Mains, Starters

Meen Pollichathu- fish baked in a banana leaf

Meen Pollichathu is a traditional Kerala dish which is packed with flavours and a very heart warming dish. The uniqueness of this dish is that the fish is cooked with lots of spices wrapped in a banana leaf. The banana leaf renders an additional taste which elevates the overall taste of the dish to the next level. It is guaranteed to transport you to God’s own country in every bite.

Meen Pollichathu is very popular around restaurants in Kerala. I first had it when I visited Munnar (Kerala) for my honeymoon. I immediately fell in love with the gorgeous melting in the mouth texture of the fish. As soon as I got my hand on some fresh banana leaves here, I just had to make this favourite of mine.

Hope you enjoy making this at your home as well.

Meen Pollichathu

  • Servings: 1-2
  • Time: 40 mins
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  1. Fish (of your choice, used Barramundi here)- 250 gms
  2. For marinade:
    1. 1/2 tsp Chilli powder,
    2. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, salt
  3. For masala: Onion- 2 medium Tomato- 1 Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp Oil- 2 tsp Curry leaves- few Ginger garlic paste – 1 – 2 tbsp Chilli powder- 1 tsp Coriander powder – 1 tbsp Turmeric powder- 1 tsp Desiccated coconut- 2 tbsp
  4. Big banana leaf- 1 half

Directions

1. Preparing the masala: In a pressure cooker or pan , add little oil.

2. Splutter mustard seeds, add onions , tomato, ginger garlic paste and all the spices for the masala in point 3 of Ingredients.

3. If using pressure cooker add 1 tsp water, cover and keep it on high for 1-2 whistles and remove. Release the pressure and mix the masala into a paste using the ladle.

4. If using pan, cook it all into a thick masala consistency.

5. Separately marinate the fish with little chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt for around 15 mins.

6. Pan fry with 1 tsp oil for around 2 mins on each side of the fish. Set aside.

7. Clean and wipe the banana leaf. Show the leaf over open low flame for few seconds. This will ensure that the leaf does not break or rip while folding.

8. Spread the banana leaf. Take some prepared masala paste and spread it. Place the fish on top of the masala. Again put the remaining masala paste over the top of the fish and spread it.

9. Fold in the leaf over the coated fish on all four sides.

10. Take a pan and place this wrapped banana leaf on to it. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 mins on each side.

11. The fish will get cooked well with the masala.

12. Remove the banana leaf from the pan and slowly open it.

13. Yummy and delicious Meen Pollichathu is ready to be served. Enjoy!

Also please watch the video recipe below :

Mains

Special Mutton Biryani

Biryani is a dish which is always in my weekend menu. Mutton biryani is something even more special as the frequency I make it is less compared to the usual chicken biryani. But every time I do make this mutton biryani, it turns out perfect and hence my foolproof recipe.

In the mutton biryani, we know exactly how much water needs to be added as the meat is first cooked in a pressure cooker with its marinade and little water. After that the rice is cooked along with the meat and we can be sure that the meat will not ooze out any more water and a perfect well grained biryani is ready.

I always prefer to cook mutton first unlike chicken which needs only less cooking time. And once we cook the rice with the cooked meat, we also will get a falling off the bone meat in the biryani which will be absolutely delicious. Hope you like my recipe below. Enjoy!

Special Mutton Biryani

  • Servings: 5-7
  • Time: 50 mins + marination time: min 30 mins
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients

  1. Mutton (Goat meat)- 1.5 kgs
  2. Basmati rice- 2 cups
  3. Onions- 3-4 big ones
  4. Tomato- 1
  5. Oil( used sunflower oil)- 1/2 cup
  6. Mint leaves- 1 bunch
  7. Coriander leaves – 1/4 cup
  8. Cinnamon stick-1
  9. Anise seed- 1
  10. Bay leaf-1
  11. Optional: A pinch of saffron soaked in little milk/ orange food colour.
  12. Ingredients for marinade
    1. Chilli powder- 1-2 tsp
    2. Coriander powder- 2 tbsp
    3. Cumin powder- 1 tbsp
    4. Turmeric powder- 1 tbsp
    5. Biryani powder- 1-2 tbsp
    6. Plain yogurt- 3 tbsp
    7. Green chilli- 2
    8. Cardamom pods-4
    9. Clove- 2-3
    10. Ginger garlic paste- 3 tbsp
    11. Salt as required

Directions

  1. Soak the basmati rice in water for minimum 30 mins.
  2. Marinate the mutton meat: Mix all the ingredients of the marinade to the mutton and set aside for 30 mins – a couple of hours. The longer the better.
  3. Cook the marinated mutton in a pressure cooker by adding 1 cup of water. Let it whistle on high for 5-6 whistles and then simmer for around 10 mins.
  4. Lets get ready to put together the rice and meat. In a deep bottomed pan, take some oil.
  5. Fry the cut onions in it, till it turns translucent. Add a little salt while cooking the onions.
  6. Add the cinnamon stick, anise seed, bay leaf and ginger garlic paste.
  7. After a couple of minutes, add the chopped mint and coriander leaves.
  8. Also add the cooked meat.
  9. Bring it all to a boil.
  10. Then add the soaked rice into the meat. Check if the rice is completely covered with the water a little above the rice level. Add 1/2 cup of extra water to achieve it if required.
  11. Optionally add the saffron soaked milk or any orange food colouring.
  12. Cover with an aluminium foil and a tight lid so that the steam does not escape.
  13. Cook on low heat for 30 mins.
  14. After 30 minutes open the lid and check if the rice is cooked through properly. Usually it does, else you can extend the time a little further. Also all the water should have been absorbed or evaporated by then.
  15. Carefully spoon out the biryani.
  16. Delicious and tasty mutton biryani is ready. Enjoy with raita or any side of your choice.


Please also watch the video recipe I made for the Mutton Biryani below:

Mains, Side dish

Spicy Soya Stir Fry

Soya stir fry is a delicious and tasty mock meat recipe. A protein rich addition to your daily nutrition is a must and this is an amazing recipe to achieve that. I must also add that this recipe will definitely come close to the meat taste due to the size in which the soya is cut and the variety of spices added. A must try to all the vegetarians and vegans. Enjoy!
Ingredients 

1. Soya Chunks- 1 cup

2. Onions- 2 small sliced

3. tomato- 1 medium 

4. Curry leaves- few

5. Green chilli- 2

6. Coriander leaves to garnish 

7. Oil: (preferred coconut oil) 2 tbsp

8. Ginger garlic paste: 2 tbsp 

9. Cumin and fennel seeds- 1/2 tsp each 

10. Desiccated coconut (Optional) – 2 tbsp
Spices for Soya:

1. Chilli powder- 1/2 tsp

2. Coriander powder- 1/2 tsp

3. Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp

Spices for Masala:

1. Kashmiri chilli powder- 1-2 tsp 

2. Coriander powder- 1 tsp

3. Garam masala powder- 1 tsp

Directions:

1. Soak soya chunks in hot water for 20 mins

2. Squeeze the excess water out of the soya using your hands.

3. Slice each soya into smaller strips of desired thickness.

4. Coat the soya strips with chilli powder, coriander powder , turmeric powder and little salt.

5. Pressure cook this mixture for 1-2whistles adding 1/4 cup water. Set it aside.
Cooking the base masala:

1. In a pan, take coconut oil or desired oil. Add the sliced onions.

2. Add ginger garlic paste, green chilli and curry leaves.

3. Stir with little salt.

4. Add the cumin and fennel seeds.

5.Once onions turn translucent add the tomato.

6. Cover and cook for 5 mins for the tomato to cook through.

7.Open and stir it to a thick masala.

8. Add the cooked soya into the masala and mix it well.

9. Cover further for 5 mins and the masala will get nicely absorbed by the soya.

10. Open the lid, stir fry it to a dry consistency.

11. Optionally add desiccated coconut, few more curry leaves.

12. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Yummy and delicious,spicy soya stir fry is ready. In Kerala this style of cooking is called Ularthiyathu and usually beef is cooked in this tasty way. This mock meat version of soya will come close to the beef stir fry. Enjoy this healthier and protien rich dish at your home today.

Please find the video recipe below:

Mains, Side dish

Mushroom Peas Masala

Mushrooms, I considered it to be exotic as I got to have it only in restaurants and  usually as a soup in India while I was young . Only later it started becoming commonly available in the vegetable/grocery shops. And what I liked about it the most is the chewy texture and also the minimal cooking time.

After moving to Australia, I saw that there are multiple varieties available in different shapes , colours ( mostly white and brown). Though it’s widely used in stir fry and soups, this Indian curry using mushrooms and peas together makes a great combination with roti or any Indian bread.

My easy go to recipe for a vegetarian side would mostly be this one. I used frozen peas in this recipe which makes the overall cooking time involved very less.

Do try out this recipe for a delicious and tasty curry.

Ingredients 

1. Mushrooms cut- 1 cup

2. Peas-1/4 cup

3. Onions- 2 medium 

4. Tomato- 1 medium 

5. Ginger garlic paste- 3 tbsp

6. Cinnamon stick- 1

7. Fennel seeds- 1 tsp

8. Kashmiri chilli powder- 2 tsp

9. Coriander powder- 1 tsp

10. Garam Masala- 1 tsp

11. Turmeric powder- 1 tsp

12. Oil as required 

13. Salt to taste

14. Curry leaves- few

15. Coriander leaves to garnish 

Method:

1. Take little oil in pan.

2. Add some fennel seeds, cinnamon stick and ginger garlic paste.

3. After a couple of mins when the raw smell of the paste goes away, add the cut onions along  with some salt.

4. Cook on medium heat till it turns translucent (~5-7 mins).

5. Add the chopped tomato.

6. Add the spice powders: turmeric, chilli, coriander, garam masala with some curry leaves.

7. Cook it further on medium heat  till it becomes a nice thick consistency with the tomato turning soft and mushy.

8. Add the mushrooms and peas to the masala. Cover and cook further (around 5 minutes). There will be water coming from the mushrooms naturally while cooking. You can add extra water if required.

9. Once the required gravy consistency is reached , garnish with little coriander leaves.

10. Serve hot with roti or even steamed rice and enjoy!

The video recipe can be found below:

Mains

Kerala Fish Curry

Kerala fish curry is one of the most delicious dishes from the state of Kerala in India. It is a tangy and spicy dish best had with steamed rice.

Traditionally fish curry is made in a clay pot and one of the key ingredients is the Kudam puli or Fish Tamarind. This recipe will use the regular tamarind instead of Fish tamarind. But please go for it if you have it handy.
This recipe also includes coconut milk which gives a nice texture and flavor to the curry.

Kerala Fish Curry

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  1. Fish cut into thick slices( red snapper, mackerel etc) ~ 750gms
  2. Onions – 2 big (or Shallots ~12 will give better taste)
  3. Tomato- 1 small
  4. Tamarind pulp using 1 small lemon sized tamarind
  5. Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
  6. Fenugreek seeds- 1.5 tsp
  7. Curry leaves- 3 springs
  8. Red Kashmiri chilli powder – 3 tbsp
  9. Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
  10. Turmeric powder- 1-2 tsp
  11. Oil (preferred coconut oil) – 1/2 cup
  12. Coconut milk- 1/2 cup
  13. Crushed ginger- 2 tbsp
  14. Crushed garlic- 10 cloves
  15. Salt as required

Please watch video for the method:

Mains

Chilli Garlic Naan- restaurant style

One of the most popular Indian breads and a hot favourite in all Indian restaurants is the Naan. I always thought that we must need a tandoor oven to cook a naan. But I was pleasantly surprised that we can still make it at home with the same effects of a tandoor oven by using a simple gas stove at home.

This recipe shows how to make Naan at home in restaurant style tasting more delicious and softer than any other restaurant. The toppings can be changed to get different types of naans or skip it to get plain naan. A great and easy recipe to try today.

Chilli Garlic Naan

  • Servings: 10 naans
  • Time: 15 mins + dough rising time 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  1. Plain flour or Maida- little over 2 cups
  2. Yeast sachet (7g) – 1/2 sachet
  3. Sugar- 1/2 tsp
  4. Warm milk- 1/3 cup
  5. Yogurt- 3- 4 tbsp
  6. Baking soda- 1/4 tsp
  7. Salt as required
  8. Oil- 1 tbsp
  9. Chopped garlic- 3 tbsp
  10. Chilli flakes as required
  11. Coriander leaves- a little
  12. Butter or ghee a little as required for topping (optional)

Directions

  • In 1/3 cup warm milk, add half sachet yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar and set it aside to froth for 5 mins. Make sure the milk is not too hot or cold.
  • In little over 2 cups of plain flour, add little salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 3-4 tbsp of yogurt, and the yeast mixture. Knead into dough and add little more milk/water as required to be able to bring into a ball.
  • Then add 1 tbsp oil and knead for 3 mins and set aside covered for 2-3 hours for the dough to rise.
  • Make the dough into balls of small size. On a floured surface, take each ball of dough and roll it thin to oval or round shape like a roti.
  • On the top, sprinkle some finely chopped garlic, chilli flakes and coriander leaves. Roll the pin over to press it a bit in. You can skip the toppings for plain naan.
  • Heat a flat pan on stove. In medium heat, cook the naan with the topping facing up. After 1 min or so, the bottom will be cooked. Take tongs and remove the naan from pan.
  • Place a rack from the grill over the flame.  On low to medium flame, place the other side (top) of the naan over the rack facing the flame and cook for around 1-2 mins. You will get burnt pops like in a tandoor oven.
  • Remove and spread some butter or ghee over the top optionally.
  • Enjoy the light, soft naan with your favourite side!

Please find the video recipe below:

Mains, Side dish

Prawns Thokku- masala curry

Prawns Thokku (இறால் தொக்கு)  is a very tasty side which is very popular in South India. In this style, the prawns are cooked into a thick masala consistency hence the name thokku. This has minimal spices but the onions and tomatoes consistency makes this dish very delicious.

Prawns Thokku

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 45 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  1. Prawns – 500 gms
  2. Turmeric powder- 1 tsp: marinade + 1 tsp
  3. Ginger garlic paste- 1 tbsp(marinade) + 2 tbsp
  4. Fennel seeds- 1 big tsp
  5. Onions- 4 medium
  6. Tomatoes- 2 big
  7. Curry leaves- 3 springs
  8. Kashmiri chilli powder- 2 tsp
  9. Coriander powder- 2 tbsp
  10. Green chillies- 2
  11. Pepper powder- 1 tbsp
  12. Salt and oil as required
  13. Coriander leaves to garnish
  14.  

Please watch the video for the recipe