Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Kerala Meen Mappas..!!

Meen mappas

I was to make this post on Sunday..But I got sick..My throat hurt..My eyes got swollen and my head throbbed..I sneezed and coughed a lot..so much that my chest hurt..I was terribly sick..and I took a day off on Monday and slept the whole day..well,part of it..And now that I am slightly better and that I can breath without making those weird noises that startled my poor husband at night,I though of coming to you...with this Fish plate full of Meen Mappas..Non -Malayali readers..Its just a simple fish curry with lots of tomatoes and spices and coconut milk and some little secret Kerala treasures,which I'll definitely share with you ,if you scroll down...

Eventful,lazy,sick,lots of food,lazy,no work outs,rain and clouds,lazy,sleep,thunder,chilling winds,sleep..Thus went my weekend in one swift..Rains are so common and an everyday affair for us.But when thunders rumble in some unknown corner of the sky and it downpours with fat drops ringing the music,am reminded of home and the rains there..all nostalgic..The rains there have quite some music…not a torrential cacophony..starting from a light drizzle..its a melody and the tempo increases and with accompanying effects sky celebrates rain..Sometime when travelling through the narrow roads through the middle of ever-stretching emerald paddy fields,you can see rain coming from one end of the sky…A majestic arrival with music and bliss ,waking up each of those drooping paddy plant...One of the most beautiful sights ever I’d say..None would ever mind getting wet..:)

Meen mappas

..and heavy rains means piping hot and spicy food back home…Fresh catch of the day goes to kitchen and gets elaborately treated with traditional spices and the it swims in the very famous manchatti / clay pot along with tongue tickling kudampuli / gambooges' and out it comes for lunch with kutharichoru as Fish curry or Fish Moli or Fish Mappas along with of course crispy Fish fry..slurrppp..:)..Yes,fish is such an unavoidable part of Kerala cuisine.We live close to the beach n so fish was available year round, in plentiful..We used to have it 5 days a week mostly and its most of the time the plain spicy curry or varutharacha curry.My favorite fish used to be 'Motha'..dunno what its called in other regions of Kerala or what its English name is..but this one is soo darn good n juicy and the sight and smell of it getting me into highs on every Friday evening after returning back from hostel , a week of starving is still vivid in mind...:)

Apparently,I have completed 2 years of Food Blogging..which means 2 years of continuous yapping to you..sharing all the tidbits news’...boring you out of your minds and showing you some food from my kitchen..:)..With over 300000 page hits till date,this has been a pretty eventful journey..:) Although the first post in this blog was way back in 2007,first food post was made around this time in 2008..and at the risk of sounding clichéd' and all formal..Me and my humble blog are, a lot indebted to each one of you readers and all my blogger friends (esp: the ones who put the 'crackiest' paragraph comments on every post of mine.:D) You supported me even in the toughest of times and you always keep coming back to me…Thank you..:) Hugs to my family ,my amma who reads each single post of mine and that ever-supporting shoulder of a husband who pushed me into this pretty-blogging-business puddle..:)

So,Mappas is a preparation that mom rarely made,dunno why and when made it used to be a cross between the same and fish Molly preparation.I have posted it before here..Sometime back we had this all-fun Mother's day celebs organized my Kerala association here and I was lucky enough and honored to be called into the judging panel of a cookery competition conducted as a part of that celebs.To share the embarrassment of being called a judge, Vineetha was also there with me in the panel..:)..So so all the pluses were, we got to see and taste these great great food items ..errm..almost 20 of them prepared my some great Malayali home cooks out there..and I swear,I never knew before that judging can be so darn tough..!! It was a tasty as well as humbling experience...There was this amazing Garlic-veggie pickle and Chicken bun and 3 types of Biriyani's and Chemmen Puttu and Crab roast and tiered vanilla cakes and..Ok..I need to wipe my drool now..:D..So the winner of the Non veg section was this Meen mappas..one beautiful sight and great treat on tongue I must say...Lots of pretty red tomato slices adorning on top.. I just had a look at the recipe that time,but I was craving for that mappas from the very next day..SO much that I couldn't wait to get our usual Trout fish and set out to make it with my frozen Tilapia fillets. I set out with my usual spice combo, slightly more of it n 2 additions of coconut milk ,the usual method for Mappas...and I was quite happy with the outcome.Thanks to her for giving me the inspiration...:)

Meen mappas

Ingredients


12 oz fish (more than 1/2 lbs)

To marinate:

1 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp pepper powder

1/4 tsp Turmeric

salt

1 tsp Mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds

1/ tsp Asafetida (kayam)

5 broken red chillies

A handful of curry leaves

5 fat garlic cloves crushed (with back of a knife or a mortar-pestle)

1.5 inch piece of ginger julienned (thin sticks)

2-3 tsp Hot Chilli powder

2.5 tsp Coriander powder

1/2 tsp Fresh ground pepper

1 cup pearl onion slices

4 hot thai chillies

1 large tomato sliced long

2 Tbsp Vinegar

2-3 Tbsp Tamarind extract(taste and adjust as we have both tomatoes and vinegar already in there) /3-4 cocum/kudampuli (gambooges') [I prefer tamarind in this preparation 'cos I feel it works more well with the coconut milk than the cocum's.Sometimes I throw in one or 2 cocum's too)

1.5 C thin coconut milk

1/3 - 1/2 C thick coconut milk (adjust as per the spiciness and thickness of the gravy)

Coconut oil

Salt/Pepper

Marinate the fish (I used Tilapia fillets) with chilli powder, pepper powder, Turmeric and enough salt.Keep aside for an hour.

In a deep bottomed manchatti (clay pot)/kadai heat 2 Tbsp coconut oil and shallow fry the fish pieces on both sides till just firm.There is NO need to fully fry it till black n crisp.

Fry in batches till all of the fish is done.

In the same pot/pan add more coconut oil and splutter 1 tsp Mustard seeds,1/2 tsp cumin seeds,1/2 tsp fennel seeds,1/2 tsp Fenugreek seeds,1/4 tsp Asafetida ,5 broken red chillies and fry a handful of curry leaves.

Now reduce the heat and throw in ginger and garlic n sauté under low heat till fragrant.

Keeping the heat low,add the spice powder mix and sauté with ginger and garlic till masala's are fried n fragrant.Keep an eye,not to char them.The reason why I added it into the hot oil is to get it fried and cooked in that oil.

Now throw in all the shallots/onions with salt n mix with the base,drizzle more oil and fry till onions are limp.

Pop in the tomatoes and green chillies n saute till tomatoes are just soft,not fully cooked

Pour 1.5 cups of thin coconut milk and tamarind extract and bring to a slow boil.

Reduce heat,slowly slide in the fried fish pieces and close the pan with a tight fitting lid and keep for 5 mins or so till the fish is cooked.Take care not to over cook or fish might break.Always use spatula carefully or better rotate the pan to mix,so that fish don't break.

Remove the lid and boil for a while till the gravy reduces a bit,if you prefer it that way.

Taste and adjust salt/spice and tamarind.

Pour the vinegar and rotate the pan to mix.

After few mins reduce the heat and pour the thick coconut milk,mix well.Let it heat through.

Switch off,drizzle coconut oil and curry leaves and top with more fresh ground pepper.Keep closed for couple of hours to get the best taste.

Serve hot with rice/appam etc..:)

Meen mappas

Verdict : Although I like my other Mappas preparation too,this one is also equally or more good.The dish develops its taste as it sits (and the gravy also thickens)..preferably the next day.Lots of tomatoes makes this one pretty and tangy..and the coconut milk gives this pure rich thickness and flavor.Coconut oil and curry leaves..Bliss..!! :)

Do give this a try all you fish lovers..:)

Cya

xoxo

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Spicy Thai Noodles with Chicken & Veggies..!!

Before,even trying to pull out my usual excuses for forgetting my blog and torturing you all with my messy biriyani pot all these while on my home page,let me show you what I have brought for you today..:D

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Before going to that ,there is something else..I hope you remember the review of Grill from CSNstores that I put up here last time.They have this amazing range of products from cookwares to furnitures to bathroom vanity..And,I am so excited to tell that there are more reviews and giveaways coming up here about their products..And this time its a set of JA Henckels Knife set..:)..So ,watch out this space for all of ‘em..:)

Ok,so I haven't ever put up a Thai dish here and this is the first one,which I hope would be followed by more..'cos I have lately developed a penchant for their uber-spicy noodles and such stuffs,those kind where you empty a glass of cold water into your mouth after taking each forkful..Even though we used to have Thai food before,I guess we were having it all from the wrong places or wrong dishes as none of them pleased my taste buds..It was mainly too sweet for a spice lover like me..But then I was enlightened and from then on I became a fan..:)..I love their stir fries and spicy noodles which are quick and easy and yet so flavorful with multitudes of those sauces and gorgeous aromatic basil leaves.A good amount of vegetables can also be thrown in and without overcooking you get all its goodness and original essence ..How good is that..Only thing that may be a cause of worry for people having blood pressure problem is the sodium level with all those sauces..That's something to watch out for..

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The essential nudge to make this at home came from the spiciest noodles that they serve in a small Thai place near our office.I have always ordered max spice level at all food places in US and have had it easily like a banana..:p,but this place made me start thinking twice before ordering spice levels again anywhere else.It was HOT..!..But I just LOVED that spiciness..Also,we have a great Thai place near home called Typhoon,with their signature spicy dish called Drunken noodles,indeed drunken with spicy sauces.So one friday evening,I went to the Asian store nearby and gathered all the ingredients needed and set out for this and I am glad I did..:)

Please try using a wok for Chinese/Thai preparation which involves stir-frying if you dont want to end up spending the rest of the night scrubbing your cooking range..This can be a quite messy business people..:)

So here we go…I have not followed any particular recipe..Just threw in all the veggies and chicken and a combo of sauces that I tasted and adjusted as per my liking.Some tips which I have shared in between are the ones that I gathered from this site and few cookbooks that I happened to browse through a while back.

PS :Feel free to play around with the sauces of your choice as there are so many of them which gives the tasty twists and turns to the dish..

PPS: I aint gonna complain anymore about my pics shot in bleak yellow light with messy bowls n no props.No,I swear I dont even know what that garlic and carrot are doing there..I can vaguely remember those days when I use to watch out for light and use foam boxes n props to shoot pics with my body flexing in admirable angles..Smirk not dear readers..:(.I rest my case here..Period.

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Ingredients

Approx 6-8 oz/1/2 lb flat rice noodles

3 Tbsp peanut oil

6 garlic cloves minced

1/3 C roasted peanuts

4 dried red chillies

1 tbsp coarsely ground roasted red chilli (Dry roast the red chilli till it turns dark n crush it in mortar n pestle or you can even use store bought red chilli flakes)

1 C onion/shallots cut into chunks

1 small head of Asian broccoli

1 C mushrooms

1 carrot sliced into rounds

½ a Red pepper sliced

1 Lbs Chicken sliced thin (chicken and veggies approx same size)

A generous amount of Basil leaves

For the sauce:

3 Tbsp Soy paste( A thick soy sauce,use the regular one if you don’t have this)

1-2 Tbsp hot Sriracha sauce( Alert:Taste and add if you are a low-spice eater and don’t want to explode :D)

2 tsp Worchester sauce/2 Tbsp Tamarind juice

1 Tbsp tomato sauce

1 tbsp Fish sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp or more of palm sugar/brown sugar

Red curry paste (OPTIONAL.. I added this even though I don’t like that taste.Please don’t ask me why,am crazy in kitchen..So I tipped in and obviously didn’t like that flavor coming up in my noodles.So if you like that taste ,go ahead n pop in 1 tsp,pretty strong it is.Else ,please bury that in a conspicuous corner of your fridge/pantry )

Mix all these ,taste,adjust n keep aside.The key is to get that correct balance of flavor for your sauce as per your taste.The different varieties used and its amount gives that particular flavor to the dish.So play around and strike that right balance of your choice in your sauce by tasting it.If you know the taste and flavor of each cooking sauce,it’ll be easy to work with it to achieve your desired taste..:)

Method

Boiil the noodles in water for sometime (approx 5 mins) till its soft n limp,but still has a bite to it (‘cos we need to work it up in wok later).

Heat the wok till its smoking and pour in peanut oil.Swirl the pan to coat the oil on the bottom. Remember,cold oil to smoking hot pan,then smoking hot oil.

Now throw in garlic ,roasted peanuts,broken dried red chillies,roasted ground red chillies (salt can cut out the chilli fumes) and few seconds later ,all the shallots/onions.Quickly stir fry under high heat till they turn a shade of brown.

Throw in all the chicken slices and stir fry along with garlic and onions till they are no more pink n kinda firm.

Add in the veggies (mushrooms,asian broccoli,red peppers,carrots etc) and stir fry with the chicken under high heat till they are just cooked,still bright and crisp. If you are adding tofu ,add it before the veggies and stir fry till golden n firm.

Push everything to a side, reduce the heat a bit ,pour some oil and crack the eggs in there.Scramble it lightly there and when set ,scramble it to fairly big chunks.Mix with the base.

Now increase the heat again and throw in the sauce mix and keep stir frying under high heat ,till the sauce is well coated on everything.Add the basil and fry.Give the stir-frying process a break every now n then for few seconds to get the veggies n chicken fried,but not longer that it gets charred and stuck. Keep the heat high and always listen to the loud sizzle and try to maintain it all throughout the cooking.

When the chicken is cooked(try pressing with spatula and it should break after some resistance.Its not over cooked in Thai cuisine,where the meat just falls off) ,taste the sauce and adjust with more sauces/salt/sugar.

Now throw in the noodles and toss and stir fry with the base till they are all coated well with the sauces. Use a wooden tong or better use 2 spatula’s,one in each hand and toss around vigorously till good.

Top with more basil and serve immediately..!

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Verdict: Quick and Yum..Something that is as good as the ones we get in restaurants,but far more healthy with us being able to control the oil and other stuffs that go into it.I’ll be making this more often playing with the amount and type of sauces..Fish sauce will be the one that I may add in more amount in future,was pretty allergic to it,but found out that it gives great flavor.Also,would buy some plum sauce and try it too..Anyways I am glad I could muster some energy on that friday night lethargy to whip this up.Do try and you will too..:)

Hope to see you all again soon..Take care ,eat yum n good n stay well foodies..:)

xoxo

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