Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jackfruit Fritters/Chakkappazham Porichathu ? Does any Keralite know the Naadan name, please?

The creative department of my brain is completely frozen and is closed temporarily! That means, you get to reach the recipe directly :)

This is a recipe that is long forgotten from my grandmother’s kitchen and quickly fading from my mother's memory. I don’t remember my mother making this during my childhood but it seems, she used to enjoy this a lot from my grandmother’s kitchen. I wanted an easy recipe to use up those two cans of jackfruit, waiting patiently to get their share of limelight for the last 6 months and that’s when my mother suddenly thought about this snack that her mother used to prepare quite often during jackfruit season. By the time she finished narrating the how-to part, I knew I would love it and I did! So, I thought I will share another gem from my grand mother’s kitchen before it goes completely forgotten!!

Again, We want your help to find out the local/traditional/regional/naadan name of this snack and based on my past experience, I know for sure that someone out there can help me with this. So, please drop a line here if you have the answer to my question, it means a lot to me!

Ingredients: (Serves 2-3)
  • 12 pods of ripe jackfruit ( I used 2 cans of CHAOKOH-Jackfruit in syrup & drained it)
  • ¾ cup rice flour
  • ¼ cup Maida/All-purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 pods of cardamom, crushed
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar (adjust as per the sweetness of the fruit)
  • Around 1 ¼ cup water
  • Oil for deep frying
  • Chop jackfruit into small pieces and cook with a handful water, either on stove top or in a microwave, until the fruit pieces are tender and loses its firmness; remove from the heat. With the back of a wooden spoon, roughly mash the fruit pieces, so it stays together when batter is added.
  • Meanwhile, prepare a semi-thick batter by mixing rice flour, all purpose flour, turmeric powder sugar and water. Flavour the batter with two crushed cardamoms and mix well to make a smooth batter without any lumps.
  • Pour the batter , in small quantities to the cooked jackfruit and mix well. Make sure that there is enough batter to cover the cooked fruit and not much to let fruits float in batter. When cooked fruit is mixed with the batter, you should be able to take a scoop with a spoon.
  • Heat oil in a deep vessel, in medium heat. Take a small scoop of the fruit+batter and carefully drop them into hot oil and fry till they reach golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. If the oil is too hot, the fritters will turn dark brown easily, so please adjust the heat accordingly.
  • Serve warm with a cup of tea or coffee
Note: You can make ripe plantain fritters the same way but there is no need to cook ripe plantains. Just mash them and mix with the batter, take a spoonful and drop them into hot oil. This is a nice variation from our regular plantain fritters.

Related Posts:

Pazham Pori Ela Ada Plantain Pudding Ariyunda


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kadachakka Puzhukku/Thoran - A side dish with breadfruit

Last week I happened to read Ann’s evocative post, reminiscing her childhood days spent at maternal ancestral home and her story took me right back to my maternal home where I loved spending most of my childhood and adolescence. Nevertheless, what struck me most was the part where she painted the picture of her grandparents waiting for their arrival……….I knew exactly what she was talking about as that was more or less the same picture at my paternal ancestral home too. The only difference was that we didn’t have a grandmother waiting for us, instead Achichan/grandpa and a quarter dozen of my aunts and uncles and my little cousins waited for us. The smile on their faces and warmth in their eyes was always heart warming and inviting. My grandfather was a handsome old man, wheat complexioned with almost 6 foot height and a large round belly and a Rudraksha-maala/beaded chain around his neck and if it was his bath day, the gracefulness on his face doubled with that triple layer Chandana-kuri with a round kunguma – pottu on his forehead  and some more chandanam/sandal paste smeared on his arms and chest,  giving him an aristocrat regal look. 

As we stood at the verandah talking to them, the irresistible aroma of roasted coconut simmering in Kadala/black chickpeas Curry wafting from the kitchen, circled us magically. In minutes we were served breakfast with Puttu, Kadala Curry, steamed ripe plantains and a glass of tea for my parents and uncles and a glass of milk flavored with an extra spoonful of  Bournvita for us kids. Food was the expression of love in that house and for the same reason, each of my aunts always prepared something special for our visit…sometimes it was the grainy avalose podi or Aval Vilayichathu, a sweet snack with rice flakes and jaggery or Sughiyan, deep fried sweetened lentil fritters and if an aunt forced us a bit more to eat one particular snack from that list, it was a clear indication for us to learn that she made it :)

By the time we finished having breakfast and changed to household clothes, the activity at the kitchen would be at its full swing. My mother along with one of my aunts would start chopping vegetables for lunch, sitting on top of Ari-petti, a wooden storage box to store rice and lentils. Sheeja chechi & Usha chechi, two young maids would be either cleaning fresh fish or grating coconut at the work area of the kitchen. When two wood burning stoves and gas burners were in full action, one of my aunts would slowly move to Viraku-pura/wood storage area which was earlier called Achichan’s Marunnu-pura ( a place to make medicine) when he was practicing Ayurveda. She would start setting up a temporary Aduppu, a wood burning stove to start making one of our favourite Payasam. I always stood on the steps of Viraku-pura watching my aunt stirring payasam with a chattukam  in a big Uruli, a wide mouthed bell metal vessel. I was hesitant to go inside as I had heard about few instances of spotting some unwanted visitors who slither!! :-O

Next to Viraku- pura was a Kozhi-koodu/hen house, on a 5 foot four legged concrete pedestal but at one point of time, the actual  residents were some rabbits! At old age, Achichan wanted some new pets, I guess :) Right next to that one was our favourite place, Kulam…..with my brother, I remember trying to catch small fish, holding a cheese cloth like thorthu from two sides :) There was also a motor shed adjacent to Kulam as water was pumped from this pond to water the coconut tress and other plants and water was navigated through a narrow handmade sand canal which we called, kaiyyani.  All of us cousins have got scolding atleast once in our childhood for playing in that water and walking through Kaiyyani because if we broke the edges, it would act like a broken levee and water would leak into unwanted areas.  Mostly my uncles or their assistants, Chandra chettan or Sukumaran chettan would be in charge of opening and closing these small canals with a shovel. That motor shed served another function too, it also acted as the place for hiding everything from X X X Rum to McDowells to Honey Bee to toddy as my father and uncles never wanted to let their father or anyone know about their little ‘indulgence’ as they played few rounds of 28 or rummy :P 

With the canopy of coconut leaf fronds our yard,Parambu had a myriad of trees yielding everything from jackfruit, mango, coconut, breadfruit, plantain, papaya, banana, nutmeg, tapioca, Kudam-puli, jambakka etc etc….It was under the jambakka tree in the front yard, that we had our Oonjal/swing….not the ones you see in parks…this one was different….a thick coir thread was tied to a sturdy branch of the tree and seating was not any iron or wooden planks….ours was an organic one , the base or the thick part of coconut palm fronds cut into a decent length with a V shape on its edges to lock in the coir thread and voila, we had our swing :)  When it was season, with every blow of wind, jambakka fell on the ground…….. though only a 10 or 12 year old , the decorator in me always rose to the situation and decked Achichan’s Shoola-thara/ a holy spear installed on a concrete pedestal, with a raw of those tiny white fruits and it did appear like a small house lit up with a row of lamps on the eve of Deepavali. But Achichan always got furious seeing this as he just could not tolerate his grand daughter showing disrespect to a place where he prayed and did some pooja every day during his entire adulthood. :D

My grandfather was quite a religious man deeply involved in rituals and prayers and hence our ancestral home was a classic example of a Hindu household where the colourful rituals of Hinduism drained an unimaginable portion of family wealth. Whether I consider such rituals superstition or not, I was lucky to witness such pooja and homam being performed at my paternal home, by 5-6 priests with a Homa-kundam/sacred fire in the centre  and a colourful kolam of a goddess drawn out with precision and art at its best. For me such occasions not only gave me a peek into such colourful rituals but also were an opportunity to meet our entire big family. On such days the house was epitome of action…women were busy in kitchen , cleaning up brass mugs and plates for pooja, cooking up vegetarian feast with utmost carefulness to feed the priests, cousins in charge of collecting flowers and separating petals from lotus flowers and men going to the market to buy last minute essentials…and by evening air would be filled with mantra/prayers and songs recited by priests and at night  all of us sat around the sacred fire and basically threw whatever flowers we were handed to , into the homa-kundam/sacred fire and the naughty ones laughed softly when one of the aunts had a bad gastric problem caused by the parippu-curry she had for lunch! :)

When I look back, everything looks like from a totally different era altogether. That old house had been demolished and a new one is there in its place….Achichan passed away long back…… Shoola-thara has been removed and transported to our family temple…………….joint family has become single units though in the same yard itself…….when I called last weekend my little cousins are now all grown up and preparing for board exams and university exams but what still remains is that smile on their faces and warmth in their eyes and the table that continue to be the expression of love with the huge array of food presented each time we visit and the laughter in the house and gossip in the kitchen and ofcourse, Honey Bee in the motor shed too but I have been missing all that for last few years, like a typical NRI !!!

Ann did stir up a tsunami of thoughts in my head!

Kadachakka Puzhukku is a mushy preparation with overcooked breadfruit mixed with mildly spiced ground coconut mixture and my father recalls that it was a regular at home during the breadfruit season. It is usually served as a side dish for lunch but it is a tasty combo when served with Kanji, rice soup for dinner. Though Puzhukku (mashed version) and thoran/stir-fry are technically two different things especially in terms of texture, the same ingredients and methods are used to make a dry stir-fry/thoran with kadachakka/breadfruit. For Puzhukku, it is ideal to have a slightly overcooked Kadachakka/Breadfruit to get a mushy texture for the dish whereas in Thoran, you should make sure that Kadachakka/Breadfruit is just cooked till tender, to have a dry stir-fry texture.

Ingredients: (Approx.)

For cooking:
  • 2 cups Kadachakka/Breadfruit,  cubed (after removing the green exterior)
  • ¼ - ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 Indian green chillies, split lengthwise
  • 1 ½ cups water or enough to cook Kadachakka/Breadfruit
  • Salt to taste
For crushing:
  • ½ - ¾ cup grated coconut
  • 2 small red pearl onions, finely chopped
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2-3 green chillies, chopped
  • ¼ - ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • A small pinch of cumin seeds/jeera
  • Salt to taste
For seasoning:
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chilly
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • Cook cubed pieces of Kadachakka/Breadfruit with green chillies, turmeric powder, water and salt, on a stove top, in a sauce pan, until pieces are done and soft, in low-medium heat. To save time, you may also cook Kadachakka/Breadfruit in pressure cooker, until the first whistle comes. Then turn off the stove and let it rest till the steam subsides.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the coconut mixture. Crush and blend the grated coconut well with finely chopped small onion, green chilies, turmeric powder, cumin seeds and a tinge of salt (do not add more salt here as you have already added while cooking Kadachakka/Breadfruit ), using your hands OR a mortar-pestle set OR put all the ingredients in a small food processor and pulse 1-2 times.
  • In a shallow pan, heat coconut oil, splutter mustard seeds, dry red chilly and sauté curry leaves for 30 seconds. To this add the ground coconut mixture and mix everything well and cook in medium heat for a minute, stirring occasionally. Now add the cooked pieces of Kadachakka/Breadfruit to this and gently mix everything together and let it sit in low heat for a minute or two. Do a taste- test, adjust the salt and turn off the stove
  • Serve with Kuthari Choru or  Kanji

Note: For Puzhukku, it is ideal to have a slightly overcooked Kadachakka/Breadfruit to get a mushy texture for the dish whereas in Thoran, you should make sure that Kadachakka/Breadfruit is just cooked till tender, to have a dry stir-fry texture.

Check out Cynthia's post on Breadfruit with some brilliant shots.

Related Posts:
Mashed Tapioca & Fish Curry Idichakka Thoran Chakkakkuru-Maanga curry Chakkakuru-Cheerathandu Avial Kanji & Payar


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Caramel Pudding…A forbidden indulgence from my childhood!

I was only a 10 year old and yet I had a crush……my very first crush…..a childhood crush on the gorgeous Caramel Pudding! We had a rock solid relationship but my folks found out about us at a very early stage and from then onwards, we were allowed to meet occasionally strictly in their presence. Even when this decadent dessert made its way into the fridge, I was not allowed to indulge myself in perfectly sinful pleasures at my own discretion and when I did, it was always rationed or a ‘charity’ from the elders. But the little brat in me was so desperate that I resorted to some forbidden indulgence………I waited patiently till my grandmother and aunt went for their afternoon siesta…….I walked on tip toes passing aunt’s room and then grand-mother’s bedroom, sneaked a look to see if grandma’s eyes were closed and mouth was wide opened, an indication that she was into deep sleep………then I peeped into the work area to make sure that maid had left the house, targeting the corner shop at the end of the road for her daily dose of gossip…….and then I let myself to open the door of heaven…..the door of that Godrej fridge, painted in sky blue shade and took a spoonful of that luscious, melt-in-the-mouth pudding, chilled perfectly and tasting sinfully delicious……..that was my door to heaven and the heaven kept sending me invites frequently until my grandma woke up hearing the ‘Baankuvili’ (Call for prayer) around 3 or 4 in the evening from the nearby juma masjid!

Over the years the relationship has strengthened and I still feel that electricity whenever I am served a plate of this decadent dessert swimming in a pool of caramel sauce. The child in me still forces me to get a spoon, open the doors of heaven and take a scoop from the dessert plate….it continues to be my favourite dessert, my ticket to heaven :)

Caramel Pudding, a dessert quite popular among Kerala homes, is a classic example of the culinary legacy left behind by the European settlers. With the use of simple ingredients and simple techniques, this European classic has been a regular in most homes and back home, this pudding is steam cooked in a pressure cooker.

Though we lost my aunt’s exact recipe for Caramel Pudding, I have been on the look out for finding that perfect recipe which comes close to the taste of that forbidden indulgence. The one featured here is something I have perfected over the period of time, based on a recipe my mother found on some cooking show. I played with the ingredients many times to get a perfectly balanced pudding, without the overwhelming taste of egg. My experiment with pressure cooker steaming has not been all that successful and hence I fake the bain-marie method by placing the custard bowls in hot water bath, in a large tray, and there-by creating steams to do the cooking in oven.

For Caramel Sauce:
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp water
For Custard:
  • 350 ml milk (little less than 2 cups), boiled and cooled
  • 2 small eggs
  • 6 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Prepare caramel in a small shallow pan, by heating and melting sugar along with 2 tsp water, until they turn golden or dark brown, depending on your personal taste. (Note: The taste of caramel sauce is highly dependent on its colour. The darker the shade, stronger the taste with a mild bunt flavor.) Keep swirling the pan but do not stir. When sugar is completely melted and bubbles start coming up and if it has reached the colour you want, turn off the stove. Pour this immediately into 4-5 small oven safe dessert bowls or ramekins. (Note: You should work quickly here as caramel hardens fast when removed from heat). Swirl dessert bowls or ramekins quickly to coat the bottom of the bowls evenly with caramel and keep aside until it sets well.
  • Prepare Custard: While caramel is setting, beat eggs and sugar well with a hand mixer for a minute until sugar is completely blended with eggs. To this add milk and vanilla extract and beat for another 30 seconds.
  • When caramel is fully set (usually takes about only 3-4 minutes), pour the custard mixture evenly on the prepared dessert bowls or ramekins.
  • Prepare a hot water bath to place the prepared dessert bowls or ramekins, by pouring steaming hot water into a large cake pan or any other oven safe tray and filling it till half. Now place the prepared dessert bowls or ramekins carefully into the hot water tray, cover with aluminum foil and slide into the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or a knife inserted in the centre come out clean; the texture of pudding should be wiggly at this stage. (Note: You may keep the prepared dessert bowls or ramekins first and then pour hot water till half the height of the bowl or vice versa.) Baking time differs depending on the oven setting. You may start checking anywhere from 45 minutes into baking and if the knife inserted comes out clean, you can carefully remove the hot water tray, and leave the tray on a wire rack, on the kitchen counter and let it cool down. When dessert bowls/ramekins are warm enough to touch, remove from the water bath and leave on the kitchen counter till it is completely cool. Wrap each bowl with a clear plastic sheet and refrigerate for 4-8 hours.
  • For serving: You need to unmould the pudding into a serving plate, for which run a knife in full circle by the inner side of the bowl (between pudding and dessert bowl edge), cutting through the pudding and the solid caramel base at the bottom. Then place the serving plate on top of the bowl and carefully invert/turn the over and gently lift the bowl and you will get your pudding swimming in a tasty sauce of caramel. (Note: If you have a doubt that pudding may not come out of the bowl easily, either pat on the bowl after inverting or keep the bowl in hot water for few seconds before inverting)
Related Posts:

Tiramisu China Grass Pudding Orange Delight Mango Sorbet Double Chocolate Pudding Parfait


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pineapple Jam……

At this time of the year, someone who sits under a snow mountain and skates to the parking lot, instead of walking on the ice, should be talking about stirring a pot of soup rather than simmering a pan of jam. But when the last bottle of homemade jam was also polished off, I had only two options, either to buy a bottled one from the store or make a fresh batch of jam even if that meant using fruits that are not in season. Once you relish the taste of homemade fruit preserves, it is not all that easy to go back to store bought ones. As someone who grew up on Kissan Jams and Amul Butter, CJJ ‘s choice was to go for Pineapple Jam .

A quick search on the web took me to a divine looking pineapple jam at Chop Chop A to Z and I knew immediately that it’s the recipe I was looking for. The addition of spices made it all the more charming. I followed her recipe and method with a slight difference to suit CJJ’s preferences; instead of using minced pineapple I pureed the fruit to get a spreadable consistency. Also whole spices were used (around 4 cloves and 4 tiny pieces of cinnamon for half a pound of pineapple) in lieu of powdered spices and they were removed with a fork, before bottling the jam. Quantity of sugar needs to be adjusted based on the natural sweetness of the fruit.

Thank you, Van for sharing the recipe for such a tasty aromatic goodness :) It is indeed a dab of gold on the toast!


No part of the content ( articles, photographs, recipes) of this blog may be reproduced without my written permission.Copyright © 2007-2010 All rights reserved.