Monday, February 25, 2008

Rustic Chicken Curry/Nadan Kozhi Curry

Chicken curry is a generic term that encompasses an immense variety of dishes. In a nutshell, it is chicken braised with spices and some kind of liquid. The spices used and the braising liquid (coconut milk, stock, or just water) differs from dish to dish. The addition of ground coconut, ground nuts (cashew, almond), and /or yogurt make the variety endless.

Southern Indian curries tend to be more spicier than their Northern Indian counterparts. Both are equally delicious!

I prefer to use the whole chicken for curries, makes for a more flavorful dish.

Ingredients:chicken - 3 lbs (skinned, cleaned, and jointed into small pieces)
curry leaves - 6
onion - 1 sliced thin
green chilies - 3 slit
tomato - 1 small sliced
potato - 1 small cubed
salt to taste
oil - 3 tbsp

wet spices:
fresh ginger - 1" piece
garlic - 5 cloves

dry spices:
cayenne pd - 1 tsp
coriander pd - 3 tsp
turmeric - 1/2 tsp
fennel seeds whole - 1 tbsp
whole black pepper - 1 tsp
cinnamon - 1" piece (optional)
cloves - 2 (optional)
cardamom - 2 seeded (optional)


Using a small food processor or blender, blend garlic and ginger together to a paste, keep aside. Add water as needed to facilitate somewhat smooth griding. Do not make it too watery.

Mix coriander pd, cayenne pd, and turmeric pd together in a small bowl. Powder fennel seeds, whole black pepper, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom together in a spice grinder. Add to the bowl along with some water to make a paste, keep aside.

Heat a heavy pot. Add oil. When oil is hot, add sliced onions, green chilies, curry leaves and saute till onions are translucent. Add the ginger and garlic (wet spices) paste. Fry till the raw smell disappears, approximately 3-4 minutes. Now add the spice paste (dry spices) to the pot. Continue to fry on a low flame till the spices are fragrant, and starting to brown. If the spices start sticking to the pot, add a tbsp of oil. Now add the sliced tomatoes. Keep stirring till the tomato pieces are soft and the whole mixture is uniform.

Add chicken pieces ands stir to coat with the spices. Add salt and cover the pot. Turn the flame down. After 5 minutes, add 1.5 cup of water and cubed potato. If you are using a fast cooking variety of potato, add towards the last 15 minutes.

Simmer for approximately 30 minutes or more. If you want a lot of gravy, leave the pot covered. If you want a more thicker gravy, simmer with the pot uncovered.

The curry is done when chicken is cooked and the oil separates and start to float on top. Serve with Chappathi or rice.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fried Fish / Meen Varthathu

Kerala fried fish is similar to the blackened fish of Louisiana. The fried goodness of fish and spices go well with white rice. Plain yogurt and a vegetable thoran would round up the meal nicely.

Almost any fish can be fried using this recipe. Here, I used Sand dabs.

Sand dabs - 2 skinned/scaled and cleaned
cayenne powder - 2 tsp (+/- to taste)
turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
salt to taste
oil - 1/3 cup

Score sand dabs across with a sharp knife. The scores help the spices to permeate the fish and reduces cooking time. If the fish is large, cut into smaller pieces.

I also prefer to leave the bone in when frying. Bones seem to hold the fish together better. Fillets would work well too, but in my experience bone-in is better!

Make a paste of cayenne powder, turmeric, and salt with a little bit of water. Liberally slather both sides of the fish with the spice paste. Leave aside for 15 minutes.

Heat a cast iron pan (or a heavy pan) and add oil. The oil should just come to a depth of less than half an inch. The fish is NOT meant to be deep fried immersed in oil, but rather shallow fried. When the oil heats up, gently place the fish in it. Fry till the fish and spices have caramelised, approximately 3-4 minutes. Flip the fish gently and repeat frying the other side. When the fish is done, drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.

Labels: , ,