Different regions of Kerala has different styles of preparing a similar dish. For instance, chicken fry. This recipe is adapted from one of my Aunts who lives in mid-Kerala, a place called Palghat. This preparation is unique to this particular region.
- Chicken 1 kg cut into small pieces
- Dry red chilies 2 handfuls, roughly crushed (Don’t use the store bought one, freshly crushed one’s are always a better option, you could even jus tear them into pieces, but make sure you put on a pair of gloves before you do this!)
- Onion 2, cubed
- Tomato 3, cubed
- Garlic ½ a pod, cut each clove in half lengthwise
- Chili powder 2 tsp
- Coriander powder 1 tbsp
- Turmeric ½ tsp
- Salt to taste
- Coconut oil 3-4 tbsp
- Juice of 1 lime
- Mustard ½ tsp
- Curry leaves 3-4 sprigs
- Heat oil, sputter the mustard. Add the crushed red chili (you could use the pulse option on the mixer a couple of rounds). Immediately add the onions and curry leaves. Fry till the onion becomes transparent.
- Now add the tomatoes and fry till the oil separates and the tomatoes are mashed.
- Then add the spice powders & salt and fry some more.
- Add the chicken pieces; mix in well till the masala is well coated on the pieces. Don’t add additional water as it will be released from the chicken itself.
- Add the garlic and the lime juice. Close lid. Cook in medium heat. Stir every 3-4 minutes.
- Keep frying till all the gravy dries out and the chicken starts to get a golden brown coating.
- Serve hot, with rice, bread etc. This is a great side dish alongside alcohol.
Chicken is definitely the most versatile meat. And this preparation is one of the most common ones all around Kerala. Almost every would blog has a version of this recipe. I have followed my Mom’s recipe.
- Chicken 1kg, medium to small pieces
- Coriander powder 3 tbsp
- Chilli powder 1 tsp
- Turmeric ½ tsp
- Pepper-Saunf powder* 1 tsp
- Cumin powder ½ tsp
- Cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, a little of each
*’Pepper-Saunf powder’ :
Take black pepper and saunf (fennel seeds) in equal proportions and grind and store in an airtight jar. This masala can be added to almost any non-vegetarian preparation. It improves the taste immensely.
Grind all the above spices together with a few drops of water and marinate the chicken in it for an hour.
- Ginger 2” piece, chopped
- Garlic 10-12 cloves, crushed
- Shallots, 10-15, sliced
- Apple cedar vinegar 1 tbsp (You can substitute with normal vinegar if you don’t get this one)
- Water 3 cups
- Salt 1 tsp
Cook the above ingredients together with the marinated chicken, until the chicken becomes tender. Then take the chicken pieces from the gravy and keep both aside.
- Coconut oil 4-5 tbsp
- Onion 1, sliced thinly
- Chili powder 1tsp
- Curry leaves, a few
Heat the oil in a deep skillet and fry the onion and curry leaves in it. When the onion turns golden brown in color, add the chili powder and sauté for a minute. Now add the chicken pieces and fry well for about 10 minutes on a medium heat. The chicken shouldn’t get scrambled. Now add the gravy which was kept aside and mix well into the fried chicken. Keep cooking on a medium to low flame till the gravy becomes thick. Goes well with Rice, Chapatti, Vellayappam etc.
Squid is a unique kind of seafood. Squid, like cuttlefish, have eight arms arranged in pairs and two, usually longer, tentacles. In English speaking countries, squid as food is often sold using its Italian name calamari. Its rubbery texture and opaque color has led a lot of people to misunderstand it to be tasteless. But those who know about squids, will know that, if cooked in the right way, can be one of the tastiest. It can be cooked in various ways – barbecue, curry, fry etc. The arms and tentacles are edible, the parts that are not eaten are the ink, beak and gladius (pen). Cleaning squid is fairly simple, you just need to know the right technique as with crab, prawn etc.
At home, I prepare squid in various ways, when I feel lazy, I shallow fry it, which is the simplest way. Sometimes when I feel less lazy its squid masala or I fry it with coconut and ginger, which is the recipe I am about to share here. It has a very gingery flavor with a coconut masala. This tastes great with rice.
Squid – 1/2 kg, cleaned and cut into rings or strips
Kudampuli – 2 pieces
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Shallots – 8-10, peeled and crushed
Grated coconut, crushed lightly – 1 cup
Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1/4 tsp (to be crushed with the coconut)
Ginger, grated – 1/4 cup
Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed
Green chillis – 4-5, (or as per your spice tolerance) crushed
Coconut oil – 2 tbsp
Curry leaves – A few
1. Cook the squid with the kudampuli, turmeric, salt and 1/4 cup water for about 10 minutes or till the squid turns whitish from opaque, on medium heat. By this time the squid would have released its juices too.
2. Add the shallots, and cook till the water has almost completely evaporated. Add the coconut-jeera mixture, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Sauté for about 5 minutes.
3. Add the curry leaves and coconut oil, and sauté for another 5-10 minutes and the squid is ready to be served. It’s quite a simple preparation, having a distinctive flavor of ginger.
This recipe is a specialty of Mom’s cook. Upon first look, it can fool you into believing that it’s fish curry and tastes equally good too. Thinly sliced raw plantains, simmered in thick coconut milk gravy.
For this curry you’ll need,
Raw plantain 1, thin slanted slices
Tamarind juice 1 cup
Shallots 10, sliced thinly (can be supplemented with 1 onion)
Tomato 1, sliced
Ginger 1″ piece, chopped
Green chillis 2-3, slit in half
Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp.
Salt to taste
Boil all the above together, till the plantain is cooked.
This shouldn’t be over-cooked, b’coz the plantain slices should be intact and not mashed up.
Coconut milk, 1 1/2 cups
Coconut oil 1 tbsp
Garlic 3 cloves, crushed
Curry leaves 1 sprig
Pour the coconut milk in and when the gravy starts to boil and thicken, add the coconut oil, garlic and curry leaves.
Best served with rice.
A typical Coorg style pork curry. I first had it at my best friend Dipti’s place, in Coorg, made by her mom. Auntie’s a terrific cook and there are a lot of her recipes which I love, but this is an all-time number one.
This preparation consists or 3 parts — the marinated pork, the coarsely ground masala. Roast and powdered masala
(1) Pork or ‘pandhi’ (as they call it in Kodavatakk or Coorgi language) 1 kg, cut into medium sized pieces. Marinate this in ½ tsp of salt 1 tsp each of turmeric & chilly powder each, for about ½ an hour.
(2) Coarsely ground masala:
- Shallots 8
- Garlic 10 pods, that’s right PODS, not CLOVES (if they are small, or about 7 if they are big)
- Green chillis 4-5
- Ginger 1” piece
- Coccum 2-3 pieces or strips
The above ingredients should be crushed rather than ground.
(3) Roast and powdered masala:
- Coriander seeds 1 tsp
- Black peppercorns 2 tsp
- Cumin seeds 1 ½ tsp
- Mustard ½ tsp
Roast and make a fine powder.
- Add the ground masala and 1 cup of hot water to the pork and cook well in the pressure cooker, about 10-12 whistles should be fine.
- When cooked, add powdered masala. Mix well and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, till you get thick gravy.
- The gravy will be black in color thick in consistency.
- Best when served with ‘Otti’ (which is a Coorgi style rice flat bread) or with rice.
Soppu saaru (Soppu is ‘leaf’ and saaru is ‘curry’ in Kannada), pronounced “Soppsaaru” which is called Cheera curry (in Malayalam) is one of the most popular vegetarian curries in Karnataka. It’s rich in fiber and flavor. Pretty easy to make, except for the part of cleaning the leaves. This was a preparation I had never seen before going to Bangalore. The way my Mom prepares greens, which is Kerala style, is very different from this and the taste is entirely different too. Frankly I prefer Mom’s preparation, but this version is supposed to be extremely nutritious as it contains not 1, but at least 4 to 5 types of leaves.
Mixed greens, 4 or 5 types, which includes spinach, coriander leaves and gongura leaves,washed and chopped, about 4 cups
Toor dal, or sambhar dal, 1/2 cup
Moong dal 1/2 cup
Garlic 10 cloves
Green chillis 6-8
Turmeric 1 tsp
Water 1 cup
Cook all the above together in a pressure cooker for 5-6 whistles or till both the dals are cooked well. Remove from heat and when it cools, add salt and use a heavy ladle to mash the contents a little.
Coconut grated, 3/4 cup
Jeera, 1/2 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Grind the above to make a smooth paste. Add this to the curry.
Tamarind pulp, 1 tbsp (If you are not adding gongura leaves, then you’ll have to increase this to 2tbsp)
Add to the curry along with the coconut mixture. Mix well. Let it simmer for 5 minutes.
Coconut oil, 1 tbsp
Mustard, 1/2 tsp
Dry red chilies, 2
Shallots, sliced 2tbsp
Curry leaves, a few
Heat the oil, add the ingredients in the given order and fry till the shallots turn golden brown. Then add the curry leaves, pour onto the curry, close the lid for about 10 minutes. You can add a dollop of ghee too, but that would be a lil on the heavier side. I usually avoid the ghee, even though it improves the taste drastically.
This curry goes well with rice, chappati or Ragi ball or Ragi Modde, as it’s called in Kannada. It tastes best when accompanied with rice, curd and fish fry.
Quilon is a coastal area and they are famous for their unique cuisine, which mainly focuses on seafood. This is a popular dish made from small shark, called “sravu” in Kerala. Shark Curry, or Varutharacha sravu curry. It’s a thick dark brown curry with the taste of a variety of spices flirting with your taste-buds, making it almost impossible to decide which flavor taste’s better. It’s a lil tangy, a lil bitter, lil spicy and very hot! If your tongue has even a little ability to take hot and spicy food, make the best use of it while eating this, coz this is one of those curries which tends to be stubborn on being itself and not being altered at all. Not that it is any less tasty if you make slight changes, but if you reduce the spices in this recipe, it loses some of it original charm. But I’m sure you’d still enjoy it no less.
- Shark 500 gms, Cleaned and cut into cubes
- Coconut 1, grated
- Methi 1/4 tsp
- Turmeric 1/4 tsp
- Saunf 1/2 tsp
- Peppercorns 1 tsp
- Coriander seeds 2 tbsp
- Kashmir chilies, the long wrinkled ones 5 (For color)
- Spicy dry red chillies 5
- Shallots 3 (This is used to balance the smell and flavor of all the spices)
- Tomato 1
- Green chillies 3 or 4 (You can reduce or avoid this one if your tongue is on the sober side, coz it wouldn’t make a huge difference to the curry’s texture or color unlike the dry chillies or pepper)
- Curry leaves 2 sprigs
- ‘Kudampuli’ or kochampuli 3 strips or pieces (Soaked in 3/4 cup hot water)
- Coconut oil
- Curry leaves 1 sprig
- Dry red chillies 2 Broken into 2 or 3 pieces
- Shallots 5-6, sliced
- Roast the ingredients 2 – 10 together, till the coconut starts to turn golden in color. Let it cool.
- Once its cool, grind it into a smooth paste and keep aside.
- Heat a Meen-chatti (Flat earthen pot used mainly or rather exclusively for cooking fish in Kerala), add tomato green chillies, 2 sprigs of curry leaves and the soaked kochampuli (with the water). Saute till the tomato becomes soft.
- Add the fish pieces, stir slowly and carefully so as not to break the fish.
- When the fish turns white in color, add the ground masala.
- When it starts to boil turn off the heat. Don’t let it boil for long coz it makes the gravy watery and looses the texture of the curry.
- Heat the coconut oil, and add the remaining ingredients for seasoning.
- Add this to the curry, close lid immediately and keep aside for at least 1 hour before serving. This curry tastes good with plain white rice.
Now, let me give you the recipe which is cherished by all the (non-vegetarian) coastal residents of Kerala, but mainly by the visitors of “kallu-shaaps”(toddy shop). This is always served with toddy, as a side-dish at the local toddy shops. Its also known as “thalennathe meen curry” or 1 day old fish curry, coz its usually not served as soon as its made, its heated and reheated about 2 to 3 times throughout the day that its made and served the next day, by when it would have turned into a deep red shade and definitely irresistible! It’ll most definitely not come out anywhere close to its authentic taste if prepared in any other form of utensil other than a meen-chatti.
Its a spicy red gravy, which isn’t too thick nor too thin in consistency.. It may look a little scary to the weak-hearted folks. You might think that it’ll claim your tongue, but trust me its not so bad, you’ll agree with me once u try it. My dad for one hates any food that’s even close to spicy (or so he claims). Everytime and every meal that mom makes this curry (any given meal is incomplete in our house without it) dad has to crib that it’s so hot that he gets hiccups (he says so for everything which has more than a pinch of chilly in it, but still licks his plate, when we’re not watching!) but he won’t let a day pass when he would not help himself to a handsome serving of the ‘notorious curry’. So here goes…
- Fish 1/2 kg cut and cleaned
- Onion 1 sliced
- Tomato 1 sliced
- Green chillies 1 or 2 slit in half
- Ginger 1 big piece chopped
- Kashmiri chilly powder 4-5 tbsp (Use the non-spicy one which is just for color and texture, DON’T USE THE SPICY ONE IN THE ABOVE MENTIONED QUANTITY!! If u do, i will not be responsible for any casualties arising from its consumption… & I mean it!!)
- Hot chilly powder 1 tsp ONLY, coz the kashmiri chilly will have a bit of spiciness in itself, and we’re also adding green chillies
- Tamarind almost half a handful soaked in hot water and about 1 tea-cup thick juice extracted (its not a a typing mistake, you’ll actually need so much)
- Turmeric powder 1 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Sugar 1 tsp (to balance all the flavors)
The fish, it’s called ‘Uluva-meen’ or ‘Kadambe’ in Malayalam, no idea what its called in English.. you can use any other fish of your choice
- Coconut oil 4-5 tbsp
- Garlic 8-9 cloves, crushed
- Curry leaves 3 sprigs
- All the ingredients together (except the fish), crush it well with your hands.
- Then add the fish. Add about 2 cups of water.
- Simmer for about 1/2 an hour. By then it would be almost a dark red to orange color, and quite thick in consistency.
- Add the seasoning ingredients directly to the curry. Close lid immediately. Keep aside. Reheat after about 5-6 hours, repeat again in another 5-6 hours.
- Serve with rice and a couple of ‘’Kaandhari mulagu’ (bird’s eye chilly) . Mash the chillies into the gravy and there you go!! The kallu shop fish curry or 1 day old fish curry is ready to be served.. Enjoy!!