Madeira Cake is known as Tea Cake in Chennai and is available in all bakeries. Madeira cake is very popular here and was always served in any of my cousins’ family events. January is when we get very good quality oranges, which is why I decided to make my own version of Madeira cake. I studied several recipes but found them flawed in many ways, but they all had one thing in common: the surface was cracked; that is the characteristic feature of this cake. I standardised the recipe using proportions which would give good results (smooth texture, rise well, not greasy), and I arrived at a very tasty cake with a very reliable method.
When I walked into a food store a week ago, I saw these beautiful limes, and when I saw the price my mouth fell open because lime, which sold for Rs. 400 a kilo in October, was only Rs. 60 a kilo. I immediately selected bright yellow ones without any blemish and decided to try this lime pickle. My mother-in-law had collected recipes from all those who visited her, but she hadn’t tried out any of those. I found this curious lime pickle recipe which boiled the limes instead of the traditional method of soaking them in brine for a couple of weeks (like this Sweet and Sour Lime Pickle I had posted earlier). I had to standardise this recipe as amounts of spices and sugar were not mentioned. Even the use of green chillies was marked in the margin. To my, and my family’s, delight it tasted absolutely divine 🙂
When people think of combining vegetables and dhal in Tamil cooking, they primarily think of Aviyal. There is another dish, Saalna that is a complete contrast to aviyal both in the type of vegetables and spices used. Saalna does not use strong flavoured vegetables like drumsticks and cluster beans. It also uses cloves and cinnamon, instead of cumin and garlic like aviyal. It may not be as famous as aviyal, but is no less delicious. It is an ideal dish to celebrate the harvest and can be served with Venn Pongal.
The coolest month of the year for Tamilians is January, and we are very happy to get the freshest of vegetables during this period. This concept of combining prawns with vegetables is new to my family because we made only two prawn dishes – Fry and Moli. My friend Jacintha, who is a Burmese repatriate, gave me this recipe though she said it isn’t a Burmese recipe but just a family favourite. I have used the same ingredients and quantities she gave, but have made the procedure simpler and easier. I serve it with Naan, Peas Pulav, and Mushroom and Capsicum Pulav.