Sunday, February 8, 2009

Kerala's Backwater Culinary Heritage

Appams and Stew is a traditional Christian Keralite breakfast meal that showcases the unique coastal ingredients used commonly in cooking of the state, the ubiquitous coconut. Subtly sweet light, lacy rice pancakes flavoured with undertones of fragrant coconut milk are served with stew which can either be made with potatoes, mutton or chicken in a creamy coconut milk infused with the heady essence of curry leaves. This dish is very much part of Kerala's culinary prowess. I am immensely grateful for my Keralite lineage, (my dad hails from the region and his mother passed on these classics to the family cook.) Appams and stew, become a favourite of the family and all our friends becoming a relished brunch option!
I have included recipes here, but must mention that they are however, not family recipes.
Appams, makes 25
Ingredients: 500 g Rice flour (finely powdered ), 250 ml Coconut milk, Salt to taste, 1 tbsp Sugar, 100 g Semolina, Water
Method: 1. Heat the semolina in a little water to a thick consistency. 2. Remove from the fire and keep it aside to cool. 3. Make a batter with rice flour, coconut milk and water. 4. Add the cooked semolina, soaked yeast and sugar and then mix well. 5. Keep the mixture to ferment for three to four hours. 6. Heat the appam thava (similar to a griddle, a special pan for forming the appam), rub a little oil and pour some batter into it. 7. Turn the batter around in the griddle to form a round crepe - thin edges and a thick middle. 8. Cover with a lid and keep it over a slow fire. 9. After the appam is ready, serve with mutton stew.

Mutton Stew recipe to accompany the Appams. Chicken can be substituted if you like but the mutton meat and bones adds unique flavour combined with the powerful curry leaves.
Ingredients: 250 g Mutton/ Chicken, ½ Coconut or 2 cups Coconut Milk, 2 Onion, 2 Potatoes
3 Tomatoes, 6 Green chilies, ½ Garlic, 4 pieces Ginger, 1 tsp Poppy seeds, ¼ stick Cinnamon,
¼ pod Cloves, 1 tbsp Coriander seeds, ½ bunch Coriander leaves, 2 tbsp Oil, Salt, to taste

Method: 1. Clean, cut and wash the mutton. 2. Slice the onion, chillies and tomatoes. Peel and cut potatoes into four. 3. Grind the coriander seeds and poppy seeds separately to a fine paste.
4. Grind the ginger and garlic together. Add the onions, chillies,tomatoes, masala (the dry spices) and salt to the mutton and mix well. 5. Heat the ghee and add spices. Add the mutton and fry for a while. 6. Add just sufficient water to cook the mutton; cook till it becomes soft and water is absorbed. 7. Grate the coconut and take out 2 cups of milk. 8. Add the coconut milk and chopped coriander leaves. (Add the coconut milk to the stew at the very last minute before serving to avoid the stew splitting as the coconut milk has a tendency to do when the stew is very hot).
9. Simmer and remove from the fire and serve hot.

Mutton Stew with Coconut Milk and Curry Leaves

Kottayam Style Beef Fry traditionally known as Oletherachi

This dish will just blow your mind. The flavours are bold with slivers of crisp coconut and curry leaves adding punch to the tender meat that is first boiled, braised and then pan fried to dry the pan juices and crisping the meat just a little. The most incredible feature of the dish is how the meat manages to retain a moist interior contrasting the textured exterior.

Typically Keralite, India's seafood state: Masala Fried Seer Fish

South Indian Stir-fried Green Bringals (Aubergine) with Lentils and Jaggeri

Pan-Fried Okra or Ladies Finger stuffed with Aam Chur (Dried Sweet-Sour Mango Powder)

Aam Achar - Mango Pickle

Sliced Strawberries drizzled with Maple Syrup and Cinnamon Sugar

And the piece de resistance: Chocolate Gateaux dusted with Powdered Sugar and Fresh Strawberries


sameer said...

this meal that we has was simply delicious! everyone loved it! i dont think ive ever seen abunch of people eating so much :)

MEGalomaniac said...

My mum really knows how to throw an awesome luncheon ... and all the traditional family recipes are just so fantastic huh! I have to learn them, or atleast take them down before it is too late!