Fish Molee – Kerala style fish stew in coconut milk

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
― Edith Sitwell

I love it when you can feel the change in the climate, and the air starts getting really nippy and cold. And even though afternoons are bright and sunny there is this slight hint of the beginning of winter that you can almost feel in your bones.

1-IMG_6424Having lived in Mumbai almost all my life where winter is a season one only hears about and don’t believe. Perth doesn’t have cold bitter winters, but it does get cold enough for us to remove our sweaters, coats, boots and drink endless cups of tea to keep us warm.

1-IMG_6415-001Winter also means numerous bowls of soup/stews that are consumed at any time of the day.  And even though I am a girl who wants a proper meal, having a hearty stew for dinner somehow satisfies my hunger, and I feel like I have had something filling and comforting.

1-IMG_6444This “Kerala style fish stew” Or ‘Meen Molee” is one of my favorites. It is your typical “Fish curry in coconut milk” but I have modified the recipe a bit by adding carrots to it to make it wholesome. The original recipe calls for 3 types of Coconut milk (thick, thin & semi thick), however due to time constraints and the fact that I cannot be bothered grinding fresh coconut and then extracting the milk, I just use 1 can of lite Coconut milk. The stew is mild, delicious and is so good on a cold evening that you can cuddle up with it.

Recipe: (Cooking times 45 minutes, serves 4)

For the Marination
2 – 3 large filets of Barramundi/Basa/King fish or any other firm white fleshed fish cut into medium sized thick pieces

1 tsp Turmeric powder

Juice of half a Lemon

Salt to taste

For the Gravy/Stew:

1 large Onion finely sliced

1 large Tomato chopped into medium sized pieces

1 tsp fresh Ginger (Do not be tempted to use anything out of the jar)

2 Garlic cloves crushed

1 tin of lite Coconut Milk (400 gms tin)

1 tsp Mustard seeds

3 green chillies finely chopped or slit

10 – 12 Curry leaves

½ tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Pepper powder

2 tbsp Coconut Oil

Salt to taste

Juice of 1 Lemon or 1 tbsp White Vinegar (Do not use white wine vinegar)

2 large carrots cut into medium sized pieces

Method:

Marinate the fish in Turmeric, Salt and Lemon juice and keep aside for 15 minutes.

Usually this dish is cooked in a earthen pot /Kalchatti, but I used a ceramic pan. Heat Oil in the pan and add the fish pieces slowly frying on all sides till golden (but not brown). Remove the fish pieces aside and let the excess oil drain on kitchen paper.

In the same pan add the Mustard seeds, Ginger, Garlic and Curry Leaves. After around 30 seconds, add the Onions and fry till they have turned translucent.

Add the Turmeric powder, green chillies & Pepper powder and saute well. Add the Tomatoes and cook for 4 – 5 minutes.

Now add the coconut Milk and bring to gentle boil. Add the Carrots and cook till the Carrots are done. You can add ½ cup of hot water if the stew is too thick.  Since I am only using 1 type of Coconut milk, I usually add water.

Add the fish pieces gently and salt to taste.  As the fish was already cooked when we fried it, it won’t take long to get done.

Turn off the heat, sprinkle Lemon Juice or Vinegar and serve hot with Rice or  have it on its own as a stew.

Pushing food horizons with Soy & Maple Syrup coated Basa Fillets

We Indians are passionate about our culture and the food associated with it. We live to eat because food not only provides us sustenance it also gives us the cultural identity that makes us who we are. And since we Indians are masters of stereotyping, we also love to stereotype each other on the basis of food. While we typecast Punjabis with Chole and Parathas, Sindhis are judged on their Popadums eating skills. Bengalis are obviously “Machiwalas” and every person from South India according to us only likes Sambhar and Rice or Idli. Sometimes in our zest for retaining our unique identity we forget that there could be something more to what we assume there is, thus limiting our knowledge about what other treats could be in store within these regions.

1-IMG_3583And trust me we don’t just stereotype people from our country we do it for other nationalities as well. Thankfully we are no longer living in oblivion, our horizons have broadened, and every day we seem to be becoming bolder in the food and lifestyle choices we make.

1-IMG_3531For a very long time, I did not  enjoy Asian cuisine at all especially when it came to eating Asian style fish. Any self-respecting Punjabi married to a Marathi would not want to eat fish that does not come coated in mouth watering species that we recognize. But remember I said we are now a breed of daring people, so I have started expanding my palette to the delight that is Asian food.

1-IMG_3579This Soy and Maple coated fish fillet that is a very Asian creation is one of my favorites. I love how the dark soy sauce coats the fish, and the Maple Syrup gives it an almost sweet flavor without making it too sweet. I served the fish on a bed of Rice with some steamed vegetables because the only something as bland as plain rice and steamed vegetables could do justice the beautiful flavors of this fish.

Recipe (Cooking time 12 – 15 minutes, marinating time 1 hour)

2 Basa fillets (you can use Salmon that would need a longer cooking time)

For the Sauce:

1 tbsp Dark Soy sauce

1/3 cup Maple Syrup (you may need a little more depending on how the level of sweetness you want)

½ tsp freshly chopped Ginger

2 Garlic cloves freshly chopped

2 red chillies freshly chopped (you can use 1)

2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients of the sauce together. Add more maple syrup if you want the sauce to be a little sweeter.

Coat the fish on both sides with the sauce. Cover and marinate for an hour.

Preheat the oven at 160 degrees C and cook the fish for 10 – 12 minutes till done. Since we are using Basa, and the fish is marinated before hand, it will cook quickly. So don’t be tempted to overcook.

Serve with rice and steamed vegetables.

 

 

A dish fit for the last meal of my life – Doi Maach (Fish in yogurt )

If I were dying and were given a choice to eat my favorite meal before I leave this world behind, I would choose “Bengali Cuisine” for that meal. Now mind you I am a Punjabi, who loves her Parathas, Rajma, Chole and everything else that we make slathered in Butter and Cream. However, there is something unusual about “Bengali Cuisine” that entices the foodie in me on more levels than one.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPunjabi food like its makers is loud and proud, not that we mind being loud. But the flavors are very robust and bold with generous helping of everything that can make your arteries clog and your heart stop. On the other hand “Bengali food” is subtle, the flavors gentle and soft on your palette but still hitting the right spot. Whether it is the very watery ‘Macher Jhol’ that they make or the sweet and sour ‘Tomato & Date chutney’. Or it is the heartening ‘Moong Dal’ that made without any Tomatoes or the very soothing ‘Khichudi’ served during Pujo.

1-IMG_8549You can easily see and taste the difference between both these cuisines even when you haven’t savored them before. While Punjabi food is like doing a vivacious Bhangra in your mouth, Bengali food is like beautiful poetry, soothing and calming to the stomach. One of my favorite blogs Bong Cookbook is a treasure trove of great Bengali recipes. The recipe I am sharing today is a very soft and subtly flavored ‘Doi Maach’ or ‘Fish in Yogurt gravy’. The very delicate sauce strikes all the right notes and is just something I really look forward to making.

You can either check the recipe below or head to the very amazing blog to see it.

Cooking time 40 minutes (Serves 4)

For the Gravy:

1 large Onion cut into chunks.

½ cup plain set Yogurt

1 tbsp of fresh Ginger paste (do not be tempted to use bottled ginger)

a pinch of Turmeric powder

1/4th tsp of Sugar

1/4th cup of Water

1 tsp Vegetable oil

Heat Vegetable Oil in a frying pan and add the chopped Onion and saute till translucent. Turn the heat off and completely cool the Onion and grind it into a paste (do not add any water)

Take a bowl and add ½ of the Onion paste, Ginger, Turmeric, Sugar and water, mix well and set aside.

For the Fish

2 large pieces of Mackerel/Salmon or any other fish that you like cut into chunks.

Rub salt and turmeric on the pieces and keep aside.

For the Tempering

2 tsp Vegetable Oil

5 Cardamoms

5 Cloves

2 Bay leaves

1 Cinnamon stick

½ tsp Sugar

1 large Tomato chopped

½ tsp Kashmiri Chilli powder

3 – 4 slit Green chillies

Heat oil in a pan and add the Cardamoms, Cloves, Bay Leaves, Cinnamon stick.

When they start sputtering add the remaining onion paste and sugar and fry the onion paste till the oil separates. Add the Kashmiri Chilli powder and the Fish and mix well and cook for a few minutes.

Add the chopped Tomatoes and green chillies and cook for a few minutes till the Tomatoes turn mushy. Take the pan off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes before you add the Yogurt mixture. If you put straight in the hot pan, the yogurt will curdle.

Add Salt to taste and around ½ cup of water. Put it back on the gas and cook till the gravy comes to a boil. Turn off the heat and serve hot on a bed of plain boiled Rice.

Recipe courtesy: Bong Cookbook

 

Indian style Mackarel Fry

To be honest I did not appreciate the taste of Fish till I was married. Being a Punjabi meat is something that we relish more. If there is Chicken and Mutton everything else is overlooked completely.

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Whereas on the other hand my husband and his family are regular fish eaters and my mother in law can make the most amazing fish dishes. And ofcourse the husband hoped that I would do the same and he was sadly disappointed because I could not make good fish. It is only now after so many years of trying and failing have I started making decent Indian style Fish fry.

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I try and always stick to basic dishes, something that isn’t too complicated and doesn’t require a lot of effort or any sort of technique. The recipe I am sharing today is one such recipe; it is a staple Sunday treat in our house and requires only a handful of spices.

 

IMG_8256The quantity of ingredients depends on the number of fish pieces that you are frying so you will have to use a bit of judgement. I only had 2 large pieces of Mackerel hence I have jotted down the ingredients as per that.

It takes less than 20 minutes to make including marinating and is perfect with hot rotis or some plain boiled rice and dal.

Cooking time (10 minutes, marination 10 minutes)

2 pieces of Mackerel

1 tsp Red Chilli powder

1 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Coriander powder

Salt to taste

Juice of ½ a Lemon

2 tsp Vegetable or Mustard Oil

Marinade the fish with all the ingredients except the oil for 10 minutes. Do not be tempted to marinade for more time as the acidity in the Lemon juice will make the fish really bitter. If you wish to marinade for longer, skip the Lemon juice and add it once the fish is cooked.

Heat oil in a pan, once the oil is really hot gently place the pieces of fish in the oil and shallow fry for a few minutes on both sides till cooked (on a medium flame). The cooking time depends on the thickness of fish. As the pieces I used very pretty thick I had to give them around 5-7 minutes on each side on a medium flame.

Quick and Easy Spicy Indian Prawn Fry

While traveling home from work today I realized I haven’t blogged in days. I have a whole set of pictures of food that I have been cooking and recipes that I feel I should blog about but I am just not able to gather my thoughts and write them down.

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Not sure when my mind is lost. So to break the monotony I will talk less today and just post a very simple recipe of a spicy dry Prawn dish that I love to make and relish. The recipe is very basic and a complete tongue tickler tantalizing your taste buds.

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And it is so easy that you can do it with your eyes closed. I love serving these prawns with some plain boiled rice and Dal but the husband enjoys eating them on their own with a chilled Beer watching his favorite game on the telly. However you eat them, you will certainly thank me for introducing this lip smacking dish in your kitchen.

Here is the recipe (Cooking time 10 minutes, marination 10 minutes, serves 2 or in my husband’s case only 1)

300 Gms fresh Prawns (I used Banana prawns)

3 cloves of Garlic thinly sliced

10 Curry leaves

Salt to taste

1 tsp Turmeric

1 tsp Red chilli powder

Juice of a half a Lemon

1 tsp Mustard seeds

2 tsp vegetable oil

A small handful of freshly chopped Coriander

1) Clean and wash the prawns leaving the tail on. Pat them dry and then marinade them with Salt, Turmeric and Chilli powder for 10 minutes.

2) When ready heat Oil in a pan and add the Garlic cloves and Mustard seeds let them sauté for a minute before adding the Curry leaves.

3) Now add the Prawns and mix well letting them cook for a few minutes. Once the Prawns look almost done sprinkle the Lemon juice and fresh Coriander on top letting them cook for a 1 – 2 minutes more.

4) Serve hot with anything you like.

Happiness is made up of Bengali cuisine – Macher Jhol (Fish curry in a watery Tomato gravy).

I have a particular affinity to Bengali cuisine, according to me it is the best cuisine in the world. I can never have enough of it, which is strange because I am a Punjabi raised in Ulhasnagar and married to a Maharashtrian now settled in Australia. And I have eaten and tasted a lot of different cuisines from around the world but there is something about Bengali food that draws me towards it.

The smell of “Panch Phoran,” the quintessential Bengali spice being tempered in hot Mustard oil is almost heady, making me go weak in my knees. I remember standing outside my Bengali neighbor’s window whenever I passed by and just inhaling the aromas of all the incredible food being cooked in the kitchen almost feeling dizzy with all the smells.

IMG_0048I love the food, the culture and the fact that Bengali’s love to read. I know some creative people from that part of the country who are passionate about their heritage and their culture. And it makes me long to have the same affinity towards mine, which is something I sadly lack.

Recently Updated1I actively search for food blogs written by Bengali authors and one of my favorite blog is written by Sandeepa from “Bong Mom’s Cookbook“. Her blog is full of deliciously mouthwatering Bengali recipes and lots of lovely stories about her life. While I have tried several of her recipes, the one that I love the most is the very easy Tomato Diye Macher Potla Jhol which means “Fish cooked in a very watery Tomato gravy”.

Recently Updated2This Jhol or Gravy is delicious with plain boiled rice, and every time I dig my fingers in the hot rice and eat a mouthful of this Jhol I feel the happiness that I cannot describe. It is one of my go-to comfort foods and if I had my way I would almost eat it every day. But unfortunately, fish is expensive here in Perth so I just make it when I am feeling down and I just want to lift my spirits up.

You can go and check the recipe by going to Sandeepa’s blog or read it below. I have tweaked the quantities and the type of Fish as per the availability here in Perth.

Recipe (serves 2, cooking time 30 minutes)

4 medium pieces of Mackerel/Sea Bass/Trout (No Salmon or Mahi Mahi. Bengali’s usually use Sweet water fish)

2 medium sized Tomatoes finally chopped

Salt to taste

1 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Kalonji seeds

3 – 4 Green chillies slit

1 tbsp freshly grated Ginger (Do not use Bottled Ginger as it will alter the taste)

Salt to taste

1 tbsp freshly chopped Green Coriander

1 tbsp Mustard Oil to fry the fish (you may need a little extra, you can also use vegetable Oil)

1) Clean and wash the fish. Pat it dry and sprinkle some Salt and Turmeric on both sides and leave it to marinate for 10 – 15 minutes. Don’t be tempted to leave the fish for longer than this.

2) After 15 minutes heat the Mustard oil in a deep bottomed Pan. As we are using Mustard Oil, it has to be boiling before you put the fish pieces in it to fry. Shallow fry the fish until it is crispy and lightly brown on both the sides.

3) Remove the fish pieces and drain on a paper towel for it soak any excess Oil.

4) In the same pan add the Kalonji, Green Chillies and Ginger and saute. Now add the chopped Tomatoes. You can use 1 cup of Tomato Puree instead of Fresh ones, but I feel the dish tastes completely different when using fresh ingredients.

5) Once the tomatoes have become all mushy and pulpy add a pinch of Turmeric powder and Salt.

6) Add 1 or 2 cups of hot water depending on how watery you want it. Bring it to the boil and reduce the heat and add the Fish pieces.

7) Add the chopped Coriander leaves and cook for 7 – 10 minutes with the lid on a slow flame.

Serve hot with boiled rice and enjoy happiness on your plate.

 

The uncomplicated meal – Grilled Red Mullet with white wine reduction

As an Indian my life revolves around spices and then some more. I don’t think our palates are designed to eat food that does not involve a lot of spices, we acquire the western taste of eating bland food as we call it when we move abroad or if are sick and the doctor has ordered a less spicy diet.

It makes us grumpy, it makes us unhappy when we don’t get our appropriate dose of Spice that we so crave for. And sometimes it makes things very difficult for us when we travel abroad or eat with someone who is not used to the same amount of spice as we are. But it doesn’t have to be so complicated does it? I mean making food without smothering it with a tonne of masalas could not be such a bad thing can it?

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There are also some foods that are so delicate that going the Indian way is not the right option. So when I brought 2 pieces of beautiful Red Mullet from our local fish shop, I knew that I had to let the flavors of the fish rule our palate and not add too many spices to it and ruin the flavors that the fish may have to offer.

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I wanted to cook the fish really simply without adding too many things to complicate it. So I just grilled it with some Lemon and Parsley and then made a quick white wine reduction to just give a little lift.

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And I was extremely happy with the results. The fish was delicate with a soft flesh and was infused with the Juices of the Grilled Lemon making it taste heavenly. It was so well cooked that the flesh just fell of the bone the minute I touched it.

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The white wine reduction is optional and to be honest I felt that the fish tasted great without it as well. D and I just sat together and slowly ate our meal enjoying the softness of the fish with the tanginess of the Lemon. And strangely we did not need any Bread or rice to go with it, like we usually do with all our meals. The fish just needed nothing.

Recipe (serves 2, cooking time 30 minutes)

2 medium sized Red Mullet, scaled and gutted.

1 medium sized Fennel or Onion thinly sliced

1 lemon sliced

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 tbsp Olive Oil

For the White wine reduction

1 cup white wine

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

1) Clean and wash the fish. Pat dry and rub Salt and pepper on it and keep it aside.

2) In a roasting pan add the Onion or Fennel, add a few slices of Lemon and some Parsley before you lay the fish on top.

3) Add some parsley inside the clean fish and cover it with the remaining lemon and Parsley. Sprinkle with some Olive Oil, salt and pepper. Cover the fish with an aluminum foil and grill in a pre heated oven at 180 C for 15 – 20 minutes till the fish is cooked.

4) For the white wine reduction add the wine and lemon juice in a pan and heat till the wine has reduced to less then half of its original quantity.  Pour over the fish just before you serve.

 

 

 

 

 

Need a Carb Fix – Prawns, Lemon & Garlic Spaghetti

Don’t you just hate Monday mornings when the day begins on a bad note. It feels like a bad omen looming on your head for a perhaps difficult week. I had such a Monday today and thank god it is almost over.

I came home exhausted mentally and physically and not in a mood to cook at all. But I was really hungry and wanted a quick carb fix tonight to end the day. I had Pasta in the pantry and some Prawns in the freezer and I knew what I wanted to dish up.

It is one of my favorite no sauce Pasta recipes – Prawns and Lemon Spaghetti. When I had first moved to Australia and lived alone I made this often and carried it for my lunch, so it is very special to me. This mood lifting dish has Lemon in it to just pep one up and the Prawns are not overcooked. They have a bite to them and work really well with the Lemon.

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It is fresh and light and just so simple that it can be made in less than 20 minutes. It is a Donna Hay recipe and I treasure it for my quick carb fix. Hope you enjoy it too.

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Recipe (Cooking time 20 minutes, serves 2)

200g Spaghetti

45g Butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves Garlic, sliced

1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes

1 tablespoon shredded Lemon zest

12 green (raw) Prawns peeled, cleaned and halved lengthways

1 tablespoon Lemon juice

¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly torn

Parmesan Cheese to sprinkle on the Pasta (optional)

Sea Salt and cracked black Pepper to taste.

1) Boil water in a big pan with some Salt, once the water has come to a boil add the Pasta and let it cook till Al Dante.

2) While the pasta is cooking heat a non-stick Pan and add the Butter and Olive oil. Once the Butter has melted add the Garlic, Chilli flakes and Lemon zest and cook for 2 – 3 minutes on a medium flame.

3) Add the Prawns and cook till they are Tender but not too soft.

4) Drain the cooked Pasta and add it in the pan with the Prawns. Sprinkle the Lemon zest, Salt, Pepper and Parsley leaves. Mix well and serve with some Parmesan Cheese.

Recipe Courtesy – Donna Hay

Quick and easy Paad Thai (Thai fried Noodles)

I can’t believe I have not posted on the blog for almost a week. I have been terribly busy at work and my back has been acting up causing me a lot of pain. Hence cooking and blogging have taken a back seat.

Well not really cooking because one has to cook to eat. But I have not been cooking anything worth blogging about. To shake myself from this dull sojourn that I had fallen in I wanted to make something different.

But again like everything I cook it had to be easy. Also with a recurring back pain I did not want to spend a long time standing in the kitchen and straining myself.  So I decided to make “Paad Thai” or Thai style fried noodles. We had eaten a lot of Paad Thai when I had visited Thailand and they were so simple and easy to make.  There is a huge list of ingredients but it is not scary to cook the noodles. All you need to do is just get the ingredients ready before you cook and they are done in no time.

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What I love about this dish is the simplicity and the taste which is really fresh. I have used Prawns for this. You can use Chicken breasts or diced Pork as well which would taste great too.

The recipe I have used is from http://urbanprovider.com.au where I had attended a cooking class last year.

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Here is the recipe: Cooking time 20 Minutes

225 gms flat Thai Rice noodles

150 gms Prawns or Chicken breasts

2 fresh Red Chillies finely chopped

1 clove Garlic finely chopped

1 tsp Ginger finely chopped

1 cup Mushrooms sliced (Optional)

Handful of Sugar snaps (Optional)

2 tsp Lemon Grass finely chopped

3 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

For the seasoning:

2 tbsp Tamarind Paste

2 tbsp warm water

3 tbsp Fish sauce

2 – 3 tbsp Palm sugar or Jaggery

2 tbsp Lime Juice

2 -3 tbsp Soy sauce

1 tbsp sweet Chilli sauce

150 gms coarsely chopped roasted Peanuts

150 gms regular Tofu cut into pieces (optional)

3 – 4 spring Onions chopped finely (optional)

For Garnishing

2 cups Bean sprouts

2 tbsp Fresh red chillies, finely sliced

½ cup crushed roasted Peanuts

2 Limes cut into wedges

Freshly chopped Coriander

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Boil water in a pot. When the waster is boiled turn the heat off and add the dry Rice noodles in it. Cover the pot and let it be for 8 minutes or till Al Dente. Do keep in mind that the noodles must have a bite and not be too mushy. Drain and refresh the noodles under cold water and keep them aside while you get everything else done.

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Combine the tamarind paste with 1/4 cup of warm water. If you do not have the paste you could warm water and just add some Tamarind to it and then strain it really well to get all the juices. Mix the Fish sauce, Sugar/Jaggery, Lime Juice, Soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce.

Heat a wok on medium flame and add the Oil. Once the oil is hot add the Spring Onions, Ginger, Garlic, Lemon Grass and Chilies. Stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Now add the Mushrooms (optional) and Chicken/Prawns and Sugar Snaps (optional). Stir fry for 5 – 7 minutes and once they are cooked add the seasoning mixture and bring it to a boil.

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Place the cooked noodles in the wok very gently ensuring they don’t break. The noodles would have become a little soft when you put them under cold water. Coat the noodles with the seasoning. Add the peanuts and Tofu (optional) and stir fry for 30 seconds and remove from heat.

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Once ready to serve put them put the noodles in a big bowl and garnish with Peanuts, Chilies, Bean sprouts and place Lime wedges on the side. Serve hot with some Chilled Beer and you will be in heaven.

From Dadar to Perth – Pan fried Barramundi with roasted summer vegetables drizzled with Lemon and Caper sauce

I have moaned and whined constantly on the blog about how expensive Fish is in Perth. For a city that is surrounded by Sea, Fish is not cheap here. However that doesn’t stop me from buying it once in a while, when the need to make something fishy takes over my senses.

Well to be honest Sea food is not cheap in Mumbai either but somehow every family can afford to eat Sea food there. There is something alluring about a piece of beautifully cooked fish that surpasses everything else. In Mumbai my mother in law used to have her weekly trips to “City Light” cinema in Dadar, where there was a small Fish market. The local fisher women would get the catch of the day and lay their wares for the people to see, touch and haggle before they brought them. I used to accompany my mom in law to this fishy world and watch her bargain with her favorite fish monger on the cost of the “Pompfret.

They both knew that she would not leave without the fish but they would play this game of who could bargain better and eventually like always my mom in law would win. She would then hand the priced catch to me and we would move to the next fish monger to buy some juicy prawns. There was something very intoxicating about visiting a fish market in India. The puddles of water, the cats and crows lingering around waiting to grab a piece, the fisher women dressed in their best sarees and heavy jewelry shouting on top of their voices attracting the customers and the smell of the fish. It was like a heady cocktail which I could not resist even though the smells and sights would be disgusting at times.

We don’t get to see all this in Perth. If I want to buy fish all I need to do is walk down to the local Kailis Brothers which is almost like an air conditioned fish studio or go to the Fish section in the local Super market. No ladies shouting, no bargaining, no crows or cats vying for a piece of meat. Everyone behaving in an orderly manner, waiting for their turn to buy what they want. Although the fish I get there is clean and fresh there is no sense of adventure. And I miss that.

So anyways keeping these memories aside I came home with a 1 big fillet of “Barramundi” which cost me $19 to be precise. I instructed  “D” that we will even lick the paper in which the fish was wrapped since it was so expensive.  Now I did not want to make a curry and drown the fresh piece of Fish in it.  So I thought of just lightly frying the fish and making a Lemon and Caper sauce to go with it. I also decided to throw in some Roast vegetables for good measure to complete the dish. And we were happy with the results. The fish was delicate and soft, it would have been destroyed if I would have tried to do some Indian concoction with it. And the Lemon sauce was perfect for the balmy Perth weather.

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Here is the recipe (Serves 2 or 3 depending on the size of the fillet. Cooking time 40 minutes )

For the Fish. 

1 Big fillet of Barramundi or any other white fish, cut into equal portions (I could make 3 small portions out of my 1 fillet)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp Olive Oil

Clean and wash the Barramundi, pat dry and sprinkle salt and Pepper on top. Let it rest till you get the vegetables ready.

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For the Roasted Summer Vegetables (you can use whatever you wish, I used whatever was in my fridge)

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4 – 5 Potatoes cut into chunks (I used Royal Blue as they cook fast)

Handful of baby carrots (you can use normal Carrots and just cut them in chunks)

5 -6 Baby Zucchinis

Bunch of Cherry Tomatoes

Bunch of Broccilini

Salt and Pepper to taste

Oil oil to just drizzle on top

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Cut the Potatoes and boil them in salted water for 10 minutes. Add the Carrots and Zucchini to the same water and let them cook for another 3 – 4 minutes. Remove all the vegetables and put them in a roasted tray. Now add the Broccilini in the hot water and blanch for 3 -4 minutes. Drain and put it in a bowl of cold water and keep the Broccilini aside.

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In a roasting tray add all the vegetables except the brocclini, sprinkle Salt and Pepper and Olive Oil and roast them in a pre heated over at 180 Degrees C for 15 minutes of till browned.  When you have around 2 – 3 minutes left remove the tray and add the Broccilini and roast for the remaining time. This is done so the Broccilini does not over cook.

For the Lemon Caper and Butter Sauce

1/4 cup Butter

1/2 cup Lemon Juice

1 1/2 tbsp Capers, cleaned and chopped

1 small Shallot finely chopped

Chopped Parsley

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Heat Butter in a pan add the chopped Shallot and fry on a low flame till it is almost Golden in color. Add the Capers and fry for a minute and then add the Lemon juice and Parsley. There you go the worlds easiest sauce is ready. Remember this is not a gravy, it is just a sauce to drizzle on top of the Fish. You can increase the quantity of the ingredients if you are serving more.

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Assembling 

Once you add the Broccilini  to the roasting pan you need to start frying your fish. Heat a non stick pan and add the Olive Oil. Lightly fry the pieces of Fish till cooked.  It takes around 4 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the fillet.

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Lay the Vegetables on a plate and place the Fillet of Fish on it drizzling the sauce for flavor. Serve hot with Chilled Beer or a glass of Wine.

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Coconut Prawns Curry

I have a confession to make. Seafood and I are not friends and have never been till late when I have started to understand the beautiful poetry that Seafood is. Being a Punjabi, I grew up on a healthy diet of Chicken and Mutton. Fish was something we never made, in fact, my mother has never cooked Seafood in her life.

1-IMG_2643On the other hand being married to a Maharashtrian, Seafood is an enormous part of their life. My mother in law who is an accomplished cook can make an incredible array of dishes with Fish and Prawns. Her Prawn’s curry, Crab Masala, Fish fry and Fish Biryani can make a grown man cry with happiness. It doesn’t matter what the seafood is, slathered in her home made masala the dish comes alive with flavors that are not just tantalizing but also enticing.

1-IMG_2684Her prawn’s curry is stuff legends are made off with a significant help from her trusted aide Coconut. In her kitchen, Coconut ruled the roost, and that was something that only entered our temple when I was growing up, but never the kitchen. After my marriage to naturally impress the in-laws, I would dutifully tag along with her to the fish market watching her skillfully bargain with the fish monger to get the best Fish at the cheapest prices and then watch her cook it with the finesse of a french chef.

1-IMG_2625But sadly I have never been able to do justice to the food she cooked and it has always been a struggle for me. It has only been now that I have finally managed to come out of my own and rustle up this amazing Prawns curry. Infact I have become so confident about it that I can finally blog. I love making this dish and the husband enjoys eating it, so I guess it must be a hit. Don’t you think?

Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes, serves 4)

500 gms Prawns (You can use chopped boneless Chicken breasts if you do not like Sea food)

1 cup freshly desiccated Coconut (I used frozen coconut)

2 -3  Green chilies (you can reduce or increase the quantity depending on how hot you like it)

2 medium sized Tomatoes

1 medium sized Onion finely chopped

1 tsp Cumin seeds

1 tsp Red Chilli Powder

2 tsp Vegetable oil

1 ½ tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Coriander powder

4 Black Peppers

4 Garlic Cloves

Salt to taste

5 – 6 Curry leaves

Juice of 1 Lemon

Method:

Clean and devein the prawns. After washing them drain the water and pat them dry. Now add some Salt and ½ tsp Turmeric to the prawns and keep them to marinate while you get the gravy ready.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a Pan and add the Cumin seeds, Pepper, Garlic and Green chillies, once they start to Splutter add the Coconut and sauté on a medium flame for 7 – 8 minutes. You have to be careful as Coconut has a tendency to stick to the pan and burn quickly. Now add the Tomatoes and sauté for another 7 – 8 minutes.

Turn the heat off and add this mixture in a grinder, adding the remaining Turmeric powder, Coriander powder and Red Chilli powder. Top it up with ½ cup water and grind to a fine paste, you must ensure the paste is finely done, or the gravy would be too thick.

In the same pan add the remaining oil and the curry leaves. Once they splutter add the finely chopped Onions and saute till translucent. Now add the Coconut mixture and let it cook till the oil starts to separate.

Add 1 cup water and once it boils add the Prawns and some Salt to taste (Remember we have added some Salt earlier while marinating the prawns too, so be careful). Cook for 7 – 8 minutes till the prawns are done. The key here is to ensure you do not overcook the Prawns, there has to be a bite to them, only then will you taste the full extent of the curry. Obviously if you are using Chicken instead of the Prawns the cooking time will increase.

Turn the heat off and sprinkle some Lemon juice before serving the prawns with hot Rice.

Tip: Do add the Lemon juice sparingly, I usually taste the gravy a little to adjust according to my liking. As you do not want the tanginess of the Lemon to overpower everything else. Happy Cooking.

 

My Masterchef inspired dinner – Pan fried Salmon on a bed of creamy mashed Potatoes with a Lemon Butter sauce.

Lately I have been hooked on to Masterchef. The concept is very catchy and I am learning a lot. I have heard there was an Indian version as well. Not sure how that went but I do love the Australian version (love the country you are in 😉
What does get me is the way the contestants come up with the exotic dishes. Not sure if they are informed about the dishes in advance so they can think of what they would cook as some of the ingredients that they use stump me. Few days ago they had to cook up a Mexican Challenge with a Cactus and Prickly Pear. Now if it was me I would have no idea what to do to. However most of the contestants came up with some pretty interesting dishes. If I was told to make something out of that, I would be like a fish out of water. But I guess that is what the show is all about – being Creative with food. 
I usually don’t like to take risks with anything in life but lately I being inspired by the show I have started to take risks with my Food and have tried various things which I would not normally do. I made a Pizza the other day and have been baking some pretty good cakes. Also when others try your recipes and tell you good they tasted it gives you a boost and urges to try new things. 
However even when I try new things I stick to my core principal of fast and quick meals prepared in 30 minutes. So tonight I tried to make a Salmon with some mashed potatoes and Lemon butter sauce. I was pretty impressed with myself when I finally plated the dish but I also learned a few lessons which I would share at the end to ensure you do not make the mistakes that I did. The best thing is that the entire meal was ready under 40 minutes from start to finish.
 
For the Salmon:
2 Fillet of Salmon (you can use Sword fish if you like)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Light Drizzling of Olive Oil to fry the Salmon
For the Mashed Potatoes:
5 – 6 medium sized boiled & mashed Potatoes
½ cup Mozzarella or any Pizza Cheese (Don’t use Cheddar or Parmesan).
½ cup Milk
Salt & Pepper to taste
A knob of Butter
For the Lemon Butter Sauce
100 gms Salted or Unsalted Butter.
Juice of 1 ½ Lemon
4 cloves of Garlic finely chopped
Dill to sprinkle on top
 
You can also use some Vegetables if you wish – I have used a Steam Bag of Carrots, Beans and Cauliflower. If you have fresh Vegetables just boil them or steam them and serve. The Lemon sauce and the Mashed potatoes are rich so I did not sauté the vegetables in any Butter or Oil.
Making this dish is like being in a Masterchef kitchen as the Fish and the Sauce have to be cooked at the same time and then plated quickly so they are served hot. 
The cooking:
Fish
Sprinkle some Pepper and Salt on both sides of the fish and leave it aside till you get the Potatoes and the sauce ready. 

 
Mashed Potatoes
Heat butter in a pan and add the Mashed Potatoes and cook for a few minutes. 
Now add the Milk, Cheese, Salt and Pepper and cook till the Potatoes take on a creamy consistency. 
 
Sprinkle some rosemary on top and lower the flame so the potatoes are warm when you plate up.
Lemon Butter Sauce
Add the Butter in a pan and let it melt on a slow flame now add the chopped Garlic and let them cook for a few minutes. Do keep shaking the pan so the Butter doesn’t burn. 
Now lower the flame even further and add the Lemon juice and Dill and let it cook while you get the Fish ready.
Fish
In another pan add some Olive Oil and add the Salmon pieces and let them cook for 5 minutes on both sides or till they are done.
Plating up

 
Spread the mashed potatoes on the plate. Place the piece of Fish on them. If you have boiled some vegetables place them on the side. 
Now pour the Lemon Butter sauce on top of the Fish and Potatoes. Sprinkle some Salt & Pepper if needed and serve with a Chilled Glass of White Wine to complete the meal.
Lessons Learned:
I used Salmon stake which had some Bones and skin. I found them a little difficult to remove. Also the skin did not look great on the plate. So notes to myself. Use skinless & boneless fillets next time.
Lemon Butter Sauce – I used only 1 Lemon in my sauce and found the sauce to be a little less tangy. So the next time I will use a juice of 1 ½ Lemons to give it more tang. 
Overall I was really pleased with the results. The Fish was soft and Pink and the mashed potatoes with creamy soaking up the sauce. I am sure the Masterchef  judges would have been pleased.