Prawn Biryani, Quick & Easy

Prawn Biryani, Quick & Easy

I love all shelled seafood and prawns are my favourite. I have always made prawn biryani but my usual recipe is quite long and complicated. The other day, I wanted to make prawn biryani fast. And I came up with this recipe that can be made in less than an hour.

Ingredients

Prawns 250 g, cleaned, shelled and deveined

For the marinade:

Red chilli powder 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Pepper powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Onion 1 large, sliced
Oil 3 tbsp
Basmati rice 2 cups, washed and soaked
Ghee 1 tbsp
Green chillies 2, chopped
Tomatoes 2 medium, chopped

Coconut milk 1 carton
Curry leaves

Method

Marinate the prawns and leave for about half an hour.

Heat oil in a wok and add the onions. Saute till the onions turn translucent.

Add the green chillies and curry leaves. Fry for a minute.

Add the marinated prawns and fry for two minutes.

Add the tomatoes and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Add 2 cups of water and cook for 5 minutes.

Drain the soaked basmati rice and add to the wok. Mix well. Add the coconut milk.

Transfer to a microwave safe dish. Microwave for 14 minutes.

Loosen the rice with a fork and add the ghee.

Serve hot.

Ethapazham Pachadi (Kerala Plantain Curry)

Ethapazham Pachadi (Kerala Plantain Curry)

If there is one variety of banana that I absolutely love, it is the Ethapazham or Nendrapazham, or plantain. It is great as a fruit, in curries and in desserts. This particular curry, Ethapazham Pachadi, is easy to make and is a fine balance of sweet and spicy.

Ingredients

Ethapazham or plantain 2, peeled and chopped

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Grated coconut 3 tbsps

Green chillies 2

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Red chilli whole 1

Coconut oil 1 tbsp

Yoghurt 2 tbsps

Method

Boil the chopped plantains with red chilli powder, turmeric and salt in 1 cup of water.

Grind the grated coconut, green chillies and cumin seeds.

Mash the cooked banana.

Add the ground coconut mix.

Add the curry leaves and bring to a boil. If it is too thick, add some water.

Take it off the heat and add the whipped yoghurt.

Heat the coconut oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds and whole red chilli.

Garnish the curry and serve hot with rice.

Vegetarian Thai Papaya Salad

Vegetarian Thai Papaya Salad

Raw Papaya Salad is a delicious dish available at all Thai restaurants and a favourite with most patrons. The mix of hot chillies with garlic, shrimps, tamarind paste and fish sauce makes for a riot of flavour, very pleasing to the palate. I have tried to make a vegetarian raw papaya salad that offers the taste without the shrimps and the fish sauce.

Ingredients

Raw papaya 1 small

Tomato 1 medium

Garlic 3 cloves

Chillies 6-7, really hot ones

Fresh cowpea (lobiya) 2-3, roughly broken into 2” pieces

Soy sauce 1 tsp

Olive oil 1 tsp

Rock salt to taste

Peanuts 1/2 cup, roasted

Cashew nuts 10, roasted

Tamarind pulp 1 tbsp

Lemon 1

Jaggery powder 2 tsps

Method

Peel and slice the papaya into thin strips. I cut it the way the Thais do by scoring and slicing the papaya. You can follow this video to learn how to do it right

https://youtu.be/Wvv0dqZ_xa4

Soak the sliced papaya in iced water for 15 minutes. Drain. This will make the papaya crunchy.

Crush the garlic and rock salt in a wide mortar and pestle. Add the chillies to the mortar. I used the Indian Bird’s Eye chilli, known as Kanthari in Kerala. In Singapore, I used Cili Padi. The spiciness of the chilli gives the salad its special flavour and a kick.

Add the soy sauce and olive oil to the garlic and chilli in the mortar. Add the jaggery and the tamarind pulp. I soak a lump of tamarind the size of a small lemon in some water overnight and squeeze out the pulp and use it.

Add the drained papaya to the mortar and pound gently.

Cut the tomato into thick wedges. Add the cowpea and tomato to the mortar and pound gently to get out the juices of the vegetables.

Squeeze the lemon juice into the salad. Add the lemon skin too and pound gently. Toss well and then remove the lemon skin from the salad and throw it away.

Add the crushed peanuts and cashew nuts and toss well.

Serve with garlic bread or cheese toast.

Maida Pottu (Sweet Dumplings)

Maida Pottu (Sweet Dumplings)

I was introduced to this recipe at our cooking class in middle school. The teacher had us making these delicious fried dumplings to be eaten during recess. I have loved them since then. They are light, tasty and easy to make.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

All-purpose flour (maida) 2 cups

Baking powder 1/2 tsp

Milk 250 ml

Egg 1 large

Sugar 3/4 cup

Oil for deep frying

Method

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar.

Break the egg into the mix.

Add the milk and make a smooth batter.

Heat the oil in a wok and drop a little bit of the batter in. It should form a ball and rise to the top.

Drop the batter into the hot oil, a ladleful at a time and fry till they turn golden brown on either side.

Serve as a snack.

Mango, tomato, onion salsa

Mango, tomato, onion salsa

I consider this summer in a bowl. It is a very welcome dish in the hot months and works well as a starter with nachos or chips and a side dish with pasta or biryani.

Ingredients

Mango 1 large, ripe

Onion 1 small, chopped

Tomato 1 medium, chopped

Green chilli 1, minced

Chilli flakes 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Method

I use a mango that is firm. It should’ve ripe, but not squishy. Peel the mango and chop it into small cubes.

Add the chopped mango, onion, tomato and green chilli to a bowl.

Add the salt and red chilli flakes and toss it till everything is mixed well.

Let it rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Serve with nachos or chips.

Vanilla and Almond Cake

Vanilla and Almond Cake

This is a cake that I whip up in 15 minutes and bake for 40 minutes. When guests call and say they will be at my place in less than an hour, I make this for tea and gossip. Goes well with wine as well.

A cake with a bite

Ingredients

All-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups

Eggs 3

Butter 180 g

Sugar 1 cup

Baking powder 1 tsp

Vanilla 1 tsp

Whole almonds 10

Milk 2 tbsps

Method

Cream the butter and sugar together till it is smooth.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and add to the mix. Whisk well to get the air in.

Sift the flour and baking powder together and mix into the beaten mixture.

Add the vanilla essence and milk and mix well.

Pour into a greased cake tin. I used a heart-shaped cake tin for a change.

Arrange the almonds on top. They will sink in as the batter rises in the oven.

Bake in 160 degree C oven for 40 minutes but check after 30. A toothpick stuck into the cake should come out clean.

Cool on a rack and cut into cubes. Serve with tea or red wine.

Jackfruit Biryani

Jackfruit Biryani

It is jackfruit season in Kerala and the tree in my cousin’s backyard is laden with fruit. She gave me raw jackfruit and my original plan was to cook it the traditional way with coconut. But the smell of fresh raw jackfruit as it boiled was so tempting that I decided to try to make biryani with it. This is a recipe that I developed on the fly and the end result turned out delicious.

Ingredients

Raw jackfruit 300 g, cut into cubes

Turmeric 1 tsp

Salt 1tsp

Basmati rice 2 cups, soaked for 15 minutes and drained

Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp

Onion 1 medium, sliced

Garlic cloves 5

Ginger 1” piece

Green chilli 1, chopped

Tomato 1 large, chopped

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Cumin powder 1/2 tsp

Curry leaves 1 sprig

Oil 2 tbsps

Water as needed

Method

Boil the raw jackfruit in two cups of water with salt and turmeric till all the liquid evaporates. By now the jackfruit should be tender but still succulent.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan. You can use any vegetable oil.

Add the mustard seeds. When the seeds stop sputtering, add the onions. Sauté the onions till they turn golden brown.

Crush the garlic and ginger in a stone pestle and mortar. Add this to the onions. Sauté for a few minutes till the raw smell of garlic disappears. This should take only about 2-3 minutes. Add the curry leaves.

Add the cooked jackfruit to the pan and fry for a minute.

Add the tomatoes and green chilli. Fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the drained rice and mix well. Add the spices and add about 3 cups of water.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the biryani and cook till the water evaporates. By now the rice will be cooked.

Switch off the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes. Serve with a green salad or mango salsa.

Creme Brûlée

Creme Brûlée

This can be made the long-winded way or by the quick and easy method. Both turn out really good. I am offering both recipes below.

Ingredients

For the custard:

Fresh cream 2 cups

Sugar 1/2 cup

Eggs 3

Vanilla essence 1 tsp

For the quick and easy custard:

Custard powder 3 tbsps, vanilla flavour

Full-cream milk 1/2 litre

Sugar 6 tbsps

For the topping:

Brown sugar 6 tbsps

Method

To make the custard from scratch, beat the eggs and sugar together till light and fluffy. Fold in the cream and vanilla essence.

Divide the mixture between six ramekins and steam them for 30-40 minutes.

Cool and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

For the quick and easy custard, heat the milk with the sugar.

Meanwhile mix the custard powder with a tablespoon or two of cold milk and make a watery paste.

When the milk begins to boil, reduce the heat and add the custard, stirring all the time.

Increase the heat and cook till bubble appear. Switch off the heat.

Divide the custard between six ramekins.

Cool and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Before serving, sprinkle a tablespoon of brown sugar over each ramekin.

Use the blowtorch to caramelise the sugar. Let it rest for 2-3 minutes so that a crust forms.

Serve immediately.

Tomato Rice

Tomato Rice

This dish was created by my mom as a healthy packed lunch for my sister when she started working. Made from cooked rice, this is easy to assemble and make. It is a delicious lunch option.

Ingredients

(Serves 5 persons)

Rice 2 cups, cooked

Tomatoes 2 large, sliced

Onions 2 medium, sliced

Coconut oil 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Sambar powder 5 tbsps

Salt to taste

Curry leaves for garnish

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed wok and add the mustard seeds.

When the seeds stop sputtering, add the onions. Sauté till they turn a light brown.

Add the tomatoes and curry leaves. Cook on medium heat till they soften.

Add the sambar powder and sauté for two minutes.

Add the rice and salt and mix well till the masala coats the rice grains completely

Serve hot.

Bread Upma

Bread Upma

This is my mom’s recipe and makes a delicious dish in minutes. She made this for our school lunches and it is comfort food for me.

Ingredients

(Serves 2)

White bread 4 slices

Potatoes 2 medium, boiled and peeled

Tomatoes 2 medium, chopped

Tomato ketchup 5 tbsps

Oil 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Method

Slice the bread into 1/2” squares. Chop the potatoes into small cubes.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the mustard seeds and let it sputter.

Add the potatoes and sauté till they turn golden.

Add the tomatoes and fry for a minute. Add salt.

Add the ketchup and mix well. It will caramelise a bit.

Switch off the heat and serve hot.