I never enjoyed history classes when I was a kid in school. I always had a hard time memorizing all those events and dates, but there is one thing that I never forget and that instantly reminds me of my history classes: the spices that came from India. They certainly played an important role on the whole process (don't expect me to explain that, I didn't like history, remember?). But now I understand why!
This month, for the first time in my life, and thanks to the Daring Cooks' challenge, I made my own Indian dish. Now I want to explore so much more of this amazing cuisine. It's delicious, exotic, and not difficult to make at all. It's all about the spices :o)
|Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.|
Until a couple of weeks ago, the only reference I had to Indian food was that yellow powdered spice called curry. I do use it sometimes in my kitchen and that was a clear clue that I would greatly appreciate the Indian Cuisine, but I had never gotten around to trying it despite reading lots of Indian blogs with great looking food that sounded delicious. Needless to say I was very excited for this month's challenge :o)
Mary provided the recipe of Appams and lots of delicious accompaniments for it. I chose the Sri Lanken Beef Curry. Well, now I know that curry is not only that yellow powdered spice. Actually, I was quite surprised that the recipe didn't call for it. Instead, fresh curry leaves and some other amazing spices.
I couldn't find fresh curry leaves so I used the dry ones. From the packaging sizes you can guess how much I was willing to LOVE Indian food :o))
Cardamom was also something I had never used in my kitchen.
Appams look like pancakes or crepes but they are made with fermented raw rice and coconut milk. They're amazingly delicious, crispy, and a little chewy all at the same time. I was pleasantly surprised with the result.
They were supposed to be thin on the edges and thicker in the center, but to get this result you have to cook the appams in a wok shaped pan. I didn't have one available, so I used a skillet. Nevertheless, the result was lacy and great.
Thank you Mary for being such an amazing hostess and for pushing me into finally trying the Indian Cuisine.
You can find the original recipes and guidelines for this challenge at THE DARING KITCHEN where you will also see the amazing results of my fellow Daring Cooks.
(Recipe Source: Aparna (a Daring Baker) at My Diverse Kitchen)
Servings: Makes about 15
1 ½ cups (360 ml/300 gm/10½ oz) raw rice
1 ½ teaspoons (7½ ml/5 gm) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons (10 ml/9 gm) sugar
½ cup (120 ml) of coconut water or water, room temperature
1 ½ tablespoons (22½ ml/18 gm) cooked rice
½ teaspoon (2½ ml/3 gm) salt
about ½ cup (120 ml) thick coconut milk (from the top of an unshaken can)
1. Soak the raw rice in 4 to 5 cups of water for 3 hours. You can soak it overnight, although I did not try that.
2. Dissolve the sugar in the coconut water or plain water and add the yeast. Set aside in a warm area for 10-15 minutes, until very frothy.
3. Drain the rice and grind it in a blender with the yeast mixture to make a smooth batter. You can add a bit of extra water if needed, but I did not. Add the cooked rice, and grind/blend to combine well. You can see that it is not completely smooth, but very thick—that’s about right.
4. Pour into a large bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 8-12 hours. You not only want the mixture to rise and collapse, but to ferment. When it is ready, it will have a slightly sour and distinctly yeasty smell. Don’t worry--they are mild tasting when cooked!
5. Add the coconut milk and salt, and a bit of water if necessary, so that you have a batter that is just a bit thicker than milk. Notice how it bubbles after you add the coconut milk. I recommend test-cooking one before thinning the batter.
6. Heat your pan over medium heat. Wipe a few drops of oil over it using a paper towel. Stir the batter and pour in 3-4 tablespoons, depending on the size of the pan. Working quickly, hold the handle(s) and give the pan a quick swirl so that the batter comes to the top edge. Swirl once only, as you want the edges to be thin and lacy.
7. Cover the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Uncover and check. The center should have puffed up a bit, and will be shiny, but dry to the touch. When ready, loosen the edges with a small spatula and serve immediately. These need to be served hot out of the pan.
8. Make another, and another...
9. Batter can be refrigerated for a day or 2.
SRI LANKEN BEEF (or Lamb) CURRY
Recipe source: Mangoes and Curry Leaves, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
Servings: 2 - 4
This curry has an amazing depth of flavor from the spices, coconut milk and tamarind. It may look like a lot of sauce, but you will just want more.
1 pound (½ kg) boneless beef (such as round steak or roast), or about 1 ½ pounds (¾ kg) short ribs or cross ribs (or boneless lamb shoulder)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
1 green cayenne chili, finely chopped
generous 1 cup (250ml/250 gm/9 oz) finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) turmeric
1 teaspoon (5 ml/6 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml) coconut milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml/15 gm) tamarind pulp
¼ cup (60 ml) hot water
3 cups (720 ml) water
Dry Spice Mixture:
1 tablespoon (15 ml/13 gm) raw white rice
1 tablespoon (15 ml/10 gm) coriander seeds
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) cumin seeds
one 1-inch piece (2½ cm) cinnamon or cassia stick
seeds from 2 pods of green cardamom
1. Cut the beef into ½ inch (13 mm) cubes or separate the ribs. Set aside.
2. In a small heavy skillet, roast the dry spice mixture over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until it smells amazing! You will be able to see that the rice is a toasted color.
3. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind/pound to a powder. Set aside. Chop the tamarind pulp and soak it in the hot water. Set aside
4. In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves, green chile, onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the meat and salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so all surfaces of the meat get browned.
5. Add the reserved spice mixture and the coconut milk and stir to coat the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Press the soaked tamarind through a sieve placed over a bowl. Use a spoon to press all the liquid and pulp out. Discard the seeds and stringy bits. Add the tamarind liquid to the 3 cups of water.
7. Add the tamarind/water mixture to the pot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a strong simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.
I had to add little bits of water a few times to allow it to cook for the full one hour required, otherwise it would have dried out.