Mar 28, 2010

Benefits of Cardamom, Star Anise & Nutmeg


Cardamom is one of the world’s ancient spices. It is native to the East, originating in the forests of the Western Ghats in South India, where it grows wild. Today, it also grows in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Indo China and Tanzania. The ancient Egyptians chewed cardamom seeds as a tooth cleaner; the Greeks and the Romans used it as a perfume.

Cardamom is an expensive spice, second only to saffron. It is often adulterated and there are many inferior substitutes from cardamom-related plants, such as Siam cardamom, Nepal cardamom, winged Java cardamom, and bastard cardamom. However, it is only Elettaria cardamomum which is the true cardamom. The two popular known varieties of Indian cardamom are: Malabar cardamom and Mysore cardamom. The Mysore variety contains higher levels of cineol and limonene and hence, is more aromatic.

Cardamom comes from the seeds of a ginger-like plant. The small, brown-black sticky seeds are contained in a pod in three double rows with about six seeds in each row. The pods are between 5-20 mm long, the larger variety known as ‘black’, being brown, and the smaller one being green. White-bleached pods are also available. Cardamom is the dried, un-ripened fruit of the perennial Elettaria cardamomum. Enclosed in the fruit pods are tiny, brown, aromatic seeds which are slightly pungent to taste.

Medicinal properties

A stimulant and carminative, cardamom is not used in Western medicine for it own properties, but forms a flavouring and basis for medicinal preparations for indigestion and flatulence using other substances, entering into a synergetic relationship with them. The Arabs attributed aphrodisiac qualities to it and the ancient Indians regarded it as a cure for obesity. It features in curries, is essential in pilaus (rice dishes) and gives character to pulses. Cardamom is often included in Indian sweet dishes and drinks.

Star Anise

Star anise, star aniseed or Chinese star anise is obtained from the star-shaped pericarp of Illicium verum, a small native evergreen tree of southwest China. The star shaped fruits are harvested just before ripening. The essential oil resides in the pericarp, not in the seed.

Medicinal uses

Star anise teas are believed to treat colic in babies. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is a digestive, stimulant and a remedy for intestinal cramps. Poultices containing the spice and hot spice decoctions are used as a cure for arthritis. Star anise is the industrial source of shikimic acid, a primary ingredient used to create the anti-flu drug Tamiflu. Anise enjoys considerable reputation as a medicine in coughs and pectoral affections.

Culinary uses

The spice is widely used in Chinese, Indian (where it is a major component of garam masala) and in Indonesian cuisines. It is largely employed in France, Spain Italy and South America in the preparation of cordial liqueurs. The liqueur Anisette added to cold water on a hot summer day makes a most refreshing drink. Star anise is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. It is also one of the ingredients used to make the broth for the Vietnamese noodle soup.


The nutmeg (Myristica) is a genus of evergreen tree indigenous to tropical Southeast Asia and Australasia. Two spices are derived from the fruit, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped. The most important species commercially is the common or fragrant nutmeg, Myristica fragrans. The fruit is fleshy, about 2-4 inches in length. On ripening, it splits into half, exposing a bright-red, netlike aril wrapped around a dark, reddish-brown, shell within which lies a single seed. The net-like aril is mace, which on drying turns from red to yellowish or orange brown. The brown seed, after the shell is discarded, is nutmeg.

Medicinal properties

The oil is used for rheumatic pain and can be applied as an emergency treatment to dull toothache. In France, it is given in drop doses in honey for digestive upsets. It is also used for bad breath.

Culinary uses

In Indian cuisine, nutmeg is used almost exclusively in sweets. It is known as jaiphal in most parts of India. It is also used in small quantities in garam masala. In European cuisine, nutmeg and mace are used in potato dishes and in processed meat products. It is also used in soups, sauces and baked goods. It is used as a natural food flavouring in baked goods, syrups (e.g. Coca Cola), beverages and sweets.

Source - The Hindu
Photo Credit - 123 Photos

Mar 23, 2010

Naadan Chicken Curry ( Kerala Cuisine )

Naadan Chicken Curry


Chicken - 1 kg

Onion - 400 g

Green chilli - 20 g , slit lengthwise

Ginger - 20 g , finely chopped

Garlic -20 g, finely chopped

Chilli powder - 2 teaspoon

Coriander powder - 3 teaspoon

Chicken masala powder - 2 teaspoon (or 1/4 teaspoon clove powder, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder and 1/4 teaspoon nut meg powder)

Curry leaves - 2 springs

Coconut oil - 1 tablespoon (or 1 - 3 tablespoon)

Thin coconut milk - 300 ml

Thick coconut milk - 150 ml

Salt to taste

Turmeric powder - 1 pinch


Cut the chicken into medium pieces and marinate it with a little chilli powder and salt for a while.

Make the first and second extract of coconut milk ( or instant coconut milk )

Heat kadai (pan), add coconut oil and sauté sliced onions, green chilli, ginger, garlic and curry leaves.

Then add chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and chicken masala powder.

Put the chicken pieces in the kadai and cook till it is half done.

Add thin coconut milk , cover with a lid and cook on a low heat till done.

Finally add thick coconut milk ( do not boil again ) and serve hot. Naadan chicken curry goes well with Appam / Kerala Parotta / Rice ..

Mar 16, 2010

Parippu Vada ( Dal Vada )

Parippu Vada ( Dal Vada )

Makes: 8


1/2 cup ( 100 ml / 4 oz ) Tur dal
1 1/2 cup water ( for soaking dal )
5 small onion ( chuvannulli / sambar onion ), finely chopped
1/2 - inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
6 curry leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt ( or to taste )
200 ml cooking oil ( 3/4 - inch from the base of the kadai )


Wash and soak turdal for 1 1/2 hours. Drain out water completely.

Make a coarse paste in a mixer for 30 - 45 seconds ( Do not add extra water while grinding ).

Transfer this ‘’ coarse ‘’ parippu vada paste to another bowl and mix with chopped small onions, green chilli, ginger, curry leaves and salt.

Divide this mixture into small lemon sized balls and flatten into round shape. Keep aside.

Heat oil in a kadai. Reduce heat to medium and deep fry on a medium heat in batches ( 4 parippu vadas at a time ) till golden color on both sides / crisp / you’ll get a nice aroma of small onions ( approximate frying time 12 - 15 minutes ).

Serve with Tea / Coffee.

Mar 12, 2010

Mutton Curry ( with coconut milk and potatoes )

Mutton Curry ( with coconut milk and potatoes ) or Mutton Thengapaal Curry

Serves: 4

Recipe Credit - My Husband


500 g mutton, curry cut pieces
2 potatoes, cut into 4 pieces
300 g onions, thinly sliced
2 spring curry leaves
3 green chillies, slit lengthwise
2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup water
200 ml thick coconut milk

For marination:

1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1 teaspoon pepper powder
2 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
30 g ( 2 tablespoon ) ginger - garlic paste


Wash and clean mutton pieces. Drain out water completely and marinate with above ingredients for an hour.

Heat oil in a wide kadai. Fry sliced onions till pink and fragrant. Add ginger - garlic paste, green chillies and curry leaves. Fry for 2- 3 minutes.

Add marinated mutton pieces and potatoes. Saute on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup water and adjust salt to taste ( extra 1/2 teaspoon salt ).

Mix well, cover with a lid, stir occasionally and cook on a low heat for 45 - 55 minutes ( till done / fragrant / gravy thickens ). Switch off the heat.

Finally add thick coconut milk. Mix well. Do not boil again. Serve with Rotis / Chapati / Pulao / Rice / Appam / Bread ...

Mar 11, 2010

Cabbage Pakoda

Cabbage Pakoda

Makes: 20


1 cup cabbage, finely shredded ( use only tender cabbage leaves, remove the thick vein, if any )
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/4 cup gram flour ( besan / kadala maavu )
1 tablespoon rice flour
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
3 pinches asafoetida ( hing )
3/4 teaspoon salt ( or to taste )
1/2 cup water
200 ml oil for frying ( 1 - inch from the base of the kadai )


In a bowl, mix all the ingredients together and keep aside for 15 minutes. Batter should be thick in consistency ( do not add more water).

Heat oil in a kadai. Drop teaspoons of the pakoda batter and reduce heat to medium ( 6 - 7 pakodas at a time ). Fry till golden color on both the sides.

Serve as an evening snack with Tomato sauce or coconut chutney.

Mar 10, 2010

Mysore Bonda

Mysore Bonda

Makes: 10 - 12


1 cup urad dal
2 cups water ( for soaking urad dal )
1/4 cup water ( for grinding )

Other ingredients

1 - inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 spring curry leaves
1 tablespoon coconut gratings
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
1/2 teaspoon salt ( or to taste )
250 ml for deep frying ( 1 3/4 -inch from the base of the kadai / frying pan )


Wash and soak urad dal for 2 hours. Drain out water completely.

Add 2 - 3 teaspoon water and grind urad dal to a fine paste in a mixer / grinder. Sprinkle 2 teaspoon extra water while grinding. Batter should be thick in consistency ( do not add more water ).

Transfer bonda batter to another bowl and mix with chopped ginger, green chilli, curry leaves, peppercorns, hing, coconut gratings and salt. Do not keep the batter more than 10 minutes. Prepare immediately.

Heat oil in a kadai. Reduce heat to medium.

Make lemon sized balls ( bondas ) and deep fry in batches ( 4 - 5 at a time ) on a medium heat till golden color. Drain on paper towels to absorb extra oil.

Serve as an evening snack with coconut chutney / sambar ..

Mar 6, 2010

Jackfruit Unniyappam

Jackfruit Unniyappam

Makes: 12 - 14


For the batter:

1 cup raw rice
1/2 cup grated coconut
6 bulbs of ripe jackfruit with seeds removed with the flesh cleaned
1/4 cup water

Ripe Jackfruit Bulbs

Other ingredients

1/2 cup to 3/4 cup melted jaggery
1 tablespoon maida ( wheat flour )
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1 tablespoon ghee

Unniyappam Kadai


Soak raw rice in 2 cups water for 6 hours and drain out water.

Make a smooth batter of soaked rice with grated coconut and ripe jackfruit bulbs. Add 1/4 cup water while grinding in a mixer or grinder. Batter should be just like ‘’ Idli ‘’ batter and pouring consistency.

Transfer this batter to another container and mix with melted jaggery, cardamom powder and maida. Keep aside for an hour.

Heat Unniyappam kadai on a medium heat. Sprinkle each mould with little ghee. Pour batter in each mould ( ¾ th of the mould ). Sprinkle ghee again over batter. Cover with a lid and cook on a slow flame for 12 – 15 minutes till crisp and sides turn golden colour (until the edges separate from the kadai moulds and you start getting a nice aroma ). Flip them over (to cook the top side) with the help of stick and cook again for 8- 10 minutes. It’s a delicious snack .

Maggi Pazzta

Maggi Pazzta

How to cook Maggi Pazzta ?

Cooking Time: 5 minutes


1, Add Pazzta and Tastemaker to 1 1/2 teas cup ( 225 ml ) water and stir well.

2, Cook for 5 minutes in an open pan. Stir occasionally. Serve hot. It’s ready in just 5 minutes.

Serve as a snack ( not a complete meal ).

Mar 5, 2010

Unnakaya ( Malabar Cuisine )


Makes: 6


2 Ripe Kerala Bananas ( Nenthrampazham )

2 tablespoon grated coconut
2 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoon Raisins
5 cashew nuts, chopped
2 teaspoon ghee ( for coconut )

2 tablespoon oil / ghee
 ( for shallow frying )


Steam the banana till tender ( or Microwave High for 4 minutes ). Mash it to a fine paste. Divide into six portions.

Heat ghee in a frying pan. Add cashew nut, raisins, grated coconut and sugar. Sauté on a low heat till it turns slightly brown and fragrant. Keep aside and make 5 portions.

Take a little of the banana paste in the palm, flatten it, stuff it with grated coconut- cashew - kismis mixture and roll into elongated shape very carefully.

Heat oil / ghee in a wide frying pan. Arrange Unnakayas gently and shallow fry on a low heat till golden color on both sides ( approximately 15 - 20 minutes ). Traditional Malabar recipe is deep fry in hot oil / ghee.

Serve hot as an evening snack. It’s a popular snack in Malabar and also very tasty and rich in calories.

How to cook Knorr Soupy Noodles ?

How to cook Knorr Soupy Noodles?

Serves - 1

Cooking Directions

1, Add noodles and entire contents of soup powder sachet to 2 cups of COLD WATER ( 300 ml ) and stir well.

2, Bring to a boil and simmer to 3 minutes. Optional: Add chopped boiled vegetables / boiled boneless meat for more nutrition.

3, Do not dry the noodles completely. Serve hot as soupy noodles.

Mar 1, 2010

Paneer Potato Bonda ( without onion & garlic )

Paneer Potato Bonda

Makes: 9


For the Bonda:

3 potatoes, boiled and mashed

100 g paneer (cottage cheese) , cut into small cubes ( 1/4 - inch ) or crumbled paneer

1 tablespoon grated carrot

2 teaspoon oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon jeera ( cumin seeds )

1/2 teaspoon urad dal

1 spring curry leaves or 6 nos

1 teaspoon chopped ginger

2 green chillies, slit lengthwise

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon salt ( or to taste )

2 pinches asafoetida ( hing )

2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (optional)

250 ml oil for frying bondas (oil level should be 1 1/2 - inch from the base of the kadai )

For the Batter:

1 cup ( approximately 175 gm ) gram flour ( besan / kadala maavu )

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

2 pinches hing ( asafoetida)

1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoon water


For the batter:

Mix all the ingredients well and make smooth batter with water. Batter should not be too watery. It should be of dropping consistency. Keep aside for 15 minutes.

For the seasoning:

Heat oil in a kadai/ frying pan. Add mustard seeds. When they pop, add cumin seeds, urad dal, curry leaves, chopped ginger and slit green chilies. Fry for 2 - 3 minutes.

Add turmeric powder and saute on a low heat till the raw smell goes.

Add boiled and mashed potatoes, paneer cubes, grated carrot, hing and salt to taste. Do not add water. Mix well.

Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes. Switch off the heat. Finally mix with chopped coriander leaves (optional). Allow the mixture to cool for some time. Remove the slit green chillies. Make lemon sized balls ( bondas ) and keep aside.

For the Bondas:

Heat oil in a kadai or frying pan. Reduce heat to medium.

Dip each lemon sized bondas in gram flour batter and ( ensure the batter is well coated ) deep fry on a medium heat till golden color. Drain out oil and  place on paper towels to absorb extra oil. Serve as an evening snack with tomato sauce / coconut chutney.