Ria's Collection: September 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014


Ienjoy making Chinese food at home. It's so simple,easy to make and totally delicious!Whenever we are confused about where to eat out,we end up at a Chinese or Thai restaurant. The aroma that wafts around in the restaurant as you walk in, is just enough for me to build up an appetite. I ate a LOT of amazing Chinese food growing up. Mamma and Amma are so good at it. Not a week passes by without having Chinese food for dinner. It's the same even now, in my home in Kannur.
Every time I make it, I tell myself I should do more,atleast once a week. But, with the usual drama with Ian,my cooking is always last minute. I rarely plan. I cannot plan,that's the fact. Everytime I come across a good cookbook, I tell myself that I should create a plan for the coming week and shop accordingly. Instead, I always find myself digging into my freezer,fridge and pantry to see what I have on had, and cook with it. Luckily, most of them have been a success ! :)
Why is it that I can never plan ahead for future meals? Are you like that too? Well, that isn't the case when we call people over to share our meals with. That takes a lot of planning from my side,to make sure that I execute everything properly in time.The menu will be decided atleast a week earlier and then shopping lists are made,plans are made (including the timings) as to when to start with what!

Recently,we bought a beautiful red wok. I have so many memories regarding a wok!Mamma always made her Chinese food in a wok she brought back from Malaysia, many many moons ago.Mamma had given Amma one, but,since our lovely little Kannur is a seaside town and the fact that we live almost in the beach didn't help it. It rusted. Amma tried her best to save it by soldering the metal but eventually,we bid goodbye to it.
When we went shopping for a wok, I was torn between two things I saw there. It was another beautiful multifunctional blue pot and this shining red wok.When I told Jobin the affinity towards the wok because of all the memories I have attached with it, he gave me a thumbs up to pick that shiny red thing! Then, I waited. I waited for that perfect day to inaugurate the wok and that perfect dish that I wanted to make in it.

So,when we went to our seafood market,I bought some Tiger Shrimp because I am totally in love with shrimp and selected seafood.Then,I bought some rice noodles too,thinking about pairing the two together. Jobin's mom loves rice noodles and I try to make it whenever I can when she visits us.So,as you would have guessed by now, the combination was Sichuan Prawns with Sesame Garlic Noodles. I waited for Jobin's mom to get here to inaugrate the wok and I made one of my favourite seafood in it.The recipe for this fabulous shrimp is from our family favourite Chinese cookbook by Mrs. Bhanu Ravindran.
Serves 4

500 grams tiger shrimp,cleaned
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 tablespoon tomato ketchup
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon roasted white sesame seeds,ground
1 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon white vinegar

6 tablespoon oil
5 green serrano chilies, chopped
5 red serrano chilies,chopped
1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 large red onion,sliced

1 teaspoon cornstarch + 3 tablespoon water
3 spring onions,chopped

Method: Marinate the shrimp with salt and pepper,refrigerate while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
In a small bowl, mix together tomato ketchup,soy sauce,black pepper, ground sesame seeds, cayenne & vinegar.
In a wok or in a large frying pan, heat 3 tablespoon oil on high heat and fry the shrimp for 2 minutes,per side, Keep them aside. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil into the same wok and let it heat up. Add the chopped chilies,garlic,ginger and onions. Let them cook for 2 minutes.Lower the heat to medium and then, add the sauces and fried shrimp.Stir well to mix. Add the cornflour mixed with water and cook for a minute. Garnish with chopped spring onions and serve hot!

This is one fiery hot super delicious curry! I can tolerate heat from chilies quite a bit and still, this curry was like very hot for me. Don't even think of giving it to your little ones,as is. Sichuan stuff is meant to be spicy hot! If you want to decrease the heat,cut down on the chilies and the cayenne. If you feel that the heat is not upto your mark,after making the adjustments,adjust it with black pepper. in the end.Ian didn't get a share of this :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


T he only reason for  trying out this curry was because, I do not like to eat greens in it's pure form. No matter what it is, I cannot. I like to combine it with some protein and that way, I just forget about the green goodness that's hidden in the sauce. My Spinach & Coriander Chicken Curry, one of my most popular recipes,is a good example. So, when I came across this recipe in 660 Curries by Mr.Raghavan Iyer, I made a mental note to try it as soon as I could.
I've never cooked with mustard greens so far. I've heard thats it's bitter. So, when we went to our Farmers Market last weekend, I bought a bunch of  mustard greens having this recipe in mind. Only after I came home did I realise that it also called for some Spinach. So, naturally, the curry didn't happen that day. It had to wait until we went and bought some spinach. Jobin's mom is visiting us now and she loves to eat greens,like most other people. When I told her I am planning on making this curry,she was equally excited.
Jobin loves dosa with chicken curry,of any kind.So, that was the combination we had,last night. This curry pairs well with pretty much anything...rice,rotis etc., I am not a fan of Palak Paneer and I did have a fear in my mind if it would taste like it.My fears vanished when I took a small bite once the curry was simmering away. It did taste different. It could be because there's chicken in it. The juices from the chicken can flavour the sauce like no other! The original recipe calls for a whole chicken cut into 8 portions. Even though I planned on making this curry for over a week, it never occured to me that I should be using a bone-in chicken. Instead, I went ahead with a different cut.So, if you are planning to sneak in more greens into your diet,try this curry. This is delicious and doesn't taste green,just the way I like it!

Whenever I am making a boneless chicken curry,I try to use boneless,skinless chicken thighs. Dark meat of a chicken is amazing and so full of flavour when compared to white meat,the breast of the chicken. I use chicken breast only for certain purposes,like kebabs,cutlets etc.Since I used a boneless cut of chicken, I had to alter the recipe as I went along.It was just a few shortcuts because the cooking time is much less than bone-in chicken.


1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 tablespoon coriander seeds,ground
1 teaspoon cumin seeds , ground
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 chicken ( 3 1/2 pounds),skin removed,cut into 8 pieces
4 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium sized red onion,finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic,finely chopped
8 ounces fresh spinach,coarsely chopped
8 ounces fresh mustard greens,coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon rock salt, pounded

In a medium bowl, whisk together ingredients from yogurt through turmeric. Add the chicken to it, toss well to coat,cover and marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan on medium high heat.Add the chicken pieces,reserving any marinade in the dish, Cook the chicken until light brown on both sides,about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the pieces to a plate.
Pour the remaining 2 tablespoon oil into the pan and when hot,add the onions and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium- low,cover the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions and garlic turn caramel brown,about 15-20 minutes. Add the chopped greens by the handful,cover the skillet and let it wilt. Repeat till the greens are over. Stir in the reserved marinade and 1/2 cup water. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally,to allow the greens to soften and the marinade to cook , 3-7 minutes.
Return the chicken to the pan and let it cook,covered for another 15-20 minutes. Carefully transfer the greens and any liquid in the skillet to a food processor and process to create a smooth sauce. Spoon this sauce over the chicken,sprinkle the rock salt and serve!

This curry was very well recieved by all of us.Ian proved to be a better eater than me! He loved the sauce and mopped it up with dosa,chapathi and even rice! The sauce is very mild,unlike our usual chicken curries. There's no cream in it, yet, it creates a beautiful silky sauce.It must be yogurt in the marinade! If you feel the sauce is thickening when it cools, feel free to thin it out using some chicken broth or even water!
I hope you enjoy this healthy & delicious curry !

Thursday, September 18, 2014


The weather is getting cooler here by the day and that's when I feel like eating things which are mushy,warm & comforting like a khichdi,soup,risotto etc. I usually like my rice to be perfectly cooked,each grain separate from the other. But,for this dish, I let go of my usual expectations and embrace the warm,flavourful,mushy, healthy & delicious rice. It doesn't take that long prepare a big batch of comforting Toor Dal Khichdi.
This is a perfect way to sneak veggies into your diet. Even into your child's diet. No one will know what's gone into it because you are pressure cooking everything till they are really really soft,which means,they almost disappear and melt and become one with rice and dal. The best way to eat it is with a big helping of ghee,which will almost immediately melt into a pool and a serving of spicy mango pickle. Atleast,that's the way I think it should be eaten.
I love one pot meals and this one fits the bill! You just throw all the ingredients into the pot one by one and that's pretty much it! I've used just carrots,peas and green beans for the veggies but you can switch and use whatever combo you would like. Maybe,you could hold back on that beetroot. It is going to turn your rice into some other colour! Unless, your child or the child in you wants a pinkish Khichdi! This recipe is from Sia and this is the first one I've tried from her blog. It's just awesome and I am looking forward to trying more!


1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice
3/4 cup Toor Dal

2 tablespoon ghee
1 inch piece of Cinnamon
3 green Cardamoms
3 Cloves

1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
1 dried red chili
1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida

1 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 heaped teaspoon ground Coriander
1 1/2 cups of mixed vegetables
1/4 cup cilantro,chopped
3 serrano chilies, split
1 inch piece of ginger,peeled and crushed

Wash and soak the rice and dal in water for 15 minutes as you prep the rest of the ingredients.
Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker on medium-high heat and add the cinnamon,cardamom and cloves. Let it sizzle and infuse the oil for 30 seconds. Then, add the mustard seeds and once they pop,add the cumin ,red chili and asafoetida. Stir well for 30 seconds. Then, add the drained rice and dal followed by turmeric and ground coriander. Mix well. Add in the mixed veggies,cilantro, chilies,ginger and salt. Stir well. Pour 8 cups of water, mix it in,check for salt and let it come to a boil.
Put the lid on with the weight and cook on medium heat for 5 whistles. Turn off the heat and let the pressure go down on it's own. Open the lid,stir well,adjust the consistency if needed. Check for seasonings and serve hot with ghee and pickle. You can garnish it with some more cilantro,if you'd like it that way!

If you want to cook this Khichdi without a pressure cooker, you can do the same in a heavy bottomed vessel. Cook down till the rice and dal turns mushy. Adjust water as needed.

I am very happy whenever I make this. It's mostly because we 3 love it equally. It is a well balanced meal and very filling. A little goes a long way.It also reheats well which is an added bonus! That way, I don't have to worry about what we have to eat the next day!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Did you have a situation at the grocery store when you saw a banana and it was called a Plantain? I have had such days here. Back in Kerala, a Cherupazham was always called a Plantain and an Ethakka, a Banana. It is just the opposite here. I didn't get a hint about it till I moved to Bangalore. There, everything was a banana. There was no distinction between Cherupazham and an Ethakka. And, I hated the Bananas they gave us in our hostel. There were rumors that our warden would go to the fruit market late in the evening to buy the leftover fruits,which would be bananas,so ripe that they would fall off of the bunch. I think it was true.The discoloured bananas would welcome us every morning by the food counter in the hostel and I never ate it. It was never a yellow one, it was always the over ripe black skinned banana.
My Daisy Mummy's husband Jose, to this date, will not eat a banana if it has a black spot on it!
We used to have monthly Birthday celebrations at the hostel and that was the single night where the person serving rice would use the most flattest spoon they can find. It's because, they are serving Pulao instead of the regular white rice! We would ask for a second helping and you should really see their faces then! And, while we were enjoying the 'spread', our warden would come by and place a banana by our plates. Yes, those same bananas. We would all take it with us as we exit the dining hall to wash our plates and leave it by the table they have kept for keeping our water bottles as we wash our plates! Yes, all the bananas will find it's way back into the kitchen, not to our stomachs! I am pretty sure many girls ate them,but, I didn't.
Once I reached here, all the bananas were very pretty. So spotless, so yellow! But,after the terrific experience from the hostel, I wouldn't touch one. Jobin would eat his share but not me. The only way I would eat bananas were in the form of cakes,breads and muffins. I really enjoyed that form of bananas,for sure. Now, Ian loves bananas and enjoys eating it with Avilose Podi, Puttu, Cakes and even as is. So,we always have bananas at home. The other day, for some reason, there were quite a few sitting not so very pretty on top of the fridge.It was very spotted. But,that's exactly what you need for a Banana bread. More the spots,the better it is.
So,all those were put into good use and Ian helped me mash up the bananas.I've been using Elise's recipe for years now and it has never let me down. Perfectly balanced and deliciously moist recipe for the most perfect Banana Bread. You can skip the nuts if you want to but I added some cashewnut for a bit of bite.

2-3 very ripe bananas *,peeled
1/3 cup melted unsalted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 egg,beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup cashewnuts,broken tossed with 2 teaspoon flour
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Method: Pre heat the oven to 350 F / 180 C and butter a 4 X 8 inch loaf tin.
In a medium bowl,mash the bananas with a fork. Stir in the melted butter followed by baking soda & salt. Add in sugar,beaten egg & vanilla. Stir to mix.  Add in the flour and nuts and stir carefully till just mixed.Transfer the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until the skewer inserted comes out clean.Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan. Slice and serve.

* If you cannot find bananas (robesta variety),you can substitute by using 8 Poovan Pazham.

He loves helping me with my work around the house. He helps me put stuff away when we get back from a grocery store. He helps me unload the dishwasher. He is our little server when friends come over...just that he would make a stop in between to take a few quick bites! He knows what goes into his milk everyday and reminds us what we should be putting into it. He loves helping me mix a batch of cupcakes and lines the muffin tin all by himself. He helps us vaccum the house. He helps us in sorting trash...he even knows what goes into the recycle bin! He has grown a lot! Even though I enjoy every little help he does for me, I do miss the times where he was much smaller!

All 3 of us enjoyed this classic bread immensely!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


The weather was perfect when I made this Sherbet. Not anymore. It is getting cooler here and this is not the kind of weather where one would want to eat a Sherbet. Well, I can eat a DQ Oreo Blizzard even in peak winter, but,not a Sherbet in Fall! Let's just face it. Oreo Blizzard is just plain awesome! I don't know what goes into it and I really don't want to know about it too...why spoil the fun?! Every time we go through a Drive-through, Ian senses it very quickly and says 'Mam' by the time we stop by the menu board!

Jennifer's recipes are fun and simple to make. The fresh Simple Strawberry Pie I made a few weeks ago was my first attempt with her recipes. It was simple yet totally delicious. I liked the fact that it uses fresh strawberries in a small amount. We rarely buy berries in bulk. It's always a small box,a pint or so. Whenever we buy berries,it is usually used up in cakes or as a filling for cakes. Off late, I've been trying things differently and made an amazing Blueberry Lemonade with fresh blueberries. I must say that was a very smart move from my side! It was just so,so refreshing and tasty!
This one is no different. A very small portion of ingredients are blended together (yes, blended!) to make a very refreshing Sherbet. A Sherbet has a small portion of dairy in it and that makes it different from Sorbet.The first one I ever ate was an Orange Sherbet a few years ago ,and I was bowled over by it. When I came across this recipe in her cookbook,I decided to give it a try just to see if I could make a decent Sherbet at home. I think, I did!

The recipe calls for frozen fruit,which,is the most simplest thing to make. Just clean your fruits,lay them in one layer on a cookie sheet and pop them into the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them into a ziptop bag,seal and freeze for future use. Also,simple syrup is just equal parts of water and sugar boiled together for a minute and cooled.You can save the remains for future cocktails,lemonades,iced teas etc.,

2 cups frozen strawberries
1/4 cup simple syrup
1/2 cup milk

Method: Blend all the ingredients together,2-3 minutes until smooth. Transfer into a tight lidded freezer friendly container and freeze until firm,4 to 6 hours,stirring every 1 to 2 hours.

I want to tell you something. This recipe would taste just like it's ingredients. So, if you are not a fan of strawberries alone,do a half and half with another frozen fruit. We love frozen desserts,for that matter any dessert,so it was a hit with Ian. He knows where the frozen desserts are kept from the time he started to walk. Our freezer is in the bottom half of the refrigerator which makes it even easier for him to reach for all the ice creams, sorbets and sherbets!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


We were at Napa Valley a few years back and that was the first time I ever tasted a Pannacotta. It was a Buttermilk Pannacotta with Berry Coulis which was totally delish! I came back home and recreated something close to that,with a twist. It was my Vanilla Pannacotta with Pomegranate Sauce. Ever since,Pannacotta ranks high on my list of favourite desserts!
A long time blog reader of mine,C,had invited us over for dinner last year and she carefully remembered my love for it and made the same from my blog. I was so touched! Everytime we go out, I scan the dessert menu to see if a pannacotta is on the menu. There's something about a cold creamy pudding.

A very close family to ours was moving from Minnesota and we had gone to their house to help pack up some of their stuff . I had volunteered to bring in the dinner because that's the last thing they should be worrying about when they have a whole house to pack up! So, along with a Veggie Pulao & Chicken Tikka Masala,I took some Ginger & Mango Pannacotta along with us.
This recipe is spiced with ground ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. For those of you who think they might not their desserts spiced up, feel free to leave it out. I made one batch and set it in small bowls so that everyone gets their share and helps in controlling portion sizes. You can of course, set it in one container and cut them out into desired shapes. Serve it with a drizzle of mango pulp and a few pieces of fresh mango along with a sprig of mint!


1 pouch /7 grams unflavoured gelatin
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar *
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup sweetened canned mango pulp

Method: In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over milk;let stand for 5 minutes to soften.Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat,gently whisk together cream, sugar,cinnamon & ginger; heat just until bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat.

Stir in gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve gelatin. Whisk in mango puree. Pour into six to eight ramekins,cover with plastic wrap and chill until set.

*Adjust the sugar as needed depending on the sweetness from the mango pulp. The original recipe called for just 2 tablespoons of sugar but I added more to suit our taste.
I promise you, this would be the last of the mango related things you would get to see here for this year! I make sweet somethings with mangoes throughout the year because I used tinned mango pulp.I am a not a fan of the fresh mangoes we get here even during peak Summer.

It's getting a bit cooler in the evenings which kind of makes me happy because I will get to eat some Pumpkin Pies and Pecan Pies very soon!

Many of you tell me that a post without mentioning how Ian liked the food,is incomplete! :) Ian literally ran towards me when I brought the Pannacotta out of our fridge to photograph them. He stood beside me and I had a tough time pushing his eager hands away from grabbing my little bowls. He couldn't wait to taste it and from the way he behaved after that, I think he really really liked it. He's got his Amma's sweet tooth,for sure!

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