Beef Olathiathu (Spicy Roast Beef)

Kerala Style Beef Ularthiyathu1
Happy New Year! I want to wish each one of you God’s richest blessings in 2015. May the new year bring you good health, peace, happiness, and prosperity.

Beef olathiathu is my all-time favorite Kerala beef recipe. It’s my sister, Leela’s, signature dish and I’m sharing it as a gift to my readers for all the “likes” and comments you made on my Facebook page and here on my blog. I hope you will treasure this recipe as much as I do!

Thanks to my sister, (my Ammama), for teaching me how to make this traditional Syrian Christian dish. In Kerala, in the old days, the meat would be cooked in an urali – a heavy metal vessel, which retains heat for a long time. Today, the urali is replaced with the modern pressure cooker.

The beef is cooked and roasted in coconut oil, which complements the spices perfectly. If you prefer, you may use peanut or grape seed oil. But then, of course, you will lose some of the authentic flavor and aroma. Make this dish for New Year and enjoy the compliments!

Beef Olathiathu (Spicy Roast Beef)
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

1 pound beef, (washed, drained, and cut into ¾-inch cubes)
40 dry red chillies, (reduce the number depending on heat and your preference)
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper corns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1-inch piece cinnamon
2 cardamoms
6 cloves
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cup fresh or frozen coconut pieces, (cut into 1-inch, thin chips)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
5 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup thinly sliced shallots
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon white vinegar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves

In a small non-stick pan, over medium-low heat, dry roast the chillies, coriander, pepper, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom seeds, cloves, and fennel seeds until they smell fragrant. Cool completely and grind to a fine powder in a coffee grinder. Set aside.

Mix the coconut pieces, turmeric powder, and salt in a small bowl. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pressure cooker over medium heat. Add the coconut pieces and fry until light brown. Add the ground spices, half the shallots, ginger, garlic, vinegar, beef, and water.  Close the cooker and bring to full cooking pressure, on high heat. Reduce to medium heat and cook for ten minutes or until the meat is tender. The amount of time will depend on the cut of beef and your pressure cooker. Allow the cooker to cool gradually. Open the lid and dry roast the beef until all the water evaporates.

To season the meat, heat the remaining oil in a small non-stick pan, over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and when they splutter, add the curry leaves, and shallots. Fry until the shallots turn brown. Add the seasoning to the meat in the pressure cooker. Place the pressure cooker over medium heat, stir and roast until all the pieces are well coated with the spices. You can garnish this dish with sprigs of fried curry leaves, if you desire.

Shakarpara (Shankarpali) – Indian Biscuits

Two days to Christmas! Here’s wishing you and your family a Happy Holiday and a delicious New Year!

Christmas is a great time to build lifelong memories with your family. Keeping up with family traditions takes time, energy, and planning. I am so thankful for the memories I have of my family during this time of year.

I am sure many of you have your own Christmas traditions. Please share them with us on my Facebook page or right here on my blog. A few of our family favorites are decorating the Christmas tree, making treats with friends, having family over for Christmas Eve dinner, Secret Santa parties, and of course, a delicious breakfast on Christmas morning (cinnamon rolls are a must)!

Today’s recipe is simple. You will find these little biscuits all over Maharashtra. Shakarpara or Shankarpali, as they are called, are made with all purpose flour, ghee or oil, sugar, and water. These are items you already have in your pantry. All you need to do is knead the dough, let it rest, roll, cut, and deep fry. So, you can even make them today – just in time for Santa’s arrival!

Shakarpara (Shankarpali) – Indian Biscuits
Prep time: 20 minutes (includes rest time)
Cooking time: 30 minutes

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
½ cup solid ghee, (or 3/4 cup vegetable oil)
5 cups all purpose flour, (approximately)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons semolina, (sooji, optional)
Oil for deep frying

Add sugar, water, and ghee into a saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar melts. Cool. Whisk flour, salt and semolina in a separate bowl until combined.

Pour the cooled sugar, water, and ghee mixture into the large bowl of an electric mixer, (Kitchen Aid), fitted with a dough hook. With the mixer on slow speed, add the flour, a little at a time, scraping down the bowl, until the mixture comes together. I needed five cups of flour. You might need to add a little more or a little less. Add flour until the mixture comes together into a ball. Turn the mixer on medium speed and knead for three minutes. You can also made the dough without a mixer. Knead with your hands until you have a smooth dough. Let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Knead it again with your hands and then divide the dough into equal portions. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into diamond or square shapes.

Add about five inches of oil to a wok or heavy bottomed pan. Heat the oil over medium heat. Then turn the heat to medium-low. Add a small piece of dough. If it rises to the top quickly the oil is too hot. Add a few shakarparas at a time. They must come up slowly. Fry them on low heat so the inside cooks well. Remove when they turn golden brown and drain on paper-towel lined trays. Cool completely before storing them.

– I used turbinado sugar for the shakarparas in the picture. The golden crystals are not bleached, so they keep the rich flavor and color of their natural molasses. But I found that the shakarparas were not as sweet as I would have liked, so I coated them with a sugar syrup.
– For the sugar syrup I used one cup granulated sugar and one cup water. Cooked it in a heavy-bottomed pan, over medium heat. When the sugar melted, I add quarter teaspoon lemon juice. The lemon juice keeps crystals from forming. Boil until the sugar reaches one-thread consistency. To do this, keep testing the syrup. Dip a wooden spoon into the syrup and lift out. Allow it to cool. Touch it with your forefinger and then touch your thumb and gently pull apart. When a single thread is formed and it does not break, you’ve reached one-thread consistency. Or use a candy thermometer (234° F–240° F).
– Dip the shakarparas in the syrup, drain the excess syrup with a slotted spoon, and put them on a large cookie sheet. They need to dry out before you store them.

Christmas Treats

Christmas Treats_plate3There are only seven more days to Christmas! Are you ready? My friend and I spent the last two days in my kitchen making Christmas treats for our families. Karanji, rose cookies, namkeen, murukku, ladoo, and chirote are some of the goodies that most Indian homes make during this time of the year. Making these treats can be time-consuming, so about two years ago, I teamed up with my girlfriends to make the process quicker and more fun! While working together we shared stories from our childhood, laughed at pranks we had pulled off, and learned from each other. Time flew by, and before we knew it, we were able to fill our “dabbas” with traditional Christmas delights.

Do you have your own Christmas cooking family tradition? Anyone out there with a good recipe for kul kuls? Please share, either on my Facebook page or here on my blog.

Karanji is everyone’s favorite, so I’m re-posting this recipe for you. I’ve also included a new simple semolina filling.

Karanji final

Karanji with Semolina (Sooji) Filling
1 cup fine semolina
1 tablespoon poppy seeds/khus khus, (optional)
1 cup desiccated coconut, (unsweetened)
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts, (optional)
1/4 cup golden raisins, (optional)
1 cup fine sugar
1/2 tsp cardamom powder, (optional)

Place a large wok, over medium-low heat. Add semolina and dry roast. Stir constantly so it does not burn. It is ready when its turns light brown and smells fragrant. Remove from the wok and put it into a large bowl. Dry roast the poppy seeds for two minutes. Add it to the semolina. Next, dry roast the coconut. Stir constantly until it turns light brown and fragrant. Add the roasted coconut, chopped nuts, raisins, sugar, and cardamom powder to the semolina. Mix everything well. Make this filling a day before you make the karanjis.

Chirote – Flaky Indian pastry

It’s time to give thanks, celebrate, and reminisce. While I was growing up, making Indian sweets, cookies, cakes, and pastries during Christmas was a family affair. It was part of our celebration. Each one of us had a specific task to do in the kitchen. Making the different fillings, kneading the dough, rolling, cutting, frying or baking – whatever it was, the whole family participated. Being the youngest in the family, I got to do the fun parts, like putting raisins in karanjis. I would put two raisins in one karanji and one in my mouth. Needless to say, I was fired from that job!

Too many of these traditions are forgotten these days. My own children don’t know how to make these delicacies. So, before these recipes are completely lost, I want to share them with you. Chirote (also spelled Chiroti) is a popular dessert from Maharashtra and Karnataka. It is a crisp, flaky, deep-fried pastry. The pastry is dipped in a sugar syrup or dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Half a teaspoon of rose water added a touch of elegance to the sugar syrup that I made.

I know that this recipe is long and it looks scary! But one way to tackle it, is to gather some of your friends and you could make them together. I’d love to know what special treats you plan to make for your families this Christmas. Please share them with me, here on my blog or on the MargaretsHome Facebook page. Thank you.

Prep time: 1 hour (does not include time to rest dough)
Cooking time: 30 min
Makes: 20

For the dough
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup flour for dusting
3 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter, melted
1/8 teaspoon salt
water (I used about ¾ cups)

For the rose syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon rose water

For the spread
2 tablespoons ghee/butter, melted
2 tablespoons rice flour

For dusting
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
Use this to dust half the chirotes after you make them.

For the dough
Add flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Stir with a whisk. Make a well in the center and add melted ghee. Add a few tablespoons of water at a time and mix until the dough comes together. Knead to make a firm dough. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let it rest for one hour. You can also made the dough in a stand mixer. Use the dough hook.

For the rose syrup
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan add sugar and water. Place it over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Simmer over low heat until the sugar syrup thickens (one-thread consistency), about six minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and rose essence.

For the spread
In a small bowl, mix melted ghee and rice flour until creamy. Set aside.
(If you live where it is cold during this time of the year, make this after you make the rotis. Otherwise, it will become solid and you have to put in the microwave to soften it. I know, because it happened to me!)

Put it all together
Divide the dough into six even sized portions. Roll each portion of dough between the palms of both hands, using a circular motion, to make smooth dough balls. Flatten each dough ball slightly and place it on a well floured surface. Dust some flour over it and using a rolling pin, roll it into a thin, round shape (like a roti), about 10 inches in diameter. Place each roti on a large plate or tray and cover them with a damp towel. You can place the rotis one on top of the other as long as you have dusted them with flour.

Place one roti on your work surface, smear with one teaspoon of the spread (rice flour and ghee), right to the edges. Dust with a little flour. Place the second roti over the first and again smear it with a teaspoon of the spread. Dust with flour and then place the third roti and smear it with the spread. Dust with a little flour. Starting at the lower edge, roll into a tight log. Stick the edge with a drop of water. Use a sharp knife and a sawing motion to cut the log into ½ inch pieces. Put the pieces on a plate and cover them with a damp towel. Using the same process, make another log with the remaining three dough balls.

There are two methods of making chirotes. For the first method, take one piece and keep the plain, smooth side up.  Roll lightly with a rolling pin to make a long, 2 inch chirote. For the second method, keep the cut edge up, press gently and roll lightly with a rolling pin, making a circle that is about 2½ inches in diameter. Keep them covered with a damp towel.

To show you, I used one log to make chirote which I dusted with confectioners’ sugar and the other log to make chirote that I dipped in rose syrup.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil for deep frying, over medium-high heat. Once the oil gets hot, turn the heat to medium. Drop three or four chirotes into the oil and fry them on both sides until they turn golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle half of the chirotes, while they are still warm, with confectioners’ sugar. Drop the other half of the warm chirotes, a few at a time, into the rose syrup. Enjoy.

Beef-Free Tacos

Beef-Free Tacos1
Eat beef-free tacos and nobody gets hurt! Many of my friends are eating healthy, turning vegetarian or vegan, and when I develop recipes for my blog, I have them on my mind. I came up with this recipe for beef-free tacos when we got together for game night. For my taco filling, I used Beef-Free Crumble, beefy flavor, made by Beyond Meat. The tacos disappeared faster than I could make them.

All you need to do is make the beef-free filling and spoon it into store-bought taco shells or tortillas. Top them with ribbons of lettuce, diced tomatoes and onions, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and drizzle with the cilantro, mint and yogurt dressing.

Please note, for this recipe, you won’t need to roast the cumin and coriander seeds. I used a mortar and pestle to crush them coarsely. However, if you don’t like biting into them when you eat, then crush them finely. You can find Beyond Meat products at Whole Foods, Target, and Safeway.

Kudos to all my friends that have chosen to decrease their dependence on animal protein. I’d love to know if you’d like more vegetarian recipes like this one.

Beef-free Tacos
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 15

Ingredients for filling:
¼ cup oil
2 large red onions, finely chopped, (about 3 cups)
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon crushed cumin seeds
1 tablespoon crushed coriander seeds
2 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder, (optional; depending on heat and your preference)
¼ teaspoon garam masala, (optional)
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 packets (11 oz, 312 g each) Beef-free Crumble, Beefy flavor
1 can (15.5 oz, 439 g) black beans, drained
1 cup Greek yoghurt, beaten
¼ cup water
2 boxes of Stand ‘n Stuff Taco shells

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and cook until the water from the onion evaporates and it turns slightly brown around the edges. Then turn the heat to low, and fry the onion until it turns golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste and let it cook for one minute or until the raw smell disappears. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, cumin, coriander, chilli powder, and garam masala. Stir and cook for two minutes.

Add the green pepper, beef-free crumble, black beans, yoghurt, water, and salt. Stir well and cover with a lid. Cook on low heat for five minutes or until all the liquid dries out.

Spoon filling into taco shells or tortillas. Add toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and cheese. Drizzle with cilantro, mint and yogurt dressing.

Cilantro, Mint and Yogurt Dressing

2 cups cilantro, roughly chopped and lightly packed
1 cup mint leaves, lightly packed
3 green chillies, roughly chopped, (optional, depending on heat and your preference)
½ teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 cup Greek yogurt

Put the cilantro, mint, chilli, sugar, lemon juice, water, and salt into a blender, and make a smooth purée. Pour into a large bowl and add yogurt. Using a whisk, beat well. Drizzle on the taco toppings.