January is the month when we South Indians see a variety of vegetables which are seasonal. Mangai Inji is a kind of ginger which has the flavour of unripe mango (hence its name). Though it looks like the ginger which is used to spice up food preparations, mango ginger is very very mild in flavour and has a finer texture. It is usually preserved in the form of a pickle which will keep for about a month in a refrigerator.
Naan is the Indian leavened bread which requires a special Tandoor oven to bake. For this reason naan is usually not made at home and only available from eateries. The method I have given here allows you to make tasty, crisp, and fresh naans at home using just an iron griddle – the kind we use to make chappatis.
January 14th is the birth of the Tamil month of Thai, and in Tamil Nadu, it is also Pongal, the harvest festival. It is a grand celebration with several vegetarian dishes marking nature’s bounty. Aviyal is a vegetable curry that is served for lunch. There are several versions of aviyal, and I am presenting here the aviyal made in Palayamkottai, Thirunelveli District. It uses many of the vegetables indigenous to Thirunelveli.
In South India, January is the month when luscious tomatoes are available at a very low cost. Apart from making chutneys, jams, pickles, sauces, ketchups and soups, the tomatoes can be used in large quantities in a variety of dishes. I have created this Tomato Chicken Curry by combining elements from many other dishes that I liked but felt could be improved and as a dish that can be quickly and easily prepared in a typical Indian kitchen.
Happy New Year, everyone! In Tamil Nadu, for Tamil New Year’s Day it is the tradition to serve a bitter-sweet concoction to remind one that the year will contain both the good and the bad. I feel that it is only appropriate that a Lemon Drizzle cake should usher in the International New Year, with its sweet and sour flavour to symbolize the reality of life.