November 26, 2006

A Travel Recovery Lunch

It was a wonderful holiday week spent visiting family and friends in San Francisco, doing what families do best when they get together-talking all together and eating! We drove around the country side, taking in the vineyards, redwood forests, Coit Towers and hot footed through the San Francisco city of ups and downs, strolling through China town and waterfronts. The sights and smells of the water front may be yucky to some, but to me, it brought a whiff of good old Kerala. More on those photos later.

It feels a little empty to be just us again after being amidst so much conversation and laughter. My son is walking around a little lost, not ready to get back into the daily routine, and we both are still yawning, caught between time zones. The house felt silent and cold yesterday, but today after the cutting and cooking started up, I felt much more comfortably enconsed in my space.

We were craving some really light food and had not much to work with as the refirgertor has not been restocked as yet. No tomatoes or vegetables, just a couple of plantains I picked up from the Indian store along with milk. And hmm…the freezer had shrimps. So the menu consisted of plain steamed rice, lentil curry (Parippu/ Dal), plantain stir fry(Kaya Meyukkuperatti),Carrot thoran and spicy shrimps(Chemmeen Varatiyathu) to balance the blandness.

There is something therapeutic about a basic rice meal without any coconut, coconut milk, cream or any other rich ingredient. It soothes the travel weary stomach and sleep deprived mind. Comfort food at its best.

The Dal Recipe:
Tuvar Gram(Thuvaraparippu) - 1 ½ cup
Onion – 1/2 sliced finely
Turmeric Powder- 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder- 1/2 tsp
Green chillies - 4 nos (slit lengthwise)
Garlic-1 clove chopped
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds (Jeerakam)- 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida- A pinch
Curry leaves- One sprig
Salt - 1/2 tsp or to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp

Cook the lentils with the green chilies, turmeric, 2 cups water and salt till the lentils are cooked. You could pressure cook it for one whistle or slow cook it in a saute pan. Heat oil in a pan and lower the heat while adding the mustard seeds and cover. When they splutter, add the cumin seeds,curry leaves and then asafoetida, garlic and sliced onions and fry for a couple of minutes.
Add the red chili powder and stir once and then add the lentils and enough water for gravy. Let it simmer for at least 5-8 minutes to get rid of the boiled lentil taste. Adjust the seasoning as required. Add a dash of lemon juice and fresh cut cilantro leaves.

Kaya Meyukkuperatti


You will need:
Raw Green Plantains – 1
Shallots /Pearl Onions – 5
Whole red chilies-2
Garlic-1 clove
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder- 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves- One sprig
Salt – to taste
Oil - 2 tbsp

1.Peel the green plantains with a peeler, removing only one layer. Cut into 4 chunk pieces and then further cut each piece into 8-10 thin long segments. Soak the pieces in a bowl of water with ¼ tsp turmeric for about 5 minutes and then rinse it well and drain. Cook the plantains in 1 ½ cup water (or enough to submerge it) with the rest of the turmeric, red chili powder and salt. This should take about 7-10 minutes.
2. When the plantains are almost cooked (it should not get fully cooked), drain the excess liquid and keep aside. Ideally, the plantains should be cooked in just enough water, but I use a little more to avoid it getting mushy. This nutrient rich liquid can be added to the lentils or any vegetable curry if you do not want to throw it.
3. Meanwhile, peel the shallots and tear the red chilies. Crush the shallots, red chilies, and garlic in a mortar-pestle till it is combined. Heat oil in a pan and lower the heat. Add the curry leaves, the shallot mixture and sauté for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the cooked plantains and stir fry on medium heat for about 8-10 minutes or till the pieces start looking slightly crisp. If you are using a non stick pan, you may not need any more oil, but add a little bit more oil if they start sticking. Adjust the seasoning as required.


Nabeela said...

I was wondering where you'd gone to :)
I'm glad you had fun in SFO, you should have told me you were coming here...we could have met!
Anyway...I understand what you're saying about wanting simple food after travels...this happens too me evry time I travel too

RP said...

And I see some carrots too...:)
That looks like a comfort food to me. Good to hear about your holidays and looking forward to seeing more pictures.

Anita said...

Hi Shaheen. First time commenting on your blog..though I have been a visitor for some time now.

Dal-chaval is the perfect comfort food for tired bodies, I agree. And food from the Southern part of my country has a special place in our home, so thanks for the recipe.

I too 'cover the pan' after adding mustard seeds! Makes the clean-up so much easier. It's a good tip to note - I remember giving the recipe for curd-rice to am American vegetarian friend. She came back next day to tell me, "You said to let the mustard splutter, but you didn't tell me it wd splutter all over my kitchen!" :)

Anonymous said...

gr8 to hav u back. the invariable parippum chorum is a comfort food indeed

rooma said...

You bet Shaheen...... rice and dal are the perfect comfort food.... Good to know you had a lovely vacation. :)

Sandeepa said...

Loved those shrimps. I was away too and could not make your chicken for Thanksgiving (sniff, sniff), just waiting for an occasion :)
Welcome back from a great vacation

indosungod said...

Shaheen, I agree simple foods are the greatest for the tiredness. I long for dal or rasam. Shrimp looks delicious. So you celebrated Thanksgiving in the West Coase ha!

Revathi said...

As I was thinking about visiting ur site, I was thinking "Shaheen must be all tired after the holidays to cook non-veg - after all she must have had lot of food during the holidays..." But Boy was I wrong.. You still did not fail to serve me with prawns !! Kudos to you shaheen !!!

Lakshmi said...

ya, dal is all time fav. for everyone, it really is comfort food.

Gini said...

Sounds like you had fun. That plate of food looks yum! I think I am kinda opposite in the way that I use coconut to clean up my palate after a trip away from home.

Shaheen said...

Nabeela,heloo! I left a message at ur blog.

RP, forgot the carrots. They were actually for my son! I have to post but am feeling lazy.

Anita, Welcome!!!Its really nice to see u comment as I too visit ur blog often. Dal chaval is an alltime favourite.I started covering the pan afer getting tired of cleaning up mustard seeds.

Ki,Too tired to cook up anything but yet have to.

Rooma, Thanks. I did have a lovely vacation.:)

Sandeepa, Make sure u make the chicken with a small chicken first.

Indo, yep, went away for some sunshine. Hear its raining there now that I am back.:)How was ur Holidays?

Revathi, Well I have to keep my military mess going,right?:) My family won't eat without something spicy to accompany the dal chawal, even if I would.:)

Thanks Lakshmi,And its amazing how many types of dal we have in India!
Each region has its variety.

Gini, I guess this time I didn't want coconut, just clean "eru", But yes, mor kootan is another favourite. Wonder what we would eat after a vacation in Kerala?

gattina said...

Glad you had a wonderful time in the (warmer?) west coast! My kitchen smelled funny when I first stepped into the house...

Asha said...

Hey Shaheen, welcome back.I did miss you and was waiting for Pathiri recipe:D

Simple food look fabulous,I need some of those today.We came back on Sunday.Lot of unpacking yesterday,but good to be back.

Take care and Shrimp dish looks delicious too:)

Mantu said...

dear Shaheen,
It is so good to hear from you about SFO ,I once visited it ,and what a busy downtown to Chinatown everything seems to be , so lively ..and after a tiring journey we also love simple ghar ka khana ,dal and chawaal is the best food ..I also liked the Plantain recipe and shrimp recipe ..aperfect menu for a travel recovery lunch ..
hugs and smiles

Seema said...

Sometimes u just wanna have that basic..dal rice...n its really a craving when u back from a holiday n stuff n uve had lots of outside (restaurant food)
N those shrimps are so inviting...a very simple one am gonna try over the weekend...i love fish n speciall shrimps !

Krithika said...

Very rejuvenating pics :-) spread looks delicious !

Inji Pennu said...

Shaheen, could I ask you something?
What script did you use to put that smiley near each blog that gets updated. thats pretty cool! so that i dont have to click on each and every blog.? could you please let me know?

Shaheen said...

Hi Inji,
the smileys are from Blogrolling.

Shankari said...

You were here...Oh Oh , we could have had a thanksgiving with food bloggers!
Riche,Dhal & rasam the ultimate comfort food.

Linda said...

Hi Shaheen, glad to hear you had a nice vacation. I am just going now to grab my spoon... that dal looks like the perfect rainy-day lunch, too :)

Anonymous said...

my family loves daal curry prepared the same way but with Moong daal. I don't add chilli powder though. Instead of slicing onions, I chop them up. Lots of finely chopped Cilantro in the moong daal curry...mmmm..mmmmm..good! It's an awesome combination. I'll give it a try with toor daal next time. Thanks for sharing this recipe.