Achari Aloo: Potatoes cooked in Pickling Spices

Food Like A Loving Touch Or A Glimpse Of Divine Power Has The Ability To Comfort…

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Let’s say we all have our Comfort foods.I for one crave a simple meal especially after a busy day at work,perhaps when I’m low and even especially after travelling and being away from home for awhile.It also has a lot to do with the kind of flavours one grew up on.I spent a large part of my childhood with my grandparents.My grandmother was a great cook and while meat and fish dishes were a regular  at the dinner table,she cooked a variety of vegetarian meals as well.And yes potatoes were always the family favourite.She would often make potatoes with onions and spices and this was very often made it to our lunch boxes..There are certain flavour’s that linger on and taste just like childhood.Well here is a recipe that reminds me of my grand mom’s cooking,and curiously enough, instantly transports me back  to her kitchen.Well of course food that is linked to childhood nostalgia often brings on a cooking marathon in my kitchen,partly from the incessant desire to revive traditional cooking.

I too tend to cook potatoes in different forms.While my  son loves them either as a baked potato or in a salad,the husband loves them curried with a riot of spices and onions.This is my favourite way of making potatoes which replicates my grand mother’s recipe with  a few variations. Continue reading

Goa…Spice Farms, Food Markets And A Recipe

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This past summer has been a busy one with our dear  son visiting us and keeping me busy in the kitchen too. Bless him.While it’s sometimes a daunting task coming up with new recipes that whet his appetite,it keeps me on the look out for new interesting one’s like this Goa Sausage curry I made up for him and the hubs.It was absolutely wonderful having a houseful again. Now we did  managed to get away on a family vacation to Goa, primarily also to beat the sweltering heat in Mumbai.It’s been a dry monsoon here with hardly any rains,besides Goa in the rains is magical indeed.

The quick escape to the land of beaches, sunshine and lush greenery did wonders for the soul and for the food obsessed traveller that I am.As any new journey kindles an excitement brought about by new cultures,cuisines and experiences. The Goan Hubs was thrilled to visit his own country as he often calls it.His family is originally from Goa,however moved away decades ago and now live in Mumbai.

Not that this was a first visit to Goa.There have been several quick trips to attend  Family weddings, Baby showers,Weekend trip,and well yes even honeymooned in Goa two decades ago.Most often our trips turn out to be beach centric of course or perhaps lazy weekends at the resort we stay in. While I quite enjoy the “lying in the sun and watch the world go by”,I tend to get antsy by the second day.I’m an explorer at heart and love going down the road less travelled to discover something not so touristy and that revolves around food of course.The two places on my to do list were a trip to the Mapusa Market and  Sahakari Spice farm in Ponda. Well I even managed to get the rest of the family interested in these trips and they turned out very worth a visit.

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Mapusa Market: This place is abuzz with street vendors and established shops alike selling any and everything from fresh local produce, spices, meats and sausages,seafood to even readymade clothes,textiles and jewellery.This market captures the essence of  Goa and is a riot of colour and a hustle bustle of activity. The vendors are at their  colourful best ,travelling from neighbouring villages to sell their locally grown or manufactured wares, including spices of all kinds. Fresh fruits and vegetables are displayed in abundance. The market is well known for its jewellery, pottery, spice, and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for straw hats, Goan home-made chouriço and the like. Strings of Goan chouriço, spiced and marinated pork sausages, are sold here. Seedless tamrind , or amot as it is known locally, is also traded in great demand.Wandering around these winding lanes was a discovery indeed. I was even amazed at some places that sold wonderful fresh Goan bread known as Pao or Poee,which have a crusty exterior and a deliciously soft centre.Just perfect warm with butter slathered.I decided to take a dozen of these back home as they freeze well for later use.

Our bags were packed with these freshly baked Bread Buns,Dried Shrimp, Goan beans know as Fejao, Sol or also know as Kokum which is used in Goan fish curries spices like Teffla used in Mackerel curries and a bottle of Cashew Feni,to complete my Goan shopping experience.  This visit was a treat indeed and perhaps as often said “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”,I knew my hubs would be ecstatic with Goan treats from my kitchen.

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These Gorgeous fresh flowers that caught my fancy were a sight to behold.A trip to these fresh markets is a must.This market is open on all days except Sunday’s ,all though Friday’s are when they seem the busiest. Do put this down on your itinerary on the next visit to Goa.

Sahakari Spice Farm:

This lush acreage is spread over of 130 acres, 60 acres of this area is exclusively devoted to the cultivation of Spices, Fruits, Medicinal trees and Herbs.We toured these farms which was organised by means of guide who seemed well versed in her repertoire of various spices that grew here and even gave us some amazing tips on the health benefits on some of them. This farm has an abundance of Fresh pepper,Cinnamon,Vanilla beans,Cloves,Curry leaves among many more varieties.

Goa spice farm

Interesting Fact: It was quite surprising to learn that The Indian Teja Patta, is indeed the leaf of the Cassia tree (Common Cinnamon).

Health Benefits of Cinnamon:

  • Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidants and has potent anti inflammatory properties.
  • Helps in reduction of bad Cholesterol.
  • Improves Insulin Resistance.
  • Lowers Blood sugar levels

It is important to source the real Cinnamon as most often what is available is the Cassia bark that imitates Cinnamon.Some great information as explained by our lovely guide on tour of this spice farm.

We ended our tour at the spice farm with a delicious Goan fare at the restaurant which is located here.A fish Thali with finger licking Prawn Curry,Chicken Curry, Fried Surmai (King Fish) and an assortment of vegetables too.Hope I’ve tempted you to travel to Goa and discover this hidden gem.

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Well a trip to Goa is not complete without the mandatory stock of Goa Pork Sausages.There are quite a variety available to choose from.Some branded ones like Costas, J0a0’s are readily available in the market stores or perhaps you may even like to buy some freshly strung one’s that the vendors sell  in Mapusa.I picked up an assortment as they stay well refrigerated. So if asked what’s for dinner? GPS aka Goan Pork Sausage was my answer the other night,which instantly lit my the hub’s face and the son quite enjoyed this too.

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 Recipe for Goa Pork Sausages:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Packet Goa Pork Sausages( Meat removed from the casing)
  • 2 Medium Onions (sliced finely)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1-2 Green chilies (slit lengthwise)
  • 2 Small Potatoes (Cubed and Boiled)
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped Coriander for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Tomato Paste

Method:

  1. Remove the sausage meat from its casing.
  2. Now heat a pan and add some oil to it and fry the onions till medium brown.
  3. Next add in the green chilies and ginger-garlic paste and fry for a few minutes.
  4. Now add in the sausage meat and fry well.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and add water enough to cover the mixture.
  6. Let this simmer for a good 30-40 minutes so as to cook the meat well.
  7. Once reduced add in the boiled potatoes and garnish with chopped coriander.
  8. Remove any excess oil that may come up during cooking the sausage.
  9. Serve with Pao or any bread.

Goan Prawn Curry: A recipe from My Mum-in-laws kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of your home. Now if you love cooking just the way I do I’m sure you would agree with this. It is your space to recreate a magical recipe or experiment with another or perhaps follow one that has been handed down from one generation to another. A very warm welcome into my kitchen dear readers and here is a recipe for a Goan Prawn Curry.A recipe handed down by my mother-in-law and one that I treasure.

It has over the years become my to go Curry and a family favorite too.

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I learned to cook fish with my Mother in-law patiently explaining me the process while she cooked, while  I hurriedly jotted  down the notes. Now this was a couple of decades ago when I was a newly wed. I still have all those yellowed notebooks with hand written recipes. Most of them seem na o brainer now as I seem to have mastered the art of Goan Cooking, being married to my through breed Goan husband and a finicky one that too. Well at least he is one when it comes to cooking fish the Goan way.
I still treasure those notebooks though .Some pages seem frayed and tattered and some still legible. While I seldom need to look at this recipe as I’ve been cooking it for years now ,I thought it would be the perfect one for my blog post.

 

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The curry uses simple ingredients of fresh prawns, onions, garlic paste and a paste made up of freshly grated coconut,red chilies and roasted coriander seeds. It is a wonderful,l tangy and flavorful curry and best served with rice.

With Love From my Kitchen to yours…

Ingredients:

  • 250-300 grams medium Prawns ( De-shelled and deveined)
  • 1 medium Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Coconut Oil

To be ground to a fine paste:

  • 100 grams fresh grated Coconut
  • 4-6 Red chilies (preferably Bedgi)
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 2-4 pods garlic
  • 1 teaspoon roasted coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon roasted cumin seeds
  • a small ball of tamarind

Directions:

  1. Wash the prawns under water and marinate with a pinch of turmeric and chili powder and keep aside.
  2. Grind all the ingredients under the paste mixture with a little water.
  3. Heat some coconut Oil in a pan and add the Onions and fry till medium brown.
  4. Add the prawns and mix well. Cook for about 8-10 minutes or till prawns are cooked.
  5. Add the ground mixture and fry for a minute.
  6. Now add sufficient water to make it a medium thickish curry consistency.
  7. Serve with rice.

Quinoa Poha-A twist on Traditions

 

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Lets face it we all get stuck for healthy breakfast ideas at some point or the other. Now, while I enjoy a light one most often, consisting of fruits, Oats and perhaps an occasional smoothie, I must admit I do like to indulge in a traditional breakfast a couple of times a week.

I’ve recreated a twist in the traditional poha breakfast by using some wonderful Quinoa instead. Poha is a wholesome breakfast made in most homes in India.It’s quite easy to make up and most often has a mix of spices like cumin, turmeric and mustard seeds used for flavoring. Along with chopped onions,peas and of course chopped coriander for the garnish.

So what is Poha?

Poha is  Flattened rice (also called beaten rice) is a unhusked rice which is flattened into flat light dry flakes. These flakes of rice swell when added to liquid, whether hot or cold, as they absorb water, milk or any other liquids. The thicknesses of these flakes vary between almost translucent thin to nearly four times thicker than a normal rice grain.

Here is a twist on the regular use of flattened rice.I’ve used some cooked Quinoa instead along with the usual ingredients that Poha is usually made of. I have used this healthy ,power packed protein in a number of salads and appetizers, but never really along with Indian spices. I was hoping the end result would turn out good. And it did! It  turned out really delicious and I do hope you will experiment with Quinoa just as I did.

To learn more about Quinoa and the perfect way of cooking it you may like to visit my post at :wp.me/p2eASG-8G

 

For cooking the Quinoa use 1 measure of Quinoa to 2 measures of water and bring to a boil. Lower the flame and cover with a lid and let it cook till all the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and spread in a plate to cool.

To make the Poha:

Ingredients:

1 onion
Handful of curry leaves
1 -2 green chilies cut
Chopped coriander leaves
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 Medium Potato (Boiled and cubed)
Salt to taste
Crushed peanuts and grated coconut to garnish.
Method:

  1. Heat some oil in a pan.
  2. Temper with mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  3. Add  the onions and fry till transparent. Add green chilies.
  4.  Next add turmeric and fry for a minute. Now add the boiled green peas.
  5.  Add the cooked Quinoa and stir lightly.
  6.  Garnish with chopped coriander and grated coconut
  7.  Sprinkle crushed peanuts.
  8. Serve hot.
  9. Squeeze some lemon juice if desired.