Chicken Fry(Irachi varuthadu)

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Chicken fry: This recipe here is an unconventional style of making chicken fry. Usually in Kerala, chicken fry is deep fried. However, in my home, mom used to always cook the chicken separately and then, roast/shallow fry the chicken later. I have always found that tastier than the deep fried chicken. Also, the chicken is more softer when you cook it this way. And you don’t feel guilty of eating deep fried stuff. The same is the case with fish fry. We always shallow fry the fish instead of deep frying it.

Now, this chicken fry or chicken roast(if that’s how you would want to call this dish πŸ™‚ ), isn’t very common preparation style. However, by far, this is the best chicken fry I have had πŸ™‚ And it isn’t too much of masala or spices that gives it the flavor, but simple things like the onion paste used for marination and the mint leaves that gives it a different and distinct taste. I have been able to impress every guest to whom I have served this chicken fry and I have been asked for the recipe immediately πŸ˜‰ So this is a tried and tested recipe, with 100% guarantee of being liked by everyone πŸ™‚

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INGREDIENTS:

Chicken(with bone) – 750 gms
Onion – 1 nos, sliced
Green chilli – 2-3 nos, slit
Garam masala – 1/4 tsp
Coriander leaves – 10 strands, chopped
Mint leaves – 4 strands, chopped
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1/4-1/2 tsp)
Oil – 3 tbsp

For marination:-
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tsp
Garam masala – 1/4 tsp
Onion – 1/2 no, grind to paste
Red chilli powder – 1.5-2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Coriander powder(optional) – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1 tsp)

METHOD:

1. Wash and clean the chicken and cut into medium sized pieces. Marinate the chicken with the ingredients mentioned under ‘For Marination’ section. Keep aside for 30 mins or so.
2. Transfer the marinated chicken into a saucepan(I used an aluminium vessel with lid) and in medium flame, cook it covered. The chicken will leave some water by itself. So keep checking and add water little by little if needed. Occasionally stir the chicken pieces and make sure the chicken doesn’t stick to the vessel.
Note: The good part about this style of cooking chicken is that you don’t need to use much oil for frying the chicken and also, the steaming of chicken will make it much softer and juicier.
3. Once the chicken is well cooked, remove from flame and keep aside.
4. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and fry sliced onions in medium high flame. Also add the green chillies and salt.
5. Once the onions turn brown and start to become slightly crisp, add in the cooked chicken and garam masala and stir well so that onions are spread over evenly on the chicken pieces. Fry the pieces till chicken starts to brown and roasted.
6. Add the chopped mint leaves and coriander leaves and saute. Continue to fry and saute the chicken pieces till the chicken surfaces are fried and roasted to your liking.

Serve as appetizer or even as a side dish with rice varieties πŸ™‚

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Uzunnu Vada(Medhu Vada)

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Uzhunnu vada/Medhu vada is a deep fried snack made of black gram. It could be considered a savory doughnut πŸ™‚ Whatever said, it is one of my favorite snack. This goes absolutely well with coconut chutney or sambar. For Sambar vada, you should dip/immerse your medhu vada completely in a bowl of sambar. Similar to how you would eat Mini idli and Sambar. Another way to relish this deep fried doughnut is with yogurt/curd. That combination is called Dahi wada or Thairu(meaning curd) vada.

In our childhood, mom used to make this often. It always amazed me how the hole came in the vada πŸ˜‰ I din’t know for a long period how to get those round, crispy fritters with a hole in the center. And when I learnt how, for a long time, I was scared to take my palms near the hot oil for dropping the vada. For those of you, who are scared like me to do this frightful task :-P, let me give you a good alternative. If you have a long flat spoon/serveware, replace it for your palm. Instead of dipping your palm in the water bowl, dip the flat surface of the spoon. Put the batter on the spoon. With you finger make the hole, and then slowly drop/slide the vada into the oil. That way, you don’t have to be scared if the oil splashes. Isn’t it a brilliant idea πŸ˜€ Well, it definitely helps me!!! Good luck for getting those perfect vadas. If you ask me, the only trick mainly is the thickness of your batter. You should grind the urad dal with as less water as possible. Seriously, that’s the only way to get non-oily, crispy vadas.

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Whole urad dal/black gram – 2.5 cups
Black peppercorns- 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 spring, finely chopped
Onion – 1/2 no, chopped
Green chilli – 3 nos, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 inch piece, finely chopped
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1.25 tsp)
Water apprx. 1.25 cups
Oil – enough for frying the vada(apprx. 2-3 cups)
Note: Some recipes call for baking soda. I haven’t used baking soda because, it might make the vada more fluffy, but it also makes it very oily.

METHOD:
1. Soak urad dal for 2-3 hours. Then grind the urad dal into a smooth thick paste in a blender/mixie using as little water as possible.
Note: Adding more water could result the vada to absorb more oil. Also, it would be difficult to put the hole in the vada if the batter is watery
2. In a deep kadai, heat oil for frying the vada. The oil should be heated well.
3. In the meantime, mix black peppercorns, curry leaves, onion, green chilli, ginger and salt to the batter and mix well.
Note: Add onion right before frying the vadas. Else onion would leave out some water and the batter could turn watery
4. Keep a bowl of water next to you before shaping the vada and dropping it into the oil.
5. This is the tricky part. To make a hole in the vada, first wet you palm by dipping your palm into the bowl of water. I would wet my left palm since I am right-handed πŸ™‚
6. Take a spoonful of batter into your palm. Dip your index finger into the bowl of water and using that finger, put a hole in the batter.
7. Then slide the vada into the hot oil. Fry the vada in medium high flame. Fry till its golden brown on either sides.
8. Place the vada on a kitchen towel for few mins to drain excess oil.
9. Repeat steps 5-7 for each vada. Remember to wet your palms each time, to prevent vada from sticking to your palm when trying to slide it to the oil.

Yummy crispy uzhunnu vadas are ready to be served with coconut chutney or sambar. Or you could make it into Thairu vada/Dahi vada.

For Thairu vada/Dahi vada, take some yogurt/curd. Add salt as needed. Pour it on the vada and sprinkle some red chilli powder for taste.

Mini Idli ‘n Sambar

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Mini Idli and Sambar is a killer combination. I had never seen mini idlis till I came to US and went to Saravana Bhavan with my colleagues. As an appetizer they ordered the 14 piece mini idlis and I thought I wouldn’t like it. But to my surprise, I loved it. The small idlis looked so cute. And when served with a bowl of delicious sambar and ghee, wow..my mouth is watering already πŸ˜› Ever since, I have always ordered this appetizer when I go there.

Though I had bought idli plates, I had never used it. To be honest, I wasn’t a great fan of idli ever. I always thought it is to be eaten only when you are sick πŸ˜‰ But now, I wanted to buy mini idli plates. I went around all the Indian grocery stores and finally got what I wanted. Though I am not a fan of idli, I somehow like mini idlis πŸ™‚ But you should get your idlis right. It should be soft and fluffy. If it is hard, then it won’t taste good.

See my post on Idli to get those perfect soft idlis. I have seen, with idli and dosa batter, many people use many variations to get it right. I also had to go through some experiments, to finally get my perfect batter. Whatever method you follow, as long as it works for you, thats all that matters πŸ˜‰

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INGREDIENTS:

Idli Batter – as needed
(click for Idli batter recipe)
Sambar – as needed
(click for Sambar recipe / click for Palakkadan Sambar recipe )
Ghee – 1 tsp

METHOD:

1. In steamer, keep some water for boiling.
2. Grease the mini idli plates with oil.
3. Using a spoon, pour/drop the idli batter into the moulds. Stack the plates.
4. Once the water boils, lower the idli plates into the steamer and steam it for 4-5 mins.
5. Once ready, let the idli cool down a little. Using a knife or sharp spoon, scoop out the idlis into a plate.
6. In a bowl, take hot sambar and add ghee into it.
7. Before serving, put the mini idlis into the sambar bowl.

Serve hot!

Onion Bajji

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Onion Bajji or Ulli bajji is something that’s perfect when some unexpected guests come home and you are in a fix about what to make. Most of our homes will have a stock of onions. And this one is a quick snack that you could serve with tea.

The tricky part about onion bajji though is about getting it crispy. I love bajjis when eaten from thattukada or roadside stalls πŸ™‚ It has a different taste altogether. The main thing is, it should be eaten fresh. Bajji tastes best when hot and crisp. I have put couple of tips below to help you to get perfectly crisp bajjis and not soggy soft ones πŸ˜› Enjoy this snack with tea!!

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INGREDIENTS:

Onion – 1 no. small sized
Gram flour – 2 tbsp
Rice flour – 2 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Asafetida – 2 pinches
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Coriander leaves – 4-5 strands, chopped
Water – as needed(apprx. 3 fistful)

METHOD:

1. Meanwhile mix all the ingredients(but oil) together and try to bind them by sprinkling water little by little.
2. The batter shouldn’t be very loose/watery. When you take a handful of the onions, it should stay together. Use as less water as possible to achieve that kind of binding.
Note: More water will make the bajji oily and soggy. Also remember that the onion will leave out some water after some time. So add water accordingly.
3. Heat oil in a kadai/deep pan. To check if the oil is hot, drop one onion slice into the oil. It should go down and rise to the top immediately.
4. Once the oil is heated, take spoonful(tsp) of bajji mix and drop into oil. You could put 4-5 bajji’s at a time for frying. Fry till it turns brown.
5. Strain the oil and put on a kitchen towel to drain extra oil and immediately transfer to a plate.

Serve with ketchup πŸ™‚

Sharakkara upperi(Plantain chips coated with jaggery syrup)

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Sharakkara upperi is nothing but a sweet version of plantain chips. The plantain is fried and coated with a jaggery syrup and seasoned with some special flavors. An absolutely charming snack, that you can keep on munching without realizing that it got over in no time.

Let me be honest here. I will not say that making this is easy. Atleast it wasn’t so for me 😦 Frying the chips is the easier part. Getting the right consistency for the jaggery syrup and mixing the powders to the chips and getting it dried up is the tricky part. I made it once and it did not come out well. Well, also coz I got the measurements of the powders wrong and I didn’t stir the chips long enough to coat it well with the jaggery till it all dried up. But the second time, I was lot more patient with my attempt and I got it right. Phew @#%&@!* πŸ˜€ I didn’t want to take risk, so I made it with just 1 plantain and it got finished the same day!!!

Tips: 1. After you fry the chips, drain/take out all the extra oil in the chips.
2. If you plan to make plantain chips and sharakkara upperi together, fry the sharakkara upperi first. This is because, while frying the plantain chips, you will sprinkle saline solution. And salt will make the sharakkara upperi ooze out water and it could get sticky and prevent it from being crispy.
3. To check if the plaitain has cooked by right amount, take a piece and try to crush it using your wrist. It should break easily. The pieces should be crispy and cooked through evenly.

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Oil – 2 cups
Coconut oil(optional) – 1/2 cup
Raw Plantain/Nendrakkaya – 1 no
Turmeric powder – 1 pinch
Jaggery – 1/3 cup
Ghee – 1 tbsp
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Dry ginger powder – 1 tbsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Powdered sugar – 1 tsp

METHOD:

1. Remove the plantain skin well. You would need to use a small knife for ease of removing it. Do not use a peeler!
2. In a bowl of water, put some turmeric powder and immerse this plantain in it.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a kadai(deep cooking pot).
4. Take the plantain and wipe it well using a kitchen towel. Cut the plantain into 1/4 inch slices(round pieces) and cut each 1/4 inch slice into half.
5. Heat oil(+coconut oil) in a kadai. Put the plantain slices(halves) into hot oil.
6. Cook in medium flame till the plantain pieces cook well and get crispy.
7. To check if the plaitain has cooked by right amount, take a piece and try to crush it using your wrist. It should break easily. The pieces should be crispy and cooked through evenly.
8. Remove the chips from oil and place on kitchen towel till the excess oil is removed.
9. Meanwhile, melt jaggery in a pan using water.
10. Stir continously till the jaggery starts to thicken. (It shouldn’t be too thick nor watery).
11. Put the fried chips/pieces into the jaggery syrup and stir continuously.
12. Put the cardamom powder, dry ginger powder, cumin powder and ghee to this and mix well.
13. Once all pieces are coated well with the jaggery syrup, remove from heat and allow it to cool for sometime. Add powdered sugar to prevent the pieces from sticking to each other.

Plantain Chips

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Plantain chips or β€˜Upperi’ is not the same as Banana chips. Atleast in the US, that’s a huge difference. Banana and plantain are 2 different fruits. Some of these information you realize or learn only when you have to deal with it πŸ˜› To me, banana and plantain was one and the same. When I had to make chips, which is made of Plantain(Nendrakkaya), I had to be sure not to pick raw banana instead. To me it was a new thing that I learnt this time πŸ˜› Some of you, like DD, might think that how could I not know the difference and how can I act dumb!!! πŸ˜‰ But for me, it was the same experience as finding out that Lime and Lemon are 2 different fruits and are NOT the same πŸ˜€

Whether or not I should make plantain chips was a difficult decision to make. Its so much more easier to just buy it from stores. But when I thought I will make a special page for Onam, I thought I should try every recipe however tedious or easy it is. After I made it, I felt so happy because these things are so easy to make at home and I feel our generation already doesn’t know so many cooking techniques our previous generations practised. Afterall, Kerala is famous for its Banana chipe or rather Plaintain chips. So I feel proud that I learnt how to make the most popular snack of my homeland πŸ™‚

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Oil – 2 cups
Coconut oil(optional) – 1/2 cup
Raw Plantain – 1 no
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Salt – to taste(approx. 1/4 tsp)

METHOD:

1. Remove the plantain skin well. You would need to use a small knife for ease of removing it. Do not use a peeler!
2. In a bowl of water, put some turmeric powder and immerse this plantain in it.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil(+coconut oil) in a kadai(deep cooking pot).
4. Also, mix salt in approx. 1/2 cup water and keep aside.
5. Once the oil is heated, take the plantain and wipe it well using a kitchen towel. Using a slicer, slice the plantain into thin slices and put into hot oil. Slice it directly into the oil to prevent plantain slices from sticking to each other.
6. Let the plantain cook in medium-low or low flame. You will have to let it cook for a long time for it to get crispy. So ensure that it doesn’t burn or turn brown in the process of frying them.
7. Once the plantain chips is almost getting ready(when it makes a hissing sound), sprinkle the salt water on the chips evenly(Be careful when you do this. The oil will splatter. A splatter guard will be handy in this case.)
8. Take out a plantain chip and if it is not chewy/uncooked, remove the chips and place on kitchen towel till the excess oil is removed. Else continue to cook till the chips are crispy.

Unni Appam

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Unni appam is a very popular snack item made in Kerala homes using rice, jaggery and banana. Fried in either coconut oil or ghee, it is made in a special pan, usually made of cast iron with many holes in it. The pic above will give you an idea of how the pan looks. These days for easy, you get non-stick unniappa chattis/pans πŸ˜› I like this snack because of its softness and is very mild in sweetness πŸ™‚

You will find many variations in its cooking style. Some people use sesame seeds and fried coconut slices in the recipe. But I personally don’t like to disturb the softness of unni appam and so I don’t prefer the coconut slices in it. I have made a very simple version of unni appam and it came out well the second time. The first time I made it, I didn’t use all-purpose flour. So it turned out a little hard. I personally don’t like to add baking soda in any of the deep frying items because it results in too much of oil absorption. The reason I mentioned baking soda is because, to soften the unni appam and for it to rise well, some people use baking soda. Instead I used very little all-purpose flour and it was perfect.

The reason I attempted to make unni appam is because DD absolutely loves unni appam. So much so, that even the hard unni appams(from my first batch), were over in like a day πŸ˜› Though I knew that he likes unni appam, I had no clue, that probably this is his all time favourite πŸ™‚ I didn’t wait a second day to try and get the perfect recipe for unni appam. Such a relief it was, when I got it right in the very next attempt. Haven’t seen DD happier πŸ˜€ This one’s for you my unni appam lover πŸ˜›

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Jaggery – 200 gm or 1.25 cups
Rice flour – 200 gm or 1.25 cups
All purpose flour – 50 gm or 1/3 cup
Small banana(called Palayankodan in malayalam) – 3 nos
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
Water – apprx. 1.5 cups
Oil or Ghee – for frying

METHOD:

1. Melt jaggery in a pan using 1 cup of water.
2. Grind the palayankodan(banana) into a smooth paste using a mixie/blender. The banana should be fully ripe.
3. In a bowl, mix all the remaining ingredients. To this add melted jaggery and ground banana. Good a good mix so that the ingredients blend well together(use a mixie if needed. I used just a whisk).
4. The batter shouldn’t be very watery. It will drink lot of oil if it is too watery. But you should be able to drop a spoonful of batter easily to the oil.
5. Keep the batter aside for atleast 4-5 hours. For best results, prepare the batter 1 day prior to making the unni appams.
6. Heat oil/ghee in unni appa chatti(shown in the pic above). Drop a spoonful of batter into each hole(of the pan).
7. Let it fry in medium/medium high flame. Turn around the unni appams when one side cooks, for it to cook evenly on both sides. You would know that the unni appams are ready, when they turn brown. Take them out using either fork or skewer.
8. Drain the excess oil/ghee by placing the unni appams on a paper towel.

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