Sep 30, 2013

Ulli Chammanthi - (Kerala-style Shallot Hot Sauce)

"Chammanthi" used to be an inevitable part of the common man's meal across Kerala. There are many varieties of chammanthi and this is just one of them. Sadly, this sauce (or any chammanthi) didn't make it to any restaurant menu (probably people thought it's not of restaurant status). Anyways I like it and rice with curd and chammanthi makes the happiest lunch for me.

Try it out... enjoi...

Preparation time: 10 Mins.
Cook time (incl. Prep. time): 15 Mins.

Serves: 6
Spice level: Super Spicy


1. Shallots - 3 (Large, Skinned and cut into medium-large pieces)
2. Kokum (Kodampuli) - 8 (Small pieces)
3. Curry Leaves - 10 (Fresh)
4. Dry Red Chilles - 4
5. Coconut Oil - 3 Tsp.
6. Salt to taste


1. Heat coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the red chillies until light brown and the raw taste is gone. Remove the chillies off the pan and set aside.
2. Sauté shallots, kokum and curry leaves in the same pan and oil for about 3 mins. or until golden brown.
3. In a grinder, grind fried red chillies, shallots, kokum, curry leaves along with the oil into a coarse paste.
Note: Add more oil if you feel it's more spicy.
4. Mix in salt to taste and serve it with rice (even better with rice soup).

Sep 5, 2013

Kunefe (Turkish Dessert)

"Kunefe is a Levantine cheese pastry soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup, typical of the regions belonging to the former Ottoman Empire." - Wikipedia.

All said, this is one of my favorite dishes and used to search for restaurant just to have this. It was a longtime dream to make it on my own and fortunately it came out really good.

Try it out... enjoi...


1. Shredded Fillo Dough - 12 Oz. (Get a full box of 16 Oz. and use three fourth of it)
2. Unsalted Butter - 2 Sticks (8 Oz., Melted)
3. Semolina - 3 Tbsp.
4. Milk - 1/2 Cup
5. Mozzarella Cheese - 1 Cup (Shredded)
6. Ricotta Cheese - 12 Oz.

For Syrup:

7. Water - 1 Cup
8. Sugar - 2 Cup


1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg. F.
2. Shred and break-up the Fillo dough strands into smaller separated pieces.
3. To a large mixing bowl, add the Fillo dough strands along with then melted butter. Mix well until the Fillo dough is fully drenched in butter.
4. Take a 7 inch round baking pan and spread evenly half of the butter drenched Fillo dough.
5. Heat a small sauce pan. Add milk into the pan and heat the milk.
6. Add semolina and bring it light boil (it will take hardly 1 min.).
7. Get the milk-semolina mix off the heat and add it to a mixing bowl along with ricotta and mozzarella cheese. Mix well with a whisk for 1 min.
8. Spread the cheese mix over the Fillo dough in the baking pan.
9. Add the second half of the butter drenched Fillo dough over the cheese mix.
10. Keep the pan in the oven for about 35-40 mins. or until the top of the Fillo dough is golden brown.
11. Meanwhile prepare the syrup in a sauce pan by boiling water and sugar together. Once the sugar is completely melted get the pan off the flame and let it cool.
12. Get the pan off the oven and let it cool for about 10 mins. Flip the Kunefe on a flat plate.
13. Pour the syrup over the kunefe, cut it into slices and serve warm.

Sep 4, 2013

Home-style Crispy Fried Chicken

My wife prepared this dish for Eid and distributed it among our friends. Although this recipe is nothing super extra, it received a lot good reviews and we had so many asking for the recipe. What makes this chicken fry stand out is that despite of the crispiness outside it's soft and juicy inside.

I was so confused on what to name the dish and finally decided to go with "Home-style" as I am not sure of of its connection to any authentic dish. Comments welcome... hehe...

Try it out... Enjoi...

Preparation time: 30 Mins.
Cook time (incl. Prep. time): 40 Mins. (Plus 4 hrs. of marinating)

Serves: 6
Spice level: Medium


1. Chicken - 2 Lbs. (With bones, cut into medium cubes)
2. Red Chilli Powder - 2 Tsp.
3. Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Tsp.
4. Green Chilli - 1 (Chopped)
5. Fennel Seeds - 1/2 Tsp.
6. Black Pepper Powder - 1/4 Tsp.
7. Garam Masala Powder - 1/2 Tsp.
8. Ginger-Garlic Paste - 1 Tbsp.
9. Curry Leaves - 10-15
10. Egg - 1
11. Corn Flour - 2 Tbsp.
12. Lime Juice - 1 Tsp.
13. Salt - 3/4 Tsp.
14. Veg. Oil - 2 Cups (or required to deep fry)


1. In a grinder, grind together all ingredients except egg and corn flour to make a fine paste.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix well the ground paste and corn flour.
3. Whisk egg in a separate bowl and add this to the ground paste - corn flour mix.
4. Add chicken to the bowl and mix well with the marinate mix, until the chicken is evenly well coated with mix.
5. Cover the bowl and keep it refrigerated for at least 4 hrs. (overnight preferred).
6. Heat oil in a frying pan or wok.
7. Deep fry the chicken pieces oil until golden brown. Note that it could take a bit longer to fry, nut its worth the wait.
8. Remove it from the oil using a slotted spoon and serve it warm.

Sep 2, 2013

Malabar Mutton Biriyani (Layered Dhum Biriyani)

Let’s celebrate the 50th recipe post with a Mutton Biriyani. Biriyani is my favorite food. There are so many versions of Biriyani and each region has its specialized version. The recipe I am sharing is what we regularly cook at home. It takes effort and a lot of patience to make it, but you will feel so happy once you eat it.

Try it out... Enjoi...

Preparation time: 3 Hrs.
Cook time (incl. Prep. time): 4 Hrs.

Serves: 5
Spice level: Medium

The layered dhum Biriyani is made by layering a set of cooked and raw components and steaming/oven-baking all these together in a closed container. It’s a complicated recipe and I will try my best to explain it in parts.

We need to have the following components ready before we start layering (these has to be prepared in the same order as below):
  1) Garam masala powder, Lime Juice, Ghee, Coriander and Mint Leaves (all raw ingredients)
  2) Meat Masala
  3) Fried Cashews, Raisins and Onions
  4) Cooked Rice

As for timing, we need the cooked rice to be the last. This is because the rice needs to be really steamy hot when we layer and this helps in blending the flavors together.


For Meat Masala:

1. Mutton (Lamb/Goat) - 1 1/2 Lb. (Cleaned and Cut to medium-large cubes) I prefer goat for the added flavor
2. Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Tsp.
3. Black Pepper Powder - 1/2 Tsp.
4. Salt - 1/4 Tsp.

5. Veg. Oil - 4 Tbsp.
6. Ghee - 1 Tbsp.
7. Red Onions - 2 (Extra Large size, thinly sliced)
8. Garlic - 4 Tbsp. (Chopped)
9. Ginger - 4 Tbsp. (Chopped)
10. Green Chilli - 4 Tbsp. (Chopped)
11. Salt - 1 Tsp. (or to taste)
12. Red Chilli Powder - 3/4 Tbsp.
13. Turmeric Powder - 1/2 Tsp.
14. Coriander Powder - 3/4 Tbsp.
15. Garam Masala Powder - 1/2 Tsp.
16. Tomato - 3 (Medium sized, Chopped)
17. Yogurt - 2 Tbsp. (Nicely whisked)
18. Lime Juice - 1/2 Tsp. (Freshly squeezed from one half of lime. Do not throw away the lime peel/shell)
19. Cilantro Leaves - 1/2 Cup (Finely chopped)
20. Mint Leaves - 1/2 Cup (Finely chopped)

For Fried Garnish:

21. Veg Oil - 4 Tbsp.
22. Cashew - 1/4 Cup
23. Raisins - 1/4 Cup
24. Red Onions - 1 (Small sized, finely sliced)

For Cooked Rice:

25. Rice - 1 1/2 Lbs. (Washed and soaked in water)
26. Water - 6 Cups
27. Lime Peel/Shell - 1/2 Lime (Use the half lime from which the juice was extracted for masala)
28. Cardamom Pods - 4 (Spitted)
29. Cinnamon - 2 inch piece (Spitted)
30. Bay Leaf - 1 (Slightly crushed)
31. Ghee - 1 Tbsp.
32. Salt - 1 1/2 Tsp.

Other Ingredients for Layering:

33. Cilantro Leaves - 1/2 Cup (Finely chopped)
34. Mint Leaves - 1/2 Cup (Finely chopped)
35. Garam Masala Powder - 2 Pinches
36. Lime Juice - 2 Tsp.
37. Ghee - 3 Tsp.


Meat Masala:

1. To a pressure cooker add meat with turmeric powder, pepper powder, salt and 1/4 cup water. Cook covered with weight for about 15 mins. or until the meat is completely cooked and soft.
Note: cook time of the meat varies with the cut. If it’s not fully cooked after 15 mins., add few more tbsp. of water and cook until fully cooked.
2. Remove the cooked meat pieces from the cooker to a bowl and set aside. Discard the liquid.
3. Heat 4 tbsp. oil along with 1 tbsp. ghee in a thick bottom pan on high flame.
4. Add sliced onions along with 1 tsp. salt and sauté for about 15 mins., or until its translucent.
5. Meanwhile, grind chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies into a coarse paste.
6. Once the onions are translucent, add the ginger-garlic-chilli paste into the pan and cook for about 4-5 mins. or until the raw smell is gone.  
7. Reduce the heat to medium and add chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder to the pan. Sauté for about 4 mins. or until its cooked and the oil separates.
8. Add tomatoes and cook for another 3-5 mins., until the tomatoes are cooked and dissolved.
9. Bring the heat to simmer and keep it for a min. for the boils to come down.
10. Add whisked yogurt and lime juice to the pan and bring it to boil (on simmer).
11. Mix in chopped cilantro and mint leaves and let it blend in on simmer for another minute.
12. Mix in cooked meat into the pan and keep it covered on simmer for about 10 mins. and in meanwhile we can start with making our fried garnish.

Fried Garnish:

13. Heat 4 tbsp. oil in a deep frying pan.
14. Add cashew nuts to the pan and fry for about 3 mins. until the nuts are golden brown. Remove the nuts off the oil using a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel to cool.
15. Add raisins to the same pan and fry for about 2 mins. until the raisins are fluffy (blown up) and golden brown. Remove raisins off the oil using a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel to cool down.
16. Add sliced onions to the same pan and cook for about 10 mins. or until its golden brown. Remove the onions from the oil using a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel to cool.
Note: the onions will fry a bit more even after you get it off the oil and thus make sure not to over fry the onions in the oil.

17. The meat masala should be nice and well blended by this time. Get the masala off the stove and set aside.

Cooked Rice:

18. Bring 6 cups of water to light boil in a large sauce pan (or pressure cooker).
19. Add cardamom pods, cinnamon, bay leaves, salt and lemon shell to the water and bring it to hard boil.
20. Add soaked rice into the boiling water and cook the rice for about 10-12 mins. or until the rice is three-fourth cooked.
Note: not to fully cook the rice as it has to be further cooked in the dhum.


21. While the rice is cooking, set a table with all the following ingredients for layering (I wanted to get a picture with all these set on a table but got into a time crunch)
   a) A large oven safe sauce pan with lid greased with ghee,
   b) Warm/hot meat masala
   c) Fried onions, cashews and raisins
   d) Garam Masala powder
   e) Lime Juice
   f) Chopped cilantro and mint leaves
   g) More ghee

22. Pre-heat the oven to 350 deg. F.
23. Once the rice is three-fourth cooked, strain the rice to remove excess water.
24. Quickly, layer one-half of the rice evenly in the greased sauce pan. The whole layering process should be done before the steam from the rice escapes.
25. Spread evenly over the rice layer - 1 tsp. of ghee, 1 pinch of garam masala powder, 1 tsp. of lime juice, one half of the fried onions, cashews and raisins, 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves and 1/4 cup of mint leaves.
26. Layer all of the meat masala over the rice and garnish layers evenly.
27. Add the remaining rice over the meat masala. Spread evenly.
28. Repeat the same step of spreading the garam masala powder lime juice, fried garnish, mint and cilantro leaves.
29. Cover the top of the pan with an aluminum foil tightly with all edges sealed.
30. Keep the pan lid over the aluminum foil to further tighten the seal. The idea is not to let any of the steam escape and also not to get the top portion burnt.
31. Keep the pan in the oven for about 35-40 mins. at 350 deg. F.

Final Mixing:

32. Get the pan off the oven and let it cool for about 5 mins.
33. Open the lid and then the foil. You will feel the exotic smell when you open the foil, but be patient as we are not done yet.
34. We need to mix well before we serve. As the pan is so tightly packed, it’s hard to mix it all at a time in in the same pan. Moreover, you would crush the rice in doing so. Hence we have to do it in parts.
35. Take a large serving dish and a long spatula or spoon. Cut a deep pie (starting with the top to the bottom of the pan) of Biriyani from the pan and move it to the serving bowl. Mix it well with a fork. Be gentle while mixing and make sure not to crush the rice.
36. Repeat the same process with the remaining Biriyani in the pan.
37. Serve it warm with raitha (yogurt dip).