Kerala – Part 4 – The last leg
Well, well, well… this is the last of the series. Packed with beautiful visual treats and delicious culinary delights, this is the perfect post to sum up a perfect trip. Now, now I can say this is the perfect post; because I am writing it, and it’s my blog, and I more importantly, I believe so!
Picking up from where I left, after all the celebrations, we took a trip to the beautifully scenic Vagamon, which is a hill station about a 145kms from Thrissur. We have some extended family there, and visiting them was long overdue, so we decided to take the trip. While the highway has beautiful roads (a rarity in our country, and therefore a worthy mention), it is also dotted with these little eateries which serve a plethora of local food. The food may not be the best, but needless to say it is tasty and of course they make coffee that is better than any of the Starbucks’ brews. And then the road up to Vagamon is just so pleasing to the eyes. It’s winding, it’s smooth and it’s full of greenery on both sides. A visual delight, one might say.
Reaching our destination, we received a rather warm welcome from our relatives (which was expected), and were offered some sodas, (because “out of towners” survive on sodas, they thought), and were surprised when we asked for some home brews instead. That said, a very hospitable environment and lovely people (my husband and me were meeting them for the first time, irrelevant information, but deserves a special mention!). Their house was on the foothill of their plantation, which was the hill. I still can’t get over the fact that our extended family owns a whole damn hill, with fresh produce growing on it. A little off the track, but my husband and me always agree that our parents did something wrong, something, and that is the reason we don’t own hills or a plot of land! Hilarious and materialistic, but true! Anyway, the hill they own has everything from tea, coffee, pepper, pineapple, wood flower (if that’s what it’s called), and what not! I was totally awestruck, on oh, OH they also had livestock!
Done with the visit, we made our way down to the cosy little village of Chellavu. This happens to be my sister-in-law’s, in-laws’ ancestral home. Again, a visual delight (which we realised next morning, because we reached there in the dark). They also have their own little hillock where they grow pineapples, rubber and what used to be paddy and is now tapioca. We were treated like royalty needless to say (I guess we genuinely have that air, bah, pompous), but to have fresh tapioca with beef curry and sweetened coconut milk, and freshly dried and ground coffee is the perfect start to the day. We didn’t stay there for too long, just the night, and left post breakfast, but that was one hell of a memorable trip (good memories needless to say).
Next, we were back home, in Thrissur, because it was my dad-in-laws birthday! And how could we miss that. My dad-in-law is a HUGE foodie. He’s almost 75 now, but his primary objective in life, still, is planning each meal. And this is what his birthday meal looked like. Again, beef chilli (because we can’t do without that), coconut pork curry, fried sardines, sardines in a curry, chicken cutlets, fried chicken with rice and appams and bread. Oh man, all that food lasted us till the time we were all set to be on our way back to Mumbai. It was tons of food and we polished off every crumb of it.
While on the subject of the menu, considering how you love to lap up my recipes (narcissism playing up here), I want to share the recipe for a very simple and simply delectable chicken cutlet. They are yummy, and can be moulded into fun shapes, they are effortless and can be made in advance, and just fried last minute. Not just for the kids, but if you are stressing about prepping for a bunch of prissy guests, try these and wow them.
Super Simple Chicken Cutlets
Makes about 10 cutlets
Chicken mince – 500gms
Onion – 1no (finely chopped)
Ginger+garlic paste – 1tbsp
Green chilli – 2nos (finely chopped)
Cumin powder – 1tsp
Coriander powder – 1tsp
Chilli powder – 1tsp
Salt and pepper – to taste
Oil – 2tsp
Water – 1/2cup
Egg – 1no (to bind)
Breadcrumbs – to coat
More oil – to shallow fry the cutlets
- First of all, please, please, please wash the chicken mince (fresh or frozen), and drain well.
- Heat 2tsp oil in a thick bottomed pan, add the onions and ginger+garlic paste and fry until onions are light brown.
- Now add all the dry spices and add a dash of water and cook until the spices are fragrant and well fried. Now add the chopped green chillies.
- Add the chicken mince, seasoning, and water and let it cook covered on high heat for about 7 minutes.
- Take the lid off and lower the flame to medium and cook until the water dries up (stirring from time to time).
- Once the water dries up, keep stirring nice and strong, until the mix has nice brown tinge. Mixture done. Let it cool enough to handle.
Bringing it together
- Once the mixture has cooled, crack one egg into it and mix it well with the mixture, into one cohesive mix.
- Now shape them into any shape you like and coat them well with bread crumbs.
- In a shallow pan, add enough oil to shallow fry, let it heat up well, and add the cutlets one by one.
- Let them cook on a medium heat and turn them once golden brown on one side.
- Make sure you cook them on the other side until they get nice and golden as well, and you’re done! Simple and delicious.
- You can make the chicken mixture and store it in the fridge for at least 5 days. Don’t add the egg, add it only when ready to make the cutlets.
- A pro tip, if you don’t want to make all 10 cutlets at once, just take half of one beaten egg and make an omelette or scrambled egg with the rest.
- If you are using a mould, grease the mould from the inside and take a dollop of the mixture, place it into the mould and press tight. Remove carefully, and there you have it. You can also use cookie cutters as moulds, I did. I’m sure the cookies won’t mind. Get the kids to do the moulding part, because it’s messy and fun, and you can stand back and look proud without getting your hands dirty!
To sum it all up, from the beginning of the trip to the end, to say it was a delight, would be an understatement. It was more than that. It was JUST PRECIOUS. Good food, fresh produce, family time, the drive and the sheer exhilaration of it, I cannot put a price to. It meant more to me, than any holiday ever. And even though this might seem like a page off Karan Johar’s book, my family, always comes first. Followed by an insatiable appetite for good food of course. So, if you believe in my philosophy and if you wait with bated breath for my recipes (I hope, please, please do), the connect with me on Facebook and Instagram or leave a comment here, and stay tuned for a lot more lip smacking, ‘why didn’t I think of that’ recipes to come your way.