Blog

A Silky Yogurt Curry, Perfect For When You’re Sick (or Homesick)

Two Christmases ago, instead of roast duck, appams, mutton stew, and biryani, our table was laid with the simplest dinner imaginable: two bowls of watery kanji (rice gruel) garnished with mango pickle and papadam, plus a small serving of kachimoru, or spiced buttermilk, to elevate the humble meal.

That was the Christmas both my parents fell ill, together. My sister and I were at our wits’ end: We reheated leftovers, but they wouldn’t eat more than a spoonful of anything; we stirred protein powders into warm milk, but they refused to drink. We were drawing a blank and nearing panic—until Mum asked us for kachimoru.

2001ceb51 1836 4148 a87a 3afba4e71860 kachimore 3 A Silky Yogurt Curry, Perfect For When Youre Sick (or Homesick)
Kachimoru (Keralan Spiced Yogurt Curry)
by Anisha Rachel Oommen

Kachimoru was a dish we’d have on the table almost everyday back at my grandmother’s house in Kerala, when we’d visit in the summer. A simple, spiced yogurt curry that’s rarely found on restaurant menus (and so much a part of the everyday that it’s almost invisible on the table), kachimoru is a fundamental constituent of Syrian Christian cuisine in Kerala, but you can find it almost every kitchen across that southwestern Indian state—a basic building block of a Keralan meal.

The Syrian Christian community, referred to locally as “Suriyanis” or “Nasranis” (a corruption of “followers of the Nazarene”), is one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. We trace our origins to St. Thomas the apostle, who is believed to have arrived on the shores of the ancient trading port Muziris, in Kerala, in the first century. The term “Syrian Christian” is a reference not to ethnicity, but to the community’s connection to the Church of the East; our liturgy is still spoken in Syriac and Aramaic. Our culture and symbolism however, are heavy with influences from Hinduism, and many of our rituals and traditions have Jewish roots.

b67c1186 ee0a 47cf 87e6 1f5e37be9434  unspecified A Silky Yogurt Curry, Perfect For When Youre Sick (or Homesick)
Does Indian Cuisine Have Mother Sauces?
by Pooja Makhijani

For the Syrian Christians, home is the lush tropical coast of Kerala, blessed with an abundance of natural produce. Kerala’s food is famous for its variety of seafood, from crisp fried fish to fiery curries flavored with black kodampulli; for its deep and creative love of coconut; and for being the original home of black pepper.

And so, with Mum’s insistence, kachimoru—unromantic yet fundamental—became the first dish from my community’s repertoire that I learned to make, laying bare a connection I never suspected I harbored with a stretch of land I visited only once a year on summer vacation.

c6502985 373c 4ac2 9bc0 f9a760d4a359  20478704099 daae11f7c7 b A Silky Yogurt Curry, Perfect For When Youre Sick (or Homesick)
How I Warmed to My Indian Identity With a Sour, Cold Dish
by Rajasri Narasimhan

Despite a deep attachment to the cuisine of Kerala, my relationship with it never went beyond that of enthusiastic eater. I followed Mum into the kitchen to taste curries and steal hot banana fritters from the wok, but almost never to cook with her, let alone by myself. When Mum asked for a meal of kanji and kachimoru, she saw the panic on our faces.

“It’s simple; I’ll walk you through it,” she promised. She pushed herself up onto her elbows and called out instructions in a soft voice. My sister and I pulled out our phones and began making notes furiously.

We got to work, pulling the cheena chatti (or wok) out from the cupboard under the kitchen counter and igniting the stove’s sputtering flame. We measured out two tablespoons of coconut oil and prepped the ingredients one by one.

As the oil began to release its distinctive, familiar aroma, my panic began to fall away. I knew this smell, from my youngest days in my grandmother’s bustling wood-fired kitchen. I sliced the shallots and the ginger, slit three long green chiles to the stem. I gingerly threw in a spoonful of black mustard seeds, and they began to pop and dance; a handful of curry leaves released another layer of fragrance in the kitchen, my confidence building one scent at a time.

679462e7 3ae4 4b84 9ba5 92ba2db5dda9  Kachimore A Silky Yogurt Curry, Perfect For When Youre Sick (or Homesick)
Kachimoru is usually eaten with steamed white rice and a vegetable stir-fry.
Photo by Anisha Rachel Oommen

The tempering was ready. I whisked yogurt and water together, and added the mixture to the tempering, stirring gently as it turned to a warm autumn yellow. Floating to the top were tiny black mustard seeds and translucent slivers of onion. I ladled out a warm spoonful and tasted. The gentle flavors of kachimoru came rushing at me with the all the force of memory triggered by flavor: mild, fresh, sour, spicy, rounded. I leaned in for another spoonful, still not believing that the kachimoru of my past had come from my own hands—by some blessing of the universe or simply, an idiot-proof recipe.

This is not an elaborate meal, but it is comfort food: a bowl of steaming red rice kanji, a generous blob of mango pickle, and some kachimoru. Food to heal, comfort and restore; curry leaves and turmeric, and the silken comfort of warm yogurt.

8d9ceb51 1836 4148 a87a 3afba4e71860  kachimore 3 A Silky Yogurt Curry, Perfect For When Youre Sick (or Homesick)

Kachimoru (Keralan Spiced Yogurt Curry)

By Anisha Rachel Oommen

  • 1/2
    cup water

  • 1
    cup yogurt

  • Salt, to taste

  • 2
    tablespoons coconut oil

  • 1
    teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1
    teaspoon fenugreek seeds

  • 8 to 10
    curry leaves

  • 5
    shallots, chopped

  • 1/2-inch
    piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

  • 3
    green chiles, slit down their lengths

  • 1
    teaspoon chile powder

  • 1/2
    teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1
    pinch ground fenugreek

View Full Recipe

What food do you ask for when you’re feeling sick? Tell us in the comments below.

Science Explains the Best Way to Crack Eggs

“What’s the best way to crack an egg?” teases the headline of a Popular Science article published earlier this week. A fascinating question.

The article doesn’t exactly contain earth-shattering revelations regarding the what: The most surefire way to crack an egg, as one may guess, is to do so right around the middle. Smack its center softly against a hard edge, and, with gentle force, pry that crack open so its contents spill out onto a nice landing surface of your choice. Big whoop.

80ed3 genius olive oil fried eggs james ransom 107 Science Explains the Best Way to Crack Eggs
A Genius Way to Upgrade Your Fried Eggs
by Kristen Miglore

But the science undergirding this method is news to me. Physicists explain that we’re predisposed to hit the egg against a hard surface where the egg is flattest, or, its center, where its oblong shape widens; that’s the point at which an egg is weakest. The egg puts up more of a fight at its round, arched ends. This curvature creates an even distribution of pressure, which may explain why it’s all but impossible to crack an egg when it’s held lengthwise between your fingers.

To game this correctly, then, you should create an initial crack in the center of your egg that opens a cavity small enough to fit your thumb through. What comes next requires quick, careful precision: You expand this ripple ever so slightly with your hands so that the egg’s yolk tumbles out. Go too fast and the shell will collapse in your hands.

76a5e32d 87ed 4509 8cc5 b57784f861e3  2013 1107 hot to peel eggs 008 Science Explains the Best Way to Crack Eggs
The Neat, Pain-Free Way to Peel Hard Boiled Eggs
by Kenzi Wilbur

So, there you go. Now you’ve got some new vocabulary, borrowed from the wild world of fracture mechanics, to apply to a deceptively simple cooking act. If this registers as completely useless information, consider that egg-cracking is a difficult art to master for the less dexterous among us. I’ll certainly have all this in mind the next time I bust out my carton of eggs and make myself a scramble. Harried egg-cracking can result in eggshell-strewn batters, after all, that make for an unwelcome crunch in your lunch (or, yikes, cake). And that’s no fun.

Have another way to crack eggs? Got a funny egg-cracking disaster story of your own to share? Let us know in the comments.

The Best Place to Store Dark Beers? Not The Fridge.

There’s a general rule you can follow for beer served cold vs. room temperature: The lighter the beer, the colder it should be served. Seems logical, right? Right. Think colder for light and warmer for dark.

f5007 goose island sofie 2x3 07 mark weinberg 0084 The Best Place to Store Dark Beers? Not The Fridge.
Pop some bottles!
Photo by Mark Weinberg

As beer warms in the glass it has been poured into, the flavors unfurl and evolve, creating intricate, complex aroma and taste that would otherwise be hidden—your reward for drinking it at the right temperature. That’s why serving temperatures are merely the starting point. Once a beer leaves the fridge or cooler, it’s inevitably going to warm up.

Beers like pilsners and Kölsch should start around 38°F. These beer styles have complex aromas and flavors, but they’re best experienced at cooler temperatures; if they get too warm, these same flavors can become off-tasting and astringent, like a skunky beer left out in the sunlight too long. IPAs and stouts should start closer to 45°F. (Your farmhouse ales and saisons should be around there, too.) On the other end of the spectrum, big, alcoholic beers like imperial stouts and barley wines should be closer to cellar temperature, about 55°F to 60°F, because their robust nature will be muted by the cold.

But, this rule doesn’t always work; in some cases, dark beers, like German schwarzbier and dry Irish stouts, should be served on the cooler side while boozy, light-colored ales like Trappist tripels and some saisons should be served a little warmer. While beer served too cold can be a major faux pas to in-the-know beer drinkers (and your palate!), a slight chill doesn’t hurt any bottle, light or heavy—just be prepared to let your glass warm up a little to smell and taste the good stuff.

We’re posting quick takes on beer trivia all week long for you to drop at your next gathering, date, or dinner party. For more of our beer content, head here.

Two Rhubarb-y Condiments, One Recipe, (Almost) Zero Waste

​A few years ago, I was lucky to get my hands on a bottle of Morris Kitchen’s rhubarb syrup, and it quickly became my favorite cocktail ingredient. Of course, I haven’t been able to find it since, and while my many attempts at recreating the company’s formula have been far from spot on, I did end up with my own great rhubarb syrup recipe. It even comes with a bonus: The mash that’s leftover from straining the syrup makes a simple, but wonderful, compote.

05115ccbb99 0611 47ee 87d7 5a8811ae376a rhubarb 2 Two Rhubarb y Condiments, One Recipe, (Almost) Zero Waste

Photo by Emily Farris

Now, every spring—when rhubarb is in season—I make a few batches of syrup for my drinks and compote for my toast. And I feel good about the fact that there’s almost no waste (other than the ends and leaves I trim from the rhubarb). ​Other ingredients that go into the syrup, and thus the compote, include apple cider vinegar and pinches of cinnamon and cardamom.

Rhubarb’s tart flavor helps balance a sweet syrup, and I use the syrup most often in my rhubarb whiskey sour, but it’s great mixed in with just about any alcohol and club soda. It would also be a fantastic mixer for a springy mocktail or pink lemonade. ​

The smooth compote, with its similar sweet-and-tart flavor profile, is wonderful on bread, yogurt, and ice cream. However, because the whole thing cooks for a little more than an hour, the syrup gets the vibrant pink color of the rhubarb, leaving the compote, well, not exactly beautiful. But please don’t let that turn you off.

9ff6a78c a94b 41f5 a35c c318fcc96e10  rhubarb 6 Two Rhubarb y Condiments, One Recipe, (Almost) Zero Waste

Photo by Emily Farris

The first strain yields about 2 cups of syrup, but if you let it sit in the strainer a while, you’ll get more. And if you feel you need to strain the compote a second time, you’ll get even more syrup. While I haven’t officially tested the refrigerator shelf life of the syrup or the compote, the syrup is good for a few weeks in a covered jar or bottle, and the compote will last at least a week (if you don’t eat it all before then). ​

d05c72c6 1e79 4c66 843c f8335267c24f  unnamed 3 Two Rhubarb y Condiments, One Recipe, (Almost) Zero Waste

Two-in-One Recipe for Rhubarb Syrup + Rhubarb Compote

By Emily Farris

  • 6
    cups (about 2 pounds) rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 2
    cups sugar

  • 2
    cups water

  • 2
    tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1
    pinch cinnamon

  • 1
    pinch cardamom

View Full Recipe

Have a recipe that results in two products? Let us know in the comments.

The World’s Oldest YouTuber Is a 106-Year-Old Cook

The most charismatic celebrity chef I’ve come across in recent memory is a woman named Mastanamma. She just recently turned 106. Mastanamma is based in a village called Gudivada in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where she’s lived her whole life. For the past six months, she’s been the subject of quietly absorbing cooking videos broadcast on a YouTube channel called Country Foods.

The idea for this channel came from Mastanamma’s great-grandson Laxman, a media professional based in Hyderabad, and his friend Srinath Reddy. When they began Country Foods eight months ago, the duo originally wanted to create a channel solely devoted to featuring bachelors cooking recipes from Andhra Pradesh. Audiences were mildly receptive to these videos, but the response was far from overwhelming.

Six months ago, though, Laxman was visiting his home village when his mother told him about a relative he hadn’t seen in years, Mastanamma, and her love of cooking crab curries and quail eggs. Laxman and Reddy found her energy enchanting, so they began recording videos of her. The channel’s received wild success over the past six months, amassing 250,000 subscribers, and she’s gained many devotees well outside India.

In these videos, Mastanamma dispenses her culinary wisdom as others observe in awe. Flickers of her personal life, and the hardships she’s endured in the past century, occasionally make their way into her videos: She was married at 11, quickly became mother of five children (only one of whom survives today), and was widowed at age 22, never marrying again. Throughout this, she hasn’t stopped cooking.

Below are a few videos from the channel—though, frankly, I’d give them all a watch. They’re worth your time.

Crab curry

Egg dosa

Quail Fry

Watermelon chicken

Emu egg fry

See the rest of Mastanamma’s videos here.