August 2014 | Forks N Knives

Kerala Crab Curry | Njandu Varutharachathu

Monday, August 25, 2014
My fond memories of crab curries are of the ones cooked by my aunt. Most of the times they were prepared by dry roasting coconut along with other spices. Every time our family went to Kerala for summer vacations ,this was a must. Our home town is  Haripad, a small town in Allepey District which boasts of backwaters  and thus the availability of fresh fish all year around. We get live crabs! And by live i mean,the black colored dangerous types(Well,almost all live ones are dangerous!!)

I & Rakesh often visit the local Korean Super Market (H- Mart) here for their fresh sea food. Every time we see crabs,we decide lets not buy them today,maybe some other day and yesterday was that some other day. Four live soft shell blue crabs!! A quick phone call to mom for recipe and i was ready to get going.

I threw the crabs in freezer for 2-3 hours to save myself from possible attacks and also since i wasn't planning to cook it right away ! In case you plan to cook it live throw them into boiling hot water and they are set. I saw Vahchef's video on how to clean them and it was pretty easy.


If you have never tasted a crab curry before, the kerala version is a big hit with almost everyone i know.

Seafood and Crab lovers- Enjoy!!






Ingredients:

For roasted coconut paste:

a. 1 tsp coconut oil
b. 1 cup grated coconut
c. 4-6 shallots
d. 1 tsp black pepper corns
e. 1 tsp red chilli powder
f. 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
g. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
h. 2 sprig curry leaves 
i. 1 tsp coriander powder

For fresh garam masala:
a. 3-4 cloves
b. 2 star anise
c. 2 pods cardamom
d. fennel seeds/perum jeerakam- 1/4 tsp
e. cinnamon stick -2 inch pieces
(or) use store bought ones-1 tsp

For curry:

a. 4 soft shell blue crabs cleaned and cut into pieces
b. 6-8 shallots 
c. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
d. 1 tsp red chilly powder
e. 1 tsp freshly ground pepper corns
f. ginger crushed 1 tsp
g. garlic 5-6 cloves
h. 3-4 green chilles
i. 1 tsp coconut oil
j. 2-3 pieces of gamboge/kodam pulli/kokkam
k. salt as per taste
l. water as required

For tempering:

a. 1 tsp coconut oil
b. few curry leaves
c. 2 dried red chillies
d. 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
e. 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds(ulluva)
f. 1-2 shallots

Method:

Heat 1 tsp oil and dry roast all ingredients listed under for roasting till the raw smell is gone. Be careful not to burn them. Turn off the flame and allow it cool and once its cooled, grind into a fine paste by adding water as required.

Soak gamboge in warm water for 5 mins.


Take an Earthen Pot or a heavy bottom vessel,pour oil and add shallots,ginger,garlic,curry leaves,slit green chillies,turmeric powder,pepper powder,red chilly powder. Saute for 3-5 mins and add crabs,water,salt and the gamboge. Allow it boil for 8- 10 mins on a medium flame.

Add the roasted coconut paste with water as needed and cook on med- high flame for 10-12 mins. 
Add freshly ground garam masala and cook for another 2-3 mins.
In another pan for tempering,put coconut oil,after it heats up add mustard seeds and allow it to crackle,add fenugreek seeds, shallots, red chillies, curry leaves and pour it into the gravy .Keep it covered until you are ready to serve, for the crabs to absorb all the flavors from the gravy.



Notes:

1. You can use any oil you prefer, but the malayalee in me loves anything and everything to do with coconut!!
2. These are best served with rice/appams/rotis.
3. Use shallots instead of onions for better flavor.
4. Nothing can beat the flavor you get from Earthen pots(Manchatti).


Do try and let me know how they tasted!

Eggless Oats & Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I love cookies!!

I love them in all forms!!

Doesn't matter if i have not heard of any varieties in particular, i would still love them just by dreaming about them. During my childhood i wasn't much familiar with cookies. It was biscuits all the way. Hide & Seek and Bourbon were(are)my all time favorites. After moving to US, i realized i need to pay almost double or triple the amount to get them from nearby indian stores and also since my waist line was not refusing to budge after all the strenuous workouts that i was into,i decided it was high time to start baking my own healthier versions!! 

By the way did i say i love oats too?? They fill me up perfectly for breakfast with some milk,bananas,and walnuts. Of late i have been experimenting with over night cooked oats(not my thing).After many successful attempts of baking with oats flour in muffins and cakes, baking an oats cookie was in my to-do list for a very long time.

These cookies are very easy to make,they make for an excellent tea time hassle free snack and can also be grabbed for a go to breakfast.





Ingredients:

1. 1/2 cup Old fashioned rolled oats

2. 1 tsp baking soda

3.1 tsp pure vanilla extract

4. 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

5. 4 tsps unsalted butter (or olive oil 1/4 cup)

6. 1/4 cup packed brown sugar (use any  sweetener as per your taste)

7. 1 tsp mixed spice powder/nutmeg /cinnamon

8. 1/4 cup all purpose flour

9. 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

10. 2 tsp Chocolate chips




Method:

Start by preheating your oven to 350 F. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminium foil. Cream butter & sugar till they are well combined. Add vanilla extract. Sieve together all purpose flour,whole wheat flour, baking soda,cocoa powder,spice mix. Mix along with oats and chocolate chips. Knead it like a dough. Make small balls out of it and flatten with palm. Bake them for 12-15 mins and allow it it cool for another 15 mins. I got 10 cookies out of these measurements.



I had no intention of writing this down, but as they turned out to be awesome i decided to share it,which is why i don't have pictures of the steps involved. Next time when i make these babies, pictures will follow along!!

Between..Rakesh just commented, " They look like parippu vadas" and he is almost dead!!!!


Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Love at first bite is how i describe the above creation. A gooey,moist,intense and heavenly chocolate treat that will melt you with every single bite.Top it up with some vanilla ice cream for that warm cold mix up and you are sure to impress everyone around.

Having been born and brought up in Mumbai,i was first introduced to molten lava cakes through Domino's adverts. This fancy looking cake can only be bought from shops were my initial notions until the day i decided to be adventurous with my baking skills.....and am glad i did it...a very simple,easy to bake dessert with minimalist ingredients.



Start by preheating your oven at 425 F (220 C).Melt chocolate and unsalted butter in microwave or over a double boiler occasionally stirring with a fork. I have used a mix of nestle semi sweet choco chips, Hershey's dark chocolate bar and milk chocolate.



Add a tsp of baking soda,instant coffee,cocoa powder,vanilla extract,1 large egg or 2 small eggs, all purpose flour and mix well.





Grease two ramekins with butter or baking spray or just muffin tins in case there are no ramekins available and fill about 1/2 the mixture onto them.


Bake no more than 11-13 mins to get that runny and gooey center.  Enjoy with a dollop of ice-cream(i ran out of them) and fresh strawberry.











Ingredients:

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 tsp instant coffee powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 large egg

1/4 tsp sea salt (if using salted butter avoid salt)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

5 oz mixed chocolates as per taste


Method:

Preheat oven to 425F (220 C). Spray 2 medium sized ramekins with cooking(baking) spray. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave or over double boiler until completely melted. Add coffee,vanilla,cocoa powder,baking soda,all purpose flour and mix well. Add egg(s). Pour into the greased ramekin and bake no more than 11-13 mins depending on how much you have filled the mix into the ramekins. Allow to cool just until you can handle the heat. Place a plate on top of ramekin and flip over carefully. Dust with powdered sugar and top it with some fresh berries of your choice. A scoop of vanilla ice cream will be added advantage while trying to impress that special some one. 

Notes

This batter can be refrigerated. Just take it out about 30-45 mins before you are ready to bake.

The better the quality of chocolate used, the better tasting your cake will come out to be.

Instant coffee adds that extra kick.

A pinch of salt in any dessert makes a world of difference.
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This is my debut blog and there was nothing more perfect than my love for chocolate and anything related to it to begin my journey. Hope you all like it!

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Saturday, August 2, 2014
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