KERALA CUISINE- CONCLUSION

img-20160716-wa0009_1.jpgDue to foreign trade from ancient times, many ingredients were brought into India by traders, be it foreign or Indian, from all over the world…… They transplanted trees & vegetation to India from other parts of the world…… Arab/Indian traders brought in spice plants like cumin, coriander & fenugreek….. Portuguese introduced potatoes, tomatoes, tapioca, cashew nuts, chillies, breadfruit, pineapple, papaya,etc.to India……. Dutch brought in coffee on the higher elevations of the Sahyadri mountain range……. img-20160718-wa0012.jpgBritish cultivated tea in the foothills of Himalayas & the Sahyadri mountains in Kerala……. Different varieties of bananas, okra, yams, tamarind, sugarcane, cloves, nutmeg, etc. also came in through the traders……. Chinese traders contributed cooking utensils & storage containers…… In Kerala kitchens, the Chinese Wok (known as Cheena Chatti), is a must……. Homemade pickles & yoghurt are widely stored in Ceramic Jars called Cheena Bharani……. Thus Kerala’s astonishing diversity in cuisine is it’s openness to absorb the foreign influences & merging it with native dishes.

Apart from influenced foods, which is the theme of this blog, the original cuisine is very interesting…… SADYA, a traditional meal served on a banana leaf, includes rice, vegetables curries, side dishes, savouries, pickles and desserts….. Traditionally, the narrow end of the leaf points to the left of the seated guest….. Rice is generally served on the lower half of the leaf.20170918_211042
Curries can be Parippu (lentil curry), IMG-20170904-WA0027Sambar ( lentil & vegetables curry),IMG-20170904-WA0028 etc….. Side dishes can be Avial ( vegetables with coconut paste & green chillies) , Kalan (Yam / Raw banana with curd), Thoran ( sautéed vegetables),IMG-20170904-WA0026 etc……. Rasam (Soup like appetiser)……. Savouries may include Pappadam (fried flatbread made of spiced lentil flour), Upperi (fried plantain chips)…… Pachadi……. Kichadi (Cucumber/ white gourd sour curry made with curd)……. IMG-20170904-WA0024Salads…… Inji Puli (ginger & tamarind curry)…… Pickles (mostly mango & lime) ….. Desserts like Payasam – three types – Paal (milk) payasam, Ada (rice batter) pradhaman and Lentil (Chana/Moong dal) payasam……IMG-20170904-WA0022 Sadya is generally made for festivals like Onam & Vishu and other celebrations.

img-20160716-wa0002.jpgMy journey through the various cuisines of Kerala has been, to say the least, just WONDERFUL…… I have been to this lovely State Of India various times…… I thought I knew a lot about Kerala…… But while going through the various cuisines I discovered Kerala anew…….. In the process learnt a lot about the culture .

CONCLUSION…. COCHINI JEWISH CUISINE

Even though Cochini Jews observed their religious customs, their cuisine has always been influenced by local food habits…… Culinary influence of coconut is very much visible…… While making their dishes, they used coconut milk as an alternative to dairy products.

Some more of the Cochini Jewish specialities are as follows…..
Manja Choru : Chicken fat & stock flavoured yellow rice.

Hubba : Semolina dumplings filled with minced chicken, cabbage, celery, onions & coriander.

Chuttuli meen : Pan fried fish with shallot paste.

Pulip : Cochini Jewish usage for salad.

Motta Salada : Sweet made with egg yolk…… This sweet is very similar to Mutta Mala of Mapila Cuisine…….This is served during weddings & bar mitzvahs (coming of age rituals for children).

Cochin Jewish Cakes : This is made from a rich batter of semolina, eggs, sugar, ghee, raisins & nuts….. This is an Rosh Hashanah speciality.

Ural : Wheat pudding very similar to the halwa….. This is had to break fast during Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

Chukunda : Tiny fried/baked sweet rice balls.

Achappam : Crunchy flower shaped snack…….similar to Struva, Swedish rosettes.

Sharkkara Ada : Stuffing made with coconut & jaggery is placed in rice dough and steamed in banana leaf…… This is eaten to break the 24 hour Fast of Ab.

Churullappam : Crepe filled with stuffing made with coconut & sugar.

Mooli : A hot drink is prepared by boiling coriander & cumin seeds in water….. Little cardamom, cinnamon & cloves are added….. Served hot with sugar….. This drink is served in those houses observing bereavement.

Cochini Jews have contributed vastly to the the varied cuisine of Kerala.

COCONUT RICE

This delicious rice dish of Cochini Jews is very interesting.

20170707_113920

INGREDIENTS : 2 cups Basmati rice, 1/2 cup grated coconut, 2 cups coconut milk, 3-4 onions, 1″ ginger, 1-2 cloves garlic, 3-4 cardamoms, 5-7 cloves, 1 2″ cinnamon stick, few black pepper corns, salt to taste, coconut oil, 2 cups water.

DIRECTIONS : Wash the rice thoroughly…….. Soak for at least half as hour….. Heat oil…… Finely chop onions and stir fry till golden brown……20170707_104753Grate the garlic cloves & ginger and add to fried onions….. Sauté…… Drain the rice and add to the above mixture…… Add salt….. Sauté……. Add cardamom, cloves, black pepper corns & cinnamon……. 20170707_105138Sauté……. Mix in grated coconut and coconut milk…..20170707_105347

20170707_105808Stir well….. When the rice mixture starts boiling, reduce the heat…… Cover….. Simmer for at least 10- 12 minutes……. Add water as required….. When done, remove from heat….. Keep aside covered for at least 10 minutes……. 20170707_114027Serve hot.

NOTE : Normally for each cup of Basmati rice, one requires 2 cups of water….. Here, as one is adding 2 cups of coconut milk, one should add 2 cups of water.

CHICKEN CUTLET

This Cochin Jewish style cutlets are very similar to schnitzels made in Austria…….. This is one of the favourite snacks of the Cochini Jews……. Can be also had as starters.

20170707_115259

INGREDIENTS : 500gms Chicken breasts, 8- 10 cloves garlic, 1/2 ” ginger, 2-3 green chillies, 1/2-1 tsp black pepper powder, salt to taste, 1 lemon(optional), 1-2 eggs, 1 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup flour, oil as required.

DIRECTIONS : Wash & make fillets of chicken breasts…… Beat the fillet with mallet according to the thickness required……. Make a paste of garlic, ginger and green chillies……. marinate chicken fillets with the paste, black pepper powder, salt and lemon juice……… Mix bread crumbs with little salt……

20170707_111046

Dredge the chicken fillets in flour, then egg and finally bread crumbs to form cutlets…….

20170707_111343

20170707_111547

20170707_112326

Heat oil…. Fry the cutlets on medium heat till golden brown and crisp on both sides……

20170707_113100

Take out on paper towels…….. Serve hot.

NOTE : Lemon juice is optional…… Black pepper & green chillies can be reduced according to taste.

CHICKEN PASTEL

This is an old recipe, most probably, of Portuguese origin…… These are deep fried half moon parcels made with rice/flour and filled with stuffing ….. Various types of stuffings are made from different vegetables, eggs, fish, varieties of meats, etc……. Can be had as snacks/starters……

20170619_110849

INGREDIENTS :
For Dough : 3 cups rice flour/all purpose flour, 1 egg lightly beaten, 4tbsp melted butter, 1tbsp vegetable oil, 3/4th cup water, salt to taste.
For Stuffing : 500 gms chicken mince, 6-8 onions, few cloves garlic (optional), 1 potato, 2 carrots, 1-2 tsp black pepper powder, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1-2 tbsp vinegar, 2-3 green chillies, few sprigs of coriander, salt to taste.
Oil for frying.

DIRECTIONS : Mix together butter, oil, egg and water……. Combine about 2 cups flour and salt in another bowl……… Pour egg & butter mixture slowly into the salt & flour mixture…..Keep stirring so that the flour does not clump up…… Add rest of the flour while mixing with hands……. Keep working to form a ball and till the dough is not sticking on the fingers…. Knead till the dough is very smooth…… Cover with a damp cloth and keep aside for at least for 15mins.

To make the stuffing, heat oil….. Add chopped green chilies, ground garlic & sliced onions…… Sauté…….Add finely chopped potatoes & carrots….. Sauté……. Now add in the minced chicken……..Mix in black pepper powder, turmeric powder & salt…. Cook covered till almost done and the mixture dries up…… Stir in vinegar and chopped coriander leaves….Sauté till done….. Cool.

Divide the dough in small balls….. Roll each ball out thinly…… Place a heaped spoon of stuffing on each , fold to make half moons and seal……. Deep fry these pastels in hot oil till golden brown…..Serve hot.

NOTE : If made with rice flour, covering the dough with damp cloth is a must.

 

COCHINI JEWISH CUISINE

My journey through Kerala cuisine is getting more & more interesting……. Found another cuisine – Cochini Jewish Cuisine…… Jews of Kerala mainly stay in & around Cochin…… That is why they are called Cochini Jews…… But they are not a single unit : Malabari Jews (also known as Black Jews) who stay mainly in Ernakulam’s Jewtown…. And…. Pardesi Jews ( also known as White Jews) who stay mainly in Matancherry’s Synagogue Lane……. Their Synagogues are different & they never intermarried…… Meshuararim Jews (also known as Brown Jews) are a tiny offshoot of the Pardesi Jews….. Malabari Jews most probably arrived in India as traders during the time of King Soloman…… While Pardesi Jews are a community of Sephardic Jews, who most probably arrived in Cochin, around 16th Century after their expulsion from Iberia.

Jewish cuisine is based on “Kashrut”…… Kashrut means keeping kosher in Hebrew……Kosher is the Hebrew word meaning fit……kashrut prohibits pork, fishes with no fins & scales ( i.e. no prawns, shrimps, lobsters, crabs, scallops, etc.) and mixing meat with dairy.

Malabari & Pardesi food are almost same except that Malabris have greater varieties of fish delicacies while Pardesis have richer vegetarian varieties.

The staple food of Cochinim is rice (unpolished/parboiled)….. Like all Keralites they have rice in different forms like idli, dosa, puttu, appam, etc……… Coconut & coconut products like coconut milk & coconut oil play an important role in this cuisine as these are safe from the point of view of Kashrut.

 

Syrian Christian Cuisine Conclusion ……

Journey through the Syrian Christian Cuisine has been a superb experience……. Also known as Nasrani/Suriani Cuisine, this wonderful cuisine is rich & varied……. Other than the dishes I have tried out there are so many…..
Fish Molee : Mildly spiced fish stew with coconut milk.
Palappam : Lace rimmed pancakes.
Vattayappam : Steamed spongy rice batter cakes.
Kallappam : Toddy pancakes.
Inriappam : Unleavened bread of rice & black beans….named after the abbreviation INRI on the crucifix….. Prepared & had on Maundy Thursday…. After supper, inriappam is dipped in molasses & coconut milk and offered to all family members in a symbolic reenactment of the Last Supper.
Tharavu Roast : Tharavu or Duck roast is generally made during festive occasions.

They have a wide varieties of sweet & savoury snacks called Palahaarams which can generally be stored in airtight containers……
Avalos Podi : Ground roasted rice, coconut, cumin seeds, salt mixture which is mixed with sugar.
Churuttu : Syrupy avalos podi encased in wafer thin pastry made from stiff unroasted pastry dough in banana leaf.
Avalos Unda : Grainy balls made with avalos Podi which is held together with a thin sugar syrup containing lime juice, ghee & cardamom powder.
Manga Thera : Mango & roasted rice flour leather/mat.
Elayappam/Ela Ada : Steamed banana leaf cakes…… These can be kept refrigerated for at least a week.
Kumbilappam/Chakka Appam : Steamed jackfruit cones steamed in fragrant vazhana (also known as Edana/ bay) leaves…. Lasts a week when refrigerated.

Mentioned a few…..there are so many!!!

Recipes handed down from generation to generation, Syrian Christian Cuisine is an unique part of Kerala.

PINEAPPLE PACHADI

(PINEAPPLE IN YOGHURT & COCONUT CURRY)

Pachadi is a traditional side dish…….. It is generally a yoghurt and coconut based dish…… Varieties of pachadi are created from different vegetables and fruits like beetroot, pumpkin, lady’s finger, ginger, cucumber, tomato, pineapple, mango, grape etc….. Easy to make and is normally had with lentil curry & rice…… Pineapple Pachadi is a sweet & sour preparation and is very delicious & different.

p_20161201_143221_1.jpg

INGREDIENTS : 1 medium sized pineapple, 1 cup grated coconut, 3/4 cup yoghurt, 1-2 green chillies, 2 red chillies, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 1″ ginger, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1tsp+1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 3-4 onions (optional), few curry leaves, 1 tbsp oil, salt & sugar(optional) to taste, water as required.

DIRECTIONS : Wash the pineapple, remove the skin and dice into small cubes……..p_20161201_111540_1.jpg Grate fresh coconut…… Grind the freshly grated coconut with green chillies, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, ginger & 1/2 tsp mustard seeds…….. Keep aside…..p_20161201_111647_1_1.jpg Beat the yoghurt and keep aside……. Now cook the pineapple cubes with salt, sugar and enough water till soft……. p_20161201_113405_1.jpgAdd the ground coconut paste and cook till it thickens…… p_20161201_114125_1_1.jpgTake off from heat….. Keep aside to cool a little….. Now add the yoghurt and mix lightly…….. p_20161201_122353.jpgKeep aside…… p_20161201_122620_1.jpgHeat oil in another pan….. Add 1tsp mustard seed….. Sauté till it splutters….. Add red chillies & curry leaves ……p_20161201_122925_1.jpg Sauté…… Meanwhile slice onions & add….. p_20161201_123108_1_1.jpgSauté till light brown…… Now pour the pineapple mixture into the pan…… p_20161201_123433_1.jpgMix well & heat for a few minutes……p_20161201_123722_1.jpgServe.

NOTE : Consistency of the dish can be adjusted by increasing/decreasing water in Coconut paste……. Generally this dish is not reheated……. Onions can be ground with coconut mixture.

 

NEY CHORU

(GHEE RICE)

This dish is a very popular & simple dish…… Very easy to prepare and is normally cooked for special occasions…… Goes very well with spicy chicken/mutton/vegetable dishes.

p_20161124_211924_hdr_1.jpg

INGREDIENTS : 2 cups Basmati/Jeerakasala rice, 2-3tbsp ghee, 2-3 onions, 4 cups water, salt to taste.
Whole spices : 2-3  1″cinnamon, 1 star anise, 4-6 cloves, 4-6 cardamoms, few black pepper corns, 2 bay leaves.
For garnishing : Few cashew nuts, few raisins, 1-2 onions.

DIRECTIONS : Wash the rice thoroughly & soak for at least half an hour……. p_20161124_172648_hdr_1.jpgHeat ghee….. Stir fry cashewnuts & raisins separately and keep aside…… Stir fry sliced onions in the same ghee with little salt till golden brown……. Keep aside.p_20161124_172638_hdr_1.jpg

Drain rice…… Heat ghee…….. Add whole spices….. Sauté….. Add sliced onions & stir fry till slightly pink….. Now add the drained rice & salt…..Sauté till rice becomes translucent……. Mix in half of fried cashewnuts, raisins…….p_20161124_173508_hdr_1_1.jpg Add water…….p_20161124_173652_hdr_1.jpg Cook till rice is done & water is completely absorbed…… p_20161124_174550_hdr_1.jpgGarnish with fried onions and remaining fried cashewnuts & raisins……… Serve hot.

NOTE : One can add ginger-garlic-green chilli paste & lemon juice to spice up the dish.

KURUMULAKU KOZHI

(PEPPER CHICKEN)

This recipe is a quick & easy Chicken dry roast….. A bit on the spicy side but very delicious & flavoursome ….. Goes very well with rice, Ney Choru (ghee rice), appam,etc….. Since it is dry, can also be served as starter.p_20161124_212121_hdr_1_1.jpg

INGREDIENTS : 1kg chicken, 8-10 onions, 8-10 cloves garlic, 1 lemon, 4 red chillies, crushed black pepper, 2 1″cinnamon sticks, salt to taste, oil.

DIRECTIONS : Marinate chicken with black pepper powder, salt & lemon juice….. p_20161124_164525_hdr_1.jpg

Keep aside for at least half an hour……. Heat oil….. Add sliced onions & sauté till lightly browned…… Add in garlic cloves, red chillies, cinnamon & salt…… Sauté till the mixture turns golden brown…… In the meantime, heat oil in another pan….. Add marinated chicken in batches and lightly brown on high heat……p_20161124_165736_hdr_1.jpg

Now add the browned onion mixture to the chicken…… Add in crushed pepper & salt according to taste….. Cover & cook over low heat till chicken is tender and nicely coated with onion mixture……p_20161124_173832_hdr_1.jpg

Serve hot with Ney Choru…..p_20161124_212157_hdr.jpg

NOTE : If curry leaves are used, add them at the end of roasting to get proper flavour of the leaves…….Can use slit green chillies instead of red chillies….. Chicken with bones is preferable….. Chicken pieces with skin will taste even better as the skin becomes crisp on frying…… Must use freshly crushed pepper for proper flavour.

IDDIYAPPAM

(STRING HOPPERS)

Iddiyappam is a favourite breakfast dish….. It is made by steaming & is generally had with a side dish….. The side dish is usually stew, particularly vegetable stew….. Sundays being special, it is had with Chicken stew…… Kids generally like to have iddiyappam with grated fresh coconut, ghee & sugar.

p_20160629_144402_hdr_1_1.jpg

INGREDIENTS : 2 cups rice flour, water, salt to taste, 1 tsp oil, freshly grated coconut, banana leaves.

DIRECTIONS : In a medium pan, heat water with salt & oil till it just starts boiling…….. Pour the hot water to the rice flour stirring continuously to form a dough….. For 2 cups rice flour generally 1 cup water is enough…….. The dough should be moist enough to form into logs without the dough sticking to the fingers……  img-20160630-wa0000_1.jpgIn the meantime, heat water in the iddiyappam steamer…… Place lightly oiled banana leaf (it imparts wonderful flavour) on the steamer plate & sprinkle freshly grated coconut over it……. There are various types of iddiyappam makers found in market……. img-20160630-wa0006_1.jpgTake an iddiyappam maker, oil it and place the dough in it……. Squeeze the dough in circular motion to form a pile of strings……. The pile should not be too thick, reason being it won’t steam evenly…….Place the plate in the steamer over rolling boiling water……. Cook till done, usually 2-5mins…….. Serve hot with stews.p_20160629_144703_hdr_1.jpg

NOTE : The water needs to be just hot to make the dough………if it is boiling hot then the dough will become hard & it would be difficult to press it through the iddiyappam maker…… Also one can use idli steamer to make these.