Curry leaf kuzhambu

This recipe is dedicated to all our fellow South Indians who have had a pepper or curry leaf kuzhambu in the past and had not tried making it possibly thinking it was quite challenging.   On the contrary this has to be one of the simplest dishes to pull together and one that keeps for quite a few days in the fridge.   For our non South Indian friends – kuzhambu is a variation of sambar without the addition of boiled tuar dahl.

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What do I need to make it?

  • Whole garlic bulb peeled
  • Small ball of tamarind – soaked in warm water

To be ground into a powder

  • 1 tsp tuar dahl
  • 1 tsp channa dahl
  • 2 tsp pepper corns
  • 3/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 dried whole red chillies
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 cup of curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil (not toasted variety
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Approximately 250 -300 ml

How do I make it?

Roast all the powder ingredients with a tablespoon of sesame oil – once roasted, grind to a fine powder.   Heat a pan with the remaining sesame oil and saute the garlic pods and powder for a couple of minutes before pouring in the tamarind water (without the pulp).  Add another cup of water, sprinkle salt and leave to simmer over a low heat.   The dish should thicken to the consistency of treacle – add a little extra water if it is too thick.   Once done serve with boiled rice.   The kuzhambu tastes even better as the days go by.

PS To make a melagu/pepper kuzhambu increase the quantity of coriander seeds to 2 tsp and reduce curry leaves to 1 strip.

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Salad therapy – pepper prawns with avocado and rocket leaves

We have been rather quiet this week but have been collecting a few recipes which we couldn’t find time in the day to post.   One of us had a pretty big milestone birthday mid-week – officially in a new age bracket statistically speaking!  The first recipe we would like to share is a warm pepper prawn salad served with avocado and baby plum tomatoes on a bed of rocket leaves.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 1 packet of rocket leaves
  • 12 baby plum tomatoes halved
  • 2 small avocado’s pitted and cubed
  • 20 jumbo prawns
  • 1 small shallot finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 Thai red chilli chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Handful of coriander leaf stems chopped finely
  • Handful of fresh basil chopped
  • A generous knob of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the prawns and keep them aside for half an hour.   Heat butter in a pan and add the chopped garlic to it – saute for 30 seconds before adding the chopped shallots and red chilli.   Continue to saute till the shallots go translucent before adding the prawns.   Cook on both sides till done – shouldn’t take more than 8-10 minutes.   Garnish with chopped coriander stems and basil.   Squeeze the juice of half lemon and serve hot on a bed of rocket leaves, avocados and baby plum tomatoes.

Walnut pesto

Both of us are not keen on pesto that comes in a jar as it tends to be too oily (although both our kids love it!) and we have finally hit upon a homemade version which hopefully is worthy of getting an Italian’s seal of approval.  We didn’t have any pine nuts or grated Parmesan cheese but we think walnuts and Pecorino Romano works just as well.   The addition of walnut oil accentuates the taste of the walnuts in the pesto.  We had it for lunch today with some penne and tricolore salad.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 small bunches of fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Handful walnuts toasted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp walnut oil
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

A small bowl full – 6-8 heaped tablespoons

How do I make it?

Place the basil, garlic and walnut in a mixer or pestle and mortar and blend to a coarse paste.   Add the oils, cheese and adjust the seasoning.  Use it with your favourite pasta or as a spread on some grilled ciabata.

Noodles with oriental mushrooms

If you love mushrooms like we do, then here’s simple recipe to add to your repertoire.  It can be pulled together relatively quickly if you are pressed for time.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 250 gms assorted oriental mushrooms sliced (we used pink, yellow and grey oyster mushrooms with some shitake mushrooms)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 Thai red chilli chopped
  • 2 tsp soya sauce
  • 2 tsp spiced black rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp Shaosin wine
  • 2 tsp oil

How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Heat a large pan and add the oil to it.   Toss in the garlic and chopped red chilli and saute for a few minutes before adding the mushrooms.   Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes and then add the soya sauce, vinegar and wine.   Give it a good mix and switch off the heat.   Adjust seasoning and serve on a bed of noodles (we added some toasted sesame seed oil and chopped spring onion to the noodles).

Horse Gram Series – Olan (stew)

As promised earlier we are going to try and pull together a few recipes using horse gram over the next few months.  Olan is one of the simplest dishes to make with the fewest of ingredients and the addition of fragrant coconut oil makes it one of our favourite comfort foods.  We normally make this dish with pressure cooked black eyed peas, however for this recipe we have substituted it with pressure cooked horse gram.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 courgettes peeled and cubed
  • 1/4 cup horse gram – soaked overnight and pressure cooked
  • 4-5 green chillies slit
  • Handful fresh curry leaves – washed and crushed in the hand to release their aroma
  • 2 1/2 tbsp of coconut milk powder (can be substituted with 200 ml of tinned coconut milk)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Cook the courgettes, green chillies and curry leaves with a little bit of water over a low heat.   Once done add the pressure cooked horse gram and bring to a boil.   Sprinkle the coconut milk powder and adjust seasoning.   Switch off the heat and drizzle the coconut oil over the dish – serve hot with rice.

Stuffed chilli peppers

We used to make this stuffing for a melted cheese sandwich in our sandwich maker and decided to experiment a bit with it.  End result was a dish which took very little time to prep and was tasty and satisfying.   We have a few more ideas for stuffed pepper dishes which once tried and tested will be shared with you.

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What do I need to make it?

  • 6 long green chillies (non spicy variety – substitute with small bell peppers or long red peppers if not available)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 10 sun dried tomatoes chopped
  • 4 tbsp black olives chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 cup of grated cheese (mix of cheddar/mozzarella)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How much will I make?

6 stuffed peppers (serves 2-3)

How do I make it?

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  Make a slit along the length of the pepper.   Place stuffing inside the cavity till full.   Bake in a pre heated oven for 40-45 minutes at 190 degree Centigrade till the peppers are cooked through.  Serve hot.

You could add or delete ingredients to mixture ie. add pepperoni or ham and make a nice melted cheese treat for the kids.

Peas and corn rice pilau

Yesterday we strayed from our standard jeera pilau recipe and made it with a few twists.   We took a gamble and served it to the kids  for their supper last night and surprisingly it was well received (surprising as they are fussy eaters – fingers crossed this in not a one off).  Although we had the rice with a vegetable curry we think it can work on its own with a simple raita as an accompaniment

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What do I need to make it?

  • 2 cups of basmati rice washed and drained (we used a Tilda extra long grain variety that resembles basmati when cooked)
  • Whole garam masala (stick of cinnamon, 5 cloves, 5 cardamom pods, 1 black cardamom, 2 bays leave, pinch of mace)
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Bahraini spice mix (a blend of coriander, turmeric, red pepper, cardamom, cloves, ginger, black pepper, garlic, anise and sesame)
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Handful fresh coriander and mint leaves chopped
  • 3-4 tbsp ghee
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Heat a pan with the ghee.  Add the whole garam masala ingredients with the cumin seeds and saute for a minute.  Add the sliced onions and saute over medium heat for five minutes.   Sprinkle the Bahraini spice mix (you could probably find something similar in your local Middle Eastern grocer) and add the peas and corn.   Stir for a minute and add the washed rice and saffron – continue stirring for another couple of minutes before switching off the heat.   Add the chopped coriander and mint, adjust the seasoning and transfer into electric rice cooker.   Add 4 cups of water and set to cook.   Once cooked stir the rice and serve hot.