Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Prawn and Pesto Pasta Salad

I and salad don’t go well together most of the time unless they are sinfully dressed up. I love dressed salads, just like this one. Pesto and mayonnaise is a varied combination and we absolutely loved it. This is a fresh salad that is fragrant, mild, creamy and bursting with flavour. The nutty tasting pesto with fragrant basil and mayonnaise pairs well with this pasta salad. It is a meal in itself and very filling hence this salad found its way to one of my hubby’s lunch box menu as well. I came across this simple recipe on the pack of frozen prawns and so the recipe definitely has prawns in it. For vegetarian option, Just opt out Prawns. I can see myself making different salads with same pesto - mayo drssing. How about new potatoes added to these pastas?And chicken instead of prawns?Adding some cooked pulses like cannellini, Garbanzo etc.?Many options and I am sure they will taste as good as this one.

Prawn and Pesto Pasta Salad
Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as side.


200g, 1 ¼ cup Cooked prawns
125 g any pasta shapes, I used my favorite - Penne.
100g, 6 cherry tomatoes quartered
½ cup, 100g canned sweet corn
2 spring onions, chopped into rings
3 Tbsp Mayonnaise
3 Tbsp shop bought pesto


1. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and let it cool.

2. In a bowl, add cooked pasta, cooked prawns, corn, tomatoes, spring onions and stir well.

3. Add mayonnaise and pesto sauce and mix well. Adjust salt and add pepper powder if desired.

1. You can adjust the pesto depending on how strong you like the flavour. I love the flavor of basil and hence added much. You can reduce it to 1 or 2 tablespoons instead of 3.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Malabar (Kannur) Fish Curry - Tangy and tasty!

Here’s a treat - one of my favourite recipes ever. For culture and cuisine as rich as Malabar, and most of their recipes requiring intense labour and complicated, there also prevail some simple everyday recipes that are really easy to make, yet tasting different in its own way. The style of cuisine and can tell you a great deal about the history of people of the area. Even within the same cuisine, a dish will taste different when they are prepared by different cooks and households. I so believe the difference lies in their attitude towards food they prepare. For me, I prepare sweets and desserts with so much of passion, love and attention and they come out good every time I make them. On the other hand, I make spicy food mostly for survival and I had faced disastrous results many a time. This is what exactly happened with this fish curry of my mom. I have been trying to recreate my mom’s fish curry ever since I started cooking and it never even reached anywhere closer to hers and got worser and worser. Annoyed at this persistent failure, I stopped trying her recipe, went on with few other recipes on net and stuck to them. That is when I decided, I have to watch her cooking and weigh the ingredients, and yes, I did that.

Last time, when I went to visit my family back in Abu dhabi, I also took my digital kitchen scale along, so that I could get the accurate measurement of my mom’s recipes. I was tired of trying her recipes with the approximate measurements she handed over to me long back and me struggling to perfect it. There was no other choice than standing by her side and weighing each and every ingredient she added to her dishes, that includes spices as well. And one such recipe that I jotted down is this awesome fish curry. It’s very simple and really tasty if you get some fresh fish in hand. I mostly use frozen fish as it is difficult to get hold of fresh fish always.

In this curry my mom uses raw mango, gamboges or even tamarind as souring agent. It is purely personal choice. As tamarind causes acidity for my dad, she prefers gamboge and raw mango. Gamboge is soaked in hot water to soften it and release its juice while cooking. Back home, my mother in law uses fresh gamboge in her cooking. She picks them fresh from the plant that grows in our kitchen garden. They are pale green and spherical in shape that resembles pumpkin but just the size of a British lime. They turn yellow when ripe and falls off the tree. They are either used fresh but most of them are cleaned, cut into sections and dried for longer shelf life. They are black once dried and are mostly used in fish and prawn curries. Also known as Malabar Tamarind. This curry is my mom’s version and you can find the same curry with slight variation through out Kannur.

This post goes to Kerala Kitchen a wonderful hub of Kerala Cuisine founded by Rose of Magpies recipes. This month event is hosted by Sarah of Spoonful of Delight.

On another note, Biny Anoop has shared a wonder award for Innovative Blogger and to tell you Biny, I am so touched. Thank you for all the kind words and appreciation.

Malabar Style (Kannur) Fish Curry
Cooking Time:30 minutes
Serves 4

275g – 350g Any cleaned fish like King fish, sardines, mackerel, salmon etc
1 medium size, ½ a cup, 90g onions, finely chopped
150g, 2 small ones or 1 large, slightly more than ¾ cup tomatoes, finely chopped
5-15g, 3 small sections of Gamboge (Kudampuli); depending on the sourness of the fruit.
3 large Garlic cloves finely chopped
2-4 green chillies
2-3 twig curry leaves
1 ½ - 2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon Fennel seeds (Sunf, perumjeerakam)
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
10g, 2-2 ½ heaped teaspoon mild chilli powder
3 level teaspoon Coriander powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2-3 Tablespoons coconut oil.
½ cup hot water to soak gamboges*
1 ½ cup rice water (Fresh Kanji Vellam) **


1.Wash and soak the gamboge in ½ a cup of hot water for 10-15 minutes to soften them.

2. In an earthen pot (Man-chatti) or a non-stick pan, heat coconut oil. Add fenugreek seeds and just as they start to change colour, add fennel seeds and let them leave aroma, about 10 seconds. (Keep the heat low-medium and do not let the fenugreek or fennel seeds charred as it will impart a bitter taste to the curry).

3. Add garlic and stir for few seconds until they are soft and starts to take colour. At this point, add chopped onion, slit green chillies, chopped tomatoes, curry leaves and salt. Cover and cook for around 7-10 minutes stirring occasionally to avoid the mixture sticking to the pot.

4. Once the tomatoes and onions go soft and mushy, add spices. Stir well.

5. Add gamboge along with the soaked water and rice water. Cover and bring to rolling boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes.

6. Lower the heat and add fish pieces. Cover and cook on low flame for about 10-15 minutes until fish is cooked through. Check for seasoning and adjust salt. Serve hot with rice or any rice pancakes like pathiri, Nool Puttu (String Hoppers), ottil pollichathu, porotta etc.


*Gamboge is used as a souring agent for the curry and it can be substituted with a gooseberry size tamarind which is soaked in hot water, pressed and drained. Use the strained water and discard the residue. It can also be substituted by raw mango (50g-75g, 5 or 6 pieces) depending on the sourness of the mango. If using mango, add it along with other vegetables while sautéing.

** Rice water (Kanji vellam) is the water obtained after cooking rice. It is mainly used to thicken the gravy. If you don’t have them, you can substitute rice water by mixing 1-2 teaspoon of rice to the water and add them to the curry.

If the gamboges are of good quality little will go along way. But if they are less tart, you might need to add more.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

Coffee and I have a deep and long comradeship. It was one of my favorite Beverages during university days. I could never start my day without having a hot cup of steaming coffee and would have it frequently during exam days when my head would be steaming with pressure! As with coffee is my love for coffee flavored cakes. They are way different from coffee, but I love the hint of coffee flavor that the cake has. I have baked a coffee cake couple of years back, which turned out pretty well, but uses loads of butter and I was unaware of calories and like. I never made that ever since. At times I wish I was still unaware of calories and fat building factors, so that I can use butter free of guilt.

This recipe of Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes comes from one my favorite bloggers- Deeba who blogs at Passionate about baking. I have always admired at her energy and passion when it comes to baking and Blogging. I truly admire her. I love her recipes, her write ups, her photography and herself and I never miss her recipes ever since I discovered her blog. I too have bookmarked loads of recipe from her which I now lost the count! I had bookmarked another recipe for cappuccino cupcakes which just slipped out of my brain until Finla just mentioned it was her favorite cappuccino cupcakes. I should be making that one too sometime soon.

When it comes to the cake, it was just the taste I was looking for; Chocolate, coffee and the buttery base. I just made half the batch and skipped ganache. The cakes were already loaded with chocolate chips and I thought it would leave me with chocolate overdose if I top it up with ganache. But I love ganache and it itched me to add but I skipped it just to cut down a bit of chocolate.

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Makes 6-7
Recipe Adapted from Deeba

1 cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup Caster sugar
1 tbsp Coffee powder or ½ a Tbsp Espresso powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
½ of a large egg
½ cup whole milk, room temperature
1/3cup - ½ (around 100g) cup dark chocolate chips


1.Preheat oven to 180C. Line 6-7 mold muffin tray.

2. With a fork or a balloon whisk , whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Reserve.

3. Mix coffee powder into the milk and stir until dissolved.

4. Beat the butter, sugar, vanilla essence and egg in a mixing bowl.

5. Add the flour mix and milk alternately to the butter mix in three batches and mix well using a wooden spoon until well mixed.

6. Fold in the chocolate chips and spoon into muffin cases upto 2/3 full.

7. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for about a minute before putting the muffins onto a wire rack to cool completely. Top with ganache if desired. You can see Deeba's chocolate Espresso Ganache in the page.

N.B: I have halved the original recipe. Double the recipe if you want 12-14 cupcakes.

Chicken Bread

I couldn’t appreciate the UK weather more; at least for the time being. UK has one of the worst weather histories where it becomes so unpredictable; it rains; wind blows, sun shines, all on the same day! But since past few weeks it has been so sunny almost every day. Even though it got chilly on and off, we had loads of sunshine with a very comfortable temperature. So unlike UK! It’s still May and usually we don’t get lot of sunshine during April- May and would have to wait until July. Long Days and short nights! I am so happy that I can shoot my pictures as late as 8:30 pm now at sun sets around 9 pm which is never possible during winter where the sun sets as early as 3:40pm!

Anyways, chicken bread was something that I have been eyeing for a long time at Fatii Naaz’s place. She is one of my Social Network buddies and I was flabbergasted by the variety of food she makes. I wanted to give this bread a try ever since I saw at her place and I have seen many great reviews from her friends and followers. I found this bread, a hassle free, easy and a fun to make recipe. I really enjoyed making the pleats on the bread and it looked stunning.

When it comes to bread making, I usually proof my yeast before kneading and have always been comfortable doing it that way. But in this recipe I haven’t done any yeast-proofing; instead all dry ingredients are mixed, which includes yeast and then is churned to dough adding wet ingredients. I was a bit sceptical doing it that way, but went ahead with the recipe as mentioned. And it works!

Chicken Bread
Serves 5-6 people

Ingredients for dough:
4 cups Plain Flour (630g)
1 tbsp Yeast
2 tbsp Powder milk
1 tsp Salt
4 tbsp Oil
1 Large Egg
1 tsp Caster sugar
1 1/3 cups Lukewarm water (Can add 1-2 Tablespoon if required)
1egg for egg wash
1 - 1 ½ teaspoons of sesame seeds for sprinkling

Ingredients for chicken filling:
750g Chicken with bone, boiled with ¼ teaspoon turmeric and shredded – around 1 ¾ - 2 cups
1 medium Onion chopped, ½ a cup, 70g
3/4 - 1 tsp Salt or as required
1 tsp Black pepper
2 tbsp Coriander leaves
2 Green chilies chopped
½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
½ of a small green capsicum finely chopped, 1/3 cup
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp Flour
2 tbsp Butter
¾ - 1 cup whole milk

For the dough:

1. In a bowl mix together flour, salt, caster sugar, milk powder and yeast. Mix well using a fork or a wire whisk.

2. Make a well in the centre and add a lightly beaten egg and oil and knead to a medium soft dough with water. Leave to rise for a minimum of 2 hours or until it rises to double the volume. Punch it back and divide the dough into 2 or 4 parts. If you want large loaf, divide to two parts, and if you want medium size loaf, divide to four parts. I divided into 2 parts but I got two massive loaves. I would be making these again, making sure to divide the dough to four parts and making 4 small ones.

For the filling and Assembling:

1. Heat butter in a saucepan. Sauté chopped onion and garlic till soft. Add capsicum and sauté again till it goes soft.

2. Add flour, salt, black pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes on medium heat.

3. Take the pan off heat and add milk. Stir well using a wire whisk. Return back to heat and cook until it thickens for around 10 minutes by continuous stirring. Once it is thick, mix in shredded chicken, green chillies, garam masala and coriander leaves. It will be sticky at this point. But once it is cooled down completely, it will be fine.

4. Remove the filling from heat and let it cool down completely.

5. Meanwhile flour the working surface. I use a plastic sheet for this as it is easy to transfer the bread to the sheet for baking with ease. Roll the dough into rectangular shape to a thickness of 6mm – 1cm depending on how thick you like your bread. Place the filling in the centre of the dough, horizontally leaving around 2 ½ inch space on both ends.

6. Snip the edges with scissors or knife and fold each snipped part from each side so that they overlap each other, making beautiful pleats. Tuck the ends tightly. See the Pictorial representation for guidance.

7. Transfer the bread on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper. You can also place the rolled dough on the baking sheet, then do the filling and pleating on the sheet if you find harder to transfer the filled bread on to the sheet from teh work surface. Brush the top with 1 beaten egg, sprinkle sesame seeds and leave to rise for about 20 minutes.

8. Bake the bread at 190 degree C for 30 – 35 minutes or until it turns golden all over. Take it out of oven, brush all over with butter, whilst hot and let it rest for 5 minutes. Serve with roasted or boiled vegetables, Mayonnaise and ketchup.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Apple Pola/ Apple Kums (A Malabar Apple Cake / Pudding)

The recipe of Apple pola was given to me by one of my best friends Sufaija. She is just like me, someone who loves desserts. As with any Malabar dessert/sweet recipe like chatti pathiri, Mutta Marichathu, Plantain cake (Kaayi Pola), Pazham Nirachathu,  Unnakkaaya, muttamaala, panneer petty etc this one is also an egg based one and have lot to do with eggs. I had just made this apple pudding once for the sake of trying as the recipe was very simple. I thought it was nice but not something I would crave for often like I do for chocolates. But I am forced to prepare this again and again as my son and hubby loves it!!

I made this couple of months back and then completely forgot about  the recipe. I wouldn’t even have put up this recipe here if my son had never asked me for it. But last week, after the school my son just started asking me for apple squares and I thought he was asking me for some squares he had at school. At first I gave him apples cut in square shape. He dint take it and kept on asking me for apple squares. He then told me it is a cake and he had it from home!!!And it was only this apple cake that I made recently and nothing else and maybe I gave him saying it was apple square!The cake is cut in squares and not wedges. He loves this cake and I this is one way to get him eat eggs as he hates eggs in any other form.

The cake is more like a pudding, soft, moist, fluffy, but not spongy like our normal cakes. It can be eaten warm or at room temperature. This cake does not keep well and should be eaten within a day or two and is normally served along with evening tea. It is very important to set the heat to minimum as the cake gets burnt quickly. You can see that in few of my pictures that the cake is over browned as my son was impatient and hungry so had to turn up the heat a bit and the cake browned much further than it should! The recipe is very simple and very flexible. You can reduce or increase the amount of sugar, flour, eggs and milk powder in the recipe and yet get the same result. I have been making this quite a few times now and always used different measurements and yet you get a good cake.

This recipe als goes for the Kerala kitchen event hosted by sarak of spoonful of delight.

Apple Pola/ Apple Kums (A Malabar Apple cake / pudding)
Serves 4-5

3 - 4 small eating apples or 2 large ones Around 350g - 450g
4-5 large eggs
¼ - 1/3 cup caster sugar
¼ cup Milk powder
¼ cup Plain flour
½ teaspoon vanilla essence or ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder


1.Peel and core apples and cut into rough chunks. Throw them into the blender along with sugar, milk powder and eggs. Blend them for a minute until smooth and pale yellow in colour.

2. Add vanilla essence and plain flour and blend until mixed well.

3. Place a Take a non-stick deep sauce pan (I used a deep 7 inch pan,but the size doesn’t really matter), grease it well using ghee. I also placed a greased baking paper as my cake always tends to stick to the pan. Set the heat to the lowest possible.

4. Pour the batter in the pan, cover it tightly with a lid and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until the top part looks set. If the bottom and the side part is browning quickly, you can place a simmer plate underneath to avoid further browning. Make sure the flame is set to lowest as it browns too quickly if kept on higher heat.

5. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan, before flipping it over to another plate. If using baking paper, you can just pull out the baking paper, holding all its sides. This can be served hot or warm. It should be eaten on the day it’s made and could be refrigerated for the next day use.

Sufaija’s Recipe:

1 Apple
2 eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp plain flour
2 Tbsp Milk powder


1. Blend all in a blender and cook it in a well greased non-stick frying pan or sauce pan. With this amount, it makes a very small cake, so you will need a very small pan of 4-6 inches wide.
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