May is the month when Tamil Nadu experiences extreme heat. Fresh mint leaves are widely available as everyone believes in their ability to cool. I got a big bundle of the freshest mint leaves and tried to find a recipe that used mint leaves, but wasn’t satisfied with the ones I found as they involved a lot of labour. I came up with this Pudhina Chicken recipe that could be prepared quickly as I didn’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen in this heat.
Sweet potato is always available in stores. My mother used to boil and mash the sweet potatoes with ghee and sugar, and make big balls of the mixture. It served as a lovely, satisfying teatime snack when I came home from school. I have previously given the recipe for Sweet Potato Dessert with Maple Syrup, which I made from a recipe given by my son’s friend. I have always wanted to make my own sweet potato dessert, and that experience inspired me to create this one.
I have always collected recipes from my students. The recipe for fried pork chops was given to me by a Chinese student, Yen Swan Chie, way back in 1972. I modified it for pork ribs and was very pleased with the results. It’s a big hit with guests, so make sure you make plenty 🙂 Serve with vegetable fried rice.
Butter Chicken was introduced to Chennai by tandoori restaurants. I used to frequent the Piccadilly Tandoor restaurant in the late ’70s especially for their divine butter chicken. I longed to make this at home, but I was never satisfied with the results I obtained from recipes I found in books. It was only after watching several YouTube videos that I understood the technique of making butter chicken, and starting making it regularly at home. This recipe gives a better butter chicken than what many restaurants serve – if I do say so myself 🙂 Butter chicken is usually served with naan at restaurants. I also usually have it with Homemade Naan, but this time I tried it with homemade bread, and the result was just as heavenly!
The temperature has crossed 36° C in Chennai, and you can hear the sound of kids playing all day. Yep, it’s the summer holidays, and that’s the perfect time to experiment with different types of ice cream. Papaya is available all year round, and relatively inexpensive. It is also quite nutritious, but as some people don’t like the taste of papaya, I thought of making an ice cream. I was inspired by Hawaiian cookery to make this extremely quick and easy and delectable papaya ice cream.
Kuzhippaniaram is traditionally made with dosai batter. I came up with this recipe one morning when I wanted to make vermicelli uppuma but found I had only one cup of vermicelli. While wondering what to do, I had a brainwave: why not make a kuzhippaniaram with vermicelli? I then extended this concept to include other wheat products, creating this very unique combination of a South Indian dish made with wheat (which doesn’t grow here). This goes extremely well with Vengaya Sambar and Coconut Thuvaiyal.
The Tamil New Year falls on the first day of the Tamil Month of Chithirai (April 14). Most people celebrate with a full vegetarian meal, typically with a neem flower rasam. In our family we have never made neem flower rasam; instead, we make a special vegetarian dish to celebrate the new year. This Vegetable Biriyani and Black Gram Dhal Pakoda Kuruma is a long and involved preparation for the home chef who appreciates the art of cooking. If it is any consolation, you don’t need a wet grinder 🙂