Feb 28, 2011

Coconut chicken-- from the backwaters of Kerela. A largely unknown cusine from India

What is about white flakes that enthrall us?

To many white flakes suggests warm soups and log fires in cottages. To a few, I know it suggests holiday seasons and baking bonanza. To me, however it speaks of sand Vistas of flaky tropical sands stretching by blue lagoons and backwaters. Nope its not a dream. This vision comes to life in many a tropical islands. But one place such a vision makes it stand is Kerela. The lagoonal back country where legends have it that God once lived. Along the shores of the Arabian Sea, this back country in India boasts some of the most exotic and yet largely unknown cuisine of India.  

Based broadly on coconut products, the cuisine is fragrant, light and flavorful. Idyllic to boot and absent in restaurants :)

A treat for beach and tropical food lovers, edibles in kerala are scented with the seductive smells of coconut, mustard and herbs. A retreat into the lagoonal world of white sands and flaky coconuts with coconut chicken. 

All you need is a sense of bliss and a few ingredients

Very important: A packet of good quality unsweetened coconut flakes. You find them usually in whole foods or any regular groceris these days. Just ask :)
2 lb chicken. Bone in with some skin. Pieced as you see fit. But not too big. You can do drumsticks and bone in thighs too.
1.5 cups of coconut
2 cardamom, 
a few cloves
2 bay leaves
2 tsp of grated garlic
1 tsp of freshly grated ginger
1 medium onion, chopped.
1 tsp of turmeric
1/2 cup of milk
1 cup of coconut water. You can use warm water or chicken stock as well
1/2 a lemon or lime
3 tbsf olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a deep pot, heat oil. Once oil is hot, add the cloves and cardamom. Let sizzle for a few secs. Add the onion and brown em'. 2-3 mins. Add the chicken and fry for 5-6 min, turning a few times. Take 1/2 cup of coconut, mix it it with  a cup of the coconut water/water/stock and turmeric. Add it to the chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Put a lid and cook through. 10 min. Open the lid, let the water dry out and oil separate out. 10 min. Add the ginger, garlic, bay leaf, milk and the remaining coconut. Mix everything well together. Let cook again for 5-7 mins. Add the juice of half a lemon.

Serve over a bed of jasmine rice. A re-treat or wat? :) A margarita on the rocks ain't a bad idea either :)

 ~ Happy eating and Healthy living~

Feb 22, 2011


It is such a misnomer. One cannot chill with a Chili!

But its one food that you never go wrong with. And this version-- adapted from dear old Rach--allows you to be creative (read crazy) and cuts down on time, calories and regime. So much so that there is time to chill for a whole day once you got a plate full of this stuff on a Sunday brunch :)

Here is a recipe for chili that lets you chill out :)  All I ask is you have 30 or so minutes and some ground lean meat.

1 lb (one package) of lean ground meat. I use Turkey. But lean beef or pork or chicken is good as well
1 lb of sausage. Try to use one which has some paprika in it. Reddish in color. Again chicken, turkey etc is good.Take the casing off.
2 cans of black beans.
1.5 tsp of ground cumin
1 tsp of cayenne pepper.
1 tsp of paprika
2 tbsf Wostershire sauce. You can also use some red wine vinegar or balsamic. But try to go with the wostershire. Its good
4-5 tomatoes. Crushed in a food processor. You can also just use a can of tomatoes
2 tbsf olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of chicken stock. You can also substitute with hot water.

For the garnish
Plain yoghurt
Some sliced ripe avocados
A slice of lime


Heat oil in a deep pot. Add the sausage and the ground meat. Break up with your spatula as you go. And brown well on all sides. About 5 mins. Add the wostershire sauce, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper. Cook for about 1 min. Add the beans and the tomatoes. Mix and cook for another 3 mins. Add the stock/water. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 10-15 min. Add water/stock if food starts sticking to the bottom.

Plate up and garnish with cilantro, yoghurt and avocados. A brunch that will see see you through the day!

Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 15, 2011

Garlic nut coated sphagetti and cumin treated salmon

They say tis the day of love.

To me there is no love that can be shared and enjoyed better than a wholesome dinner and a bit of cheap wine on the side.

Garlicky nut coated spaghetti and cumin treated salmon.
A piece of my love to each one of you :)

Garlic-Nut Spaghetti
Mix together the following in a food processor
4 cloves of garlic, 1/3rd cup of toasted pine/almond/walnut, salt, pepper and 3 tbsf olive oil.
Make half a packet of spaghetti as per package direction. Drain and toss with the nut mixture
Serve warm or cold. Good either way

Cumin treated salmon
Place two center fillets of salmon on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
Heat 1.5 tbsf olive oil in a skillet and pop 1 tbsf whole cumin and 1/2 tsp of chili flakes.  Pour the entire mixture over and around the salmon fillets. Bake at 425 F for 15-20 min.

Serve with some love and a bit of heat

Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 5, 2011

Fish stew-- beachy flavors from the mediterranean to Indian ocean

I am no Mario Batali or Mark Bitman who gets to take a culinary road trip down the Spanish back country with Gweneth Paltrow in tow. 

I am like you. 
I order a book of that journey on Amazon. At the minimum price and track that package every day. But, I have a sense of what that road trip may have involved.
A stop at tavern to smell the pimenton followed by a lazy afternoon spent at a back country tomato garden. The gardener had the most lovely homemade wine to offer. On the way back to the hotel, a stop at the local farmer's store. Juicy sweet onions, a bag of the fresh peppers (red, orange, green), wild garlic. And oh yes lets not forget some good old fashioned freshly toasted cumin. A local bottle of wine may be a casual pick up.

You get that picture.
I like to add the touch to that journey, with some coconut powder and some curry leaves. I am a hopeless coconutaholic, which just means I need no encouragement whatsoever to use coconut. The reason I think about coconut in this journey, has to do with the fact that I love the golden and warm beaches of India as much as I like the thought of walking through Spanish back country reading a Hungarian cookbook that I don't understand. A tribute to all that is good about beaches and beachy fare. It can only be done perfect with some  fish. 
A fish stew that is a wink and nudge to all the beachy flavors!

1 big fish. I like sea bass, trout, sardines or snapper. Cleaned cut into big chunks. 
Marinated with 1 tsp of chopped garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper, a pinch of turmeric, a dash of lemon, a dash of vinegar, salt and pepper. Wait 20 mins.
1 big onion. Sliced
2 peppers. Any combination of color or monochrome works too. Sliced coarsely
3-4 medium tomatoes. Pureed in a food processor.
1 tbsf of chopped garlic
1 tbsf smoked paprika. Regular works too.
1/2 tbsf powdered cumin
1/2 tsp of whole mustard seeds
3-4 red dried chili peppers
5-6 curry leaves. Optional and can be substituted with any herbs. I like Dill and or Oregano
2-3 cloves
2 bay leaves
1 cup of unsweetened coconut powder/flakes
1. 5 cups of warm water
2 tbsf oil +1 tbsf oil for broiling fish.
salt and pepper to taste

Stew away!
Broil fish for 20 mins  turning once. You can also shallow fry your fish.
In a pan, heat 2 tbsf oil. Add the garlic, cloves, bay leaf, curry leaves, whole mustard, onion, curry leaves and bell peppers and chili peppers. Fry for ~ 3-4 mins. Add the paprika and cumin. fry for no longer than a minute. Don't burn the lovely paprika! Add the pureed tomato juice. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add the water and let it come up to a boil. Add the broiled/shallow fried fish and the coconut. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and let everything stew. 10 mins.

Serve over a bed of warm rice or with flat bread. A side garden salad helps :) And do not forget the rustic red wine to go with it. No white for this one

Happy eating and healthy living!

Feb 1, 2011

A new blog!

A new blog is in order.

Okay..friends and long time supporters of this blog need to feel bad. For this blog, food.thought for is now going to become a weekly blog-- a post every Sunday morning-- featuring the usual. Stories, recipes and musings.

But starting today February first (mark your calenders) I will write another blog. A daily food blog featuring veggie and fruity side dishes, appetizers and desserts! No fuss, no rush, no grand ideas. Simple, unique  recipes that can be tweaked any which way. Even to accommodate your protein, should you need it terribly :)

The name is ...drumrollls please

A Veggie Roller coaster!!

Featuring daily recipes of a veggie side/appetizer etc.

The idea came from my garden. Yes, the one that I have been tending for the last 6 months and have now started reaping the bonanza. Herbs and produce. I feel I should and must share those recipes and flavors :) So here is what that garden, the produce and bounty of herbs look like :)
So see you all around and as always

Happy eating and healthy living!