaggery to taste. Serve warm.
Cook Book Scribbles: Although the above mentioned ingredients are more than enough to make a tasty turmeric latte,a large pinch of ground dry ginger powder , cardamom powder and a couple of saffron strands can also be added along with turmeric and pepper to enhance the taste.