Mangalorean Chili, Salt and Vinegar Marinade + Fish Fry

Mangalorean Fish Fry

I moved to Bangalore seven years ago, and that’s when I realized that food down south is much more than idli, dosa and sambhar. Each state in the south has its own distinct cuisine as do states up north. And its sad that we are so oblivious to this vast variety of delicious food. I’ve always been a fan of curry leaves and mustard seeds (not used very frequently in North Indian households) and my sister says she always knew I had a South Indian connection.

My husband is from Mangalore which is a beautiful, sleepy coastal town in Karnataka. The food there is generously spiced, elaborately prepared and you can always count on a seafood dish to accompany your meal.

Fish Fry

Over the last two years that I’ve spent visiting my in-laws in Mangalore, I’ve learnt a thing or two. And through the blog, I want to explore some of this beautiful cuisine.

One of the first things that I discovered is an all purpose marinade called Meet Mirsang which is a staple in Mangalorean households. This chili based paste is preserved with vinegar and salt, and has an addictive spicy sour zing to it.

Traditionally this is made by soaking red chilies overnight and then grinding them to a paste on a grinding stone or a mortar and pestle along with other spices and vinegar. The pulverizing movement of a grinding stone releases the flavors and gives the paste a smooth, silky texture which is sometimes hard to achieve in a food processor.

I don’t own a large enough mortal and pestle in Bangalore and after a few tries, was able to mimic the taste with powdered red chilies. I would highly recommend going the whole hog, but to begin with, do try this instant version.

This is a versatile paste and I will be doing a series of posts to show you how to use this in three delicious ways.

Today’s post has a recipe of Meet Mirsang along with an easy Fish Fry which is sure to wow your guests. I’ve used Pomfret which is easily available in India, but it can be substituted with any firm fish such as Seer, King Fish or Mackeral.

In case you are vegetarian, don’t worry. Use this marinade to dress up paneer (cottage cheese), cauliflower and even brinjal.

Chili, Vinegar and Salt Marinade

Chili, Salt and Vinegar Marinade | Meet Mirsang 

4 tablespoons Red Chili Powder (I recommend Kashmiri Red Chili Powder)
1 tablespoon Roasted Cumin Powder
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
3/4 teaspoon Salt
4 1/2 tablespoons distilled White Vinegar

1. Add all the dry ingredients to a bowl and add vinegar to make a smooth thick paste.

2. Transfer paste to an air tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

3. If using your hands to mix, DO NOT touch your fingers to your eyes or any part of your face and wash your hands thoroughly after use.

Mangalorean Fish Fry

Mangalorean Fish Fry

Serves 2

1 whole Pomfret, approx 600 gms
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoon Meet Mirsang Paste
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Coconut Oil or Ghee
Onions and Lime for garnishing

1. Make slits in the pomfret and apply paste all over it. Feel free to use more marinade if you like it extra hot. Push paste in the slits as well and keep aside for 10 minutes.

2. Heat oil or ghee in a non stick pan and slide the fish in, once hot.

3. Pan fry the fish with seven minutes on each side.

4. Serve hot with onion rings and a dash of lime juice.

Comfort Food: Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew Half

My husband and I have been stuck with the flu for a week now. And when that happens, you suddenly realize how limited your options for food are!

Chicken Stew with Bread

We tried some khichdi (an Indian spiced lentil and rice porridge) and some more khichdi and then some, till we couldn’t have any more. In between, we also had some soup and porridge and then repeated the whole thing all over again. I was kinda okay with the whole routine, but Denver couldn’t stomach it anymore. He needed to bite into some real food (read: meat). He’d had too much of all the sick food. Only problem was that we were still sick. So we decided to keep it light with some chicken stew.

Seared Chicken

Have some stew, when you got the flu. Said no one ever. I wonder why. We made some really simple stew and it kept us company for lunch and dinner. Its hearty, warm and filling and goes so well with bread, rice or chapati; whatever catches your fancy.

Like wine, it also gets better with age. I recommend keeping it for a few hours because it tastes even better!

Chicken Stew Half

Chicken Stew
Serves 2-3

6-8 pieces Chicken
2 teaspoon Ginger Garlic paste
1 tablespoon Lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Bayleaf
1 inch whole Cinnamon
6-8 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 inch piece Ginger, julienned
1 medium sized Onion, sliced
1 cup button Mushroom, halved
1/2 cup Carrot, sliced
1 cup Radish, sliced (I used white radish)
2 medium sized Potatoes, halved and quartered
3 cups Chicken stock (Can be replaced with water)
1 tablespoon freshly ground Black Pepper
Salt to taste
2 teaspoon All purpose flour
1/2 cup Water

1. Rub ginger garlic paste and lemon juice over chicken and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a non stick pot and add the chicken pieces. Brown them on high flame for 2-3 minutes on either side. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil to the same pan. Add the bayleaf, cinnamon, ginger, garlic and sliced onions. Its important to use the same pan  because the browned bits of chicken stuck to the pan help make the wonderful sauce. Saute the onions for 10-15 minutes till golden brown.

4. Add mushrooms and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the carrots, radish and the chicken. Stir for a few minutes. Add the chicken stock, black pepper and salt. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes.

5. Taste to check for seasoning. Add the flour to water and mix till there are no lumps to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the pot and bring to a boil while stirring continuously. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

6. Let the stew sit for a few minutes before serving. It tastes even better if its been sitting for a few hours or overnight. Serve warm with bread or rice.

Multigrain Bread

Multigrain Bread_Jam

Hands up if the thought of baking bread scares you? It did me too. Till I tried.

Watching the yeast bubble in warm water, feeling the dough start to change structure in your hands as you knead it and the fresh, toasty smell of bread filling your kitchen as it bakes – all of this makes it worth a try.

Multigrain Bread

This bread has been adapted from The Break Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart who is the God of bread baking. I’ve tried multiple recipes from this book and this is one of my favorite. Although the recipe asks for all purpose flour, I was able to adapt it easily to incorporate whole wheat flour and increase the hydration to get a fantastic moist and airy crumb structure.

Crumb Structure

However, this is a bit of a project and needs a basic understanding of bread baking. I recommend that you try this if you already have some experience baking breads. If you are a beginner, try the Garlic and Basil Buns or the Pull – apart Cinnamon Rolls.

This recipe also requires preparation a day in advance.

Multigrain Slice

Multigrain Bread
Makes 1 two pound loaf

Soaker (To be made a day in advance)

3 tablespoons coarse cornmeal
3 tablespoons oats
2 tablespoons oat bran
1/4 cup water, at room temperature

Dough

Soaker
1 1/2 cup or 191 g All-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup or 191 g Wholewheat flour
1 tablespoon or 8 g Gluten
3 tablespoons or 42 g sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons or 10 g salt
1 tablespoon or 9 g instant or active yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons or 28 g honey
1/2 cup or 113 g milk
1 cup minus 1 tablespoon or 215 g water
1 teaspoon oil for brushing
Mixed seeds such as pumpkin, melon, sesame and flax for sprinkling

1. Make the soaker by combining the ingredients a day or at least 10 hours before making the bread. The water will just about hydrate the ingredients. Cover the bowl and leave it at room temperature.

2. To make the dough, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. If using a stand mixer, mix on low speed using a paddle attachment. However, I prefer to combine by hand.

3. The dough will be wet and sticky, but this hydration makes for a better crumb structure. Knead by hand for 10-12 minutes and you will notice the dough changing structure to become smoother and less sticky.

4. Brush a bowl with oil, and leave the dough, covered by cling film, to rise till it doubles in size. This may take between 1 to 1 1/2 hour.

5. Once the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and form it into a loaf or any freestanding shape. While shaping, the dough would deflate. Place the loaf shaped dough into a 9 by 5 inch lightly oiled loaf tin. If making a freestanding shape, place it on a lightly oiled baking tray. Brush lightly with water and sprinkle mixed seeds on it.

6. Cover the dough lightly with a moist cloth. Let the dough rise again at room temperature for 60 minutes or until it almost doubles in size.

7. Bake in a 175 degree celcius pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes.

8. Remove the loaf immediately from pan after baking and cool on a wire rack. To check for doneness, tap the bottom of the loaf and it should sound hollow.

9. Serve once cooled. This is an important step because the dough continues to cook till it cools down completely.

This bread makes the best toast I’ve ever eaten. So try this toasted and slathered with warm butter or jam.

Rose and Honey Flavored Oats

Rose and Honey Flavored Oats

With the new year, come new resolutions.

‘Losing weight and getting fit’ tops Time Magazine‘s list of new year resolutions made and broken. Ha! Don’t we all relate to that one?

But then, don’t we also decide to try one more time? Just between you and me, I must have made and broken this resolution at least five hundred and sixty seven times – if you count every second week of the year. So hard to resist that jar of Nutella, isn’t it?

Dried Rose Petals

So yet again, let’s give it one more shot. I started the year with this breakfast dish that is so versatile and can be made with many flavor combinations. My favorite is using rose, cardamom and honey to elevate the humble oats to an almost dessert like quality.

Rose and Honey Oats

Rose and Honey Flavored Oats

Serves 2

2 cups milk
2 teaspoon dried rose petals
3 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cup instant Quaker oats
2-3 teaspoon honey

1. Add rose petals and cardamom pods to milk and slowly bring to a simmer. Avoid bringing to a boil quickly so that the flavors permeate the milk. I used 2% skim milk, but feel free to use any kind.

2. Strain the milk and discard the rose petals and cardamom pods. In the same vessel, add oats, honey and the milk and cook for 3-4 minutes, adjusting its consistency to suit you. Add more milk to thin the porridge if you like. 1/4-1/2 cup will not alter the taste.

3. Enjoy while its warm.

Of Farewells & Homecoming

Shrimp Cutlets

Last week was a week of goodbyes and homecomings. We found out that we’ve to move back to Bangalore in two months time. I had always thought that I would welcome the news with open arms but was surprised to find that I had mixed feelings. I have grown to love Hyderabad, and our home in the city. Its our first home together after we got married, where we’ve filled an empty space with love and memories. Its going to be difficult to leave everything behind, but we also have a chance now to make new memories in Bangalore, closer to our family and friends.

It was also a weekend filled with a road trip, lots of excitement and a farewell. My father-in-law who teaches in Mysore is retiring and his department put together a fantastic farewell ceremony for him where he was felicitated with much love and adoration. The good news is that this isn’t the big ‘ole goodbye for him. In his words, its “Au Revoir” which means ‘see you again’ as he’s not going just yet. He’s been granted Professor Emeritus status and will continue to teach for another three years. It was so heartening to see how much he was loved by his colleagues and students alike, and what a difference he’s made to their lives. We were all bursting with pride!
Cultural Programe, Mysore University

FIL's Felicitation

Roadtrip stopover

Roadtrip

St. Phelomena's Church, Mysore

Because of all the travelling that we’ve been doing, we had a lot of frozen shrimps sitting in the freezer, just waiting to be eaten and I decided to use them all at once and make shrimp cutlets. I’ve been wanting to try these for ages now but I wasn’t sure how to do it. Then I decided to use the same techniques as for vegetable cutlets and surprisingly, they were phenomenal!
Work in Progress Shrimp Patties
Shrimp Cutlets

Shrimp Cutlets
Makes 8 to 10
What do you need?

Shrimp or Prawns: 200 g
Onion, finely chopped: 1
Garlic, minced: 3-4 cloves
Small Capsicum, finely chopped: 1
Coriander, finely chopped: 2-3 tbsp
Jalapeno, finely chopped: 1
Brown breadcrumbs: 1/4 cup
Cumin Powder: 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder: 1/2 tsp
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Olive Oil: 2-3 tbsp

How do you do this?
– Pulse the shrimp in a food processor a few times until a coarse paste forms. I like it slightly chunky.
– Add all the other ingredients except olive oil and mix together till the seasoning is well-distributed. Don’t over mix.
– Add olive oil to a non stick pan and heat. In the meanwhile, form shrimp mixture into patties. Place patties on the hot pan for 4 minutes on each side. Do not move them around too much.
– Serve with Siracha and bread rolls, or wrap in a chapati to make a healthy kathi roll.