Happy Onam: Green Mango Relish (Manga Curry)

¬†Happy Onam to Malayalis all over the world who celebrate this auspicious harvest festival. This year I thought I will share the legend behind Onam as told to me by my dad when we were kids. Maybe you can share this with your kids ūüôā

There are lots of legends that describe the making of this festival. According to popular legend, Mahabali, who was a powerful king in Kerala, made the Gods fear that he was going to take over them as well. Hence all the Gods approached Vishnu to end Mahabali’s reign. So Lord Vishnu took the form of a poor, skinny boy and approached Mahabali for alms. King Mahabali, generous that he was, agreed to give the boy whatever he wanted. The boy said that all he wanted was the property rights for a piece of land that measured three paces. Mahabali agreed instantly but realized his folly when the boy grew larger and larger and covered his entire kingdom in just two paces. For the third pace, Mahabali offered his head since he couldn’t go back on his word. At this point, Vishnu made an appearance and gave a boon to Mahabali that he could come and visit the people of his kingdom once every year and that was the birth of the ‘Onam’ festival. Mahabali’s people remembered Mahabali’s generous and virtuous nature in keeping his promise and began to welcome him every year by making an elaborate vegetarian feast.

Hope you likes the story ūüôā The main highlight of Onam however remains the Onam sadya, which is a vegetarian feast comprising of various vegeratian/vegan dishes served with steaming rice and served over a banana leaf!¬†I have posted numerous Onam sadya recipes over the past few years. Today I wanted to post one recipe that I hadn’t posted yet – it is a very simple curry made with green (raw) mangoes. Green mangoes being sour, this curry is more of a relish than a curry. Green mangoes are cooked in mild spices and coconut milk and tempered with mustard seeds and coconut oil. Yummy yum! My mouth is watering!

This year Onam is really special for me since I get to spend it with my family in India.! Happy Onam to all of you! Please tell me your favorite Onam dishes and I will tell you mine ūüôā Check out my this post where I have listed all ¬†Sadya dishes that I have posted before. Also you can check the ‘sadya dishes’ under category. Happy Feasting!

Happy Onam: Green Mango Relish (Manga Curry)
Author: 
Recipe type: Side dish
Cuisine: Indian, Kerala
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A tangy and mildly spicy green mango relish made by cooking Green Mangoes in coconut milk
Ingredients
  • 1 cup green mangoes, skin peeled and chopped into small cubes
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp methi (fenugreek) seeds
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • ¾ cup coconut milk (freshly extracted as explained below or canned organic)
For fresh coconut milk:
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
  • About ¾ cup warm water
For tempering:
  • 2 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chili, cut into two(optional)
  • 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
Instructions
For the spice powder:
  1. Powder the mustard seeds and methi seeds in a dry spice grinder. Keep aside.
For extracting fresh coconut milk:
  1. Blend the grated coconut with half of the warm water and strain through a fine meshed strainer to collect the coconut milk. Blend the strained coconut again with the rest of the water and strain again. You should get about ¾ cup coconut milk.
For the curry:
  1. In a medium cooking pot, add the mangoes, water, the powdered seeds, green chillies and salt.
  2. Cover and cook on low heat for about 5-7 minutes or until the mangoes turn soft.
  3. Now add the coconut milk. Let it come to a boil and turn heat off.
  4. In a small tempering pan, heat the coconut oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, turn heat to low and add the dry red chillies if adding and the fresh curry leaves. Turn heat off and pour this flavored oil mixture over the curry and stir.
  5. Serve this dish with white rice.

Plantain fritters (Pazham Pori) and a taste of Kerala

Plantain fritters (Pazham Pori)Today I wanted to post a simple recipe for Plantain fritters (called Pazham Pori in Malayalam, the local language of Kerala)¬†made in the Keralan way! A perfect accompaniment to your late afternoon tea ! Oh yes, ¬†late afternoon tea as you can imagine is very common in Kerala with these local tea stalls (called chaaya kadas in Malayalam, ) offering snacks like Pazham Pori(plantain fritters), Parippu wada (lentil fritters) among others to satisfy the middle of the day cravings! Since the recipe in itself is not very complicated and since I will be bringing these fritters to Angie’s Fiesta Friday, I thought about putting together a short and sweet narrative describing Kerala to all those who don’t know much about this beautiful paradise on earth!

Located on the southwestern tip of India,¬†Kerala¬†is a beautiful coastal state and is often referred to as ‘God’s own country’!. Tall coconut trees, tranquil backwaters, green forests, vast spice and tea plantations, and white sandy beaches ….need I say more!

As for foods, ¬†Kerala will surprise you with quite a mix of vegetarian, seafood and meat dishes. Kappa and meenu curry(tapioca with fish), spicy fish fry, fluffy¬†appams¬†(rice hoppers),¬†aviyal¬†(vegetables in a coconut gravy), fish¬†molee ( fish curry in coconut milk) , ada pradhaman (sweet pudding made out of rice and coconut milk)¬†to name a few….(and of course you may also browse through my Kerala Recipe Index for ¬†kerala recipes that I have posted thus far!)¬† A typical kerala sadya is a vegetarian meal with rice and anywhere between 10-15 vegetable dishes that is all served on a banana leaf.

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And finally, I have created this beautiful gallery for you (my own camera shots so sorry they are not that professional! ūüôĀ ) to enjoy Kerala virtually with your plantain fritters and your cuppa tea! Enjoy! ¬†Don’t forget to scroll below for the recipe for plantain fritters!

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Recipe for Plantain fritters

This recipe makes about 16 fritters
Time Taken : About 20 minutes
Ingredients:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tbsp rice flour
a pinch of salt 
a pinch of turmeric powder
1  1/4 cup water
2  ripe plantains
Coconut Oil(or any other oil) for deep frying

Method:

Heat the oil in a deep pan (or a deep frier).

Peel the ripe plantains and cut each plantain into two halves first and then cut each half into 4 thin pieces.  (The plantains should be really ripe. If not completely black skin at least the plantain should be a little soft to touch.)

yellow-plantains

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Take a medium size mixing bowl and add the flour, the rice flour,salt and turmeric. Add the water slowly mixing well to form a smooth batter without any lumps (batter will be loose batter).

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When the oil is really hot, put the heat on medium and dip the plantain pieces one at a time into the batter and fry them for about 2-3 minutes turning them once in between.

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Use a slotted spoon to get them out and drain excess oil on paper towels.

Enjoy with a steaming hot cup of tea!

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Mixed vegetables in coconut sauce (Avial)

 

Avial (pronounced as Aveeh-ial) is a delicious and sumptuous mixed vegetable dish that is essentially very simple to make (if you follow the directions carefully!) I would say the only ¬†complicated part of this dish is the use of many different vegetables and the different cooking times that they require. ¬† Avial is made with a mix of hard vegetables like green(raw) plantain, chembu (taro root), ¬†suran (elephant’s foot) etc. ¬†as well as soft vegetables like white pumpkin (bhopla), ¬†green beans, carrots, eggplant etc. ¬†Avial is an absolute must in any sadya. ¬†Sadya is a traditional vegetarian feast and is served at weddings, festivals like Onam and Vishu and any other auspicious functions. ¬† As I mentioned before, the only challenging part in making avial is to make sure all the different vegetables are cooked to proper consistency (and not overcooked) otherwise the avial will not taste good.

Because of the many different vegetables used in this dish, it is a very healthy and also a very satiating dish.  Hence you can just serve it with rotis or any other bread for a complete meal. Since I am on a Paleo diet of late, I make Avial almost every week. Avial along with grilled fish is a perfect paleo meal!

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Mixed vegetables in coconut sauce (Avial)
Author: 
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Kerala, South Indian
 
Avial is a traditional Kerala dish of mixed vegetables cooked and smothered in a sauce made with coconut, cumin and turmeric and garnished with fresh curry leaves and coconut oil
Ingredients
  • 1 Green(raw) Plantain , scraped to remove strings and chopped into 1 inch long pieces - do not remove skin
  • 3 medium size taro root(arabi in hindi or chembu in malayalam), skin scraped and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Green beans, cut into about 1 inch long pieces, about 2 cups
  • Carrots, cut into 1 inch long pieces , about 1 cup
  • 2 small zucchini,
  • White pumpkin (Ash gourd), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes, about 1 cup
  • Pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes, about ½ cup
  • 1 medium onion, cut into long, thin slices
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 small piece (about ¼ inch ball) of kokum, soaked in hot water(optional)
  • 5 green chillies, slit lengthwise (if you prefer to keep it mild, use only 3 )
  • 1½ cups grated coconut (freshly grated or frozen that has been thawed)
  • ½ cup warm water (for grinding the coconut)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp thick plain yoghurt (use coconut yoghurt for dairy free)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 6-8 fresh curry leaves (with stem preferably)
Instructions
  1. Take a big cooking pot which is wide and has a tight-fitting lid. First add the hard vegetables (green plantain and arabi) along with 2 cups of water and the salt and cook uncovered for about a minute till the water starts boiling and then cover and cook on medium flame for about 3-4 minutes till the vegetables are a little soft.
  2. Next add the medium hard veggies like green beans and carrots and cook covered for another 2 minutes. Now open and stir and if there is not much water left, then add about ¼ cup more water
  3. If there is still sufficient water to cook the other remaining veggies, then DO NOT add any more water.
  4. Next add the soft vegetables - eggplant/zucchini, white pumpkin,pumpkin and the onions. Also add the turmeric, green chillies and the piece of tamarind at this point and again cover and cook for another two minutes.
  5. Now open and stir to make sure the veggies are not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Put the stove off at this point.
  6. Now, we need to make the coconut masala. For that take the grated coconut in a blender or a grinder and add the cumin seeds and the garlic(if adding) to it. Add ½ cup of warm water to this and grind to a fine paste. Add the yoghurt and blend again till smooth. Add this paste to the pot with the vegetables and stir slowly and carefully trying not to mash the vegetables too much. Now put the pot back on the stove turning the heat to low and cook for about 1 minute (DO NOT cook longer ) and turn the stove off.
  7. Immediately add the fresh curry leaves and the coconut oil and mix lightly. Avial is ready and you can eat it with plain cooked rice or with rotis.
Notes
The way the vegetables are cooked is very important - use just the right amount of water to cook them or else the avial will become watery. By the time all the vegetables are cooked, there should not be any water left (the cooked vegetables should be still identifiable individually and not mashed).You can use any combination of vegetables but make sure to stagger them for cooking based on above.
I use kokum(special kind of tamarind found in western india to give a sour taste but if your yoghurt is sour enough, you need not use any tamarind. Or you can also use raw/green mango pieces if you have them instead of the tamarind. Or if you don't have any of the above , use lemon juice.

 

Cabbage with Coconut(Cabbage thoran)

Cabbage with coconut (Kerala style)
Cabbage with coconut (Kerala style)

This cabbage sabzi (vegetable side dish) was one of the first things I learned to cook when I started paying attention to my amma’s cooking. ¬†This is a very simple and easy recipe with really a very few ingredients yet the beauty of this dish is in its simplicity. ¬†Many of my friends like this sabzi and were always asking me for the recipe so now I have also recorded a video showing the steps exactly. Grated coconut and coconut oil are what imparts the nice flavor to this dish. ¬†It is a nice vegetable side dish and goes well either with rice or chapati. I usually cook it when I have Fish curry and rice.

You can watch the video at:

You will need:
1/2 of a medium size cabbage (approximately 3 cups of
shredded cabbage)
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut (or fresh frozen
grated coconut that has been thawed to room temperature)
3 medium size green chillies slit length-wise
1tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp urad dal (split black gram lentils)
1 tbsp chana dal (bengal gram lentils soaked in water for 10-15 mins)
1 sprig of fresh curry leaves
1 tbsp coconut oil (or any other cooking oil)
salt -1/2 tsp or per taste

Method: ¬†Finely shred the cabbage(long and thin). Heat a medium size pan (kadai ) and add the coconut oil to it. When the oil gets hot, add the mustard seeds and lower the flame and let it splutter. ¬†Next add the cumin seeds, urad dal and the soaked chana dal (draining the water out before adding). ¬†Let these roast for about 30 -60 seconds on medium heat until the urad dal seeds turn slightly golden brown. ¬† Next add the green chillies and the curry leaves along with the stem. ¬†Next add the salt and the cabbage and stir well to coat the cabbage with the oil and lentil mixture. ¬†Cover with a lid and let the cabbage steam on medium flame for about 3-4 minutes. ¬†(Make sure your pan is properly covered with the lid and no steam escapes or else the cabbage might get burnt and not cook properly). ¬†After about 3-4 minutes, open the lid and check –¬†the cabbage should be steamed but still a little bit crunchy. ¬†Finally, add the grated coconut and stir and turn the heat off. ¬†Cabbage sabzi (or cabbage thoran as it is called in Kerala is ready!)