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Flavours of Kuttanad

 

File:Kerala Kuttanad1.jpg

                           Lush greenish paddy fields extending well beyond the horizon, the inlets of shimmering waterways, myriad streams and pristine lakes and rivers that flows through, luxury houseboats carrying visitors to the rural life beauty, toddy shops name board displaying the hot and exotic dishes of the day, fisherman casts their nets in a circular form to get the catch of the day, small boats carrying household items and peoples, muscled oarsmen throwing their paddles at a sequence in the snake boat race, the images goes on while thinking about Kuttanad-a land which laced by water bodies and paddy fields, virtually known as the “granary of Kerala.”

Kuttanad is a region which surrounded by the water, the boats and water transports where the most feasible way to get connected with rest of land. Many of the land owners own their own private boats ranging small to medium with a private jetty near to their house. It’s a mean to transport man and materials. Living in an isolated water bound world, Kuttanad always keep that natural serenity throughout their life.

The soul of Kuttanad is back water, the vembanad lake. The taste and tales are around this lake to offer some of the most sought after gourmet delights to food lovers. The ethnic cuisine which is dominated by the Christian community which revolves around the geographical aspects of kuttanad. Fish and seafood plays a vital role and it is not complete without the duck and pearlspot fish. The hot and furious dishes of toddy shops taken the central arena now a days with much popularity. Travelling to this region looking forward to some of the best cuisine in Kerala was a gourmet’s treasure which I realized once into that.

Thakazhi- a rural village in lower Kuttanad was my destination. Well known by the writer Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, I heard about this village long back. Travelled in a two wheeler through the rout of Thiruvalla -Edathua road and make a turn to the Kuttanad region, my eyes were browed by the beauty of the nature. It was a feast to the eyes that never soars. The vast stretches of paddy field in both sides of the roads were swaying by winds, the palm fringed canals and myriad streams harmonizing with the road, the narrow pedestrian bridges across the canals, isolated land in mid of water, low land cultivation of agro crops, ducks quaking in the fields in high decibel, herds of bird flying in and out, signage of Kallu shap or toddy shops with their day specials, mind was exaggerated. Having one of the best meals in a traditional home at the small village, nothing but I realized that whatever I heard was a fraction of it and reality was much above. Kuttanadan duck roast– duck prepared with shallots, curry leaves, ginger and spices,karimeen mappas– pearlspot fish cooked in a coconut based gravy flavored with coriander, meen vattichathu– fish simmered in a fiery red chilli gravy, beef ularthiyathu- tender beef sautéed with coconut, shallot, curry leaves, etc were very few to mention, and the array was endless for a food lover. The journey was all about to explore the taste of the region, where kuttanad never soars the eyes rather tempting every traveler to come back in sake of delectable taste and picturesque beauty.

Karimeen vattichathu

Pearlspot fish-500gm

Turmeric powder-1/2tsp

Kashmiri chilli powder-4tsp

Sliced shallots-1/4cup

Sliced green chilli- 1tsp

Curry leaves-1 sprig

Fish tamarind-2-3pc

Ginger jouliennes- 1 tsp

Sliced garlic-1tbsp

Mustard-1tsp

Methi seeds-1/2tsp

Methi powder-1/4tsp

Coconut oil-1/4 cup

Salt-to taste

Method-

 

Clean the pearlspot fishes, cut it into two and wash well with salt and lemon juice. Soak the tamarind in water, wash and cut it into two.

Heat the coconut oil in a mud pot, splutter mustard, methi seeds, add curry leaves, green chilli, ginger and garlic. Saute for a while and add sliced shallots. Fry all till golden brown. Add turmeric powder, methi powder and Kashmiri chilli powder, give a quick fry and add two cups of water. Add the tamarind (kudampuli) and simmer the gravy . Add the cleaned and pieced fish with salt, cover with a lid and simmer in a slow fire till the fish is done and the gravy is thicken and fish is well coated. remove from the fire, garnish with curry leaves and serve hot with boiled parboiled rice.

Kuttanadan beef roast

Beef-500gm

Sliced Shallots-1cup

Green chilli slitted-3-4nos

Coconut slices-2tbsp

Ginger jouliennes-1 tbsp

Sliced garlic- 1tbsp

Curry leaf-2 sprig

Turmeric powder-1/2tsp

Red chilli powder-2tsp

Coriander powder- 1 ½ tbsp.

Coconut oil-1/4 cup

Vinegar-2tbsp

Salt- to taste

For powdering-

Black pepper-1 tbsp

Fennel seeds-2 tsp

Cinnamon- 3-4 pc

Cloves-3-4nos

Cardamom-3-4nos

Method-

Wash and trim the beef, cut into cubes,wash well and drain. Powder the spices together and mix with chilli powder and coriander powder . take 2 tsp of masala powder and marinate the beef along with one tsp oil,vinegar, salt, one sprig curry leaves and half the ginger and garlic and keep aside for 30 mins. Pressure cook the beef till it tender.

Heat oil in a kadai, fry curry leaves, ginger, garlic and green chilli. Add the sliced shallots and fry till it golden brown color. Add the sliced coconut and fry well. Add turmeric, saute for a while and add the rest of masala and fry for a minute. Make sure the masala won’t burn. Add the cooked beef into this along with the liquid and stir fry well till it combined well and dark brown in color. Roast well the beef until it is completely tender and the aroma arises , remove from the fire and garnish with curry eaves and serve hot with kerala paratha.