I first heard of Latkes in the 90s, and I immediately wanted to make them as I was fascinated by the idea of potato pancakes. I was fortunate to come across the Cockney Cookbook a few years ago in a bookstore, and it had this recipe and an interesting description of accompaniments, so I grabbed it. I tried Latkes for breakfast recently and was it a great success – not a crumb was left behind! The book suggested waxy potatoes, but in India we are limited by whatever is available in the stores, which in my case were non-waxy potatoes. I have modified the recipe slightly by increasing the onion and pepper content to suit our palate. Though the book recommends serving Latkes as an accompaniment or appetiser, I used it as the main breakfast dish, and it can be even used in a packed lunch.
I first experienced the mesmerising taste of chicken and pineapple at the Atlantic Hotel’s Shenbagam Restaurant in 1977, but I didn’t have a recipe for it. I later acquired The Cook’s Color Treasury sometime in the 80s in which I discovered this recipe only recently. I immediately tried it out and loved the taste, but I would say it is not as good as the Atlantic version. I have simplified the procedure, used fresh cut pineapple instead of the canned variety, and included ginger-garlic paste and chicken stock. I have mentioned that wine is optional, as many Indians do not like the taste of wine in food because the fermented flavour it imparts is associated with spoilage in the Indian mind.
Doctors also can be good cooks 🙂 This recipe is from my ophthalmologist cousin Suriya, who specialises in low fat cooking. She served these cutlets when we had gone over for dinner, and we loved it. She was very happy to give the recipe. Her method used the entire chicken as she doesn’t get only the skinless, boneless breast. I have modified the recipe by using chicken breast and also cooked the chicken using my own recipe for chicken stock. In this way, I get the cooked chicken for the cutlet and the stock for other dishes.
Generally, South Indian dhal curry is always associated with Sambar, but in Thirunelveli (a southern district of Tamil Nadu) dhal curry or kuzhambu is made using ground coconut and fresh green spices like green chillies. There are several variations of this kuzhambu, but I am presenting the paruppu kuzhambu which has been made in my family for generations. We use red gram dhal, green chillies and coriander leaves, and select South Indian vegetables. It is always tempered with fenugreek seeds along with mustard seeds. We also use unripe mango to give sourness or tamarind extract when mango is not available. I have added fenugreek powder also to enhance the flavour.
With unripe mangoes flooding the food stores, one has to find ways in which this can be used (most of them are not suitable for ripening). I recall reading about the combination of mango and prawns almost half a century ago. I don’t remember the type of masala used in that preparation. I have used a combination of vindaloo-type masala with unripe mango to give sourness to the preparation. I have also used sugar to give it a subtle Goan flavour, but this dish is not a proper west coast preparation. It’s very much a Kala’s Kitchen concoction 🙂