Aadi special mixed vegetable mochai kuzhambu

In our parts here, Aadi is bigger than Deepavali. Bonafide Tamil, this month is THE month to visit TamilNadu if you want to experience everything you saw in Ramarajan movies – “Thee medhikaradhu”, “Alagu kutharadhu”, “Saami aaduradhu”, “Koozhu” and “karuvaatu kuzhambu”. Yeah, and all of these happen in cities too. Aadi velli, Aadi sevvai, Aadi perukku, Aadi ammavasai, Aadi thalupadi, Aadi is one non-stop month of frenzied activity. I am no perfect daughter-in-law. I don’t remember these dates. I don’t remember when I have to oil/wash my hair and when I shouldn’t. I don’t understand why sambar is compulsory on most of these days. I can’t make small talk. I make do. I remember the koozhu, karuvattu kuzhambu and fried eggs though. The vegetarian version of the karuvattu kuzhambu is this mochai kottai mixed vegetable kuzhambu. It is lovely with rice and appalam or fried eggs. It is a hearty kuzhambu chock full of native vegetables (avarakkai, drumstick, seppan kezhangu etc) that is traditionally served as a side dish with koozhu. Try it soon. Prep time: 15 minsCooking time: 25 minsServes: 5 Ingredients Dried mochai/Lima beans – 1 cup soaked overnightDrumstick – 1 chopped into 2 inch piecesSeppankezhangu/Colocasia/Arbi – 200 gm peeled and sliced into discsAvarakkai/Broad beans – 100 gm chopped into 1 inch piecesOnion – 1 large chopped fineTomato – 1 large chopped fineTamarind extract – 1 large lemon sized ball (~2 cups of tamarind extract)Turmeric powder – ½ tspRed chilli powder – 5 tbspSalt to tasteFenugreek seeds – ¼ tspAsafoetida powder – ¼ tspCurry leaves – 1 stemMustard seeds – 1 tspGingelly oil – 4 tbsp Method 1.       Rinse the soaked mochai a couple of times and transfer to a pressure cooker. Fill with fresh water to about double the volume of beans. Pressure cook for 20 minutes or till the mochai are tender. Set aside. 2.       Heat up a thick bottomed pot. When hot add the oil. Add fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves. When mustard seeds splutter add asafoetida and stir. Add the chopped onions and fry until they turn translucent. 3.       Add the chopped tomato and fry until they turn soft and mushy. Add the chopped drumstick, seppankezhangu and avarakkai. Mix everything up and fry for a couple of minutes. 4.       Stir the turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt into the tamarind extract and break up any lumps. Pour the tamarind mixture into...

Aadi Maasam/Aadi Thiruvizha – Part II

On the day of the Paal Kudam, women assemble at a nearby temple (not the Amman temple but another one) with turmeric and kungumam smeared pots (sombu) filled with milk. After a brief puja at the temple which is sort of the Ready-Get-Set-Go, the women walk over (run rather) to the Amman temple where wooden barricades are put up to regulate the crowd. Policemen and police-women wait at the Amman temple bracing themselves for the “Om Sakthi-ParaSakthi” chanting women force. It is believed that if you pray for something and carry the paal kudam, whatever you pray for will happen before the next Paal kudam (within the next year).  That’s my husband and that’s me behind him. These paal kudam laden women are force to reckon with, they shove and pull in order to cut through the line. You’ll have to be strong and gutsy to get out of this crowd. When your turn comes, the milk from your pot is poured atop the Amman. After everybody’s milk has been poured, the Amman is washed, dressed up and adorned with jewels and a final puja is done.    The day we offer Koozhu is the most tiring, absolutely back-breaking day of the year. The cooking and preparation starts around 6 or so in the morning and goes on almost non-stop till night time. By now you should know that moderation is not one of my family’s strong points. Largesse and extreme entertaining are. We don’t have as many people over as we used to in the olden days! If we were to invite the whole clan, I think I’d have to be hospitalized for a day or two. I haven’t seen the full crowd myself in my 4 years of marriage but I can just about imagine and just thinking about it makes my head spin. The day’s menu reads like a Muniyandi Vilas menu. Kazhuvattu Kuzhambu (dried fish curry), Meen Kuzhambu (Fish curry), Meen Varuval (Fish fry), Varutha Muttai (Fried hard-boiled eggs), Chicken Korma, Pepper Chicken thokku (Pepper chicken semi-gravy) are just the non-vegetarian side of the menu. There’s a slightly shorter vegetarian menu that includes Murunga keerai poriyal, Vegetarian mixed-vegetable kuzhambu, Ragi and Jaggery based kozhukattai, Rice, Rasam, Idli and Dosai. Koozhu and its accompaniments – Murunga Keerai poriyal, Kazhuvattu kuzhambu and varutha muttai are served mid-morning once at home and then again at the temple. Return home to have a quick bite and then...

Aadi Maasam/Aadi Thizhuvizha – Part 1

Yesterday was the huge Aadi Thizhuvizha at Nagathamman temple, the culmination of 10 days of festivity and processions starting with Paal Kudam and ending yesterday with Koozhu in the morning and the final grand procession at night. I am tired, exhausted and totally beat but with a camera load of not magazine quality but really good Aadi-smacking pictures. Aadi signifies everything Tamil to me – Tamil music (Urumi), Tamil cuisine (Koozhu, Kazhuvattu Kuzhambu) and Tamil customs and having been ignorant of all of this for most of my life, I am finally waking up to these traditions. I finally sat down to write this long-pending piece on Aadi. At home, Aadi Maasam is THE most hectic, activity packed month of the year. Before marriage I had no clue about Aadi other than the Aadi thallupadi (Aadi discount sales) that happens at this time of the year. But Aadi is huge in my in-laws place. It’s the most important occasion of the year even more than Diwali. Aadi for other clueless folks like me is the fourth month of the Tamil Calendar and is usually considered in-auspicious for weddings. Newly married girls are sent off to their mother’s places during this month. Why? Thank Bhagyaraj who famously busted this Aadi-myth in one of his movies. It has nothing to do with Aadi, there’s a very practical though embarrassing reason for this. If women get pregnant during the month of Aadi, they’ll give birth during peak summer which is a very tough time for small babies (maybe not so relevant in this age).  Aadi is generally very special for women and for farmers. Amman (Goddess Durga, Shakti) temples are the centre of action during this month, apart from Lifestyle and Chennai Silks. Picture this: Huge speakers outside the temples blare L.R.Easwari songs, massive lighted Amman cut-outs flank the road leading to the temple, women march to the temple with turmeric smeared, neem-leaves wreathed milk pots (paal kudam) for abishegam, evenings the Amman idol is decorated and taken around the streets of the temple in procession, and then the culmination of all the Aadi festivities in the Aadi thizhuvzha, where Koozhu (Ragi porridge is traditional poor man’s food) is served along with Drumstick leaves poriyal and Kazhuvattu Kuzhambu. In cities, you’ll see the urumi only during the Aadi month. This is a traditional hour-glass shaped drum that is played at Amman temples when...

Fried Hard-boiled eggs – Somberi Series

As promised, I am posting another Somberi recipe. This recipe is so simple, I can imagine people especially all the veterans, the kitchen killadis, and the mamiyaars (mils) dismissing this as not fit to be called a recipe at all. But hey, I have a duty to my fellow somberis and I don’t mind the flak.  The entire dish takes 15 minutes maximum and it tastes great. It’s a wonderfully simple way to jazz up plain hard boiled eggs and make it count for one more side-dish. These spiced eggs are also a great option for lunch boxes as they’re dry, they keep well and aren’t vegetable (for those fuss-pots). For a little background and cultural aspect, we make these fried eggs by the dozen during the “Aadi month koozh oothare” festival. These spiced fried eggs make a great combo with koozh and are a trademark side-dish during the koozh festival at our home.  You know Koozh? It is Kezhvaragu (Ragi) porridge usually served during the Tamizh month of Aadi at Amman temples and at homes. Typically relatives are invited to share the koozh which is served along with fried eggs, karuvadu kozhambu (dried fish gravy) and muranga keerai poriyal (stir-fried greens). Until I got married, Aadi only meant Aadi thallupadi (discount sales). Only after marriage did I notice the blaring speakers outside temples, the firewalking, the saami aadare folks, the women making pongal atop wood-fired stoves and koozh. Aadi is very important in my husband’s place – Aadi velli, Aadi perukku, Aadi pooram, all aadi prefixed festivals are fastidiously celebrated. You can make these fried eggs any time of the year. They’re quick, simple and super-tasty.    Preparation time: 5 minsCooking time: 15 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Hard boiled eggs – 4Red chilli powder – 2 tspTurmeric – 1/4 tspOil – 1 tbspMustard seeds – 1/2 tspCurry leaves – 1 stemSalt to taste Method 1.      Hard-boil eggs and set aside. 2.      In a small bowl, mix together red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt along with a little water to a not too runny marinade. 3.      Slice each egg length-wise into two. Gently roll one slice at a time in the marinade to coat evenly on all sides and set aside. 4.      In a shallow pan or tawa, heat oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and when they’ve spluttered, add curry leaves. 5.      Gently place the eggs on the tawa...
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