Monday, February 24, 2020

Brigadier Fernando's Spicy Prawns

Who says army guys can't cook? Some of the most lip smacking dishes have been served up by the faujis in my life. All of them instinctive, adaptive and creative cooks! Brig Fernando, or Neville Uncle as I fondly call him, is no exception to this trend. 
I was all of 10 when I met him first. I spent most of that visit hiding behind Dad's legs. Too shy to talk. But I did follow him around the kitchen as he cooked up a lavish Sri lankan style feast. And that is the memory that endured over the years. His jolly commentary as he chopped, marinated, extracted coconut milk. Smiling, coaxing and dispensing cooking tips that I remember still. It is hard for me separate Neville Uncle's memories from the kitchen.
I was thrilled when he made a second trip to India in recent years. Technology made it easier to keep in touch. And when I needed some spicy carnivore recipes to add to my repertoire, I knew whom to call! After all, the taste of his Sri Lankan Chicken Curry still lingers on! Neville Uncle and Senophi aunty happily shared some of their family favourites. Among them all, these spicy prawns have become a staple at mine!
These super easy, super delicious prawns are Uncle's original creation. And I guarantee they will soon be a staple at your table as well! Presenting it here in Uncle's own words.

SPicy prawns

500 Grams cleaned medium size prawns.- Clean the prawns keep the tail intact.
2 Table spoons each of Ginger and garlic.Cut into thin strips.
2 Bombay onions cut into small cubes.
1 Table spoon Chilly paste or chilly flakes
2 table spoons light Soya sauce.
3 table spoons margarine or butter or even cooking oil.
2 full tea spoons crushed black pepper.
Spring onions to garnish the dish.
1 tea spoons of salt.
1 each of red pepper and green pepper. Cut into strips.(this item is optional).

Wash the cleaned prawns in saffron and salt water.Pat dry and keep aside.
In a non stick pan,  pour the butter or oil.
When oil is hot, add the ginger and garlic strips and fry  for 2 or 3 minutes.
Now add the cleaned prawns and fry for approx 5 to 6 minutes.
Now add the onions and green and red peppers.
Now add the crushed black pepper and salt.
Fry for a minute or two.
Add 2 table spoons of light Soya sauce.
Add the chilly paste or the chilly flakes.
Transfer the prawns to a plate and garnish with 1 inch pieces of spring onions.
PRESTO Brig Fernando 's dish is ready.
Enjoy with yellow rice or bread.

Pl note if you want the dish to be slightly wet add half cup of thick coconut milk just before taking off the fire and fry for 2 or 3 more minutes.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Tripura Mutton Curry

Tripura is one of the seven sister states of the North East. Located close to the border, the food of Tripura has a strong influence of Bangladeshi cuisine. The tribal cuisine shares similarity to those of the others in the North east- simple non veg stews with fresh local ingredients.
It is a tall task to find the ingredients for an authentic meal outside the state. Primarily, the fermented fish, Berma, which is a staple in most dishes.
However, my search for an authentic recipe from Tripura that I could recreate, I landed on a vlog. At first sight it seemed like every other Meat curry. But the play of ingredients created something that looked and smelled familiar but tasted unique! Spicy and delicious, I know this recipe is going to be  a weekend staple at my place now! 

Mutton                     1.2 kg
Onions                     3, sliced
Garlic                       2 whole pods, chopped
Ginger Paste             200 gm
Mustard Oil              300 ml
Bay Leaf                   1
Potatoes                     4
Coriander pd              3 teaspoon
Cumin pd                   3 teaspoon
Turmeric pd               3 teaspoon
Red chilli pd              2 teaspoon
Whole red chillies     8
Water                         500 ml
Paste 1: 2 onions + 10 green chillies
Paste 2: 4 green cardamoms + 4 inch cinnamon stick

Heat the oil in a wok. Fry the potatoes with some salt and turmeric, till crisp and golden. Drain and keep aside. Fry the sliced onion till crisp. Add the mutton, bay leaf, turmeric powder and salt to taste. Saute for five minutes. Add the ginger paste, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Mix well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Mix in Paste 1. After two minutes, add the chopped garlic. Stirring at regular intervals. cook till the water dries up. Adjust the seasoning. Heat the water in a pressure cooker. Add the meat, potatoes and whole red chillies. Mix well and pressure cook for 4 whistles. Release the steam and add Paste 2. Pressure cook for another 2 whistles and leave to cool. Serve with some steamed rice for the perfect Sunday Meal!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Cucumber cake with Gin icing

I Love September! It marks the baking calendar for me. And till March I'll be indulging in one luscious birthday bake after another! Mum's birthday falls in September, and I love adding an element of booze in her cakes. A rather generous element if I may add 😜 
In past years, there has been a very potent Chocolate Rum Cake, and a milder Beer Chocolate Cake. This year was a departure. I had been eyeing Kate Hackworthy's rather intriguing Cucumber and lemon Cake. It looked so pretty and refreshing. And of course, it came with a tempting Gin frosting. That cinched it for me! We had a bottle of Bombay Sapphire just begging to be used. It would be the perfect complement. My folks were less convinced! 
But I was going to convert them for sure. This recipe was popular and there had to be a reason.It was fairly easy to make. So that was definitely reason number one! It looked delicate and pretty. So reason number two. The frosting! Oh soooo good!! That was reason three, four and five! Then, the first bite! A refreshing summer party in my mouth! Reasons? Do we need anymore?! 
To those who are curious whether the cucumber taste carries through, I would say... Yes. It does. But not in a weird way. With the gin frosting and that light lemon aftertaste, the cucumber still remains the star. But the marriage of flavors is just fantastic. And may I add, addictive! Very addictive! I kept slicing thin corners to ward off temptation. Then, kept going back for more. The non believers were all converts. I can definitely see myself making this cake again and again. Coz it tastes brilliant even minus the frosting. So, if you need a wow factor for your next do, this is just the thing to try!

nutty about food 


Cucumber                   200 gm
Lemon                         1, zest and juice
Butter                          150 gm
Granulated sugar         150 gm 
Vanilla essence            2 teaspoons
Flour                            200 gm
Eggs                             2
Baking powder            2 teaspoons

Icing:   Gin                  4 tablespoons
             Icing sugar      200 gm
            Butter               75 gm

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Wash the cucumber. Leave the skin on and slice vertically. Scrape out the seeds and puree. Add the lemon juice. Beat the butter, sugar, zest and vanilla till light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating really well after each addition. Sift the baking powder and flour together. Now, alternating between the dry ingredients and the cucumber puree, add a little at a time to the batter. Mix well after each addition. So basically, add some flour, then mix. Add some cucumber, then mix. Continue till all combined. Pour into a greased tin and bake for 40 minutes. When done, allow the cake to cool completely. For the icing, just beat all the ingredients till smooth and fluffy. Refrigerate till the cake is ready to be frosted. Slice the cooled cake horizontally. Sandwich the layers with the icing. Swirl the rest of the icing on the top. And your Cucumber cake is ready!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Stuffed Karela

Karela or the bitter gourd is not a veggie that turns up often on search engines. I haven't found too many people enthused by the idea of having karela for lunch. And the few who do, have it mainly for the health benefits it has to offer. Not for love of the vegetable. 
I genuinely do love karela. This puzzles as well as aggravates Mum. She absolutely abhors Karela. But love for her only child forces her to dish it up week after week! But there is only one way she deigns to consume it. Stuffed and deep fried. Health benefits be damned!
My grandmum makes this amazing bitter gourd curry with coconut and garlic. But nothing will induce mum to eat that. This recipe was handed to her by one of their neighbours. So for years these were referred to as Chandel Aunty Karelas!
These aren't as bitter as the other recipes. And the tangy, spicy filling is really quite addictive. Throw in a handful of french fries on top, and even kids will have a go!


Bitter Gourd                 6
Onions                          2
Ginger garlic paste        2 teaspoon
Garam Masala              1/2 teaspoon
Pepper powder              1/2 teaspoon
Dry Mango powder      1 teaspoon
Coriander powder         1 teaspoon
Salt                                to taste
Turmeric powder          1/2 teaspoon
Chickpea flour              2 tablespoons

Scrape the ridges of the karela. Slit it vertically and discard the seeds. Rub a little salt and turmeric inside and out. Leave in the sun for an hour. In the meantime, prepare the masala. Grate the onions, add salt and leave for 20 minutes. Squeeze the onions well to drain out all the water. In the drained onions, add all the rest of the ingredients, except the chickpea flour. Wash the karelas well and pat dry them with a kitchen towel. Fill the prepared masala into the cavity of the gourd. Now prepare a thick paste with the chickpea flour (besan), a little salt and water. Use this paste to seal the edges of the stuffed karelas. Heat oil in a wok and lower the karelas sealed side down. Cook on medium heat. You can choose to deep fry these. Or shallow fry them covered , turning them frequently to ensure they are well browned on all sides. Enjoy with some rice and plain yellow dal!