Please respect the fact that this is a humble attempt from my side to record some recipes, handed over to my family through grandmas & great-grandmas and also share some favourite dishes of my family, including the one I married into. All the content in this blog (text and photographs) are mine, unless noted otherwise. Copying, re-writing, republishing, redistributing or altering any text or photograph or part of the text, for any commercial or non-commercial purposes, without my written consent is strictly prohibited. Users with non-commercial purposes may link to the page or a specific post, but not allowed to reproduce or alter the content( text and photographs) without prior written permission. Please ASK first at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kindly use comments section for any recipe clarifications and e-mails will not be entertained in this regard.
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I woke up last Saturday with a head full of plans…….soak fruits and nuts for the fruitcake, finalise the goodies for the gift basket, check the availability of orange blossom water in local shops to make the Moroccan fekkas that has evoked my curiosity ever since I saw it here, wrap up the weekly shopping before the blizzard hit the ground and finish cooking for the week ahead. Instead, that morning what I did was writing the destiny for six beautiful banana peppers that has been sitting cozily in my refrigerator for the whole of last week and plating to make them photogenic for my blog !
One might wonder how such simple , unassuming dish could muddle with my plans and find its place on our lunch table on a weekend. Well, unassuming it is but the name sounded magical when we heard it the first time almost two months ago from our friend Av, one of those modest people who walked silently but with a smile into our exclusive circle of good friends. He is the only reason keeping me away from shouting out loud that I do not like chocolates because occasionally Av gifts us premium chocolates and for the next few days, I am like a flea on a ripe jackfruit! And recently I realised that behind all that modesty and reserved nature, he is dangerously observant with very sharp memory, when he recollected that I was giggling a lot , after an aperitif, few years ago!! And when he recalled that incident recently, I was holding a wine glass in my hand, already feeling a bit wobbly and for the next couple of hours, I tried to smile ’normal’!
Anyway, both CJJ & myself were charmed by the name, Mulaku Curry and curiously interested at the same, because picturing Av craving for Mulaku Curry was something really hard for us to take in; after knowing him for all these years , with his general disdain for everything that comes in the family of Avial and Sambar, I am sure perhaps even his dreams are stained with fish curry and sprinkled with pieces of fried chicken and fish. I noticed CJJ’s curiosity metre going up as we were squeezing out all the details about the dish from our dear friend. But it was Su, Av’s partner in crime – another cool soul who won us over on our first meet itself – who got me a very detailed recipe from her mother –in-law. Su patiently answered all my doubts and queries , without missing any tiny bits of tips from her MIL. With a toddler kangaroo around, it took me almost two months to get to this recipe and try my luck. Finally when I did, I was really pleased with the outcome, for its ease and perfectly balanced medley of sweet and sour flavours, beautifully paired with the sharp kick from heat of the chilies/peppers. Here’s how I made this dish , based on Av’s mom’s recipe, as explained to me by Su.
6 big Bajji Mulaku/ chili ( I used Banana Peppers), with stems
2 tbsp coconut oil
Around ½ cup melted and filtered black/brown jaggery/Sharkkara paani, medium-thick consistency
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
Around ½ cup water
Salt to taste
1 ½ tsp roasted coriander powder
¼ tsp fenugreek /Uluva powder
2 pinches Asafoetida
2 tsp wheat flour /corn flour(Optional)
Using the tip of a skewer or a knife. make some holes on the peppers/Chilies; steam cook the peppers/Chilies until they re tender and pale in colour. Cooking time varies depending on the variety of the pepper/Chili used (For me , it took about 10-15 minutes).
While peppers/Chilies are steamed, mix a teaspoon of tamarind concentrate with around ½ cup water and keep aside.
Heat oil in a wok/Cheenachatti , sauté the steamed peppers/chilies for about 2 minutes, on medium heat. To this add the melted jaggery , cook and stir until it reaches a consistency where if you run the wooden spoon through the cooked jaggery, the liquid moves to the sides and you can see the bottom of the pan or as explained beautifully in our mother tongue, to my friend Su by her MIL, , “..varayidumbo theliyum” . Now pour tamarind water and add salt and bring to a boil. At this stage, the peppers/chilies should be slightly submerged in the sweet and sour sauce. You may do a taste-test at this phase to check the balance of sweetness and sourness/tamarind and jaggery and adjust a bit extra of one of the flavours , if necessary. It should be well balanced. When it starts boiling, mix in roasted coriander powder, fenugreek and asafoetida. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer until it reaches a gravy consistency. If your sauce is too watery- either because melted jaggery was watery or tamarind water was more- add one or two teaspoons of wheat flour or corn flour, as thickening agent. Turn off the stove and let it rest for sometime before serving.
The end product is a well balanced sweet and sour sauce, with a pungent kick from the peppers/chilies, as you nibble a small bit of the pepper/chili. During the cooking process, if the seeds of peppers/chilies get mixed into the sauce, then you get the heat when you taste gravy itself.
We served it with Chappathi/Indian version of wheat tortilla.
On a different note, I have not been able to promptly reply to some of your e-mail s and comments and queries. I regret for such a delay but I will try to work on it before the end of this week.
Words seem to have deserted me……thoughts seem to have left the shore long time ago…..yet there is an honest desire to breathe some life into this space. I remember reading an article sometime back, about blogger's block and according to the author, one of the options to handle the crisis is to start writing and posting again even if they come out boring. Well, that sounds like a plan to me, if that’s what it takes to get this space rolling again ……to help me get back to my grooves!
Here’s a childhood favourite of CJJ’s….a very simple but dangerously addictive pickled carrots. This is the first time I made it, following my MIL’s instructions ; though I made it only this morning, I am already addicted! With country music playing in the background and my two boys swaying with Miranda Lambert’s “ .. I've been saved by the grace of Southern charm” , I picked up a couple of beautiful carrots and looking at them I felt it would be nice to bring in some style by peeling them into thin long ribbons. As I finished cooking, I loved the sight of orange ribbons speckled with black mustard seeds and slivers of ginger, garlic and green chillies, doused with pungent vinegar. Few hours later, I was a slave to those drunken orange ribbons ! Here’s the recipe for the easiest pickle I ‘ve ever made!
2 big carrots, chopped/ thinly sliced /peeled to thin strips
1 tbsp ginger, thinly sliced
1 ½ - 2tbsp garlic, thinly sliced
6-9 green chilly, split lengthwise (adjust as per your taste)
2 tbsp Nallenna /Gingelly Oil or Sesame Oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste
Around ½ cup vinegar (Adjust as per strength)
Heat oil , on medium, in any shallow sauce pan, crackle mustard seeds and throw in ginger, garlic and green chillies; cook them for about one minute. Add the carrots, sprinkle some salt and blend gently; turn off the heat immediately. Pour Vinegar and mix well. Store in an airtight container.
You may serve this as a condiment for rice, flat breads or a sub sandwich or burger. One could even spruce up a plain veggie salad with some of this pickled carrot. Note: You may even throw in some thinly sliced beetroot along with carrots as suggested by MIL.
Your eyes sparkled everytime you saw that yellow little thing with orange beak on the diaper caddy…
Your third word was “du..dda” and you blushed with excitement everytime you got it right….
You woke up from nap saying “du..dda” and you had the winning smile again that melted my heart ….
I wanted to see that same twinkle in your eyes and blush on your cheeks one more time last week when we were getting ready to celebrate our 365 days of happiness with you….
Challenging my own skills, I tried to make a replica of your favourite yellow bath toy with orange beak but at the end of it I was in the depth of despair, looking at the shapeless object that was not even close to what I had envisioned…..
And then your eyes fell on that yellow little thing I created........ you looked at it and said “ du..DDa..” and you said it again……..and two seconds later, your head fell on my chest with a blush, with a smile……………………!!!
My precious sweet little pea, I was beaming with joy, shouting with excitement ……you brought sparkle in my eyes …….you melted my heart one more time ……!