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Grandmother’s recipes elevate tastes of generations

Geet's Kitchen- Masthead WebDuring my childhood days, my mother used to whip up something delicious to eat with the few basic ingredients she had in her kitchen.

She always said that good taste is not the result of using several or expensive ingredients. Her secret to creating soul-satisfying food was cooking with patience and good intention.

There are many timeless recipes that she taught, learnt in turn from her mother, that I enjoy cooking. I would like my children also to learn from me.

Passing down recipes from generation to generation is not just about preserving family recipes but a wonderful way of honouring one’s family and cultural heritage. So in this issue, I share with my children and you some of the simple yet mouth-watering non-vegetarian recipes of their Ammama (Grandmother).

The first recipe is Ammama’s Dry Chicken Curry.

It is a simple dish using merely spices and water. No coconut milk, yogurt or cream is used in preparing this dish.

The second is Ammama’s Spicy Prawns. It is always a hit with our guests as it is smothered in a delicious blend of chilli, tomato and onion.

Finally, we have an easy side dish which is so delicious that it can be eaten on its own with rice or porridge – Ammama’s Anchovy Chammanthi!

geet's Kitchen-Dry Chicken Curry Web

Ammama’s Dry Chicken Curry

1 kg chicken breast (or whole chicken cut up into small pieces)
2 large red onions – sliced thinly
6 cloves of garlic – grated
1 large knob of ginger – grated
4 tomatoes – quartered
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 cinnamon stick
2-3 cloves
2-3 cardamom pods
1 star anise
1 tsp of mustard seeds
2 tsp of salt
3 tbsp of vegetable oil
A sprig of curry leaves
Method

  • Heat oil in a wok and put in the mustard seeds. When they pop, add in the whole spices – cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and star anise.
  • Add in the sliced onions and saute until they caramelise.
  • Then only add the grated ginger and garlic and mix well until the oil is released from the mixture which should now be golden.
  • Add the other spices – chilli, turmeric, coriander, fennel and cumin – and mix well until the aroma comes alive.
  • Now add the chicken and mix well. Add salt.
  • Continue dry frying until the chicken is well browned and the oil is released. This will take a good 10 to 15 minutes and is a necessary step for the rich aroma of the spices to be infused with the meat.
  • Add the tomatoes and the curry leaves and mix well.
  • Now add enough water to cover the chicken pieces and cover to cook over medium heat until the water evaporates.
  • Once the water evaporates, uncover the wok and continue to dry fry the chicken until the oil is released yet again.
  • The chicken should be well browned before the flame is turned off.
  • Serve with rice or roti.

Geet's Kitchen-Spicy Prawns Web

Ammama’s Spicy Prawns

800 g of frozen prawns – thawed
3 of 4 tbsp of chilli paste – dry red chillies, soaked and ground to a paste
4 cloves garlic – grated
1 one-inch piece of ginger – grated
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
1-2 tsp salt
2 large red onions – sliced thinly
4 large tomatoes – sliced
A handful of curry leaves
1/3 cup of vegetable oil

Method

  • In a saucepan, mix the prawns with the chilli paste, salt, turmeric and cumin powder and the grated garlic and ginger.
  • Cover the pan and simmer on low heat.
  • Keep watch until the water that is released from the prawns dries up and they are cooked through. Turn off flame.
  • Heat some oil in a pan and saute the onions until they brown.
  • Add in the tomatoes and continue sautéing until the oil is released from the mixture.
  • Only then do you add in the cooked prawns.
  • Saute the cooked prawns until well browned and the oil is released again.
  • Add the curry leaves and mix well.
  • Serve hot with rice.

Geet's Kitchen-Anchovy Chammanthi Web

Ammama’s Anchovy Chammanthi

200 g dried anchovies – washed
200 g grated fresh coconut
3 or 4 tbsp of chilli paste – dried red chillies, soaked and ground to a paste
1 tsp of turmeric powder
1 large onion – sliced
2 or 3 cloves of garlic — chopped fine
1 tsp mustard seeds
Salt to taste
2 to 3 tbsp of oil
Sprig curry leaves

 

Method

  • Put the grated coconut and anchovies into a chopper and dry blend until fine.
  • Heat up some oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds.
  • When the mustard seeds pop, add in the sliced onions and saute till brown.
  • Add the garlic and mix well before adding the chilli paste and sautéing for a minute.
  • Add the coconut and anchovy mix and stir. Add the turmeric and salt to taste depending on how salty the anchovies are after washing them.
  • Stir well and taste to adjust seasoning such as salt and chilli.
  • Keep stirring until the mixture is well dry fried and turns a golden colour.
  • Add the curry leaves and remove from the flame.
  • This dry chutney keeps well and is delicious with rice porridge, as a side dish for rice or with Idli or Dosa.

Disclaimers: Geetha Nair and Indian Newslink absolve themselves of any responsibility relating to the ingredients, cooking methods and other matters relating to ‘Geet’s Kitchen’ column. Some ingredients may not be available and may cause allergy in some people. Caution must therefore be exercised and Geetha Nair and Indian Newslink will not be responsible to any health issues in this connection. Please consult your General Practitioner, Nutritionist or such others you may be consulting in connection with your dietary requirements.

Notes and Legends: 1. Quantities of sugar and salt are recommendations; please add or reduce to suit individual requirements 2. Tsp: Teaspoon Tbsp: Tablespoon

 

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