I came across this dish when it was presented in a cookery competition in the Women’s Christian College in the 1970s. I was fascinated by the colour, texture, and flavour of this methi with potato. However, the recipe won only a 3rd place in the contest. I asked my student Samyukta for the recipe, and she wrote it out for me immediately. The original recipe was very spicy as Samyukta is from Andhra Pradesh. I have toned down the spice to give it a more subtle flavour.
May is the month when neighbours share the mangoes from their trees with their friends, and I received several varieties of mangoes. This Festive Unripe Mango Pachadi is very popular in my family. Though this also has jam-like consistency, it is called pachadi because it is tempered with mustard in ghee. We always serve it with Biriyanis, Pulavs, and Kuska Rice, or quite often with the humble sambar rice.
In Tamil, the term Surulappam means rolled (or curled) flat fried bread. In this case, the bread happens to be a pancake. It also has a sweet stuffing of fresh coconut, sugar, and freshly crushed cardamom, which gives it the most exquisite taste and flavour.
I discovered a ‘Carpetbag Steak’ recipe when browsing through an old cookbook from my personal library. I was fascinated by the concept of stuffing steaks or fillets and skewering or suturing them with cotton thread before grilling or broiling. But the stuffing that is used in these recipes is not the norm in Tamil kitchens, because we do not combine meat with shellfish (mussels or oysters). So, I use a spicy vegetarian stuffing to add flavour to the carpetbag meat.
In Chennai all the mango trees are heavy with ripening mangoes, but we also get unripe mangoes in all the stores. This is the time to make a variety of mango pickles. I found this recipe in my notebook, but it does not belong to my family. I must have received it either from a friend or copied it from a tattered Tamil recipe book. I am unable to give credit to the author, but I salute him or her for such a delicious pickle where none of the flavours dominate.
Happy Easter everyone! Here is a special meatball curry to help you break your Lenten fast (if you’ve been fasting). This is such an ancient recipe it might as well have come from the Biblical age. I have never seen my mother or my aunt prepare this. I discovered it during an archaeological dig into an old family recipe book with a pencilled inscription saying ‘Aatha’ which would indicate that it is from my great grandmother who was from Thanjavur. Any history beyond that is shrouded in the mists of time 🙂
Now that the temperature in Tamil Nadu is hovering around 35° C and schools are beginning to close for summer vacation, everyone is longing for cool treats to beat the heat. This is the perfect time to make ice cream, as homemade ice cream is cheaper and healthier than what you get in the store. Plain Vanilla Ice Cream can be served with Carrot Halwa to make it even more interesting.