Deepavali mutton kurma

Deepavali Special Mutton Kurma

Hope your Deepavali started with a nice oil bath followed by a long leisurely breakfast of several soft dosais alongside a rich, lip-smacking Deepavali special mutton kurma. Hope you planted your butt on the couch and remained there the rest of the day and watched all the programs on all the channels. Hope you stole some time in between to go burst 100 walas and 1000 walas, pisssed off your neighbours and filled the entrance to your house with a respectable amount of paper kuppai (trash). That was my Deepavali. A mutton kurma for Deepavali cannot be any ordinary kurma. It needs to be extra special and extra decadent. And so you marinate the mutton in yogurt, fry the spices in ghee, cook the mutton in milk and finish off with coconut milk. This is the kind of breakfast that fills you up till dinner time. That is essential when you have a day full of TV programs you want to catch up with. You don’t want to get off the couch to prep lunch. I know this post should have come before Deepavali along with the Diwali promotions, Diwali Sale, the great Indian shopping festival in time for you to try this recipe for Deepavali. I know I am a bad blogger. Often, it’s the build-up to Deepavali that I enjoy even more than the day itself. I loved the deluge of Deepavali sweets and murukku on my facebook and instagram feeds. I love the food blogger spirit (not me), simple, cheery and optimistic. I was surprised though that nobody seemed to be posting the most important Deepavali mutton kurma. I wondered if it wasn’t as popular a tradition as I thought it was.  or  If mutton kurma eating south Indian bloggers are under represented in the blogging community.  or If it is an outcome of censorship. I’ve talked to a couple of people who said something like this “I’ve read some of your posts. Your writing is really good. Hmm.. yours is a non-vegetarian blog right? But, I am a vegetarian.” to which I’ve very naively replied “But I post a lot of vegetarian recipes too.. (In my mind thinking “Oh, don’t stop reading because of that, Maybe I should post more vegetarian recipes.. “).  However I don’t think I should try to change anything. I consider it my foremost duty to post the traditions and recipes that aren’t...

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...

Pallipalayam Chicken

It feels like I finally found my calling (in what to blog I mean). After doing my share (however miniscule) of the usual blog staples – red velvet cake, vanilla cupcake, eggless chocolate cakeand pasta in pesto sauce (hard to find a blog that doesn’t have these recipes) I discovered that I am deeply interested in Tamil cuisine. I mean truly interested, interested enough to study about it.  I can see myself sitting beside the Kezhavi (old lady) in her little village house making the Kari Kuzhambu nodding appreciatively, tasting a little and exclaiming “Hmmm.. Unbelievable, divine”. Like in those cooking shows where David Rocco drives to a dusty little village with kids running behind his car, and an old lady shows him how to make Kanji (gruel) while the celebrity chef makes a stylized salad of shallots and green chillies drizzled with vinegar to go with the Kanji. No, I don’t want to be on a show (not that anybody is asking). But I would really want the old lady to smile and share her Kari Kuzhambu recipe with me. I unashamedly ask for recipes wherever I go – waiters, marriage caterers, our canteen cook, long lost friends, moms and aayas of long lost friends, maid servant and complete strangers. But not everybody smiles and makes Kanji for me. They do for David Rocco. The old ladies used to smile for Chef Jacob too. I have a very high regard for him especially because of his efforts to research traditional Tamil food. His specialty restaurant on Khader Nawaz Khan road served wonderful Kongunadu specials but I didn’t have a chance to eat there while it was still open. The restaurant closed soon after his demise. I bought one of his cookbooks recently. This Pallipalayam chicken is from his cookbook.  Pallipalayam is a small town near Erode known more for this chicken fry than anything else. The recipe is amazingly simple. Just 3 ingredients – chicken, whole dry red chillies and garlic. I am obviously excluding salt, turmeric, oil and coriander leaves as otherwise it won’t be 3-ingredients. But the fact is – it’s minimal yet tasty. I loved it that the chicken was not rubbery or stringy even though I’d cooked it for nearly half an hour. It takes time for the chicken to soak up the chilli juices. So be patient and don’t add water or red chilli...

Garlic Rasam | Poondu Rasam

Loaded with fried garlic, freshly ground spices and tempered with ghee this Garlic rasam is hot, aromatic and heavenly with hot steamed rice. Every house has its signature rasam and rarely do they try any other. My mother makes it with paruppu-thani (watery lentil/dal juices). My in-laws make the gottu rasam without paruppu thani. However you make your rasam, there’s nothing else that spells home-food like hot steamed rice, rasam and a dollop of ghee. It’s the ultimate Tamil comfort food. It’s light (forget the ghee for a minute), mild and easy on the stomach. If you don’t know rasam, it is sort of a spiced clear soup that is had with rice. Some rasams can make good soups too. I was feeling particularly revolutionary one weekend and I had free reign of the kitchen. So I set out to make this Garlic Rasam. The recipe is from Chandra Padmanabhan’s book, Dakshin. The Garlic rasam turned out really well and I thoroughly enjoyed it alongside KovakkaiKari and hot steamed rice. But beware. If you can’t stand garlic, this rasam is not for you. This garlic rasam has enough garlic to ward away the scariest Draculas. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 10 minsServes: 4 IngredientsGarlic – 25 pods peeledTamarind extract – about 2 cups from a lemon sized tamarind ballMustard seeds – ½ tspAsafoetida – a pinchWhole dry red chillies – 2Salt to tasteOil – 2 tspGhee – 1 tspCoriander leaves – 2 tbsp chopped Ingredients – Spice PowderWhole dry Red chillies – 4Coriander seeds – 2 tspCumin seeds – 1 tspWhole black peppercorns – ½ tspBengal gram/Kadalai paruppu – 2 tsp Method 1.      Dry roast the ingredients under spice powder until the Bengal gram turns red. Cool and grind to a fine powder. Set aside. 2.      Heat a kadai. Pour in the tamarind extract, add salt and let it come to a gentle boil. 3.      Meanwhile fry the garlic pods in 2 tsp oil till golden around the edges. Remove from fire and set aside. 4.      When the tamarind extract comes to a boil, add the spice powder and stir. Let boil for 2 minutes. Tip in the fried garlic. Switch off. 5.      Now for the tempering, heat 1 tsp ghee and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the red chillies and asafoetida. Pour over rasam. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.

Vadakari | Vadagari – Idli’s best companion

Yet another side dish for Idli. There can’t be enough of them. We wake up to idlis, eat them for dinner watching super singer, pack them up for long drives and even order them at Taj knowing Taj idlis. I sleep assured that 3 large steel dabbas of idli maavu (idli batter) sit in the bottom shelf of our fridge. Idli-Vadakari is my most favourite idli combination. For a very long time I thought Vadakari is made from leftover masala vadais which is probably how they make it in most hotels. But that Vadakari can be made from scratch without making masala vadais, I learnt as the first lesson after marriage. My maamiyaar (mother-in-law) laughed when I asked her if we don’t have to make masala vadais first. I didn’t know better. At home we always ordered vadakari from hotels. We’d never made it. One of the very first recipes I learnt in my new home was Vadakari and I’ll tell you this. It is simply beautiful. It can give any hotel Vadakari a run for its money. My dad thought it was great and I’ve given my mother this recipe. Vadakari is quite straightforward but just a little time consuming, that is if your alternative is chutney or idli milagai podi. Grinding the dal is the most important first step. Make sure to only pulse the dal in quick bursts so that it is coarsely ground. The second important step is frying the ground dal. The fried dal has to be completely dry and crumbly. This takes time, patience and a generous amount of oil. Don’t skimp. The rest is a breeze. If you get the first two steps right then you are on your way to an award winning Vadakari. Prep time: 10 mins Cooking time: 40 mins Serves: 5-6 Ingredients Kadalai paruppu/Channa dal/Bengal gram – 1-1/2 cups soaked for 2 hours Onions – 2 large chopped fine Tomatoes – 2 large chopped fine Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp Turmeric powder – ½ tsp Salt to taste Water – 2 cups Cinnamon stick – 1 inch piece Bay leaf – 1 Oil – 5 tbsp Coriander leaves – a handful chopped for garnishing Masala paste Ginger – 1 inch piece scraped Garlic pods – 7 Green chillies – 3  Sombu/Saunf/Fennel seeds – 1 tsp Method 1.      Rinse channa dal/kadalai paruppu in 2-3 changes of water or till...
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