CKP Surmai-सुरमई- Curry – Happy Fathers Day Baba

Leaving your home country and more importantly leaving behind your near and dear ones is never easy. I sorely miss a lot of things about my life back home and one of the things I miss most is lazy Sunday afternoons at my parents place. As any typical teenager if you do move out from home during college years you would be better off dealing with moving out your parents after you get married but I never lived away from my parents and it was only after I was married that hubster and me moved into our own place, which happened to be very close to my mum’s !So most Sunday afternoons we would make our way to mum’s and Baba would be helping aai cook our favourite Sunday meal of chicken curry and rice, or sometimes when he was in a mood for seafood he would go Supekar’s fish market and queue up for fresh surmai (Marathi Surmai /सुरमई, Indo-Pacific king mackerel or popularly spotted seer fish-Scomberomorus guttatus),pomfret and my fav fresh prawns ummm!

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This recipe for Surmai/Kingfish /Mackerel curry is his favourite and I love how aai (means mother in Marathi my mother tongue)makes it so very delicious using a traditional hand me down recipe typical to the CKP community (Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu (CKP), is an ethno-religious community of South Asia). We call it Surmaiche Kalvan (सुर्माईचे कालवान) – Kalvan means curry in Marathi. If we were in Pune today I would most certainly have surprised Baba by cooking up a feast for him and aai. Baba this post is for you and for aai thank you for being the most parents any one could ever ask for , the best childhood ever and for believing is us ,for being the strong presence every girl wants her father to be. I love you more than words can say Baba and I miss you heaps and tons!

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Ingredients:

  • 4 medium sized surmai pieces
  • 3 large tbsp coriander – green chilli paste
  • 2 tsp  of ginger – garlic paper
  •  2  tsp Red Chilli powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 4 cloves of garlic cloves with skin on
  • 3 tbsp grated coconut
  • A pinch of Asafoetida/Hing
  • 2 tbsp refined oil
  • Juice of 1/4th of a lime
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander a tiny palmful washed and finely chopped for garnishing.

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Method:

  • Wash the Surmai/Kingfish /Mackerel steaks and marinate the with red chilli powder, turmeric,salt ,ginger- garlic paste,coriander- green chilli paste and set aside for at least 40 minutes.

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  • Heat oil in a saucepan,add a pinch of asafoetida and then add the crushed garlic cloves with their skins on and as they start to brown.
  • Add the marinated fish and toss around in the hot oil for 30 seconds
  • Add the finely grated fresh coconut, stir in enough water to ensure that the curry is the right consistency , not too thick  and cook on a low flame with lid for about under 5 minutes.
  • Fresh fish cooks very quickly , take care not to overdo it.
  • Now add salt as required bearing in mind that when the fish was marinated salt was used.
  • Squeeze the lime juice into the curry.
  • Garnish with finely chopped fresh coriander/cilantro.
  • Serve with steaming hot rice and allow yourself to enjoy this simple yet classic fish curry.

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This is another fabulous recipe that originates from the western coast of India , the Konkan coastline , a beautiful coconut tree lined coastline abundantly blessed with fresh sea food and natural scenic beauty read beautiful beaches with soft sands and plenty of sunshine. A lot of people would also add tamarind paste to the curry but we do not. Tamarind trees are also found in abundance

If you are looking for fresh Kingfish in London the best place to find it is at supermarkets like H-Mart. The Kingfish that you will get here is from the North  Atlantic waters. You can also buy Wahoo steaks from Wing Yip but the taste is not as pronounced and the flesh is not as tender, besides wahoo steaks are bigger and need more seasoning and should be consumed on the same day to enjoy the full taste , I’d say they taste better in a curry than fried and if you do fry them do add a large squeeze of lime after you have fired them. Since the Kingfish belongs to the Mackerel family ,the mackerel will take all these marinade flavours beautifully and works well both fried and in a curry Konkani style.

My traditional CKP surmai kalvan/curry recipe works well with pomfret too.

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Valache Birdhe (वालाचे बिरडे) – made in a typical C.K.P way

Valache Birdhe is an extremely popular bean gravy and has helped soothe many aching hearts and settle ruffled feathers after long gruelling work days.I managed to procure a few packets of these beautiful field beans with brown skin after a lot of searching!Hubs goes completely mental at the mere mention of this dish and insisted on me uploading the recipe and help all the other hungry hubbies out there..ahem ..so without further ado ladies and gents I present to you yummyscrummy recipe.

This is a typical C.K.P way of making a rather traditional legume curry. Vaal or kadve vaal (kadve meaning bitter in Marathi) are generically referred to as Field Beans in English.

Serves: 2

Preparation Time: 20 mins. Soaking and Sprouting: Depends on the climate, longer in winter about 2-3 days.

Serves:2 as a main course served with boiled rice or Indian bread – chapatti and a bhaji (sabzee/sabji) as an accompaniment

Ingredients:

  1. Vaal –
  2. Garlic Cloves – 3- 4 with skin
  3. Asafoetida a tiny pinch
  4. Red onion – one small finely chopped for the pan
  5. Dried Kokum – 2-3 or tamrind paste 1tsp or dried tamrind soaked in water -remove the pips and use the gooey thick bits
  6. 1/2 tsp Jaggery
  7. Mustard Seeds -1 tiny pinch
  8. Cumin/Jeera- 1 small pinch
  9. Oil – 1 and 1/2 large tbsp
  10. Red Chilli Powder -1 tsp
  11. Turmeric powder -1/2 tsp
  12. Coriander powder -1 tsp
  13. Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  14. Fresh Coriander finely chopped to garnish – half of bunch
  15. 3-4 heaped tbsp grated coconut paste made by running through a mixer fresh grated coconut or frozen coconut with 1 green chilli and 1 clove of garlic.My mum prefers to also add 1/2 a finely chopped red onion which has been tossed on a pan with the coconut and green chilli – must admit it lends a toasty warmth to the gravy but I skip this step simply because the I compensate for it by using the onion in the pan!
  16. Salt as per taste

Method:

  • Soak the Vaal overnight, change the water in the morning and by evening if they appear puffed then wrap them in a damp cloth and set aside in a vessel with a lid to create an environment warm enough to allow them to sprout
  • Remove sprouted vaal into a bowl and pour like warm water on them,stir with your palms to loosen the skin and many will float to the top,decant the water and remove all the rest of the skins and discard .
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan and dust some asafoetida and throw in the mustard and cumin.
  • When the cumin seeds begin to pop, throw in the garlic with their skin on and smashed to flatten them and as they turn colour and release their aroma,add he chopped onion.
  • When the onion turns a delicate pink add turmeric powder,red chilli powder and then add the vaal/field beans.
  • Now add the turmeric,red chilli,coriander and cumin powders and quickly stir in enough water to cover the beans.
  • On a low flame cook with lid.
  • When the vaal is almost done,add the jaggery,coconut paste and the tamarind paste or the water from the dried tamarind which has been soaked or dried kokum soaked in water and when the vaal are done add salt and garnish with finely chopped coriander.
  • The logic of adding salt towards the very end is so that it does not interfere with the rest of the spices as they pack a punch into the beans while they cook and also salt can hasten the cook time for the vaal which is not ideal as the full strength of all the flavours steeping into the curry will not happen.

Vaalache Birdhe with text resized

I do know this process sounds rather cumbersome and complex but believe you me its easy peasy and the main labour is only getting rid of the skins.

Do leave me a comment of you make this dish and also any variations to the recipe that you may have heard of, any anecdotes,happy memories are always welcome.

Bon Appe’tit !

P.S: coming soon a Vaal Pilaf recipe that’s another firm family fav!

Pomfret Fish Curry – Flavours of Konkan and a Bengali Bhaja with spring onions and potatoes

When anyone asks me what I would like as my LAST meal,I always say I’d like some fried pomfret so naturally when I go Indian grocery shopping I always check for this fish. Though I must admit, nothing beats the flavours one gets from fresh fish.But well just have to make do with frozen fish as the one I love is a Pomfret local to waters of the Indian Ocean.

This is a relatively simple recipe and does not require much effort but the marination is key as it can really give depth of flavour which is what we need.

I had 3 of these beauties to cook and couldn’t resist getting them to pose for my camera all dressed with the dangerously delicious spices that I rubbed into the fillets.

Pomfret with all the spices that are used in the curry.

Serves: 4 (with rice and a vegetable dish included)

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium sized white pomfret
  • 2 large tbsp coriander and green chilli paste
  • 1 tsp  of ginger garlic paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp Red Chilli powder
  •  1 tsp Turmeric
  • 3 -4 cloves of garlic cloves with skin on
  • 2 tbsp grated coconut
  • a pinch of Asafoetida/Hing to dust into the oil
  • 2 tbsp refined oil
  • Juice of 1/4th of a lime
  • Salt to taste

Method:

Ok it’s relatively easy making fillets after this fish has thawed thoroughly as it has very few bones, I like to remove the bit in the front with the eyes and the tail and also remove the fins then make fillets the size fit for a curry or fry.

  • Wash thoroughly and marinate with red chilli powder, turmeric,salt ,ginger- garlic paste,coriander- green chilli paste and set aside for at least 40 minutes.
  • After the marination is done,heat oil in a saucepan,add asafoetida just a tiny spritz and throw in the crushed garlic cloves with their skins on and as they start to brown add the marinated fish n toss it around for about half a minute.
  • Add enough water to cover the fish and cook on a low flame.
  • As the water begins to boil add in the finely grated fresh coconut and stir in well till the curry is nice and thick.
  • Simmer till the fish is cooked and squeeze the lime into it.
  • Serve with steaming hot rice and allow yourself to enjoy this simple yet classic fish curry, an everyday fare in the houses along the coast of Konkan and a great treat in ours.

These beautiful flowers are on stalks of fresh spring onion!! Unexpected, I know right?!! My ma (in-law) very patiently chopped these stalks, created this cute little spring onion floral display and the whole idea of this photograph with books we are currently reading is hers.

Spring Onion Bouquet

I was so excited to see them and had to buy myself two bunches and look for a Bengali Bhaja or bhaji (Marathi) sabji/sabzee (Hindi).Found a lovely food blog called Hamaree Rasoi and you can read the recipe here.

Peyajkoli Batata bhaja

Spring Onion and Potato Bhaji

Needless to say the meal was supremely satisfying and we all slept with gentle snoring now and then …tmi- oh yes totally 😉

Pomfret curry with steamed rice and pejaykoli bhaja

Sunday Special Lunch – A Family Tradition

What a Sunday Roast is to a traditional English Family Sunday Lunch is what the combination of Spicy Chicken Gravy and Jeera rice or layered Chicken Biryani is to my family . My sister and me have grown up eating these divine yet simple dishes prepared with great passion and with great efforts by my parents.Almost all the  ingredients were freshly procured on Sunday morning and accompanying my dad to get the chicken was part of the whole excitement for me . It was my mum’s way of getting me out of her hair is what I learned years later 🙂

Last year when my husband and me decided to move to London , I was super delighted when my parents visited a few months later. My parents had promised they would cook us their Sunday special and  my hubby would  watch and learn they created these dishes.

I shall start with my personal favourite Chicken in thick gravy and Jeera Rice ,followed by Layered Chicken Biryani in the next blog post. Hope you will enjoy cooking up these yummies and creating happy family memories of your own.

Chicken in thick gravy-Ingredient List:

  1.  Medium sized Chicken cut and deskined, usually available at any good butcher shop , ask for pieces suitable for a curry.
  2. 3 medium sized tomatoes and 4 red onions pureed together
  3. 1 Large bunch of coriander and 2 long green chillies pureed.
  4. Oil
  5. Turmeric Powder
  6. Red Chilli Powder
  7. Garam Masala
  8. handful of finely pureed grated fresh coconut
  9. Ginger Garlic Paste
  10. Finely Chopped coriander to garnish

Method:

  1. Wash the chicken pieces and marinate with a large spoonful of red chilli powder and turmeric, a generous blob of ginger garlic paste ,sat and some puree of the coriander and chilli paste.
  2. Take a large vessel and on a medium  add oil, when it is hot add the onion- tomato puree and sautee it till the colour turns a dark pink , add some ginger garlic paste ,salt , turmeric and 2 large spoons of garam masala.
  3. Then add the grated coconut puree and remaining coriander and chilly paste.
  4. Saute well and then add the marinated chicken .
  5. Add enough water to cover the pieces and enough to ensure good amount of gravy.
  6. Pressure cook for 3 whistles in a pressure cooker.
  7. Serve hot with steaming hot jeera rice and cucumber curd mix to balance off the heat.

As you will notice most ingredients are not accurately measured as would in a cake recipe , that’s because baking is really an exact science whereas curries especially this one function on judgement , it gets better with time , trust me , I have grown up eating this one 🙂

Prawn Khichadi (Pulav/Pilaf/Poolav)

This is NOT just a  recipe,it’s a Family Heirloom passed down from generations and cooked with great relish by my mother-in-law and her mum who is now 82 years old and still can stir up a some to-die-for finger licking dishes !

But before I start off rattling the ingredient list , a ”slice” of some history about the origin of this rice and prawn union.Coastal cuisine in the western Indian state of Maharashtra relished by the Maharahstrian community relies heavily on the use of all versions of the coconut , the most potent form being as part of the goda masala. This and of course the abundant availability fresh sea food has given birth to many delicacies many of which most are age-old like this dish.

It’s also my prized comfort food and guarantees a great Sunday afternoon nap 🙂 and will ensure your crowned kitchen queen and master chef of all things nice hehehehe

Ok here goes, the ingredient list – This dish serves 2 adults for 2 meals with 2 generous helpings each and leftovers for the next day.

  1. Prawns or Koolambi as they are called in Marathi – 500gm
  2. Plain rice – I use basmati , I use 2.5 cup measures of my rice cooker measure
  3. Bay leaves -3-4
  4. ”Goda” Masala
  5. Tumeric Powder
  6. Red Chilli powder
  7. Half a slice
  8. Cooking Oil
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Ginger and Garlic Paste
  11. Wet coconut grated and make a fine puree with it – the wet coconut is available as a frozen product at any Indian Grocery store – use about a handful.
  12. Two Large red onions finely sliced
  13. Cinnamon (Dalchini)- 3-4 large bits
  14. Few cloves
  15. Green Masala – Use a bunch or coriander and 2 green chillies and give them a spin in the mixer , store this fine paste in the freezer and use as and when needed, it’s one of the most basic marination masala’s in most Maharashtrian non veg dishes especially sea food.

Method:

  1. On a pan on low heat saute one finely chopped onion and the fresh wet grated coconut till the onions starts to caramelise, after this cools give it a spin in the mixer and make a fine paste.
  2. Marinate the washed rice in some the above wet grated coconut and onion paste,some goda masala, a squeeze of half of a lime,salt ,ginger & garlic paste and some Cinnamon. Keep Aside.
  3. De-vein Prawns , wash under tap water and marinate with red chilli powder,turmeric and green masala.
  4. Take oil in a vessel and saute the marinated prawns for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Heat Oil in a vessel big enough to cook the rice and prawns together that will hold the water as well , add the cloves , remaining cinnamon and one very finely chopped red onion, add the marinated rice and stir it , do this on a low flame .
  6. Then add the marinated prawns and water , for rice dishes water is always double the measure of the rice used so for 2.5 cup measures of rice use 5 cups of water.
  7. Cover and cook on a low flame.
  8. Serve piping hot with curd or pickle .
  9. I generally serve this with a spicy Curry.

Spicy Curry

In a pan heat some oil and add asafoetida one pinch , add puree of 2-3 large red onions and one tomato and puree of 1 handful of wet grated coconut , season with red chilli powder , turmeric,salt, green masala, goda masala and cook on a low flame with enough water to ensure a thick curry , Amp up the red chilli powder and green masala to your level of tolerance of spicy food !

Do let me know via comments if any of you made this dish and what you though of the recipe !

P.S: Forgive the poor image quality , I have a Simple Canon Camera which I am unable to use too well  and add to that the total lack of any photography skills but well the food   tasted awesome :), that’s what counts right , hehhe!

Update in 2013

A few days after I published this recipe ,A gifted me my first DSLR Camera – a shiny new Canon 600DS and I’ve been clicking away like a happy bunny ever since 🙂

To my absolute delight he helped me add a new lens to my kit and gifted me a 50mm f 1.8 lens this year on my birthday.It’s great for close up food shots and true to it’s reviews it works well in low light conditions.

Here’s an example:

The image below is from my kit lens where am struggling to fit everything in frame and focus on the prawns, I have sharpened the image,adjusted light and cropped it using Picasa 3.

Ingredients for Prawn Khichadi with old lends

 

Now see the difference in the image below, I love how the prawns are in sharp focus and how am able to easily adjust and fit everything in the viewfinder.I have adjusted light and sharpened the image very slightly, I am truly pleased with the results 🙂

prawn khichadi with new lens

bay leaves n cinnamon in pan

prawns sautee with khichadi spices

 

prawn khichadi plated n styled

 

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