25 August 2012

Dried Fish Chutney with Green/Dried Red Chilies- Naga Dish

A tribal meal is definitely peculiar but i believe that the beauty of our food lies in its simplicity and freshness. We love our vegetables as much as we love all the hearty and heavy meat dishes. Each tribal community may differ in their way of cooking, as is expected, BUT one thing that link together is the chutney.
We MUST have chutney with every meal that we partake. Most time the chutney makes up for the absence of any side dishes. Many tribal families live a hard life being mostly farmers, and many do not have the luxury of making side dishes for lack of money and time, but much is left unsaid and excused because of the accompaniment of a nice chutney on the table.
Curry prepared in a tribal home may vary from vary bland to very spicy depending on health and preference, yet the chutney will no doubt be fiery hot, and most times made with fresh Naga chilli/ King chilli when in season or the dried ones by either soaking it in hot water or roasting it over hot ashes from the family hearth.
In my home though, my dad forbids daily savoring of the super-hot Naga chilli and so most meals the chutney will be either made with fresh green chillies or the dried red chillies. A good chutney is defined by the quality of the fermented fish. 
I'm sure my neighbors will beg to differ but, when the fermented fish is of good quality, it will be almost sweet smelling (yes despite the fact that it is fermented ;)),  when and if it smell rotten or obscure, throw away or use it up quickly or do not buy it.
A meal is just incomplete without a chutney and while fermented soy beans needs a good pairing with certain dish to fully enjoy it, dried fish chutney is a very versatile dish that just complements anything and everything. A great chutney is one that has perfect balance of four basic ingredientschillies, fermented dried fish, garlic and salt.
The concoction of these four ingredients is the foundation for a great chutney, and to this you can add what ever you want to make a special chutney, for example, a roasted tomato, cooked chicken liver, dried  and shredded beef, herbs of your choice, diced cabbage, cauliflower florets, monkey beans or smelly beans,mashed potato & bambooshoot etc..etc.
A chutney is very close to any tribal person's heart because the very scent of it takes us back to memories of home with loved ones around the dining table, enjoying a hearty meal and great conversation. Ah!
Fermented fish - 4-5
Garlic - 5- 6 Cloves
Green/ Dried Red Chilli - 10 - 12 whole chillies
Salt - as per taste
Coriander/Spring onions for garnish

Roast the fermented fish over the flame for 2-3 minutes on both sides using an old aluminium slotted spoon or any metal with perforated surface, keep aside.

If using green chillies, roast it in the same process as above and peel off the skin, or if using dried red chillies, heat water in the microwave and soak the required amount of chillies covered for 4-5 minutes or until soft.

Now put everything, the chillies, roasted fermented fish, garlic cloves and the salt into a motor & pestle and grind it till everything is well blended and aromatic. Garnish with chopped coriander or spring onions and a wonderful chutney is ready.

14 August 2012

Beetroot - Banana Chocolate Cup Cakes - Tiffin treat for a fussy toddler

I really did not expect my son to be so fussy...and i really hope it improves over time. Last week i made beetroot-banana chocolate cupcakes for his tiffin just so that there will be some input of veggies in his diet. I don't remember being such a picky eater and so i hope that the kiddo will soon grow to love his veggies and fruits and many other great food around.

Back to the cake. Definitely a healthy bite with a cup each of grated beetroot and mashed banana. As my son enjoyed this cuppy-cake i looked on with contentment. The cake turned out so light and fluffy, and smelled amazing as it baked. The scent from the combination of banana and chocolate and vanilla is always mind-blowing. Toddler happy - the mummy  is indeed happy. Unfortunately/fortunately for me, the love for cakes & cookies are long gone...like kaput. I blame my hubby for this happenings in me....somehow his non-addiction to all that is sweet and fluffy in life has rubbed off on me and i do NOT like it! I want the old me to be back ;(

11/2 Cups - Plain Flour
2 Tsp - Baking Powder
1 Tsp - Baking Soda
2 Tbsp - Cocoa Powder 
3/4 Cup - Veg' Oil
1/4 + 2 Tbsp - Sugar (add more if you prefer sweeter cakes)
2 - Eggs
1 Cup - Mashed Banana
1 Tsp - Vanilla Essence
1 Cup - Grated Beetroot

Preheat oven to 180 C, grease a square cake pan or cup cake pans ( your preference) and keep aside.
Sieve all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and keep aside.
Mix the mashed banana with the sugar and mix using a hand blender until smooth, add the oil and blend to combine.
Crack an egg at a time into the banana puree and mix to combine, add the vanilla essence, stir using a spatula or wooden spoon to combine.
Pour the wet over the dry, stir to combine and once well combined, fold in the grated beetroot.
Bake the cup cake in the preheated for 16-18 minutes or for 22 - 24 minutes if making one whole cake.
Sprinkle some icing sugar and serve.