Kalan(Yam & Raw banana in a thick coconut based sauce)

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If you are from North Kerala, then you might have heard of this dish. I will begin with explaining about this dish to those of you, who have never even heard the name of this dish, like DD 😛 The first time I was making sadya at home for Onam, I was listing down the dishes I wanted to make for the big feast. Kalan was for sure the No. 1 placeholder. Well, after making the dish, as a general practice, I gave some to DD for tasting and asked for his feedback. He tasted it but I could see confusion all over his face. I thought the dish hasn’t come out well and he is struggling to put it in ‘polite’ words. But then I realized that he was confused about what this dish was and since he had never had it before, he didn’t know what feedback to give 😀 LOL, that was hilarious. I realized then that this dish is not made in the southern part of Kerala from where he belongs. However, he said that the dish as such was really good and that definitely wasn’t to just keep my heart 😛

Well, having said that, even if you haven’t heard of this dish, this is a ‘must have’ dish in your Sadya Ila(Banana leaf). Kalan has been my favorite among all the other sadya vibhavangal(Dishes made for Onam). The other day, I served this dish to our friends who don’t belong to Kerala and I was pleasantly surprised that they absolutely loved the dish too.

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INGREDIENTS:

Raw banana/Pacha kaya(cubed) – 3/4 cup
Yam(cubed)/Chena(cubed) – 3/4 cup
Red chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder – 3/4 tsp
Black Pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek powder – 2 pinch
(Dry roasted and powdered)
Yogurt/Curd(should be sour) – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 2 nos
Curry leaves – 1 strand
Oil(Coconut oil preferred) – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste(apprx. 1/2 tsp)
Rice flour(optional) – 2 tsp

To grind:-
Grated Coconut – 1 cup
Green chilli – 2-3 nos
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

METHOD:

1. In a saucepan or a steel/aluminium vessel, using very minimal water(about 3/4th cup), boil yam and raw banana. For this, first put cubed yam since it takes more time to boil. After about 5-6 mins, add cubed raw banana.
2. To this add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and half the amount of salt. Cover with a lid and let it boil in medium flame. Stir occasionally so the vegetables don’t stick to the bottom of the vessel. Add little water if it becomes too dry. The vegetables should become really soft so it can be mashed coarsely.
3. Meanwhile, in a blender/mixie, put all the ingredients mentioned under ‘To grind’ section and make it into a smooth paste.
4. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the ground coconut paste and stir well. Using a spoon, mash the vegetables coarsely.
5. Let it cook for 3-4 mins and then add yogurt and mix well. Add the remaining salt, cook for 2-3 mins and remove from the burner.
6. Now add the ground black pepper and roasted fenugreek powder and give it a mix.
7. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and when it splutters, add broken dry red chilli. Once the red chilli turns light brown, add curry leaves and garnish the prepared curry with this seasoning and give a mix.

Note: You must be wondering why I have put ‘Rice flour’ in the ingredients list and never used it. Kalan should be ideally a thick and rich gravy and not very loose. In case you accidentally add more water for boiling the vegetables or your yogurt is too thin and the curry looks watery, add the rice flour to thicken the gravy. You can add rice flour after you put the ground coconut paste and let it cook for 4-5 mins and then add the yogurt. Once you put yogurt, don’t cook for long and don’t cook in high flame else the yogurt will curdle. Also stir frequently after adding yogurt.

TIP: Now this is a Golden Secret recipe tip for you 🙂 If ever, for any of your south Indian cooking, you feel that your gravy is too thin and you want to thicken the gravy, add little rice flour and you will see the magic. Don’t worry, it doesn’t change the taste at all 🙂 This for sure was a very useful tip I got from my mom and it comes in very handy when something doesn’t go right!

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Mushroom fry

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Am back with yet another mushroom recipe. When I posted my Mushroom Shrimp Stir fry recipe, I had couple of my vegetarian friends tell me that I should post something interesting with mushroom but it should be purely ‘Veg’. So I thought, I would post the original recipe from which I borrowed the idea for ‘Mushroom Shrimp Stir fry’.

This recipe is my mom’s original version 🙂 Coconut oil, freshly ground black pepper, coriander powder and curry leaves is what gives this dish its flavor. Again, the simplicity of this dish makes it unique. And the coconut oil gives it that ‘naadan’ touch(what I call ‘Taste of Kerala’) 🙂 Some might think that non-keralites wouldn’t like this dish because of the use of coconut oil here. I had that notion too. But I served this dish to my friends who don’t come from Kerala and are not used to coconut oil in their cooking and they absolutely loved it 🙂

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INGREDIENTS:

Mushroom – 20 nos.
Shallots – 7-8 nos.
Garlic(minced) – 2 tsp ( 4-5 pods)
Onion – ¼ of a medium sized one
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Red chilli powder – ½ tsp
Ground black pepper – ½ tsp
Coriander powder – 1.5 tsp
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste(apprx. ½ tsp)

METHOD:

1. Finely chop washed mushrooms. To this add chopped shallots, chopped onion, curry leaves, red chilli powder, ground black pepper, coriander powder and salt. Give it a good mix and let it marinate for 15 mins.
2. In a pan, heat coconut oil. To this, add minced garlic and sauté till it becomes light brown.
3. To this add the marinated mushroom.
4. Fry this in medium heat till mushrooms cook well. Saute occasionally. It takes about 15-20 mins for the mushrooms and onions to loose its moisture and become nice and crispy.
Note: The coriander powder I used is home made. The store bought ones don’t taste as good. So to get the best results of this recipe, please use this simple home made coriander powder.

Serve with rice or chappati.

Puli Inji

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Puli in my native language means Tamarind or sour. In this context, it means tamarind. Inji means Ginger. So now you know what Puli Inji could possibly mean. It gets a perfect blend of sweetness from jaggery, sourness from tamarind and its fair amount of hot and spicy touch from Ginger. This is another placeholder in the ‘Sadya Ila’ (Feasts in Kerala are served in banana leaf and Ila means leaf) along side other pickles during Onam. Though it is served in a very minimal quantity(less than a tsp), an onam sadya is incomplete without puli inji.

You will find various versions of this item going from south to north Kerala. Towards the south, it is called Inji Puli or Inji curry. There might be slight variation in taste too. The difference could be in the proportion of ginger and tamarind used or in the consistency of the item. Well I know that I have got my perfect proportion for Puli Inji and that is given below 😛 My friend suggested me to mention that it has a good shelf life. You can store it in the refrigerator and it will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks.

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INGREDIENTS:

Ginger(grated) – 1/4 cup
Jaggery – 1 cube (30 gms)
Concentrated tamarind paste – 2 tbsp
Green chilli – 3 nos
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Red chilli powder – ¼ tsp
Asafetida – ¼ tsp
Curry leaves – 8-9 leaves
Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
Salt – to taste (apprx. ½ tsp)

METHOD:

1. Heat coconut oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds to it. Once it splutters, add grated ginger and chopped green chillies. Also add the curry leaves.
2. Fry ginger till it looses its moisture and becomes light brown.
3. Now add the tamarind paste and jaggery. Pour ½ cup water and melt the jaggery. Saute occasionally. Add more water if required.
4. Once jaggery melts, add red chilli powder, asafetida and salt.
5. Continue to cook in medium heat till it reaches the right consistency. It should be a thick paste and not watery.

Note: If you are not using tamarind concentrate, you would have to soak 2 gooseberry sized tamarind balls in 1 cup warm water. Squeeze the tamarind well and use this tamarind water. In this case, you will not have to add extra water to melt jaggery. Also, you will have to cook it longer to get it to the right consistency.