Inviting you all to Viki's kitchen in facebook too. Also welcoming you all to visit my arts and hobbies page in facebook.. Have a nice day !

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Seppan kilangu roast

Before the fancy entry of noodles and parotta into the small towns of Tamilnadu,  whatever food that is cooked for lunch would be served for dinner too.  Most of the days would be veg days in Tamilans house and rice with sambar or some other curry is the primary food. Though green veggies like okra or green beans and spinach would be the side dish during lunch, mothers would hide some root vegetables like potato , senai kilangu (elephant yam) and Seppan kizhangu (arbi) in the pantry for their fussy loved ones. These kind of veggies can be stored even in Indian weather (at room temperature) for a week to month. So these would come handy, if the vegetable curry made for the lunch was not sufficient for dinner. This seppan kilangu roast is one of our most favorites and so I too make it at least once month.

This is one of the popular ways to cook arbi in South Indian cuisine. Try this and let me know, how your family loves this !

Seppan kilangu / cheppan kilangu (Tamil) means colocasia or taro root(English), Arbi (Hindi).

1/2 lb Seppan kilangu before cooking (@ $1.39 /lb 2017)

Boiled arbi is cubed.

After the tempering, add the masala powders and cook for few seconds.

Arbi added to fried masala

Mix well

Hot and spicy arbi roast is ready !

Seppan kilangu 4 or 5 - 250 gms
Coconut oil - 1 tbsp
fennel (sombu) - 1 tsp
curry leaf - few
salt - to taste
Masala powders:
Red chili powder - 1 tsp
coriander powder - 3 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
garam masala powder - 1/2 tsp (optional)

Rinse the arbi thoroughly to remove all dirt.
Put it in a vessel and add water enough to cover. Boil for at least 10 minutes. The arbi should be parboiled (not soft). Put in cold water and it would be easy to remove the skin.
Chop into small cubes. Keep aside.
Put all the masalas mentioned in a bowl and keep ready.
Heat oil in a wok and add fennel. After the fennel gets mild red, add curry leaf. Then add the masala powders and fry in low heat for few seconds.  Add the cubed arbi. Stir well. If needed sprinkle a handful of water and cook covered for 2 minutes.
Switch off.
Arbi roast is ready !

Serving suggestion:
Serve as side dish with dal rice or sambar rice or curd rice.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Aiyirai meen kulambu

Ayira meen (Tamil அயிரை மீன் ) is a variety of river fish (fresh water fish , especially paddy fields or ponds) , that we used to enjoy in Tirunelveli. At that time, this fish would come to the market around evening only (market means, the local vendor who used to come by bicycle). I have never seen this in Chennai. Though everything is available anywhere nowadays, this ayira meen kulambu can be found in other cities too. This ayirai fish is a speciality of Tamilnadu and I am not sure if anyone other than Tamilians would have heard of this.

My amma used to tell me that , this fish season occurs during the beginning of summer in Madurai (when the lakes dry and the fishes and brinjal would come in auction). During summer (at that time) they used to clean the ponds and the rain water gets collected afresh when it rains and would feed the entire city.

Amma had a house help called Padarathi amma. She had shown us the process of cleaning this fish. I am not a fan of looking at live food. So I request my readers to browse and find the videos on cleaning this ayira meen.

Ayirai meen literally lives in mud there. So it has to be forced to spit the mud from their mouth (may be a tale , I don't know if it is true). So the live fish would be put in milk and let for 30 minutes and within that time , it is believed that they loose all the mud.

Luckily I bought a well cleaned ayirai meen (not fresh) that was farm raised from an Asian store in my area. I didn't go through that cleaning process (I won't and I can't, but this curry tastes amazing, if someone prepares this for us ....ha ha).

My hubby never likes tiny fishes :) So I got a small scoop (1/2 lb) of this for $2.99 / lb.

I have read somewhere that , this curry is actor Kamal's favorite and he would have this fish curry along with idli dosai, during his South Tamilnadu visits. So I too made this one evening , had it with rice and the next morning enjoyed it with dosai :)

Ps: My recipe is a no-tamarind one. This is how we prepare fresh water (tiny) fish in my native. This version is recommended in native health recipes.
Ayira meen

ayirai meen kulambu
Aiyirai meen kulambu with dosai

Ayirai meen - 1/2 lb (200 gm approx)
Tomato - 2
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
coriander powder - 1 tbsp
coconut oil  or sesame oil - 1 tbsp 
fennel (sombu) - 1/2 tsp
curry leaves - 2 sprig
green chillies - 2 (slit)
salt - 1 tsp (add to taste)

To grind:
Coconut (shredded) - 1/2 cup
Shallot - 3
cumin - 1/2 tsp
black pepper - 1 tsp
green chilly - 2 (increase as per taste)

Wash and clean the ayirai meen as per need to remove any sand or impurities. Keep aside.
Grind coconut, shallot, green chillies, black pepper, cumin together to a fine paste.
Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil or sesame oil in a wok. Fry the fennel seeds to red. Now add the curry leaves along with chopped tomato and fry till the tomato gets cooked well.
Add 2 cups of water , turmeric powder , coriander powder, salt, ground masala and bring them to a boil.
Now add the cleaned fish and stir only one time before it gets cooked. Spread a few slit green chillies and curry leaves over it. Reduce flame and cook uncovered.
DO NOT stir in between. Just shake the vessel gently to mix the masala with the fish.
Take off heat in 15 minutes.

Ayirai meen kulambu is ready! 

Serving suggestions:
Serve over hot rice or along idli or dosai.
Serves 2.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 4 weekend !

Here in NJ, the July 4 th weekend is one of the most awaited one . This year we didn't go anywhere far, but just enjoyed nearby places. I always wish to enjoy the first day of the weekend in a special manner. Sometimes I make his favorite meal or if there is enough time, we may go to a movie and restaurant... On that Friday,  we went to a restaurant called 'Nanking' for dinner. We usually buy one plate of everything and share. That day too we split up a plate of veg spring rolls and 'pad kee mao'.  It took more than an hour to see them in our table :) Other than that, this restaurant is strategically located near Kohl's and the ambiance is romantic. It would be a better choice for anyone who prefers a bar, but for people like us the buffet would be a good choice.
The next day had a rain forecast, so we went to a movie 'Transformers' in AMC NewBrunswick. Then we had a pizza buffet at Cici's. For dinner I made sambar rice and beans poriyal.
On Sunday we had a superb evening at 'State Fair' in Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ. (See below for photos). The world's largest traveling candy store amazed us. My hubby dear started collecting candy from almost every bin and filled a small basket. Though I cannot approve  his purchase, he has promised me to take that candy bag to share with all at his office :)
We enjoyed the petting zoo and feeding those cute animals was much entertaining for us. I enjoyed walking around in that bright light along with those happy faces :) and I loved that 'blooming onion fry'. We enjoyed some music and had a nice cheese pizza slice along with that onion fry.
We came home almost after midnight :) and that was one of the best fairs we have visited.
Monday became our movie day with Redbox movies (Hidden figures and Logan) and also some Netflix movies. As usual we had it like a house picnic and that was a beautiful day too.
On Tuesday hubby asked me to prepare some chicken biriyani and luckily it turned out very well within an hour. Hubby continuously watched movies as well as worked on something in laptop whenever possible :) I love the way we enjoyed that July 4 weekend , it was relaxing as well as entertaining :).
Here are some pics. to enjoy !
The Nanking restaurant

Pad kee mao

Cici's thin crust pineapple jalapeno pizza

Cici's salad
The State fair in Rutherford, NJ
Candy apple stall

Fries and burger stalls

A cooking show
Candy apples
Candy we bought ! I am sure hubby is sharing this with all his friends :)

World's largest traveling candy store
Candy ....candy ....candy !

More candy !

Wow !

Definitely this is a kid's dream come true :)

Lots of candy !

I have never seen this kind of candy before !

Hard candy section ! There are more than this !!!!
Carousel ....our most fav to look at !
Music concert along with dining !

Pretty donkey ....and there are many animals in petting zoo.

This seemed like the most favorite ride among teens...'The Enterprise'  ...only for those strong !

Hypnotic show

My favorite stall....the fries look like Indian style bajji...Love it !

We came here around 10 Pm and enjoyed some show and dinner !

Pizza with onion fries (what !)....Sunday July 2 !
July 4, Chicken Biriyani !

I could see happiness in every face during this season.  Even the grocery store was filled with people buying corn, burger buns, chicken and coke for their party.
Happy Independence day !

Note: After this mega eating festival days , my dear hubby has promised me to workout along with me 1 hour most days in a week :)  Let's see !

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Independence day USA !

Happy Independence day my dear USA !
We love you !
♥♥ Viki Xavier ♥♥

 Roadside America 2016

Friday, June 23, 2017

Mango Lassi

In India mango trees are common in most houses in villages. The mango leaf are used to decorate the house entrances to bring in good fortune. (Hope this brings 'green card' soon...right ! Good fortune for an NRI is quickly getting GC ...ha ha) . Unripe mango in curries and sambar is inevitable.
In my appa house we had a hybrid Neelam tree, which could bear fruit quickly. Since childhood,  I always wanted to grow a perennial mango tree like kilimooku (thothapuri) , real Neelam and a  pacharisi mango (பச்சரிசி மாங்காய்) variety but appa amma liked this quick tree and it was a gorgeous tree too.
Mango in USA is a luxury, which we got in this recent decade only :)
During the mango season, these fruits become the staple dessert in Indian's diet. In my view, the mango pulp that comes in tin is more suitable and easy for a quick lassi. By this way we can buy the required variety of mango pulp (like Kesar mango, alphonsa etc).
But anyways, preparing in the traditional way is good too. The mangoes suitable for lassi preparation are (my opinion only) Kesar, Alphonsa, Banganapalli, Mulgoa, Neelam (any mango without much fiber and more sweetness) . There are many good varieties along with the above in India, but I can't remember most of those names. Here is an interesting pdf link to a wide variety of mangoes.

I prepare mango lassi using canned mango pulp only. Mango tins come in discounted price during season. In cold countries, the mango pulp can be stored easily in refrigerator after opening the can. Always transfer the mango pulp to glass bottles before keeping in fridge. Here comes the mango lassi recipe !

Mango lassi

Carry this mango lassi in disposable bottles for a picnic...

Mango pulp in tin

Mango pulp - 1 cup (or) 2 medium size ripe mangoes.
Indian yogurt - 1/2 cup
Milk - 1 1/2 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup (to taste)
water - 1 1/2 cup
cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp

In a mixing bowl, whisk the whole milk yogurt and sugar using a whisk or in blender. Whisk it as finely as possible.  Add milk and whisk till frothy.
Add mango pulp (puree the mango), cardamom powder, required water.
Mix well.
Store in fridge upto 24 hours before serving or serve along with crushed little crushed ice as soon as prepared.
Mango lassi is ready !

Serving suggestion:
It can be served just like lemonade or any juice.
Adding water and ice should be limited, as this juice should be more thicker.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Iftar dinner 2

Last week we hosted an Iftar dinner for our friend Sunish and family. I prepared a simple dinner with ulunthu vadai as starter. Chicken biriyani, egg curry , chicken 65 and fish fry were for main course and carrot halwa, homemade kulfi icecream for dessert. I thoroughly enjoyed shopping and cooking for this day. While myself and Shaila were chatting and finishing up the frying processes and organizing the dinner, the men and the kids watched Jungle book and Trolls. It was a beautiful evening filled with laughter and happiness. I took a few 'food picture's only, as I always start enjoying the moments and forget the photo session part :) . Anyways here is some snaps from our Ifar dinner party.  Have a glance and enjoy :)

Starters - Ulunthu vadai, coconut chutney, green chutney, dates, watermelon, banana,  chikkis, mango lassi, coconut water

Iftar dinner - chicken biriyani, egg curry, chicken 65, kingfish fry, raitha

Dhum biriyani

Chicken dhum biriyani

Mango lassi
Preparing Carrot halwa 
My kitchen planner - Iftar dinner menu
Here is how I organized this dinner:
*I prepared urid dal batter for ulunthu vadai on the day before party, but added the onions and curry leaf before frying the vadai.
*Mango lassi and carrot halwa were also made the day before.
*I made the kulfi ice cream two days before the party.
*Chicken and fish were bought on the morning and marinated for preparing in the early evening. 
*The ginger garlic paste, green chutney, cilantro mint paste , curd fermentation, can be don 2 days before. This speeds up the briyani process.
*coconut chutney should be made as fresh as possible.
*I couldn't finish setting the table on time and it is a point to remember for any party before.
*Halal meat shopping can be tricky as my favorite shop was closed for the fasting days. So we have to plan it earlier.
*Chicken 65 can be marinated and kept refrigerated. But should be fried before serving for a better taste. Otherwise fried ones can be kept moist by folding in aluminum foil.
*King fish fry needs less than an hour of marination only.
*Here is my usual egg curry recipe and it's like a kuruma for briyani.
*I prepared everything in the 'least spice level' and it made me extremely happy find that it was a kid friendly food too. 

Hope you all like my post!
Enjoy cooking and I will come up again with another yummy post and sweet stories soon !