White vegetable kurma

I had my dream holiday a couple of weeks back – alone at home, husband away on a business trip, kids off to school and everybody else in the family away on a trip. Whoa!

One entire kitchen all to myself, nobody to defer to on the menu, no one to please, no one to cook up a competing second menu, no one to fill up the fridge.
I was king.

white vegetable kurma, south indian veg stew

It was too precious. I couldn’t afford to waste even a minute of it. I had to plan well. I couldn’t be making sambar nor lemon rice. I had to do all the things I could never do. I could make any crazy, wildass dish I wanted and not have to explain and not fret that no one ate it.

I wanted to slowly doze off into an afternoon nap while reading a book and sleep un-disturbed without kids climbing over me, without anybody waking me up for filter coffee or oreo.
I also wanted to straighten out all my cupboards.
I wanted to change the curtains, hang up a chalkboard on the kitchen door, revamp the garden, clear out the lofts and lose 5 kilos weight – in one week.
I was getting ahead of me.
First things first. I emptied the fridge, the dining table and the counter top of ages old murukku, disfigured pomegranates, teeny tiny portions of sambar, kuzhambu, chutnies and assorted poriyals. The chickens in our backyard (we have real chickens in our backyard), thought I was crazy. They got half the loot. The rest went into the bin.
white vegetable kurma, south indian veg stew
The first day I made spaghetti in a creamy alfredo sauce with green peas, corn and mushrooms. That was the craziest wildass dish of the week. I made other memorable, lazy ass meals that Hasini, Yuvi and I enjoyed that week. They’ll always be special.
Then I did what I didn’t believe I would. I made rava kheer, sambar, vadai, rice and poriyal that week when I noticed that it was Yegadesi that day. I thought to myself while frying the vadais that my maamiyaar’d be thinking I’d miss it, that I am a lazy ass, that I probably made something as blasphemous as lasagne and how I had proved her wrong. And when I very proudly recounted later to my maamiyaar when she returned, she simply replied that she never considers Yegadesi during theipirai (period when moon is waning). 
What I did, didn’t count.
Here I absolutely have to quote Vadivelu’s dialogue. It is classic, my friends and always always relevant –
“Nee pudungaradhi puravume thevai illadhe aani dhaan” 
Unfortunately no translation would do it justice, my non-tamil speaking readers. Please watch the scene.
And so I formally give up. It’s a milestone.
I decide to make only what I believe in. So I make a white vegetable kurma, the kind of kurma that they serve in Grahapravesams, weddings and special occasions as a side for idiyappam, chappathi or vegetable pulav. I had gleaned from a server in a Grahapravesam after much prodding that it has poppy seeds and coconut and coconut and poppy seeds. He repeated the two items over and over and wouldn’t reveal anymore. I asked for extra helpings of the kurma to reverse engineer the rest of the recipe.
It turned out quicker than I thought and very, very simple. I love this kurma with idiyappam or vegetable pulav.
And no, I didn’t get my afternoon nap.
white vegetable kurma

White vegetable kurma

Jayanthi Padmanabhan
Delicious vegetable stew!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 5


  • Carrots – 2 chopped fine
  • French beans – chopped fine to make 1-1/2 cups
  • Potato – 1 large peeled and chopped
  • Onion – 1 medium chopped fine
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 2 tsp
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
  • Cloves – 2
  • Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
  • For the spice paste
  • Green chillies – 2
  • Ginger – ½ inch piece peeled and chopped
  • Cardamom – 1
  • Poppy seeds/Khasa Khasa – 1 tsp
  • Cashewnuts – 4
  • Grated coconut – ¾ cup


  • Grind together all ingredients called for under spice paste to a fine paste. Set aside.
  • Heat a kadai. Add oil to it. When hot, add cinnamon and cloves. When they turn fragrant add mustard seeds and let splutter. Then add the chopped onions and curry leaves and fry until the onions turn translucent.
  • Add the chopped vegetables and fry for 2 minutes.
  • Add the ground spice paste and salt and mix well. Add 2-3 cups water and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer till the vegetables are cooked through – about 15 minutes.
  • Open, give it a good stir and switch off after a minute.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve as a side dish with Idiyappam, poori or chappati or alongside pulav.


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