Thursday, 30 July 2009

Lunch at our local pub

One of our favourite family run pubs in Poole is the 'Poole Arms'. This is one of the smaller pubs on the Poole Quay that solely caters to Fish lovers. Our favourite picks from their menu is their Pint of Prawns (veritably served in a Beer Pint Mug), Grilled Sardines and the Ardennes Pate'. We often visit this pub on Sundays after church service when we are really hungry and fancy a quick fix.
We invariably end up spending a good couple of hours peeling and pigging out on the prawns and getting all messy. Good fishy fun :)
Pint of Prawns
Ardennes Pate with toast
Grilled Sardines
A good place to visit when one is voracious and yearning for a simple fish meal.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Mangalore style Pan- fried Quails in a Spicy pepper marinade

My first memory of the quail goes back to 2002 when a group of us friends went to the 'Grand Taj' restaurant in Shivajinagar, Bangalore for some good biriyani and kebabs. The special of the day happened to be a quail preparation we were all eager to try. As none of us had tried the bird before it was one of those "first time" experiences. The bird was deep fried and served whole on a bed of thinly sliced onion rings, with a sprinkling of black salt. It appeared like a miniature version of the chicken but tasted far superior, the preparation was delectable.
The next time I tried this bird was at 'Annachi' in Indiranagar, Bangalore. We ordered the 'Teter 65'. The bird was served deep fried and crispy on the outside and soft in the center, served with a sprinkling of chaat masala powder, fried curry leaves and fresh lime wedges. It was super tasty and unforgettable. Whenever hubby and me travel home, we make it a point to have the quail as it is one of those meats we miss in the UK.
Suprisingly, the other day on our weekly grocery shopping trip at our local supermarket we came across the quails. Wonder of all wonders........we were chuffed and overjoyed. Brought them home, marinated them in a spicy pepper mixture and couldnt wait to cook them.
The same evening i shallow fried the birds in olive oil and served them with steamed american corn on the cobs and fresh leaf salad......the end result.............a heap of bones and a feeling of satiety!!!
Fresh Quails
Marinated in a pepper sauce
Pan fried quails in a spicy pepper marinade
Recipe for Pan- fried Quails in a Spicy pepper marinade
For Spicy pepper marinade:
Ginger garlic paste- 3tsps
Coarse pepper powder- 1-2 tsp
Garam masala powder- 1tsp
Cumin powder-2tsps
Coriander powder-1tsp
Salt to taste
Lime- 1 whole
Curds- 1/2 cup
1. Once both the quails have been cleaned, flatten the birds by cutting through the back bone. Make slits all over the bird to allow the marinade to penetrate the meat.
2. Mix all the marinade ingredients together and apply to quails liberally. Allow the birds to marinate for a minimum of 3 hours.
3. In a pan take 2 tbsps olive oil and fry the birds all over for a few mins. Then add 1/2 a cup of water reduce the heat, close the pan and allow the bird to cook for 25 mins turning in between. Add more water in between if needed. Once the bird has cooked allow all the water to dry up and the skin to brown by increasing the flame. Serve hot.
Food Fact: The Japanese Quail is also known as the 'Pharoah's Quail', 'Stubble Quail' or Eastern Quail'. It is a species of quail found in East Asia. In Japan, they were kept as pets beginning the eleventh century, however by 1910 they became popular for its meat and eggs and are now categorised as game birds. The breast, legs and eggs of the bird are considered a delicacy. The most effective way of getting the best flavour of the bird is by roasting or frying it.
This bird is a good source of Thiamin, Riboflavin, Iron, Phosphorus, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Protein, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Selenium, however its meat is high in Cholesterol.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Lunch at Nandos

One of our favourite eating joints is a Portugese restaurant called Nandos. They are well known for their famous "flame grilled Peri Peri Chicken" .
The first time we visited Nandos we were fascinated by their heat scale which ranged from "mild to extrahot". We were warned by friends not to go beyond "Hot" and decided to try their HOT peri peri chicken and chicken livers.
HOT Flame grilled Peri Peri Chicken
HOT-Chicken Livers with a Portugese roll
Grilled Halloumi
We were blown away. Their peri peri chicken was moist,full of flavour and fantastic, I am not much of a liver eater but their chicken livers- mouthwatering & delicious, definitely to die for!! and HOT they delivered.... we had runny eyes and noses. Im not surprised that their "Extra hot" is labelled-" Beware for Pyromaniacs only".
This place is for keeps and has earned a place in our restaurant diary.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Home grown valche bhajji- Mangalore Style Spinach with Coconut

This has been a dream come true. We have always wanted to grow this lovely vegetable in our garden. Valche bhajji brings back so many fond memories of home meals. I can remember this vegetable being cooked at home very often when the family wanted to detox. Mum would serve valchebhajji sukke with pej/ kanji ( rice cooked and served with water), galmbi chutney ( dried prawn chutney) or fried fish, and ambe che lonche (mango pickle). A wonderful treat.
At 4months

At hubby's estate this vege is a favourite. My mil has a huge valche bhajji vine. When we go to the estate mil cooks us a lovely sukke. This vege goes down very well especially with our nephews and nieces, who usually have a competition on who could eat the most number of stems they fondly call bondhu
The journey of our home grown valche bhajji from a stem to a healthy green tender vine has been long and emotional. We brought back 5 stems of the vine from India to the UK following our christmas holiday. At the time UK was in the peak of winter ( including snow). Put them in water on a window sill and watched them everyday for signs of life. There were moments when we lost all hope, with the cold 3 of the 5 stems died. Hubby not ready to give up, potted, nurtured and cared for the remaining 2 stems through the winter months into spring. It took around 4 months for us to see the first signs of life in these stems. And since then they have grown into the most beautiful green vines with extra large green leaves and thick tender green stems.

To manage the growth of the vine hubby trimmed the branches last week. The trimmings were sufficient for a mini feast. We decided to make a simple valche bhajji sukke out of it with minimum spice to retain the flavour of the vegetable. The dish was tasty and enjoyable. Most of all it gave us a sense of VICTORY!!

My version of Valche bhajji sukke:

Recipe for Valche bhajji Sukke
Valche bhajji- 1 large bowl of leaves and stems
Ginger- 2 inches sliced
Green chillies- 3 small slit
Onions- 1 large sliced
Small tomato- 1 no.
Fresh grated coconut- 1 handful
Garlic flakes- crushed 3
Oil 3tsps.
Salt to taste

1. Wash valche bhajji leaves and stems. Seperate leaves from main stem and chop large leaves into halves, cut the stems into 4 inch pieces.
2. In a closed vessel place the stems with onions, tomato, green chillies, ginger, coconut, salt, half a cup of water and 1/2 tsp oil , and bring to a boil. Then turn down flame to medium and cook for a few minutes till stems are tender and cooked. Then add the prepared leaves and cook without lid till the leaves wilt and are done. Taste for seasoning.
3. In a pan heat 2 1/2 tsps oil. Add crushed garlic flakes and fry till brown and fragnant. Tip seasoning over the valche bhajji. Serve hot.
Tip: If you leave the vessel open while cooking the leaves, the leaves will retain their natural green colour.

Food Fact: Distantly related to the vegetable spinach is the valche bhajji (in konkani) or Buffalo Spinach in English. Its botanical name is basella alba. This is a fast-growing, soft-stemmed vine with heart-shaped leaves and thick, semi-succulent stems. It is high in vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and calcium. It is low in calories by volume, and high in protein per calorie. The succulent mucilage is a particularly rich source of soluble fiber, thought to remove mucus and toxins from the body. The plant is also a rich source of chlorophyll.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Chocolate Butternut Squash Cake

The inspiration behind this recipe is mum who I spoke to a few days back. Dad had told me that mum had baked some awesome pumpkin cake which was creating waves amongst friends and family who tasted it. So I quickly asked mum on how she got the idea of putting the gory pumpkin into a cake??? I have had a repulsion to pumpkin since my boarding years at SFX ( no offence to our lovely nun chef who cooked us our meals....but the soggy pumpkin vege was horrific!!). Every time we got served pumpkin I would wrap it in banana skins and bin it....(sorry sister M).
Anyways, mum told me that lil sis had picked up some groundnuts on the way home. Once she was through eating the groundnuts she threw away the paper packet. For some reason mum decided to read the paper packet before binning it, when she discovered a rather non descriptive recipe for a pumpkin cake (the new heights of observation!!).
Mum instantly liked the idea of introducing pumkin into a cake and decided to adapt it with her famous carrot cake recipe. The cake turned out to be moist, light and loved by all. A yummy way of getting a portion of fruit and veg....hmmm..
Coming back to the recipe for this cake.....went out shopping for a pumpkin.. and foolishly picked up a butternut squash instead . Thought of how I could camouflage it into a cake...and decided on the most effective method...within a chocolate cake( my favourite). Hence I adapted the butternut squash into my favourite chocolate cake recipe. The result was 2 absolutely soft moist chocolatey perfectly edible butternut squash cakes. Incredible.
As I had opted to take dessert over to my dear friend D's dinner the following night I decided to made the cake extra special with a bit of flavoured butternut squash cream sandwiched between the 2 layers of the cake. The end empty dish.....
This experience has truly changed my outlook on the gory pumpkin :)
File:Cucurbita moschata Butternut.png
Image source: Wikipedia
Food fact: Butternut squash also known in Australia as Butternut pumpkin, is a type of wintersquash. It has a sweet, nutty taste that is similar to pumpkin. It has yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp. When ripe, it turns increasingly deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer. It grows on a vine. Butternut squash is a fruit that can be roasted and toasted and also be puréed or mashed into soups, casseroles, breads, and muffins.It is a good source of fiber, vitamin C,manganese, magnesium, and potassium. It is also an excellent source of vitamin A.
Recipe for Chocolate Butternut Squash Cake:
I made 2 cakes with this recipe. One big cake 21 inches in diameter and second 8 inches diameter( both cakes had 2 layers).
Big cake serves 10.
Small cake serves 4.
1 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups grated butternut squash
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
egg yolk
For the cream filling:
2cups chopped butternut squash (raw)
5teaspoons sugar
1teaspoon butter
25nos. raisins
1teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 pinches nutmeg
1/4 teaspn clove powder
1 cup double cream
4tablespn sugar
1tsp cinnamon powder
3tbsps honey
  1. Line the bottom of two 21-inch cake pans and two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper and lightly butter.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Stir the buttermilk, pumpkin, and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Beat the butter and sugars together using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and yolk, one at a time. Fold in the flour and buttermilk mixtures a third a time.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pans( 6 small ladle spoons into big cake pans each and 3 into small cake pans). Bake until a tester, inserted in the center, comes out clean--about 12-14 minutes for 21 inch pans and 10 mins for 8 inch pans. Cool layers completely before icing.
  4. For the filling : Take 2 cups of cubed raw butternut squash in a pan. Add 5 tsps of sugar and a spoon of butter and place on a medium flame and fry for a few mins. Then add 1/4 cup of water,a few raisins, 1 tsp of cinnamon powder, a pinch of nutmeg and a pinch of clove powder, close and allow to cook fully. Once cooked mash the squash with a potato masher. Allow to cool completely
  5. In the mean time whip 1 cup double cream with 4tbsps sugar, 1tsp cinnamon and 3tbsps cocoa till it forms stiff peaks. Add 3tbsps honey and the cooled squash raisin mixture and fold in gently.
  6. Spread the cream mixture between the two layers and the sides of the cake. Decorate the sides of the cake with almond powder. Chill in the fridge. Serve cold preferably the next day.

Oven Roasted Fish in a Spicy North African Chermoula Marinade

I first discovered the zesty chermoula marinade at a Speciality Fish restaurant in Poole, UK. 

This flavoursome and herby North African marinade is one I have never tried before. I liked the flavours so much that despite the embarassment of hubby I requested the chef for the recipe. As expected the chef did not give me the recipe but made a mention of the key ingrediets that makes a good charmoula marinade ( parsley, olive oil and garlic). For the next couple of days I hunted the internet for the real thing. I discovered many different recipes for the Chermoula and decided to combine these ideas to create my own version of the Chermoula. The end result was an awesome marinade which was tastier than the restaurant version. The many ingredients that went into the marinade was daunting, but made this marinade flavoursome and special.

Food fact- The Chermoula or charmoula is a marinade used in Algerian, Moroccan and Tunisian cooking. It is usually used to flavor fish or seafood, but it can be used on other meats or vegetables. Chermoula is often made of a mixture of herbs, oil, lemon juice, pickled lemons, garlic, cumin, and salt. A Moroccan version comprises dried parsley, cumin, paprika and salt and pepper. It is the original seasoning for grilling meat and fish in Moroccan cuisine.

Recipe for Chermoula Marinade ( my version)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro/ coriander leaves
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
 2 fresh lemons (juice) 
2 pickled lemon quarters ( I used my grand uncle J's homemade pickled lemons) 
2 teaspoons paprika 
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin 
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 bay leaves 
3 tbsps dried thyme 
1 1/2 tsps black peppercorns 
1 tsp nutmeg powder
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon 
1 1/2 tsps whole cloves 
2 tsps ginger garlic paste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1. Combine all the ingredients in a mixer and blend till fine.
2.Prepare the fish and place in a marinading dish.Pour the marinade over the fish and gently turn to coat on all sides. Cover with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 200C. Place the fish on a grilling metal rack placed over a oven proof dish and bake in the center of the oven for 25 mins or till done. Turn fish over after 12.5 mins and cook till done.
4. Serve hot with lime wedges and finger chips.

Tapas on Sunday

Olives and Caperberries
Spicy Chorizo in gravy
Marinated mozarella
Garlic and herb bread
Last Sunday we visited our local pub for a light bite. The Yachtsman is a beautiful, airy, modern english pub a mile away from home. Its relaxed and laid back atmosphere makes any sunday afternoon a delightful experience. Their selection of pub tapas is tempting, tasty and value for money.
We chose to have Olives and caperberries, spicy chorizo in gravy, marinated mozarella and garlic herb bread for our meal. The meal was light and tasty. A sure winner.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Pearl/ Sago Vanilla payasam


Food Fact: Tapioca is a starch extracted from the root of the cassava plant. It is known by many names most commonly cassava, sagudana meaning sagu drops, with local variation of sabudana and kappa. Tapioca is gluten free, and nearly protein free. The commercial form of tapioca most familiar to many people is pearl tapioca.

Recipe for Sago Vanilla Payasam


Tapioca pearls – ½ cup
Sugar – ½ cup
Cardamom – 6 pods
Vanilla pods-2
Oil – 2 tablespoons
Almonds – 10, chopped
Raisins – 25nos
Milk – 3 cup
Water 3 cups
  1. Heat a pan, pour in the oil and fry the chopped almonds till brown. Fry the raisins till they appear bloated. Keep aside. Soak the sago in water for 15minutes then drain and keep aside.
  2. Bring 5 cupfuls of water to the boil. Put in the soaked sago, stirring the water while doing so to prevent lumps forming. When the sago begins to appear transparent/ clear, add the sugar. Stir constantly till the sugar dissolves.
  3. In a milk pan bring milk to a boil and steep in 2 slit vanilla pods. Once the vanilla has infused into the milk add it to the sago, stirring all the time. Add the nuts and raisins bring the mixture to one boil then turn off the heat. Serve chilled.

Capsicum raitha

I wanted to make a different raitha from the usual cucumber and tomato raitha that i usually make at a party. The idea for this recipe came from my friend D' who brought over this raitha for a lunch party. I really liked the flavours that the green pepper lent to the raitha. This is my version of D's recipe.

Green pepper-1 large
fresh pomegranate- 3 tbsps (optional)
green chillies slit- 3nos
mustard seeds- 1tsp
cumin seeds-1 tsp
coriander and mint leaves- a few
curds- 1 big cup
hing- pinch
oil- 2 tsps

1. In a kadai take 2 tsp oil. Once it is hot add hing and mustard. Once the mustard splutters, add the slit green chillies, chopped coriander and mint leaves. Fry for a minute or two.
2. Add the tumeric, diced green pepper and salt and fry till pepper turns soft. Let it cool. 3. Once cool add curds and pomegranate stir well. Serve chilled.

Aubergine Chutney

Aubergine Chutney

1 large brinjal
2 tsps ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp cashewnut
1 tbsp fried channa dal
handful coriander leaves to fry
1tsp cumin seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
4 green chillies
Pinch hing
1tbsp mustard seeds
Tamarind lemon size
2 tomatoes
Salt to taste

2 tbsps oil
1tsp urad dal
2 red dried chillies
Sprig curry leaves

1. Apply oil to a washed and towel dried brinjal. Then roast the whole brinjal over an open slow flame, turning the brinjal to ensure even roasting. The skin of brinjal will char and insides turn soft when cooked. Take off heat onto a plate, allow to cool then peel of skin and chop flesh into pieces.
2. Heat oil, add mustard seeds, allow to splutter, then add cumin seeds ,ginger garlic paste and cashewnuts. Fry.
3. Add green chilli chopped, whole curryleaves, hing, let it fry for a two mins, add tomatoes and tamarind extract, cook till soft and well done. Add roasted brinjal and cook for a few minutes. Check for seasoning. Put entire mix to a blender and grind till smooth.
4.For tempering: In hot oil add broken red chillies, curry leaves and urad dal. Pour over chutney.
Serve hot.
The original recipe has been taken from and tweeked by me in places for ease of preparation. Thank you vahchef.

Spicy hyderabadi tomato chutney

This is a simple yet flavoursome chutney which is easily prepared in minutes. It is visually appealing and is a great accompaniment to chappatis, puris and dosas. To mellow down the heat a few tablespoons of thick yoghurt tranforms this fiery chutney into a wonderful accompaniment with hot rice.

Canned tomatoes: 1 can
Green chillies slit- 3nos
Coriander leaves- a few
Curry leaves- a sprig
Tumeric- 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1tsp
Jeera whole- 1tsp
Salt to taste
Jaggery- a touch
Oil- 3tsps
1. Heat oil, add mustard seeds, once it splutters add jeera, curry leaves, coriander leaves and slit green chillies, saute for a few minutes.
2. Then add tomatoes and let it cook until soft.
3. Then add turmeric powder, salt to taste, a touch of jaggery. Boil for a minute.
4. Remove from heat and let it cool. Serve as chutney. Or as an accompaniment for rice add a few tablespoons of thick curd.

Sambhar with drumsticks, brinjals, kualo, and potato

I could never make a good sambhar. However with time, trial and error I can now make a fairly tasty sambhar. This is my version of a sambhar.

Recipe for Sambhar with Assorted vegetables:

Ingredients for Step 1:

Toor daal( oily)- 1.5 cup
Crushed garlic- 1big flake
Ginger- 1 inch
Tomato chopped- 4tbsps
3 green chillies slit
Drumsticks-2 sticks cut into 3 inch pieces
Water- 3 cups
Take above ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook on medium flame for 2 whistles. Immediately place cooker under running tap to condense steam and reduce pressure and then open the cooker. Do not overcook the dal.

Ingredients for Step 2

cubed potato- 1/4 cup,
cubed kualo- 1/2 cup,
beans -1/2 cup,
cubed brinjal - 1 small
sambhar powder-3 tsps
sugar- 1tsp
chilli powder- 1tsp
tamarind - 3inch ball.

1. In seperate vessel boil together the above vegetables with salt, sugar, sambhar powder, chilli powder, tamarind extract. Cook till just done( may take 20-25mins).
2.Add cooked dal and drumsticks to the cooked vegetables.

Ingredients for Step 3:

1tsp mustard seeds
2tsps whole jeera
1 sprig curry leaves
2 small dried red chillies
1/2 tsp hing
1tsp sambhar powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp ghee ( optional)

Method :

For tadka/ tempering:
1. In a pan take 3tbsps oil - add mustard, once it crackles add whole jeera, curry leaves, small dried red chillies, hing, sambhar powder, red chilli powder and 1/4 tsp ghee (optional)
Pour over sambhar. Serve hot.