Sunday, January 18, 2015

Duck Pepper Piralan

It was like a wisp of fading memory, hence in grayscale :)

Made some Duck piralan the other day, a spicy curry about which I have memories going back to many years ago.  Alappuzha, the place that I am from is a coastal landscape with waterways, backwaters, lush green paddy fields and a thousand little ponds strewn all over. This abundance of water once supported a thriving duck farming industry, which now unfortunately is facing hard times. We were spoilt for choice with fresh fish, and a special indulgence on a day we are having guests over could very well be a duck curry. No wonder that Karimeen( Pearl Spot fish)  pollichathu, and Kuttanadan Duck curry are the two most often cited culinary accomplishments of our part of the country.

Duck piralan is a spicy curry where the gravy is reduced enough to evenly coat the pieces of meat. It is very aromatic and tastes best the next day.


Duck meat- cut into pieces - 2 lbs.

Cumin - 1 tsp.

Black peppercorns - 1 tbsp. to roast and 1 tbsp. or more to garnish

Fennel seeds - 1 tsp.

Cardamom - 3 pods

Whole coriander seeds - 3 tbsps.

Cloves - 6

Cinnamon - 1 two inch piece

Star anise - 1

Garlic - thinly sliced ¼ cup, whole 5-10

Ginger - julienned ½ cup + chopped 1 tbsp.

Green chilies halved - 4

Turmeric - 1 tsp.

Vinegar - 1 tbsp.

Tomato very finely chopped - ½ cup

Curry leaves - 15

Pearl onion - sliced thin 1 cup + chopped 1 tbsp.

Coconut oil - ¼ cup

Ghee (optional) - 1 tsp.

Salt - to taste

Heat a pan, dry roast Cinnamon, cloves, coriander, black peppercorns, cardamom, star anise, fennel seeds and cumin, stirring often for about 2 minutes in medium heat. Turn of the heat, transfer to a bowl. Now grind the roasted spice mix to a fine paste along with 1 tbsp. sliced onion and 1 tbsp. ginger by adding just enough water to get the blender going. Marinate the duck pieces for at least 30 minutes in a mixture of 1 tbsp. of the above spice mix, ½ tsp. turmeric, 1 tbsp. vinegar, and ¾ tsp. salt.
Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a frying pan; add the sliced garlic, ½ tsp. turmeric, half of curry leaves, 2 slit green chilies and quickly sauté for a minute. Add the remaining ground spice mix and tomatoes, stir fry for another minute. Now add the marinated duck, and stir fry at high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat to low, cook covered for 30 minutes.
While the curry is cooking, heat the remaining oil and fry sliced onions till golden brown. Drain and keep in a bowl. Fry the remaining ginger, garlic, curry leaves and green chilies one by one till it begins turning brown, reserve. After the duck meat is cooked, turn the heat to high, add the fried ingredients and stir fry at high heat till the gravy thickens and coats the meat pieces evenly.  Turn off the heat, add ½ tsp. ghee, and sprinkle with ½ tsp.- 1 tbsp. coarsely crushed black pepper. Mix and keep covered for 20 -30 minutes before serving

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Summer !

Today is one of those lucid summer days which makes you believe that anything is possible. Know the ones when your entire backyard gleams like a big blurry ice cream sundae topped with glistening streams of golden caramel running down? Today is that kind of a day. On such days I close my eyes and dream wide and far, but almost always ends up thinking about getting on to an escalator for a change. Suddenly all my little ambitious  thoughts comes to a halt . Some things are better left untried J On the other hand; frying some okra, taking some pictures, and posting it in the blog after about two and a half years looked completely feasible. So here it is, because today is beautiful!

Spicy crunchy fried okra

Okra – 12

Turmeric – ½ tsp

Chili powder – 1 tsp

Chickpea flour – 1 tsp

Rice flour – 1 tsp

Salt – ½ tsp (or to taste)

Oil – to deep fry

Trim and halve okra, keep in a bowl. Sprinkle all listed ingredients except oil over the cut okra pieces, and mix well with hands. The mixture will be dry; please do not be tempted to add some more water. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes. Heat oil in a pan, and fry the marinated okra pieces till golden brown. Drain on paper towels.  Have some with rice; snacking might work just as well.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Off we go to coconut land !

This fall we will be walking around in flip flops, basking in the sun, strolling in verdant stretches of beaches,slurping on fresh coconut water every now and then to rev up our spirits. Not really but close ! We are off to Kerala for a month long vacation,although we surely will be walking around wearing flip flops ,this time it is all about spending most of our time driving back and forth on NH47, the main thoroughfare in my home state, shuttling between the preparations for two weddings in the family. My brother and T’s brother are both getting married.

We are looking forward to seeing most of our extended family this time and to facing all that comes with it :) We will be back in time for Christmas, until i see you all again, keep having fun. Here again is a cake, made for a friend’s baby shower.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A deep sea party!

sarah 4th-1

Our little girl who would like to be known hereafter as “BIG GIRL SARAH” celebrated her 4th birthday last week.

sarah 4th-3


She wanted a mermaid cake; I made one, turns out now that she had the deep sea princess Ariel in her mind. She is very happy about the cake I am assured, but the mermaid’s hair should have been the color red!


That is the fun with a 4th Birthday, you realize that your itsy bitsy, once flannel bound bundle of joy has a very detail oriented plan about everything !

sarah 4th-2

A quote from her favorite Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears a who describes it best.

"A person's a person, no matter how small."

Monday, September 05, 2011

ഓണാശംസകള്‍ !

Payasam Carrot -1

We wish you all a very Happy and Cheerful Onam , complete with a scrumptious sadya, replete with warm memories of the Onams past !

Payasam Carrot -2

If you feel like experimenting with the payasam you are making this Friday, here is a special something for you. This is a carrot halwa meets pal payasam kind of sweet stuff. You will process the carrots till it goes to an almost Halwa-ish stage, before taking a turn and swiftly adding it to a pot of pal payasam. I can only describe it aptly in Malaylam, a language I heavily rely on for speaking out what I really,truly and sincerely mean.

ക്യാരറ്റ് വിളയിച്ച പാല്‍ പായസം !

ഓണാശംസകള്‍ !

Payasam Carrot -5

Carrot rice pal payasam (Milk and rice pudding with carrots sautéed in ghee)


Milk – 10 cups
Water- 2 cups
Broken red rice – ¼ cup
Carrot - very finely grated – 5 cups
Sugar – 1 3/4 cup
Ghee- 1 tbsp
Cardamom – 4 pods
Cashew nuts – ¼ cup
Raisins – ¼ cup

In a non stick pan, mix grated carrot with ¼ cup sugar and ½ tbsp ghee. Cook with constant stirring at high heat, till the grated carrots dries up (about 10-15 minutes). Turn off the heat. You can do this step ahead of time, and keep the prepared carrot frozen until ready to use. In a pressure cooker, mix milk, water, rice and sugar. Close the lid, turn on the stove. When you see steam coming out of the valve, put the regulator on, keep in high heat for 2 more minutes. Turn the heat to low and leave the cooker undisturbed for the next 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and open the cooker after releasing the steam. Add the prepared carrots; turn the heat back on, cook with constant stirring at medium heat for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add cardamom powder. Heat ½ tbsp ghee in a small pan, add cashew nuts and raisins. Sauté till the nuts begin to turn golden brown. Add it to the payasam. Serve warm or cold.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Berry quick muffins!


Sarah’s school opens in sixteen days, that is about seven days to be precise, but sixteen because that is her favorite number for the past couple of days or so we are told. She is so looking forward to seeing her bosom pals again and to saying Hello to her teacher Ms. Charcie whom she plans to adopt someday.


Before we fall back into the school year routine (she is going to pre-school, I know we are not even half way there as far as routines go), we thought of catching up on necessary life sustaining skills and made some berry quick muffins together.


This is a recipe any three year old kid can make, with a little bit of help from adults. These muffins are only mildly sweet, superfast to put together, and splendid to eat warm out of the oven, with a dab of butter on top. We had so much fun making them, and my child says that she will be making it again.


Blueberry quick muffins

Whole wheat flour – 2 cups
Blueberries – 1 cup
Sugar – ½ cup
Salt – ½ tsp
Baking powder – 3 tbsp
Butter – ¼ cup- melted
Egg –slightly beaten – 1
Milk – 1 cup

Heat oven to 3500C. Lightly butter a muffin pan (regular size/12 muffin cups per pan) Mix 1 ¾ cup of flour with baking powder, sugar and salt. Add milk, melted butter, and egg to the flour mixture. Combine everything together with a wooden spoon until just combined, do not over mix. Now sprinkle 1/4 cup flour over berries, gently toss to coat. Add the berries to the batter, gently fold in. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups till about 3/4th full. Bake for about 18-20 minutes or till a toothpick inserted at the center of the muffins comes out clean. Keep the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Unmold, serve warm with a dollop of butter or enjoy after the muffins cool down.
Substitute blueberries with peaches, mangoes, other berries etc.
This recipe is adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sweet potatoes (or is it yam?) and green peas curry


Can’t tell a sweet potato from a yam? I can’t either, you have company! Every year around Thanksgiving someone will brief me about how to and why, which I dutifully forget by the time spring arrives. One of the life lessons about vegetable curries that I have learned after moving here is that you are never actually limited by the options around you. You can make anything out of anything, that’s it, thank you!!!


Here is a curry that we often make with sweet potatoes/yams assuming that these are pumpkins (where we live, pumpkins are not hard to find, I must add). This is made based on a simple “Mallu” logic that a curry concocted with ground coconut mixed in and topped with more toasted coconut cannot go wrong. Adding caramelized onions at the end makes it very special and sets it apart from the formidable Erissery.



Sweet potatoes cut into chunks – 4 cups
Cooked green peas – 2 cups
Onions chopped – ½ cup
Grated coconut – 3/4 cup + 1/2 cup
Green chilies – 2 nos (to your taste)
Cumin – ¼ tsp.
Curry leaves – ¼ cup
Turmeric – ¼ tsp.
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp.
Salt – to taste

Add sweet potatoes to a stew pot, sprinkle with half the amount of turmeric and ¼ tsp. salt. Add 1 ½ cups of water, mix well and cook till the pieces are tender. Then add the cooked green peas, adjust salt if needed, turn the heat to low. Grind 3/4 cup of coconut, green chilies, half of cumin and the remaining turmeric to a coarse paste. Add it to the cooked potatoes, and cook for 2 more minutes at low heat. Turn off the heat. Heat 1 tbsp. of Oil in a pan. When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds. When the seeds stop spluttering, add chopped onion and sauté till golden brown. Now add the remaining 1/2 cup of grated coconut, curry leaves, cumin and toast till the coconut turns golden brown. Turn off the heat and add the seasoning to the curry. Mix well and serve with rice or enjoy it as such.

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