Chettinad Fish Curry

I call myself a foodie and I love food. However, I don’t like trying new food or meat, especially when I’m at a restaurant. I always order a dish that I have tried and tested and liked, rather than something on the menu that I have never eaten before. I will always be intrigued by something else on the menu but I can never convince myself to order it. For example, my absolute favorite brunch dish is Eggs Benedict. And I always order that! My husband teases me about this all the time because he on the other hand is quite adventurous when it comes to trying out new food and / or meat. He has a list of different kinds of meat that he wants to try! Not me. So I usually order chicken when I’m out and I cook chicken for the most part. I recently cooked turkey which we really enjoyed. And this is only the second time I have cooked fish ever.

Chettinad cuisine originated in a region called Chettinad in the state of Tamil Nadu in India. Chettinad curries use ingredients like fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, tamarind and coconut. This recipe is my version of a Chettinad Curry. Here’s the recipe:

Serves: 4

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. Oil – 5 tablespoons
  2. Shallots – 6 (Sliced)
  3. Fenugreek seeds – 1 teaspoon
  4. Fennel seeds – 1 teaspoon
  5. Coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
  6. Black peppercorn – 1 teaspoon
  7. Cardamom pods – 3
  8. Cinnamon – 1 stick
  9. Dried whole red chillies – 2
  10. Ginger – 1 teaspoon (minced)
  11. Garlic – 1 teaspoon (minced)
  12. Fresh curry leaves – handful
  13. Grated coconut – 1/2 Cup
  14. Tomato paste – 3 tablespoons
  15. Salt – 1 teaspoon
  16. Tilapia fillets – 500 gms (Cut in small pieces)
  17. Salt – 1.5 teaspoon
  18. Turmeric – 1 teaspoon
  19. Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon

Instructions:

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients (1/2 teaspoon salt, tamarind and lemon juice) and rub liberally over the fish. Leave for half an hour.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add sliced onions, cardamom, cinnamon and black pepper and saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and red chillies to the pan and saute for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add ginger, garlic and curry leaves and saute for a couple of minutes.IMG_20170319_165649_087
  5. Add grated coconut and saute for 5 minutes.
  6. Add tomato paste and salt and saute for 7 minutes.IMG_20170319_165911_193
  7. Add 1 cup of water and saute for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Cool the ingredients of the curry before blending it.
  8. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in another pan and add the marinated fish. Shallow fry for 6 minutes.
  9. Add the contents of the blender back to the first pan and add 1.5 cups of water. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
  10. Add the fried fish fillets to this pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
  11. Garnish with fresh curry leaves, grated coconut and serve hot with freshly made basmati rice.

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Red Lentils and Roasted Sweet Potato Soup

We’ve had a classic Canadian winter this year. One with the works, spells of freezing sub zero temperatures, lots and lots of snow, slick icy roads and influenza doing the rounds. Needless to say winter is my least favorite season of the year. It’s not just the freezing temperatures that bother me but donning the heavy winter gear every time you step out is so not fun! Of course having to tip toe on the icy ground or trudging along in the snow, while wearing all of that, with a baby in tow, who is equally weighed down in winter clothes, is hardly a walk in the park. And to make things worse, influenza and cold viruses are at their peak in winters. We have all been sick, multiple times this season with bouts of colds and flu.

Since my husband caught a cold last week, I have been researching foods that might help darling hubby feel better and those that boost immunity that could prevent my little one from catching a cold again. Vitamin C, chicken soup and lots of water is what I usually rely on, to help ward of colds. I recently discovered however, that there are certain other vegetarian foods that help fight colds. Two of these, namely garlic and sweet potato, are the ingredients that I used for this soup. Allicin, the major compound in garlic that also gives it that pungency, helps the body fight bacteria and viruses. Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A (beta-carotene), which helps our body make white blood cells, that help fight infections. Red lentils pack a punch, with their high protein content. The recipe is as follows:

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Serves: 3

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  1. Sweet Potato – 1 (Cubed)
  2. Garlic Cloves – 4
  3. Split Red Lentils – 1/4 Cup
  4. Onion –  1/2 Medium (Chopped)
  5. Olive Oil – 2 Tablespoons
  6. Salt – 1 and 1/4 Teaspoon
  7. Chicken Broth / Vegetable Broth – 3 Cups (Unsalted)
  8. Cloves – 4
  9. Peppercorn – 1/4 Teaspoon
  10. Oregano – Pinch (For garnish)
  11. Chili Flakes – Pinch (For garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes and garlic in a baking tray lined with parchment paper or aluminium foil. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon oil and add 1 tablespoon oil to the vegetables and bake for 15 minutes in the middle rack.
  2. In a pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil and then add chopped onions. Saute the onions for a couple of minutes and then add the lentils, broth, salt, peppercorn and cloves. Cover the pot and simmer on low – medium heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the roasted sweet potatoes and garlic to the pot. Cover the pot and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  4. At the end of the 20 minutes, remove cloves and blend contents of the pot.
  5. Garnish with oregano and / or chili flakes and serve hot!

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I hope you enjoy this hot bowl of delicious soup that not just keeps you warm, but also boosts your immune system this winter!

Tandoori Aloo Gobhi

Being a mum is hard work. You don’t always find the time or energy to spend hours cooking or cleaning up after. Especially while taking care of your little one. But my little one loves potatoes. And cauliflower. So I make this dish very often. 

This dish is a staple in most North Indian households. I have very fond memories associated with it. Back in school, my friends had dropped in unannounced one day, and mom had made aloo gobhi for lunch. She made puris (fried Indian bread) for us, to eat along with the aloo gobhi and yoghurt, and we ate like that was our last supper (as my soul sister puts it)! To this date we all remember that meal very fondly.

This recipe is my favorite version of the traditional ‘Gobhi Aloo’ (Gobhi is Cauliflower and aloo stands for potatoes in Hindi). It’s not just easy to make, it’s quick (takes just 30 minutes to cook) and makes the most delicious ‘Gobhi Aloo’ I have eaten! The cauliflower florets and potatoes are crunchy and so flavourful. And my least favourite part of cooking, the clean up after, is super quick and easy!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:  

  1. Baby Potatoes – 8 (cut in wedges)
  2. Cauliflower – 1 medium sized (broken in florets)
  3. Salt – 1.5 teaspoons
  4. Ginger – 2 inches (chopped finely)
  5. Garlic – 6 cloves (chopped finely) or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  6. Turmeric – 1 teaspoon
  7. Coriander powder – 2 teaspoons
  8. Garam masala – 1 teaspoon
  9. Dried mango powder – 1 teaspoon
  10. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  11. Red chili powder – 1 teaspoon (optional)
  12. Oil – 3 tablespoons
  13. Cilantro – A handful (chopped)

Instructions:

  1. Wash and dry the potatoes and cauliflower florets.
  2. Spread the vegetables on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Add ginger, garlic and oil. Mix well so the oil coats the vegetables. Then add the spices and mix well.
  3. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 420 degrees Fahrenheit, for 30 minutes in the middle rack.
  4. After 15 minutes, remove tray and mix the vegetables. Put the tray back in the oven.
  5. At the end of the 30 minutes, check if the potatoes are done. Sometimes they may need an extra 5 minutes in the oven.
  6. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve hot with Indian bread.

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Voilà! Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve hot with Indian bread.