Friday, 30 September 2011




          Kozhikkal literally means chicken leg in Malayalam. It originated at Thalassery in northern Kerala where some of the tastiest cassava roots in the world are grown. Many delightful dishes are prepared using cassava. Tourists who eat the Thalassery cassava often come back every year to enjoy the taste. Cassava is the root from which tapioca is made.


     1)    Fresh full grown cassava root – 1 kg.

     2)  Chili powder - 1 tablespoon
 3)    Turmeric Powder – ½ teaspoon
     4)    Garlic – 3 cloves
     5)    Tender curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     6)    Salt – 2 teaspoons
     7)    Corn flour – 1 tablespoon
     8)    Maida (refined wheat flour) – 3 tablespoons
     9)    Coconut oil or other cooking oil to deep fry

To Cook:

          Crush the garlic cloves and set aside. Peel the cassava root using a small knife to prise off the skin. Cut off the bony edge that attaches itself to the plant. Wash and cut into 3 inch long cylinders. Take a big sharp chef knife or a thin strong long blade knife to cut the hard cassava root. It is easier to cut uniformly with the portion near the handle of the knife while resting the tip of the knife on the cutting board.

          Put the cassava cylinders vertically on the cutting board and cut thin slices of 3 mm. thickness. Now put 2 or 3 slices one on top of the other and cut lengthwise into juliennes (thin long strips) of the same thickness (3 mm.). If you cut breadthwise, the juliennes will shatter. While cutting, remember to remove the single fibrous bone that often runs through the length of the cassava.

          Put all the cassava juliennes into a large bowl. Add the salt, the chili powder, the turmeric powder, the crushed garlic cloves and the curry leaves. Mix thoroughly with your hand while kneading gently. Sprinkle a little water and add the maida (refined wheat flour). Mix well. If it is too dry to catch the flour, sprinkle just a little more water (the maida is to give stickiness and body to the snack).

          Now dust the corn flour and mix well again (the corn flour is to prevent the snack from absorbing too much oil and to give it the desired crispiness at the edges).

          Put a wok or a deep pan on the stove. Pour in a litre of cooking oil and heat it up. When the oil is hot and about to smoke lightly, scoop up the cassava mix and roll and squeeze it with your fingers to make a 6 inch long cylindrical patty of around 1 inch thickness with some of the juliennes sticking out on all sides.

          Slip gently into the hot oil. Put in 2 or 3 more but do not overcrowd the pan. Fry on medium heat, turning over the kozhikkal so as to fry up all the sides. When done, the outer side will be crisp and reddish orange in colour and the inner side will be fully cooked. Take out and drain the excess oil. Serve hot at home or cold if you are going on a picnic.

Thursday, 29 September 2011



Ingredients: (to serve 5 or 6 persons)

     1)    Khandwa Rava (coarse grained wheat semolina) – 500 gm.
     2)    Onion – 100 gm.
     3)    Medium hot green chilies – 4 Nos.
     4)    Ginger – 1 inch piece
     5)    Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     6)    Coriander leaves – 2 plants
     7)    Carrot – 100 gm.
     8)    Beans – 75 gm.
     9)    Cauliflower – 100 gm.
     10)     Potato – 100 gm.
     11)     Fresh green peas or frozen green peas – 100 gm.
     12)     Salt – 2 teaspoons
     13)     Cashew nuts – 50 gm.
     14)     Coconut oil or other cooking oil – 100 ml.
     15)     Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon

To Cook:

          Peel and chop the onions and set aside. Peel and chop the ginger very finely. Put aside. Split the chilies into halves and set aside. Peel and chop the rest of the vegetables into 1 cm. cube size pieces. Set aside. Chop the coriander leaves finely and keep aside.

          Put a thick large cast iron wok on the stove. Pour in the oil and tip in the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds are about to finish crackling, lower the heat. Tip in the cashew nuts and stir until they are golden brown. Now add the onions, the ginger, the green chilies, the curry leaves and the salt. Stir till the onions are toasted to a light golden colour. Chuck in the green peas and stir for around 5 minutes. Then add the vegetables and pour in 1500 ml. of water. When it is boiling, taste and add more salt if required. Simmer for 5 minutes.

          Now gently pour in the Khandwa Rava (Coarse grain semolina) while stirring with the other hand. This is to prevent the semolina from forming lumps. Now put a lid on the wok to trap the steam and let the upma cook for 5 to 6 minutes on very low heat. Open and check if cooked. The semolina would have absorbed all the water my now. Put in the coriander leaves and stir. Your vegetable upma is ready to serve. Enjoy hot.

          Vegetable upma is an irresistible, healthy, wholesome, nutritious and tasty dish.
Try it for sure!!!

Friday, 23 September 2011


Potato Stew With Putte

1)    Potatoes – 300 gm.
2)    Onion – 100 gm.
3)    Carrot – 50 gm.
4)    Beans – 50 gm.
5)    Ginger – 1 inch piece
6)    Medium hot green chilies – 4 Nos.
7)    Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
8)    Cloves – 2 Nos.
9)    Cinnamon stick – a 2 inch piece
10)                      Garam masala powder – 1 pinch
11)                      Pepper powder – ½ teaspoon
12)                      Salt – 1½ teaspoon
13)                      Big fresh coconut – 1
14)                      Corn flour – 1 tablespoon
15)                      Cardamom – 1 pod
16)                      Sugar – 1 teaspoon

To Cook:
Peel and dice the potatoes, the onion and the carrot. Peel and chop the ginger nicely. Grate, grind and collect the coconut milk as described in my valval recipe. Put the corn flour in the thick (1st) coconut milk. Stir and set aside.
Pour the thin (2nd & 3rd) coconut milk into a pressure cooker. Add the diced potatoes, the onion, the carrot and the ginger. Split the chilies into halves and add. Tip in the cloves, the cinnamon, and the cardamom. Put on the lid and cook until you hear the first whistle. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the stove. Allow to cool naturally (this enhances the taste).
Open the cooker. Cut the beans into two pieces each and drop inside. Add the salt. Turn on the heat. Stir occasionally till the beans are cooked. Now stir the thick coconut milk once again and pour into the cooker. Stir and check the thickness. Add more water if required. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Tip in the sugar, the pepper powder, the garam masala powder and the curry leaves.
When it starts to boil, turn off the heat. Do not boil too long for you do not want the thick coconut milk to split. Serve hot with bread, vellappams, puris, chappatis, rice noodles or with ghee rice.
You will love it!!!



1)    Fresh coconut – ½
2)    Mint leaves (cleaned, without any roots or stems) – 100 gm.
3)    Hot green chili – 1
4)    Lime juice of half a lime
5)    Salt – 1 teaspoon

To Make:
Grate the coconut and put it and all the ingredients in a food processor. Use just enough water to grind to fine paste. Enjoy as a side dish to any main course.
To make delicious mint chutney sandwiches, blend the chutney with equal quantity of fresh butter and spread on the bread slices or on toast.

Mint chutney is a good digestive tonic and is also effective against nausea.



Ingredients: (for 10 people)
1)    Aged raw rice – 2 kg.
2)    Fresh toddy (coconut palm liquor) – 200 ml.
3)    Fresh coconut – ½
4)     Salt – 2 teaspoons

To prepare the batter:
Wash and soak the rice for 2 hours. Drain and spread on a thick cotton cloth for an hour to absorb the excess water. Pound the rice little by little in the traditional mortar and pestle (large wooden mortar around 75 cm. tall and a long pestle around 150 cm. tall and around 8 cm (3 inches) thick). You can also use the granite base portion of the ammi or hand operated round wet grinder, but the pestle has to be made of wood.
As you pound, take out the rice powder and sieve. Set aside the fine powder, but return the coarser grains along with a few handfuls of the soaked rice to pound again. Continue with this process (it may take an hour or two) until only a handful or two of coarse powder remains.
Put a small pan on the stove. Pour in 300 ml. of water. When the water boils, throw in the coarse rice powder and cook, stirring occasionally until it starts to thicken into a porridge like consistency. Switch off the heat and put the pan in a large flat basin containing cold water. Stir until the porridge cools down. Set aside and allow to cool a little more. Scrape the fresh coconut and collect the coconut milk (the process of making coconut milk is given in the valval recipe).
Put the rice powder, the rice porridge, the coconut milk, the toddy and the salt in a 10 litre vessel. Now wash your hands and start mixing the batter well using only your hand and fingers. If you use a ladle, you will not get the desired result. Pour in small quantities of water with the other hand as you mix the batter till it reaches the consistency of pancake batter. Set aside for the batter to rise. This usually takes around 3 to 4 hours. When the batter is risen, start to cook.

To Cook:
The cooking method is fully described in my Vellappam or Palappam recipe. Traditionally, only the cast iron appachatty with a cast iron lid is used for cooking on a wood burning stove. Coconut husk is used as fuel and hot coals are put on the lid to cook the vellappam’s thick center because a larger ladle is used for scooping up the batter. Needless to say, these traditionally prepared vellappams, even though quite obsolete in modern times, do taste infinitely better than today’s delicious vellappams or palappams.
Bon appétit!!!

Thursday, 22 September 2011



Ingredients: (for 10 people):

     1)    B.T. Rice (Bombay Terminus rice / aged fine raw rice) – 2 kg.
     2)    Cooked rice – ½ cup
     3)    Fresh yeast – 1 tablespoon
     4)    Sugar – 1½ tablespoons
     5)    Fresh Coconut – 1/2
     6)    Salt – 2 teaspoons
     7)    Ghee or clarified butter – 100 ml.

To make the batter:

          Scrape or grate the fresh coconut. Wash and drain the rice. Put the grated coconut, the raw rice, the cooked rice and the salt into a two litre wet grinder (if you use a food processor, it will heat up the batter and therefore we cannot expect the high quality vellappams). Grind to fine paste. Add enough water and stir in between, feeling the batter with your fingers. Grind until it is quite smooth. The consistency of the batter should be like that of pancake batter. Transfer to a bigger vessel (10 litres) and set aside.

          Take 100 ml. of lukewarm water in a bowl. Add the yeast and the sugar. Stir and keep for 30 minutes for the yeast to activate. Now pour it into the batter and stir. Allow the batter to rest for 3 to 4 hours. Check and stir once or twice in between for the batter may rise so well as to spill over.

To Cook:

          You need an “appachatti” i.e.; a small wok with lid made either of cast iron or of non–stick aluminum. Put the appachatti on the stove and grease it with ghee (clarified butter) or with cooking oil. Stir the batter vigorously. Pour a ladleful (75 ml.) of batter in the appachatti. Now take up the appachatti taking care not to burn your fingers and tilt it in a circular motion so that the batter paints a thin crust all around, from the bottom to the top of the appachatti. The excess batter will give it a thick center.

          Now put it back on the stove and cover with the lid. Keep on low heat for around a minute and take off the lid. The steam within the lid would have cooked the thicker center of the vellappam. In 20 seconds, you can see the crust around the centre drying up and loosening its hold on the appachatti. Use a small flat slightly round headed thin stainless steel tool to further loosen and lift out the vellappam. You can serve your delicious hot vellappams with potato stew, egg curry, chole masala, black chick pea curry, baby potato curry, masala curry, fish stew, fish curry or meat curry.


     1)    You can make bulls–eye vellappams and eat without any curry at all. To make, soon after pouring and painting with the batter, break an egg on top of the vellappam and cover to cook. When you lift out the vellappam, the batter and the egg white will be fully cooked while the egg yolk will be runny. Sprinkle pepper powder and salt and serve. Children just love to break the crispy edges, dip them in the egg yolk and pop them in.

     2)    Any remaining batter can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two.

     3)    Traditionally, toddy (fresh coconut palm liquor) was used in place of yeast to make vellappams in Kerala. Also, fresh hand pounded rice powder was used in place of the wet ground batter we use today. Separate recipe is provided to make the traditional vellappams.

     4)    Make sure that the rice is aged and that the yeast is fresh to get the best results. New rice is sticky and can make the vellappams hard and rubbery. You can make out the aged rice by its slightly yellowish colour.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011




     1)    Large Karimeen or Mackerel or Pomfret – 1 kg.
     2)    Tomato – 200 gm.
     3)    Ginger – 50 gm.
     4)    Garlic – 2 bulbs
     5)    Shallots – 300 gm.
     6)    Hot green chilies – 4 Nos.
     7)    Red chili powder – 2 teaspoon
     8)    Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
     9)    Tender curry leaves -  2 sprigs
     10)     Coconut oil – 3 tablespoon
     11)     Lime – half a piece
     12)     Salt – 2 teaspoon
     13)     Banana leaves to wrap the fish

To Prepare:

          Clean the fish. If you are using Karimeen (the tastiest of Kerala fishes), skin it before use. If you are using Mackerel or Pomfret, remember to make 3 or 4 shallow cuts or grooves on either side of the fish for marinating nicely. After removing the fins and guts, wash well in water laced with vinegar. This will get rid of any fishy smells and make the fish thoroughly clean. Sprinkle a little salt and squeeze on the lime juice and set aside to marinate.

To Cook:

          Chop and nicely puree the tomatoes. Peel the shallots, ginger and garlic. Chop the chilies, the shallots, the ginger, the garlic and the curry leaves. Grind to fine paste.

          Cut the banana leaves into pieces large enough to wrap the fish. Hold the cut leaves over the stove to wilt them a little so that they are softer and will not tear when the fish are wrapped.

          Pour the coconut oil into a wok. Tip in the tomato puree and stir until it reduces and thickens nicely. Now all the other paste and stir on low heat for 10 minutes. Add the chilli powder, the turmeric powder and the salt. Stir for a minute and turn off the heat. Taste and add more seasoning if required. Your masala is now ready.

          Now scoop up the masala and smear thickly on either side of a fish. Stuff a little in the gut area too. Now wrap with the banana leaf and tie with a cotton string so that it stays wrapped. Likewise, prepare the remaining fish too.

          Put a thick non–stick pan on the stove on low heat. Place the wrapped fish in the pan. Take care to put only a single layer of fish with adequate space to flip over. Cover with a cloche or lid and roast the fish very slowly so that it cooks in its own juice without burning.

          When the lower side is roasted, flip over to the other side. Put the lid on again. You will know the fish is cooked when the banana leaf is roasted and the most appetizing aroma fills your kitchen.

Enjoy hot.

          Karimeen is a brackish water, air breathing, mouth brooder fish found abundantly in the rivers and backwaters of Kerala. It is around 6 to 10 inches long, around 5 inches wide and around an inch and a half thick.



1)    Fully ripe Nendran banana – 4 Nos.
2)    Maida (refined wheat flour) – 200 gm.
3)    Corn flour – 50 gm.
4)    Sugar – 1 tablespoon
5)    Salt – ¼ teaspoon
6)    Cooking oil to deep fry

To Cook:
Peel the banana. Cut into 2 pieces. Slice each piece lengthwise into ¼ inch thick slices. Put the ingredients Nos. 2 to 5 into a blender or food processor. Pour a little water and blend nicely to form a batter which is slightly thicker than pancake batter. Set a wok of cooking oil on the stove.
When the oil is hot, dip and turn the banana slices one by one in the batter so that the batter sticks to both sides. Slowly slip them into the hot oil. Put in only enough slices to deep fry comfortably. If you put too many, the batter jackets will stick together. Gently flip over. When the Pazham Pori is slightly brown in colour, lift out and drain off all the excess oil. Eat warm.
Pazham Pori is a delicious snack widely sold in little teashops all across Kerala. The street food sellers often use eggs and baking powder in the batter, but your homemade Pazham Pori will certainly taste even better.

No other variety of banana can be substituted for Nendran to give the desired quality.




     1)    Large dry coconut or full copra – 1
     2)    Coriander seeds – 100 gm.
     3)    Urud dal (skinned black gram lentils) – 100 gm.
     4)    Chick pea lentils – 100 gm.
     5)    Hot dry chilies – 10 Nos.
     6)    Curry leaves – 5 sprigs
     7)    Tamarind 30 gm.
     8)    Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
     9)    Salt – 1 tablespoon

To Make:

          Grate the coconut. Put a thick cast iron wok on the stove. Put in the scraped coconut, the chilies, the curry leaves, the tamarind and the turmeric powder and roast on low heat. Stir frequently until it turns golden brown. Turn off the stove. In a smaller cast iron wok, roast the coriander seeds until they are well roasted and give out a nice aroma. Transfer to the earlier wok.

          Now, use the same smaller wok to roast the skinned black gram lentils. When they turn golden brown, put them also into the first wok. Similarly, roast the chick pea lentils also and transfer to the first wok. Now roast the salt for a couple of minutes so as to remove all the water content and add it to the rest of the ingredients in the bigger wok. Wait till it cools naturally.

          Take a very clean and absolutely dry food processor. Put in all the roasted ingredients and grind to fine powder. Your  tambali puddi is ready. Store in dry airtight glass containers.

          You can use tambali puddi as a side dish to dosas, idlis, ittus, kottos, rice or porridge. Clean, dry tambali puddi has a storage life of more than a year at room temperature.




     1)    Tamarind – 250 gm.
     2)    Jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) – 200 gm.
     3)    Black sesame seeds – 100 gm.
     4)    Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
     5)    Red chili powder – 1 tablespoon
     6)    Salt – 1 tablespoon
     7)    Hot green chilies – 3 Nos.
     8)    Dry red chilies – 4 Nos.
     9)    Tender curry leaves – 3 sprigs
     10)     Tender ginger – 100 gm.
     11)     Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
     12)     Gingelly oil (sesame oil) – 75 ml.

To Cook

          Put the tamarind in a vessel. Pour 300 ml of boiling water. Keep with the lid closed till it cools naturally. Squeeze well and use a coarse stainless steel sieve to collect all the tamarind paste. You can get all the thick pulp if you roll and rub gently with your fingers against the sieve.

          Put a vessel on the stove. Pour in 50 ml. of water and tip in the jaggery. Boil till it melts fully. Use a fine sieve to collect the clear, melted jaggery.

          Clean and wash the sesame seeds. Drain and transfer to a wok. Set the wok on low heat and roast until the seeds start to splutter. When cool, grind to fine powder and set aside. Peel the ginger. Chop the ginger, the green chilies, the red chilies and the curry leaves to super fine pieces.

          Set a wok on the stove. Add a teaspoonful of oil and a teaspoonful of mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start to crackle, lower the heat and add the chopped pieces and the salt. Stir for a minute. Now add the tamarind pulp. Turn up the heat and stir well for 3 minutes. Then add the melted jaggery, the chili powder and the turmeric powder. Boil for 3 minutes on medium heat.

          Now add the sesame powder. Stir continuously until the sauce thickens nicely. Taste and add more seasoning or sugar. Allow to cool naturally. Transfer to dry airtight glass jars and store in your refrigerator.

          If you use a dry spoon, this wonderful Puliyinji will last for up to 3 months. Puliyinji is an indispensable side dish in marriage feasts in Kerala. Serve small quantities to dip and lick your fingers in between mouthfuls of food. You will love it !!!

Monday, 19 September 2011



1)    Fully ripe tomatoes – 1 kg.
2)    Butter – 100 gm.
3)    Onions – 150 gm.
4)    Dates – 225 gm.
5)    Pepper powder – ½ teaspoon
6)    Garam masala powder – 1 pinch
7)    Salt to taste

To Cook:
Chop the tomatoes and put them in a pressure cooker on the stove. Pour in 100 ml. of water. Cover and cook till you hear the first whistle. Switch off the heat and allow to cool naturally. When cool, transfer to a food processor and grind to a fine paste. Using a stainless steel sieve, roll and rub gently to collect all the smooth paste.
Clean the dates by picking off the seeds and the stem caps. Immerse in boiling water and let soak until it cools naturally (the water should be just enough to cover the dates). Tip over the bowl of dates together with the water into the food processor and grind to fine paste.
Peel and chop the onion. Set a small pan on the stove. Put in the onions and the butter and fry on low heat stirring frequently until it becomes golden brown. Grind to fine paste.
Put the date paste and the onion paste in the vessel of tomato paste. Pour ½ litre of water, stir and set on the stove. When the soup starts to boil, tip in the pepper powder, garam masala powder and 1½ teaspoons of salt (if you have used salted butter, remember to go easy on the salt).If you find the soup too thick, add enough water to bring it to the correct soupy consistency. Taste and add more seasoning or sugar or pepper powder to suit your palate. 

Your five star tomato and date soup is now ready. Take off the stove and serve hot with fried toast.
 Bon appétit!!!
If you do not like dates, you can use 150 gm. of sugar.




     1)    Fine white beaten rice flakes – 250 gm.

     2)    Coconut – ½
     3)    Water of 1 coconut
     4)    Sugar – 1 tablespoon
     5)    Salt – 1 teaspoon
     6)    Saambar powder – ½ teaspoon
     7)    Red chili powder – ½ teaspoon
     8)    Turmeric powder ½ teaspoon
     9)    Green chilies – 2 Nos.
     10)     Tender curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     11)     Big onion – 1
     12)     Coriander leaves of 1 plant
     13)     Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
     14)     Coconut oil 2½ tablespoons

To Cook:

          Peel the onion. Chop the onion, the green chilies and the curry leaves to extra fine pieces and set aside. Chop the coriander leaves finely and set aside separately.

          Grate the coconut and put in a wide bowl. Add the rice flakes, coconut water and the coriander leaves. Knead lightly with your hand to soften the rice flakes.

          Set a wok on the stove. Pour in the oil. Throw in the mustard seeds. When the mustard is almost finished crackling, add the chopped onion, chilies and curry leaves. Turn down the heat and stir for 1 minute. Now add the chili powder, the turmeric powder, the saambar powder, the sugar and the salt. Stir once and quickly add the rice flake mix. Stir well until it is nicely mixed. Taste. Add more seasoning or sugar or spice if necessary.

          As soon as the mixture is warm, switch off the heat. Serve warm.
Pova Chutney is a healthy, quick and simple to do dish. It is nice and chewy.

Try this dish for sure !!!


     1)    In ancient times, the Konkani people used to make pova chutney using the thick red hand beaten rice flakes. It was made using all the ingredients except perhaps the coconut water, the coconut oil and the saambar powder. Coriander powder was often used in place of the saambar powder. The pova chutney was prepared by pounding all the ingredients in a huge granite mortar using a large iron pestle. The mix was not heated, but served freshly pounded. Hence the name “chutney”. This traditional preparation (sadly, now out of menu in the modern kitchen) is truly delicious.

     2)    Ripe bananas are a good combination as an accompaniment.

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