March 29, 2010

Sharjah Shake Recipe - Sharjah Banana Milkshake - Step by Step Recipe

Sharjah shakes were all the rage when I was in college. Although it feels like just yesterday that I was in college, sadly, it's been a while. It's a sweet milkshake with banana, dates (hence the name Sharjah from where the dates are supposedly from) and a malt drink powder like Boost or Maltova.

That's the time when milk shake parlours sprang up all over town and people of all ages dropped by for a quick relief from the heat and humidity that's almost always present in Kerala.

Amma and I have shared countless number of sharjah shakes in these parlours during our almost-everyday town visits, leaving with a full stomach and numb tongues. Ah, the good old days.

As if having a Sharjah shake almost every time we stepped out of the house wasn't enough, we used to make it at home too. "Packet milk" was bought and chilled especially for this purpose as the milk we used normally came from a neighbour with a cow (this milk was boiled in a milk cooker, cream extracted and stored away for churning butter that would later be made into ghee.. phew!)

Back to Sharjah Shake. Here's how we used to make it. I am sure there are countless variations out there trying to mimic the milk shake parlour versions. This is ours and it's very flexible.

More milkshake recipes: watermelon milkshake, dates banana milkshake, avocado milkshake, banana mango milkshake, mango avocado milkshake, apple milkshake.

Sharjah Shake Recipe
Serves 2

1. Chop up one ripe banana straight into your blender.

2. Throw in 4-5 whole raw cashew nuts or almonds.

3. Add 1 tbsp bournvita / maltova / chocolate horlicks / ovaltine to this. We have tried even regular horlicks and that tastes good too.

4. Top up with about 2 cups frozen chunks of milk. I used chilled milk here because I was having this for breakfast. To get the authentic milk shake parlour version, freeze milk (in ice trays if you can) and break it up with a strong knife into chunks and then add it in. This will give a crushed ice texture to the drink. Also, using whole milk will enhance the taste (but of course!).

5. Pour and... go on! Bottoms Up!


Adding sugar is optional since the chocolate drink powder and banana will lend some sweetness to the drink. You can add one date or 2tsp honey if you like the flavour. We usually stick with sugar if needed but taste first.

March 25, 2010

Sakkarai Pongal / Chakkara Pongal Recipe / Sweet Pongal Recipe

We don't celebrate pongal festival back in Kerala. This should explain why I am posting this traditional pongal festival recipe in March. I mean, how off the mark can you get? About 2 months, that's how much.

But like I said, we don't celebrate pongal, and by that I mean my family. TH's family definitely does, but nothing elaborate. Mostly it involves making ven pongal the savory kind and this sweet version, sakkarai pongal.

My mom makes sweet pongal as and when she feels like it.  Usually, when we need a quick dessert for guests, sakkarai pongal gets made. Admittedly, its not my favourite sweet but recently I had this tremendous craving that was quite inexplicable so I made a teeny weeny bit (TH hates it) and had it all by myself at around 10pm in the night, which explains the very not-nice picture.

It came out pretty nice though. I'd never realised sakkarai pongal was this easy to make!

Sakkarai / Chakkara Pongal Recipe (Sweet Pongal Recipe)
Recipe source: scribbled on a piece of paper that was lying around in an old diary. 
Amma's recipe, I'd guess

What I Used:

1 cup raw rice
1/4 cup moong dal / cherupayar
3/4 cup grated jaggery / vellam / sharkkara (this is on the sweeter side so adjust to taste)
1 cup full fat milk + 1/2 cup water (or 1.5 cups low fat milk)
A few cashewnuts (I used almonds)
A few raisins (if you like them, I added very few)
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp ghee
3 cardamom pods, crushed well
A pinch of nutmeg (optional, I didn't add this)

How to make Sakkarai Pongal (Sweet Pongal) Recipe:

1. Traditionally, the rice and dal is simmered in the milk until soft but who has that kind of time these days? Definitely not me. So bring out your pressure cooker if you are anything like me. Wash the rice and dal together. Add the milk + water and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. We want this nice and mushy.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp ghee and roast the cashewnuts / almonds and the raisins until golden brown (the raisins will become plump). Remove from fire and sprinkle cardamom powder and nutmeg, if using, on top. Give it a mix and set aside.

3. Once the pressure leaves the cooker, while still hot, mix in the grated jaggery, roasted almonds and raisins. If the pongal is too thick, add some boiled milk by the tablespoons. If the mixture is too loose, keep on a low fire and mix continuously until desired consistency is achieved.

4. Mix in one more tbsp of ghee and serve warm. I also like it cold from the fridge the next day.

PS: I have a feeling amma adds coconut to this, let me check with her.

PPS: The reason why my sakkarai pongal is a darker shade of brown than what you may have seen is, I used the super unrefined dark brown jaggery from Kerala. Its also unsalted so I mixed in a pinch of salt with the mixture but since you'd all be mostly likely using the salted version, don't bother. The colour of your sakkarai pongal may be lighter but don't worry. Will taste yummy!

March 22, 2010

Chambakka Achaar Recipe / Pickled Water Rose Apple

This is my first pickle recipe but the thing is, I didn't make this! The fact is, ever since I moved out of Kottayam for job and later marriage, I have always been given jarfuls of pickles and podis. Neither TH nor I eat too much pickle and usually stick with having kozhambu with curd rice, rather than, say, mango pickle. Weird, but true.

When amma was here last month I told her this and said I need to get some of her pickle recipes. My favourite is the sweet mango pickle (which will be posted very soon) which she made for me when she was here.
Thanks to Sig for this picture

On to the chambakka achaar now. I did a search to see what chambakka is called in English. I used to call it rose apple after I checked with my Biology teacher when I was in school, but this was before the days of the Internet so I had to verify if she was right. Looks like the right term is water rose apple so she wasn't totally off!

This recipe is special for a couple of reasons. It came from amma (translated and emailed by my fave uncle, Radha Mama), which is reason enough, but she actually made it, put some in her 'pretty bowl', got my brother's dear friend Rajesh Anna to click pics and he then emailed it to me. There were about 8 pics, all in different angles, in true food blogger style!

Chambakka Achar Recipe : Pickled Water Rose Apple Recipe

What's Needed:

Chambakka - 250gm
Chilly powder - 3 tbsp
Asafoetida / Hing / Perungaayam - 1/4 tsp  
Fenugreek seeds / menthayam / uluba - 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 4 tbsp
Mustard seeds / kaduku - 1/4 tsp
A few curry leaves
Salt to taste

How to Make Chambakka Achar:

1. Wash the rose apples thoroughly. Cut into halves, de-seed and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once the seeds pop, add the fenugreek seeds and fry lightly until fragrant and the colour starts to change. (Make sure you don't over do this otherwise the pickle will turn too bitter. )

3. Add the rose apples next with some salt. Saute lightly until the colour starts to lighten and its cooked more than half way through (about 7-10 mins).

4. To this, add the chilly powder, hing, turmeric powder and the curry leaves and mix well, frying lightly for another 5 mins or so on low heat.

5. Store in a clean, dry jar and use after 2 days for best results.

This pickle doesn't keep for too long so refrigerate within 4 days and use within 2 weeks.

HUGE thanks to amma, radha mama and Rajesh anna for making this first pickle post on Edible Garden possible :)

March 16, 2010

Penang Hawker Fare at York Hotel Singapore

I am trying to get better at restaurant review posts. I am constantly looking for personal recommendations when trying to find a place to eat and it only seemed fair I share the same when I eat out myself.

But I can't let this fact come in the way of you and this Penang Hawker Fare at York Hotel in Singapore (right behind GoodWood Park which has amazing high-tea buffets btw and beside Far East Plaza on Scotts Road).

I headed out there this Saturday with Joann and Pui, the ideal eat-out partners I must say.

This fare runs from 12th to 28th March and as far as I know, visits a couple of times a year. There are small stalls set up where food is freshly prepared. You can queue up and get 2 plates at a time. We spread out to get different stuff and meet back at the table.

Joann picked the queue for Char Kway Teow.

Worst pic but best dish of the day. It was just rightly flavoured and the bean sprouts gave it a nice crunch.

The Prawn Mee was a close second - fresh prawns, fish slices and bean sprouts in a delicious noodle soup.

Kang Kong with Cuttlefish - Pass! I am not very daring when it comes to seafood.

Duck Porridge - belongs right down there with the cuttlefish. Boring.

I want you to say hi to Lor Bak. Its fried pieces of prawns, sweet potatoes, fish and tofu in a tempura-like batter and served with a sweet sauce. It was good, really good. If I wasn't so overwhelmingly full at the end of tasting everything else, this is what I would have gone and gotten again.

That doesn't mean the Oyster Omelette was not good. It was a bit on the oily side but the egg : oyster ratio was perfect and the coriander leaves and chilli sauce were a lovely combination. Next time I make scrambled eggs at home, I am garnishing with fresh coriander, yes I am!

I was a bit disappointed with the Penang Laksa, although this is what I was looking forward to the most. While I expected a soupier and tastier version of the Singapore Laksa, it was significantly different in looks, taste and even colour. The Singaporeans say this is an acquired taste but I am not sure if I choose this dish again.

Ah yes, dessert, finally.

This pancake right here, this took me all the way to my childhood and back and I was amazed at how similar Malay and Kerala cuisine can be, mostly because of the liberal use of coconut and coconut milk.

It a slight sweet crunch from the fresh grated coconut and its a bit spongy. There's one small piece of banana and some gula melaka (similar to jaggery) syrup added to the centre while cooking. Its called Apam Balik. Did you get that? Apam! Weird but true.

This was the general favourite. I mean, what can compete with crispy and light as air pancakes filled with roasted, crushed peanuts liberally doused with sugar and gula melaka syrup?

We considered going back and eating just a gazillion of these thinking it would be totally worth the cost of the buffet, especially since they are not available in Singapore. Oh and its called Ban Chang Kueh but don't ask me how you say that.

There were other desserts too, like Ice Kacang and Chendol but we were full beyond belief at this point so just decided to end the madness. Check our Joann's blog for her review.

You want to check out the Penang Hawker Fare at York Hotel too? Here's where the action is:

York Hotel
21 Mount Elizabeth
Singapore 228516
Tel: (+65) 6737 0511

You can't make reservations so check the timings and get there about 15 mins early. There are tons of tables but they filled up fast so queue up and grab your favourite corner and do us a favour - eat the pancakes, lots of 'em!

Cost : SGD 28++ (came up to about SGD 33)

** All pics were taken with my Nexus One because I forgot my camera **

March 11, 2010

Broccoli Kootu Recipe - easy Indian recipes with broccoli

How to make broccoli kootu - TH and I both love Broccoli. I have no clue why its shown as the vegetable of nightmares in cartoons and comics and what not. Maybe because we didn't grow up on it.

I also love the fact that it cooks super fast. Usually, I make a stir fry with mushrooms and broccoli, or add it to pesto pasta or even veg biryani. To prepare broccoli for cooking, I usually immerse the entire thing in some salt water to remove any small bugs or works (usually there are none but just in case) and leave it there for about 30 minutes. Then I run it under clear water and gently cut off the large florets from the thick stem. The florets can then be chopped into smaller pieces as we desire. In this broccoli kootu recipe, I have also used the stems so the entire vegetable got used.

Broccoli Kootu Recipe - easy Indian recipes with broccoli

Last week I was on the phone with Amma and she mentioned how her aunt makes a kootu with cauliflower stems. Usually we discard the thick stems but since theirs was a joint family and a big household, they would save up all the stems and make a kootu with just. What a lovely idea to minimise wastage of vegetables in the kitchen!

My mom makes kootu with moong dal that's been roasted a golden brown. In fact, she recommends that I roast moong dal as soon as I buy it and store it that way so that no bugs or ants enter the jar and it lasts forever. 

I decided to take the lone broccoli I had in the fridge and make a kootu with it, stem and all. Easy decision. So let's check out how I prepared this broccoli kootu. You may also like this pudalangai kootu which is made with snake gourd and chana dal (Tamil style) or even this watercress moong dal recipe which goes great with rice too.

Broccoli Kootu Recipe - easy Indian recipes with broccoli

Broccoli Kootu Recipe

Serves 2-3

1 small broccoli
1/4 cup dry-roasted moong dal / cherupayar
1/4 cup grated coconut
4-5 shallots / ulli / chinna vengayam
3 green chillies (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp cumin / jeera / jeerakam
A pinch of turmeric powder
To temper:
2 tsp oil (I used coconut oil)
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
4 shallots, chopped
A few curry leaves


1. Prepare the broccoli by immersing in salt water for some time and then running under cold water. Cut the florets into desired sizes and then lightly peal the stem before chopping it up too.

2. Grind the coconut coarsely with the shallots, cumin, green chillies and turmeric by adding some water.

3. Heat oil for tempering and add the rest of the ingredients. Once the mustard seeds pop and the shallots turn transparent, add the ground coconut paste and saute for a minute. To this, add the moong dal, 1/2 cup water and cook closed on a low fire for 10-12 mins or until the moong dal turns mushy when pressed between two fingers.

4. Add the broccoli and some salt to the above. Cook in the open pan until the broccoli is soft. We like it semi-soft so I cooked it for lesser time. Adjust according to your liking. You can also add more water at this stage if the kootu turns out too thick.

Broccoli Kootu Recipe - easy Indian recipes with broccoli

Serve broccoli kootu warm with rice and some curry like Andhra onion pulusu or kara kuzhambu

March 8, 2010

Spiced Methi Paratha Recipe | How to Make Methi Paratha

Methi parathas are fragrant and easy-to-prepare Indian parathas with fresh methi or fenugreek leaves. I love methi leaves for the slight bitterness they add to any dish. Methi dal is the usual favourite for TH and I and my default recipe to make with methi leaves. Each time I go to Little India, I scout around for a bunch. Apart from the extra time it takes to pick and clean them, I'd say cooking with the leaves is quite a delight and very rewarding in the flavour front. In fact, kasuri methi, the dried fenugreek leaves we add to dishes like paneer butter masala and paneer jalfrezi really elevate the flavour of those dishes.

Spiced Methi Paratha Recipe | How to Make Methi Paratha

Methi Paratha was the outcome one weekend when I really wanted my cooking duties to end with a simple, single dish. I checked out many recipes online and a couple of cookbooks I have. I realised there are two ways to make methi paratha:

1. Make a spiced stuffing like you do for aloo paratha or gobi paratha and make methi parathas the same way.
2. Chop up the leaves and add them to the dough while making the dough and make parathas as normal.

I decided to go midway between the two options. Check out all methi recipes on Edible Garden.