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Clam Fry - Kakka Irachi Varuthathu

>> September 29, 2012


The backwaters of Kochi are a rich source of tasty fish, prawns and clams. Some of these tasty creatures  are specific to the backwaters of Kochi that extends to Alleppey, Kollam and Kumarakom. To name a few are pearlspot (Karimeen), mullet (Kanambu and Thirutha), mud crabs, prawns and these tasty clams.

All these are also a part of the 'Gods own country' tag. Uunfortunately these are facing a hard time because of the unscrupulous or rather unthoughtful developments that are clogged around Kochi. It seems some tourists choose Kochi or Alleppey just to eat the Karimeen which is turned into a mild fish moilee to suit their palette.

A major part of the backwaters was sold for real estate development when the Goshree Bridge was commissioned. The filling of backwaters continues without giving a thought on the environmental disasters that can ensue. 

The latest development strategy is Emerging Kerala. I did not really delve into the details, but just know that days after the announcement we are also going through hours of loadshedding (no power supply). The sun is shining quite well these days. So I think it is a coincidental indication that we should switch to Solar Power and save the earth ourselves.

Sorry for getting intp the contemporary news......coming back to the clams....these are collected by professional clam collectors by diving into the backwaters. They boil it and the shells are removed before it reaches the commercial place - the markets and individual sellers. 

Eating clams from hotels may not be a very good idea because it requires good cleaning. You can see a black portion of it in the fresh ones which is dirt. You should pinch it off or use a fish scissor to cut it off.

Recipe for Clam Fry (sometimes clams are mistaken for mussels)

Fresh Clams – 300 gms approx (if you are using canned clams use just 225 – 250 gms)

Ingredients to boil the clams
Ginger – ½ inch piece sliced into juliennes
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Green chilly – 2 nos
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Garlic – 4 cloves (optional)
Salt to taste

Ingredients to fry (this is not a deep fry)

Oil – 3-4 tbsp  (coconut or vegetable oil)
Onion – 2, julienned
Garlic – 6 cloves, chopped
Curry leaves, again – 1 or 2 sprigs (you can remove the curry leaves from the boiled clams)

powders
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Chilly powder – ½ , ¾ or 1 tsp depending on your taste
Pepper powder – ½ tsp

Salt to taste

The method

Clean the clams first by washing it in hot water twice and then by removing the dark / dirt as mentioned in the last paragraph above. Once done, rinse in cold water twice to get rid of any dirt sticking to the clams.

Place it in a heavy bottom pan or clay pot with water covering just half of the clams. Add all the ingredients to boil, and cook in medium heat for about 15 minutes or until it turns soft. There should be only about 2-3 tbsp water once the clams are cooked.

Heat oil in a wide, heavy bottom pan or cast iron skillet and add the onion and garlic. Stir it till it is translucent. Add the curry leaves and powders and stir for few seconds. Add the boiled clams and turn to high heat. Keep stir till the water evaporates from the clams. When water is almost fully evaporated from the clams cover the pan with a lid. The clams will give a bursting sound inside and turn firm. This is the consistency. Turn to low flame and carefully open the lid and stir so that all the clams get high heat and explode. Continue this till all clams turn hard as you see in the picture. Serve with rice. You won’t need anything else to have this.

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Mail me to roshanscucina@gmail.com to clarify any doubts before trying a recipe..

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Simple Flavourful Semiya Payasam (without condensed milk)

>> September 04, 2012


All the luxuries in life need not be reaally luxurious. I just wanted to say that you can enjoy gourmet food without the oomph ingredient which in this recipe is the condensed milk. 

We were not at home this Onam and i just couldn't manage myself without preparing a payasam, though i had few varieties of payasam during the Onam celebrations at my office. Coming to condensed milk, it is not an ingredient which i usually store. Because it cannot be stored for more than a day especially if the can  has been opened once. There is one thing you need to be careful with the tin. In our violent urge to lick the last bit of condensed milk left in the tin it is usual that we try to wipe it with our finger. But if the rim / seal of the tin extents out even a little bit, it is very likely that we get injured. Well, i have got injured that way and got a deep wound in my pointing finger. 

This was a quickfix Vermicelli payasam which i prepared after returning from office (bcoz) i couldnt wait till the next weekend. The sun was setting and i tried to get the last bit of sunlight and there you can see the shadow of our window in the photograph.

The recipe is simple. Preparation & Cooking time - 20 minutes. Serves four sumptuously.

ingredients

Use the same cup to measure the ingredients - the right proportion yields best results

Vermicelli / Semiya - 1 cup
Sugar - 1 cup
Milk - 3 cup (2 1/2 + 1/2)
Water - 1/3 cup
Cashewnutes - a handful
Raisins - 3-4 tbsp
Cardamom - 6-8 medium sized, peeled
Ghee - 1 1/2 tbsp




the method

Heat a sauce pan in medium heat and add ghee. Fry the cashewnuts and raisins and keep it aside. To the remaining ghee add the vermicelli and stir till the vermicelli starts to turn golden brown.

Add water and half cup milk and let the semiya cook (about 7 minutes). Stir continuously to avoid the mixture from forming a layer on top. Cook in medium heat continuously.

Semiya / Vermicelli is a kind of pasta. The normal cooking time for all types of pasta is 9 minutes. Vermicelli is stirred in ghee to make it non stick and to prevent it from turning mushy.

When the vermicelli has been cooking for seven minutes add the remaining milk. Continue stirring. You can keep your eye off to grab other ingredient. That much time the payasam can hold without you :-)

I like to powder the cardamom with sugar bcoz i dont store cardamom in powder form. Put the sugar and cardamom in a mixie jar. I mentioned flavorful in the name for a reason. When you powder the sugar and cardamom you can add few fried nuts also to bring in that added flavour. Put it in the mixie for, say, 5 - 8 seconds. Add the sugar to the semiya mixture. Stir well and let it boil for 1 or 2 minutes. Add the friend cashew nuts and raisins. Serve at room temperature.

The Semiya Payasam has a not so thick not so runny consistency.

Belated Onam Wishes!

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