Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chakka varuthathu (Jackfruit chips) - step by step pictorial

What you need:
1 medium sized raw jackfruit
Oil - enough for deep frying
Salt - 12 heaped tsp

If you think the ingredient list is small and that making this is a breeze, think again. This is TIME CONSUMING!!! Attempt this only when you have lots of time on hand.
The only part I have played in the making of these chips is in clicking the photos and of course, relishing the end product. The rest of it was taken care of by my mother.
If you're still here after that warning, here's what you need to do:

Extract the edible segments from the jackfruit. Check out this article to see how to cut a jack fruit and separate its segments.
Remove the seeds and the white strips that you find on the segments.
Now cut each segment into strips of medium thickness.

Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan. The larger the pan, the faster you will finish your work. The pan that you see in the pic is a copper bottom uruli which can comfortably hold several litres of oil. For authentic taste, use coconut oil. If you can't stand it or don't have access to it or just plain refuse to use it, substitute with refined oil. When the oil is hot, reduce the flame and drop in handfuls of the jack fruit strips. Stir to make sure they don't stick together.

While this is getting cooked, take 12 tsp of salt in a small vessel. Add just enough water to cover the salt. Do not stir. Keep it aside.

Stir the chips once or twice to ensure even cooking.

When the strips are three-fourths cooked, completely reduce the flame and pour in some of the salted water (roughly 1/4 cups of salted water). It will bubble up at this be careful.

Let it cook for some more time until well browned and crisp. Drain on to a colander to remove excess oil.

Once it cools completely, store it in an air tight container.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Mango ice cream

I am busy tapping away at the keyboard when the phone rings. I glance distractedly at the caller id, pick the phone up and tell my mother that I am busy and will call her back.
Why? What are you doing?, says she.
Well, I am trying to use up all this milk that I have in the fridge and am 'google-ing' recipes for ice cream.
Why do you need google for that? It is so easy to make ice cream.
How's that?
Well, just boil some milk....add some maida and sugar to it. If you want, you can also add essence. Freeze it. Beat it twice in the mixie. That's it.
No amma.....that doesn't sound interesting in the least bit.
Look at all these recipes that google has given me - there's one that uses condensed milk, one that uses evaporated that uses cool whip(never mind that I can't get it here), others that use eggs, heavy cream, whipped cream - you name it and these recipes have it.
Your recipe doesn't use any of these - it sounds so ummmmm....boring!!!
But it has always worked for me, she counters.
We move on to talking about other things and then after saying goodbye, I go back to google.
After a couple of hours, I pick up the phone and dial a number. When she picks the phone up, all I say much maida did you say I should use?

What you need:
Milk - 1 litre + 1/2 cup
Ripe mangoes - 2, peeled and chopped into pieces
Sugar - Start with 1/2 a cup and then taste and adjust according to sweetness of mangoes
Maida/all purpose flour - 2 tbsp

Puree the mangoes in a blender along with the sugar. I used 2 alphonso mangoes and got 1.5 cups of thick puree.
Add the 1/2 cup of milk to the maida and stir well to make a thick paste without any lumps. If needed, add some more milk so that you get a smooth paste.
Boil milk in a large, thick bottomed pan. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer, stirring every now and then, until it is reduced to
half the quantity. This takes roughly 25 minutes.
Add the maida paste, stirring well so that no lumps are formed. Stir in the mango puree and let it cook for 2-3 minutes. While it is getting cooked, you
have to keep stirring the mixture so that it doesn't get burnt.
Let it cool. Blend well in the mixie and then pour it into a freezer safe bowl and freeze for a few hours.
Remove from the fridge and beat it well in the mixie.
Repeat this freezing, blending and then freezing again process two or three times. This will ensure that your ice cream turns out nice and creamy.

What I think:
Not being a big fan of ice creams, I have never thought beyond the occasional scoop that comes prepackaged in plastic boxes. A surplus of milk at home is what led to this experiment.
As opposed to store bought ice cream, you can actually taste and smell the mangoes that went into the making of this one. Blending the mixture thrice has made it quite creamy.

This goes to Bong Mom who is hosting Of Chalks and chopsticks, an event started by Aqua

Monday, June 07, 2010

Mambazha koottan

At the risk of repeating something that I've said too often here, summer is not a season that I enjoy. Considering that I live in one of the hottest places in India, it is something that I have learned to put up with. Just about the only thing I like about summer is the fruits that are available in plenty in all the markets....the umpteen varieties of mangoes, lytchees, nongu, plums.
Having a fruit shop right next door is definitely a plus.
This koottan is something that is made in most Kerala Iyer homes with ripe mangoes that grow in the backyard. Nattu mambazham (country mangoes) are the ones that are commonly used, but any variety that is sweet, firm and not too fibrous will work just as well.

What you need:
Small, ripe mangoes - 2
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Green chillies - 3
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp for grinding + 1/2 tsp for tampering
Ash gourd or malabar cucumber(vellarikka) - 1/4 cup, skinned and diced
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Jaggery - a small piece (depending on the sweetness of the mangoes)

Peel the mangoes and cut them into large chunks. Squeeze out all the juice from the seed. Take this in a large vessel. Add the diced ash gourd along with enough water to cover it. Add turmeric powder and salt. Let it simmer on low heat until the gourd is cooked. Grind the coconut, chillies and mustard seeds to a smooth paste. Add this to the simmering mixture. Stir well and let it boil for a few minutes until the raw smell is gone.
Heat a tsp of coconut oil. Add 1/2 tsp of urad dal, mustard seeds, one red chilli broken into pieces and a few curry leaves. Heat until the mustard seeds pop. Pour this over the koottan.
This tastes best when mixed with rice and served with a spicy stir fry and papadams.