Thursday, March 4, 2010

Raw plantain coconut dry curry (Ethakka thoran)

I don't remember when was the first time I ate this dish. But sure enough it captured its place in my mind. After marriage, until now, I always used to either fry the chips of Raw plantain or make a simple curry with just salt and little water. I wanted to make something else with it and hence remembered the coconut version of this curry. In malayalam, when grated coconut is added to any vegetable to make a dry curry, it is either called mezhukkupuratty (മെഴുക്കുപുരട്ടി ) or thoran (തോരന്‍), mostly thoran.

Thoran is a versatile dish as it can be altered to use a variety of vegetables, like cabbage, spinach, carrot, beans, or combination of vegetables. The main ingredient common to all thoran is grated coconut.

Here is the recipe:

  1. Raw plantain cut into small thin square slices. (Before you cut a raw plantain, scrub the outside skin lightly for removing dirt, make sure you have a big bowl of water to put the slices in. ) : 1 medium sized plantain
  2. Grated coconut : 3/4 cup
  3. Turmeric : a pinch
  4. Red chilli powder : 1 teaspoon 
  5. Garlic minced : 2 cloves
  6. Tampering: 1 teaspoon each of mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, urad lentil
  7. Pinch of asafoetida
  8. Salt
  9. Water : just enough to cover the plantain slices while being cooked


    Method:

    Usually with other vegetables used in thoran, water is not used , and most of the times, all the ingredients (except the tampering) is pre-mixed and cooked together. But since raw plantain requires a longer cooking time, it is cooked until tender with a pinch of salt and very little water.

    1. Cook the plantain in very little water (just enough to cover the slices) until soft and tender.
    2. Wait until the water is all absorbed (the heat can be stepped up a notch , to quicken the process, but keep an eye to prevent any burning of the plantain)
    3. Now mix the plantain with coconut, garlic, turmeric, red chilli powder, and salt . Combine everything well with hands, taking care not to mush the plantain slices. 
    4. Now add a teapoon of oil to a hot pan, lower the heat, add the tampering and asafoetida. Saute for 5 seconds. Then add the plantain coconut mixture. 
    5. Stir well to combine everything.
    6. Close the pan with a lid, keep fire on medium. Wait for everything to be cooked and allow the flavors to combine. 
    7. After 2 minutes, open the lid and combine everything again, at this point check for salt. Close the lid, increase heat to medium -high for 30 seconds. This is to get a nice light caramalized coating on the thoran. Switch off the heat, Open the lid, give everything a final stir , put the lid back on. Best served when hot.

    Spiced Indian Tea



    One of the favorite morning routines for me the past few months is to try various ways of spicing up the morning cup of tea. I prefer tea to coffee. I was drawn to the idea of spicing up the tea when one morning we were out of milk (I always love my tea with milk and sugar ('Equal' sweetener to be precise) , or maybe milk and honey), I decided to satisfy myself with the Chamomile flavoured Green Tea (I love to have these herbal teas without milk and sugar though) and V was more than willing to have his favourite cup of coffee :D . Why I wrote the phrase 'more than willing' is because, he prefers coffee to tea , but joins the tea session with me during morning time, for company sake ;)



    I then remembered that I had those 'Indian Chai flavour' herbal tea bags. They smelled so nice. Checking the ingredients didn't help much as the trade secret word 'and various other spices' wasn't clear. It was then that I decided to try making my own fresh tea masala. On our next Indian grocery shopping, I purchased whatever spice I knew (cardomom, star anise, dry ginger root, ajwain, aniseed). The only other ingredient that I forgot from the to-buy list was Lemongrass. It was at one of our cousin's place that I had this Lemongrass flavoured tea which our cousin bought it from Mumbai, India. I could never get that delicate flavor of lemongrass infused tea out of my mind since then. Lemongrass has this delicate gingery smell, almost like fresh cut ginger.The dry stalks you get in the grocery shops such as 'Stop and Shop', Shaws etc.. are extremely high : $6.00 for 2 dry stalks, the size of my small finger ! I was almost about to order it online, but it almost came up to the same price. Then one day when we went to this Chinese grocery shop, I luckily remembered about Lemongrass and promptly asked the owner, and there she got me, two long fresh stalks of Lemongrass just for $1.50 . I was thrilled ! From that day onwards my teas always spoke a different story ;)

    Let me share how I spice up my tea:

    Makes 2 cups of tea

    Ingredients:

    • Lemongrass minced : Any part of the lemon grass is edible, so dont throw away the outer leavy covering. I cut a small disc from the top of the stalk. Thats more than enough to spice up two cups of tea. 
    • Fresh ginger minced : 1/2 teaspoon
    • Star anise or fennel seed (optional): 1/2 teaspoon
    • Cardomom : 1 whole
    • Tea leaf powder (Tea bag) : 3 teaspoons (vary according to your taste) I use the Red Label (Orange Pekoe) brand.
    • Water : 1 cup
    • Milk : 1 cup
    • Sugar : 2 teaspoons or 2 packets 'Equal'

    Method:
    1.  In a vessel, boil 1 cup of water and add Lemongrass, Ginger, Star anise or fennel seeds, and Cardomom and reduce the heat to low. Close it with a lid. Let this mixture simmer for 15 seconds
    2. Then add the tea leaf powder (bags) and out the lid back. Let it simmer for 20 seconds.
    3. Now add the milk and let it sit for 10 seconds without the lid on low fire. After 10 seconds, turn up the heat to high and wait until the milk starts boiling, then lower heat to medium until the milk is just on the verge of boiling, but doesn't boil over. Wait for 3 seconds, this gives it the strong color to the tea.
    4. Switch off the heat, add sugar and pour it into cups. Enjoy !

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