I am not a fan of the ubiquitous King Fish (Vanjiram), which people usually prefer to serve as large fried slices, whether it be a simple household or a star hotel. I find the disproportionately high price of King Fish also very off-putting. Cobia (Kadal Viraal) is at least 30 percent cheaper than King Fish or Sea Bass (Koduva), and much less smelly.
Whenever I cook meat for chops or mince for cutlets or chicken for Chicken à la King, I have lots of stock left over. I always think it’s a shame to discard the stock as it has lots of dissolved nutrients. Quite often bottles of stock languish forgotten in my freezer. Therefore, I had to device methods to use up the stock. Apart from using the stock in meat curries and kurmas to improve the flavour, I found that I could also use it in simple rice preparations.
Because my son doesn’t like most vegetables, I concocted the mushroom and capsicum pulav with two foodstuffs he graciously accepts on his platter. This pulav is also dry enough for a packed lunch along with an omelet or a cutlet.
My father’s sister, Cynthia, was a wonderful cook. She would prepare delicious meals with a variety of dishes in the menu, with a minimum of fuss. She did have a maid, though, to help her with the pre-preparation and grinding, which I don’t have. Therefore, I have reworked the recipe in a way which allows one to make it simply and easily.
Both my mother and my mother-in-law had a kuzhi paniaram chatti (griddle), but I had never seen them use it, and I had not tasted kuzhi paniaram till I saw it being made at a South Indian delicatessen, The Grand Sweets and Snacks. I was not impressed by the taste of it or the accompaniments (chutney and sambar) served with it. I believe that the main item should have its own distinctive flavour, and the accompaniments should enhance rather than clash with it.
In Tamil muttai means egg, and since the meat is dipped in egg before frying this preparation is named Muttai Chops. The recipe for this remained hidden in my mother’s book for a very long time, until we were served this in my father’s sister’s house. When I asked my mother to take down this recipe, she admitted that she already had it in her book but never made it because she was allergic to egg. Once she saw the disappointment on my face she reluctantly prepared this once a year.